With the conclusion of the Winter Meetings Dec. 15, here’s a rundown of all the notable free agent signings in the MLB offseason so far. I’m going to try to update this list once a week as the offseason goes on, and will be adding in notable trades at as well.
At the moment, most of the players who have signed have been relief pitchers, which doesn’t make for the most fun transaction log but could really alter a team’s outlook and can point to future moves to come.
Carlos Santana -3 years, $60 million to the Phillies
Santana has been one of the most reliable batters in the business since his first full season in 2011. He might not be as exciting a player to watch or as young as Eric Hosmer, but I’m a sucker for guys who can draw walks and would prefer Santana right now if choosing a first baseman or DH for the next few seasons.
He’s an asset that any team would be lucky to have, except the fit here with the Phillies doesn’t seem exactly logical for the club. Rhys Hoskins, the team’s most exciting player last season, already mans first base, and without a DH in the NL, it looks like he’ll have to learn the outfield or be dealt, neither of which should make fans too happy.
Zack Cozart – 3 years, $38 million to the Angels
It may be shocking for a casual baseball fan to hear that Cozart was one of the four or five best free agent position players this offseason, but in a class that lacks any middle infield talent whatsoever, Cozart’s above-average defense at short, paired with his improving walk ratio and power make him a great option for a team looking to sure up its lineup.
The concerns are his age (already 32) and that he hasn’t played in more than122 games in any of the past three years. If the transition to third base this season for the Angels limits some of the wear and tear to Cozart’s body, he completes one of the best infields in baseball (which has also added Ian Kinsler via trade).
Tyler Chatwood – 3 years, $38 million to the Cubs
Chatwood is a high-upside project who has been hard to hit on the road but tended to get hit hard in Colorado. (who doesn’t?) If the Cubs can get him to throw strikes more consistently and his road ERA winds up being a better representation of his overall performance, they could be getting a bargain.
Mike Minor – 3 years, $28 million to the Rangers
With a long injury history coming into 2017, Mike Minor flourished out of the bullpen with Kansas City last season and became one of the most underrated closers in the league over the second half. The Rangers are going to give him one more shot at starting, hoping Minor can tap into some of his past starting success at a reliever’s price. If it doesn’t work he should bolster what was one of the league’s worst pens.
Jake McGee – 3 years, $27 million re-signed to the Rockies
The Rockies brought back one of the cogs in its turnaround last season, which relied heavily on a shut-down bullpen for the majority of the season (at least for Coors Field standards). Unfortunately, McGee was likely the least valuable of the pieces.
Bryan Shaw – 3 years, $27 million to the Rockies
Shaw should fill in the closer or setup roll right away. I feel like he’s been a little over rated in recent years, but he might have just been over shadowed by Cody Allen and Andrew Miller.
Brandon Morrow – 2 years, $21 million to the Cubs
The Cubs cash in on a successful Dodgers reclamation project. Morrow was a really fun pitcher back in his Toronto days but could never put together a full year as a starter, despite having electric stuff. Now a reliever, he was a multi-inning weapon in the playoffs and makes the Cubs that much more scary this year.
Tommy Hunter – 2 years, $18 million to the Phillies
Hunter will never be one of the league’s elites relievers, but has been very consistently in the back end of the next tier and will make a good second or third option for the Phillies.
Juan Nicasio – 2 years, $17 million to the Mariners
Nicasio was on three teams last season, which means one of two things: he’s so mediocre that multiple teams decided after seeing him that he wouldn’t be a blow to get rid of, or that he’s so valuable that three teams thought he was worth grabbing to improve their teams. The fact that all three teams fell outside of the playoff race is irrelevant.
Pat Neshek – 2 years, $16 million to the Phillies
Neshek returns to the Phillies after a brief sabbatical to Colorado. He’s been a good reliever for five of the last six seasons, and the Phillies willingness to pay free agent relievers (Tommy Hunter also fits this mold) this season means the front office might believe the team’s further along than the rest of us.
Miles Mikolas – 2 years, $15 million to the Cardinals
Despite already having a major league career and a successful career in the NPB, Mikolas is still only 29 and is an interesting upside play considering his track record as a pitcher overseas.
Wellington Castillo – 2 years, $15 million to the White Sox
Here’s something interesting: Wellington Castillo was good again last year! We’ve seen this before obviously, but if he keeps his improved framing skills going next year he could be one of the rare few catchers that shows strong defense without being an offensive liability.
Another interesting development: The White Sox are going for players and are even rumored to be interested in trading for Manny Machado this offseason. Seems odd for a team was as bad as a record that they had, and one year separated from a firesale of sorts.
Joe Smith – 2 years, $15 million to the Astros
Despite having a solid bullpen during the regular season last year, it makes sense the defending champs would look to add a reliable, veteran arm after the unit’s struggles late in the playoffs. Joe Smith isn’t a back-of-the pen, shut down kind of guy, but can eat innings when needed in close games.
Anthony Swarzak – 2 years, $14 million to the Mets
For a team that’s been rumored to be interested in seemingly every free agent who’s signed elsewhere this offseason, they snagged Swarzak, a nifty reliever with varied career success coming off a really strong season.
Steve Cishek – 2 years, $13 million to the Cubs
Cishek may have been good in his early years with the Marlins, but he’s had so many ups and downs and big blown games that he doesn’t scare me at all if he’s on the mound for an opposing team.
Luke Gregerson – 2 years, $11 million to the Cardinals
Gregerson isn’t overwhelming but is a dependable arm that can be used anywhere in the pen.
Michael Pineda – 2 years, $10 million to the Twins
With Pineda coming of surgery and likely to miss most if not all of 2018, this is really a one-year, $10 million flyer. If Pineda recovers fully, chances are he’ll be worth more than the $10 million the Twins own him. If not, it wasn’t a huge blow to a team that historically hesitates to give out big contracts. This is the kind of high upside move they need to make more often.
CC Sabathia – 1 year, $10 million re-signed by the Yankees
The Yankees needed an innings eater. CC needed a job and liked his stay in the Bronx. A one year deal seems like a perfect fit for both sides.
Yusmeiro Petit – 2 years, $10 million to the Angles
I may be one of the few that still thinks Petit has something (maybe it’s because I was always good with him in 2K13.)
Drew Smyly – 2 years, $10 million to the Cubs
Another injury prone pitcher with great talent gets signed by the Cubs. SMyly’s had flashes of brilliance during his career but needs to stay on the field.
Brandon Kintzler – 2 years, $10 million re-signed by the Nationals
Perpetually terrified of a bullpen collapse, the Nats hold onto one of the guys they brought in last year to patch up what was a mess for the first 4.5 months of the season.
Hector Rondon – 2 years, $8 million to the Astros
I feel like Joe Maddon ruined Rondon’s career. He was a really reliable closer for over a year, but Maddon kept him on such a short leash he got into his own head. Maybe a change of scenery will help him get back to where he was before the Cubs traded for Chapman in the 2016 season.
Chris Iannetta – 2 years, $8 million to the Rockies
Improved pitch framing has given Iannetta new hope to prolong his career in the bigs. Maybe Coors will help put a little more oomph in his bat.
Mike Fiers – 1 year, $6 million to the Tigers
Ever few season Fiers has a month where he strikes out a tone of guys and stops giving up homeruns. Then he usually gets hurt, or drills someone in the face, or the season ends and the next time we see him, he’s back to having an ERA of over 4 and getting pulled after 3 innings.
Fernando Rodney – 1 year, $4 million to the Twins
Every year Rodney’s a free agent, every year Rodney gets signed to a team with relievers who are better than him, every year Rodney somehow becomes the closer, and every year Rodney winds up getting a crap ton of saves despite pitching really poorly. I don’t get it.
Doug Fister – 1 year, $4 million to the Rangers
The Rangers take a one-year flyer on Fister, who’s been both good and bad at times as a starter and a reliever.
Chris Martin – 2 years, $4 million to the Rangers
He’s not the lead singer of Coldplay, he’s the 31-year-old reliever that most recently threw for Japan. A Texas native, it’s nice that he’ll be playing in his home town.
Shohei Ohtani – Minor League Contract, about $3 million to the Angles
The Angels won the Ohtani sweepstakes, signing the pitcher/outfielder to a minor league contract. With the move, the team instantly becomes a playoff contender and a must-watch team during the season. Ohtani was the highest-upside pitcher in this year’s free agent market even ignoring his offensive skills, and getting the first true two-way player in decades for a minimum contract is the kind of thing that can completely change the trajectory of a franchise.
Leonys Martin – 1 year, $1.7 million to the Tigers
The Tigers are going be really bad again this season, so why not take a flyer on an outfielder who was once considered a promising up-and-comer.
Wily Peralta – 1 year, $1.5 million to the Royals
Wily Peralta is a major league starting pitcher. He played alright a few times for the Brewers when they were a bad team. He’ll likely play alright a few times for the Royals now when they’re a bad team.
Jordan Lyles- 1 year, $770,000 re-signed by the Padres
After posting a 6.94 ERA with the Rockies over the first half of 2017, Lyles moved to San Diego, where he had a 9.39 ERA. And yet, the Padres saw enough to keep him for one more year, even if it’s for less than a million dollars.
Trades (descriptions to come)
Trade: Yankees receive Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins for Starlin Castro, Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers
Trade: Angels receive Ian Kinsler from Detroit for Wilkel Hernandez and Troy Montgomery
Trade: Mariners receive Dee Gordon from the Marlins for Nick Neifert, Robert Dugger and Chris Torres
Trade: Mariners receive Ryon Healy from the A’s for Alexander Campos and Emilio Pagan
Trade: Padres receive Bryan Mitchell and Chase Headley from Yankees for Jabari Blash
Trade: Arizona gets Brad Boxberger from Tampa for Curtis Taylor
Trade: Blue Jays receive Aledmys Diaz from Cardinals for JB Woodman