Winter Meetings Wrap-up
A quick rundown on what happened between the last winter meetings update and the end of the meetings …
The Dodgers traded Matt Kemp, catcher Tim Federowicz, and $32M to the San Diego Padres in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal and right-handed pitchers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin. Whoa. I know that LA had a logjam in the OF, a bloated payroll, and needed a catcher, but was this the best they could do? Especially when they sent so much cash to San Diego? Think of it this way: how many MLB teams would salivate over the possibility of having a difference-maker and potential MVP on their roster for the next 5 years for the “measly” sum of $75M? In today’s market, that’s a steal for a power hitter. Yeah, Kemp is 30 years old and his best days are behind him, but again, think about it from the aspect of what a team gets in return for 5/75. Compare that to, for example, the fact that Albert Pujols will be getting $130M over the next five years — and will still be due another $59M over the next two beyond that! And really, isn’t it likely that Kemp and Pujols have similar production between now and 2019? Or, compare to the contract Pablo Sandoval just signed — 5 years, $95M. Will Sandoval be more productive than Kemp? Aren’t there similar questions regarding age and health?
Also, it seems that the Dodgers flipped Elfin to Philadelphia, added lefty Tom Windle, and possibly included someone else in return for Jimmy Rollins. All the particulars are not yet in place, but it seems that Rollins to LA is a done deal.
Finally, the Hollywood boys signed Brandon McCarthy to a 4-year, $48M contract. Yowza. That seems like a lot of money and years for a 30-something starter with a very spotty injury history and only one MLB season of more than 170 innings pitched. Wouldn’t the Dodgers have been better off keeping Kemp and his contract?
So that was just the Dodgers. In other news …
The Phillies continued their tear-down by sending Antonio Bastardo to the Pirates in return for minor league LHP Joely Rodriguez. Doesn’t seem like big news, but Bastardo appeared in 244 games over the past 4 years, averaging about 11 Ks per 9 innings. This is a great under-the-radar pickup for the Bucs, and at first glance, seems puzzling by the Phillies — couldn’t they have received more in return for a proven, fairly solid lefthanded reliever who misses bats? Rodriguez’s minor league numbers are unspectacular, and he’s “old” (23) for someone who just spent his first year in AA and produced a stat line that suggests a repeat at that level. However, there’s more to Rodriguez than the numbers — he’s lefthanded, for one, and he’s spent his entire pro career as a starter. In that capacity, he’s touched 95 MPH with a four-seamer, though usually operates on the corners with a 91-93 MPH two-seamer / sinker. Hmm … sounds similar to the lefthanded version of a young Bobby Parnell. Maybe the Phillies think that a move to the bullpen and another year of seasoning will turn Rodriguez into another — shall we say? — Antonio Bastardo?
The Red Sox rival the Dodgers in their winter activity. We already covered the signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez that occurred prior to meetings, and since then, they also re-signed Koji Uehara, signed Justin Masterson, traded for Wade Miley, and sent Yoenis Cespedes to Detroit for Rick Porcello. A week ago, the Bosox were desperate for pitching — particularly starting pitching — and it appeared as though they might be a potential trade partner for the Mets, considering that Boston had a surplus of outfielders such as Cespedes, Shane Victorino, and Allen Craig, as well as a possible surplus of shortstops. Well, now with Porcello and Masterson added to the staff, I don’t know if there will be dialogue between the Red Sox and Mets. Though, I could see Dillon Gee sent to Beantown for Craig — our own Dan Capwell suggested Allen Craig as a possible target a few weeks ago. Seems feasible to me — what do you think? I still don’t like the idea of trading Gee, but if the Mets are intent on dumping his salary, getting Craig would seem to be a good fit, based on their desire to find a RH-hitting corner guy to keep Lucas Duda on the bench against LHPs. Thoughts?
Rumor had it that when the Mets called about Cespedes, Boston insisted on Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler in return. I’m sure every Mets fan believed that was preposterous, but if you step back and look at it from a non-biased perspective, it wasn’t an obnoxious demand and it was worth considering. Of course, one has to take off the blue and orange glasses and understand that Wheeler and deGrom are not guaranteed to become Cy Young Award winners. It could be argued that Boston received a better return than either Wheeler or deGrom in landing Porcello, who is about the same age (25) as both Mets hurlers but has 6 full seasons of MLB experience. He might not win a Cy Young or be the ace of a staff, but he’s a proven, valuable entity — he’s won 14 or more games three times, won in double-digits every season, has taken the ball 30 times a year in five of his six seasons, and is coming off his very best season as a pro. The one thing Porcello doesn’t do is miss bats, and if you over-value that skill, then you might think Porcello isn’t as valuable as deGrom or Wheeler. Then there’s the other big point: Porcello, like Cespedes, will be a free-agent after 2015. I know many of you don’t feel it makes sense to trade for a one-year rental, but a) it’s always possible to extend players; and b) at some point, when a team decides it’s going “all in,” there likely will be a few rentals to help getting to the postseason. I’m not suggesting that the Mets should have traded deGrom or Wheeler for Cespedes; all I’m saying is that it isn’t nearly as inconceivable as the Mets blogosphere perceived. The Mets need offense, and are looking for homerun power in particular. Today, that kind of player has a high cost. Cespedes is one of those players. I also wonder if this time next year, people will be wondering if the Mets should have “sold high” on deGrom (or Wheeler) — reminds me a little of the winters when no Mets fan wanted to give up Lastings Milledge for Manny Ramirez.
The White Sox are right behind the Red Sox and Dodgers in terms of winter activity. They signed David Robertson (I don’t remember if we covered that one or not. In any case, scratch him off your Christmas list), traded for LOOGY Dan Jennings, and traded for Jeff Samardzija. They also just signed Melky Cabrera.
The Cubs signed Jon Lester.
The Reds traded Mat Latos to the Marlins for Anthony DeSclafani and Chad Wallach, and traded Alfredo Simon to Detroit Tigers for SS Eugenio Suarez and RHP Jonathon Crawford. I don’t understand either of these deals from the Cincinnati perspective, and don’t understand if they’re shooting for the postseason or rebuilding. Regardless, the Fish now have a new version of Josh Johnson — a starter with ace-like stuff, IF you can get him on the mound. They’re rolling the dice that Latos will remain healthy enough to be a factor, but I’m betting against it. Latos has battled various arm issues through the years and his mechanics are dangerous. Funny how those two things go hand in hand.
The Cardinals signed Mark Reynolds. Hmm … he wouldn’t have been a terrible option for the Mets for that RH-hitting corner guy with power playing twice a week role.
There were other moves during the meetings that I missed, I’m sure. And there have been more moves since last week, that we’ll get to shortly. Is it me, or have the last few weeks been unusually crazy in terms of player movement?
Post your notes in the comments.