Loney, Morse, Kubel, Uribe, Infante Off the Table
There was a rash of signings over the past few days — first let’s take a quick look at the position players locked up.
James Loney signed a 3-year, $21M deal to stay in Tampa Bay. With Loney locked up, the Rays, I imagine, are no longer interested in trading for Ike Davis (if they ever were). If you believe the buzz in the blogosphere, the only suitors left for Davis are the Brewers and possibly the Pirates. Per various reports, the Mets are insisting on Milwaukee pitching prospect Tyler Thornburg in return for Davis, but the Brewers refuse to part with the hard-throwing righthander. No word on what the Mets might be able to extract from the Bucs.
Mike Morse agreed to a contract with the Giants for one year, $6M. Wow, I like this move — it smells a lot like San Francisco’s signing of Aubrey Huff back in 2010. I’ve always been a big fan of Morse — when he’s healthy, he can rake. Of course, the “when he’s healthy” thing has been a problem, and there were reports that his injured wrist won’t hold up for the long-term. But if it holds up in the short-term, the Giants may have something. And if it doesn’t, well, the Giants are “only” out $6M. He had a terrible 2013, which can be attributed to the change in leagues and the wrist problem. His 2012 wasn’t great, but again, injuries played a role. In my mind, a $6M, one-year deal for Morse is akin to paying Ike Davis $6M for one year — if it works out and the guy hits 30 HR again, super. If it doesn’t work out, you cut your losses and move on. The main contrast, though, is that with Morse the gamble is on health, and if he’s hurt, you can put him on the DL. Whereas with Davis, you have to wait and see if the swing and confidence come back — and wait, and wait, and wait …
In a similar, but much less risky signing, the Twins brought back Jason Kubel on a minor-league deal. Kubel hit 30 homers in 2012, but struggled mightily in an injury-plagued 2013. Again, I like this deal — the Twins having nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
The Dodgers re-signed Juan Uribe for two years and $15M. Ouch. This deal I don’t like, mainly because I can’t figure out who the heck Juan Uribe is. Is he the clutch performer who drives in runs like a madman in the postseason, and hits about .280 during the regular season? Or is he that guy with the rusty-gate swing, rarely making contact, and struggling to stay near the Mendoza Line? His defense is solid, he’s a good guy in the clubhouse, but two years and $15M for a 34/35-year old who crapped out in the first two years of his last big contract? Hmm … scary. He appears to be one of those players who performs his best in a walk year.
With Uribe set to play 3B for the Dodgers, that means Hanley Ramirez will be the shortstop. Which, in turn, means that there likely isn’t any room for Dee Gordon — might the Mets make a play for the raw infielder? Yes, I’m still fixated on Gordon — I like the idea of athletic speedsters in a cavernous home park.
Finally, Omar Infante signed a four-year, $30M deal with the Royals. Infante is a solid all-around “ballplayer” — maybe not spectacular in any area, but good to very-good in every area of the game, can play just about anywhere, solid fundamentals, rarely makes a mistake. Though he spent most of his career with the Tigers, I always think of him as a Bobby Cox Brave, because he fit so well into the Cox system of executing, avoiding mistakes, grinding it out. In that way I’ve always seen Infante and Martin Prado as essentially the same person. Is it a good contract for a 32-year-old? Well, if the market says Juan Uribe is worth 2/$15M then I guess so. By moving to Kansas City, Infante is off the list of targets for the Yankees, who considered him as the second base replacement for Robinson Cano. There aren’t many second basemen left on the free-agent market — might the Yankees call the Mets and find out what they’d want for Daniel Murphy?
We’ll take a look at the recent signings of pitchers shortly.