For now on as I write these updates about the happenings in baseball front offices from free agents to trades to drafts to simply just rumors, I’m going to be relating everything that isn’t actually fact by reminding you that most meats taste better with a little bit of salt. And sometimes you need a lot of salt, just like most rumors.
Here is a quick recap of the highlight moves this past weekend:
- After nearly two years of media driven trade talks the Red Sox, late Sunday afternoon, finally traded for the services of Adrian Gonzalez. And the trade was not without drama, as it seemed it had fallen through right around noon because Boston and Gonzalez could not agree on a contract extension. However the trigger was eventually pulled on the trade and now Boston will have to attempt to sign Gonzalez (5-6 years, $25-27MM a year) on their own time. In return the Padres got four prospects, Boston’s top pitching and overall prospect Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and the famous PTBNL (player to be named later).
- The first “big name” free agent went off the board when the Washington Nationals shelled out $126MM over seven years to get the former Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth. Now I like Werth, he is a solid, no, he is a very good player, but that is WAY TOO MUCH! They are basically giving him $18MM a season. This offer came quick and was agreed upon even quicker because Werth and his agent Scott Boras knew it was way out of the ballpark of any other offers. Werth, had he waited to see what Crawford signed for, was likely to get between $13-15MM a season for four or five years. Going to be interesting in a few years when the Nats are paying the tail end of that contract and having to shell out more than that for players like Ryan Zimmerman, Stephan Strasburg, and Bryce Harper. Just for the record that seventh season, Werth will be 39, guarantee you that he won’t be “werth” that type of money.
- The Yankees finally inked out contracts with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and as expected they overpaid for both to keep them in pinstripes. Jeter got a three-year, $51MM contract with a 4th year option that guarantees he will make at least $56MM over the life of the contract. Rivera got a two-year, $30MM contract that will almost definitely take him to his retirement.
- Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado SS, agreed to an extension worth the extra $119MM on top of what he was earning through the year 2020. My opinion, this was a bit too much and has now set the market higher than it should be for future players of similar age and performance. In the next couple years look for Joey Votto, Ryan Zimmerman, Carlos Gonzalez, and eventually Elvis Andrus to start extension talks off with this contract.
- The Rockies also re-signed pitcher Jorge de la Rosa to a three-year, $32MM contract, the third year is a player option and there is a team option, fourth year worth $11MM.
- The White Sox were busy this week signing 1B/OF Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56MM contract and resigning C A.J. Pierzynski to two years worth $8MM. Both will be deferring their payments in order to make it economically possible for Chicago to re-sign 1B Paul Konerko as well. Konerko is still drawing interest from other teams, including a lot from the Rangers, but I have a feeling here that he will return to the Windy City.
- In a move that has me scratching my head because for the life of me I can’t figure out the logic: Lance Berkman has agreed to a one-year, $8MM deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. No Albert Pujols is not injured, being traded or leaving right now for anything (however he is a free agent at the end of 2011). Nope, the Cardinals signed Berkman and will use him as their starting left fielder. So the 35-year-old, coming off one of his least productive seasons, will move from 1B to LF, where he hasn’t played since 2007, and be an everyday player…alright, whatever.
- The other big name players signing this week include: Juan Uribe (3B/SS) – 3 years, $21MM with the Dodgers / Miguel Tejada (3B/SS) – 1 year, $6.5MM with the Giants / Pat Burrell (OF) – 1 year, $1MM resign with the Giants / Bronson Arroyo (SP) – 3 year, $35MM extension with the Reds / Aaron Harang (SP) – 1 year, $3MM with the Padres / Hisanori Takahaski (RP) – 2 years, $8MM with the Angels / Jason Varitek (C ) – 1 year, $2MM resign with the Red Sox / Rod Barajas (C ) – 1 year, $3.25MM resign with the Dodgers / Yorvit Torrealba (C ) – 2 years, $6.25MM with the Rangers
If you look over all of that, that is a whole lot of cheddar to be passed out this soon after Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. But there you go, those are the facts, now let’s have some fun and pour out a lot of salt as well.
- Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe, “it appears the Rangers will draw the line at five years for the 32-year-old lefthander, but the Yankees could put it over the top with a sixth year.” (take a tablespoon of salt and spread evenly…because I seriously doubt the Rangers lose out not because of money but due to this one extra year.)
- Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports has a source saying “Cliff Lee has told former Rangers teammates a sixth year would bring him back to Texas.” (my initial reaction here is to yell SALT, so please take it, but we will find out how much in the next 48-72 hours)
- Jon Heyman, Sports Illustrated, “hearing [the] Rangers [are] not planning to go six years on Lee…hopeful [that] camaraderie [and] proximity pay off…do expect at least the Yankees to go six [years].” (salt, salt, salt)
- Jon Heyman earlier this morning, “buzz is [Cliff] Lee wants to stay with Rangers.” (Salt, but makes that statement by Brown tastes a little better without so much salt.)
- Ken Davidoff, Newsday, “I think this could go down very quickly: Offer from the Yankees, counter from the Rangers, counter from the Yankees, game over.” (Handful of SALT)
- Brian Cashman, Yankees GM, “I flew into Arkansas especially to meet with Cliff Lee and his wife and his agent. I did that very early in the process. I was the first one out of the gate there. So everybody knows I got ahead of everybody else. But it’s their dance card. They’re setting the pace of this thing. I can only wait and respect the process they put themselves in. It took them a long time; they fought through a lot of different cities to get to this point. I’m hoping this will be the last city he ends up in, in New York. We’ll see how it plays out.” (Ok..whatever that’s suppose to mean.)
- Jayson Stark of ESPN was told by one source in regards to Lee’s timetable to sign, “…will take three days at the Winter Meetings.”
Not a lot of new news here, but since the Winter Meetings are beginning today, expect that to change over the next couple of days, if not hours. But I can guarantee you this, today the Crawford Camp is very excited with the contract Werth got from the Nationals. Crawford is a better player than Werth, better fielder, better hitter, oh yeah and three years younger. So what this contract to Werth changes for Crawford, well his camp will not be looking for $20-23MM a season and will not even beginning conversations unless started with seven years, however they will be looking more for eight to nine, if not ten years. So I don’t see him signing for less than seven years, $140MM to upwards of nine years at $200MM. I know it sounds ludicrous, but because of Werth’s contract, that second figure is more likely than the first.
As of right now, I believe that this has become a three team race for the offseason, this includes the Rangers, Braves, and Blue Jays. Now I say this offseason because if Greinke does not get traded then come July there might be more teams jumping into the picture. I have a theory on the Rangers not trading for Greinke until closer to July, but that is only dependent upon the signing of Cliff Lee. Honestly, don’t expect much news about Greinke this week, no offense to him, but this is Cliff Lee Sweepstakes Week, if not weeks. There will still be some news about Greinke, but not a lot until after Lee signs.
So there is the latest, the Winter Meetings have begun and trust me there is a lot more to come over the next five days. (SALT!!!)