With the Winter Meetings complete, the news is starting to slow a bit in the world of the Hot Stove, but there are still plenty of attention worthy events taking place.
Jay Bruce: The Reds didn’t want to risk alienating their young power hitting star, and with the arbitration process being one that could send his contract out of sight, the Reds opted for cost certainty by locking up Bruce with a 6-year, $51 million deal (there is also a club option for $12 million). Bruce is coming off his best season of .281 with 25 homers and 70 RBI, and he kicked things into warp drive in the second half of the season pulling a Troy Tulowitzki late in the year with 15 homers, 29 RBI and a .338 average over his last 43 games. I’m all for clubs signing their young stars to deals like this. It’s a certain risk, especially when you consider that Bruce hasn’t been an All-Star performer for more than about 65 games in his career, but if clubs don’t sign their players to deals like this they risk losing their young stars through free agency (The End of Baseball?). The Reds are now focused on signing Joey Votto to a long-term deal, though that negotiation will likely be a bit more difficult after Votto won the NL MVP Award.
Ryan Garko: What, he is still playing baseball? Yes he is, though you will have to travel to Korea to watch him play in 2011.
Zack Greinke: The Royals continue to listen to offers for their ace, but GM Dayton Moore said the team is not actively soliciting offers for the hurler. It seems like Greinke will be dealt once the Cliff Lee saga concludes, and if the Rangers lose out on Lee, expect them to go all in to add Greinke.
Cliff Lee: He is taking his time to sift through at least two offers that appear to be for 7-years from the Yankees and Rangers. As former GM Steve Phillips said yesterday on The Fanball Drive on Sirius/XM Radio, he has some serious concerns about a contract that long for a pitcher. As he pointed out, a player breaks/tears something and he rehabs the injury to come back at nearly 100 percent. A similar injury to a pitcher could cause that pitcher to return at 85 percent, or worse yet, even end his career. By the way, how did those $100+ million deals for hurlers Kevin Brown, Mike Hampton, Barry Zito and Johan Santana work out?
Hideki Matsui: Spurned by Adrian Beltre who laughably suggested that he would love to play for the Athletics (a total B.S. move designed to drive up his cost on the open market), the A’s seem to have their sites set on Hideki Matsui. Godzilla is coming off a .274-21-84 season with the Angels, and he has knocked in at least 84 runs in each of the six seasons in his career in which he has come to bat at least 450 times. So even though he is old an unexciting, he is still productive at the dish. As for Beltre, it would appear that Athletics have moved on after he rejected their 5-year, $64 million deal (to be fair he never rejected it as he actually never officially responded). Reports suggest that Beltre is looking for $70-$85 million over five years. Will anyone pony up that much dough?
Vicente Padilla: Signed a 1-year, low dollar deal ($2 million) to return to the Dodgers. He is being viewed as a jack-of-all trades option who could start, help out in long relief, and potentially even close if need be. He is 33 years old and coming off a wildly successful season that saw him post a 1.08 WHIP and a K/9 rate of 7.96, but ff history is a guide, he will not repeat that success as the K-rate and WHIP were career bests. He also posted a 4.07 ERA, his best mark in seven seasons. It’s a minimal investment for the Dodgers and a good signing, but be careful with Padilla in the fantasy game.
Jose Reyes: The 7-year, $142 million deal that Carl Crawford signed could impact the Mets ability to sign Reyes long-term. Working in the final year of his current deal ($11 million), if Reyes bounces back to his pre-injury form you can better believe he will use Crawford’s deal as a starting point for negotiations. Will that lead the Mets to move Reyes at some point prior to the trading deadline?
George Sherrill: Signed a 1-year deal for $1.2 million to join the Braves, Sherrill doesn’t figure to be in the closer’s mix as the team will likely turn over the 9th to Craig Kimbrel and potentially Jonny Venters if the situation dictates that move. Sherrill’s numbers look awful – 6.69 ERA and a 1.93 WHIP over 36.1 innings – but he was still death on lefties holding them to a .192 average. He’ll have solid value as a holds option in NL-only leagues.
Justin Upton: It appears nearly certain that he will remain with the Diamondbacks. According to a report, GM Kevin Towers only talked to one team about the talented outfielder at the Winter Meetings which seems to suggest one of two things. (1) The D’backs asking price was prohibitive to getting a deal done. (2) Teams were scared off by the continued issues that Upton has had with his shoulder. It’s probably for the best anyway as the D’backs don’t have anywhere near the financial resources to replace Upton’s productivity. Just 23 years old, Upton has averaged 22 homers, 78 RBI, 79 runs and 19 steals in his two full seasons all the while hitting .287. Kind of makes you wonder though – why in the world would the Diamondbacks even be entertaining offers for their burgeoning superstar? Perhaps that wing of his is a long-term concern?
By Ray Flowers