Its been another wild and wooly day in the world of baseball as a whole handful of fantasy relevant players have decided where they will play in 2011.
Edwin Encarnacion: Well look at that. After casting EE adrift because they didn’t want to overpay him (he was picked up off waivers by the Athletics who subsequently decided not to offer him a contract as he was non-tendered), the Blue Jays brought Encarnacion back into the fold. Paid $4.75 million last season, Encarnacion signed a one year deal for $2.5 million with a club option of $3.5 million for 2012. You might not be aware, but Edwin hit 21 homers last season which is more than Scott Rolen (20), Kevin Youkilis (19), Casey Blake (17) and Kevin Kouzmanoff (16) despite the fact that he had just 332 at-bats. A poor third basemen, it appears that the current plan is for Edwin to see some time at third, first and DH this season, potentially splitting time with Adam Lind at 1B/DH. For more of the Encarnacion love fest make sure you read Jason Collette’s Free Agent Forecast: E5 where he expounds about his unhealthy man-crush on the free swinging infielder (it’s kind of creepy how much Jason digs Edwin… I’m just saying Jason).
Bobby Jenks: Buster Olney is reporting that the Red Sox and former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks have agreed to a 2-year deal for $12 million. This signing is a bit odd since the Red Sox already have young flame thrower Daniel Bard, not to mention closer Jonathan Papelbon. It’s pure speculation at this point, but why would the BoSox bother to bring in Jenks to pitch the 7th inning? The point is, they wouldn’t. This leads to the obvious – perhaps the Red Sox are going to rid themselves of Papelbon. Problem is, Jonathan is coming off his worst season since becoming the closer, and he will likely make upwards of $11 million or more through arbitration. Who wants to take on a slumping closer who will make more than $11 million, especially when he will become a free agent after the 2011 season (for more on Papelbon see Around the Horn: Offseason Moves)? Good question. As for Jenks, he is coming off a career worst 4.44 ERA and a five year low of 27 saves, but he actually pitched very, very well. In addition to a five year best with a K/9 rate of 10.42, Jenks also managed the best GB/FB ratio of his career at a superb 2.80. If he combines those two numbers again in 2011, his ERA should fall by at least a run if not back into the 2′s.
Russell Martin: I wrote about Martin’s decision to sign a one year deal with the Yankees in Hot Stove: Lee Isn’t Only Newsmaker. Now comes word that during his physical it was determined that he will need minor knee surgery. The Yankees still signed him to the contract with this knowledge, so you have to think the issue is relatively minor, but it can’t make you feel good about Martin’s 2011 outlook given that he is coming off of two mediocre seasons (at best) and a fractured hip. He’s dropping down my draft list.
Magglio Ordonez: Jon Heyman is reporting that Mags will return to the Tigers on a 1-year deal for a rather large $10 million. The Tigers likely had to overpay a bit since they only wanted to do a one year deal with a guy coming back from ankle surgery. Ordonez has been working out and is said to already be close to 100 percent healthy. For more on Ordonez and his prospects for the upcoming season check out Around the Horn: Offseason Moves.
Josh Willingham: Buster Olney is reporting that Willingham will be dealt to the Athletics in exchange for two players (one who has major league experience). I have to hand it to the A’s, they are doing some nice things. Not only have they added two arms to what was potentially the best staff in the AL last year with Rich Harden and Brandon McCarthy, they have also augmented the offense by adding Hidkei Matsui, David DeJesus and now Willingham (you can read more about the addition of Harden in Hot Stove: Pitchers Dominate the News and more about Matsui in the link above in the Martin writeup). Willingham missed the end of 2010 because of knee surgery, and he will be a free agent after the coming campaign, but the guy can hit. Over the past five years Josh has averaged 20 homers and 66 RBI a season despite an average of just 434 at-bats a year. It is a concern that Oakland’s home park doesn’t reward power hitters, and that Willingham hasn’t had even 430 at-bats in any of the last three seasons, but he does add some needed thump to a lineup whose biggest home run hitter in 2010 was Kevin Kouzmanoff with 16.
By Ray Flowers