I was going to do a write up about the Hall of Fame today since the ballot was released this past week. However, I decided that since the Winter Meetings were taking place this upcoming week, I should clear the desk so to speak. I will be doing an extensive Hall of Fame post in a couple of weeks, because I do love talking the Hall. But for now, I will talk about my other favorite part of the offseason, the perpetual motion known at the Hot Stove League.
NATS ACQUIRE SPAN FROM TWINS
The most interesting position this off season is going to be, without a doubt, center fielders. There are several high profile teams looking for them and several available on both the trade and free agent markets. The Nationals were looking for one when they picked up Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for their #2 overall prospect, pitcher Alex Meyer, the 23rd selection in the 2011 Draft.
I like this trade for the Nationals. Denard Span is an outstanding, albeit under-the-radar, major league outfielder. With him in between Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, the Nationals can stake a claim on potentially the best outfield in the National League or perhaps right behind the Dodgers.
For the Twins, this is a trade for the future obviously. The 6'9" Meyer has done nothing in the big leagues so far, but he pitched very well in both classes of single A this year in his first professional season. The Twins farm system ranks right around the middle of the league, but it is very weak in pitching. Meyer immediately becomes their top pitching prospect.
Overall, I will say that I like the trade more for the Nationals no matter what happens with Meyer's future. The reason I say that is because Span is a known quantity and no prospect is guaranteed. This is why GM's usually get multiple prospects for big leaguers. It could work out well for Minnesota, but I feel it's too big of a gamble for arguably the Twins biggest trade chip this season.
BRAVES AND ANGELS SWAP HURLERS
The Braves and Angels made an interesting trade last week as well. Atlanta sent former top prospect starter Tommy Hanson to the Los Angeles for former All Star reliever Jordan Walden. It is clear both pitchers were not on the best of terms with their former teams. Walden had lost his closer job to Ernesto Frieri, while Hanson had been passed on the depth chart by several other young pitchers.
For the Angels, this gives them a cheap replacement for their rotation that lost both Dan Haren and Ervin Santana to cost cutting. Hanson has seemingly regressed every year since his rookie year of 2009, but that year he was the #4 prospect in all of baseball. Could he still turn it around?
The Braves pick up another big piece for their increasingly strong bullpen, possibly the strongest in all of baseball. With O'Flaherty, Venters, Walden, and Kimbrel, the Braves might only need their starters to win the first 5 innings in 2013.
I personally like this trade more for the Angels. I have always believed that if you trade a good starter for a good reliever, you lose more often than not. As good as Walden has been, he has pitched less than 100 innings in the past two years combined. Hanson did 174 innings jut in 2012. If the pitchers are arguably equal, I'd prefer the one that is going to pitch more innings.
NOTABLE FREE AGENT SIGNINGS
Angels sign reliever Ryan Madson. 1yr/3.5mil.
Pirates sign catcher Russell Martin. 2yr/17mil.
Yankees re-sign starter Andy Pettitte. 1yr/10mil.
Yankees re-sign reliever Mariano Rivera. 1yr/10mil.
The biggest signing of the week was the Braves picking up center fielder B.J. Upton from the Rays. I wasn't surprised with the destination as it seemed inevitable that Upton would land at 1 of 3 NL East locations. What did surprise me was the contract. 15 million dollars a year seems a bit too much for a guy that hasn't hit over .250 since 2008.
The best signing of the free agency signing period could be the Angel picking up former Phillies closer Ryan Madson. Madson signed last year with the Reds, but missed the season due to injury. A very inexpensive one year deal could work out very well for the Angels. Plus, this signing enabled the Tommy Hanson trade I detailed above.
Three years ago, how many of you would have ever expected the Pirates to outbid New York on a Yankees player. That is what happened here with former Yankees catcher Russell Martin joining the Bucs. It was probably an overpay, but I believe a necessary overpay.
Speaking of the Yankees, they did manage to re-sign two of their three holdovers from the mid-90s championship teams to matching 10 million dollar contracts. Unless the Yankees make some kind of statement later this offseason (trading ARod for example), this might FINALLY be the year that age catches up to them.
Thanx for reading.