Christmas Come Early for Baseball!

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Wow, what a past week. It was already expected there would be some activity this past week, but some things you just can’t prepare yourself for. But here it is, a recap of the Winter Meetings and what is to come for the future. Brace Yourself:

First, let’s look at the World Champion San Francisco Giants, who re-signed Center Fielder Angel Pagan and infielder Marco Scutaro. Both players were instrumental in the Giants comebacks in the Division Series, Championship Series and eventual sweep in the World Series. Re-signing them was the smart move, giving them some stability in those positions which have been hit hard by injuries in the past.

While I think 4 years for $40 million maybe a little much for Pagan, he really earned it. He had a good season and an even better playoffs. He even played an amazing center field, covering a lot of ground and playing gold glove caliber defense. Scutaro on the other hand, killed it ever since he was traded over to San Francisco. He hit over .300 and drove countless run after run, especially during crunch time.

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In some dull news, Asdrubal Cabrera stayed put. After much speculation to whether or not he would be traded during the meetings, it all turned out to be just innocent flirting. While it is still early in the offseason, I was a little disappointed to see him stay put. He is a real impact bat, and could turn a few teams around and make them serious title contenders.

The New York Mets decided they would lock up David Wright until 2020. Smart move, considering they moved the fences in at Citi Field finally and when they did, Wright responded with a great season. But was this one season enough to warrant a huge extension? Not sure really, but who knows, he is a talented player coming into his prime. Same rational to why the Rays locked up Evan Longoria, just Longoria’s move makes the Rays a better team in the long run (more on that later).

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The Red Sox, who just 2 winters ago went crazy, spending over a quarter of a billion dollars on Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, are undoubtedly on their way to moving into a new era. They may have overpaid a little bit, but they signed Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino to multi-year deals. Ideally so they could have some flexibility with spending down the road, and they could fill some of the holes on their roster.

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The Philadelphia Phillies acquired Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins. While it seems to be a smart move for the franchise, they spent a large amount for a slap hitting outfielder. He will add gold glove defense to the position, but by giving up Vance Worley in the deal, the Phillies now need to shop for another starter to add to the rotation.

Michael Young, aka Mr. Versatile for the Texas Rangers was also dealt to the Phillies, which cut ties with the only franchise he has played for.  It’s a interesting move for the Rangers, who so far have missed out on Zach Grienke and haven’t re-signed Josh Hamilton. Many rumors have Hamilton headed back to Texas, but at what cost? He is asking for 6 to 7 years in the neighborhood of $25 million a year. My best bet is clubs wait on him, and stall until January or early February at worst.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers, backed by their new ownership group, broke out the checkbooks once again. They signed Korean Hyun-Jin Ryu to a six year deal with $36 million, just after announcing that they finalized a deal with Zach Grienke for six years pending a physical. They are hoping that adding Grienke and Ryu to the rotation of Beckett, Kershaw and Billingley can get them over the hump next year and overtake the World Champion San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers also re-signed closer Brandon League to a 3 year pact, shoring up their bullpen with a proven on.

After last seasons acquisitions of Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez,  and Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers are trying to spend their way to the top. While they have really dipped into their pockets since being over taken by Magic Johnson and his team of partners, they haven’t made a splash yet in the division. The rival San Franciso Giants won the division this season, and then went on to win the World Series.

Will 2013 be the year the Dodgers make a move in the division?

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In some dull news, Asdrubal Cabrera stayed put. After much speculation to whether or not he would be traded during the meetings, it all turned out to be just innocent flirting. While it is still early in the offseason, I was a little disappointed to see him stay put. He is a real impact bat, and could turn a few teams around and make them serious title contenders.

The Red Sox, who just 2 winters ago went crazy, spending over a quarter of a billion dollars on Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, are undoubtedly on their way to moving into a new era. They may have overpaid a little bit, but they signed Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino to multi-year deals. Ideally so they could have some flexibility with spending down the road, and they could fill some of the holes on their roster.

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This morning, the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays swapped a total of six players, highlighted by Starting Pitcher James Shields and top prospect Wil Myers. The deal is a huge shocker to many, with the Royals becoming big spenders in Free Agency.

Already having acquired Ervin Santana in a trade with the Angels and re-signed Jeremy Guthrie to a multi-year deal, the trade today to acquire James Shields and reliever Wade Davis is Kansas City’s most aggressive move yet. They are signaling they want to win now, even if it means parting with Prospect of the Year Wil Myers, who ironically never played a game for Kansas City at the Major League level. With a wide open AL Central next year, the Royals are looking to contend for the division title and these moves can help them on their way to that goal.

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The Tampa Bay Rays may have gotten the better deal in this swap. They parted James Shields, who arguably was the most expendable trade assest in the rotation, for a top prospect who can fill in the outfield void that B.J. Upton left when we signed with Atlanta. The Rays also acquired starting pitcher Jake Odirizzi,  minor leaguers Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard.

This offseason the Rays have also signed James Loney and acquired Yunel Escobar to fill some infield holes and add depth. While neither are prominent free agents, they both come in with little expectation and should not have too much pressure to succeed. Don’t forget, Tampa is the place where under-valued free agents go to flourish.

Coupled with the extension they gave Evan Longoria, the Rays are looking to stay in contention next season to compete with the Blue Jays.

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The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are looking to shore up their rotation this offseason after allowing Zach Grienke to walk in free agency. They signed Joe Blanton to a 2 year deal, and also flipped a trade with the Braves, acquiring starting pitcher Tommy Hansen for reliever Jordan Walden. Smart move? Maybe, but they added a young arm and didn’t give up too much. Smart move, but their rotation still needs work, not having an ace for a team that talented is a big problem. Espcially when they spent so much last offseason, only to finish in 3rd place.

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So where do we go from here? Many contenders still need to make some impact moves. With the Baltimore Orioles losing Mark Reynolds to the Indians, they need to add another impact bat if they want to defend their Wild Card title and return to the playoffs.

The Oakland Athletics left Nashville without a shortstop, a drastic change from last year where they traded away Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey within a span of 3 weeks. But they still have hopes of re-signing Stephen Drew, who solidified the position once geting traded to Oakland late in the season.

But it’s still early. With a deal for Hamilton on the horizon, the spotlight will turn to see where he will sign. There are many rumors that say he will either stay in Texas or sign with the Seattle Mariners. Wherever he goes, it should have a huge impact on whatever division he ends up in, whether the its the AL West or somewhere else.

Stay Tuned, this is only the beginning.

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