Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Catching Up (pt. 2)

Continuing on my post from Tuesday, we’re going to finish up on talking about some of the biggest storylines of the offseason. 

Greinke rumors abounded all offseason, with Royals GM Dayton Moore asking the world for his young ace and several other teams waiting for the price to come down to pull the trigger. Greinke even publicly requested a trade, weakening Moore's position somewhat. Finally, on December 20, Brewers GM Doug Melvin decided the price was right for him and picked up Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt, and $2 million (to pay Betancourt’s 2012 buyout, should the Brewers decide not to pick up his $12 million club option) in return for outfielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar, and righty starters Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorozzi. This seems like a pretty big bargain for Greinke, as none of the prospects going to KC are exactly blue-chip guys. The Brewers have added Grienke and Shaun Marcum this offseason, and they join a top three with Yovani Gallardo that immediately puts the Brewers right up with the Reds and Cardinals in the battle for supremacy in what should be a tightly contested NL Central. However, Yuniesky Betancourt is going to be their starting shortstop. Betancourt is probably the worst everyday shortstop in baseball, and he’s put up a total of –0.7 WAR in the last three years. Last year was his best of the three, with a 0.6 WAR. Not exactly what you’re looking for from your starting shortstop. In fact, as I write, MLBTR just announced that the Brewers have resigned Craig Counsell. Counsell could split time with Betancourt, but the exact share or how that situation will shake out will probably not be decided until at least spring training.

The AL Central opens its wallets
While the Royals sold, the Tigers and White Sox bought big in an effort to catch up to the defending division champion Twins. The Tigers added Victor Martinez for 4 years and $50 million, Joaquin Benoit for 3 years at $16.5 million, and resigned both Jhonny Peralta and Magglio Ordoñez. Meanwhile, the Sox added Adam Dunn for 4 years and $56 million and resigned Paul Konerko for another 3 years and $37.5 million. The Sox are fourth and the Tigers sixth in overall free agent spending so far this offseason, populating the top six along with leader Boston and Washington, Philly, and the Yankees.

The relief market goes nuts
So far this offseason, 10 relievers have signed multiyear deals, including four for three seasons. The market was set by the aforementioned Benoit contract with the Tigers, and since then Scott Downs, Jesse Crain, and Matt Guerrier have all signed for three years, with Rafael Soriano still on the market. The last time more than two relievers signed for 3+ years was 2007, so this represents a relief market very much in free agents’ favor.

Jeter and Rivera remain in pinstripes
Though negotiations got a little interesting in both cases, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera both agreed to stay with the Yankees organization for multiple years, with Jeter signing back on for $17 million per year over three years and Rivera getting two years at $15 million per. The Jeter negotiations seemed at first like they would be fairly smooth, but in late November it was revealed that the Yankees and Jeter were far apart. Brian Cashman offered Jeter 3 years and $45 million, Jeter’s agent believed he could get much more, and Cashman suggested that he test the market in an attempt to do just that. Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t anyone willing to pay Jeter nearly as much as he wanted, and eventually Jeter and agent Casey Close agreed to sign a slightly improved Yankees offer.

Next time, I’ll take a look at a few storylines to watch for in the remainder of the offseason, including the few remaining big-name free agents, the Matt Garza trade market, and the suitors for the many reclamation project starters still available. 

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