2014 AL Preview

EAST

Can the Red Sox repeat their success from last year?

PROJECTED FINISH

1. Tampa Bay Rays (94-68)

2. Boston Red Sox (90-72)

3. Toronto Blue Jays (85-77)

4. New York Yankees (82-80)

5. Baltimore Orioles (79-83)

SLEEPER TEAM: Toronto Blue Jays

All five teams in the AL East have at least a reasonable chance at contention in what shapes up to be the most competitive division in baseball.  But of the five teams, the Blue Jays seem to be getting the least amount of buzz.  Projected to challenge for the division title last year after a very active offseason, the Jays instead slumped into last place with a 74-88 record, the only sub-.500 team in the division.  And this offseason, they added only catcher Dioner Navarro to the fold, returning essentially the same roster as the one that was so disappointing a year ago.  So why will they succeed in 2014?  Because they can’t possibly be as unlucky as they were in 2013.  As this handy chart (warning: language is NSFW) compiled by Reddit user atomicbolt displays, the Jays had more freak injuries than a bus crash at a carnival last year.  Assuming the team is healthy, the talent is there.  If Jose Bautista can play more than the 105 games he has averaged over the past two seasons, he will anchor a lineup that has as much firepower as any in the American League.  The rotation is a little shakier — behind R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, the team will throw two injury risks — Dustin McGowan and Brandon Morrow — and a 23 year old prospect, Drew Hutchinson.  But if the Jays can miraculously stay at something resembling full strength throughout the season, they could finally live up to the expectations heaped on them before the 2013 season.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: New York Yankees

Last year, despite scoring 21 fewer runs than they allowed, and despite frequently starting the likes of Eduardo Nunez, Chris Stewart, and Lyle Overbay, the New York Yankees managed to contend until the last week of the season, finishing with a record of 85-77.  And this offseason, they bought nearly every player available on the open market, spending a total of $491 million to acquire the likes of Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Masahiro Tanaka.  But despite the spending spree, the Yankees still have gaping holes in their infield — one talent evaluator called it “the worst in baseball.”  They’ve lost superstar second baseman Robinson Cano, their first baseman is coming off a major wrist injury, their best third baseman is suspended for the year, and their shortstop is 40 years old and on the doorstep of retirement.  The pitching staff has question marks as well — formerly reliable ace C.C. Sabathia is coming off his worst career season and has seen his velocity drop precipitously over the past three seasons.  The team is old everywhere (nobody in the starting lineup is under 30) , and simply doesn’t have the depth to weather the inevitable attrition that comes with the injuries of an aging team.  For the first time since the 1980s, a spending spree won’t be enough to fix what ails the New York Yankees.

WHY WILL THE RAYS WIN THE EAST?

It seems amazing that the Tampa Bay Rays could possibly be the favorites in a division that contains both the defending world champion Red Sox and the free-spending Yankees.  And yet, the Rays have compiled such an impressive amount of talent that it seems a fifth playoff appearance in seven years is not only possible, but likely.  The team’s stable of pitching depth is so impressive that the Rays could have traded away former Cy Young winner David Price in the offseason and still had one of the best rotations in the sport.  And unfortunately for the rest of the American League, they hung onto Price, who will headline a rotation that includes three other pitchers whose ERAs sat under 3.30 in 2013.  The lineup, led by Evan Longoria and James Loney at the corners, as well as Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings up the middle, is no slouch either.  They have a payroll that projects to be among the bottom five in the league, but the Rays have their best opportunity yet to prove that money isn’t everything.

CENTRAL

Can James Shields help make some magic happen for the Royals in 2014?

Can James Shields help make some magic happen for the Royals in 2014?

PROJECTED FINISH

1. Detroit Tigers (89-73)

2. Kansas City Royals (85-77)

3. Cleveland Indians (79-83)

4. Chicago White Sox (69-93)

5. Minnesota Twins (65-97)

SLEEPER TEAM: Kansas City Royals

This may be the best shot the Royals have towards breaking the playoff drought that has lasted since their only World Series title in 1985.  They have a bona fide ace in James Shields, a superstar talent in flamethrower Yordano Ventura, and a bullpen that last year was easily the best in the American League.  Offensively, the 2013 season saw Eric Hosmer break out at age 23, posting a .302/.353/.448 slash and 3.6 bWAR, and the Royals have another breakout candidate this year in 25 year old Mike Moustakas.  Elsewhere on the diamond, the Royals finally solved their long-standing second base problem by signing the reliable Omar Infante, and made a savvy pickup in outfielder Norichika Aoki.  Of course, the Dayton Moore-led front office also made a couple missteps this offseason, handing Jason Vargas a 4 year, $32 million contract and allowing Ervin Santana to escape while simultaneously re-signing Bruce Chen.  Thus, the back of the rotation is shaky, with Vargas and Chen joining the adequate but unspectacular Jeremy Guthrie.  Their pitching will likely regress, but the Royals have a real shot to usurp the Tigers and bring the AL Central crown back to Missouri for the first time.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Cleveland Indians

After 94 losses in 2012, the Indians shocked the baseball world in 2013 with a scalding second half that enabled them to win 92 games and a wild card berth.  They did so on the backs of an emerging superstar in Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, and Yan Gomes, as well unlikely resurgences from  key members of their pitching staff, Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir.  Unfortunately for the Indians. Jimenez and Kazmir are gone, Jimenez heading to Baltimore and Kazmir to Oakland.  Gomes’ 2013, in which he hit .294/.345/.481 with 11 home runs in 88 games, might be sustainable (he hit a freakishly similar .287/.345/.484 in his 5-year minor league career), but it also might not.  And in order to accommodate Gomes, the Indians have moved the defense-challenged Santana to third base (a position he hasn’t played regularly in eight years), where he could either be a revelation or a tire fire.  The Indians have too many question marks, too many things that have to break that way. It’s impossible to feel confident predicting success for them, but don’t rule out another surprise season.BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Cleveland Indians

WHY WILL THE TIGERS WIN THE EAST?

The Tigers, even without Doug Fister, have one of the most formidable rotations in the major leagues.  Their rotation is so good that reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer is the team’s number 2 starter, behind 2011 AL MVP/Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.  And Scherzer might not even be better than the team’s 3 starter, Anibal Sanchez, the 2013 AL ERA leader.  The lineup has more holes than it has in the past (especially at shortstop), but with reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera alongside Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter, the Tigers should hit enough to back up that outstanding pitching staff.

WEST

The addition of Prince Fielder may not be enough to slow the Rangers' fall.

The addition of Prince Fielder may not be enough to slow the Rangers’ fall.

PROJECTED FINISH

1. Los Angeles Angels (92-70)

2. Oakland Athletics (89-73)

3. Texas Rangers (84-78)

4. Seattle Mariners (74-88)

5. Houston Astors (59-103)

SLEEPER TEAM: Los Angeles Angels

It’s a little hard to call that plays in Los Angeles and has some of the most notable stars in the sport a sleeper.  But after four years without a playoff berth, and two years of disappointment in the shadow of the Albert Pujols contract, it’s difficult to find a prognosticator who’s bullish on LA’s other team.  And for good reason — the Angels struggled mightily in the first half of 2013, finishing with a 79-83 overall record.  Albert Pujols, their highest-paid player played in only 99 games, and hit a career-low .259 with just 17 home runs.  Josh Hamilton, the superstar who hit 43 home runs the year before signing a 5 year, $125 million deal with LA, hit fewer than half that in his first year of the contract, with an on-base percentage that barely cracked .300.  So why be optimistic?  Because despite the struggles of Pujols and Hamilton last year, the two are still superstar talents primed for ascension back to their career norms.  And of course, the Angels have recent $144.5 millionare Mike Trout, unquestionably the greatest talent in the game right now.  Despite having a thin pitching staff that features C.J. Wilson, Jared Weaver, and not much else, the Angels still seem likely to be buoyed by their superstars to a strong finish in 2014.

 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Texas Rangers

After the greatest five-year run in the history of the franchise, it seems the door is finally shutting on the Texas Rangers dynasty.  Last year, the team’s formerly prolific offense slid back to the middle of the pack, posting a .737 OPS, which ranked 8th in the league, and a 99 OPS+.  So the Rangers spent heavily this offseason to rectify this problem, signing free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and taking on Prince Fielder’s contract in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler.  Choo is a solid addition, but the Fielder trade, which opened a spot on the infield for top prospect Jurrickson Profar, seems more a lateral move than a positive one — after all, Kinsler was second among Rangers’ position players with 4.5 bWAR last year.  Additionally, the pitching staff looks very thin behind Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish, who is injured and will not start Opening Day.  In his stead, the Rangers will give the Opening Day nod to Tanner Scheppers, the first player since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 to make his first major league start in his team’s first game.  Behind Darvish, Scheppers and Martin Perez, the Rangers will go with Joe Saunders and Robbie Ross, neither of whom inspires confidence.  And frankly, neither do this year’s edition of the Rangers.

WHY WILL THE ANGELS WIN THE EAST?

The Angels are a team of superstars, and as previously mentioned, this might be the year that those superstars finally perform up to expectations.  Their division is weakened from previous years by injury and attrition, leaving the Angels a prime opportunity to finally reach the lofty heights owner Arte Moreno has spent heavily to reach.  Also, Mike Trout.

AL MVP: MIKE TROUT, LOS ANGELES ANGELS

AL CY YOUNG: JUSTIN VERLANDER, DETROIT TIGERS

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: YORDANO VENTURA, KANSAS CITY ROYALS

FIRST AL MANAGER FIRED: RON GARDENHIRE, MINNESOTA TWINS

AL WILD CARD GAME: RED SOX OVER ATHLETICS

AL DIVISION SERIES: RAYS OVER RED SOX, TIGERS OVER ANGELS

AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: RAYS OVER TIGERS

WORLD SERIES: RAYS OVER CARDINALS

Will The Yankees’ Big Offseason Pay Off?

Will spending big in the offseason pay off for Jeter and the Yankees?

Will spending big in the offseason pay off for Jeter and the Yankees?

There was a time.  A time before SportsNet LA and the Guggenheim Partners.  A time when the New York Yankees reigned supreme as the undisputed kings of the offseason.  It seemed whenever the Yankees wanted a free agent, they got that free agent.  They paid any price and outbid any team, willing to go to any length to ensure they put the best possible team on the field that money could buy.

With the rise of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Yankees’ luxury tax-motivated desire to bring their spending down, it seemed this era had come to an abrupt end.  But in 2014, the Yankees proved that was not the case.  They had a hole at catcher, so they signed 5-time all-star Brian McCann to a 5 year, $85 million deal.  They padded their outfield by adding the consensus best outfielder on the market in Jacoby Ellsbury, giving him the second-largest contract ever handed out to a free agent outfielder.  They signed aging (but still performing) Hall of Fame candidate Carlos Beltran to a 3 year, $45 million deal.  They added complimentary pieces like Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts, and Matt Thornton.  And today, they wrapped up their offseason by committing $175 million to 25-year old Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka.  This is what it all adds up to:

491 million dollars.  Half a billion dollars.  That’s more than the GDP of the Kingdom of Tonga.  And these moves were clearly not made with the future in mind.  Ellsbury and McCann are 30 years old.  Beltran is 37.  Recently re-signed starter Hiroki Kuroda is almost 39 (Tanaka, peculiar free agent that he is, is just 25, but already has 1300 professional innings on his arm).  The Yankees didn’t sign these players with the aim of having them contribute to a contender in 2020.  They want a team that can make the playoffs in 2014.  So what did their money buy them?

First, we must look at the base level of talent the Yankees possessed before they made their big offseason splashes.  Even in a disappointing season, the Yankees managed to win 85 games, six games out of a playoff spot.  But they were outscored on the season by 21 runs, and actually played like a 79-83 team.  In addition, they lost a player in Robinson Cano who was far and away their best, and contributed 7.6 bWAR.  So the Yankees had a baseline talent level of around 71 wins.  Say it takes 90 wins to make the playoffs (in the AL this year, it actually took 92).  Will the Yankees find 19 games of improvement?

McCann should provide a good deal of improvement from behind the plate, as he replaces Chris Stewart, who managed a triple slash of .211/.293/.272 in 2013.  McCann hit slightly under his career averages last year, but his pull swing should play well in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium, and it seems likely the Yankees will improve by 3 wins from the upgrade at catcher alone.

Ellsbury, if healthy, is among the most valuable players in baseball thanks to an above average bat at a position of scarcity and his strong defensive play.  He remained healthy for most of last year, playing in 134 games, and posted 5.8 bWAR.  Beltran, despite dealing with nagging hamstring injuries through most of the second half of the season, managed another healthy, productive season, putting up a 128 OPS+ in 145 games, and was good for 2.4 bWAR (his defense, worse than in years past and likely hampered by the hamstring issues, limited his value).  If the two can repeat their respective performances, that’s another 8 wins coming from the outfield.

No one has any idea what Tanaka will produce in the major leagues next year, which is what makes his 7 year, $155 million deal so incredible; it’s based entirely on scouting and speculation.  But if we use his NPB stats (24-0 record, 1.27 ERA, 0.943 WHIP, 5.72 K/BB ratio in 2013) as any indication, Tanaka’s transition to the United States will be a smooth one.  In his first year in the MLB, Yu Darvish, who similarly dominated the NPB (though to a lesser extent) posted 3.9 bWAR.  Let’s say Tanaka does something similar, posting a 4 WAR season.  That gives the Yankees 15 added wins on the offseason.

So where will the other 4 wins come from?  Well, among the Yankees’ incumbent personnel, there is plenty of room for improvement.  CC Sabathia experienced struggles unlike he ever had in 2013; his 85 ERA+ was far and away the worst in his career.  Now looking svelte, Sabathia is a good bet to regain at least some of his old form.  Mark Teixiera managed only 15 games in 2013 after suffering a wrist injury while preparing for the World Baseball Classic.  The wrist has been surgically repaired, and if healthy, Teixiera will be leagues better than what the Yankees trotted out last year in his stead (though this report stating that Teixiera is expected to miss the first week of Spring Training with stiffness in his wrist isn’t promising).  And then of course, there’s Derek Jeter.  Yankee shortstops hit .226/.286/.312 last year; even in his age-40 season, Jeter should be able to improve on that line, if he’s healthy.  Of course, that’s a big if, but as of now, Jeter is progressing well, having conducted successful on-field workouts this week in preparation for Spring Training.

So might the Yankees’ big offseason pay dividends on the field this year?  It certainly could.  But it’s far from a sure thing.  The Yankees, as of now, are projected to field a lineup in which every position player is above the age of thirty; according to Baseball Nation’s Grant Brisbee, only two teams in baseball history had eight such players qualify for the batting title.  Injuries, setbacks and regression are a given with any team, but especially for an older team, and the 2014 Yankees could be among the oldest teams in major league history.  They need everything to break just right to succeed this year.  They absolutely can do it.  But whether or not they will is a far shakier proposition.

Masa-where-o? Handicapping the Tanaka Sweepstakes

tanaka 2Over the last several weeks, the hustle and bustle of baseball’s offseason has come to a screeching halt. We’ve reached January 21st, more than two-thirds through the offseason, and yet still, the top free agent starting pitchers remain without a team. The market waits with baited breath for the decision of one 25-year old right handed starter, Masahiro Tanaka. Despite having never pitched in the big leagues, Tanaka is considered far and away the best pitching option available.  In Japan, he was beyond dominant.  Over the past three years spanning more than 600 innings, his ERA was 1.44, averaging 7.6 strikeouts for every walk.  His 25 consecutive wins between 2012 and 2013 eclipsed a professional baseball record set by Carl Hubbell in 1937.  Tanaka seems to be the complete package, beloved by both stats and scouts.  His fastball can hit 95 miles per hour, and he has multiple sharp breaking pitches, including a wipeout slider and a diving splitter.  And with the weak crop of domestic free agent starters, Tanaka has become easily the biggest chip available.

Every part of the Tanaka pursuit has been shrouded in intrigue.  First, there was the question over whether he would be posted and allowed to transfer to the United States at all.  The posting system between the NPB and MLB underwent a massive overhaul this year, one beneficial for Japanese players but not Japanese teams.  Previously, teams would bid in a silent auction for the right to negotiate exclusively with the posted player, with the posting fee going to the NPB team; the highest ever bid, for the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish, exceeded $50 million.  But under the new system, the posting fee is limited to $20 million.  And every team willing to pay that fee is allowed to negotiate with the posted player, with the player allowed to decide which team he wishes to play for.  For a player in high demand, like Tanaka, this essentially amounts to free agency.

After giving it much thought, the Rakuten Golden Eagles decided to post Tanaka on December 26th, giving him thirty days to make a final decision.  Well, that thirty days is almost up — Masahiro Tanaka must make a decision by January 24th, this Friday.  And with Tanakamania in the stretch run, we’ve decided to handicap the race for the star’s services.

Odds provided by the online sports betting service Bovada

New York Yankees — 3/2 odds

The Yankees desperately need a starting pitcher.  Their ace right now is a 33-year old with diminishing velocity and declining statistics.  Their most effective pitcher last year turns 39 in three weeks, and posted a 5.40 ERA the last two months of the season.  And the back end of their rotation currently relies on David Phelps (4.98 ERA last year) and Michael Pineda, who has missed the last two years with a shoulder injury.  Of course, these are the newly frugal Yankees, who have a very strict $189 million budget to maintain.  But luckily, they’ve been handed a rebate by Commissioner Bud, good for one Alex Rodriguez or anything of equal or lesser value (the merits of this decision, and the concerns about it, have been detailed by Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron here).  At any rate, the Yankees once again have money to spend, and there is no better player for them to spend it on than Tanaka.

Los Angeles Dodgers — 11/4 odds

The Dodgers have plenty of pitching.  They recently locked up the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, for the forseeable future, and he didn’t come cheap.  Between Kershaw, Korean southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu and former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, they’ve already got one of the best front threes in the sport.  And they have already added another starter, Dan Haren, to a 1 year, $10 million deal.  So why would the Dodgers pursue Tanaka?  Simply, because they can.  The Dodgers seemingly lack a payroll limit; they have a record television contract leading to record revenues, and an ownership group willing to spend those extra revenues on payroll.  Tanaka is the best pitcher on the market, and the Dodgers would be made better by signing him.  For a team with little to no payroll concerns, that’s reason enough.

Seattle Mariners — 5/1 odds

Ever since the Mariners signed Robinson Cano to that 10 year, $240 million contract, the baseball world has been waiting for the other shoe to drop in the Pacific Northwest.  Even with Cano in the fold, the Mariners remain far short of the Athletics, Rangers and Angels in terms of talent.  Without several other big moves, the Mariners cannot and will not contend for the postseason, making the Cano signing seem nonsensical.  While the Mariners’ rotation has two stalwarts in Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, plus some very talented young arms in James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, the team could use another high-caliber arm.  And unlike trading for David Price (which the Mariners have discussed), signing Tanaka would cost only money.  Of course, with the Mariners front office in disarray, we can’t be sure if they would be willing to spend the money to make Tanaka a Mariner.

Chicago Cubs — 7/1 odds

According to the most recent reports, the Cubs have made a heavy push to bring Tanaka to the North Side.  On the surface, the Cubs’ infatuation with Tanaka makes little sense.  The team lost 96 games last year, and in the highly competitive NL Central, they are likely years away from contending.  General Manager Theo Epstein admitted as much last Friday:

We’re not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes: We’re a last-place team.

So why does a last-place team want the best starting pitcher on the market?  Because he’s young.  Tanaka, at age 25, is likely to not only be good, but still be in the prime of his career when the Cubs finally reach the stage where they can contend.  Tanaka, if he lives up to the hype surrounding him, is the type of player a franchise can build around; a cornerstone upon which talent can be place to create a championship ballclub.  The problem for the Cubs is that it will be awfully hard to convince Tanaka to sign with a club that admits it is going nowhere in 2014, especially when he is pursued by so many other, contending teams.

Boston Red Sox — 10/1 odds

Unlike the Cubs, the World Series-winning Red Sox are likely to be a highly desirable destination for Tanaka, although we can’t be sure exactly where his priorities lie.  And the Red Sox do have a need in their rotation, which was above-average but hardly excellent last year.  But the Red Sox had success last year by eschewing mammoth free agent contracts in favor of adding several players on mid-level contracts.  They seem unlikely to pursue Tanaka; instead, look for them to add more reasonably-priced starters, such as Bronson Arroyo or A.J. Burnett, after Tanaka signs.

Serious Jammage’s 100% Guaranteed Correct* Prediction

*not actually guaranteed correct

There are still other teams that are involved in the Tanaka bidding process — the White Sox, Diamondbacks, and even Astros have all shown interest, with the Diamondbacks even supposedly making a serious offer.  But I’m playing it safe and saying come Friday, Masahiro Tanaka will be donning the pinstripes.  I say Yankees, on a 7 year, $135 million deal.  Unless the Dodgers decide to give him a 10 year deal and his own private island, just for the hell of it.

Say WHAT? Wrapping Up The Past Week in Baseball

If I had to sum up last week in one word, it would be wacky. In the past week alone, almost 40 major leaguers changed teams, including top free agents Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury. We break down all of the weeks action below.

MONDAY:

The week kicked off in Toronto, with the Blue Jays sign free agent catcher Dioner Navarro to a two year deal. The Nivaro signing allowed the Blue Jays to non-tender their current catcher, J.P. Arencibia. Later that afternoon, the Pirates traded for catcher Chris Stewart from the New York Yankees. In other small moves, Willie Blomquist signed a two year deal with the Seattle Mariners, and Scott Kazmir signed a 2 year, $22 million deal with the Oakland A’s, finishing the Bartolo Colon era in Oakland. Then, later that night, the biggest news from that day broke. The Nationals acquired widely underrated starting pitcher Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers for Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol, and Robbie Ray. This trade allowed the Nationals to fill the hole they lost when Dan Haren signed with the Dodgers. For the Tigers, the trade freed up a rotation spot for highly anticipated pitcher, Drew Smyly. Another trade from that night was a surprising one; The Baltimore Orioles trade closer Jim Johnson to the Oakland A’s for INF/OF Jemille Weeks. The reason that this is so surprising is because the moneyball belief is that a team doesn’t need a proven closer in order to succeed. However, acquiring Johnson is going against that belief. That night was also the non-tender deadline, where players like Justin Turner, Ronnie Belsario, Daniel Hudson, and former 2009 Rookie of the Year winners, Chris Coghlan and Andrew Bailey.

TUESDAY:

This was possibly the biggest, non-winter meetings day in offseason history. The day started off with AJ Pierzynski signing a one year deal to go to the world champion Boston Red Sox. The A’s remained very active in acquiring Josh Linbolm and Craig Gentry from the Rangers, and Luke Gregorson from the Padres. The Padres recieved outfielder Seth Smith as part of the Gregorson deal. Then, the Rays got themselves another defensive catcher in Ryan Hanningan in a three way trade with the Reds and the Diamondbacks. The Rays also got struggling relief pitcher Heath Bell in that trade. The rebuilding Astros decided that they wanted to acquire a center fielder, so they traded Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barns for Dexter Fowler, who is coming of a career year. Another rebuilding team making some moves were the Marlins: they signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamachia to a 3 year, $21 million deal. The Yankees signed second baseman Kelly Johnson, as they prepared for Robinson Cano going to another team. They also signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a 7 year, $153 million deal, the third largest contract for an outfielder. The Tigers finally got a good closer in Joe Nathan, and the Rockies found a replacement to Todd Helton with Justin Morenau. In total, 17 major leaguers were moved in this one day, alone.

WEDNESDAY:

Wednesday was a very slow day, in terms of this week. The biggest news was probably that Paul Konerko was re-signing with the White Sox. Konerko, who had one of the worst years of his career, will most likely platoon with DH Adam Dunn in 2014. Also reported that day was the fact that Seattle was going to be a major suitor for Robinson Cano.

THURSDAY:

Another slow day in terms of this week. Norichka Aoki was traded from the Brewers to the Royals. At the time, this trade seemed odd, as it seemed that Carlos Betran was close to signing with the Royals to a three year deal. For the Brewers, the trade allows Ryan Braun to move from Left Field to Right Field and opens up a spot for outfielder Khris Davis, who shinned last year when Braun was serving his 50 game suspension. Edward Mujica changed world series teams, as he signed a one year, $8 million deal with the Red Sox. Brian Wilson returned to the Dodgers on a one year, $10 million deal. Lastly, the Marlins signed INF Rafael Furcal, in hopes that they can convert him into a second baseman.

FRIDAY:

Friday was also an extremely busy day in baseball. It started off early, with reports that Robinson Cano and the Mariners were no where close to a deal. Then, about an hour later, Jon Heyman reported that Cano had signed a 10 year, $240 million deal with the Mariners. That deal ties Cano with the Mariners until 2023, when Cano is 41 years old. It is also the third biggest contract ever, behind Alex Rodriguez’s two contracts when he signed with the Rangers and then the Yankees. Soon after Cano it was announced that Cano was leaving New York, another Yankees announced he was leaving, but only across town. The Mets signed Curtis Granderson to a 4 year, $60 million deal. Right after that deal was announced, the Astros announced that they had agreed to signed starting pitcher Scott Feldman to a 3 year, $30 million deal. Recently non-tendered players like Ryan Webb and J.P. Arencibia found themselves new homes on Friday: Webb signed with the O’s while Arencibia signed with the Rangers. The Nationals signed OF Nate McLouth to a two year deal to help fill out their bench. Carlos Beltran ended up signing with the Yankees on a three year, $42 million deal. The Yankees weren’t done there as they signed Huroki Kurdoa  to a one year deal. And lastly, Mike Napoli ended up back in Boston, signing a two year, $32 million deal.

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Because of this crazy week before the winter meetings, we might have one of the most boring meetings ever, with the top free agent available being Matt Garza. However, look for top players like David Price, Mark Trumbo, and even Chris Sale to be on the move this week via trade. Hopefully, this week will be as fun as last.