The Winter Meetings are over, but winter isn’t. We’re 77 days from Spring Training in Lakeland and 115 days from Opening Day in Minnesota. There’s still time for the Tigers to tweak the roster, but here’s the rundown of the 2013 Tigers:
Bench: Holaday, Santiago/Worth, outfielder, utility player
SP: Verlander, Fister, Scherzer, Porcello, Smyly
RP: Benoit, Coke, Alburquerque, Dotel, three other guys
The Tigers have a clear need over the next two months: depth.
The starting lineup is strong, but the bench is up in the air. They need a righthanded outfielder who can platoon or backup Dirks. They need some positional flexibility and might have gotten it by trading in a Don Kelly for another (Jeff Kobernus).
The starting rotation is also among the best in baseball and some of the bullpen slots are locked up. They need to choose another lefty and two righties, one of whom should probably be a long man.
None of these spots are premium spots. The Tigers don’t need impact players, they need role players. This is a star heavy team that needs some solid bench pieces to make it back to the postseason. The Tigers have been quiet this week for a reason.
They’re pretty much set for 2013.
Baseball’s Winter Meetings kick off this week in the annual “Now is About the Time We Start Doing Things” portion of most GMs’ job. As the week goes on, we should start to get a sense of where the bigger free agents might end up and we might see a trade or two as well.
Here are five things to watch at this year’s meetings:
Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Angel Pagan, Shane Victorino. Four centerfielders last season who are looking for new teams and somewhere between 2 and 4 of them will get jobs as centerfielders. Bourn and Pagan certainly, with Hamilton and Victorino potentially moving to a corner.
The market here is interesting because the players are all looking for very different contracts and are very different style players, but they are actually probably all worth about the same on the field. Hamilton provides power, Bourn provides speed on offense and defense, Pagan plays good defense and gets on base, and Victorino does everything kind of well.
It will be very interesting to see who takes the plunge on Hamilton, how much Bourn gets, who sees Pagan as the safe bet, and who thinks Victorino will bounce back. This part of the market is deep in a strange way.
2) Zach Greinke
Greinke is easily the top free agent on the market in my book and he should become a very rich man in the next couple weeks if he doesn’t fall down a flight of stairs while simultaneously tearing his UCL.
Earlier this offseason I wrote that the Dodgers and the Angels were the most likely suitors for Greinke, but there is some talk that the Angels might not be as in control of this as we thought a month ago.
The Dodgers can give Greinke the team credit card and he could really shine in the big park, light hitting NL West. Yet the Angels need him desperately and currently have a pitching staff that more closely resembles the Cubs than the Phillies. Last year, a lot of mystery teams jumped in on big rf mystery teams tly have a pitching staff that more closely resembles the Cubs than the Phillies. Yet the Angefree agents, so keep an eye out for that again.
We’re watching Greinke because of his value, but also because everyone will wait for him to sign to go forward with starting pitching plans. His market will set the market for other pitcher and teams that needed Greinke will turn up the heat on other options.
I won’t say much here other than that Brandon League and Jonathan Broxton got three year deals in excess of $20 million to pitch 60 innings a season. The relief market is off the rails and we’ll see where it goes from here. How much does Soriano want if this is what his inferior competition is making?
Fans and teams dramatically overvalue individual relievers and I’ll be watching how this plays out in Nashville this week.
4) Good Players that Don’t Fit
There are a few players on the free agent market who might be in odd situations because their current club doesn’t really have a place for them anymore. Adam LaRoche might have just been pushed out in Washington with Span coming over. The Tigers can’t afford Anibal Sanchez. The Yankees don’t want Nick Swisher. There’s no room at the inn in LA for Victorino.
It will be interesting to watch how this market plays out given that a lot of very useful players won’t be able to turn around and resign with their previous clubs. They might be undervalued, but they could still get overpaid. It’s really hard to tell how all of the new money will change the game and how a weak top of the market plays with a deep middle of the market.
Everyone seems to love trades and trade scenarios. Justin Upton? Giancarlo Stanton? Wil Myers? R.A. Dickey? Could these guys be traded?!
The Winter Meetings will give teams a chance to really gauge both the free agent and trade markets as they look to improve their clubs for 2013. If another big trade is going to happen this offseason, it’ll come in the next few days.
There’s a lot to watch next week as the offseason gets into full swing, so check with STT every day for complete coverage.
In the most cliché move yet this offseason, the hot stove is heating up as baseball’s GMs decided to start making moves in the week before the Winter Meetings in Nashville. Because my day job doesn’t allow me to spend the 12 hours a day I would like to writing about baseball, I’m going to have to get you caught up at lightning speed.
Here are the big moves from this week and my brief take on each:
Angels sign RP Ryan Madson, 1 year, $6 million plus incentives
Excellent move by the Angels who followed up by dumping Jordon Walden on the Braves for Tommy Hanson. Madson was a solid reliever for the Phillies for several years before signing a 1 year deal with the Reds last season. He got injured before the season and never threw a pitch, so it’s hard to judge exactly how healthy he may be. The Angels took that risk and added Madson to their bullpen on a one year deal during and offseason that has seen two meh relievers (League and Broxton) get three year contracts. Grade: A
Braves sign OF BJ Upton , 5 years, $75 million
The Braves needed to resign or replace Michael Bourn and this will do the trick. I have my doubts about Upton going forward and think he’s a guy who peaked early and will never live up to his skills. That said, he’s been a useful big leaguer with flashes of star power in the past and the Braves are only signing him through his age 32 season. I don’t love this deal, but it’s not a huge risk given how big contracts are getting. I think Upton has a couple more $15 million seasons in him, I’m just not sure how many and when they’ll come. I’m glad my team isn’t taking this risk, but I’m guessing the Braves won’t regret this and if they do, it won’t be a huge regret. Grade: B-
Nationals acquire Denard Span from the Twins for P Alex Meyer
The Tigers fan in me is thrilled Span is leaving the AL Central. The analyst in me thinks the Nationals made a shrewd move here. A cost controlled Span for three more seasons will do wonders between Harper and Werth and can provide a nice boost at the top of the order in a much cheaper way than the free agent options. Meyer is an interesting prospect, but most of the people I’ve talked to or read seem to think he’s a risky-high upside type. Span fills a hole in the Nats outfield and they traded from pitching depth, and they have a lot of that. The Twins have Ben Revere to fill the Span void and they do need a lot of pitching. I like this deal for them except that I think they probably could have gotten more in a deal for Span. Grade (Nats): A, Grade (Twins): C+
Pirates sign Russell Martin, 2 years, $17 million
The Pirates got something they needed. Offense. Martin hits for power and walks at a decent rate while provide some value on defense through solid pitching framing and debatable throwing skills. He’s a good fit for the Pirates and it’s hard to call $8.5 million for a free agent who can easily get to 2.0 WAR an overpay. Can’t complain if I’m a Bucs fan, but I really just want to point out that the Pirates outbid the Yankees for a player. The Pirates…outbid…the Yankees. With money. Grade: B
Mets extend David Wright, 7 years, $122 million
This extension starts after 2013 and carries Wright into his age 37 season. I was preparing a “What Should the Mets Pay Wright” piece when the news broke of this extension and I have to say, the Mets are getting a really solid yearly price for the cost of guaranteeing a lot of years. This is similar to the Longoria deal in a lot of ways except Longoria signed his four years ahead of free agency and Wright signed his one year ahead. Wright proved, through signing this deal, that he is committed to winning in New York and he’ll likely be a Met for life. Assuming he stays healthy, it’s hard for me to see a way in which this deal becomes a mess. It might not payoff, but it should mostly pay off. Grade: B+
The Winter Meetings are coming next week and a lot more action should be coming. Check back with STT for complete coverage.
122 days until Opening Day.