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Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Winter Meetings: Recap

To start, let's get one thing out of the way: I'm going to be talking about the entire week, and not just the meetings.  This is because a lot of the negotiation for these moves likely happened during the short span of time that people had to talk in Dallas this week.  Rather than spend a lot of time introducing you to the concept of talking rumors and that nonsense, I'm going to make this simple: post a move, talk about the positives and negatives, and then give it a grade.  Without further ado, here we go:

Blockbuster Moves:

Albert Pujols Signs with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Terms of Agreement: 10 years/ $254 million- Full NTC- 10 year services clause

Simply nothing else to lead off with, really.  This is the kind of move that grabs the attention of everyone in the baseball world.  Rumors of Pujols' interest in the Cardinals, Marlins, and a "mystery team" swirled late Monday and into Tuesday, but the Angels came out on top.  The terms of the deal are unique for a very unique player.  Assuming roughly 5.3 D/WAR over the ten years, Pujols has to give roughly 48 wins in on-field value to be worth the deal.  However, the no-trade clause may require a bit more than that since it holds undetermined monetary value to the player.  However, the increased popularity in the team has a positive impact that should make the deal relatively worthwhile as long as Pujols doesn't suffer a major injury.  However, getting wrapped up in 10 years and 250 million dollars just doesn't seem worth it, no matter who the player is.

Wooly's Grade: B-

Jose Reyes Cashes in with Marlins

Terms of Agreement: 6 years/$102 million-Option for 7th year at $22 million with a $4 million buyout

There was speculation over the exact interest that the Marlins had in Reyes, given that Hanley Ramirez was signed long-term and seemed to show little interest in switching positions.  Nonetheless, the Marlins went fishing and caught a big one early (pun definitely intended).  Reyes' deal is one of the rare $100+ million contracts with a shot to be a mega-steal.  Reyes has 4 seasons with 5.0+ WAR under his belt, and he'll be 29 next year.  Now, being at a skill position likely weakens his chances to repeat that success, but it's 100 over 6 years.  A $17 million AAV requires Reyes to provide about 20 or so wins in value.  Considering he's provided about 16 in his last three completely healthy seasons, it would appear that he can do that.  The issue, however, is health.  Marlins avoided any kind of NTC, and got a good AAV for a shortstop as good as this one.

Wooly's Grade: A

C.J. Wilson Signs with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Terms of Agreement: 5 years/ $77.5 million

C.J. Wilson reportedly had a tough decision to make: take the money of his dreams or get to play in his back yard in LA.  As you can see, the Straight Edge lefty chose to go home.  He gave a pretty nice discount to the Angels, too.  A 15.5 AAV only requires Wilson to be roughly a 3 WAR pitcher over the next 5 years, which is only asking for 15 wins in value.  Wilson has produced 10.5 in the last two years.  Yes, he is on the wrong side of 30 and a lot of people don't like his stuff going forward, but he's produced extremely well over two years, and he could look even better away from Arlington.

Wooly's Grade: A-

Second Tier:

Matt Moore Signs Extension with Rays

Terms of Agreement: 5 years/ $14 million

If you are sitting there asking yourself "who is this and why is he the frontliner for the 2nd tier?" then you need to go do some research.  Matt Moore is a studly young lefty for the Rays who has one of the easiest deliveries you will ever see.  Not only that, he chucks gas.  96+ with frequency and a couple good off-speed pitches to boot.  The Rays are asking for Moore to produce 3 wins in value over 5 years...FIVE YEARS.  Moore could be just better than half a win a year as a starter to be worth the deal...and he produced 0.4 wins in 9.1 innings last year.........................

Wooly's Grade: A+

Heath Bell Also to Miami

Terms of Agreement: 3 years/ $27 million

I am not a fan of this deal at all.  The Marlins need to replace their closer after the man formerly known as Leo Nunez was found to have a fake identity, but they didn't need to do it like this.  Last year, Bell was only worth about a half a win, and his numbers aren't good.  His K rate dropped by 4, he was helped by a 60 point drop in BABIP, and got slightly fewer ground balls...and did much worse than in 2010.  The declining velocity and k rate are not signs that a team should sign a closer to this kind of deal.

Wooly's Grade: D

Trevor Cahill Dealt to D'Backs

Terms of Agreement:
ARI gets: Cahill, Breslow, Cash Considerations
OAK gets: Parker, Cowgill, Cook

For the sake of saving some space, I'll let you do the research on Breslow, Cowgill, and Cook.  They are more minor pieces in the deal.  I want to focus on Trevor Cahill and Jarrod Parker.  Cahill is a young, cost-controlled innings eater who provides pretty good value.  A 2.35 average WAR over the past two years makes him a quality mid-rotation starter for the Diamondbacks.  Believe it or not, those are not terribly easy to come by.  The A's get Parker in this deal, who has a great arm, electric stuff, and can suffer from command issues.  Fastball/slider/curve/change arsenal gives him upside above what Cahill currently provides, and it gets the A's contract relief and makes them a bit younger.

Wooly's Grade: A for Oakland, B- for Arizona

Mark Buehrle Joins Marlins

Terms of Agreement: 4 years/ $58 million

I am a little surprised at how little this deal got mentioned during the meetings.  Buehrle pumps out 3.5 WAR seasons like it's nobody's business.  Yes he's older, but he's a smart pitcher, not a power pitcher.  He succeeds by knowing his scouting reports, working fast, and throwing tons of strikes (he very rarely walks guys and has impeccable control).  His deal is asking him for about 10 wins in value over 4 years, which is an average of 2.5 wins a season.  I think this deal is pretty much completely spot on with market value, and the Marlins addressed a big need by adding a consistent starter who has gone 200+ innings every year in his career.

Wooly's Grade: A-

Sergio Santos traded to Toronto

Terms of Agreement:
TOR gets: Sergio Santos
CWS gets: Nestor Molina

The market for relief pitching has been rather ridiculous over the past calendar year.  This is the kind of move that still has me scratching my head a bit.  Yes, Santos struck out 13 batters per 9 last year, but the rest of his stats weren't anything special.  Too many walks to make his independents look great like they could have been.  IMO, Kenny Williams won this trade by getting a starter with great command that projects to the middle of the rotation (possibly higher, possibly bullpen) for a relief pitcher that shouldn't be terribly hard to replace.

Wooly's Grade: A- for the CWS, C- for TOR

Third Tier:

Pagan for Torres and Ramon Ramirez

Terms of Agreement:
SF gets: Angel Pagan
NYM gets: Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez

This trade really isn't a big win for either team, but it fulfills some needs for both teams.  Sandy Alderson clearly wanted to improve the bullpen and knows he's going into rebuild mode, which is why he was willing to part with the 30 year-old Pagan. Now, Andres Torres is no spring chicken and is actually under contract longer than Pagan (which is part of the reason the Mets can't win this trade, really), but he'll have to battle in spring training for a starting OF spot (though he's very likely to win it).  The kicker in this deal is Ramon Ramirez.  He's a good relief pitcher that can pitch nearly 70 innings a year.

Wooly's Grade: B- for NYM, D+ for SF

LaTroy Hawkins Signs with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Terms of Agreement: 1 year/ $3 million

The Angels made a couple of big splashes, but every team that wants to win needs to be able to fill out the roster around those great players.  The Hawkins signing accomplishes that.  He can pretty easily provide close to a win in value when he's healthy, and he's not even being asked to do that in this contract.  Good move for both sides.

Wooly's Grade: B

Octavio Dotel to Detroit

Terms of Agreement: 1 year/ $3.5 million

This deal is very similar to the one above.  The Tigers had bullpen problems in the post season last year, and based on the way the division is shaping up, they'll be there again next year.  Dotel is a cost effective pitcher being asked for less than a win in value, which he should be able to provide with relative ease.

Wooly's Grade: B

Aaron Harang to LAD

Terms of Agreement: 2 years/ $12 million

This deal is a hard one to comprehend.  Harang hasn't produced a win of value in either of his last two seasons, he's well beyond the best years of his career, his strikeout rate is going south, and moving anywhere that isn't PETCO can only make things appear worse.  6 million dollars isn't a lot, but it's too much for a guy that won't live up to the contract.  If the Dodgers were going to spend unwisely, they could have at least thrown the cash at better players.

Wooly's Grade: D

The Rest:

Ian Stewart to the North Side

Terms of Agreement:
CHC gets: Ian Stewart, Casey Weathers
COL gets: Tyler Colvin, D.J. LeMahieu

This deal doesn't do a whole lot but move around some filler pieces to make rosters work better.  Cubs currently don't have a third baseman, and it has been suggested that Ian Stewart needs a change of scenery. The same can be said for Tyler Colvin, who was never going to find playing time being blocked by the contracts of Soriano, Byrd, and DeJesus in the outfield.  The move gives a few guys a new chance to succeed and allows each club to up their options at positions of need.

Wooly's Grade: C for both teams

Huston Street to San Diego

Terms of Agreement:
SD gets: Huston Street

Really like this move for Colorado.  Street was an expensive option at the back end of the bullpen with skill and injury issues.  He's been worth an average of 0.75 wins the last two years, and last year was only 0.5.  Colorado is eating the salary, but Street wasn't worth anything to them.

Wooly's Grade: A for COL, C- for SD

Bedard Signs with Pirates

Terms of Agreement: 1 year/ $4 million

I was surprised by this move, and I love it for the Pirates.  While Bedard hasn't been pitching much at all over the past 3 years, he's produced 5.3 wins in value over that span, which is about 9 million dollars in value per year.  Pittsburgh gets him for half of that.  It's not likely, but if he can possibly stay healthy, this is a major steal that makes the Pirates a lot better.  Baseball needs more moves like this.

Wooly's Grade: A

Jon Rauch Signs on With Mets

Terms of Agreement: 1 year/ $3.5 Million

This move really could go either way.  Rauch was atrocious last year, but has been well worth this kind of contract over the previous 4 years.  He's only being asked to produce .6 wins in value, so if he can't do that, I blame him, not the Mets.

Wooly's Grade: B-

Frank Francisco to NYM

Terms of Agreement: 2 years/ $12 million

The Mets sought out to fix their bullpen, and made some good moves, but this one is questionable.  6 million dollars is about 1.2 wins in value, and Francisco hasn't produced that since 2008, even though he's come extremely close on two occasions (1.1 and 1.0).  Francisco may not be worth the deal, but should be close.

Wooly's Grade: C+

Jerry Hairston Picks Dodgers

Terms of Agreement: 2 years/ $6 million

Once again I do not know what the heck the Dodgers are doing.  However, this time they are doing it for next to nothing.  Hairston has averaged about 0.7 wins the last three years, and all he has to do is repeat that twice to be well worth the deal.

Wooly's Grade: B-

Matt Capps Back to Twins

Terms of Agreement: 1 year/ $4.75 million- Option for 2013

This one could go either way.  Will the Twins get 2010 Matt Capps or 2011 Matt Capps?  If they get 2010, this is right at market value and is a good deal.  If they get 2011 Matt Capps, he's a negative WAR player that shouldn't be on a MLB roster.

Wooly's Grade: C

Alex Gonzalez Newest Player to Join Crew

Terms of Agreement: 1 year/ Undisclosed amount

The intent of this deal is clear: get better on defense.  Yuni B and Alex Gonzalez were pretty similar offensive players last year.  However, one thing is clear: Gonzalez isn't the worst defensive shortstop in the league.  In fact, he's way better than Betancourt was.  Value-wise this deal doesn't improve the Crew a lot, but it makes them better on defense, which is a plus.

Wooly's Grade: C-

Winners and Losers


1) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Get a new TV deal, get new superstars.  Pretty simple formula for a franchise that probably feels tired of playing second fiddle in the media, the rumor mill, and their own city.  If for only a short while, the Angels are currently the center of the baseball world, and their revenue stream spike will probably speak to that.  Have needs, get them filled.  Good job by the Angels.

2) Miami Marlins

Get a new stadium, new name, and flashy new uniforms, get new superstars.  The biggest splash (yes, more bad puns) before the Pujols/Wilson duo decision was the fact that the Marlins were dominating the headlines.  They signed Reyes, Bell, and Buehrle to deals and were reportedly in deep on both Pujols and Wilson.  The Marlins, whether their financial record is clean or dirty, met their goals this Winter Meetings.

3) New York Mets

Even though they didn't make a big move and lost Jose Reyes, the Mets had a good Winter Meetings.  Alderson apparently wasn't highly interested in keeping Reyes at his cost, and instead went and addressed bullpen needs.  Doing this in a cost efficient manner definitely caught my attention.


1) Texas Rangers

You have to go into the Winter Meetings and do something, Texas.  If you aren't going to bring back C.J. Wilson, you should probably have fixed the 1B problem while in Dallas.  Now they run the risk of Prince signing elsewhere, losing Wilson, and being left much worse off for 2012.  I don't get the conservative approach after going to the WS for the 2nd time in a row and losing for the 2nd time in a row.  Gotta get more aggressive and finish the deal, especially with what LAA did.

2) St. Louis Cardinals

There is really only one thing to point out here: they lost Albert Pujols.  Yes, they lost him to a team that offered him a lot nicer deal for a lot more money, but they still lost Albert Pujols.  Yes, they can move Berkman to first and play Craig in RF, but they lost Albert Pujols.  If you didn't catch it before: they lost Albert Pujols.

3) Los Angeles Dodgers

Say you're going to not bring back washed up players, then go replace them with washed up players.  Yes, they got a nice gift earlier in the off season with the Matt Kemp signing, but that's not a Winter Meetings deal.  Dodgers disappointed this off season, as I really thought they would try to be more active.

Best Individual Contract for a Player

This is reserved for one guy, and that's Albert Pujols.  He gets 10 years of full no-trade security, and oh yeah, he also gets 254 million dollars.  Very rarely will this kind of opportunity ever come for a player, and Albert certainly appears to have earned it.

Best Individual Contract for a Team

Easy: the Matt Moore signing.  Moore could easily be worth 5 times what his contract is asking him to do.  One of the best young talents in baseball for less than 3 million AAV is just ridiculous.

Best Individual Return in a Trade

I really like Oakland's side of the Trevor Cahill deal.  After getting a bit unlucky in 2011, I didn't think Cahill would go for as much as he did.  Parker is a great centerpiece, and Cowgill is pretty nice to get in return as well.

Worst Individual Return in a Trade

This goes to San Diego in the Huston Street deal.  What are you doing, SD?  You traded for a closer worse than the one you had.  What is the point of that?

Most Surprising Thing from the Meetings

Pretty much nothing from the Yankees or Red Sox.  Yes, David Ortiz accepted arbitration (a longer deal could be agreed to, which is why I didn't put it in here), but outside of that, the two traditional powerhouses stayed put.  In fact, they barely got tossed around in rumors.  Perhaps for the first time in a while, both teams were put into a place where they didn't have the roster space to make big moves.

So What Happens Next?

The flurry of activity won't stop just because the Winter Meetings are over.  In fact, Rafael Furcal signed with the Cardinals this afternoon, reportedly.  Yu Darvish was just posted this week, and Yoenis Cespedes is expected to be posted rather soon.  Along with them, one really big fish remains unsigned, and someone is going to land him: Prince Fielder.  The Mariners, Cubs, Orioles, Rangers, and Marlins are teams that keep getting thrown around, so we'll see what happens.  No doubt was this one of the most active Winter Meetings in History, and if you'd like to keep up, make sure to head to MLB Trade Rumors for more information.

1 comment:

  1. D/WAR doesn't apply to Moore because none of those are FA years. Also, Cespedes is not 'posted', he just applies for FA.

    Other than those little nitpicks, fine article.