Signings and deals
A tidal-wave of signings and deals on Monday and Tuesday, but the biggest splash was clearly made by the Mariners - I refer, of course, to their two-year signing of former Diamondback Willie Bloomquist, which surely puts them over the top in the American League West. I believe they may also have picked up on some guy who plays second-base, putting him under contract through the 2023 season, but since that only required $240 million and a no-trade clause, it's obviously a trivial bit of roster filler. Interesting to note that Bloomquist and Robinson Cano are two of the three Mariners signed after 2014.
Perhaps the Yankees, having lost out on Cano, could now become trade partners for the D-backs' Aaron Hill? They did sign another former D-back, Kelly Johnson, but that appears more a stopgap than a full solution. However, they have also spent a fair bit of their budget this week, led by the inking of outfielder Jacob Ellsbury for seven years and $148 million, with an eighth-year option at $21 million. However, they also snatched Carlos Beltran out of our hands - for which, we thank them - on a three-year, $45 million contract, and re-signed starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda for the 2014 campaign, at a cost of $16 million.
Not to be completely outdone, the Mets also opened their wallets, bringing their own outfielder on board: Curtis Granderson was signed for four years and $60 million. They'll be hoping Granderson rebounds to the form shown before last season, when he missed a lot of time and had only a .723 OPS. The Miami Marlins were also active, getting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for three years at a $21 million cost, and adding veteran infielder Rafael Furcal. On the mound, Oakland signed Scott Kazmir (two years, $22m) and Scott Feldman got a nice pay-day from the Astros, who have him for the next three years and $30 million; they also signed Chad Qualls for two seasons.
The top trade of the week saw Doug Fister go from the Detroit Tigers to the Washington Nationals, in exchange for two pitchers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray and utilityman Steve Lombardozzi. Fister has been among the top ten in fWAR over the past three seasons, and still has a fair anount of control left for the Nationals, with two seasons left before free agency. The consensus of opinion appears to be that Washington did well here, clearly upgrading their rotation, an area of weakness, without having to give up all that much in return. The Tigers mostly freed salary, that they can now turn, perhaps, to a long-term extension for Max Scherzer.
Around the NL West
Please feel free to resume hating Brian Wilson. In fact, your loathing may well be exacerbated, since he is now a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who offered him $10 million for 2014, with a player option for 2015 apparently worth a further $9 million. That seems like a lot for someone who has thrown only 21.2 major-league innings over the past two seasons combined, good though he was down the stretch for the Dodgers. It seems he won't even be their closer, likely being the set-up man for Kenley Jansen, though provides obvious insurance in case the dreaded reliever volatility kicks in.
The Rockies were also active among free agents, inking first-baseman Justin Morneau to two years and $12.5 million, as they prepare for life without Todd Helton for the first time since his debut in August 1997. Morneau hit .259 with 17 homers last season, and should benefit a bit from moving to Coors, even if his best days are likely behind him. Colorado also traded outfielder Dexter Fowler to the Astros for a trade even the normally-optimistic Purple Row described as "awful." Or, as Jeff Aberle put it, they "traded a quarter for a dime and a nickel - and then used that 15 cents to buy an over the hill 1B."
Things in San Francisco were quiet, but they appear to be proceeding on the belief that last year's 86-loss result was an unexpected anomaly. Bryan Murphy points out on McCovey Chronicles, "The projected 25-man roster for 2014 is already 96% of the 2013 roster the week before the winter meetings," with a replacement for Andres Torres about all definitely still needed. Finally, the Padres dealt reliever Luke Gregerson to the Athletics, in exchange for outfielder Seth Smith. Both are free agents after this season, and should earn similar amounts; I'm guessing Smith will be San Diego's fourth outfielder, at least until the likely-inevitable Carlos Quentin injury.