Signings and deals
Minnesota were certainly the big movers and shakers this week, beefing up their rotation with the signing of free agents Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. Nolasco signed a deal which will keep him under Minnesota control, at least through 2017, at $12 million per year. There's club a option for 2018 worth $13 million, which turns into a player option, if Nolasco pitches a total of 400 innings between 2016 and 2017. He split this season between the Marlins and Dodgers, going 13-11, with a 3.70 ERA, which is an ERA+ of 101. Nolasco only has one other season better than average in his career, in 2008, so seems a little risky, with the pitcher turning 31 later this month.
And just a few days later, Minnesota doubled down, adding former Yankee Hughes to their roster, on a three-year deal worth a total of $24 million, with an extra $1 million per season available in bonuses. The contract comes as a bit of a surprise, as much for its length as its cost, because Hughes did not have a very good 2013, going 4-14 in New York, with a 5.19 ERA (ERA+ 78). He is only 27 years old, and has generally been better than that in his career, but it was thought more likely someone would give Hughes a one-year deal, letting him rebuild his value. But Minnesota stepped up, and these two deals are the largest the team has ever awarded to free agents.
Meanwhile, the Rays appear to be continuing their role as moral anti-police, signing Juan Carlos Oviedo to a major-league deal, after having declined a $2 million option for the reliever. Oviedo didn't pitch at all last year, and threw only three minor-league innings in 2012, before spraining his UCL and having Tommy John surgery. His season had already got off to a bad start, having been suspended three months for identity fraud - it was discovered that he adopted the name of a younger friend "Leo Nunez" in the Dominican Republic, in order to get a bigger signing bonus. Amusingly, he now appears to have "Oviedo" tattooed on his hand. Just in case he forgets, I guess.
On the Samardzija front [I am finally now able to spell that without looking it up!], Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Cubs want to hang on to him, saying "the Cubs’ No. 1 preference would be to re-sign Samardzija and lock him in beyond 2015 and build their future around him, according to a major league source. The Cubs will continue to work on both fronts until the culmination of a long-term extension has been reached or if the extension is improbable." I'd like to wish them all the best with that: a long-term extension in Chicago is probably in the D-backs' best interests as well.
Negotiations between Robinson Cano and the Yankees are ongoing, but the sites are currently about $80 million apart. According to Buster Olney, Cano wants nine-years at $28MM per year, in line with A-Rod's first deal at just over a quarter-billion dollars, while New York are offering around $170 million. The Yankees may end up spending their cash on Carlos Beltran instead, though the Royals are also interested in the outfielder: Beltran is apparently looking for a four-year deal, but most teams seem to be offering something over three seasons. Finally, the Blue Jays signed catcher Dioner Navarra today for two years and $8 million, and Scott Kazmir is with the A's for 2/$22m
Around the NL West
The San Francisco Giants made the biggest splash of the week in the division, re-signing Ryan Vogelsong, after having declined his 2014 option. That was worth $6.5 million, with the Giants instead guaranteeing Vogelsong around $5 million, but if all the incentive clauses kick in, it's reported that he could end up earning more money. After magically reinventing himself in 2011 and 2012, going 27-16 with a 3.05 ERA, Vogelsong regressed hard this year, with a 5.73 ERA in 19 starts for San Francisco. The move likely completes the Giants' rotation for next season, which will also include Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson and Madison Bumgarner.
Further down the coast, the Dodgers avoided arbitration with some of their players, reaching agreements with Scott Elbert, Drew Butera and Mike Baxter. They still have four left, including the one which will probably set a new mark, two-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, who may or may not sign the biggest deal ever for a pitcher. The team are also talking to Hanley Ramirez about signing a long-term contract with the Dodgers, who like Kershaw, would otherwise be eligible for free-agency after the upcoming season. Ramirez was heavily sidelined by health issues, but he put up 5.4 bWAR in only 86 games; turning 30 on the 23rd, this will likely be his big pay-day.
No moves to speak of from Colorado, but a very interesting piece saw owner Dick Montfort break down the team's finances, in the wake of widespread criticism that they would erect a new party deck at Coors. Like the D-backs, the Rockies will get more money due to the national TV deal. However, Montfort reduces the $27 million amount by $8 million for money being held back for the central fund, $5.5 million for past loans, $5 million for player raises and $3.5 million to cover reduced revenue because the Yankees and Red Sox won't be visiting. The net result? "Approximately $4 million to $5 million in "new" money, and the ability to add about $11 million to the payroll."
In San Diego, the Padres are reported to be looking to trade Chase Headley, who will be a free agent after the coming season. The teams were working on a contract extension, but that hasn't happened, and they are now open to offers on the third-baseman. Odds are, they'll get considerably less now, than they would have if they had pulled the the trigger before this season. Not only does Headley have one year less of control, his bWAR dropped sharply this year, going from 6.2 in 2012 to little more than half that, at 3.1, in 2013. San Diego will apparently be looking for a left-handed bat and some bullpen help this winter.