Jayson Stark of ESPN tweets that the Red Sox signed Tony Pena Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Pena pitched in the Giants system in 2010, putting up solid strikeout numbers in relief. Pena converted to pitching in 2009 while with the Royals.
Boston claimed Max Ramirez off waivers from the Rangers. Texas had designated Ramirez for assignment to make room for Brandon Webb when the club announced the official signing. Ramirez had been targeted by the Red Sox in last offseason's Mike Lowell trade that the Rangers quashed when Lowell's physical showed damage to his thumb. Ramirez had a challenging season in 2010, splitting time between Texas and their AAA affiliate, Oklahoma City. In Texas, Ramirez had a .217/.341/.348 batting line in 85 plate appearances.
Ramirez is out of options and therefore will need to be waived to be assigned to AAA Pawtucket at some point. To make room on their 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated Matt Fox for assignment. Fox appeared in four games for Boston and Minnesota at the big league level in 2010. He split time between starting and relieving in the Twins system for the last six seasons.
In addition, the Red Sox announced the 11 players from their minor league system who would be participating in their 2011 Red Sox Rookie Program. The program exists to help prepare young players for life as a major leaguer with the Red Sox.
Pursuing a first baseman to replace Adam Dunn, who went to the White Sox earlier this winter has been a top priority for the Nationals. Adam LaRoche and the club agreed yesterday on a two year contract worth a guaranteed $16 million. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post has the specifics of the deal, that includes a mutual option for 2013.
LaRoche will make $7 million in 2011, followed by $8 million in 2012. The option can be bought out by the Nationals for $1 million. If picked up the Nationals would pay LaRoche $10 million in 2013. The total value of the contract could reach $25 million.
His 2010 reclamation contract with the Diamondbacks was intended to rebuild his value after bouncing from Pittsburgh to Boston to Atlanta in 2009. LaRoche had other options in 2010. Reportedly, LaRoche turned down a two-year contract with the Giants who went on to win the World Series.
He enjoyed a good season in the desert, but not a great one, even while hitting the traditional measures for quality offensive performance with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. But his batting line was disappointing, especially in Chase Field, which has the ability to inflate batting stats. His line of .261/.320/.468/.788 was tied with Gaby Sanchez of the Marlins for 14th best among qualifying first basemen in Major League Baseball.
After Derrek Lee signed with Baltimore, LaRoche and the Nats were effectively left for each other. The deal will stabilize the position for Washington until they can develop better alternatives through their farm system. Bryce Harper may very well be that in-house option.
UPDATE: According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports the MLBPA considers Beltre's contract to be worth $80 million over five years, as noted yesterday by Buster Olney (see update below). In addition, Rosenthal has the year by year breakdown of Beltre's salary. In 2011, he will receive $14 million. In 2012, the figure increases to $15 million. The $1 million annual increments continue until 2015, when Beltre's salary reaches $18 million. The voidable sixth year is worth $16 million.
UPDATE: According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Beltre's deal is actually five years and $80 million with a vesting option for the sixth season at $16 million. The story below has been edited to reflect the updated information.
Missing out on Cliff Lee hurt. But the next day, the Rangers went back to work. Finally, they got their man. MLBlogger T.R. Sullivan reported that Adrian Beltre touched down in Dallas last night to finalize a five year, $80 million contract that includes a vesting option for a sixth season.
The Rangers can decline the option year of the deal unless Beltre meets playing time threshholds in 2014 and/or 2015. The deal also includes a limited no-trade clause, which is likely intended as leverage to force the acquiring club to guarantee the option for the sixth year in the event that the Rangers seek to move Beltre during the life of the deal.
Beltre spent one season in Boston, and crushed the ball. He batted .321/.365/.553 in 641 plate appearances with 28 home runs and leading the American League with 49 doubles. It was Beltre's best season at the plate since his age 25 season with the Dodgers when he finished second in the NL MVP voting. For his career, which has spanned 13 seasons already, Beltre averaged .275/.328/.462 while playing sparkling defense at third base.
Rebuilding his value was a key to his time in Boston. After five seasons in Seattle, playing in the cavernous Safeco Field, Beltre was perceived as a fading hitter, who could still flash the leather. Moving to another park that favors hitters should help hide whatever regrerssion Beltre shows in 2011.
The deal muddles the Rangers infield situation, moving incumbent Michael Young off of third base. Young shifted to third in 2009 to make room for Elvis Andrus. Beltre and Andrus give Texas unmatched fielders on the left side of the infield. Young likely becomes the Rangers designated hitter, though it is assumed he could spell Beltre at third as well as Andrus at short and Ian Kinsler at second.
If you subscribe to the theory that sports salaries are a leading economic indicator, then this news is bound to affirm your conviction that the boom times are on their way. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Braves have reached a five-year, $62 million deal with second baseman Dan Uggla. The deal would be the highest average annual salary in major league baseball history for a second baseman. With Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Robinson Cano and Chase Utley all tied up through at least the 2012 season, that record may stand for the next two seasons at least. Utley's deal had a higher guaranteed value, but Uggla's tops it in average salary.
Uggla came to the Braves in November via an intra-divisional deal. Atlanta sent Florida Omar Infante and Michael Dunn for Uggla, who was eligible for arbitration this offseason. It would have been his final trip through arbitration, and he had expected to net north of $10 million for the 2011 season.
Instead he gets the added bonus of long term contract security and serious dollars. Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that Uggla's contract will begin low, with a salary below $10 million in 2011, but will increase and remain stable over the balance. The deal does not include an option, vesting or otherwise.
The deal locks up Uggla through four years of free agency, and becomes the biggest pay day he is likely to receive. Uggla will be 31 by Opening Day, and at the end of the deal, he will be coming off his age 35 season. Even if he maintains his offensive prowess, his suitors will be far less willing to offer such a lucrative pact.
Uggla indeed earned this deal with his bat. Among the most successful rule 5 draft selections, Uggla exploded in his rookie season posting a .282/.339/.480 batting line in 683 plate appearances for the Florida Marlins who snatched him out of the Diamondbacks system when they left him off their 40 man roster. In his five year career he's hit .263/.349/.488 and hit 154 home runs.
Kevin Gregg seems the best bet to close next year in Baltimore. According to Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi the veteran reliever signed a 2-yr, $10 million contract, pending a physical, which is expected to take place later this week. The deal also includes a vesting option for 2013. With incentives, the total value of the contract could swell to $16-20 million.
Baltimore will be team number four in four seasons for Gregg. He closed games for the Blue Jays last season, nailing down 37 saves in 63 games, with an ERA of 3.51. Before that it was a half season as Cubs closer (he lost the job to Carlos Marmol down the stretch) and two years doing the job for the Marlins. His peripherals are all above average, though he on occasion surrenders too many home runs.
The Baltimore job is seen as wide open, with Alfredo Simon in custody in the Dominican Republic in connection with the shooting death of an individual Simon says was a close friend. Former closer Mike Gonzalez as well as fill-ins Koji Uehara and Jim Johnson are all coming off injuries. Gregg solidifies the position somewhat and gives Baltimore a very solid bullpen if the other relievers recover their past form.
The New York Post's Mike Puma tweets that the Mets have picked up free agent pitchers Chris Capuano and Taylor Buchholz to one year deals to shore up their pitching staff. Buchholz spent 2010 with the Rockies and the Blue Jays. He missed all of 2009 and most of last season, recovering from Tommy John surgery. He appeared in nine games, finishing four and getting credited with a victory in one of them. The Blue Jays traded him to Boston earlier this offseason to free up space on their roster. Boston in turn non-tendered him rather than risking an expected raise through the salary arbitration process. He's expected to work in relief for the Mets Capuano, the noted Segway enthusiast, spent last year with the Brewers. He missed all of 2008 and most of 2009 recovering from TOmmy John surgery. But he pitched effectively in sixty-six innings for the Brewers after being called up to the majors in June. Capuano's surgery in 2008 was his second Tommy John operation. He had hoped to compete for a starting job with the Brewers, but their offseason acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum made it unlikely that he would be given much of a chance. To make room, Puma tweets, the club designated Ryota Igarashi for assignment. Igarashi made his American baseball debut in 2010, splitting time between New York and two of their minor league affiliates. Igarashi finished the year with an earned run average above seven in just over thirty innings pitched.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post hears from multiple sources that the Rockies deal with Carlos Gonzalez will be finalized shortly and lock him up through the 2017 season and that it will include a $3.5 million bonus. Gonzalez enjoyed a break out season in 2010 and is regarded among the best young outfielders in Major League Baseball. Gonzalez turned 25 in October and has played one full season and just over half of two others. He would not have been eligible for salary arbitration until the 2012-13 offseason. The deal when finalized will buy out one season of full team contract control, all three arbitration seasons and three years of free agency. Though terms have not been announced, the deal is rumored to be worth $80 million and represents another sizable investment by the Rockies this offseason. Previously, Colorado shelled out big bucks to keep Troy Tulowitzki signed through 2020 on a deal worth $157.75 million. In addition they brought back Jorge de la Rosa with a two-year deal worth $21.5 million. Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd is certainly making a statement that the bad deals of the club's past, like the massive deal he lavished on Mike Hampton that proved to be an utter bust, and the nine-year deal that Todd Helton signed in 2001 that will pay him $19.6 million in 2011. That statement is that the club is intent on holding onto the core of talent, despite the poor results of those prior deals. Any long term deal holds inherent risk. Gonzalez with just one year of superstar production at the big-league level prompts the immediate question: can he repeat it? Gonzalez' minor league career suggests that he is only just coming into his abilities. And Colorado is wisely betting on a young and talented player, on a deal that will carry him through his age 31 season. If he is able to build on 2010, a year that saw him hit .336/.376/.598 and lead the National League in batting average, then he will prove to be a very wise signing.
The Houston Astros have just announced that they have signed former Boston Red Sox infielder Bill Hall to a one-year contract worth $3 million. The deal also includes a mutual option for the 2012 season. The option is worth $4 million and carries a $250,000 buyout if the club opts out of the contract.
With the signing of Hall total payroll allocation for free agents this off-season, that includes multi-year deals, is now over $1 billion ($1,000,380,000) for 69 players or an average of $14,498,261. Thirty-four players or almost exactly half the free agent contracts so far this off-season signed 1-year contracts. Those one-year deals account for $114,430,000, or an average of $3,365,588.
“Zack Greinke is one of the top young pitchers in the game today. We are very excited to add him to our new rotation,” said Melvin. “Zack brings great physical skills and athleticism to the team and is an outstanding competitor. This trade is a credit to our scouting and player development staff as their hard work and judgment provided us the talented prospects that Kansas City will be receiving. I also appreciate the support of ownership in making this deal.”
Greinke, 27, is 60-67 with a 3.82 ERA in 210 career games (169 starts) during seven seasons with Kansas City. He has reached 200 innings and has made at least 32 starts in each of the last three seasons. His 70 quality starts and 10 complete games since 2008 are tied for fourth in the majors. His 606 strikeouts rank seventh and 651.2 innings pitched rank ninth during this period.
Greinke went 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA in 33 starts last season, making 21 quality starts. He pitched at least eight innings in 10 starts, including three complete games. He went 1-8 with a 4.05 ERA in his first 13 starts and 9-6 with a 4.24 ERA in his last 20 starts.
Greinke, who is signed through the 2012 season, won the 2009 American League Cy Young Award after going 16-8 with a Major League-best 2.16 ERA in 33 starts. He struck out 242 batters in just 229.1 innings, both career highs, while holding opponents to a .230 batting average.
Betancourt, 28, has spent six seasons in the Major Leagues with Seattle (2005-09) and Kansas City (2009-10), batting .272 with 47 HR and 307 RBI in 810 games. He is coming off his most productive season during which he batted .259 with career highs in home runs (16) and RBI (78).
“The addition of Yuniesky Betancourt gives our club an established but young shortstop coming off his most productive season,” said Melvin. “We are glad to have him as part of this deal.”
MLB’s 2010 off-season has shown that when you can earn $7 billion in revenues in a down economy, clubs can spend it.
The 54 players that have signed Major League free agent contracts so far this off-season have seen a total of $914,100,000 in total contract dollars, or an average of $16,927,778. Of those, 26 players have seen 1-year deals totaling $92,150,000 with the highest being Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers ($12,000,000) followed by Carlos Pena’s deal with the Cubs ($10,000,000).
Multi-year deals total a staggering $821,950,000 with the largest being Carl Crawford’s 7-year, $142 million deal with the Red Sox followed by Jayson Werth’s 7-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals. Multi-year deals for the 29 players are seeing an average annual value (AAV) of $10,404,430.38.