Winners and Losers from the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings

Nationals Park Opening Day 2014

What a week baseball fans! The 2014 MLB Winter Meetings was probably the most active in recent memory, with stars such as Matt Kemp, Jimmy Rollins, and Jeff Samardzija being traded and Jon Lester and David Robertson signing impressive free agent contracts. There was a flurry of activity this week and amongst this frenzy a few teams separated themselves as “Winners and Losers”.

In consideration for this list, I only placed teams based on signings and trades done Monday through Thursday, and did not penalize teams for a lack of activity. Opening Day is 14 weeks away, so there is plenty of time to alter rosters. In the name of instant gratification and satisfaction, these are my choices for “Winner and Losers” from this week.

Winners:

1) Chicago White Sox – Acquired Jeff Samardzija from Oakland for Marcus Semien, Chris Bassitt, Rangel Ravelo, and Josh Phegley; Signed David Robertson for 4-years $46million; Acquired Dan Jennings from Miami for Andre Rienzo

Bravo my new favorite general manager crush Rick Hahn, who has transformed a 73 win team in 2014 into a legitimate wild card contender next season. Samardzija is a strong #2 starter who will slot in well behind Chris Sale in the White Sox rotation, and to acquire him, they parted with quality, but excess pieces. The Robertson signing feels a little pricey, but he was clearly the best closer on the market this winter and fills a major need for the White Sox. Finally, the subtle trade late Thursday getting Jennings from Miami now gives Chicago two quality lefties in their bullpen (Zach Duke and Jennings) and transforms their relief corps from a weakness in 2014 to now a projected team strength.

2) Anaheim Angels – Traded Howie Kendrick to Los Angeles for Andrew Heaney; Traded Jairo Diaz to Colorado for Josh Rutledge

Many would automatically place the Dodgers or Cubs in this spot, but the Angels made two shrewd trades this week, turning one year of Howie Kendrick into six years of Andrew Heaney. Heaney was the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball six months ago, and although he has lost some prospect luster, he projects as a strong #4 starter for many seasons – a terrific return for one year of Kendrick.

Then to replace Kendrick, the Angels bought low on Josh Rutledge, a personal favorite who is only 25-years-old. With four years of player control left, the Angels did a solid job of replacing Kendrick in the lineup with Rutledge. Although these were two smaller trades, Anaheim filled a major need in adding a young controllable starting pitcher and did not significantly weaken their 2015 roster in the process.

3) Philadelphia Phillies – Traded Jimmy Rollins to Los Angeles for Zach Eflin and Tom Windle; Traded Antonio Bastardo to Pittsburgh for Joely Rodriguez

Many might question Philadelphia’s inclusion, but they find a spot on this list due to the sheer nature that these two trades might finally signal that the Phillies realize they need the major rebuild they have been delaying for 3 years. The Phillies now find themselves as sellers in a very aggressive buyers’ market, and they still have assets Cole Hamels, Marlon Byrd, and Chase Utley to deal. In addition, the two trades they did make this week produced three intriguing young arms to add to their dreary farm system, a strong first-step in this organizational transition.

Losers:

1) Minnesota Twins – Signed Ervin Santana 4-years $55 million

Giving a 32-year-old non-elite starting pitcher a 4-year contract is nearly automatic grounds for a spot on this list, but when the signing STILL makes you the 5th best team in your division, it is inexcusable. The Twins should have used this money on 3-4 players with some youth and potential, as they could either be useful trade bait or a part of the next winning team in Minnesota. Especially considering where the team is in the win cycle, this is my early leader for worst signing of the offseason.

2) Kansas City Royals – Signed Kendrys Morales 2-years $17 million

For a small market team coming off a wildly successful season, the Royals have been relatively quiet, allowing Billy Butler to sign with Oakland and replacing him with a lesser version in Kendrys Morales. Morales was dreadful last season and is now 31-years-old. Morales might have been an intriguing bounce-back signing at 1-year and less than $5 million, but to guarantee two years and $17mm leaves little possible value in this deal. Kansas City would have been wiser to allocate these resources differently to improve the overall roster.

3) San Diego Padres – Acquired Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz, and Cash from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland, and Zach Eflin

I understand the Padres felt pressure to make a major splash at the Winter Meetings due to the new front office in San Diego and the meetings occurring in their backyard. However, I am not quite sure how much better Kemp makes the Padres compared to Grandal and I have a terrible feeling they helped a division rival get out from a bloated contract. San Diego needed to add an impact player to help sell tickets and optimism to their fan base, but this does not feel like the right bold move to make in terms of wins and losses.

The Washington Nationals Send Ross Detwiler to Texas

Nationals Park

After keeping fans hitting refresh on their keyboards for the entire Winter Meetings, Thursday afternoon the Washington Nationals traded LHP Ross Detwiler to the Texas Rangers for prospects Chris Bostick and Abel De Los Santos. This trade represents the first significant move of the offseason for Washington, as they attempt to reshape their bullpen, save some payroll, and improve their minor league depth.

Detwiler, the Nationals 1st round pick in the 2007 draft, has struggled through an up-and-down career while in Washington, suffering through injuries and a difficult demotion to the bullpen while providing the Nationals with an outstanding 2012 season and gutsy performance in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS. Detwiler took the mound down 2 games to 1 and pitched six innings, allowing only 1 unearned run before giving way to the bullpen.

Last season Detwiler struggled with the adjustment to the bullpen, posting a 4.00 ERA and 1.413 WHIP in 63 innings pitched. For his 7-year major league career, Detwiler possesses a 3.82 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 1.374 WHIP, 5.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 ratio across 471 innings pitched. The Rangers have been seeking pitching depth all offseason and at a projected salary of $3.25 million in his final year of arbitration, he provides a versatile arm for the Rangers’ staff in 2015.  Detwiler will turn 29 just prior to opening day and with fewer than 500 career major league innings, offers the Rangers some upside potential with the change of scenery.

Bostick, 21-years-old, was drafted originally by the Oakland Athletics in the 44th round of the 2011 MLB Draft and traded him last winter, along with Michael Choice, to Texas for Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom. Bostick spent 2014 at High-A Myrtle Beach, batting .251/.322/.412 with 50 extra base hits and 24 stolen bases. For his minor league career, Bostick is a .270/.341/.427 hitter with 29 home runs, 78 doubles, and 65 stolen bases in 343 games played.

I was fortunate to watch Bostick this season and I came away extremely impressed with his right-handed bat, above-average speed, and absurd level of want. Bostick is a well-built, near physically maxed 5-11 185lbs with a short, compact swing, quick loose wrists, and average or better bat speed. He suffers from a high number of strikeouts, 116 in 495 at-bats in 2014, but counteracts these whiffs with legitimate power as evidence by those 31 doubles and 11 home runs this season as a 21-years-old.

Defensively Bostick was drafted as a shortstop but quickly shifted to the keystone due to his lack of elite athleticism or a cannon-like arm. Although he has above-average speed, it does not translate to the agility typically associated with major league shortstops. That said Bostick has more than enough athleticism and arm strength to play a solid-average second base, though he will never be confused with a gold glove defender.

In addition the Nationals receive De Los Santos, a 22-year-old right-handed relief pitcher who posted a notable 1.92 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 56.1 innings pitched this season between Low- and High-A. Signed as an international free agent by Texas in May 2010, De Los Santos has a career 3.38 ERA, 1.142 WHIP, 7.6 H/9, 9.15 K/9, and 2.64 BB/9 ratio.  Furthermore, he has flourished since his move to the bullpen in 2013 with a 2.58 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 6.36 H/9, 2.86 BB/9 and 10.41 K/9 numbers.

As many times as I watched Myrtle Beach this season, I do not have scouting notes on De Los Santos, so I called upon my friend and Baseball Prospectus prospect expert C.J. Wittmann to provide NatsGM with an exclusive scouting report: “De Los Santos is an average sized right-hander with a loose arm and he can generate mid-90s velocity. The looseness of the arm causes him to get offline and the command varies. If he straightens out the command issues then we could looking at a MLB reliever profile.”

Additionally, C.J. provided some thoughts on Bostick: “Bostick is a really athletic kid who has role 5; MLB regular upside. After seeing a few games of Bostick, I really liked his approach and plan at the plate and contact skills. He projects to hit in the average to solid average range and has sneaky gap-to-gap power. At 2B, his glove and arm work well enough to where he could play average defense there at the big league level. I think this is a really nice trade for the Nationals, getting potentially two big league caliber players.”

This trade is difficult from a fan perspective, as Detwiler will forever hold a unique place in Nationals’ team history. However his opportunity was limited in Washington and with one season remaining before free agency, Detwiler deserves the opportunity to maximize his value, which is as a starting pitcher. The Nationals did right by Detwiler in this deal and simultaneously made a shrewd baseball trade.

Bostick possesses the ceiling of a league average, offensive-minded second baseman, with his likeliest outcome being he develops into a valuable reserve capable of playing multiple positions. He could potentially reach the major leagues sometime late in 2016. Additionally De Los Santos stands a reasonable chance of carving out a major league career as a reliever, also perhaps in 2016. In a baseball sense, this is a rather equitable return for one season of Ross Detwiler. Texas and Washington both did well in this swap, receiving something more valuable to them than the spare parts they gave away.

NatsGM Overall Grade -> B to B+

LIVE Instant Analysis of THE Final Day of the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings

0830141729

Welcome back baseball fans for the final day of the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings, sponsored by Red Bull and Starbucks – Yes extra caffeine has been the MVP of this week, as the majority of the moves have been made after midnight on the east coast.

Yesterday we saw the Los Angeles Dodgers take center stage, as the team completed four separate trades yesterday, sending Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami, acquiring Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies, trading Anaheim for Howie Kendrick, then the blockbuster, shipping Matt Kemp to San Diego.  The details of the Rollins and Kemp trades are still not official, but both should be finished by the end of the week.

The final day of the winter meetings is the date of the annual Rule 5 draft and usually consists of a mad dash by baseball employees to the airport to return home.  However with so many rumors still floating around and numerous free agents still seeking teams, today could be another hectic day in the baseball world.  I will be around all day providing instant analysis of the signings and trades as soon as the are made official.  I highly encourage you to join me with your analysis and opinions in the Comments Section and/or on Twitter @NatsGMDotCom.

10:10am Update -> Although this trade occurred last night, I did want to comment on the Dodgers acquiring second baseman Howie Kendrick for Andrew Heaney.  Kendrick is a quality two-way player with one year left on his contract, and the Dodgers wanted to upgrade over Justin Turner.  Kendrick is a solid fit for LA.

My problem with the trade is giving up such a quality prospect in Andrew Heaney.  Surprisingly, Heaney was dealt twice yesterday, but it was not but six months ago Heaney was considered the top lefty pitching prospect in the minors.  Sure Heaney did not finish the season well, but he should be a strong #4 starter for many years and I think the Angels did EXTREMELY well to get him, and clear $9 million in salary, by parting with Kendrick.

Anaheim  A-/B+         Los Angeles   B-

10:15am -> Most media outlets are reporting now that the Matt Kemp to San Diego trade is completed and Kemp has been made aware of the deal.  I am waiting to hear the full details of the trade before commenting, as money and multiple prospects are supposedly involved.

10:20am Update -> Now Ken Rosenthal and many others are reporting the Boston Red Sox have sent Yoenis Cespedes and 1-2 prospects to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello.  I am a huge Porcello guy and think he is just beginning to blossom into his talent.  This, coupled with his ownership of a home in nearby Vermont could give the Red Sox a chance to sign him long-term.

Cespedes gives the Tigers additional right-handed power in the outfield they lacked after watching Torii Hunter depart via free agency and Austin Jackson in a midseason trade.  Cespedes has obvious flaws, but his power is unquestioned and he should not see his home run numbers decline too much in Comerica Park.

This is an intriguing baseball swap, but my gut reaction immediately favors the Boston side of this deal.

Boston  B         Detroit   C

10:45am -> Most reporters are now confirming the San Diego acquisition of Matt Kemp and Tim Federowicz, along with $25 million, from the Dodgers in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal, and pitchers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin.  Kemp, when healthy and motivated, remains one of the best two-way outfielders in baseball, and should appreciate being a big fish in San Diego’s pond.  Kemp immediately becomes their “franchise player” or at least their most marketable.  Kemp also provides the right-handed power and middle-of-the-order hitter the Padres have lacked since trading Adrian Gonzalez.

For the Dodgers, this swap is interesting in that they trade their best position player (on paper) along with $25 million dollars and receive an average catcher in Grandal and two young arms.  The Dodgers like Grandal’s receiving skills and four years of control, and receive two more young arms to stockpile for a possible trade later this winter.

While I like this move from a PR perspective for San Diego, I am not sure how much better their team is with this trade, and they just took on a massive contract from a division rival.  On the other hand, the Dodgers clear a ton of future payroll, but probably are not quite as strong a team overall as they were before the deal.  In a vacuum, I do not particularly care for this trade for either team.

Los Angeles  C-     San Diego  C-

11:30am Update -> John Mayberry Jr. has signed a major league deal with the New York Mets, according to media reports.  He hits left-handed pitching reasonably well and could be a decent bench piece for New York.

11:45am Update -> The deals are coming fast and furious this morning, as it is now official that the Cincinnati Reds have traded RHP Alfredo Simon to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for SS Eugenio Suarez and RHP Jonathon Crawford.  Simon is in the last year of arbitration eligibility, and should immediately replace Rick Porcello in the Tigers’ rotation.

In exchange the Reds receive a quality middle infield prospect in Suarez, who jumped from Double-A to the majors last season and held his own.  He does not have overwhelming, impact tools, but he should be a league average-ish SS/2B for a few years, a valuable commodity in today’s environment.  He is an upgrade from Zach Cozart.

Crawford was the Tigers 1st round pick a few years ago from the University of Florida.  He has a big, physical frame with a power fastball to match, but the lack of a changeup leads scouts to believe his future is in the bullpen.  Still he is a decent power arm and should carve out a major league career.

The Tigers did well to quickly add depth to the back of the rotation in this trade but I think this deal is a slam dunk for Cincinnati.  The Reds clear $5 million in payroll, get a starting shortstop (or a backup plan if they can deal Brandon Phillips) along with a young arm.  Big win here for Cincinnati!

Cincinnati B+       Detroit  B-/C+

Noon Update -> Next shoe has dropped, as now Cincinnati is sending RHP Mat Latos to the Miami Marlins for RHP Anthony DeSclafani and Catcher Chad Wallach.  The Marlins are certainly trying to improve, as yesterday they acquired SS/2B/Hechevarria-combo partner Dee Gordon and today receive Latos.  Latos has some injury history and is entering his final year of arbitration, but when he is on the mound, he is a quality #2/3 starting pitcher and one of the best 30-40 starters in the game.  He should pitch atop the rotation in Miami until Jose Fernandez returns.

For the Reds, they receive Miami’s #2 prospect in DeSclafani and an intriguing catching prospect in Wallach.  I have known DeSclafani since his days at Florida, and truthfully I had him begged as a career major league reliever.  However, he has improved immensely in the minors until the Marlins’ mentorship and now projects as a back-end starter in the big leagues.  Wallach is the son of former MLB player Tim Wallach, and the scouts seem to like his eye and approach at the plate.

Overall, I really like this swap for both clubs- the Reds needed to cut salary while attempting to improve their roster long-term, while the Marlins are making a strong attempt to be a playoff contender (or more) in 2015.  Latos makes them a contender and perhaps 1-2 players away from a wild card favorite in the NL.  Cincinnati does a nice job of clearing $8+ million in salary in a likely rebuilding year in 2015, and grabs what should be a rotation mainstay for much of the decade in DeSclafani.

Cincinnati  B/B+    Miami B/B+

12:15pm Update -> Another small trade has occurred, as the White Sox have sent RHP Andre Rienzo to the Marlins for LHP Dan Jennings. I have always been a fan of Jennings after watching him against the Nationals this year, but I do not know enough about Rienzo to grade this deal fairly.

12:30pm Update-> In one of the most over-analyzed events in baseball, Thursday of the Winter Meetings is the annual Rule 5 draft, baseball’s attempt to keep teams from overstocking their farm system with major league ready talent.  I certainly do not know all of the prospects selected today, but a few did particularly catch my eye.

Delino Deshields Jr. was selected 3rd overall by the Texas Rangers from the in-state Astros.  He has major league tools and skills, but his desire has often been questioned by the Houston front office.  Perhaps a change of scenery could allow him to blossom into a major league player.

Later the New York Mets selected LHP Sean Gilmartin from the Minnesota Twins.  A former 1st round pick of the Braves, Gilmartin does not possess much of a ceiling, but he has three decent pitches and can throw strikes, meaning he should be able to stay in the Mets’ bullpen all year if they are so inclined.

Finally with the last pick in the MLB portion of the draft, the Orioles selected RHP Logan Verrett from the New York Mets.  I watched Verrett years ago on Cape Cod, and was impressed by his ability to pound the zone with a heavy fastball.  He does not have a huge ceiling, but he should be able to eat up innings for Baltimore’s bullpen similarly to T.J. McFarland a few seasons ago.  I think Verrett has a decent chance to stick with Baltimore in 2015.

For Nats fans interested, the Washington Nationals did not have anyone selected in the Rule 5 draft.  Some analysts had speculated that Matt Skole could be selected, but alas, he is still with the organization.

12:35pm -> I’m yet to eat and I am only on cup of coffee number 1 and I have already written 1600+ words today.  It’s shaping up to be a great day for baseball fans!

12:45pm Update -> Two free agent signings to report, as the Boston Red Sox have signed RHP Justin Masterson to a 1-year deal worth $9 million.  Masterson originally was a Red Sox prospect once upon a time, and had established himself as one of the better workhorse pitchers in major league baseball before a woeful 2014 season.  He was injured for much of the season, which could/should explain the poor results.  This contract is a good deal for both sides, as Masterson gets to re-establish his value before returning to free agency next winter, and Boston adds another quality starter to a suddenly deep rotation.

Additionally, the Kansas City Royals have signed 1B/DH Kendrys Morales to a 2-year contract worth $17 million plus incentives.  I am not a big fan of Morales, as his defense is atrocious and his offensive numbers have slipped ever since his catastrophic leg injury years ago.  For a team with a tight payroll, I would have preferred to see the Royals use those funds differently to improve their roster.

2:30pm Update -> We have another signing to announce, as the Minnesota Twins have apparently come to terms with RHP Ervin Santana on a 4-year $54 million dollar contract.  Santana, who turns 32-years-old, will help front a Twins’ rotation consisting of Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, as Minnesota awaits the arrival of many of their prospects to the big leagues.

I just cannot support this signing, as a 4-year deal is extremely risky for a 32-year-old pitcher with plenty of miles already on his arm.  While the Twins  have a screaming need for quality starting pitching, this signing still makes them the weakest team in their division and I would have preferred signings with more potential reward for the risk.  Santana is likely the Twins’ opening day starter, but this is not a particularly good signing on a day full of impressive moves.

2:40pm -> Rumors continue to swirl concerning a trade involving Ian Desmond to Seattle, likely in return for Brad Miller and more.  If GM Mike Rizzo could get a nice sweetener or two on top of Miller, it would be an unpopular but good trade for Washington.

3:50pm ->

4pm Update -> The Nationals are on the board, as Jeff Passan is reporting that Washington has sent NatsGM favorite LHP Ross Detwiler to the Texas Rangers for two minor leaguers.  When the full details of this deal emerge, I will provide a deeper analysis.

On a personal level, Ross has been one of my favorite players ever since he and I had a long discussion during spring training 2008.  He was so nice and generous with his time, just talking to an obsessive fan (me) and kindly answering my questions.  I am sad to see him leave, as he has been an underrated part of the Nationals turnaround.  Happy Trails Mr. Detwiler.

5:05pm -> Posting this, just in case, as it could make me look really smart (or a lucky guesser).

6:20pm Update -> Multiple reporters, including Mark Zuckerman, are now confirming Ross Detwiler to Texas for 2B Chris Bostick and RHP Abel De Los Santos.  I will have a full complete recap of this trade on the site tomorrow, but my gut reaction is this is a good trade for both clubs.

Texas gets additional starting pitching depth, with some upside, for a relatively cheap salary in exchange for a middle infielder blocked by numerous others and a relief prospect.  And Washington receives two prospects with major league potential at areas of organizational weakness for a seemingly redundant pitcher.  I am a big fan of this deal for both sides.

8:30pm -> Unfortunately the Hot Stove has been reduced to a mere flame the past few hours, as executives travel home and become reacquainted with sleep.  Therefore I am telling the tech crew to turn off the lights, as we are calling it a wrap for the NatsGM Live Blog of the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings.  I want to thank everyone who joined me the past 4 days.  I will return tomorrow with my full analysis of the Ross Detwiler trade.

Until then, #ByeForNow!

LIVE Instant Analysis of the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings – Day 3

photo 1(62)

Welcome back baseball fans to THE NatsGM Live Analysis of Day 3 of the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings.  Yesterday was a much more active day than Monday, as we finally saw Jon Lester sign with the Chicago Cubs, and we saw trades involving Jeff Samardzija and Miguel Montero.

Today I am expecting a much more hectic day in terms of trades and signings, as we could see outfielders Matt Kemp and Justin Upton moved, along with pitchers Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels.  Not to mention both local teams the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles have been eerily quiet thus far this winter, so we could see them jump into the Hot Stove today as well.  I highly encourage you to join me with your thoughts, comments, and critiques via the Comments Section or on Twitter @NatsGMdotcom.

10:15am Update -> Look what happens when you fall asleep… After I departed at midnight the Cubs shortly thereafter finally signed free agent pitcher Jon Lester to a 6-year $155 million, along with a $15mm vesting option for a 7th year.  This deal makes Lester one of the wealthiest pitchers in baseball, with an annual average value $25.8mm, which is just ahead of Justin Verlander and behind Clayton Kershaw.

As a baseball fan and hot stove fanatic, I am thrilled that Lester has finally made a decision, as his signing should open the flood gates on many of the trades and signings involving pitchers.  It felt like most teams were waiting for this deal before moving on to supposed secondary options.

In addition, this is great for the Chicago Cubs fans, who have been clamoring for good baseball at Wrigley Field for many seasons.  Their fanbase has been sold on prospects, future, and hope, and much like the Werth signing by Washington years ago, this announces that the future is now.

However, from a baseball perspective this signing makes me pause and question it.  Lester turns 31 in January and while he is an outstanding pitcher, his career numbers do not scream Ace- 3.58 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 8.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, and 1.276 WHIP.  On the other hand, Lester is a model of durability, making 30+ starts in seven consecutive seasons and has thrown 200+ innings in six of the past seven years.  In addition, Lester is coming off the best season of his career in 2014, throwing 219.2 innings with a 2.46 ERA.

For me, Lester is a quality #2 starting pitcher on a World Series contender, much in the mold of Jordan Zimmermann.  Those type of pitchers are extremely rare and deserve to be paid well, but the length of the contract is the issue at hand.  While I expect Lester to thrive for the first few years of this deal in the shift to the NL, years 4, 5, and 6 concern me here for the Cubs.  I would have eventually made this deal if I was the Chicago GM, but this contract has significant risk without extreme reward built into it.  Congrats to the Cubs fans, but buyer-beware down the road.

10:45am Update -> So Houston has not been bluffing in their efforts to bolster their bullpen, as media reports have confirmed they have signed former San Diego reliever Luke Gregorson to a 3-yr contract and are close to signing St. Louis pitcher Pat Neshek to a 2-yr deal.

Gregorson has established himself as one of, if not the top, 8th inning setup man in baseball and today signs for 3-years and $18.5 million.  He does not receive the credit he deserves due to the small media market and large ballpark, but Gregorson has a 2.75 ERA over the last six seasons, which rates 4th among relievers who have thrown more than 350 innings.  At 30-years-old Gregorson now relies less on a powerful fastball and more on a devastating slider and the ability to induce grounders.

Neshek signed a minor league contract with St. Louis last winter and took advantage of the spring training invite to post a dynamic season with a 1.87 ERA and 9,1 K/9 rate over 67.1 innings pitched.  An extreme sidearm pitcher, Neshek is unbelievably difficult on righties and should slot in as Houston’s 8th inning guy before Gregorson.  Rumors have Neshek receiving $12.5 million over the next two years.

These signings solidify a bullpen that has been a disaster in recent seasons; in addition both pitchers could find themselves as interest trade chips this summer if Houston continues to struggle and contenders covet bullpen upgrades.  While signing bullpen arms to reasonable dollars feels slightly odd for the woeful Astros, I think they got good deals on both pitchers and will receive solid value for their money.

11:05am -> Serious question, would you rather have drinks with Jon Lester or Lester Freamon?

Clarke Peters as Lester Freamon in The Wire

1:35pm Update -> As I enjoy a chicken burrito for lunch from Fish Taco (delicious Mexican food, non-paid plug), I am surprised we have not seen more “low-level” baseball swaps thus far this week.  Certainly trades with superstars involve many, many variables making them hard to make, but I am somewhat shocked we have not seen more “I have excess Position X, you have excess Position Y, we can help fill each others’ needs” deals done.

3:30pm -> I just saw on twitter my friend Joe Hamrahi has decided to leave Baseball Prospectus to pursue other opportunities.  He has been tremendously kind to me personally and to my site, so I want to wish him a public thank you and congratulations.  Hope to buy you a beer or four in the future!

5pm -> After an active morning the Hot Stove feels more like a nearly burned out campfire right now.  Perhaps happy hour will spur the activity at the Winter Meetings, cheers!

5:30pm Update -> Looks like beer worked, as multiple outlets are now reporting the Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins.  We are awaiting official confirmation and the player(s) going back to the Phillies, but this looks like the first signal that Philadelphia could be rebuilding.

6pm -> Further to the previous point, now media reports have the Phillies sending talented left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The return is unknown, but Bastardo has 1-year left under contract.

6:05pm -> Sources are now confirming that the Phillies will receive LHP Joely Rodriguez, a pitching prospect who possesses mid-90s gas along with a slider and a changeup.  I have seen Rodriguez in person and even though he is a little older at 23-years-old, he has a major league future.  This is a reasonable return for 1-year of Antonio Bastardo.

Pittsburgh Pirates  B+       Philadelphia Phillies  B-/C+

7:10pm Update -> We have another trade to announce, and this one is a doozy – The Los Angeles Dodgers have sent RHP Dan Haren and SS Dee Gordon to the Miami Marlins for LHP Andrew Heaney, 2B Enrique Hernandez, RHP Chris Hatcher, and Catcher Austin Barnes.

This deal is a slam dunk for the Dodgers, as the arrival of Jimmy Rollins left Dee Gordon expendable, and Los Angeles is more than happy to part with Haren and his $10mm salary in 2015.  In addition, they receive Heaney, who six months ago was the top left-handed pitching prospect in the minor leagues, along with three other prospects I admit to knowing nothing about.  For the Dodgers to receive such excellent salary relief, to sell high on Gordon’s solid 1st half of 2014, AND receive four prospects, this is a massive win for LA.

From Miami’s perspective, I simply do not understand this deal.  Dee Gordon is a average major league shortstop but will likely shift to the keystone in deference to Adeiny Hechavarria.  This will put even more pressure on Gordon’s bat, easily the weakness in his game, and the move to Miami’s park will not bolster his offense.  That said, he and Hechavarria should form a dynamic middle infield, a major plus on the lightning quick turf in Miami.

Haren’s inclusion is truly puzzling, as he is far from a bargain contract-wise and the Marlins do not seem to lack for back-end starting pitching.  One must assume Haren was a necessary evil to make this trade happen, but he would be a deal-breaker for me.

Los Angeles  A-     Miami  D

8pm -> Tons of rumors currently flying around, as Ervin Santana is connected to the Minnesota Twins and nearly every reporter in San Diego is stating the Nationals are talking about numerous deals including a blockbuster.  It will be fun to watch the baseball world the next 16 hours or so before they go their separate way.

10pm Update -> Looks like we have a new trade to report, as speculation has LHP Wade Miley going from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Boston Red Sox.  While Miley is not the top-of-the-rotation guy the Red Sox need to replace Jon Lester, he has pitched 200+ innings two years in a row and should stabilize the back of their rotation.   Miley is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, and will not reach free agency until 2018.

In return for rotation mainstay Miley, the Diamondbacks get young right-handed pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, along with another minor leaguer.  This feels like a strong return for Miley, as both De La Rosa and Webster are major league ready pitchers with talent who should see significant time on the mound for Arizona in 2015.  These two pitchers feels like a nice return for Miley, so the minor leaguer feels like a cherry-on-top to this deal.

Arizona Diamondbacks  B/B+         Boston Red Sox  B

11:30pm Update -> Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Los Angeles Dodgers are close to signing right-handed starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy to a 4-year contract.  McCarthy would take the rotation slot vacated earlier in the evening by the trade of Dan Haren to Miami.  We shall await further details of this signing.

Midnight Final Update -> We are still waiting to hear the final contract terms of the McCarthy deal, and there are plenty of rumors swirling around San Diego as the final hours count down at the 2014 Winter Meetings.  The Rule 5 draft occurs tomorrow morning at 9am and after that is the traditional mad dash to the airport to return home.

I will return tomorrow morning to cover the Rule 5 draft, along with any news on the Final Day of the Winter Meetings.  Thank you for joining for the past three days for my coverage – Bye For Now!