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.
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!