by Aaron Rife
Hot Stove Update
One month into the “Hot Stove” MLB offseason and there’s been a lot to talk about. With Winter Meetings just around the corner, let’s catch everyone up on what has happened so far each day with a different division.
Chicago White Sox: They lose some key veterans but not much else. If they can get Adam Dunn to improve from one of the worst seasons ever, it’ll be like signing a new DH. 2011 was unbelievably bad for Dunn. No one could have seen that coming. They could use a left fielder. They could move Quentin there and give super-prospect Dayan Viciedo an extended look in the field. Their defense won’t be outstanding but they need those bats in the lineup and they won’t be paying Dunn to sit the bench. Third base is another area of weakness but there’s just not a lot out there to sign. I don’t see them spending the money they would have to spend to bring in Aramis Ramirez but he would be a nice fit. They lost Mark Buehrle but with the emergence of Phil Humber and the plan to move Chris Sale to the rotation, they won’t feel it too much. However, Sale’s move to the rotation would hurt their bullpen. There are a plenty of deals to be had for relievers. Look to the White Sox to make one or two.
- Exercised team option of Jason Frasor (RP)
- Key FA Losses: Omar Vizquel (INF), Mark Buehrle (SP), Juan Pierre (OF), Ramon Castro (C)
Cleveland Indians: Cleveland was a forgotten team last year but managed to win 80 games. Choo and Sizemore are coming back after injury-plagued seasons and should provide the veteran leadership that the young guys like Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall need. They could use a power bat in LF or 1B but I don’t see them paying for Fielder. Maybe Carlos Pena will end up there for a year. The pitching staff will benefit from a full year with Ubaldo Jimenez and they also traded for Derek Lowe. Lowe may be finished but they’re only paying $5M of his salary. The AL Central is always up for grabs and with the right additions the Indians could surprise some people and take the pennant.
- Traded Luis Valbuena (2B/SS) to Toronto for cash considerations
- Acquired Derek Lowe (SP) from Braves for cash and Chris Jones (P)
- Signed Grady Sizemore (OF) to 1-year contract
- Exercised team option of Fausto Carmona (SP)
- Key FA Losses: Jim Thome (DH/3B/1B), Chad Durbin (RP), Kosuke Fukudome (OF)
Detroit Tigers: AL Central champs last year and they don’t lose too much going into the 2012 season. They could use someone at 3B so they don’t have to use Brandon Inge anymore. A perfect fit would be Aramis Ramirez. With Magglio Ordonez’ contract coming off the books they have the money. Ramirez would be a great addition and would fit right in batting 3rd in front of Cabrera. If not an upgrade at 3B, 2B would be the next need. They resigned Ramon Santiago cheaply so a utility role for him would be ideal. Kelly Johnson is still available and would add some pop. If not, they’ve done fine with light hitting second basemen for a few years now, they’re used to it. On the pitching side, they have the reigning Cy Young/MVP winner which is enough. Max Scherzer needs to step up or they need to find a better #2 starter. Mark Buehrle and Roy Oswalt would be some higher priced options that would work on shorter deals. A cheaper route would be Paul Maholm he’s a league average pitcher who could be signed with a 1 or 2 year contract.
- Exercised team option of Jose Valverde (RP)
- Signed Gerald Laird (C) to 1-year contract
- Key FA Losses: Magglio Ordonez (OF), Carlos Guillen (2B/OF/1B), Brad Penny (SP), Wilson Betemit (INF), Joel Zumaya (RP)
Kansas City Royals: The Royals are a team ready to let their young hitters either fail or flourish. The projected batting order on opening day averages 24 years old! The Melky Cabrera trade was a surprise but I think they won that deal going away. It seems like they’ve always needed pitching. Now they add Jonathan Sanchez to the rotation and Aaron Crow wants to step up from the bullpen. Crow was on the verge of being labeled a bust, but after a solid 2011 he’s at least staved off that discussion for another season. They signed Jonathan Broxton for 1 year to help bolster the bullpen but that doesn’t mean Joakim Soria is going anywhere. Broxton is far from his days as an elite closer and had surgery this September to remove bone spurs in his elbow. Their plan should be to let Broxton be the 8th inning man and come trade deadline, assuming they aren’t in contention, find a team willing to give up something good for Broxton’s services. Soria could eventually be dealt but I don’t think this signing means it’s definitely happening or happening sooner.
- Traded Melky Cabrera (OF) to the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez (SP) and Ryan Verdugo (P)
- Resigned Bruce Chen (SP/RP) to a 2-year contract
- Signed Jonathan Broxton to a 1-year contract
- Exercised team option of Joakim Soria (RP)
- Key FA Losses: Jason Kendall (C) and Jeff Francis (SP)
Minnesota Twins: The Twins are a mess. Everyone’s greatest fears were realized last year when Mauer was hurt and missed 80 games, Justin Morneau is still banged up, and no one on their pitching staff has stepped up to reveal any semblance of an ace. If Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer don’t resign they’ll be looking at another potential 100-loss season. They need everything. They signed Ryan Doumit as Mauer’s backup/insurance policy but Doumit is hardly a pillar of good health nor is he anything other than an offensive catcher. Tsuyoshi Nishioka needs to show something this year to justify his signing last year. As for this offseason, I have no idea what they could do. Clearly signing Kubel and Cuddyer are their main concerns. Maybe they can find someone who thinks Francisco Liriano still has something and get a couple of guys for him. It will be interesting to see what crowds will look like if they continue this slide and the novelty of a new stadium wears off.
- Signed Ryan Doumit (C) to 1-year contract and Jamey Carroll (SS/2B) to 2-year contract
- Declined team option of Joe Nathan (RP)
- Key FA Losses: Matt Capps (RP), Jason Kubel (OF), Michael Cuddyer (2B/1B/OF)