MLB Hot Stove: Impact of the Winter Meetings

Now that the Winter Meetings have concluded, the major transactions in baseball seem to have slowed down a little. With names like Johnny Cueto and Chris Davis yet to solidify a contract, there are still some fireworks left in this offseason. But this article is going to focus on the transactions from the last week or so.

Let’s start with the minor transactions

  • The Baltimore Orioles designated Junior Lake for assignment
    • Remember when he was supposed to be the next big thing? Yikes. He found success his rookie year in 2013 with Chicago, but their great depth and farm system made him expendable, and Lake hasn’t found any success since 2013.
  • The Dodgers resigned Chase Utley
    • Utley was quite the villain this postseason but love him or hate him, it is hard not to respect his career. Maybe he can get another ring in LA, but I doubt it. At 36, he doesn’t have many years left in the show and he’ll try to make the most of his opportunities this season with the Dodgers.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates traded Neil Walker to the NY Mets in exchange for LHP Jon Niese
    • Great move by both franchises, NY needed to replace Daniel Murphy without breaking the bank, and with Zobrist off of the table, Walker will do. Niese should definitely bolster the staff in Pittsburgh and help an already great franchise. Tough for Buccos fans, since Walker was a fan favorite due to the fact that he grew up in Pittsburgh but they’ll move on. Jung Ho Kang could easily make the move to second base if they find themselves short at 2B.
  • Red Sox trade Garin Cecchini to the Milwaukee Brewers for cash
    • Kind of a big insult that a very financially successful organization traded Cecchini for cash but bottomline is that Garin would have never cracked the starting nine in Boston so good moves by both sides.
  • Yankees acquired SS Starlin Castro for Adam Warren and a player to be named later
    • Starlin will fit in well in the Bronx and should make an immediate impact. The Cubs have Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo across the diamond so Castro really couldn’t get the playing time he deserved in Chicago.
  • Oakland Athletics sign relief pitcher Ryan Madson
    • This offseason seems to be the year of the bullpen, Madson is a frontline reliever and will be a great pair to closer Sean Doolittle.
  • Kansas City Royals sign Joakim Soria
    • Early rumors had Soria coming to Boston, but Dombrowski found relievers in the form of Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith. Soria is joining the best bullpen in the MLB and will be working with players like Kelvin Herrera, Dan Duffy, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. A bullpen of KC’s caliber makes the starting pitchers much for relaxed and successful since they don’t necessarily need to go deep into games.

Major Transactions

  • San Francisco signs free agent Jeff Samardzija
    • After San Fran lost out on the Zack Greinke sweepstakes to divisional rival, they needed to make some improvements to pair with Bumgarner. Now adding a very quality pitcher for the number two spot expect the Giants to make a World Series run. Give Buster Posey a quality pitching staff to work with and let him do the rest. Also, it seems that the Giants might still be in the market for another pitcher potentially Johnny Cueto or Scott Kazmir.
  • Diamondbacks lost on maybe the worst trade in MLB history with the Braves
  • Cubs sign Jason Heyward AND Ben Zobrist AND John Lackey
    • Chicago and Theo are really making themselves an obvious World Series favorite but although their curse will get broken eventually it won’t happen this year. Sure, Heyward is a star and Zobrist can excel anywhere on the diamond, and Lackey at 37 years old finished 9th in the NL Cy Young voting just last season, but they might not play as well as normal. And chemistry is a big factor in success. The Cubs have the blueprint for a dynasty and this team will be special for years to come.
  • Seven player trade between Philadelphia and Houston headlined by Mark Appel and Ken Giles
    • The Houston bullpen is quietly building and getting very strong. Previous closer Luke Gregerson played well last season and now with the addition of Ken Giles the 8th and 9th innings seem all but automatic for Houston. The ‘Stros did however lose #1 overall pick in 2013, Mark Appel. The #43 prospect in all of baseball is expected to reach the majors as early as 2016 but experts don’t know what to expect. Appel’s ‘stuff’ has the making of a top tier starter but his inconsistencies in the minors have scouts scratching their heads. Hopefully Appel can find success with his new scenery in Philly but only time will tell.

A LOT of transactions happened in Nashville during the Winter Meetings and we can still expect much more to come. Orioles took their seven-year extension to Chris Davis off of the table, while the Dodgers halted a trade included Aroldis Chapman due to potential legal troubles. The Dodgers are looking to move Puig and the Marlins are still asking the moon for Jose Fernandez (relax Miami, we all know you can’t really resign him and have the vast majority of your money invested in two players who have trouble playing a full season). Fernandez will be a free agent in 2019 and with Scott Boras as his agent, expect him to go where the money is.

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