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MLB 2019 Winter Meetings Recap

The annual Winter Meetings kicked off on Monday in San Diego, and it was one of the most eventful in recent years, seeing the top three targets fly right off the board one after another. But, in order to have a full understanding of how this year’s Winter Meetings shook out, and to understand where the market will go from here, let’s run through all the major transactions that took place from the 9th to the 12th.

Monday

  • Zach Wheeler, Phillies (5 years, $120 million) – Desperate for an elite arm to supplement ace Aaron Nola, the Phillies broke the bank for the injury prone yet wildly talented Wheeler. The oft-injured Wheeler has shown flashes of stardom while on the field, which our team explains in greater detail here.
  • Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (7 years, $245 million) – The first of the major dominoes to fall, Strasburg’s deal helped to establish the cost of the white whale of the offseason, Gerrit Cole. Read more about the signing here.
  • Alex Claudio, Brewers (1 year, $1.75 million) – Claudio, non-tendered by the Brewers a couple of weeks ago, was re-signed by the team on Monday. The left-hander impressed from 2016-2018, but severe struggles in 2019 saw his FIP shoot up by 1.50 from the previous season. Milwaukee hopes for a bounce-back year from their lefty specialist.
  • Joely Rodriguez, Rangers (2 years, $5.5 million) – Pitching 40 innings for the Phillies between 2016 & 2017, Joely Rodriguez surrendered an ERA of 4.72 before signing in Japan with the Chunichi Dragons prior to the 2018 season. However, once overseas, he posted a 1.85 ERA over 87 innings, laying the groundwork for a potential 2020 comeback in Texas.

Tuesday

  • Gerrit Cole, Yankees (9 years, $324 million) – The most exciting free agent arm in years, Gerrit Cole chose New York over L.A., completely shattering the record Strasburg had just set for the largest contract ever handed down to a pitcher. This article expands on the jaw-dropping signing a bit more.
  • Zack Cozart, Giants (Acquired via trade, LAA) – Billy Eppler, preparing for the Angels to make a splash, wasted no time cutting costs. Struggling third-baseman Zack Cozart was dumped off to San Fransisco–along with the $12.6 million left on his contract–for a minor league right hander Garrett Williams. However, this salary dump came at a cost, as the Angels relinquished 2019 first-rounder Will Wilson to San Francisco to complete the deal. Los Angeles is clearly shifting into ‘win-now’ mode, which is in line with some of Eppler’s other moves this winter.
  • Nomar Mazara, White Sox (Acquired via trade, TEX) – While it seems Mazara has been around for years, the corner outfielder is still only 24 years old, and with an impressive collection of raw tools, Mazara looks to unlock his full potential in Chicago. Whether Mazara can start in right field is still up for debate, which you can read more about right here.
  • Didi Gregorious, Reds (1 year, $14 million) – The Reds came into the offseason hunting for some middle infield help, and that’s exactly what they hope to find in Gregorious. The former Yankee severely underperformed in 2019, likely due to the nagging troubles with his elbow, but if he can bounce back from last year’s Tommy John Surgery and return to his 2017-2018 self, this could be a steal for Cincinnati.
  • Javy Guerra, Nationals (Minor League Contract) – Picked up on waivers by Washington in May, the 9 year veteran Guerra found himself on the playoff roster, even tossing 3 innings in the World Series, en route to a title. The right handed reliever will return to the Nats in 2020.
  • Kevin Gausman, Giants (1 year, $9 million) – A former 3 fWAR pitcher for the Orioles, Gausman’s peripherals, including a sub-4.00 FIP in 2019, suggest that he could possibly serve as a borderline #3 starter.

Wednesday

  • Anthony Rendon, Angels (7 years, $245 million) – Arguably the best third baseman in baseball, Rendon was not interested in taking a hometown discount, as he now moves out west to play alongside the best player in baseball. This figures to be the first of many important moves this winter in Anaheim, so stay on the lookout. The signing is further broken down in this piece.
  • Blake Treinen, Dodgers (1 year, $10 million) – A low risk move with tons of upside, Treinen was one of baseball’s best closers in 2018, but after seeing his ERA implode by over 4 runs in 2019, the A’s non-tendered the righty. This move could prove to be the most underrated of the offseason if Treinen can recapture his 2018 magic.
  • Josh Lindblom, Brewers (3 years, $9.1 million) – Lindblom spent parts of 5 seasons in the MLB between 2011 and 2017 with mixed results to show for it. However, once he made his way to Korea, he tossed over 820 innings with a 3.55 ERA, and the Brewers will look to him to eat innings in what should be a complicated 2020 for the team.
  • Michael Wacha, Mets (1 year, $3 million) – A former first round pick and all-star, Wacha has had some genuinely great seasons with the Cardinals, but the fireballing right hander who had a 3.21 ERA in 353 innings from 2013-2015 has not been the same recently. With fastball velocity down and Hard Hit % up, it’ll be tricky for the aging Wacha to reverse the trend in 2020.

Thursday

  • Rick Porcello, Mets (1 year, $12 million) – Is this the least excited anyone has ever been about acquiring a former Cy Young Award winner? The former Boston ace struggled mightily in 2019, posting the highest ERA of any qualified starter in baseball (5.52). But, as they say, the best ability is availability, and Porcello is nothing if not available, as he has qualified for the ERA title each of the past 11 seasons, a perfect testament to his durability. If nothing else, he will eat plenty of innings for the Mets.
  • Martin Perez, Red Sox (1 year, $6.5 million) – Perez has dealt with some serious ups and downs over the past few seasons, including a 2018 in which he sported a 6.22 ERA. Ostensibly, his 2019 ERA of 5.12 isn’t much better, but his 4.50 FIP suggests otherwise, and as does the fact that he ranked in the 96th percentile of Exit Velocity and Hard Hit Ball %. Perez is a low risk addition for the Red Sox, who clearly are not looking to make any splashes this offseason.
  • Brett Gardner, Yankees (1 year, $12.5 million) – No real surprise here. Gardner is the longest tenured active Yankee, and after tallying 3.6 fWAR in 2019, mutual interest was inevitable.
  • Yimi Garcia, Marlins (1 year, TBD) – Garcia never really stood out in a crowded Dodgers bullpen, but even through his struggles, his pitching profile remains a Statcast favorite, as one trip to his Baseball Savant page will show. Garcia has a chance to immediately solidify himself as one of the Marlins’ best bullpen arms.
  • Austin Romine, Tigers (1 year, $4 million) – This Yankee will not be returning to the Bronx. With Higashioka ready to take over as Gary Sanchez’s full-time backup, Romine settled on Detroit, where he will see an increase in playing time behind the dish.
  • Jose Peraza, Red Sox (1 year, $3 million) – This middle infielder followed up an impressive 2018 with a horrendous 2019, posting a negative fWAR and finding himself non-tendered by a Reds team that wasn’t particularly deep in the middle of the infield. Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox are banking on Peraza to emulate his 2018 hitting profile, and in doing so, are almost certainly gearing up to let Brock Holt walk.
  • Michael Pineda, Twins (2 years, $20 million) – After being forced to miss the entirety of the 2018 season, the right-handed Pineda bounced back relatively strong in 2019, posting a 4.01 ERA and 4.02 FIP in 146 innings. If Pineda can find a way to build on his 2019 campaign, he can slot in very nicely as Minnesota’s #3 starter.
  • Tanner Roark, Blue Jays (2 years, $24 million) – Toronto has netted themselves a very consistent right handed arm–since becoming a full-time starter in 2014, Roark has tallied five seasons with at least 2 fWAR, including two seasons with sub-3 ERAs. The former National will look to eat innings for Toronto, and if all goes well, deliver some solid value in the process.
  • Phil Gosselin, Phillies (Minor League Contract) – Not much going on here beyond the Phillies bringing back a low-level utility man to compete for a roster spot. The 31 year old delivered meager production for the Phillies in 44 games last season, so if he even gets a crack at the bigs this year, don’t expect much.
  • Drew Butera, Rockies (Minor League Contract) – And finally, the 10-year veteran Butera will have to compete for a backup catching spot on Colorado’s roster, but if he does so successfully, he’ll suit up for the Rockies for a third straight season.

Matt Fronduto

Freshman at Emerson College. Boston native and Bryce Harper apologist. Check out my Twitter! @MattFronduto

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