Category Archives: Free Agency

Rafael Soriano signs with the Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals signed high-priced free agent Rafael Soriano to a two year, $21 million dollar deal to be their closer today. I like the move a lot, but perhaps not as much as Jim Bowden who was all over it today.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/JimBowdenESPNxm/status/291263704488632320″]

I am probably one of the few people out there who admires what the Nationals are doing on a few fronts.

1. They’re clearly going ‘all in’ right now and spending the money to do it. The loss that will sting forever–game five of the NLDS against the Cardinals–is something that they’re going to take all measures to make sure it never happens again. Soriano got closer money, and this allows more flexibility for the electric arms with less closing experience (Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Henry Rodriguez) to set him up. When you can play match-ups with electric arms like that, good things will probably follow. This is the ultimate hedging of bets at the back end of the Nationals bullpen.

2. The Nationals continue to play nicely with super agent Scott Boras. It’s only my opinion, but the Nationals could be trying to earn brownie points with Boras so that Bryce Harper never hits the open market and signs a contract extension with Washington with the time comes (that time being 2018). Other theories out there say that the Nationals are one of the only avenues that Boras can even go through anymore to get a deal done because most organizations won’t bother negotiating with him. I think it’s the former. The Nationals are paying Scott Boras a lot of money with every client they sign. When the time comes to offer Harper a long-term extension, it’s possible that if Harper wants to stay with Washington and they’re willing to pay what Boras perceives a fair deal that Harper never tests the market.

No matter the reason, I think Soriano will pay huge dividends and sponge up the saves in the nation’s capital this upcoming season. When he’s healthy, he’s got electric stuff.

As Jim Bowden said; and forgive me for letting kindling near a bonfire, it’s the cherry on top of what has been a monster off-season for the Nats.

Francisco Cordero heads North of the Border

The man logged 150 saves for the Cincinnati Reds after many in baseball thought he was done. He’ll be 37 years old this season. Today, three-time All-Star Francisco “Coco” Cordero signed a one year, $4.5 million dollar contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in a move that bolsters their bullpen to one of the top pens in the American League.

Last season the Blue Jays had a stable of guys to pick from to close out ballgames. None of those guys were very good. They’ve re-stocked the cupboard with Cordero, Darren Oliver, Jason Frasor, Casey Janssen, and Sergio Santos this offseason.

While Santos is the big horse in the pen that figures to get the bulk of save opportunities, a baseball season is long and at some point the temptation to see what Cordero does in a save situation will be there. There’s likely to be a stretch of games in which Santos falters and Cordero gets an opportunity.

And that’s when Blue Jays fans will receive the feeling of horrifying dread that only a Coco Cordero blown save opportunity can evoke. Toronto, you have fun. He’s now your problem.

Detroit adds a Prince

The Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder to a monster, 9-year $214 million dollar contract today. While you were busy thinking of him in a lineup that already contains Miguel Cabrera, or where the Tigers will put Fielder, Cabrera, and Victor Martinez once Martinez returns from injury in a year or so; you probably didn’t realize that this deal brought Fielder to the city where the Fielder name gained fame and notoriety in the baseball world.

Prince is going to the city where his daddy Cecil hit 284 big league home runs. The Tigers were the forgotten team all along while everyone seemed to speculate about Prince signing with the Nationals, Mariners and Rangers. All the while, this move makes perfect sense for the Tigers who were likely to jump into the sweepstakes once Victor Martinez went down with season ending surgery on his knee last week.

Our opinion is while it’s a great signing for the immediate term–Fielder got too much money. He’s not like an Albert Pujols in the sense that he’s likely always to remain in peak physical condition into his middle and late 30’s. By the time this deal is done, Fielder probably won’t be worth the value. This deal is really going to see the value come to the Tigers within the first four to five years of the contract. This is not unique for a lot of baseball contracts that are signed today. How many 9-year contracts ever even see the player live out the life of the contract in the same place?

It was that same length and money amount that got Prince Fielder through the door in Motown. And while we all thought the market for Prince Fielder was becoming extremely thin with the Rangers throwing big money at Yu Darvish, the market all along was very much alive.

Reds sign Ryan Madson

The Cincinnati Reds are really going to go for the whole enchilada in 2012.

This meant that bringing back closer Francisco Cordero probably wasn’t a viiable option. Tonight they signed closer Ryan Madson to a deal. The Reds are slowly starting to stock the cabinet.

Madson saved 32 games in 34 chances with the Phillies in 2011 and owns a 2.89 ERA over the past five seasons. This is a pretty big signing, since up until late in the evening rumors had the Reds sizing up Kerry Wood or considering bringing back Cordero for another year.

The Reds have a collection of electric arms in both their pen and starting rotation. If they can find someone to play left field on the days that Chris Heisey needs a blow, I think you are looking at the NL Central Champions of 2012.

Albert Pujols signs with the Angels (10 years, $250 Million)

So where were you when you found out? For this is the day that the greatest player of many of our lifetimes left St. Louis for Anaheim.

For me, the Pujols to the Angels news will always be from a simple text from my friend MJ (from Off Base Percentage/Halos Hangout). His text was simple–it seemed as if he didn’t know how to feel.

‘Um, the Angels signed Pujols’.

I don’t think anyone really knows how to feel about this right now. It’s okay to be excited, MJ. After all, you are an Angels fan. But at the same time I know this has a dirty feel to it. I’ll do my best to break down what I think happened and why all sports fans might feel a little dirty over this.

Why a solid, God-fearing man like Albert Pujols would sell out the greatest baseball city in America for $30 million dollars over the life of a 10 year deal.

We have learned in recent weeks that Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano; is a pretty seedy individual. There’s no doubt in my mind that Lozano was pressuring Pujols to take absolutely every dime he could get. It’s been in the back of my mind ever since I read this:

According to people familiar with Icon Sports Group, Lozano has been promising them the world—in the form of Albert Pujols. The grand plan, which he thought foolproof enough to allow him to leave BHSC, was a $200 million-plus contract, with Lozano taking four or five percent. When that ship comes in he’ll be able to repay his players everything they’ve allegedly lent him, with money left over.

“It all hinges on Albert,” one agent says. “He’s got this house of cards, but there’s really only one sure thing in the deck. He’s built his entire career on the back of Albert. Pujols basically saved this guy’s life twice, and he and his wife still have no idea what he’s really about.”

Lozano didn’t care about Pujols’ legacy. Not any more than Lebron James’ lackeys cared about him saving his and staying in Cleveland. These are similar situations, and it’s a shining example of what sports today has become. It’s Scrooge McDuck jumping into a big vault of gold.

At the end of the day; Pujols had to have felt pressure to take this deal. It’s probably not too different from when Jim Thome left Cleveland for Philadelphia just a little bit more. It’s sad but it’s not going to be the last time that we see this; it’s just that the player who made the move today was the tops in his craft.

I also think a big factor in this aside from money was the ability for Pujols to be able to move to the American League and DH. For all the time I spent telling you that he would never leave St. Louis, he can extend his career now. If this was a major factor; and I doubt it was, you can’t fault the guy for wanting to effectively play out the life of his contract. Going to the American League will extend his career. Playing in the warm California sun might not hurt things either.

I’m happy that I had the opportunity to see Pujols play live for over a decade. Countless times I got to see him at Great American Ball Park. And I’m happy to see him go. With this the Cincinnati Reds arguably jump back into the drivers seat in the NL Central division.

My heart does go out to St. Louis–you know, as much as it could go out to a team who just won a storybook World Series. This was awful, and front office made enough of an offer to Pujols that he should have been a Cardinal for life. St. Louis is a wonderful town for the game of baseball; and for the chosen son of that town to spurn them like he did.

St. Louis doesn’t need a Pujols type figurehead star to sell out on a Tuesday night. All they need is to be St. Louis and people are going to show up to watch this team and they will recover from this. You have two championship banner flags that will fly forever and the memories you have from those titles are not about Pujols; even if it feels that way this morning.

I always thought Pujols was that talent of my lifetime, but the guys who were on Albert’s level during my father and grandfather’s time; they didn’t do this stuff. They didn’t jump teams. They wore one uniform. It wasn’t about dollars, really. It was more about legacy. Players don’t think about legacy anymore–and if they do it’s in terms of things and monetary–not loyalty and on-field achievements.

This Pujols move shocked me, but the longer I follow sports I realize it shouldn’t have been shocking at all. This is what sports are today. They’re not about the right thing or wearing one uniform your entire career or taking less to stay with the organization who made you. It’s not about loyalty, but about guys like Dan Lozano paying back all the dirty money lenders who let him have some coin to spend it on the likely evils of the world.

The Pujols in Anaheim era begins now.

The Brewers know Prince Fielder has played his last game as a Brewer

This news stems from a Buster Olney tweet, but I don’t like linking tweets in case for some reason that twitter account gets hacked and the tweet gets deleted or in case Buster Olney leaves ESPN and is no longer twitter handle ‘Buster_ESPN’ and all that good stuff. So I’ll link Hardball Talk where I originally read the post.

Brewers indicating to others they are pretty much out on Prince Fielder, and are moving on.

Short and sweet, and a bummer for Brewers fans who never got to see a Prince/Braun team make it to a Fall Classic. It’s hard to feel sorry for a franchise that has Ryan Braun as their centerpiece. Cecil and Prince take their act to a new big league city. Or maybe they’re just done. Stay tuned to this development.

Marlins Offer Albert Pujols a 10-year Contract

I was thinking about something this morning on my drive into work. I really want Albert Pujols to leave the Cardinals, thus increasing the chances he stays in St. Louis. If Albert leaves the Cardinals, I think the Reds clearly become the front-runner in the National League Central. Let someone else worry about Pujols putting up a career year in the form of lifetime stats against them (see Pujols’ career stats against Cincinnati).

It looks like things are moving closer to a reality. ESPN breaks the news on this one:

The Miami Marlins have made a 10-year offer to the biggest fish on the free-agent market, first baseman Albert Pujols, baseball sources told ESPN the Magazine’s Buster Olney on Tuesday.

It is unclear what the monetary figure of the offer is, and a key question is whether the Marlins would agree to include a no-trade clause in their offer. The club did not offer shortstop Jose Reyes such a clause, which Pujols had with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Marlins’ latest offer is an increase from the nine-year proposal made in their first meeting with Lozano.

Well this news makes me happy. I know it makes Danny Lozano happy. I just want my Reds to have a run at things in 2012. I’m not scared of a baseball team from Miami that will be in full panic mode come July. Go ahead Albert, sign down in South Beach with your superstar Dominican buddy Reyes. Similar paths worked out well for Lebron.

Let me also add that there’s just no way a legend like Pujols should ever play for a franchise like the Marlins. And he’ll be back in St. Louis even if he has to take fewer years or money. It will be interested to see what happens now that the Marlins have put a little pressure on the Cardinals.

Grady Sizemore might not be leaving the Indians after all

Two weeks ago we were singing another sad tune about Cleveland sports. We were talking about what could have been. Now it turns out that it might have been for naught.

Hardball Talk points out that Grady Sizemore might be headed back to Cleveland:

Sources tell FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal than the Indians and Grady Sizemore are involved in serious talks and will likely agree to a one-year deal.

So I guess this means that we’ll have to do another Grady Sizemore farewell post when he finally does leave Cleveland. For what it’s worth we still have a sneaking suspicion that Sizemore doesn’t re-sign with the Indians and goes elsewhere to have a really nice season and rejuvenate his career. Because that’s how things go for Cleveland.

Fred Lewis the newest Cincinnati Red

A year ago today, Aroldis Chapman. Today, Fred Lewis.

It’s easy to forget that the Reds are primarily a right handed hitting outfield aside from Jay Bruce. This gives them a guy who will only be 31 years old, and a guy who will add some ability at the top of the lineup. The Reds haven’t had a true lead off hitter in a long time. It’s pretty much a staple quality of any Reds lineup for the last decade.

Lewis, 30, hit .262/.332/.414 in 480 plate appearances for the Blue Jays after they acquired him from the Giants early in the season. Though he mostly played left field, Lewis did play some center and right in 2010. He contributed 31 doubles and 17 steals, mostly as Toronto’s leadoff hitter, before the Blue Jays cut ties with him at last month’s non-tender deadline.

Get a look at Lewis career stats. His career splits reveal that he’s hit lead off 205 games in his career. He’s also hit everywhere else in the lineup in about that many games spread 2 through 8. So while this is a guy that Dusty Baker might fall in love with in the lead off spot the way he loved Corey Patterson a few seasons back; it’s not a fail proof move (Lewis sports a .775 career OPS from the lead off spot).

I give the Reds credit. They did more than just add Jeremy Hermida. One or both of these guys will contribute in 2011. This probably means the end of Laynce Nix–he of pornstar frame-fame. However, a fair trade if we found a true lead off hitter.

Reds sign Edgar Renteria

Fourteen years ago, this man made me cry over a baseball game in my parents living room in late October. I was in love with the 1997 Cleveland Indians and he wrecked that for me. Today, a source has said that the Cincinnati Reds will be signing this same man to a 1-year, $3 million dollar contract to split time with Paul Janish at shortstop in the Queen City. In an off-season that has featured highlights such as Walt Jocketty catching a world record catfish and touching up on his NY Times crossword puzzle skills; I’ll take it. [ESPN]

Reds sign Jeremy Hermida

The Reds have been hunting for an outfielder. You probably heard the rumors of Fred Lewis and Scott Podsednik. But the choice they’ve made is to sign Jeremy Hermida.

It’s a minor league deal, so there is no guarantee that he takes time away from anyone at the Major League Level but we would expect the Reds to give this reclamation project some time to blossom.

Hermida is a former 1st round pick who has never really fulfilled on his promise. He’s never hit 20 home runs in a season and he is a career .259 hitter. He’s probably a younger option of about what Laynce Nix would offer–which is why we don’t really understand the move. A guy like Podsednik or Fred Lewis at least gives you some speed on the base paths and a lead off threat.

On a side note, Hermida has always reminded us (aesthetically at least) of a little bit slimmer and less powerful version of Adam Dunn. They could practically be brothers.

Adrian Beltre will be a Texas Ranger

Sources have indicated that Adrian Beltre will be signing a multi-year deal with the Texas Rangers. Beltre really is a whale of an offensive player.

He hit .321 last year with 102 RBI. He’s had big years in both leagues and he’s now had a marquee year both pre and post steroid era. But don’t you dare say that he’s ever used PED’s.

He’s been remarkably consistent and he’s one of the guys still left out there in free agency that we feel can have an impact. He’s joining a lineup in Texas that is conducive to putting up huge numbers and he should continue at a nice and steady rate of production into his late 30’s.

We give this move two thumbs up.

The bad man is a Red no longer

Today is the day that we lost Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes agreed to a deal with the Texas Rangers today.

If we’re not as good as we were last season, this is going to be one of the reasons why. How many big outs in critical situations did Arthur Rhodes provide us with? I hope he taught up enough of the young pitchers in the Reds bullpen before he left; because he will be sorely missed. This was the one off-season move that I was fearing wouldn’t get done. And it didn’t.

I don’t know who replaces Rhodes–he can’t really be replaced with anyone in a Reds uniform at this point. But I know I really enjoyed watching him come in and dominate hitters with his slide piece. It didn’t matter if it was a righty or lefty. He didn’t care. Like Marty Brenneman said, “Arthur Rhodes did what Arthur Rhodes does”.

He was a bad man. And I will miss you dearly Arthur Rhodes.

Cincinnati Reds close to signing SS Orlando Cabrera

Doing this post on the fly, but John Fay twittered a little bit ago that Orlando Cabrera told the Denver Post (and why he is talking to the Denver Post we have no idea) that he is close to accepting the Reds offer.

The Reds ownership and front office deserves a huge pat on the back. They’ve done their part.

More reaction coming as this shakes out.

- Posted from my iPhone