Chris Young will be back with the Kansas City Royals next season as he signed a 2-year deal on Monday to return to the team. Young is 36 years old, but he might have been the most consistent pitcher in the Royals starting rotation as he went 11-6 with a 3.06 ERA. Kansas City is looking to add to their rotation, but bringing back a very good veteran like Young is a big move. He isn’t the most flashy pitcher anymore, but he finds ways to get batters out and win games most importantly.
Grade: A – The Royals are looking to sign a pitcher in free agency to add to their rotation. However, bringing back Chris Young adds stability to their rotation. Young was arguably their best pitcher last season and he won’t post amazing statistics, but he is very consistent.
Seattle has been busy with trades already this offseason and they continued that trend on Monday by acquiring left-handed pitcher Wade Miley and relief pitcher Jonathan Aro for starting pitcher Roenis Elias and Carson Smith. Miley is nothing more than a 4th starter, but he will certainly provide some solid depth to the Mariners rotation after they lost Hisashi Iwakuma in free agency. Miley will fill in at the back of the starting rotation for Seattle and he has some potential to work out even better than Seattle hoped. Also, Jonathan Aro has some potential even though he has yet to make an impact at the MLB level. Aro had a 6.97 ERA in 6 appearances for Boston, so he might need some more time in the minor leagues, yet he does have a little bit of upside a year or two down the road. Meanwhile, Carson Smith provides a young option for the Red Sox bullpen. He had a 2.31 ERA and 13 saves for Seattle last season, so he has already proven that he can be a reliable setup man which is what he will be in Boston. The Red Sox also added a nice addition to their pitching staff by acquiring Roenis Elias. He is a decent option as a 5th starter in the rotation, but since the Red Sox have so much depth then they will probably just end up adding him to the bullpen as a middle or long relief option.
Mariners Grade: C – Miley and Aro have some good upside, but neither of them really stands out. Also, giving up a young relief pitcher like Carson Smith will hurt the Mariners bullpen.
Red Sox Grade: A- – It was probably hard for Boston to give up Miley, but he wasn’t very consistent for them anyway. Also, they are getting two young pitchers that they can use in their bullpen especially Carson Smith who they can use for many years to come as a setup man.
Relief pitcher Ryan Madson revived his career last year with the Royals and now he is taking his career to Oakland as the Athletics signed him to a 3-year/$22 million contract. The Athletics find a way to surprise us with an offseason move pretty much every year and this certainly is a signing that I didn’t see coming. Madson was a key part of the Royals bullpen last season as he had a 2.13 ERA for them last season. Oakland’s bullpen struggled especially in late-innings. However, Madson will likely be the 8th inning guy for the Athletics in 2016 and he could even compete for the closer’s role with Sean Doolittle. Madson is 35-years old and he wasn’t going to get a long-term deal this offseason, but this is a really good signing for Oakland. Madson provides some stability to an Oakland bullpen that wasn’t very good in this season, although many people didn’t even have the Athletics as a contender to sign Madson.
Grade: B+ – The Athletics bullpen was basically a disaster last season, so adding a consistent veteran relief pitcher like Ryan Madson will really help. Madson has experience as a closer and don’t be surprised if he even ends up winning that role in 2016.
Yet another top free agent starting pitcher has been signed as the San Francisco Giants agreed to terms with Jeff Samardzija on a 5-year/$90 million contract on Saturday. Samardzija had a really terrible season in 2015 with the White Sox as he went 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA. However, San Francisco is hoping that he can return to the type of pitcher that he was in 2014 with the Cubs and Athletics. Samardzija is presumably the backup option since the Giants didn’t land Zack Greinke in free agency. Samardzija is very inconsistent, but he has been a proven all-star pitcher in the past which is why the Giants feel confident in giving him this big of a deal. I am really not a big fan of this signing at all for the Giants because Samardzija had a really horrible year in 2015 and it is hard to expect him to be better for San Francisco in 2016 and beyond. A 5-year deal is just too risky and they are paying him too much money that they will lose if things don’t work out. San Francisco is taking a major risk with this signing and it could ultimately work out well for them, but if not then this could be a really bad signing.
Grade: C- – Based on last year’s performance, Samardzija isn’t worth this kind of money. If he can return to the all-star caliber pitcher that he was a couple of years ago then this contract will be worth it for San Francisco. However, this is just too much of a risk for the Giants and there are certainly no guarantees that they will be getting the type of player that they are paying for.
The Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t waiting until the winter meetings on Sunday to make a big splash as the team agreed to terms with star pitcher Zack Greinke on a 6-year/$206 million contract on Friday. Greinke led the MLB in ERA last season and he has been one of the best pitchers in the MLB for several years now. I knew that Greinke would make his decision on where he would sign soon, but all reports had him going back to the Giants or re-signing with the Dodgers. I was absolutely shocked when I heard that he was signing with the Diamondbacks. Arizona was looking for a number 1 starting pitcher for their rotation, but I didn’t expect them to all out and give Greinke a massive contract. However, the Diamondbacks were 79-83 and they felt heading into this offseason that if they get better starting pitching that they could leap over the Dodgers and Giants for the NL West title. This is a great signing for the Dodgers because now not only does Arizona get one of the pitchers in the game, but they also hurt the Dodgers in the process because Greinke was basically the heart and soul of that team last season. It will be interesting to see if Greinke can perform like he did in Los Angeles since he will now be playing at the hitter-friendly Chase Field in Arizona. This is one of the safest signings despite Arizona paying him so much money because he has a career 3.35 ERA. This signing makes the Diamondbacks rotation so much better all by itself, but they realize to get better that they might have to make yet another signing of a starting pitcher. The Diamondbacks are reportedly interested in Mike Leake, so when this offseason is over expect Arizona’s rotation to be a lot better than it was last season. Arizona is suddenly a major playoff contender because of this move and this signing makes the Diamondbacks a force for many years to come.
Grade: A+ – The Diamondbacks are going all in for the 2016 season and beyond after making this massive move. Greinke is probably the most consistent pitcher in baseball and he makes the Diamondbacks starting rotation and their team in general much better.
It was rumored that the Chicago Cubs were in serious pursuit of starting pitcher John Lackey and that rumor came true on Friday as the Cubs signed Lackey to a 2-year/$32 million deal. Lackey is 37 years old, so it was obvious that he was going to get a sh0rt-term deal in free agency. The Cubs were looking to add a 3rd starter to their rotation behind Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta and Lackey was the perfect fit. Lackey was teammates in Boston with Lester in Boston from 2010-2013, so Lester was probably a big reason that Lackey chose to sign with the Cubs. I really like this deal for Chicago because it is obvious that Lackey can still pitch effectively as he went 13-10 with the best ERA of his career at 2.77 with St. Louis last season. Lackey isn’t the most flashy starting pitcher out there, but he has certainly been very consistent throughout his 12 MLB seasons as he has a 3.92 career ERA. Lackey will bring a solid veteran presence to a young Cubs team and his 2 world series titles that he has won in his career shows that he can help make a team a world series contender. That is exactly what Chicago is with Lackey now and he might just turn them from a NLCS participant into a world series winner.
Grade: A – Lackey is just a short-term solution for the Cubs at age 37 years old, but he certainly makes the Cubs rotation even better. Even though the Cubs are giving him $16 million per year he isn’t much of a risky signing since he has been a consistent pitcher throughout his MLB career. If he can play like he did for the Cardinals last season then this would be a tremendous signing for the Cubs.
Oliver Perez has his 3rd team in just 2 years as he signed a 2-year/$7 million contract with the Washington Nationals on Friday. Perez had a tough tenure with the Houston Astros during part of the 2015 season as he had a 6.75 ERA in 22 appearances. However, in the other 48 games last season with Arizona he had a 3.10 ERA. The Nationals are hoping that Perez can return to the reliever that he was from 2012-2014 with the Mariners and the Diamondbacks. Washington is hoping that Perez can be a setup man for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Perez is probably best suited to be a 7th inning man because of his inconsistencies at times. However, he has been a very reliable relief pitcher since he became a full-time reliever in 2010. I really like this signing by Washington and I’m sure that he can help a bullpen that struggled a lot last year.
Grade: B – Perez does have some inconsistencies, but he can really help the Nationals bullpen in a possible 7th inning role. Also, he is getting only $3.5 million per year so he is a cheap option for Washington and it allows for them to make bigger moves to improve their bullpen.