The Rockies finally made a move to improve their bullpen as they signed Jason Motte to a 2-year/$10 million contract on Tuesday. The 33-year old Motte has had a very successful career with a 3.16 ERA. However, he had a disappointing 2015 season with the Cubs as he had a 3.91 ERA. Colorado had a terrible bullpen last season and they have already gotten rid of John Axford and Rex Brothers this offseason. It was clear that the Rockies needed some better pitching overall and Motte should at least be an improvement. Motte will likely be the 8th-inning guy for the Rockies next season and he could even fill in at closer if needed because he has had a lot of experience in that role. Motte at least provides some more stability and experience to Colorado’s bullpen which was desperately needed. It is always hard to predict how pitcher’s will perform at Coors Field, but I really like this signing by Colorado.
Grade: B+ – The Rockies really needed an upgrade in their bullpen and signing Motte should provide more consistency. Motte is a proven relief pitcher and it is a good sign that the Rockies are at least attempting to improve their pitching.
St. Louis acquired 2nd basemen Jedd Gyorko from the Padres in exchange for center fielder Jon Jay. Gyorko won’t find a starting role on the Cardinals probably, but he could still have a lot of playing time as the Cardinals have already said that they plan to use him at many positions. Gyorko isn’t the most consistent batter, but St. Louis was most likely intrigued by his power as he hit 16 home runs for the Padres last season. 24-year old Cory Spangenberg is likely to see his playing time increase at 2nd base for San Diego next season, so the Padres didn’t have as much of an opportunity to provide Gyorko. Meanwhile, it was basically the same situation for Jon Jay with the Cardinals. Jay was injured a lot last season and he lost playing time to young prospect Tommy Pham in center field, so Jay was basically expendable. Jay probably won’t get a starting outfield job in San Diego, but he provides some more depth for the Padres. Jay hasn’t shown much power in his bat so far, but he is a consistent hitter and he is a terrific defensive center fielder.
Cardinals Grade: C – I’m not quite sure where Gyorko fits into the Cardinals depth chart, but I have no reason to doubt that St. Louis won’t find a role for him. Jon Jay wasn’t giving the Cardinals much in center field, so to be able to get something for him was remarkable.
Padres Grade: C- – I can see why the Padres wanted to get rid of Gyorko because he wasn’t a consistent hitter and the team wanted more playing time for young prospect Cory Spangenberg at 2nd base. However, acquiring Jon Jay just doesn’t make much sense. Jay is often injured and he probably will only be a 4th outfielder at best for the Padres. Jay has good defensive skills, but if he isn’t starting then his talent isn’t that useful.
One of the most mentioned rumors of this MLB offseason so far was that the Yankees would acquire shortstop Starlin Castro from the Cubs and it finally happened on Tuesday. The Cubs acquired right-handed pitcher Adam Warren and infielder Brendan Ryan from the Cubs in the trade. The Yankees have had a big void at 2nd base for several years and now it appears that they have some stability at the position with Castro. He is a natural shortstop, but since Didi Gregorious is the starter at shortstop for New York then that position wasn’t available for Castro to play at. Castro is only 25 years old and he is under team control for awhile, but his offense is still very productive. His numbers fell in 2015, but he still hit .265 with 11 home runs and 69 RBI’s. He is a much more productive and consistent offensive player than the Yankees have had at 2nd base in a long time. Meanwhile, the Cubs are getting a pretty good young pitcher with Adam Warren. Warren has been a starting pitcher at times for the Yankees, but they obviously didn’t trust his consistency in the rotation. Warren fits in more as a middle relief pitcher and he has proven to be very reliable in that role. The Cubs have been looking to upgrade their bullpen and Warren makes their bullpen much better. Also, Chicago added to their middle infield depth by acquiring Brendan Ryan from the Yankees. Ryan has been given plenty of opportunities to win the starting 2nd base job. However, he has had terrible offensive production and that is the main reason why New York was hesitant to give him the starting job. Ryan will provide the Cubs with a capable defender, but don’t expect much offense last season as he only had a .229 average with 8 RBI’s last season.
Yankees Grade: A – The Yankees are getting a really young all-star caliber 2nd basemen and they aren’t giving much to get him. Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan didn’t have a role on the Yankees roster anymore, so this trade makes perfect sense for New York.
Cubs Grade: B – It was definitely a hard to decision to give up Castro, but they didn’t have a role for him now that the team signed Ben Zobrist to a 4-year deal. Adam Warren is a pretty good middle relief pitcher and Brendan Ryan provides some infield depth especially defensively. However, the Cubs should have gotten more for a proven player like Starlin Castro.
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.