December 24, 2009

One down, two to go

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

There’s been plenty of movement in baseball’s free agent market, but two of the top-three free agents still haven’t signed on with a team. Only John Lackey’s free agency fate has been decided while Matt Holliday and Jason Bay are still looking for work. It’s not like they’ll be without teams for long, but I thought they would be wrapped up by now.

It’s not like free agency is the only means of player movement these days either, with plenty of names being swapped around. Why not breakdown some of the moves that have been made, except for the Roy Halladay deal that is; we’ve already done a post-mortem for baseball in Toronto.

The biggest free agent to sign on so far, John Lackey, went to Boston, where he instantly becomes the best No. 3 starter in all of baseball – only Boston is paying him close to ace-calibre money. Pitching has been a big strength for the Red Sox in recent years, but wouldn’t this money have been better spent on either keeping Jason Bay or going after a big bat that they sorely lacked last season?

The Yankees brought back a familiar face to strength their rotation: Javier Vazquez. While he might not be the most recognizable premier pitcher out there, Vazquez was secretly one of the best pitchers of the decade. A great strikeout pitcher that can mow down batters will play well at New Yankee Stadium.

Bringing in Curtis Granderson – for pretty much nothing – was the key to getting Vazquez. Bringing in a new, improved centre fielder freed them up to deal the utterly average Melky Cabrera, who is sure to have an impactful career in the National League.

The Angels went out and signed Fernando Rodney to a deal that you know he didn’t want to have to take. His new two year, $11-million deal is about one year and $19 million shy of what he originally demanded. I guess people were paying attention when Rodney was attempting to close out games for Detroit last season. He was anything but an automatic win.

The Seattle Mariners have been one of the most active teams out there this off-season. After landing Cliff Lee for prospects, they signed Chone Figgins from the rival Angels, then dealt the worst contract they had on the team, Carlos Silva, for a guy who is overpaid and a pain sometimes, but actually produces well, Milton Bradley. I won’t be surprised when the Mariners are atop the AL West standings next season.

So, where are the two remaining big names going? If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Bay going to the Mets and Holliday heading to the Angels. It would be hard to imagine neither team not making a big splash this winter. The Mets need to drastically improve to keep pace with the Phillies and the Angels are running out of veteran bodies out on the coast.

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