The Five Biggest Winners:
1) New York Mets – Not only did they get Francisco Rodriguez, the most prolific closer in baseball, at the bargain basement price of three years/$37 million, but they also were able to land J.J. Putz and Sean Green without giving up anyone of substance. Props go out to GM Omar Minaya, who early on recognized how oversaturated the relief pitching market was. Now if Minaya can land two more starters, the Metropolitans will be in prime position to reclaim the N.L. East title in their inaugural season at Citi Field.
2) Greg Genske – C.C. Sabathia’s agent looks like a genius after his client’s supposed fascination with going home to California prompted Yankees GM Brian Cashman to raise the team’s offer by one year and $20 million to seven-years/$161 million – the highest ever awarded to a pitcher. Let’s face it, with the Brewers five-year/$100 million proposal the only other official offer out there, Cashman & Co. were essentially bidding against themselves.
3) Detroit Tigers – After trading two minor leaguers -- one with such an extensive injury history that he’s never pitched 100 innings in a season (Guillermo Moscoso) and another who’s so green he’s never thrown a pitch in North America (Carlos Melo) – for a significant upgrade at catcher in Gerald Laird, the Tigers signed defensive whiz Adam Everett for practically nothing. As we described in detail on Tuesday, Everett may not be the second coming of Alan Trammell, but he was far more cost efficient than Jack Wilson or any of the other options on the table. Finally, though they were forced to give up an intriguing young bat in outfielder Matt Joyce, the trade for 25-year-old flamethrower Edwin Jackson goes a long way to shoring up the back end of the Tigers’ ailing starting rotation. Now all GM Dave Dombrowski must do is find a suitable closer and the wheels could be turning in Motown once again.
4) Edgar Renteria – True, he was actually signed before the start of the meetings, but we’re still in a state of disbelief that a guy who had his second-worst offensive season in a 13-year career and played shortstop like he was in slow motion was able to secure a two-year/$18.5 million deal in what is supposedly a bear market. Shame on the power-starved Giants, who would have been far better served by keeping capable youngster Emmanuel Burriss at shortstop and instead inking an offensive minded outfielder like Pat Burrell or Bobby Abreu.
5) Tampa Bay Rays – Despite adding Joyce to their OF mix (and saving about $2 million in the process), Tampa Bay should be able to take advantage of the glut of OF/DH types and add a proven run producer to their improving lineup. The team has already held discussions with Abreu, Jason Giambi and Milton Bradley.
The Five Biggest Losers:
1) Francisco Rodriguez – He thought he was headed for a five-year/$75 million payday, but that was before the economy dove like one of his splitters and the closer market became oversaturated. On the bright side, he won’t even be 30 the next time he’s a free agent so he’ll most probably have at least one more opportunity to break the bank.
2) Brian Fuentes – As we saw with K-Rod, the monetary price of premier relief pitching has decreased considerably this offseason. And with the Indians and Mets out of the closer sweepstakes, Fuentes’ market has shrunk considerably. Don’t be surprised if the lefty is forced to take a much smaller-than-anticipated deal with the budget-conscious Tigers or Brewers or even return to Colorado.
3) Pittsburgh Pirates – With Rafael Furcal unable to find a taker, it’s doubtful that the Buccos will be able to unload Jack Wilson and his $7.25 million salary. According to various media reports, GM Neil Huntington was asking for an exorbitant return in exchange for the light-hitting shortstop and was unwilling to eat any portion of his salary. Now Huntington will have to eat the whole thing.
4) Manny Ramirez – Has somebody finally called Scott Boras’ bluff? With Dodgers GM Ned Colletti seemingly drawing a line in the sand and other suitors failing to emerge, it looks like Boras and Manny have backed themselves into a corner. We see one of two scenarios developing: first, Ramirez will re-sign with Los Angeles for far less (in terms of both dollars and years) than what he was originally seeking; second, the Dodgers will tell the slugger to go fly a kite, at which time he’ll field a four-year/$100 million dollar offer from Washington after the latter was rebuffed in its attempt to sign local boy Mark Teixeira.
5) Free agent outfielders – This consists of the “sub-Manny” group consisting of Abreu, Bradley, Dunn and Burrell. With supply far exceeding demand this winter, these four will be highly disappointed by both the dollar amounts and tenor of their new contracts. At the present time we see Abreu going to the Cubs, Bradley setting up shop in Tampa Bay, Dunn ending up in Washington and Burrell hitting between Jay Bruce and Joey Votto in Cincinnati.