I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas wherever you happened to be. The holidays led to a very quiet week around baseball, so I thought I'd take a look at the players who received qualifying offers who are still on the market.
OF Nelson Cruz Cruz is coming off a good season for the Rangers (.266/.327/.506) if you ignore his 50 game "vacation" at the end. If he's the guy he was in Texas, he's easily worth a draft pick to a contending team. But there have to be serious questions about him and its difficult to see how this shakes out. It amazes me to this day he didn't accept the qualifying offer as a make-good type deal.
SS Stephen Drew He's the best shortstop left on the market, but there has been surprisingly little buzz around him. As mentioned below, the Mets were connected to him on Monday before saying on Friday that they are happy with Ruben Tejada at shortstop. There don't seem to be a lot of teams in the market for a shortstop if the Mets are out. He's a guy that could go to Spring Training or later.
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez Who is going to show up? Jimenez's up and down career is pretty well summed up by his stay in Cleveland. A dreadful 4.98 xFIP in 2012 followed up by a very good 3.62 xFIP in 2013. If he's the guy he was in 2013 he's a nice pickup for a team that plans to contend. You can't blame GMs for being a little wary, though.
1B/DH Kendrys Morales Returning to Seattle seems an extreme longshot with Logan Morrison and Corey Hart now in the fold. The Mets and the Orioles have both been tied to him, but the draft pick seems to be scaring them away. It wouldn't surprise me for him to be without a job until mid-season, when he no longer has draft compensation tied to his contract.
RHP Ervin Santana Santana is the happiest guy in baseball that Tanaka has finally posted, as speculation about the Japanese import has certainly held up the market on guys like Santana and RHP Matt Garza. He should have no trouble finding a home before spring training after Tanaka and Garza have come off the board.
Around the League:
- After verbally trashing the Ricketts to the media, Scott Boras is playing nice with the Mets in hopes that they'll sign SS Stephen Drew and DH Kendrys Morales. Those two always struck me as the hardest qualifying offer recipients to give up a draft pick for, so it seems Boras has his work cut out for him. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
- Rumors can get a little overwhelming at this time of year, but Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals has a nice quote to keep us grounded: "Since I've been in the big leagues, (rumors have) been going on... But I'm still a Kansas City Royal."
- The Dodgers signed RHP Chris Perez and RHP Jamey Wright to a one-year contract. Perez, 28, has pitched for 6 seasons with the Cardinals and the Indians. He figures to be a part of the middle-relief core in the Dodger's bullpen. Wright celebrated his 39th birthday the day after the signing and started his major league career in 1996. He pitched 66 games for the Rays last year and figures to also be a part of the Dodgers' bullpen in a swing role.
- You can cross Juan Uribe off the Cubs list. Apparently, the Dodgers are not winding things down for the Holidays this year and re-signed the infielder to a twoyear contract. John had speculated earlier in the off-season that Uribe might be a good fit for the Cubs.
- Joel Sherman has an article on Japanese RHP Masahiro Tanaka. The entire thing is interesting reading but this line, in particular, struck me as significant: "Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close, does not have Scott Boras’ public reputation for bargaining hard and toward the top of the market, but he does have it within the sport."
- Ex-Cub alert: the Angels have released RHP Chris Volstad to pursue an offer in Korea. You may remember Volstad as the alternative to a bag of used bats the Cubs acquired from the Marlins for Carlos "I Quit" Zambrano. He had a forgettable 2012 with the Cubs, putting up a 4.68 xFIP to go with a 3-12 record. Hopefully he has better luck in the orient.
- The Angels signed OF Raul Ibanez to make up for the strikeouts the lineup lost when Mark Trumbo was traded to Arizona. After becoming a folk hero for the Yankees in the 2012 playoffs, Ibanez hit .242/.306/.487 with the Mariners last year with 128 strikeouts.
Have a safe and happy New Year, everyone. See you back here next Saturday for the first column of 2014.
Filed under: Transactions