Although things on the MLB front have been in the slow lane for a few weeks, this past week saw the last major free agent get signed, a high profile trade between the Mariners and Yankees, and a host of smaller deals as teams start to get ready for the start of camp next month.
The Prince Finds A Home
The other shoe finally dropped in Detroit last Thursday when free agent first baseman Prince Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers, instantly giving them another power bat in the middle of their lineup that puts the team on the same playing field (on paper at least) as the Yankees, Rangers, and Angels. Fielder was looking for a large, long-term contract, and his signing (the fourth largest in MLB history) out priced anything that the Milwaukie Brewers could match. Other teams supposedly in the running were the Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals, but Detroit made the big splash, and bigger monetary commitment to the 27-year-old Fielder. With slugging catcher Victor Martinez on the DL due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Detroit needed a big bat in the middle of the order, and they got it with Fielder, who hit 38 homers last season.
Young Guns on the Move
On the trade front, the biggest move was made by the Yankees and Mariners on Monday. Seattle sent young all-star pitcher Michael Pineda and his 99-mph heater to the Yankees along with minor league pitcher Jose Campos, in exchange for catching prospect Jesus Montero and relief pitcher Hector Noesi. The key parts to the deal were Pineda and Montero, with each team believing it got what it needed. Only time will tell on Montero, but Pineda has already shown he can thrive against big-league hitting, and behind the Yankee’s lineup he may be a 20-game winner. No one disputes Montero’s ability to hit, including hitting with opposite-field power, but whether he has the skills to be a major league catcher is still in question. If he can fill that defensive role, the Mariners landed themselves one of the most-coveted talents in baseball…a catcher who hits for power and average.
Jorge Posada Calls It Quits
Even as the Montero trade was in process, long-time Yankees catcher Jorge Posada announced his retirement on Tuesday. Posada played 17 seasons with the Yankees, winning five World Series rings. Covering home base for the Yankees this year is up-and-coming young prospect Francisco Cervelli and recently signed journeyman Russell Martin.
Other Action in the MLB
Most of the other trades and signings over the last ten days have been less prominent, but they are the moves that help teams add depth and solidify 25-man rosters. Some of the notable deals include:
- The San Francisco Giants agreed to terms on a 2-year, $40.5 million contract with starter Tim Lincecum.
- The Washington Nationals agreed to a 1-year contract with starting pitcher Brad Lidge.
- The Colorado Rockies agreed to a 2-year contract with pitcher Rafael Betancourt.
- The New York Yankees agreed to a 1-year contract with OF Andruw Jones.
- The Oakland A’s agreed to a 1-year contract with starting pitcher Bartolo Colon.
- The Tampa Bay Ray’s agreed to a 1-year contract with 1B Carlos Pena.
- The Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a 3-year contract with starting pitcher Brandon Morrow.
- The Seattle Mariners agreed to a 1-year contract with starting pitcher Kevin Millwood.
- The Cincinnati Reds traded LHP Jeremy Horst to Philadelphia for infielder Wilson Valdez, and agreed to a 2-year contract with RHP Nick Masset.
- The Boston Red Sox traded infielder Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies for RHP Clayton Mortenson.