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Hot Stove Analysis

Updated: Thursday February 16, 2006 1:55PM
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SIGNINGS | TRADES | FREE AGENTS
Rangers find an ace
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
12/29/05 Kevin Millwood RHP Texas 5 years, $60 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Blue Jays had to pay a border tax to get A.J. Burnett to come to Canada, so consider this huge contract a ballpark tax to get the reigning league ERA champion to come to the AL's version of Coors Field. In the case of Texas at least, consider it money well spent. Entering his age 31 season, Millwood should give the Rangers what they need -- a solid veteran presence at the top of the rotation.

-- Jacob Luft

Damon defects to Yankees
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
12/21/05 Johnny Damon CF New York (AL) 4 years, $52 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
The news here isn't that the Yankees got a leadoff man. They already had one of the best in Derek Jeter. The best thing about this for New York is that it filled a glaring need in center field while creating a crater in the lineup of its chief rivals. Damon's age (32) won't be as much of a negative as you might think. Players with his profile (speed, double-digit HR power) tend to age well. Think Tim Raines and Kenny Lofton.

-- JL

Washburn signs with Mariners
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
12/19/05 Jarrod Washburn LHP Seattle 4 years, $37.5 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
Judging by this deal and what Kevin Millwood is poised to sign for, it's safe to say GMs are looking past win-loss record as the best way to measure a starting pitcher. Washburn was only 8-8 last season but he sported a nifty 3.20 ERA. None of his peripherals (94 strikeouts, 19 HRs in 177 1/2 IP) are impressive, and he was spared more than a few runs by the Angels' dominant bullpen, but he's a quality left-handed pitcher who should fare well in Safeco Field.

-- JL

Nomar goes Hollywood
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
12/19/05 Nomar Garciaparra INF-OF Los Angeles (NL) 1 year, $6.0 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
Who is a better bet to play in more games next season, Nomar or J.D. Drew? If nothing else this move guarantees gainful employment for Dodgers trainers. The length and money represent good value for the Dodgers. Then again, that's what everybody said about Garciaparra's deal with the Cubs last season, too. On paper, at least, this gives L.A. some flexibility. Nomar can play first (or platoon with Hee Seop Choi) until Cesar Izturis is healthy or the former Red Sox star can step into any of the outfield spots vacated by injuries.

-- JL

Hoffman gives Padres a discount
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
12/7/05 Trevor Hoffman RHP San Diego 2 years, $13.5 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
San Diego really must be a great place to live. The Padres got Brian Giles to stay for a discount and now Hoffman has done the same. Hoffman is a good bet to keep producing at a high level for two years, but you have to wonder if the Padres let sentiment get the best of them here. They have a closer-in-waiting with Scott Linebrink and the money going to Hoffman could have solved other problems.

-- JL

Blue Jays gamble on Burnett
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
12/6/05 A.J. Burnett RHP Florida 5 years, $55 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
Marlins pitchers often have shiny numbers, but that has a lot to do with their home ballpark being a pitchers' paradise. According to the 2006 Bill James Handbook, the three-year HR index for Dolphins Stadium is 84 (100 is the average). The three-year runs index is 90 (in other words, runs are 10 percent harder to come by). For the Rogers Centre, the three-year indexes for HRs is 114 and for runs is 109. For his career, Burnett has a 3.20 ERA in Miami and 4.26 ERA everywhere else. The best spin to put on this for the Jays is that, with Burnett being only 29 on Opening Day, Toronto should get the peak years from a guy who appears to have overcome his injury-riddled past. But Kevin Millwood is a better bet to live up to whatever contract he gets this winter than the flakey Burnett.

-- JL

Furcal heads West
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
12/4/05 Rafael Furcal SS Los Angeles (NL) 3 years, $39 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
Furcal's true value is in his defense. He mixes spectacular range with arm strength reminiscent of Shawon Dunston. Furcal led NL shortstops in fielding win shares and range factor last season. Don't be thrown off by the average annual amount ($13 million). It still represents better value than any of the longterm contracts being given to relievers, who are inherently volatile. Plus, the brevity should provide motivation for Furcal, who has had off-field problems.

-- JL

Rivera gets a new setup man
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
12/2/05 Kyle Farnsworth RHP New York (AL) 3 years, $17 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
Raise your hand if you ever thought there would be a bidding war over this guy's services. Farnsworth had an unusually good year in 2005, posting an adjusted-ERA+ of 198, 44 points above his career high. It's doubtful he can repeat that performance, but at least he's a live arm who, at 29, should be able to handle the wear and tear of being a setup man for Joe Torre.

-- JL

Phillies add Flash to the 'pen
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
12/2/05 Tom Gordon RHP Philadelphia 3 years, $18 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
Gordon was maligned in New York for faltering late in the season, but can you blame him? The Yankees used him a lot during the regular season; two straight years of 80-plus innings is a little much for a guy in his late 30s. Despite his age, he's been outstanding for three consecutive seasons and should continue to be at least through 2006.

-- JL

Padres come around on Giles
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
11/30/05 Brian Giles OF San Diego 3 years, $30 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
Giles was the key to the Padres' offense last season despite hitting only 15 homers and driving in 83 runs. That's because he led the majors in walks (119), and in case you still don't know how runs are produced, consider that Giles led the Padres with 130 runs created and Ryan Klesko was a distant second with 74. If they had let Giles walk while giving the newly acquired Vinny Castilla 500 at-bats, it would have been a recipe for disaster.

-- JL

White Sox keep Konerko
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
11/30/05 Paul Konerko 1B Chicago (AL) 5 years, $60 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a rare sight this winter: a free-agent contract that makes sense. The world champions keep the only scary bat in their lineup and didn't have to give away any first borns. Konerko is better off staying at the Cell, where he has a career .907 OPS (that's 70 points better his career average).

-- JL

Wagner picks Mets
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
11/29/05 Billy Wagner LHP New York (NL) 4 years, $43 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
Wagner will turn 35 next season and will be 38 by the time this deal expires. There is no doubting his talent; among relievers, only Mariano Rivera ranked higher in Runs Saved Above Average last season. But there have only been five 30-plus save seasons by closers 38 or older in history, and three of those belong to Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. (Doug Jones and Jose Mesa have the other two.) The Mets also kicked in a no-trade clause, and that is never a good idea.

-- JL

Ryan hits the jackpot
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
11/28/05 B.J. Ryan RHP Toronto 5 years, $47 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Blue Jays' front office must not be much into sabermetrics anymore, because they broke one of the cardinal rules: Don't overpay for a closer. Ryan has one season of 30-plus saves. He's a good reliever. That's all he is. He's not Mariano Rivera or Eric Gagne. Not even close. Just because you have the money to spend doesn't mean you have to use it.

-- JL

Mariners win Johjima derby
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
11/21/05 Kenji Johjima C Fukuoka Soft-Bank Hawks 3 years, $16.5 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
Last season, Seattle's catchers posted a batting line of .216-.253-.313, easily the worst production in the American League. In Japan, Johjima has been a .300 hitter who has averaged 30 homers a year for five seasons and won seven straight Gold Gloves. Even if he falls short of stardom, he represents a substantial upgrade at a digestible price for the M's.

-- JL

Yankees keep Matsui
Date Player Pos. Team Terms
11/15/05 Hideki Matsui LF Yankees 4 years, $52 million
THE BOTTOM LINE
If they didn't get Matsui signed, the Yankees would have had to go hard after free agent Brian Giles and end up paying more for an older outfielder. Matsui isn't the best or even second-best hitter in this lineup, but he is steady and can handle Big Apple pressure. His three-year OPS of .854 represents solid value for the club's initial $21 million investment. However, Matsui's defense isn't as good as the YES Network announcers would have you believe. Whether the Yankees put him in left or center, they will need to find a speedster to play alongside him.

-- JL


Free Agent Signings
AMERICAN LEAGUE
BALTIMORE (4) -- Signed Ramon J. Hernandez, c, San Diego, to a $27.5 million, four-year contract; signed Jeff Conine, of, Florida, to a $1.7 million, one-year contract; signed Kevin Millar, 1b, Boston, to a $2.1 million, one-year contract; signed Luis Lopez, 3b, Cincinnati, to a minor league contract.
BOSTON (6) -- Re-signed Tony Graffanino, 2b, to a $2.05 million, one-year contract; signed Rudy Seanez, rhp, San Diego, to a $2.1 million, one-year contract; signed John Flaherty, c, New York Yankees, to a $650,000, one-year contract; signed J.T. Snow, 1b, San Francisco, to a $2 million, one-year contract; signed Julian Tavarez, rhp, St. Louis, to a $6.7 million, two-year contract; signed Alex Gonzalez, ss, Florida, to a $3 million, one-year contract.
CHICAGO (1) -- Re-signed Paul Konerko, 1b, to a $60 million, five-year contract.
CLEVELAND (9) -- Signed Paul Byrd, rhp, Los Angeles Angels, to a $14.25 million, two-year contract; re-signed Bob Wickman, rhp, to a $5 million, one-year contract; signed Lou Merloni, 3b, Los Angeles Angels, to a minor league contract ($500,000); signed Steve Karsay, rhp, Texas, to a minor league contract ($600,000); signed Danny Graves, rhp, New York Mets, to a minor league contract ($600,000); signed Einar Diaz, c, St. Louis, to a minor league contract ($625,000); signed Jason Johnson, rhp, Detroit, to a $4 million, one-year contract; signed Todd Hollandsworth, of, Atlanta, to a minor league contract ($900,000); signed Eduardo A. Perez, 1b, Tampa Bay, to a $1,825,000, one-year contract.
DETROIT (3) -- Signed Todd Jones, rhp, Florida, to an $11 million, two-year contract; signed Kenny Rogers, lhp, Texas, to a $16 million, two-year contract; signed Matt Mantei, rhp, Boston, to a minor league contract ($575,000).
KANSAS CITY (8) -- Re-signed Joe McEwing, 3b, to a minor league contract ($650,000); signed Elmer Dessens, rhp, Los Angeles Dodgers, to a $3.4 million, two-year contract; signed Scott Elarton, rhp, Cleveland, to a two-year contract; signed Mark Grudzielanek, 2b, St. Louis, to a $4 million, one-year contract; signed Doug Mientkiewicz, 1b, New York Mets, to a $1.85 million, one-year contract; signed Paul Bako, c, Los Angeles Dodgers, to a $700,000, one-year contract; signed Reggie Sanders, of, St. Louis, to a $10 million, two-year contract; signed Joe Mays, rhp, Minnesota, to a $1 million, one-year contract.
LOS ANGELES (3) -- Signed Hector Carrasco, rhp, Washington, to a $6.1 million, two-year contract; re-signed Tim Salmon, dh, to a minor league contract ($400,000); signed Jeff Weaver, rhp, to an $8.4 million, one-year contract.
MINNESOTA (2) -- Signed Rondell White, of, Detroit, to a $3.25 million, one-year contract; signed Ruben Sierra, of, New York Yankees, to a minor league contract ($400,000).
NEW YORK (8) -- Signed Kyle Farnsworth, rhp, Atlanta, to a $17 million, three-year contract; signed Mike Myers, lhp, Boston, to a $2.4 million, two-year contract; re-signed Bernie Williams, of, to a $1.5 million, one-year contract; signed Johnny Damon, of, Boston, to a $52 million, four-year contract; signed Octavio Dotel, rhp, Oakland, to a $2 million, one-year contract; re-signed Ramiro Mendoza, rhp, to a minor league contract ($850,000); signed Miguel Cairo, 2b, New York Mets, to a $1 million, one-year contract; re-signed Al Leiter, lhp, to a minor league contract ($1.5 million).
OAKLAND (3) -- Signed Esteban Loaiza, rhp, Washington, to a $21,375,000, three-year contract; signed Raul Casanova, c, Chicago White Sox, to a minor league contract ($375,000); signed Frank Thomas, dh, Chicago White Sox, to a $500,000, one-year contract.
SEATTLE (5) -- Re-signed Jamie Moyer, lhp, to a $5.5 million, one-year contract; signed Carl Everett, dh, Chicago White Sox, to a $4 million, one-year contract; signed Jarrod Washburn, lhp, Los Angeles Angels, to a $37 million, four-year contract; signed Matt Lawton, of, New York Yankees, to a $400,000, one-year contract; signed Fernando Vina, 2b, Detroit, to a minor league contract ($400,000).
TAMPA BAY (2) -- Announced Travis Lee, 1b, accepted salary arbitration; signed Dan Miceli, rhp, Colorado, to a $1.5 million, two-year contract.
TEXAS (4) -- Re-signed John Wasdin, rhp, to a $600,000, one-year contract; signed Kevin Millwood, rhp, Cleveland, to a $60 million, five-year contract; signed Brian Anderson, lhp, Kansas City, to a minor league contract ($650,000); signed Antonio Alfonseca, rhp, Florida, to a minor league contract.
TORONTO (4) -- Signed B.J. Ryan, lhp, Baltimore, to a $47 million, five-year contract; signed A.J. Burnett, rhp, Florida, to a $55 million, five-year contract; signed James Baldwin, rhp, Baltimore, to a minor league contract ($450,000); signed Bengie Molina, c, Los Angeles Angels, to a $5 million, one-year contract.
NATIONAL LEAGUE
ARIZONA (4) -- Signed Damion Easley, 2b, Florida, to a $700,000, one-year contract; signed Jason Grimsley, rhp, Baltimore, to an $825,000, one-year contract; signed Terry Mulholland, lhp, Minnesota, to a minor leagu contract ($800,000); signed Felix Heredia, lhp, New York Mets, to a minor league contract.
ATLANTA (3) -- Signed Todd Pratt, c, Philadelphia, to an $850,000 one-year contract; re-signed Brian Jordan, of, to a minor league contract ($700,000); re-signed Eduardo Perez, c, to a minor league contract.
CHICAGO (4) -- Signed Scott Eyre, lhp, San Francisco, to an $11 million, three-year contract; signed Bobby Howry, rhp, Cleveland, to a $12 million, three-year contract; signed John Mabry, of, St. Louis, to a $1,075,000, one-year contract; signed Jacque Jones, of, Minnesota, to a $16 million, three-year contract.
CINCINNATI (5) -- Re-signed Jacob Cruz, of, to a minor league contract ($625,000); signed Chris Hammond, lhp, San Diego, to an $800,000, one-year contract; re-signed Rich Aurilia, 2b, to a $1.3 million, one-year contract; signed Rick White, rhp, Pittsburgh, to a $600,000, one-year contract; signed Scot Hatteberg, 1b, Oakland, to a $750,000, one-year contract.
COLORADO (3) -- Signed Jose Mesa, rhp, Pittsburgh, to a $2,515,000, one-year contract; re-signed Byung-Hyun Kim, rhp, to a $1.5 million, one-year contract; signed Eli Marrero, of, Baltimore, to a minor league contract ($350,000).
FLORIDA (4) -- Re-signed Brian Moehler, rhp, to a $1.5 million, one-year contract; re-signed Lenny Harris, dh, to a minor league contract ($450,000); signed Pokey Reese, ss, Seattle, to an $800,000, one-year contract; signed Wes Helms, 3b, Milwaukee, to an $800,000, one-year contract.
HOUSTON (4) -- Re-signed Russ Springer, rhp, to a $750,000, one-year contract; re-signed Orlando Palmeiro, of, to a $1.9 million, two-year contract; re-signed Brad Ausmus, c, to a $7.5 million, two-year contract; signed Preston Wilson, of, Washington, to a $4.5 million, one-year contract.
LOS ANGELES (8) -- Signed Rafael Furcal, ss, Atlanta, to a $39 million, three-year contract; re-signed Olmedo Saenz, 1b, to a $2 million, two-year contract; signed Sandy Alomar Jr., c, Los Angeles, to a $650,000 one-year contract; signed Bill Mueller, 3b, Boston, to a $9.5 million, two-year contract; signed Nomar Garciaparra, ss, Chicago Cubs, to a $6 million, one-year contract; signed Kenny Lofton, of, Philadelphia, to a $3.85 million, one-year contract; signed Brett Tomko, rhp, San Francisco, to an $8.7 million, two-year contract; signed Ramon E. Martinez, ss, Philadelphia, to a minor league contract.
MILWAUKEE (2) -- Re-signed Rick Helling, rhp, to an $850,000, one-year contract; re-signed Jeff Cirillo, 3b, to an $850,000, one-year contract.
NEW YORK (4) -- Signed Billy Wagner, lhp, Philadelphia, to a $43 million, four-year contract; signed Jose Valentin, UT, Los Angeles Dodgers, to a $912,500, one-year contract; signed Julio Franco, 1B, Atlanta Braves, to a $2.2 million, two-year contract; signed Endy Chavez, of, Philadelphia Phillies, to a $500,000, one-year contract.
PHILADELPHIA (3) -- Signed Abraham Nunez, 3b, St. Louis, to a $3.35 million, two-year contract; signed Tom Gordon, rhp, New York Yankees, to an $18 million, three-year contract; signed Alex S. Gonzalez, 3b, Tampa Bay, to a $750,000, one-year contract.
PITTSBURGH (5) -- Signed Terry Adams, rhp, Philadelphia, to a minor league contract ($500,000); signed Roberto Hernandez, rhp, New York Mets, to a $2.75 million, one-year contract; signed Joe Randa, 3b, San Diego, to a $4 million, one-year contract; signed Jeromy Burnitz, of, Chicago Cubs, to $6.7 million, one-year contract; signed Jose Hernandez, 1b, Cleveland, to a minor league contract ($850,000).
ST. LOUIS (7) -- Signed Gary Bennett, c, Washington, to an $800,000, one-year contract; signed Deivi Cruz, 2b, Washington, to an $800,000, one-year contract; signed Ricardo Rincon, lhp, to a $2.9 million, two-year contract; signed Braden Looper, rhp, New York Mets, to a $13.5 million, three-year contract; signed Sidney Ponson, rhp, Baltimore Orioles, to a one-year, $1 million contract; signed Juan Encarnacion, of, Florida Marlins, to a $15 million, three-year contract; signed Junior Spivey to a $1.2 million, one-year contract.
SAN DIEGO (9) -- Signed Geoff Blum, 3b, Chicago White Sox, to a $650,000, one-year contract; re-signed Eric Young, of, to a $700,000, one-year contract; re-signed Brian Giles, of, to a $30 million, three-year contract; re-signed Trevor Hoffman, rhp, to a $13.5 million, two-year contract; signed Doug Brocail, rhp, Texas, to a $1 million, one-year contract; signed Todd Greene, c, Colorado, to a minor league contract ($700,000); signed Shawn Estes, lhp, Arizona, to a $1.1 million, one-year contract; signed Alan Embree, lhp, New York Yankees, to a minor league contract ($850,000); signed Mike Piazza, c, New York Mets, to a $2 million, one-year contract.
SAN FRANCISCO (5) -- Signed Tim Worrell, rhp, Arizona, to a $4 million, two-year contract; signed Mark Sweeney, 1b, San Diego, to a $1.8 million, two-year contract; signed Matt Morris, rhp, St. Louis, to a $27 million, three-year contract; signed Jose Vizcaino, 2b, Houston, to a $1.25 million, one-year contract; signed Jamey Wright, rhp, Colorado, to a minor league contract ($800,000).
WASHINGTON (9) -- Signed Marlon Anderson, inf, New York Mets, to a $1.85 million, two-year contract; re-signed Joey Eischen, rhp, to a $1.1 million, one-year contract; signed Robert Fick, c, San Diego, to an $850,000, one-year contract; re-signed Tony Armas Jr., rhp, to a $2.1 million, one-year contract; signed Michael Tucker, of, Philadelphia, to an $800,000, one-year contract; signed Alberto Castillo, c, Oakland, to a minor league contract ($450,000); signed Daryle Ward, 1b, Pittsburgh, to a minor league contract ($700,000); signed Felix Rodriguez, rhp, New York Yankees, to a $3 million, one-year contract; signed Royce Clayton, ss, Arizona, to a minor league contract ($1 million).

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