While the Major League Baseball annual winter meetings wrapped up Thursday with the Rule 5 Draft in a location far warmer than Cumberland County, its Hot Stove had been pre-heated weeks in advance of its general managers’ meetings.
The Detroit Tigers made the first big splash of the 2013 MLB offseason by trading first basemen Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler on November 20. The Tigers are banking on designated hitter Victor Martinez to provide baseball’s premier hitter, Miguel Cabrera, with the kind of protection he had grown accustomed to the past two seasons with Fielder batting behind him. By adding solid middle infielder Ian Kinsler into the fold, the Tigers are attempting to get over the proverbial hump; they have not won a World Series title since 1984.
For weeks, it appeared that Carlos Beltran would sign with the either the World Series’ champion Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees; it was a foregone conclusion that Oregon native Jacoby Ellsbury would sign with the Seattle Mariners. That was, of course, until the New York Yankees, who signed Ellsbury to a seven year/$153 million deal, pulled off the greatest coup since they signed Johnny Damon away from the Boston Red Sox for four years/$52 million in 2006.
Shortly after former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano signed a 10 year/$240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners, they agreed to terms with outfielder/designated hitter Carlos Beltran on a three year/$45 million contract.
The Yankees also signed catcher Brian McCann to five year/$85 million deal while the rival Red Sox signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one year/$8.25 million deal.
While teams such as the Yankees and Tiger made big pre-winter meetings deals, there were some other notable free agent signings that are bound to have an impact on the 2014 MLB season and beyond. The Chicago White Sox’s free agent signing of Cuban first baseman/designated hitter Jose Abreu, 26, to a six year/$68 million seemed to indicate that captain Paul Konerko’s playing days on Chicago’s south side were numbered. Instead, Konerko took an $11 million pay cut to return to the White Sox on a one year/$2.5 million contract that will see him DH against left-handers. Watch for Konerko to take over the DH role outright if Adam Dunn stumbles out of the gate in 2014, something that he has been known to do recently.
As for the Toronto Blue Jays, a team that would benefit from being traded to the American League Central for the Detroit Tigers, a team that would fit in much better in the American League East, their signing of catcher Dioner Navarro to a two year/$8 million deal effectively ended J.P. Arencebia’s lack-lustre Jays’ days.
Arencebia recently signed a one-year contract with the Texas Rangers.