MLB Trade News: 10 Under-the-Radar Spring Deals You Surely Missed
Huzzah, baseball season is here...finally.
While every team's roster is finally getting into shape, there are always a few players who jump out to fans with the "I didn't know that's where he went" statement.
Frequently, that happens with veteran starters who still have a little something in the tank. They sign minor league contracts in spring training and leapfrog prospects to make the opening day rotation.
The 2012 offseason was no different, with a number of well-preserved pitchers getting an additional chance in a new venue.
Here are some of their stories.
Oakland Athletics Sign Bartolo Colon
Koji Watanabe/Getty Images
Colon hit the fountain of youth last year in the Bronx and now finds himself on the West Coast.
While he'd probably be more suited to playing in San Francisco, Colon is the No. 2 starter on the A's and pitched very well in his debut in Japan.
The veteran is playing on a one-year guaranteed contract that will likely pay dividends no matter how many effective appearances Colon has.
Washington Nationals Sign Rick Ankiel
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Ankiel found himself on the Nationals at the end of 2011, but few people remembered he still played in the offseason.
After unsuccessfully testing the free-agent market, Ankiel returned to the Nationals on a minor league contract.
He'll probably show up in the majors at some point in the season.
Baltimore Orioles Sign Dontrelle Willis
J. Meric/Getty Images
I completely forgot about this guy.
Willis was a very talented pitcher way back when, but has toiled mightily across all levels of baseball over the past half-decade.
Now he's on the Orioles, where very little will be expected of him in their system.
Will he surprise? Will it really matter?
San Francisco Giants Sign Gregor Blanco
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
This is a really solid player who just hasn't yet cut in it in the majors.
The outfielder Gregor Blanco has played for the Royals and the Braves in the past and now is the fourth/fifth outfielder for the formerly reigning World Series champions.
Given the Giants' penchant for injuries and the potentially underperforming Angel Pagan, Blanco should get ample opportunity to prove himself major-league ready.
Philadelphia Phillies Sign Joel Piniero
Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Another pitcher who's been around the block, Joel Piniero has played on both coasts multiple times. After coming up with the Mariners, he's found himself in St. Louis and Anaheim, amongst others.
Now he's in the Phillies system waiting in the wings in case someone gets injured or under performs.
Los Angeles Angels Sign Albert Pujols
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Miami Marlins Sign and Release Aaron Rowand
Marc Serota/Getty Images
The Giants are picking up Rowand's $12 million dollar salary, so any interested team only has to pay the major league minimum.
The problem is that Rowand hasn't played like a major league player for the better part of three years now.
After getting cut by the Giants last season, Rowand signed with the Marlins, but was released when he wasn't placed on the 25-man roster.
Cincinnati Reds Sign Jeff Francis
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Another veteran pitcher getting a shot, Francis is a solid starter with a good career behind him.
He still has some years left in his pitching tank, and the hitter-friendly Reds stadium always is ready for new meat to the grinder.
Cleveland Indians Sign Jon Garland
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Jon Garland is a very good pitcher who's battled a few too many injuries over the course of his career. Just last year, he was paid over $5 million to throw for the Dodgers.
This year, he's merely playing for the minimum.
The Indians are trying to complete and play with a modest salary budget. Garland, if healthy, can help with both.
Seattle Mariners Sign Kevin Millwood
Rob Tringali/Getty Images
This really is the year of the veteran pitcher in a new location.
OK, so it's not as catchy a title as year of the pitcher, but Kevin Millwood adds to the list of former good starters hoping for one more chance.
Millwood finds himself in Seattle. This is the perfect situation for him. Seattle is a young, developing team without that much solid starting pitching at the back end of their rotation.
Millwood performed well enough during the spring to earn a job in the rotation; now let's see how he does.
Colorado Rockies Sign Jamie Moyer
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Jamie Moyer is the mother (father) of all veterans.
At age 49, he signed a contract with the Colorado Rockies and won a job as a starter—the second starter.
Moyer is now the No. 2 pitcher for the Rockies.
Despite throwing a mere 78 mph on most pitches, his confounding style continues to succeed in the majors.
Will he ever be figured out?
Can he pitch til he's 60?