Like the western front, all is quiet on the Major League Baseball free-agent front. The holiday gives teams, players and agents one last chance to breathe before the madness of the Winter Meetings kick in on December 3.
While we are still, presumably, over a week away from seeing any major signings, the speculation continues to amp up as teams try to get a leg up on the market and position themselves for a run next year and beyond.
Here are the latest rumblings and grumblings from around the Internet regarding the top players available, as well as what all this information really means.
Red Sox Moving In On Kyle Lohse?
With the Red Sox freeing up so much money in August, the consensus from fans seems to be that the team will spend a lot this offseason to make the team more competitive. One area of need is in the rotation, because once you get past Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, there are not a lot of attractive options.
In a recent Q&A with fans, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that the team has had talks with free-agent starter Kyle Lohse.
Lohse had a great year and yes, the Red Sox have called about him. At 34, he may be a bit out of their age range. He’s probably looking for at least three years and that may be risky.
Would Lohse be a good fit for the Red Sox?
Absolutely not, even with their lack of rotation depth. Lohse strikes me as a guy who is A) going to get vastly overpaid by a desperate team this offseason and B) will regress back to what he was before arriving in St. Louis.
As Cafardo mentions, Lohse is already 34 years old and will be looking for a rather substantial multi-year offer.
Lohse is a finesse right-handed pitcher who needs to rely on command and control to get by. He had a solid 143-38 K-BB ratio last season in 211 innings, but his BABIP of .262 is unusually low for a pitcher who only struck out 6.1 hitters/9 IP.
Plus, don't ignore the fact that Lohse made nine starts against the Cubs, Astros, Pirates and Indians last season. Those lineups are going to make a lot of pitchers look very, very good.
Taking Lohse out of the friendly confines of the National League Central and into the American League East is a recipe for disaster.
Andy Pettitte Back To The Bronx?
The New York Yankees took care of business with one free-agent pitcher, re-signing Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal earlier this week, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.
Sources: The Yankees have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Hiroki Kuroda.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 20, 2012
Now it appears they will be getting an answer from their other big-name starter about his future. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Andy Pettitte will likely be back in 2013.
Pettitte yet to tell #Yankees plans, but everyone talk to seems confident will return. But expect him to want much more than $2.5M of '12— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 21, 2012
If Pettitte pitches again, it is only going to happen with the Yankees, so this news isn't a huge surprise.
Is Pettitte a good investment for the Yankees?
On the surface, Pettitte had a very good 2012 season, what little of it he was able to play. He had a 2.87 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 75.1 innings. What's not to like?
Well, Pettitte's fastball registered an average velocity of 87.8 miles per hour, per Fangraphs. He also allowed eight home runs in those 75.1 innings, and his home run-to-flyball ratio of 13.3 percent was the highest it has been since 2008.
The Yankees keep trying these patchwork rotations after C.C. Sabathia, just signing older starters to one-year deals and hoping everything works out. They need to find more stability somewhere.
Don't get me wrong, I think the Kuroda deal is a smart move, but if they have to give Pettitte a "substantial" raise for one year of uncertain production, it doesn't make sense.
Of course, given how slim the pickings are on the pitching market, perhaps one-year deals are better investments.
Stephen Drew, Big Man On Campus
For a player who hit .223/.309/.348 with below-average defense at shortstop in 2012, Stephen Drew is drawing a lot of interest from some big-time teams this offseason.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers, among others, are all interested in what Drew has to offer.
For all those people out there who are interested in learning about Wins Above Replacement and what a replacement-level player is, look no further than Drew last season. Per Fangraphs, Drew had a WAR of 0.0, meaning he played at replacement level all year.
Where should Drew sign?
It all depends on what role Drew feels he deserves. If he wants to be a starting shortstop, the market is not likely to be there for him.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported that the Tigers would consider moving Jhonny Peralta if they get another shortstop.
Diamondbacks have shown interest in Jhonny Peralta. But Tigers won't trade him unless/until they get someone better at shortstop.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) November 20, 2012
We know the Tigers aren't afraid to make drastic changes if they believe it will make the team better. Drew's defense used to be an asset, at least for a few years starting in 2009 but his UZR has dropped from 8.7 in 2010 down to -5.2 last season (per Fangraphs).
The Yankees could use the versatility that Drew brings, since they have older and/or injury-prone players at shortstop and third base.
It would seem to be a choice between the Tigers and Yankees, at least to me. The Red Sox should plug in Jose Iglesias at shortstop to start the season and hope his bat is adequate enough, because his defense has been MLB-ready for two years.
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