5 Under-the-Radar MLB Free-Agent Signings Sure to Make an Impact in 2013
The hot stove is still lukewarm as we wait to see where the No. 1 offseason free agent, Josh Hamilton, will land.
Most often—as seen in Los Angeles with the Angels last season—it's more about the under-the-radar signings than the big free-agent splashes, and there are a handful of teams who have been bolstering their rosters without breaking the bank.
As the winter approaches and free agency begins to boom, let's look at some of the best low-key signings of the offseason thus far.
Jonathan Broxton- Cincinnati
Jonathan Broxton remaining in Cincinnati has good things written all over it.
According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Reds have locked the righty reliever down for three years:
Broxton deal with #Reds is three years, $21M. Also a club option for 2016. Salaries of $4M-$7M-$9M, with $1M buyout on $9M option.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 28, 2012
This is definitely a positive move for the Reds, as they can now utilize Broxton in a closer's role and begin transitioning Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports points out.
Moving Chapman to the starting rotation could be a big risk. The blazing closer is known for touching triple digits on the radar gun, and putting him in a position where he'll throw upwards of 80 to 100 pitches is a lot different than throwing 30 as a closer.
Regardless, the signing of Broxton means there's good things to come in Cincinnati. The seven-year veteran sported a 2.48 ERA with 27 saves for the Reds and Kansas City Royals last year and now gives Cincinnati some leeway in its bullpen.
Jonny Gomes- Boston
Jonny Gomes is going to fit in perfectly in Boston, bringing his hard-nosed and gritty mentality to the Red Sox.
Coming over from the Oakland Athletics—where he batted .262/.377/.491 with 18 HR and 47 RBI last season—Gomes not only brings a ton of character but also postseason experience.
The 32-year-old was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays squad that went all the way to the World Series in 2008. Two seasons later, Gomes again found himself contending in October, this time as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
Given the debacle that has been the Red Sox the past two seasons, Gomes brings a much-needed personality change to Boston, similar to what Nick Swisher did in the Bronx.
All in all, a two-year, $10 million deal is worth it if Gomes can produce and loosen the clubhouse in Boston (h/t Boston Herald).
Mike Aviles- Cleveland
*Note: This was a trade but I felt it deserved to be on here.
I really thought this was one of the most underrated acquisitions given how well Mike Aviles played in Boston last season.
By no means did he have an eye-popping campaign in Boston, hitting .250/.282/.381 with 13 HR and 60 RBI, but he's a player who can do a little bit of everything, and I believe Terry Francona will get the most out of the 31-year-old shortstop.
Though Aviles had an uncharacteristically bad season in the field—evident by 15 errors—he still posted a positive WAR on defense, according to ESPN.
I like this move because Aviles and Francona are already familiar with each other, and I don't think it's a coincidence that these two ended up in the same city together.
Be ready to see a much more productive Aviles in Cleveland in 2013.
Maicer Izturis- Toronto
Spending practically his entire eight-year career as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, Maicer Izturis comes to the Toronto Blue Jays coming off a season in which he swiped 17 bags—a career high for the 32-year-old infielder.
With Jose Reyes manning short, the Jays now have a sure-handed middle infield combination on defense and a pair of speedy runners who can produce runs on the base paths.
Toronto knows it's not going to get power numbers out of Izturis, but what it is expecting is for Izturis to get on base and play errorless defense at second base.
The best part about this deal for the Blue Jays is that they didn't overpay to acquire Izturis, striking a $10 million deal over three years, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Beefing up its roster, Toronto will be looking to move up in the AL East standings in 2013.
Hisashi Iwakuma- Seattle
Seattle opted to bring back right-handed starter Hisashi Iwakuma after a solid 2012 season—his first in the big leagues.
The Japanese-born pitcher was impressive in his first season, pitching to a 9-5 record with a more-than-respectable 3.16 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.
Iwakuma was especially dominant pitching against the division foe Los Angeles Angels, sporting a perfect 4-0 record, 1.23 ERA and 22 strikeouts—his best numbers against any opponent last season.
The Mariners didn't have to reach to sign the righty, inking him to a two-year, $14 million deal (h/t ESPN) that adds to a nice rotation with Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas
Seattle needs to add a lot more pieces to contend in the AL West, but it's on the right path after retaining Iwakuma.
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