Winter Meetings 2012: Winners and Losers of Day 3 in Nashville
The third day of MLB's winter meetings was a slow one for anyone looking for a splashy signing or blockbuster trade. Not a whole lot happened in Nashville on Wednesday (Dec. 5).
That's not to say that nothing happened, however.
There were several smaller moves that were made, and many of them combined to hit the New York Yankees right in the stomach. If the Yanks thought they could easily sign a utility infielder or reserve third baseman, the free-agent market isn't working in their favor.
Who were the winners and losers of Day 3 of the winter meetings? A handful of clubs had a pretty good day, while one arguably had a rough day at the office. Here's how we think it shook out.
Loser: New York Yankees
Should the New York Yankees be worried about their third base situation now?
The free-agent market looked to have plenty of capable third basemen available to fill in while Alex Rodriguez recovers from surgery on his left hip. But two players that fit the versatile, lower-cost profile that the Yankees are looking for were snatched off the shelf on Thursday.
Jeff Keppinger agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract with the Chicago White Sox, as reported by ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine. That took one option away from the Yankees.
Another one got away when Eric Chavez signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Yankees likely didn't want to give a three-year contract to any player, especially one who would be a short-term replacement and eventual utility infielder. So losing out on Keppinger is understandable.
But Chavez signing with another team is baffling, considering he signed a one-year contract.
Perhaps the $3 million salary was more than the Yankees wanted to pay. But even with the team wanting to keep costs low in anticipation of the 2014 luxury tax threshold, did the Yanks think they could get a third baseman for less money?
Making matters worse, the Yankees also lost out on an outfielder that suited them well. Nate Schierholtz signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
Winner: Jeff Keppinger
Breaking a leg is typically not an ideal way to start out an offseason for a player who's a free agent.
Jeff Keppinger recently broke the fibula in his right leg in an accident at home. But as ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine explained, the fracture was a small one and able to be repaired with surgery.
Teams looking for infield help didn't seem to be scared off by Keppinger's injury. That was confirmed by him signing a three-year. $12 million deal with the Chicago White Sox and is expected to be their starting third baseman.
Keppinger had an excellent season with the Tampa Bay Rays this year, batting .325 with an .806 OPS, nine home runs and 40 RBI.
Though he can play any infield position, Keppinger has actually played third base less than he's played at second base and shortstop during his career.
The Yankees were reportedly interested in Keppinger, and according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, made a better offer than the White Sox. However, ESPN's Buster Olney said the Yankees never made an offer to Keppinger. But that disagreement is irrelevant now.
Loser: Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals have had a fine offseason so far, trading for center fielder Denard Span and signing free-agent pitcher Dan Haren.
But their bullpen was better with Sean Burnett in it. The decision was made that Burnett wanted more than the Nationals could afford, especially after Jeremy Affeldt signed a three-year, $18 million deal with the San Francisco Giants.
But Burnett agreed to a two-year, $8 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. The package includes an option for a third year worth $4.5 million.
For that price, would the Nationals have brought Burnett back?
Burnett was one of the Nats' best relievers this season, compiling a 2.38 ERA in 70 appearances. He struck out 57 batters in 56.2 innings.
An annual salary of $4 million might be high for a left-handed specialist, however. That seems to be what the Nats are thinking, though Burnett pitched well enough to face any batter in 2012.
MASN's Dan Kolko reports that the Nationals are looking at J.P. Howell. He posted a 3.03 ERA in 55 games with the Tampa Bay Rays this year.
Winner: Joe Blanton
Finishing the 2012 season with a 10-13 record and 4.71 ERA appears to have paid off nicely for Joe Blanton.
Blanton, who will turn 32 on Dec. 11, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. The deal includes an option for a third year, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweeted.
A $7.5 million annual salary and a spot in the rotation of a playoff contender makes for a good day at the office, wouldn't you say?
Crasnick reported earlier that the Minnesota Twins were also interested in Blanton.
No word on what sort of contract the Twins may have offered, but pitching for a team expected to compete for the AL West title or a wild-card playoff spot may have superseded financial considerations. Besides, it's not like Blanton signed for a discount.
If the Angels lose out on Zack Greinke, however, this won't seem like much of a consolation prize.
Loser: New York Mets
The New York Mets officially announced David Wright's seven-year, $138 million contract extension in Nashville on Thursday. It seemed like a good day for the team.
But the Mets haven't been able to reach agreement on a contract extension with R.A. Dickey.
According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Mets and Dickey are "far apart" on negotiations for a two-year deal. Considering that the two sides have been talking about a new contract for a while now, that doesn't seem to be an encouraging sign.
The Mets don't have to trade Dickey. They have him under contract for $5 million next year. But the team doesn't want to lose him for nothing when he can hopefully be used to get an outfielder and catcher prospect.
Of course, the Mets can still sign Dickey to an extension or trade him after the winter meetings are over. But whenever you hear "far apart" on something that's become an offseason priority, it's not good for a team that needs to make some things happen and put together a roster for 2013.
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