Defining Moments of the 2013 MLB Offseason (So Far)
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Without a doubt, the 2012 offseason in Major League Baseball has been anything but boring.
Between the hot stove being on full boil and the future of the game getting due recognition, the game has changed a great deal since the San Francisco Giants ended the season as champions.
Here, in chronological order, are 23 moments, so far, that will be remembered long into 2013.
October 31: Ervin Santana Dealt to Royals
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The first big move of the offseason came when the Los Angeles Angels shipped (via Sporting News) starter Ervin Santana to Kansas City for Triple-A reliever Brandon Sisk.
Due $13 million for 2013, the move came as a surprise as the Royals have not historically been eager to take on payroll.
Little did we know at the time just how eager Kansas City was going to be in chasing pitching for a playoff push.
November 12: Bryce Harper and Mike Trout Take Top Rookie Award
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Announced for the first time on MLB Network, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper won their league’s Rookie of the Year (via ESPN).
Trout won his unanimously while Harper outpointed Arizona Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley.
It is rare to see two such highly touted prospects deliver right out of the gate.
Trout was also a serious MVP candidate, but he would finish second to Detroit Tigers slugger—and Triple Crown winner—Miguel Cabrera.
November 13: Miami Marlins Fire Sale
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You knew when Hanley Ramirez and Ozzie Guillen were shown the door in Miami that the grand experiment was over.
That the Marlins would dump millions in contracts three weeks after the season was over is another story.
Yet in a move that enraged Marlins fans, Miami shipped (via USA TODAY) Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck and cash to the Toronto Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar, Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jeff Mathis and three prospects.
The deal drew such strong protests that it took six days for Commissioner Bud Selig to approve (via CBS Sports) it.
Instantly, the Blue Jays had jumped into a contender role in the AL East and Marlins fans were resigned to a team likely to drop 100 games.
November 14: R.A. Dickey Claims NL Cy Young
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R.A. Dickey became the first knuckleball pitcher to take home a Cy Young Award (via ESPN).
The 38-year-old Dickey won the award by a wide margin over Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Washington Nationals star Gio Gonzalez.
Dickey—who did not even feature the knuckler until he was with the Mets—won 20 games for a team that won just 74.
Amazingly, Dickey pitched most of the year injured. He tore an abdominal muscle in an April start against the Philadelphia Phillies.
That injury was not fully repaired until he underwent surgery after the season.
November 16: Torii Hunter Goes to Motown
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Torii Hunter was first big free agent to sign this offseason (via Huffington Post).
Hunter, who is in search of his first championship, and the Detroit Tigers, who were just swept out of the World Series, agreed on a two-year deal worth $26 million.
The 38-year-old is hoped to bring another veteran influence into the clubhouse and build on his great 2012 campaign with the Angels.
November 20: Jays Hire Back John Gibbons to Manage
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With John Farrell off to manage the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays brought back John Gibbons to manage (via Yahoo) the new-look club.
Gibbons ran the Jays for five years—from 2004-08—and had a record of 305-305.
Just a day after their mega-deal with the Marlins was approved, the move caught many off-guard as Gibbons often butted heads with players his first time in Toronto.
Because of all the expectations now, Gibbons will be under pressure from the press and fans to steer Toronto back into the playoffs.
November 28: Jonathan Broxton Stays in Cincy
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The Cincinnati Reds took a big step in building on their NL Central championship by keeping Jonathan Broxton for three years and $21 million (via Fox Sports).
The Reds will use him to close games next year and move the fireballer Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation.
Chapman was originally signed to be a starter, but Cincinnati found a better use for him working out of the pen and in the closer’s role.
The Reds hope that both moves can put Cincy back into the World Series for the first time since 1990.
November 28: B. J. Upton Goes to Atlanta
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B.J. Upton became the next big name to switch teams when he signed a five-year deal worth $75 million (via ESPN).
Considered a blue-chip prospect since being brought up by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2004, Upton had his best year in 2007 when he hit .300 and 22 home runs.
A speedster, the Braves made Upton their highest-paid free-agent signing ever and hope he can replace Michael Bourn’s production in center field.
November 29: Denard Span Traded to Nationals
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Once considered a suitor for Michael Bourn, the Washington Nationals instead traded (via twincities.com) flame-throwing pitcher Alex Meyer to the Minnesota Twins for Denard Span.
The Nats—already one of the best teams in the NL—saved potentially a few million dollars by getting Span instead of signing Bourn. Span still has two years left on his deal he signed with the Twins that pays him $11.25 million.
Washington saw the opportunity to fill a hole and took it.
With most of the key players returning from 2012’s 98-win effort, the Nationals could afford to trade a prospect for the 28-year-old speedster.
November 30: Tommy Hanson Switches Coasts
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Lost in the budding new rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels for players and headlines was the Angels trading (via Los Angeles Times) reliever Jordan Walden to Atlanta for Tommy Hanson.
With Ervin Santana and Dan Haren pitching elsewhere, Hanson quietly will fill the No. 3 role in Anaheim next summer.
The Braves get a good, young set-up guy for the bullpen and move Hanson after a 13-10 season that saw his ERA balloon to 4.48.
A Southern California native, Hanson is just hitting his arbitration years. The Angels hope there is not too much mileage already on his arm.
November 30: Russell Martin Signs with Pirates
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If there ever was a move that shows how much baseball has changed by adding a second wild card, the Pittsburgh Pirates signing catcher Russell Martin to a two-year deal (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ) is it.
After two seasons behind the dish in New York with the Yankees, Martin actually wanted to sign with Pittsburgh, who now have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
He will rejoin starter A.J. Burnett and the rest of the young Pirates as they try to finish above .500 for the first time since 1992.
The Pirates have contended into the summer the last couple of years and hope Martin’s influence can turn contending into meaningful October baseball.
December 3: A-Rod's Injury Disclosed
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One of the most stunning pieces of news from the winter meetings turned out not to be a transaction after all.
In January, the slugger will undergo surgery similar to what he went through on his right hip in 2009.
This could partly explain why manager Joe Girardi benched A-Rod during the playoffs. It may have hurt too much to swing.
Faced with Rodriguez out of the lineup until possibly June, the Yankees signed Kevin Youkilis to a one-year deal (via USNews.com) to hold down the fort.
December 4: David Wright Stays the King of Queens
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Sometimes, we just need a feel-good story. David Wright’s eight-year extension (via ESPN New York) with the New York Mets fits that description.
In an age when we half-expect homegrown stars to find big money elsewhere, Wright and the Mets decided to keep him in Queens until 2020.
One of the most highly touted batting prospects in Mets history, Wright has delivered with two Gold Gloves at third base and six All-Star appearances.
What the Mets do over the next couple years is irrelevant. Wright is the face of the franchise and is as appreciative of Mets fans as they are of him.
December 6: Phillies Swap Worley for Revere
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Stealing a page from the Washington Nationals, the Philadelphia Phillies fixed their center-fielder problem via a trade and not a free agent.
The Phills sent (via MLBlogs.com) Vance Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May to the Twins for Ben Revere.
Philadelphia picks up a speedy center fielder who will not even be arbitration eligible until next offseason and is under its control until 2017.
Minnesota gets a decent starter to go along with good pitching prospects acquired from Washington and Philadelphia in earlier trades.
December 7: Winter Meeting Leftovers
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As the winter meetings ended in Nashville, three signings of note became official.
Angel Pagan, San Francisco’s sparkplug leadoff hitter, agreed to four more years for the Giants (via sfgate.com) for $40 million.
Marco Scutaro also decided to stay around (via Hardball Talk) by signing a three-year deal for $20 million to play second.
The Nationals also picked up someone on their shopping list when they signed pitcher Dan Haren to a one-year pact (via Twitter) worth $13 million.
While all these deals were agreed to during the meetings, all the paperwork did not finish until the weary parties were on the way home.
The Giants kept the top of their potent lineup, and the Nationals add another arm to an already solid rotation.
December 9: Michael Young Traded to Phillies
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The Phillies also took care of their need at third base in a trade and got the Texas Rangers to kick in $10 million to boot.
In getting Michael Young from the Rangers (via Fox Sports), the Phillies send back reliever Josh Lindblom and pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla.
Not guaranteed a job in Arlington, Young gets a fresh start with the Phillies as they try and leapfrog the Braves and Nationals in the NL East playoff chase.
December 9: Kansas City Trades Wil Myers to Tampa
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One of the biggest surprises this offseason came from the Kansas City Royals.
There had been strong rumors to the effect that slugging prospect Wil Myers was on the market.
On December 9th, those rumors turned into reality (via Tampa Bay Times) as Myers was shipped to Tampa Bay for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis.
Not only did Tampa get Myers, buy pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi and two other minor leaguers as well.
Royals fans were not thrilled seeing their best hitting prospect since Carlos Beltran leave, but they have remodeled their starting pitching.
The Royals' front office must feel their time is now.
December 9: Dodgers Sign South Korean Ryu Hyun-Jin
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Already the winner of the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, the Los Angeles Dodgers grabbed the biggest international prize (via Yahoo) on the free agency market.
Ryu Hyun-Jin cost the Dodgers $61.7 million in transfer fees and a contract, but they didn't hesitate to grab the 25-year-old starter from South Korea who won 98 games in five seasons.
Showing the world that money is no object, the Dodgers are trying to put together the best team money can buy.
December 10: Dodgers Show off Zack Greinke
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In the end, the Los Angeles Dodgers got their man.
Zack Greinke was officially introduced as a member of the Dodgers (via ESPNLos Angeles) signing a six-year deal worth $147 million.
In taking the largest contract signed by a right-handed starter, Greinke moved from the Angels of Orange County to the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine.
Dodger Stadium’s big outfield should work to Greinke’s advantage. Teammate Clayton Kershaw can now back up the armored truck to his house when his contract expires after next season.
December 11: Shin-Soo Choo Goes South to Cincinnati
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Throughout the winter meetings, the Arizona Diamondbacks were thought to be on the verge of making a multi-team trade involving shortstop Justin Upton.
In the end, that complex deal did not even involve him.
The centerpiece of the three-team deal (via USA TODAY) between the D’Backs, Reds and Cleveland Indians was Shin-Soo Choo instead.
Cleveland sent Choo and cash to Cincinnati for slugger Drew Stubbs, shortstop Didi Gregorius and infielder Jason Donald. The Indians then shipped Gregorius to Arizona with first baseman Lars Anderson and reliever Tony Sipp for Trevor Bauer, reliever Matt Albers and reliever Bryan Shaw.
While the Reds will miss Stubbs' speed, they will gladly take Choo’s ability to get on base.
December 14: Anibal Sanchez Stays in Detroit
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He almost went to the Chicago Cubs.
Anibal Sanchez told the Tigers that they would get a chance to match the best offer on the table and Detroit matched his five-year and $80 million deal (via Sporting News).
Sanchez arrived in Detroit from the Miami Marlins at the trade deadline and was a big factor in the Tigers winning the AL pennant.
Part of one of the best starting rotations in baseball, the Tigers hope Sanchez can put them over the top and win a World Series.
December 15: Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angel
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After being linked to several teams, Josh Hamilton surprised many by taking a five-year deal for $125 million (via Yahoo) to play for the Los Angeles Angels.
Hamilton—even with a career-high 43-home run season—seemed to have worn out his welcome with the Texas Rangers at times last year. Still, Hamilton and the Rangers talked to the very end.
Hamilton joins a powerful lineup with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols as the Rangers miss out on both Hamilton and Zack Greinke.
The balance of power in the AL West shifted from Arlington to Anaheim as Angels owner Arte Moreno showed he will do what it takes to win.
December 16: R.A. Dickey Traded to Toronto?
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He still needs to sign a contract extension, but NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey looks to be headed (via Boston Globe) for the Toronto Blue Jays.
After failing to reach an extension with the New York Mets, Dickey and his catcher John Thole will be swapped for uber-catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, pitching blue-chipper Noah Syndergaard and catcher John Buck.
Toronto joins the growing number of teams pushing their chips into the table to go all-in to chase a playoff spot.
The Mets are trying to rebuild and have to love the offense d’Arnaud can create.
If the deal goes through, it would be the fourth time a reigning Cy Young winner was traded. Toronto shipped AL CY Young winner Roger Clemens to the Yankees in 1999.