During the last week, there were a number of major transactions that will have a major impact on the 2013 MLB seasons. A number of big names changed places.
Some teams made great moves, while others made decisions that will cause people to scratch their heads. These moves could turn out differently once the season plays out, but for now, they fit into one category or the other.
The following grades are for deals that occurred between Saturday, December 15 and Thursday, December 20.
Josh Hamilton was considered to be one of the biggest prizes on the free agent market this winter. His ability to hit for both power and average makes him a game-changer.
For the second offseason in a row, the Los Angeles Angels swept in and made a major signing. They inked Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract (h/t Associated Press via ESPN).
Expectations for Hamilton will be very high, and the Angels will be expected to win at least one title during his tenure. While the Angels paid a pretty penny for Hamilton's services, it was well worth it.
Deal: Toronto trades C John Buck, C Travis d'Arnaud, RHP Noah Syndergaard and OF Wuilmer Beccera to the New York Mets for RHP R.A. Dickey, C Josh Thole and C Mike Nickeas
The New York Mets recognized that they were not going to be able to contend in 2013, and they decided that dealing R.A. Dickey was the best move for their future.
Sandy Alderson was able to pull off a trade that puts the Mets in a fantastic position beginning in 2014. Travis D'Arnaud alone would have been a great return, but getting Noah Syndergaard in the deal makes it even better.
New York Mets Grade: A+
After making one big trade earlier this winter, the Toronto Blue Jays made another big splash by acquiring R.A. Dickey. The Blue Jays are going all out trying to win the World Series in 2013, and this deal has a big impact on that goal.
Toronto then signed Dickey to a two-year, $25 million extension (h/t Associated Press via ESPN). This is below market for a Cy Young award winner, so it is a great move for Toronto.
Toronto Blue Jays Grade: A
With their transition to the American League, the Houston Astros needed to find a designated hitter. They decided to sign Carlos Pena to a one-year, $2.9 million deal (h/t Associated Press via ESPN).
Pena brings a lot of power to the Astros, but he also struggles to get base hits and has a career .234 batting average. Drawing walks is one of Pena's strengths, so he has a career .350 on-base percentage.
The Detroit Tigers got a taste of what Anibal Sanchez could do after they traded for him in the middle of the 2012 season. Detroit liked what it saw and decided to re-sign Sanchez.
Sanchez got a five-year, $80 million deal from the Tigers (h/t Jerry Crasnick of ESPN). Throughout his career, Sanchez has a 3.75 ERA and a 110 ERA+. Those numbers don't merit $16 million a year, but the Tigers are not overpaying by much.
The Chicago Cubs came to an agreement with Ian Stewart for a one-year contract worth up to $2.5 million (h/t Associated Press via Boston Herald).
Stewart has failed to produce at a high level during the past two seasons, and he looks like a bench player at best at this point of his career.
The Tampa Bay Rays signed the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona to a one-year, $3.25 million contract (h/t Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times).
This deal is a bit of a head-scratcher, as the Rays already have a lot of starting pitching depth. Tampa Bay might use Roberto Hernandez as a reliever, but he may not make a good one considering the fact that he has a 4.64 ERA.
Building a strong bullpen is incredibly important for teams that are trying to reach the postseason. The San Francisco Giants are doing just that by retaining Santiago Casilla with a three-year, $15 million deal (h/t Associated Press via ESPN).
This is a fantastic deal for the Giants. Last season, Casilla emerged as the Giants closer after Brian Wilson's injury, and he saved 25 games for the team.
The Washington Nationals decided that they did not need John Lannan in their rotation for next season, and they non-tendered him. This makes sense given their pitching depth.
That move was the Philadelphia Phillies' gain. Philadelphia was able to sign Lannan to a one-year, $2.5 million deal (h/t Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post). This was a smart low-risk/high-reward signing by the Phillies.
Collin Cowgill profiles as a third or fourth outfielder in the major leagues. The New York Mets need outfield help, and making the deal will give them another option to choose from in 2013.
New York did not pay a big price for Cowgill, but the deal is not one that will lead it to a successful season (h/t Adam Berry of MLB.com).
New York Mets Grade: B
Jefry Marte has not had a high level of success in the minor leagues, but he does have a lot of potential. He is the type of player that could be boom or bust.
Marte reached Double-A as a 21-year-old last season, and it appears that he may play in Triple-A this year.
Oakland Athletics Grade: B
Shortstop was an area of concern for the Oakland Athletics during the 2012 season and they are hoping that they have found an answer to their problems for 2013.
The Oakland Athletics signed Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year, $6.5 million deal (h/t ESPN). There are certainly some concerns in regards to if Nakajima will be able to adjust to the MLB. His defense coudl be an issue for the Athletics.
When Stephen Drew is healthy, he has been an above average shortstop. The Boston Red Sox are betting that he will be able to play all year in 2013.
Boston is taking a risk and the Red Sox signed Drew to a one-year, $9.25 million deal (h/t Alex Speier of WEEI). If Drew produces at a high level like he has in the past, then this contract will be a bargain. However, there is a high potential of it being an albatross.
After suffering an elbow injury during the 2012 season, the New York Mets decided to non-tender Mike Pelfrey. The Minnesota Twins, a team searching for starting pitchers, signed Pelfrey to a one-year, $4 million deal (h/t Associated Press via ESPN).
While Pelfrey looked good in the three starts he made last season, he had been very inconsistent throughout his career. The Twins are taking a risk with this signing.
Mark Reynolds does two things often. He strikes out and he hits home runs. As long as Reynolds hits for power, teams can deal with his strikeouts.
The Cleveland Indians decided to sign Reynolds to a one-year, $6 million contract (h/t Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun). A move like this has some risk, but it is not a bad move by the Indians.
While Koji Uehara has had some ups and downs during his career in the major leagues, he has been a fairly solid reliever. Uehara has pitched for two teams in his career, and now he will be joining a third.
The Boston Red Sox signed Uehara to a one-year, $4.25 million deal (h/t Gordon Edes of ESPN). Last season, Uehara had a 1.75 ERA, and the Red Sox will be very happy if he puts up similar numbers.
Finding young power bats was one of the big goals for the Seattle Mariners this winter. They were able to pick one up by trading Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales (h/t Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times).
Morales slugged 22 home runs and drove in 73 runs in 2012. That is the type of production that the Mariners were missing last season.
Seattle Mariners Grade: A
Signing Josh Hamilton made a number of players on the Los Angeles Angels roster expendable, and Morales was one of them.
The Angels pitching staff needed improvement, and they were able to pick up someone that can make an impact for them. Vargas had one of the best years of his career in 2012 and had 14 wins and a 3.85 ERA.
Los Angeles Angels Grade: A
Ichiro Suzuki seemingly revitalized his career after he was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the New York Yankees during the 2012 season, so it makes sense that he wanted to return to the team.
Suzuki signed a two-year, $13 million deal with the Yankees (h/t Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York). While he should produce during the first year of the deal, Suzuki will be 40 in the final year of the contract.
In one of the minor deals of the week, the Houston Astros sent Rob Rasmussen to the Los Angeles Dodgers for John Ely (h/t Associated Press via Yahoo Sports).
Ely spent the most of the season in Triple-A and has had some success in at the major league level. He will get a chance to pitch in the majors with the Astros.
Houston Astros Grade: B+
In return for Ely, the Dodgers received Rasmussen. He is a young pitcher who had a 4.25 ERA between Single-A and Double-A last season.
Los Angeles Dodgers Grade: B-
One of the biggest problems for the Colorado Rockies in 2012 was their starting rotation. The Rockies have not made any major improvements to their rotation this winter.
Colorado re-signed Jeff Francis to a one-year, $1.5 million deal (h/t Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post). There should not be high expectations for Francis, who posted a 5.58 ERA last season.
Prior to the 2012 MLB trade deadline, Ryan Dempster was one of the most sought after pitchers on the market. It was the same case when he became a free agent this winter.
The Boston Red Sox ultimately ended up signing Dempster to a two-year, $26.5 million deal (h/t Gordon Edes of ESPN). Since 2008, Dempster has had a 3.74 ERA, which means the deal makes a lot of sense for Boston.
Bolstering the bullpen was an important thing for the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason, and they made sure they accomplished that goal by signing Mike Adams. They gave the reliever a two-year, $12 million deal (h/t Associated Press via ESPN).
In eight years in the major leagues, Adams has a career 2.28 ERA. It is hard to fault the Phillies for giving him six million dollars a year given his track record.
Placido Polanco has done a great job defensively during his time with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he has also been able to provide some value with the bat.
The Miami Marlins will be betting that Polanco can do the same for them in 2013. Miami signed Polanco to a one-year, $2.75 million deal (h/t Steven Wine of Associated Press via Yahoo). If Polanco starts the whole season, then this is a great signing.
The Chicago Cubs are in a rebuilding mode, and they should be looking towards the future. Improving their starting rotation is one of the biggest goals that they need to accomplish.
Following a season in which Jackson posted a 4.03 ERA, the Cubs decided to give him a four-year, $52 million deal (h/t Andrew Seligman of Associated Press via Yahoo). While Jackson is a good middle-of-the-rotation starter, giving him $13 million a year is a bit of an overpay.
This deal could end up working out well for the Cubs, but there is a good amount of risk involved in this contract.
After losing Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton to free agency, the Texas Rangers needed to find a catcher and a way to get more power into their lineup. They were able to accomplish both goals with one move.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the A.J. Pierzynski signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Rangers. Pierzynski is coming off of a season in which he hit 27 home runs. Considering that Pierzynski is being paid less than Russell Martin, the Rangers got a great deal.