Grading All the Latest MLB Offseason Signings, Trades

Joe Giglio@@JoeGiglioSportsContributor IDecember 18, 2013

Grading All the Latest MLB Offseason Signings, Trades

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    The Major League Baseball offseason is never quiet. 

    As the sport waits for the next major shoe to drop, Shin-Soo Choo, David Price and Masahiro Tanaka's destination for the 2014 season still remains uncertain. If you were napping while waiting for major news to hit, a busy day of action in the free-agent and trade market commenced. 

    Luckily, the Bleacher Report MLB team didn't miss any of the action. 

    The following nine moves may seem minor but could impact pennant races in 2014.

    How did the active teams fare when it came to making under-the-radar moves? The following is an attempt to grade each move on a busy day of hot-stove action.

    *All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted. 

Eric Chavez Re-Signs with Diamondbacks

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    Deal: 3B Eric Chavez re-signs with the Diamondbacks, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

    In a part-time role, Chavez was a no-brainer for Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers. Last year, across 254 plate appearances, the former Oakland Athletics star posted an .810 OPS and drove in 44 runs. 

    Since the start of the 2012 season, Chavez has hit as well, or better, than some of the best third basemen in the sport. Among third basemen with at least 500 plate appearances across the last two seasons (a criteria Chavez barely makes), the 36-year-old has the eighth highest OPS+ in baseball, per Baseball-Reference (subscription required).

    Among the players below him on that list: Ryan Zimmerman, Pedro Alvarez and Alex Rodriguez

    Grade: B+

Braves Acquire Ryan Doumit

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    Deal: Braves trade LHP Sean Gilmartin to the Twins for C/OF Ryan Doumit, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. 

    This one is a head-scratcher for both sides.

    After inking both Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, the Twins signaled a desire to play more competitive baseball in 2014. Moving Doumit, a versatile, power-hitting lineup cog, for a minor league pitcher with a 4.23 career ERA won't help the team this season.

    In the aftermath of Brian McCann's free-agent departure to the New York Yankees, Atlanta seemed poised to turn the full-time catching duties over to Evan Gattis. Now, Doumit arrives as a possible platoon partner or part-time outfielder.

    The deal is better for Atlanta, especially with its status as an NL contender. Doumit isn't worth much but can hit for power in the event of an injury to an outfielder or Gattis. 

    Braves Grade: B-

    Twins Grade: C-

Angels Sign Raul Ibanez

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    Deal: Angels sign OF Raul Ibanez to a one-year, $2.75 million deal, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register

    Mark Trumbo's replacement has arrived in Los Angeles.

    Despite the difference in age (41 to 27), Raul Ibanez and Mark Trumbo were remarkably similar hitters during the 2013 season. In fact, a case can be made that the Angels improved their offense by replacing the recently traded Trumbo with Ibanez.

    Last year, Ibanez had a better walk rate, struck out less and posted a superior wRC+ and wOBA (weighted on-base average), per FanGraphs.

    If the 41-year-old can stave off Father Time for one more year, the Angels have a consistent slugger on their hands.

    Grade: B+

Padres Ink Joaquin Benoit

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Deal: Padres sign RHP Joaquin Benoit to a two-year deal for $15.5 million, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports

    In an attempt to compete in 2014, the Padres have revamped their bullpen with the acquisition of Benoit. 

    Despite his former team, Detroit, choosing to move in a different direction, Benoit is a fit for any bullpen in baseball. As pointed out here, the 36-year-old right-hander owns one of the best ERAs among relievers over the last four years.

    Benoit's age is the only downside to the deal. If he can stay effective over the life of the two-year contract, this grade could turn out to be even better.

    Grade: B+

Rockies Trade for Franklin Morales

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    Deal: Red Sox trade LHP Franklin Morales and RHP Chris Martin to Rockies for IF Jonathan Herrera, per Thomas Harding of

    If this swap sounds familiar, your mind isn't playing tricks on you. Two years after a Rockies-Red Sox swap landed the left-handed Morales in Boston, he's back in Colorado.

    When healthy, Morales is a valuable piece. In 2012, he posted a 3.77 ERA over 76.1 innings for the Red Sox.

    From the Red Sox perspective, the acquisition of Herrera, a utility infielder, could signal the end of Stephen Drew's free-agent dance with the team.

    Rockies Grade: B-

    Red Sox Grade: C+ 

Rockies Send Josh Outman to Indians for Drew Stubbs

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    Deal: Rockies trade LHP Josh Outman to the Indians for OF Drew Stubbs, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

    This profiled as the easiest deal of the day to understand.

    Colorado, after trading away center fielder Dexter Fowler and signing left-handed reliever Boone Logan to a free-agent deal, needed outfield depth and had a lefty to spare.

    Cleveland, after signing David Murphy, had a surplus in the outfield. Along with Murphy, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Michael Brantley and Ryan Raburn can all play various outfield positions, per MLB Depth Charts.

    Outman, after holding opposing left-handed batters to a .539 OPS in 2013, can form a dynamic duo in Terry Francona's bullpen along with Marc Rzepczynski.

    Rockies Grade: B+

    Indians Grade: A

Orioles, Royals Swap David Lough and Danny Valencia

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    Deal: Royals trade OF David Lough to Orioles for IF Danny Valencia, per Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. 

    Much like the Rockies-Indians swap, this deal benefits both parties equally. 

    After losing Nate McLouth in free agency, Baltimore effectively replaces its fourth outfielder with the 27-year-old Lough. As a rookie in 2013, Lough hit .286 while playing excellent defense for Kansas City. 

    Kansas City may have found the perfect roster component to help maximize Mike Moustakas' effectiveness. By platooning him with the lefty-mashing Valencia, the Royals could boast tremendous overall numbers from the third base position.

    Valencia has a .329 career average against lefties, while Moustakas has hit only .222 against southpaws in his career. 

    Orioles Grade: B

    Royals Grade: A-

Franklin Gutierrez Re-Signs with Mariners

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    Deal: Mariners sign OF Franklin Gutierrez to a one-year deal for $1 million in base salary, per Greg Johns of The Seattle Times.

    Over the last two years, Gutierrez has played in a grand total of 81 games for the Mariners, making him one of the least-reliable commodities in the sport.

    Since bursting onto the scene with a huge 2009 (6.6 bWAR, 18 HR, 70 RBI), the 30-year-old hasn't approached those numbers. 

    His excellent defense is a plus but not enough to warrant a guaranteed roster spot for a team attempting to contend. 

    Grade: C-

Marlins Sign Casey McGehee from Japan

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    Deal: Marlins sign 1B/3B Casey McGehee to a one-year deal for $1.1 million, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

    After back-to-back seasons of very good OPS+ figures in 2009 and 2010 (126, 114), McGehee became a very poor offensive performer in 2011 and 2012, failing to crack a league-average OPS+ in either season.

    Now, with a year in Japan under his belt, he's back as a member of the Miami Marlins. Assuming the deal is at a very small cost to Miami, it's hard to imagine a big regret following.

    It's also hard to imagine much impact off McGehee's bat in 2014.

    Grade: D

    What will be remembered as the most important move of the day? 

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