MLB Winter Meetings 2014 Day 4: Analyzing Impact of All the Latest Deals, Rumors

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2014

MLB Winter Meetings 2014 Day 4: Analyzing Impact of All the Latest Deals, Rumors

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    The final day of the 2014 MLB winter meetings kicked off with a bang, as the San Diego Padres acquired outfielder Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers early Thursday morning, and the hot stove proceeded to explode from there.

    When all was said and done an impressive mix of blockbuster trades and free-agent signings went down on Day 4 of the meetings, as it was one of the busiest 24-hour stretches in recent memory.

    Now that the dust has settled on the chaos that was Thursday in San Diego, let's take a little closer look at all of the biggest deals and rumors from the final day of this year's winter meetings.

Padres Acquire RF Matt Kemp from the Dodgers for C Yasmani Grandal, Prospects

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Source: Dennis Lin and Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune

    To Padres: RF Matt Kemp, C Tim Federowicz, $32 Million

    After missing a combined 145 games between 2012 and 2013 while dealing with a myriad of injuries, Matt Kemp finally stayed healthy last season, and he enjoyed a bounce-back year.

    His overall numbers were still a far cry from his 2011 production, as he finished the year hitting .287/.346/.506 with 38 doubles, 25 home runs and 89 RBI.

    However, he really hit his stride in the second half when he hit .309/.365/.606 with an NL-high 17 home runs and 54 RBI.

    Kemp gives the Padres the power bat and the star quality they were in desperate need of, and with the Dodgers chipping in $32 million in the deal he comes at the reasonable cost of $15 million annually over the next five years.

    Catcher Tim Federowicz has bounced back and forth between Triple-A and the majors the past several seasons, and he gives the Padres some catching depth to make up for the loss of Yasmani Grandal in the deal.

    The 27-year-old hit .328/.383/.555 with 26 doubles and 14 home runs in 299 at-bats in Triple-A last year, so there is certainly some offensive potential there.

    To Dodgers: C Yasmani Grandal, SP Joe Wieland, SP Zach Eflin

    The motivating factor in the Dodgers moving Kemp stemmed from the $75 million they saved in the deal coupled with what has been an ongoing logjam in the outfield.

    That said, they got a solid return of players.

    Catcher Yasmani Grandal posted a .728 OPS with 19 doubles and 15 home runs in 377 at-bats for the Padres last season as one of the few bright spots for them offensively, and he represents a significant upgrade over A.J. Ellis at the plate.

    Right-hander Joe Wieland missed all of 2013 and most of 2014 following a pair of elbow surgeries, but the 24-year-old still has tremendous upside to be a front-line arm.

    The other prospect in the deal, 20-year-old Zach Eflin, is likely headed to the Philadelphia Phillies in the Jimmy Rollins trade, according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.

SP Rick Porcello to Red Sox, LF Yoenis Cespedes to Tigers

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Source: Jason Beck of MLB.com

    To Detroit: LF Yoenis Cespedes, RP Alex Wilson, SP Gabe Speier

    Looking for a corner outfield bat to replace departed veteran Torii Hunter, the Detroit Tigers added slugger Yoenis Cespedes to a middle of the order that already includes Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez.

    Cespedes is just a .263/.316/.464 hitter for his career, but he has averaged 24 home runs and 87 RBI over his three seasons in the league, and right-handed power is undoubtedly in short supply right now.

    He will earn $10.5 million in the final year of his current contract, and it remains to be seen if the Tigers will make an effort to lock the 29-year-old up long term.

    The Tigers also acquired a pair of right-handed pitchers in the deal in Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier.

    Wilson, 28, began his career as a starter but transitioned to the bullpen in 2012. He posted a 4.35 ERA and 8.7 K/9 in 35 appearances in Triple-A last season and had an impressive 1.91 ERA in 18 games out of the Boston Red Sox bullpen.

    Speier, 19, was impressive in limited action at the Rookie League level in 2014 with a 1.55 ERA and 0.793 WHIP in 29 innings of work. He gives the Tigers a young arm with some upside to replace the recently traded Jonathon Crawford down on the farm.

    To Boston: SP Rick Porcello

    He's not quite an ace, but Rick Porcello is still a significant addition to the Boston Red Sox rotation as the team looks to build around its already improved offensive attack.

    The 25-year-old already has six big league seasons under his belt, as he has gone 76-63 with a 4.30 ERA (4.03 FIP) and 1.359 WHIP for the Tigers since being taken with the No. 27 pick in the 2007 draft.

    Porcello enjoyed a breakout season in 2014, going 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA (3.67 FIP) and 1.231 WHIP while leading the AL with three shutouts and throwing a career-high 204.2 innings.

    The right-hander is entering a contract year and is projected to earn a hefty $12.2 million in his final year of arbitration, according to projections by Matt Swartz and MLB Trade Rumors (via MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes).

    Ideally the Red Sox would still find an ace-caliber arm to front their staff, with Porcello slotted in the No. 2 or No. 3 spot in the rotation, so we'll see what the Red Sox have on tap the remainder of the offseason.

Tigers Acquire SP Alfredo Simon from the Reds for Prospects

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    John Sommers II/Getty Images

    Source: Jason Beck of MLB.com

    To Detroit: SP Alfredo Simon

    The Detroit Tigers moved quickly to find a replacement for Rick Porcello, landing right-hander Alfredo Simon in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds.

    Simon was forced into the rotation to open last season when Mat Latos was sidelined after making 63 appearances out of the bullpen in 2013 and posting a 2.87 ERA as one of the better long relievers in the game.

    The 33-year-old made the most of his opportunity, going 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA in the first half of the season to earn a surprise trip to the All-Star Game.

    Luck seemed to catch up with him in the second half, though, as he went just 3-7 with a 4.52 ERA in 14 starts after the break.

    The Tigers will be hoping to get more of the first-half version of Simon, but a 4.33 FIP and .269 BABIP last season suggest his second-half performance may be closer to what they can expect in 2015.

    He's undoubtedly a downgrade from Porcello; that much is certain.

    To Cincinnati: SS Eugenio Suarez, SP Jonathon Crawford

    Incumbent Reds shortstop Zack Cozart was one of the best defensive shortstops in the game last year, but his offense left a lot to be desired. His .568 OPS was the lowest among the 147 players who qualified for the batting title in 2014.

    With that in mind, acquiring 23-year-old shortstop Eugenio Suarez in the deal makes sense for the Reds, as at the very least it gives them someone who could potentially push Cozart.

    Suarez hit .288/.360/.510 in 198 at-bats in the minors last season and held his own after getting the call-up to Detroit, hitting .242/.316/.336 with 14 extra-base hits in 244 at-bats.

    He still has some upside offensively and is already an above-average defender, so he could wind up being the long-term replacement for Cozart.

    The steal here is that the Reds were also able to acquire right-hander Jonathon Crawford in the deal, as he was regarded by most as the top pitching prospect in the Tigers' system.

    The 2013 first-round pick went 8-3 with a 2.85 ERA and 1.163 WHIP over 123 innings in Single-A. If he can develop his changeup into a plus-third pitch he has the potential to be a front-line starter, or his current fastball-slider combination would play well at the back end of the bullpen.

    It's obviously too soon to judge this deal, but on the surface it looks like the Reds are big winners here.

    They flipped a 33-year-old who is headed for free agency and regressed badly after a smoke-and-mirrors first half for a potential long-term option shortstop and a 23-year-old pitching prospect with big upside.

Marlins Acquire SP Mat Latos from the Reds for Prospects

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Source: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports

    To Marlins: SP Mat Latos

    Alfredo Simon was not the only starter the Cincinnati Reds shipped out on Thursday, as another of their upcoming free agents in Mat Latos was also dealt to the Miami Marlins.

    Latos joins a rotation in Miami that already features Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart, Nathan Eovaldi and Tom Koehler and is expected to have ace Jose Fernandez back from Tommy John surgery by midseason.

    The Marlins also recently acquired veteran Dan Haren from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Dee Gordon trade, but Haren has said in the past that he would retire if he were traded anywhere but the Angels, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

    Latos, 27, was limited to just 16 starts last season after missing the first 66 games of the season recovering from knee surgery. He had pitched at least 180 innings in each of the previous four seasons, though, and has the workhorse build at 6'6" and 245 pounds.

    The career numbers are great for Latos, as he is 60-45 with a 3.34 ERA, 1.168 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9 and 8.1 K/9 in 153 starts.

    It's worth noting that his velocity was down last season, with his fastball sitting at 90.7 mph after averaging 92.6 the previous two seasons, according to FanGraphs.

    However, with the knee surgery behind him and a full spring training ahead, there is no reason to think that won't bounce back in 2015.

    To Reds: SP Anthony DeSclafani, C Chad Wallach

    In right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, the Reds get a pitcher who could immediately step into a rotation spot and could have a lengthy big league career ahead of him.

    The 24-year-old had a 6.27 ERA in 33 big league innings last season but was 6-7 with a 3.78 ERA and 1.212 WHIP in the minors after opening the season as the No. 5 prospect in the Marlins system, according to Baseball America.

    His future will hinge on the continued development of his changeup, but if he can turn it into a quality third pitch, he could be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter for a long time.

    The second piece heading to Cincinnati in the deal was catching prospect Chad Wallach, who came out of nowhere to turn in a terrific 2014 season.

    Not even ranked among the team's top 30 prospects, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, Wallach hit .322/.431/.457 with 30 extra-base hits in 335 at-bats in his first taste of full-season ball.

    The 2013 fifth-round pick is already 23, so it will be important for him to make a quick transition to the upper minors. But catching prospects with offensive upside are always intriguing.

    Flipping Latos was a must this offseason, and the Reds managed to get an immediate replacement for him and potential long-term replacement in DeSclafani. Anything Wallach can give them will be icing on the cake.

Royals Sign DH Kendrys Morales

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Source: Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports

    Contract Terms: two years, $17 million plus $1.5 million in incentives

    After sitting in qualified-offer limbo until June 8 last season, Kendrys Morales wasted little time finding a new home this time around, joining the Kansas City Royals on a two-year deal.

    The 31-year-old struggled to get into the swing of things last season once he finally signed with the Minnesota Twins, and all told he finished the 2014 season hitting .218/.274/.338 with 20 doubles, eight home runs and 42 RBI in 367 at-bats.

    That after a solid 2013 season in which he hit .277/.336/.449 with 34 doubles, 23 home runs and 80 RBI while playing for the Seattle Mariners.

    The Royals were in desperate need of some additional power after ranking last in the majors with just 95 home runs as a team this past season, and Morales gives them a switch-hitter with plus pop.

    Like former Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, Morales is probably best served as a DH-only guy at this point in his career, though he is capable of playing some first base.

    Best-case scenario, Morales outproduces what Butler puts up this coming season in Oakland, and he does it for cheaper than if the team had exercised its $12.5 million option on Butler.

Red Sox Sign SP Justin Masterson

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Source: Rob Bradford of WEEI.com

    Contract Terms: one-year, $9.5 million plus incentives

    Justin Masterson was one of the biggest breakout stars of the 2013 season, as he went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA, 1.202 WHIP and 195 strikeouts in 193 innings, making his first All-Star appearance in the process.

    A big payday looked to be just around the corner after that performance, but the 2014 season proved to be a disaster for the right-hander, and he wound up having to settle for a one-year deal this offseason.

    The right-hander went a combined 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA and 1.632 WHIP between Cleveland and St. Louis this past season, and he was left off the Cardinals' postseason roster when the playoff rolled around.

    That said, there is plenty of reason to believe the 29-year-old could be in for a bounce-back season, and that's what the Boston Red Sox are banking on.

    His 4.50 FIP, a strong 58.2 percent ground-ball rate and an overly high 14.6 percent HR/FB ratio, per FanGraphs, all indicate some positive regression to come, and at the very least the Red Sox hope he can be a solid No. 5 starter.

    It's a win-win for both sides. Masterson will get plenty of exposure in Boston as he looks to rebuild some value for a run at a big contract next offseason, while the Red Sox are not taking that big of a risk at $9.5 million, and the reward could be huge.

Cardinals Sign 1B/3B Mark Reynolds

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    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Source: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Contract Terms: one-year, $2 million plus incentives

    Having already added Jason Heyward to shore up right field and both Jordan Walden and Matt Belisle to solidify the bullpen, the Cardinals' biggest area of need heading into the winter meetings was to improve the bench.

    Specifically, they were looking for a right-handed corner infielder who could platoon with Matt Adams at first base. Adams hit just .190/.231/.298 in 121 at-bats against lefties last season.

    Power bats on the free-agent market were few and far between, but the Cardinals found a guy who could be a perfect fit in Mark Reynolds.

    Reynolds had 22 home runs in 378 at-bats last season. And he was 3-for-13 with a home run as a pinch hitter, so he should be able to provide some pop off the bench.

    More importantly, he has a career .809 OPS against left-handed pitching, with a .351 on-base percentage against southpaws compared to just .314 against righties.

    He's going to strike out a ton, and it's probably best for everyone if he doesn't see any time at third base defensively. But for $2 million he could be a cheap source for 10-15 home runs in a limited role.

Twins Sign SP Ervin Santana

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Source: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports

    Contract Terms: four-year, $54 million plus $14 million option with $1 million buyout

    After Kendrys Morales signed earlier Thursday, another player who was hindered by a qualifying offer last offseason signed at the winter meetings when Ervin Santana came to terms on a four-year deal with the Minnesota Twins.

    Santana did not sign with the Atlanta Braves until March 12 last year. But he helped carry their rotation through the first few months of the season, and he finished the year 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA (3.39 FIP) and 179 strikeouts in 196 innings.

    The 31-year-old turned down a qualifying offer once again at the start of this offseason, but it proved to be the right decision this time around, as he will make at least $55 million over the next four years and could earn up to $68 million over five years.

    For the Twins, this is the second straight offseason they have spent on pitching, after they signed Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes last winter.

    Despite a terrific season from Hughes, those additions did little to solidify the rotation, as they ranked dead last in starter ERA for the second straight season with a disastrous 5.06 mark.

    Santana joins a group of incumbents that includes Nolasco, Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone and Mike Pelfrey as the Twins look to stay competitive in a quickly improving AL Central division.

News and Notes

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Here's a handful of other notable transactions and rumors:

    • The Chicago White Sox acquired lefty reliever Dan Jennings (47 G, 1.34 ERA in 2014) from the Miami Marlins in exchange for 26-year-old right-hander Andre Rienzo (18 G, 11 GS, 4-5, 6.82 ERA in 2014), according to the Marlins.
    • The Detroit Tigers designated right-hander Melvin Mercedes for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster after their trades Thursday, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. The 24-year-old was ranked as the team's No. 16 prospect heading into last season, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, and should be scooped up quickly.
    • A total of 13 players were taken in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft, with Tampa Bay Rays catching prospect Oscar Hernandez being taken No. 1 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. A full list of selections is here.
    • The San Francisco Giants are considering Asdrubal Cabrera to fill the hole at third base, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Most other teams are looking at him as a second baseman, so there's a good chance his days as a shortstop are over.
    • Dayan Viciedo is reportedly on the Seattle Mariners' radar as they continue to look for a corner outfielder, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com. The White Sox are said to be looking for a reliever in return.
    • A swap of Nathan Eovaldi and Pedro Alvarez between the Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates has been thrown around in the past, and it could be revisited as the Marlins continue to look for a left-handed hitting first baseman, according to Tom Singer of MLB.com.
    • Perhaps the biggest trade rumor of the day is that the Mariners are in talks with the Washington Nationals to acquire shortstop Ian Desmond, per Jim Bowden of ESPN. Once again the M's are hesitant to include Taijuan Walker or James Paxton, one of which would almost certainly have to be included for the Nationals to agree to a deal.

    Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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