Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Twins, Rays, NL East Moves Highlight Offseason

It's hard to say which team has been shaking things up the most in this wild and woolly off season, but there are numerous contenders.  In no order of anything:

Twins:  pulled the first non-shocker by signing 3-time Cy Young winner Vincenzo Smalley to a $110MM max deal.  They got Smalley a new catcher (lifetime .319 hitter Eddie Williams) by sending reliever Claude Brand to St. Louis.  And while rumors don't count, they're supposedly in contention for the soon-to-be-very-expensive services of Rafael Santiago.  Santiago or not, they're not done.  And don't forget Stretch Carver.

Rays: getting notice for the number of significant transactions - 3 Type A free agents so far.  They started with 3-time All Star OF Roosevelt Tollberg, and gussied up the bullpen with Virgil Morales and Haywood Truman.  They also appear to be on the hunt for more additions.

NL East:  Last year's toughest division continues to bring in talent.  D.C. started the action with the blockbuster trade for 3B Max Gutierrez (Season 18 AL MVP, multiple other hardwares), sending OF Paul Henderson, DH prospect Diego James and defensive whiz Adam Shipley to Boston.  The Phillies kept pace by inking former Cy Young Winner Norm Long (3 years, $24 million), former Met Luis Cruz (2 years, $10.2 million), bullpen ace Einar Duran (4 years, $23.2 million), and Mr. "I never get paid but I always produce" (3 WS rings with 3 different teams), Dean Darensbourg.  The Mets offset the loss of Smalley with a big contract for Reid Jordan (5 years, $70million), upgraded an OF spot with Roberto Rodriguez (3 years, $18.3 million), and landed a defensive catcher in  Collin Womack (1 year, $2.4 million).  Finally, the Pirates, although not as splashy as their division mates, added a pair of Type A bats and have been prominent in trade rumors.

Other "noisy" off seasons include Atlanta, with 2 Type A lefty hitters and a Type B SP; Nashville, Cincinnati and Toronto, with 3 Type B signings apiece; and of course Boston, which instead of getting a couple of possibly-useless draft picks for Gutierrez, picks up a solid OF, a sterling defensive IF, and a stud DH prospect.**

Tune in here for exclusive coverage of the signing-day press conferences of Rafael Santiago, Benito Andujar, Louie Young, and Bobby Ray Dixon.

** Apologies if I left out anyone with especially active off seasons.  Let me know and we'll do a QuickHit.

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