While the biggest names in free agency signed a little early this year, the 3PM cycle still saw lots of activity and significant names. Here's the rundown:
Philadelphia signs RP Felipe Jose for 4 years, $38MM
Analysis: Guess this is the guy jclark was referring to. Expensive indeed, but good - career ERA of 3.39 and OPS-against well under .700. He's never been stretched out to 140 IP but could probably get there. I don't think Philly can challenge in the even-tougher NL East this year, but they will be improved...80-85 wins?
Arizona signs RP Alex Leach for 3 years, $13MM ($10MM of it a bonus)
Analysis: Leach has produced much better number than his ratings might predict (especially the 59 and 63 splits), and I'm not sure why. He's only thrown 361 innings in his career (even though he could probably reach 150-160 in a season if pressed), suggesting his managers have used him carefully. He's had a couple of low-inning blowup seasons, but has performed well when given regular work (all of the last 3 seasons under 3.00 ERA with 72, 53, and 71 innings). Not sure how mbriese will use him, but he may have snagged a hidden gem here.
Arizona signs Ricardo Profar for 2 years, $6.6MM
Analysis: Back in AZ after 1 mediocre campaign in Pittsburgh. He may have a tough time breaking into Arizona's crowded 1B/DH/OF rotation, although he can still run at age 33, so he fits the plan. Currently in the minor-league camp, although I think they'll make room for him.
Kansas City signs SP Alex Martin for 5 years, $51MM
Analysis: Not a bad contract for a guy coming off elbow surgery. Martin has been a good pitcher - a number of 14 and 15-win seasons and a 3.83 career ERA - and will have more good seasons. This is about the expected price in FA for a pitcher of this caliber.
New York Mets sign P Garret Ward for 3 years, $50.4MM
Analysis: The nature of "arms races" is that both sides just keep adding more weapons regardless of the cost and regardless of the benefit. The Mets and Pirates have entered an arms race in which both have acquired way more weapons than they need for success. Long-term, the Mets will outlast the Pirates - they simply have a younger talent core - but I wonder if their over-acquiring on Ward (and more especially, Rodrigo Cortes for 5 years, $54.2MM) will hurt their competitiveness against the more efficiently-spending Reds, Braves, Cardinals (and whatever others emerge over the next couple of seasons).
Whatever happens will be fun. The Mets now have 12 pitchers on the big club, and given that they'll get about 800 innings from their front 3 (out of about 1450 a 162-game season needs) there are a lot of surplus innings lying around. Will they go with only 3 starters and play a lot of lefty/righty matchups with their 9 (very good) remaining pitchers? With only 13 position players they'll be wasting some good pinch-hit opportunities. More likely, they'll continue to use 5 starters and use Ward and Young as long/middle relief.
Detroit signs 2B/OF Dennis Nakajima for 5 years, $53MM
Analysis: Nakajima was far and away the best position player left on the last cycle, and the Tigers came away the winners. Despite never winning a major award (or even making an All-Star game), Nakajima has been one of Major Leagues' best-hitting infielders for 11 years. I don't think the Tigers are going to like the last 2 years of his contract very much (his age 36 and 37 seasons), but they can walk away from the last year for $3MM.
Pittsburgh signs SP Dick Pederson for 2 years, $9.2MM
Analysis: The Pirates signed Pederson for 2 reasons: 1) Insurance against a pitching injury, and 2) A couple of potential (short) appearances in a Mets playoff series to face lefty hitters. That's a pretty expensive 5-inning lefty specialist, but that's the nature of arms races.
Houston signs RP Corey Montgomery for 2 years, $6.2MM
Analysis: A bargain compared to the prices of other middle relievers in this free agency
Detroit signs OF/1B Lou Owen for 2 years, $6.7MM
Analysis: A solid bargain among the normally high-priced A and B FA's, he looks like he'll share time at 1B with Esmailyn Rodriguez
Chicago White Sox sign 3B Daniel Harper for 2 years, $7.8MM
Analysis: Backup 3B and OF duty. The Sox didn't have a very good season last year, but this is the same core group (older to be sure) that won 100+ games every year from Seasons 30-35. Don't count them out.
Chicago White Sox sign OF Walker Cather for 1 year, $3.65MM
Analysis: Another nice budget deal for the Pale Hose. Cather's nearing the end of the line, but still OPS'd .812 (above his career average) for Tampa Bay last year. The Sox would be overjoyed with .750.
Washington D.C. signs 1B Vin Almonte for 1 year, $1.95MM
Analysis: Somewhere between a pure backup at 1B and half the vR platoon AB's, depending on how well incumbent 1B Floyd Purcell handled RHP (.735 OPS against RHP last year...not quite up to what you want from a 1B)
Kansas City signs OF Roberto Ramirez for 2 years, $6.8MM
Analysis: Formerly the Twins' primary scatback, Ramirez has 742 career SB's (just outside the top 5 all-time). His role is unclear at this point - I can't see him unseating Tamura in LF or Donald in RF.
Philadelphia signs RP Yamil Mercado for 2 years, $8.8MM
Analysis: Third big-innings middle reliever the Phils have signed in FA...some kind of crazy, Minnesota-like pitching scheme coming?
San Diego signs C Joel Dorsey for 1 year, $1.3MM
Analysis: Another player who fits the ballpark - high contact and eye, not much power. Dorsey figures to be the vL catcher.
Oakland signs SP Lonny Rincon for 2 year, $5MMPretty good price for a guy expected to be around a 4.00 ERA, although the ballpark may push him south of that.