- The Giants got us started last week with a big-ticket trade: starter Jonathan Sanchez and minor-league (AA) pitcher Ryan Verdugo went to the Royals for 27-year-old outfielder Melky Cabrera. Cabrera will most likely play center field for San Francisco, and while he’s been inconsistent in the past, he had a breakout year offensively in 2011. Lefty Sanchez struggled this season, particularly with his control.
- It sounded like the Phillies and their closer Ryan Madson were close to a hefty deal, but the agreement fell through, leaving the Phillies free to sign Red Sox hot-shot Jonathan Papelbon. The deal is for 4 years and $50 million, with an option for a fifth year – a huge amount of money for a reliever. This is one of those deals that could go really really right, or could end up being a cautionary tale.
- The Pirates signed catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year, $4 million deal with an option for a second year. The Dodgers get a draft pick in return for losing Barajas, who was a type-B free agent.
- Willie Bloomquist re-signed with the Diamondbacks for 2 years/$3.8 million, but apparently had a better offer from the Giants at one point. Bloomquist is expected to continue filling a utility role, especially since…
- The Diamondbacks re-signed second baseman Aaron Hill. After heading to Arizona in August, Hill put up a gaudy .315/.386/.492 slash line, landing him a 2-year, $11 million deal.
- Dodgers middle infielder Jamey Carroll has signed with the Twins for 2 years/$7 million, with a $2 million option for 2014. Carroll hit .290/.359/.347 in 2011 and is 37 years old.
Here’s who to keep your eye on:
- Albert Pujols has, of course, been linked to a number of teams. According to Jon Heyman, the Cardinals are not expected to increase their 9-year, $210 million offer by much (yet).
- The newly-renamed Miami Marlins have been aggressively pursuing big-name free agents, including Pujols, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle. Beat writer Joe Frisaro is skeptical that Miami’s offer would be enough to actually entice Pujols, and thinks it far more likely that the Fish grab Reyes.
- Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes made quite the splash with his showcase video, earning attention from most of the bigger-market teams (including – surprise! – the Marlins, who gave him a private workout). Common wisdom seems to be that he could command as much as $30 million on the free-agent market.