The Tanaka sweepstakes have kept things from heating up on the free agent market since the last days in December, but with the official bids in, the market is starting to pick up again. There are just 21 days until pitchers and catchers report and for most teams around the league, there is still plenty of work to be done.
The Big Three
1: The Rays landed Logan Forsythe from the Padres on Tuesday, according to Chris Cotillo's original report. Alex Torres headlines the return for San Diego. Cotillo reported that a number of teams were interested in the 27-year-old Forsythe including the Yankees. The Rays should be a good fit for him though. In three seasons in the majors, Forysthe has seen time at second, third and shortstop and Tampa Bay is known for their ability to make the most of that type of positional flexibility. For the Padres, a package headlined by Torres looks like a strong return for the utility infielder. The 26-year-old lefty has beens developed as a starter, but has worked exclusively as a reliever in his 66 innings in the majors. His results in that role were very good last season. In 58 innings, he posted a 1.71 ERA with 62 strikeouts.
2. It's arbitration season and the Braves are a "file and trial" club, which means they will take any player who doesn't sign before the filing date straight to arbitration, no stopping at Go, no collecting $200. It doesn't matter if you are a young star like Jason Heyward and the gap between your filing number and the team's filing number is just $300,000, as Tyler Drenon points out. Going in front of the arbitrator means coming up with a list of reasons why a player you developed and promoted to the majors and handed a meaningful role to doesn't deserve the figure he is asking for, so it isn't exactly the best way to maintain a healthy relationship with your young stars, but hey, there is $300,000 on the line here! With that money, the Braves could almost pay the league minimum for a whole other player. Almost.
3. Don't call it a comeback! Ok, wait, you actually should call it a comeback. That is totally what it is. Bobby Abreu is back with the Phillies. The 39-year-old signed a minor league deal with his former club after sitting out the 2013 season. Abreu is just depth for the Phillies at this point, but would be interesting to see what he could in the majors at this late stage of his career. Abreu was somewhat underrated at his peak and his combination of speed, power and patience made him better than many people might remember. However, by the time he was finished, only the patience really remained. In 2012, he hit .242/.350/.342 in 257 plate appearances with the Dodgers and Angels, which was just a hair below league average by wRC+. That would have made him the third best hitter among the 13 players to see time in the Phillies outfield in 2013, however.
In Other News...
1. Everyone is obsessing over Masahiro Tanaka, but the uncertainty around him is still huge. Will he be the next Darvish or the next Daisuke? Michael Clair addressed the issues that face pitchers coming over from Japan head on to come up with some idea of what Tanaka's numbers might look next season.
2. The Phillies added Chad Gaudin on a minor league deal. Gaudin will get a chance to stick with the Phillies as a swingman this spring. Gaudin had a strong season with the Giants last season, posting a 3.06 ERA in 97 innings working a starter and a reliever for San Francisco. His ERA was significantly aided by the effects the Giants' home park, however and his 38 percent groundball rate was one of the lowest in the game, which may have caused teams to take a skeptical view of his numbers. Citizen's Bank Park isn't the ideal place for him, but he should have decent chance at sticking with the Phillies, given their lack of strong options at the back of their rotation and in their bullpen.
The Northeast got buried by winter storm Janus yesterday, with snowfall reaching up 15 inches in parts of New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Snow and wind will continue to make life hard for folks in Eastern New England and out on Long Island today, but as miserable as the weather might make those of us stuck digging out cars and plowing driveways, it is a godsend to hundreds of thousands of kids who didn't super-finish book reports, science fair projects or algebra homework. For those kids, Wednesday will mean sledding and snowmen and snowball fights. I'll be trying to keep them in mind as I'm standing out in the freezing cold strapping ice off my windshield.