Day Three of the Winter Meetings was yet another wild one on the rumor front.
Of course, most of the chatter was dedicated to the ongoing negotiations regarding free agent first baseman Albert Pujols. When the day began, it appeared this was a two-team race between the Cardinals and the Marlins. However, by the time most turned in for the night, the Marlins were out of the mix while the Cardinals, Angels and a third unidentified team were still left standing. Yes, a mystery team. What's worse, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that there's "no shot" Pujols will be ready to make a decision in the near future. All those wasted Tweets.
Be sure to keep it locked to our player news page and HardballTalk on NBCSports.com for all the latest Hot Stove news. We have the Winter Meetings covered from every angle.
The Marlins Reel In Mark Buehrle
While the Marlins bowed out of the Albert Pujols sweepstakes on Wednesday, they did make another big addition by signing left-hander Mark Buehrle to a four-year, $58 million contract.
Buehrle, who turns 33 in March, posted a 3.59 ERA and 109/45 K/BB ratio in 205 1/3 innings over 31 starts this past season. One of the most durable starters in the game, the veteran southpaw has surpassed 200 innings in 11 consecutive seasons. And as our own Aaron Gleeman notes, Marlins' starters have topped 200 innings just 13 times during the very same time span. Try to wrap your head around that.
Fantasy owners shouldn't expect any miracles now that Buehrle has followed Ozzie Guillen to South Florida, but he figures to benefit by making the switch to the National League. Also keep in mind that the new Marlins' ballpark at least "looks" pretty favorable for pitchers. The strikeouts won't be there, but he's worth a late-round flier in most mixed leagues.
The Padres Have Found a Closer
The Padres secured their replacement for Heath Bell on Wednesday, landing Huston Street from the Rockies for a player to be named later.
Street posted a career-high 3.86 ERA over 62 appearances with the Rockies this season and became expendable in Colorado due to the emergence of Rafael Betancourt in the closer role. However, he still managed an impressive 55/9 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 innings and most of the damage to his ERA was due to the fact that he allowed a career-high 10 home runs.
The good news is that Street will now be calling the pitcher-friendly PETCO Park home. The 28-year-old right-hander is entering the final year of a three-year, $22.5 million contract, so he's in the perfect position to boost his value going into free agency next offseason.
Of course, the Padres don't exactly have the look of a contender, so Street could function as trade-bait at the deadline next year. That wouldn't stop us from drafting him in mixed leagues, though. He should prove to be an excellent value pick among fantasy closers.
K-Rod, Big Papi and Kelly Johnson Accept Arbitration Offers
The deadline for free agents to accept arbitration offers was midnight on Wednesday and only three elected to do so: David Ortiz, Francisco Rodriguez and Kelly Johnson.
Drew Silva went over Ortiz's situation in detail yesterday, so we'll focus on Rodriguez and Johnson for the purposes of this column.
K-Rod hoped to find a lucrative multi-year deal in free agency, but with closing opportunities beginning to dry up around MLB, accepting arbitration was the smart thing to do. The 29-year-old right-hander earned $11.5 million this season and could see his salary rise to around $13 million through the arbitration process.
The Brewers are saying they were always prepared for the possibility that Rodriguez would accept arbitration, but there's no doubt that they gambled and lost here. They'll hope to find a new home for him in the coming days and weeks, but it's very possible that they'll be stuck with a ridiculously expensive set-up man.
As for Johnson, the market for him didn't exactly go as planned. While the new CBA stipulated that he wouldn't cost teams their first-round pick, the 29-year-old was unable to score a multi-year deal. As a result, he'll seek the security of a raise from the $5.85 million salary he made in 2011.
The Blue Jays would have received two draft picks as compensation if Johnson signed with another club, but at least he's still a pretty decent fit at second base. The 29-year-old batted just .222 this past season, but also smacked 21 homers, swiped 16 bases and is a considered a skilled defender. They could do worse.
Yu Darvish To Be Posted for MLB Teams
The time has finally come. Yu Darvish announced via his personal blog that he will be made available for MLB teams through the posting process. The bidding is expected to begin Thursday. The team with the winning bid will secure an exclusive 30-day negotiating window to agree on a contract.
Most Rotoworld readers should be pretty well acquainted with Darvish by now. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds, the 25-year-old right-hander has a phenomenal 1.99 ERA over seven seasons in Japan. He went 18-7 with a career-low 1.44 ERA and 276/36 K/BB ratio in 232 innings this season with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.
While his posting fee may not reach the $51,111,111 figure the Red Sox bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka in November of 2006, competition for the Japanese sensation should be pretty fierce. If you're looking for some early hints on teams who may get involved in the bidding, just consider that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and Rangers GM Jon Daniels both scouted Darvish in person this season. And we wouldn't rule out the Red Sox and Yankees for him, either. They've been mysteriously quiet this winter, wouldn't you say?
In short, the Hot Stove should remain plenty interesting long after the Winter Meetings comes to a close.
Other Notables: The Angels appear to be the favorites to sign free agent southpaw C.J. Wilson … The Pirates added left-hander Erik Bedard on a one-year, $4.5 million contract … The Yankees won the rights to negotiate with Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima … The Tigers are close to a deal with veteran reliever Octavio Dotel … LaTroy Hawkins signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Angels … The Cubs and Rangers are discussing a trade involving Matt Garza … The Rockies have expressed interest in reliever Brad Lidge ... The Rockies and Cubs are still discussing a trade involving third baseman Ian Stewart … The Pirates acquired utility man Yamaico Navarro from the Royals … The Pirates released right-hander Ross Ohlendorf… The Nationals may turn to Roy Oswalt after losing out on Mark Buehrle … The Giants are close to re-signing reliever Guillermo Mota … The Astros have named Cardinals VP of scouting and player development Jeff Luhnow as their new general manager …