D.J. Short

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Winter Meetings: Day Two

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


After watching Mike Napoli sign with the Red Sox and Angel Pagan re-up with the Giants during Day One of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, the dominoes continued to fall in Day Two.

Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton remain unsigned and there's no imminent resolution in sight with either player, but things could heat up at any moment. The market for Hamilton remains a bit of a mystery, but reports have indicated that the Rangers have been the most aggressive thus far. Of course, they are also involved in negotiations for Greinke, so talks with Hamilton might have to take a back seat for now. It seems most of the baseball world is waiting for the Dodgers to just get it over with and make Greinke a completely bonkers offer that he just can't turn down. It would certainly provide some clarity in the free agent and trade markets.

By the way, be sure to keep refreshing Rotoworld's player news page and HardballTalk on NBCSports.com for the latest Hot Stove news and analysis. We have the Winter Meetings covered like nobody's business.

Nats Set to Add Haren to Rotation

The Nationals' rotation was first in the National League this past season with a 3.40 ERA. And there might not be any drop-off in 2013.

Dan Haren has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $13 million contract with the Nationals, pending a physical. That physical isn't the formality we usually see in these situations, as concerns over his hip and back threw a wrench in the Cubs' efforts to land him from the Angels last month. It also caused the Angels to pay him a $3.5 million buyout rather than pick up his $15.5 million option for 2013. However, assuming he passes the physical and finalizes his contract with the Nationals, he'll end up making a total of $16.5 million for his troubles. Not a bad deal.

Haren, 32, is coming off a down season in which he posted a 4.33 ERA and 142/38 K/BB ratio over 176 2/3 while showing diminished velocity. His health makes him a risk, but the league-switch should be nice for his strikeout rate and he still has excellent control. The Nats also aren't looking at him to headline the rotation, as they already have Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler in-house. Haren is no Greinke, but there's enough upside here for him to be an upgrade over Edwin Jackson.

Boston Goes Shopping For Shane

After agreeing to terms with Napoli in Day One of the Winter Meetings, the Red Sox continued to revamp their lineup on Tuesday by signing outfielder Shane Victorino to a reported three-year, $39 million contract. That's a pretty nice pay day after the 32-year-old outfielder batted just .255/.321/.383 with 11 home runs, 55 RBI and a .704 OPS this past season between the Phillies and Dodgers, signaling concerns that the could be entering his decline phase. Heck, Angel Pagan's four-year, $40 million contract almost looks like a bargain in comparison.

The plan calls for Victorino to play right field with Boston in 2013, though he could slot in center field if the Red Sox trade Jacoby Ellsbury, who is poised to hit free agency next offseason. While nobody would ever call Victorino graceful, he's still a solid defender and adds value on the basepaths. But given his age and continued struggles against right-handed pitching, this could be a deal the Red Sox regret in the long run.  

After shedding the monster contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett as part of the mega-trade with the Dodgers in July, the Red Sox have committed $120.2 million to Napoli, Victorino, Jonny Gomes and David Ross. And they still have plenty of work to do if  they hope to win their first AL East crown since 2007.

Rays Pick Up Escobar From Marlins

Geez, this guy really wears out his welcome quickly. Just three weeks after being acquired as part of the 12-player blockbuster with the Blue Jays, the Marlins flipped Yunel Escobar to the Rays on Tuesday for prospect infielder Derek Dietrich. It was an expected move, as the Marlins are slashing payroll and they were already planning to use Adeiny Hechavarria as their everyday shortstop in 2013.

Escobar, 30, is coming off a rough season in which he batted just .253/.300/.344 with nine home runs and a .644 OPS and found himself suspended in September for foolishly displaying a homophobic message on his eye black. But he's only owed $5 million next season while his contract includes affordable $5 million club options for both 2014 and 2015, so he could be a savvy addition if he manages to stay out of trouble. I'm not too optimistic that he will manage to do that, but the price was low enough to take a shot. Ben Zobrist started 47 games at shortstop this past season, but he'll slide back over to second base in 2013.

Giants Retain Scutaro

The Giants are keeping the band together. After re-signing Angel Pagan to four-year, $40 million contract on Monday, the Giants retained Marco Scutaro on Tuesday with a reported three-year, $20 million deal. Such a contract appeared impossible when Scutaro was scuffling as a member of the Rockies to begin the year, but he batted .362/.385/.473 in 61 games after joining the Giants in July and played hero during the team's World Series run.

While the Giants made it a priority to keep Scutaro in the fold, it's a pretty big risk to give a three-year deal to a 37-year-old. And while he is a contact hitter, it would be silly to expect him to maintain the .366 BABIP he had with the club in a small sample. It's hardly going out on a limb to say that the backend of this deal could look pretty ugly, but the Giants figure to be better off with him in 2013 than they would be without him. And that's something.

Winter Meetings Short Hops

The Rangers and Joakim Soria have finalized a two-year, $8 million contract with a club option for 2015 … David Wright passed his physical with the Mets on Tuesday, finalizing his eight-year, $138 million extension … R.A. Dickey's agent Bo McKinnis indicated Tuesday that little progress has been made with the Mets on a contract extension and that he wouldn't be surprised if his client is traded. Meanwhile, the Mets' asking price in trade discussions are said to be sky high … The Rockies acquired reliever Wilton Lopez and a player to be named later or cash from the Astros on Tuesday in exchange for right-handers Alex White and Alex Gillingham … The Marlins are telling teams that they will not trade Ricky Nolasco … The Diamondbacks have agreed to a one-year contract with first baseman/outfielder Eric Hinske  … While a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports indicated that the Reds were close to re-signing Ryan Ludwick, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal hears that the veteran outfielder remains in discussions with other clubs … The Cardinals have offered their assistant hitting coach job to former major league catcher Bengie Molina … The Orioles are among four teams who met with Nick Swisher's agent, Dan Lozano, on Tuesday … The Mets had a meeting with Scott Hairston's agent on Tuesday and remain optimistic about retaining him … Jeff Keppinger is reportedly looking for a three-year deal in the range of $12 million, which could be achievable in light of Marco Scutaro's new deal with the Giants … ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported Tuesday afternoon that the Phillies and Diamondbacks were discussing a Cliff Lee-for-Justin Upton swap, but the proposed deal was quickly denied on multiple fronts … The Dodgers made a long-term offer to South Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-Jin on Tuesday, but it was rejected by his agent Scott Boras … The Yankees have insurance for Alex Rodriguez's contract and could recover at least 75 percent of his salary if he is unable to play due to injuries … The Giants have exercised their 2014 options for general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy … Jason Bay is close to signing with the Mariners …  Sean Rodriguez and the Rays avoided arbitration Tuesday with a one-year deal … The Mariners have approached Felix Hernandez about the possibility of a contract extension …



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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