Caution: this stove is hot.
The Hot Stove turned all the way up to high this week as teams moved players, cash and, in some cases, draft picks as they position themselves for next season. Some of the biggest names on the free agent market were scooped up. Others were offered astronomical amounts in hopes they would sign in unexpected places. Still others, in the case of one international free agent, may not end up seeing the open market at all.
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This week's Dose is a one-stop shop for all the trades, signings and rumors of the past week. Let's take it from the top.
From Beards To Broadway
Jacoby Ellsbury traded in his beard for a clean shave this week when he inked a seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees. He follows in the footsteps of Johnny Damon, who changed his address from Boston to New York before the 2006 season. The deal was met with the expected vitriol from Red Sox fans, who booed the outfielder at Boston's Christmas tree lighting on Thursday.
The Ellsbury signing tops the list, but plenty other free agents found new homes in recent days. Joe Nathan moved from the AL West to the AL Central when he signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Tigers. Scott Kazmir went the other direction, signing a two-year, $22 million contract with the A's. And Dioner Navarro signed a two-year, $8 million agreement with the Blue Jays to be the team's everyday catcher.
The Twins made a pair of signings to boost one of the league's worst pitching staffs this past season. They handed out the biggest contract in team history when they signed Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal. Then, three days later, the team signed Phil Hughes to a three-year, $24 million pact. Nolasco and Hughes automatically become the team's two best starters in 2014.
The Red Sox lost catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia when the Marlins penned him to a three-year, $21 million deal. Earlier that day they signed his replacement in A.J. Pierzynski, whom they gave a one-year deal worth $8.25 million. The Marlins also signed Rafael Furcal to a $3.5 million deal for 2014 to be their second baseman.
Some relievers also got into the act. Brian Wilson was given a one-year, $10 million deal that includes a player option for 2015 to stay with the Dodgers. The Dodgers did not retain Ronald Belisario, who signed with the White Sox on a one-year deal worth $3 million. And Edward Mujica migrated from one World Series team to another, leaving the Cardinals for the Red Sox on a two-year, $9.5 million contract.
Finally, a pair of veterans signed one-year deals to stay put. Paul Konerko, who will turn 38 before the season starts, signed for $2.5 million to stick around in Chicago one more season, and 36-year-old Ryan Vogelsong, after having his $6.5 million option declined by the Giants earlier this offseason, agreed to a $5 million deal to stay by the bay in 2014.
With the signing of Kazmir, the A's turned their attention to fortifying their bullpen. They did that through a series of trades that brought closer Jim Johnson, lockdown setup man Luke Gregerson and 26-year-old Josh Lindblom to Oakland. Johnson, who has 101 saves combined over the past two seasons, will step in and take the place of the departed Grant Balfour, and Gregerson will provide depth for a bullpen that already boasts Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook, among others. The A's also received outfielder Craig Gentry from the Rangers in a four-player deal.
To get you must give, though, and the A's parted with 2010 first-round pick Michael Choice and minor league second baseman Chris Bostick in exchange for Gentry and Lindblom. They sent another former first-rounder, 2008 top pick Jemile Weeks, to Baltimore in exchange for Johnson. Seth Smith went to the Padres in the Gregerson deal.
The Astros landed what should be a key part of their lineup in 2014 when they acquired Dexter Fowler from the Rockies in exchange for Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes. The Royals also grabbed an outfielder when they shipped Will Smith to the Brewers for Norichika Aoki. And the Tigers freed up some cash to sign Nathan when they shipped Doug Fister to the Nationals for a package of Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and prospect Robbie Ray.
The nightlife in Tampa just got more exciting with the addition of Club Heath. Heath Bell will once again have a new home next season as he was involved in a three-team trade that sent he and Ryan Hanigan to the Rays, prospect David Holmberg to the Reds and Justin Choate plus a player to be named later to the Diamondbacks.
The Rumor Mill
It's no surprise that the biggest name on the free agent market is rumored to be receiving the biggest offers, as Robinson Cano and the Mariners are said to have had discussions on a long-term deal. The most recent report had the Mariners willing to offer the second baseman a contract for nine years and approximately $225 million. That total value would be behind only Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols in terms of the most lucrative contracts in baseball history.
Another player slated to earn big money this offseason, Rakuten Golden Eagles' ace Masahiro Tanaka, may not be cashing in after all. With MLB's proposed $20 million limit on posting fees, Tanaka's Nippon Professional Baseball team is giving thought to not posting the 25-year-old. Tanaka was widely viewed as the best starting pitcher on the open market, so missing out on him could force MLB teams to push harder for the remaining pitchers on the market.
Curtis Granderson may be changing teams but not addresses, as the Mets appear to be in the lead for his services. The 32-year-old is believed to be looking for a deal in the neighborhood of four years and $64 million, but the Mets are as of yet unwilling to give him the extra year. The Red Sox and Mariners are also believed to be in the running.
The Mariners are also in on David Price, the biggest name available on the trade market. There's some belief that the team would be willing to include phenom Taijuan Walker in a package for the Rays' ace, a hefty price to pay for, well, Price. The Dodgers, Angels, Pirates, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays are also showing interest in the southpaw, interest that could start picking up in the coming days.
The free agent outfield trio of Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz will also be popular names at next week's Winter Meetings. Beltran recently met with the Royals, and the Mariners and Red Sox are in on the 36-year-old as well. Choo's market includes the Red Sox, Tigers and possibly the Yankees. Cruz' market has yet to develop, but the Orioles and Yankees may end up being suitors for the 33-year-old. Another slugging outfielder, Matt Kemp, could be via trade for the right price. The Red Sox and ubiquitous Mariners are rumored to be interested.
The deadline to tender contracts to players was Monday, and some notable non-tenders included Jerome Williams, Tommy Hanson, Daniel Hudson, Andrew Bailey, Ryan Webb, Justin Turner, Garrett Jones, and J.P. Arencibia. The Rangers had interest in Arencibia before the deadline and were closing in on a deal late Thursday. The Diamondbacks and Hudson were also in talks on a new deal.
Got all that? Good. Because the stove slows down -- or cools down -- for no one.