Nathan Grimm

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Closer To Love

Friday, December 20, 2013


Addison Reed, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit and John Axford have a combined 284 career saves, racking up 102 this past season alone. And next season, all four will be finishing games for new teams.

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This was the week for closer movement, as Benoit, Axford and possibly Balfour -- depending on how his physical shakes out -- all found new homes on free agent deals.

Reed is also on the move after a trade sent him from the White Sox to the Diamondbacks. The 24-year-old certainly did nothing to punch his ticket out of the windy city, as he's coming off a season in which he posted a 3.79 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 72/23 K/BB ratio over 71 1/3 innings. His 40 saves -- for a team that won just 63 games in 2013 -- were good for seventh in baseball.

Reed is a fly ball pitcher moving to a park that is friendly to opposing hitters, but the move isn't as bad for the right-hander as it may seem on the surface. In 2013, Reed pitched his home games at U.S. Cellular Field, a park that is second only to Coors Field in terms of home runs. And despite the high fly ball rate, Reed's HR/FB ratio was just 6.8 percent, well below the standard 10 percent estimate. There's no guarantee Reed will find the same success in his new digs, but it's not a given that his numbers will decline, either.

With the newly acquired Mark Trumbo slated to be the team's everyday left fielder, freeing up Martin Prado to focus on third base full-time, the Diamondbacks dealt third base prospect Matt Davidson to the Sox in exchange for Reed. Davidson, 22, owns a career .268/.351/.452 line in five seasons in the minor leagues. Known best for his power, the third base job is Davidson's to lose this spring.

Benoit, 36, landed with the Padres after getting his first extended opportunity to close games as a member of the Tigers this past season. The Padres have a reliable closing option already in Huston Street, but Benoit will serve as insurance for the 30-year-old Street and vice versa.

Axford, who signed with the Indians for one year and $4.5 million, will contend with Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen for save opportunities in Cleveland in 2014. Drew Silva identified Allen as a fantasy riser in his recent column on the AL Central despite Axford's presence, so it'll be a battle to watch in spring.

Balfour seemed set to sign a two-year, $15 million pact with the Orioles, but the deal has been held up over concerns about the health of his right shoulder. When healthy, Balfour is one of the more steady closers in the game. More should be known about his future as early as today.

Royals Land Infante

After trotting out Chris Getz, Elliot Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, Miguel Tejada and Johnny Giavotella at the keystone this past year with subpar results -- the group managed to hit just .243/.296/.304 as a unit -- the Royals made a splash with the signing of Omar Infante. The Royals gave the soon-to-be 32-year-old a four-year deal worth at least $30.25 million to be their everyday second baseman going forward.

Infante thrived after a move from the Marlins to the Tigers in the middle of the 2012 season, batting .318/.345/.450 this past year. He's always been a slightly above average defender at the position and should be a noticeable upgrade over the crew the team tried at second base in 2013. Infante's fantasy upside is limited, but the move to KC shouldn't do much to derail the steady production he's given owners in recent seasons.

Hot Stove Quick Hits: With most of the free agent options off the board, outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz remain two of the highest-profile bats left on the market. Neither player is close to a deal with a club at this time ... the Rakuten Golden Eagles remain unsure of what they're going to do with 25-year-old Masahiro Tanaka. The right-hander has expressed a desire to join an MLB club this offseason, but the team is trying to convince him to stay with an $8 million offer for next season. It would be the highest single-season salary in Nippon Professional Baseball history ... after the signings of Robinson Cano and Corey Hart, the Mariners have turned their focus to starting pitching. The team is said to have "continued interest" in Ervin Santana, one of the bigger fish left on the free agent market ... the Rockies made several moves to add depth to their major league squad. The team acquired outfielder Drew Stubbs and left-hander Franklin Morales in separate trades, while also signing reliever Boone Logan to a three-year, $16.5 million contract. Josh Outman went to the Indians and Jonathan Herrera to the Red Sox in those deals ... the Braves dealt 2011 first-round pick Sean Gilmartin to the Twins for Ryan Doumit. Doumit will serve as backup at multiple positions for the Braves ... the Orioles and Royals swapped part-time players when the Royals acquired third baseman Danny Valencia in exchange for outfielder David Lough ... fresh off belting 29 home runs, Raul Ibanez landed a one-year deal worth $2.75 million to play for the Angels next season ... right-hander Roberto Hernandez will call Citizens Bank Park home next year, signing a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Phillies ... the Padres sent Jesus Guzman to the Astros for Ryan Jackson in an exchange of bench players ... Mark Ellis will back up rookie Kolten Wong at second base for the Cardinals next season after signing a one-year, $5.25 million pact ... other one-year deals consummated in recent days include Franklin Gutierrez with the Mariners, Edinson Volquez with the Pirates, Eric Chavez with the Diamondbacks and both Gavin Floyd and Brandon Beachy signing (or avoiding arbitration, in Beachy's case) with the Braves.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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