The end of Thanksgiving weekend, coinciding with the upcoming Winter Meetings are what typically set ablaze the trails by which players and teams strike deals. A few notable free agents have already signed, but none of the heavy hitters — with the exception of perhaps Torii Hunter — have honed in on next season’s digs.
And now, a few observations:
* Four years for Mike Napoli is more likely to be silly than to be smart. And while he hasn’t caught a ton of innings, he also hasn’t played a ton of games in his career. While Napoli has been a good player the past two seasons — rather, amazing in 2011, and adequate in 2012 — it’s truly hard to know what his true talent is. My notion would be somewhere in between. If he sticks at catcher, is it a good deal? Well, he’s 31, and while he doesn’t have a ton of catcher miles on him — Joe Mauer is a year-and-a-half younger and has caught nearly 3000 more innings (with about a full season of experience over him) — Napoli has never been known as a good receiver, either.
So he’s 31, maybe a catcher, maybe a DH/1B. He has wildly inconsistent platoon splits the past two seasons. For 4/$50, I’d probably have to look the other way. For 3/$30-$33, the risk becomes a bit more defensible, though I’ll readily admit I’m probably not prepared for how wild this free agent market may get.
* Jeff Keppinger’s broken leg comes at almost the worst possible time. He’s expected to be ready for spring training, but it will probably bring down his total value. I have not so secretly been hoping the Twins are in on him, and if 2/$8 will get it done, I think the Twins should strike while the iron is hot.
* The Mets may just be better off dealing R.A. Dickey and David Wright. The 6/$100 deal offered to Wright is a good one for the Mets, as an AAV of $16ish million won’t kill their bottom line. But there are some ugly trends of late with Wright that Dave Cameron of Fangraphs touched on. Ideally, the Mets could ink him to a four-year deal; Wright seems to want seven. Maybe the time will never be better to move Wright, whose late seasons trend could be something bigger, or maybe won’t be anything at all. The biggest headache for the Mets — besides fan backlash — is whether they should gamble on his first half or second half; pro sports may be a ‘what have you done for me lately’ business, but if Wright moves on and hits like the first half again, CitiField could be burnt to the ground (metaphorically, of course). (Update: New report suggests a seven-year offer from Mets. Oh boy.)
As for Dickey, it comes down to age. And while I know knuckleballers can toss well into their 40s, it’s just not a good gamble for the Mets. They have him at an awesome rate for next year, which should endear him to contending clubs, and should mean the Mets can get at least one prospect they really like in a deal. I think it’s a no-brainer.
* With late news breaking that the Cubs signed Scott Feldman, it would seem that Theo Epstein is pushing all the right buttons. It looks as though Feldman will get $6 million, and Epstein will have acquired two middle-of-the-rotation guys in a transition year for the Northsiders. I like it, though I’m not positive either of them will be Cubs come season’s end.
* Ichiro back to the Yankees makes some sense, but I wouldn’t be wild about an outfield cornered by he and Brett Gardner.
* The Halos want all your relievers. But seriously, adding Ryan Madson will make an already terrific bullpen better. With that said, I’m still not an advocate of huge money to relievers. Still, Madson-Walden-Frieri should be a fun back end of the pen to watch, though Frieri and Walden are huge bust candidates.
* I’m a bit surprised about the buzz around Russell Martin. CBS Sports is now reporting he wants 4/$40. That is sort of hilarious.
* The Royals will rue trading Wil Myers within days of his big league debut, if they go through with it. No starting pitcher is worth a prospect like that, at least not on his own.
* The Reds might be close to signing Jonathan Broxton to a three-year deal. I can’t see how that could end up being foolish. (/sarcasm)
* The Evan Longoria deal to me signifies that he’s more about team than he is himself. This is a huge risk for the Rays though, given their financial structure. Both the Yankees and Red Sox can and have handed out deals at least that big that have backfired with little repercussion; if this one blows up on Friedman Co., they’ll be crippled for years. (I don’t think it will.)
* I wouldn’t expect any Denard Span rumors until one or the other of B.J. Upton and Shane Victorino signs.
* With the way pitching prices look to be trending, the Twins and other clubs may be wise to try sign Carlos Villanueva to a deal that won’t kill the club if he ends up in the bullpen. To me, that deal looks like two years and less than $10 million. Nobody wants a $5 million middle reliever, but it’s a good risk in my opinion. Secondly, buying low on pitching will be paramount this offseason for teams looking to add multiple arms.