Free Agent Spending By Division

With the Winter Meetings behind us, it’s likely most of this offseason has already happened, and it’s been a barn burner, with a number of surprising signings and huge trades, and big bursts of activity from the Red Sox, White Sox, Dodgers and Padres in particular.

With that in mind, here’s one view of how the divisional picture has changed, with a look at where each of MLBTR’s Top 50 free agents have signed (or agreed to terms) by division. Although 33 of our top 50 free agents are off the market, this is just a snapshot at this point in time. In particular, the No. 1 and No. 3 free agents (Max Scherzer and James Shields) remain unsigned and will have a dramatic effect on divisional spending once they do come to terms.

AL East

4. Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox ($88MM)
5. Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox ($95MM)
8. Russell Martin, Blue Jays ($82MM)
16. Chase Headley, Yankees ($52MM)
17. Andrew Miller, Yankees ($36MM)
18. Justin Masterson, Red Sox ($9.5MM)

TOTAL = $362.5MM

The often heavy-spending AL East has so far lived up to its reputation, thanks largely to the Red Sox, who have spent more on top-50 free agents than three entire divisions. The Blue Jays, too, have been very active, adding not only Martin, but also Josh Donaldson and Michael Saunders via the trade market. The Yankees haven’t had a splashy offseason by their standards, although they retained Headley and signed Miller to help compensate for the loss of David Robertson. The Orioles have been quiet so far (although they’re likely to add an outfielder when all is said and done), while the cost-cutting Rays’ biggest signing has been reliever Ernesto Frieri, who will make a base salary of just $800K.

AL Central

6. Victor Martinez, Tigers ($68MM)
7. Melky Cabrera, White Sox ($42MM)
11. Ervin Santana, Twins ($55MM)
13. David Robertson, White Sox ($46MM)
25. Adam LaRoche, White Sox ($25MM)
30. Alex Rios, Royals ($11MM)
31. Edinson Volquez, Royals ($20MM)
33. Torii Hunter, Twins ($10.5MM)

TOTAL = $277.5MM

The AL Central’s strong standing is due in large part to the White Sox, who have not only added Cabrera, Robertson and LaRoche, but also signed non-top-50 pitcher Zach Duke to a significant contract and acquired Jeff Samardzija via the trade market. But the Royals (who have also added Kendrys Morales and Kris Medlen, along with Rios and Volquez) and Twins have also been active, and the Tigers could still make a splash by re-signing Scherzer. Even the Indians, who have otherwise had a relatively quiet winter, added Brandon Moss via trade. In any case, the top two spending divisions this offseason have been in the American League, which is nothing new.

NL Central

2. Jon Lester, Cubs ($155MM)
15. Francisco Liriano, Pirates ($39MM)
19. Aramis Ramirez, Brewers ($14MM mutual option)
22. Jason Hammel, Cubs ($20MM)
34. A.J. Burnett, Pirates ($8.5MM)

TOTAL = $236.5MM

The Cubs also traded for Miguel Montero, while the Cardinals added Jason Heyward. The Reds and Brewers haven’t spent much (although the Brewers’ trade for Adam Lind isn’t reflected here), and the Reds have dealt Mat Latos in preparation for the potential departures of a number of key pitchers following the 2015 season. But the Pirates (despite losing Martin) have spent heavily for a small-payroll team, with their deal to re-sign Liriano more than doubling their previous largest-ever free-agent contract. And, of course, the Cubs, after five straight seasons of 87 or more losses, finally appear set to contend with the addition of an ace in Jon Lester and their emerging core of young hitting.

NL West

10. Yasmany Tomas, Diamondbacks ($68.5MM)
14. Brandon McCarthy, Dodgers ($48MM)
26. Jake Peavy, Giants ($24MM)
35. Sergio Romo, Giants ($15MM)
46. Brandon Morrow, Padres ($2.5MM)
48. Brett Anderson, Dodgers ($10MM)

TOTAL = $168MM

The total above doesn’t reflect the level of activity in the NL West this offseason — the Padres and Dodgers have both made a number of huge trades, including one with one another, and the Giants could still add Shields. The Padres (who were also serious bidders for top free agents before heading to the trade market) have already acquired Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers, and a potential trade of Cole Hamels to San Diego could be their most earth-shaking move yet. They also appear likely to add No. 49 free agent Josh Johnson. On the other side of the scale, the Diamondbacks have traded away Montero, Wade Miley and Didi Gregorius.

The high level of trade activity in the NL West this offseason surely reflects the fact that all its teams except the World Series-winning Giants have new front offices (although the Rockies have been quiet even with a new GM in place). Despite the hype surrounding the Padres and Dodgers, though, and the addition of Yasmany Tomas, the division that lost more games (421) than any other in 2014 might have lost talent overall, given the departures of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.

AL West

9. Nelson Cruz, Mariners ($58MM)
21. Jed Lowrie, Astros ($23MM)
32. Luke Gregerson, Astros ($18.5MM)
41. Billy Butler, Athletics ($30MM)
45. Pat Neshek, Astros ($12.5MM)

TOTAL = $142MM

The Athletics, who have dealt Donaldson, Samardzija, Moss and Derek Norris while losing Lester, Lowrie and Gregerson to free agency, are clearly retooling, and the Rangers haven’t done much after their disastrous 2014 season. The Angels traded Howie Kendrick and are in luxury-tax purgatory, while the Mariners lost out on Melky Cabrera and have had a quiet offseason aside from the Cruz signing and a couple relatively small trades. That leaves the Astros, who have signed three top-50 free agents to bolster their middle infield and bullpen as they slowly rebuild after six straight losing seasons.

NL East

24. Nick Markakis, Braves ($44MM)
28. Mike Morse, Marlins ($16MM)
29. Michael Cuddyer, Mets ($21MM)

TOTAL = $81MM

Here’s baseball’s quietest division, at least on the free agent market. The Marlins, who have acquired Latos and Dee Gordon in addition to Morse, appear to be the only team in the division adding talent at the big-league level. The Nationals have few obvious needs and won the NL East by 17 games in 2014 — for perspective, the difference between first and last place in the NL Central was also 17 games. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the Nats haven’t been overly active, aside from their widely praised haul in the three-way Myers trade. (With a major headache on the horizon as Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond, Tyler Clippard and Denard Span all become eligible for free agency after the season, they won’t have the luxury of inactivity next winter.) The Braves (who have traded Heyward and Upton while also losing Santana) and Phillies (who dealt Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers) appear headed for periods of hibernation, while the Mets agreed to terms with Cuddyer early in the offseason but otherwise haven’t yet done much to add to a 79-win 2014 team.

Unsigned

1. Max Scherzer
3. James Shields
12. Kenta Maeda
20. Colby Rasmus
23. Asdrubal Cabrera
27. Hiroki Kuroda
36. Francisco Rodriguez
37. Rafael Soriano
38. Ryan Vogelsong
39. Aaron Harang
40. Nori Aoki
42. Stephen Drew
43. Emilio Bonifacio
44. Casey Janssen
47. Jason Grilli
49. Josh Johnson
50. Jung-ho Kang


Quick Hits: Umpires, Parity, Yankees, Pirates, Tigers

MLB and its umpires have reached a five-year labor agreement to follow their current deal, which was set to expire at the end of the year, Ben Walker of the Associated Press reports. The new pact continues more than a decade of labor peace within the game and will be the last labor agreement under outgoing commissioner Bud Selig. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and its players expires in December 2016. Here are more notes from throughout the big leagues.


Minor Moves: Wil Ledezma

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Twins have signed lefty reliever Wil Ledezma, according to the International League transactions page (via a tweet from Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press). Ledezma, 33, posted good winter numbers with Aragua in Venezuela after spending the 2014 season with Yucatan in Mexico. He pitched in the Dodgers system in 2012 and last appeared in the Majors in 2011, where he demonstrated excellent velocity for a lefty. Nonetheless, he has a career 5.40 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in parts of nine seasons with the Tigers, Braves, Padres, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Pirates and Blue Jays.


Padres Have Discussed Trading Myers For Hamels

9:00pm: Sources within the Padres organization indicate that the team does have interest in Hamels, but plans to keep Myers and play him in center field, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. He’ll be joined by Justin Upton in left field and Matt Kemp in right.

4:40pm: The Padres have had discussions about trading for Cole Hamels, a San Diego native, with newly acquired Wil Myers part of the package, reports Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. The Padres only finalized the trade for Myers on Friday.

With the trade last week of Jimmy Rollins and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. admitting the franchise would be better off without Ryan Howard, the Phillies find themselves torn in regards to Hamels, who is due $96MM through 2018 with a 2019 club option worth $20MM ($6MM buyout). Philadelphia could continue its rebuild by maximizing value through trading Hamels (reportedly for two or three premium prospects, per Lawrence) or build the next contending team around the left-hander.

We can keep him and it would be great for us and if we feel he can move us forward by moving him, that’s something we can explore as well,” Amaro said. “We don’t have any rush to move him or mandate to move him. Hopefully, he’s one of those guys that will be in a Phillies uniform for a long time, but we have to explore all of our opportunities. We’re not doing our organization any justice if we don’t explore every opportunity to get better.

The Padres are not on Hamels’ no-trade list and would be a match for the Phillies based on San Diego’s surplus of outfielders and Philadelphia’s lack of such throughout its system. Lawrence also noted a possibly insignificant but curious development: the Padres have Matt Kemp and Justin Upton jerseys in stock and for sale at the Petco Park team store, but jerseys for Myers are not available.


West Notes: Tulo, Scutaro, Vogelsong, A’s, Astros

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki tells The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders he hears the trade rumors, but that isn’t his focus this winter. “I have been talking to the Rockies throughout the process,” Tulowitzki said. “We have respect for each other. But my concentration right now is just on getting healthy.” Tulowitzki, recovering from August hip surgery, has yet to start baseball activites but has begun light running and is continuing a program to increase flexibility in his hips. Here’s the latest from MLB’s West divisions:

  • It cannot be a good sign the Giants‘ training staff is preparing an update this week on Marco Scutaro, opines John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Because of a back injury, Scutaro, who is due $6MM in the final year of his contract, appeared in only five games in 2014 with 13 trips to the plate.
  • In the same article, Shea reports there are no current talks between the Giants and free agent starter Ryan Vogelsong.
  • GM Billy Beane made the A’s better now and in the future with the returns he achieved in the Jeff Samardzija and Derek Norris trades, according to SB Nation’s Alex Hall.
  • Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle compares the Astros‘ methodical rebuilding plan with that of the Padres, who reshaped their franchise by making five trades with six teams in a span of two days.

MLBTR Originals

A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR the last seven days:

  • MLB Trade Rumors Podcast featured host Jeff Todd discussing the Korean Baseball Organization and its premier players with former MLB and KBO pitcher Ryan Sadowski of Global Sporting Integration, a company helping baseball players transition to and from Asia. A new edition of MLB Trade Rumors Podcast will be released every Thursday and can be accessed on iTunesSoundCloud, and Stitcher.
  • Tim Dierkes attended the Cubs’ press conference announcing their signing of Jon Lester and reported on the importance President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein placed on the move. “It’s not every day the best free agent goes to a team that finished in last place. We knew early on that if we signed Jon Lester, it would be about belief. It was because he would believe in us, believe in our future, and believe that winning a World Series with the Cubs was a unique opportunity.
  • Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi told reporters, including Zach Links, why he was willing to sign injury-prone starters Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson to lucrative deals. “Going forward with any pitcher now, it’s part of the cost-benefit analysis. You could have a guy who pitched 200-plus innings in the last four years that has a really bad elbow and that could go at any moment. Conversely, you could have a guy who has an injury history that you feel may be over the hump.
  • MLBTR was the first to report the details of the incentives in Chase Headley‘s four-year, $52MM contract with the Yankees: $1MM per season for reaching 550 plate appearances, which could raise the total value of the pact to $56MM.
  • MLBTR has released its 2015 Arbitration Tracker displaying all arbitration eligible players, with fields for team, service time, player and team submissions, the midpoint, and the settlement amount. The 2015 Arbitration Tracker can also be filtered by team, signing status, service time, Super Two status, and whether a hearing occurred. The 2015 Arbitration Tracker is located in the Tools menu at the top of the site and the right sidebar under MLBTR Features.
  • Steve Adams was the first to learn the Cubs signed right-hander Anthony Carter to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
  • Jeff asked MLBTR readers to name the team with the best “all-in” offseason to date (posted prior to the Padres finalizing trades for Matt Kemp and Justin Upton). Almost 46% of you believe the White Sox have been the most aggressive in posititioning themselves for near-term contention.
  • Brad Johnson asked MLBTR readers whether the Padres have done enough to make the playoffs in 2015. Nearly 43% of you believe GM A.J. Preller still hasn’t acquired enough offense to reach the postseason.
  • Steve hosted the MLBTR live chat this week.
  • Zach put together the best of the baseball blogosphere in Baseball Blogs Weigh In.

Full Story | Comments | Categories: MLBTR Originals

AL East Notes: Wieters, Rays, Yankees

The Silver Shield Foundation, a charity established by the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, will pay for the education of the two children of slain NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, reports Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News. The foundation was started by Steinbrenner and former Olympian Jim Fuchs 32 years ago and, among other services (per the foundation’s website), pays for the education of the children of all members of the Fire Department of the City of New York; Police Department of the City of New York; Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Department; New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut State Police; police departments of Nassau and Suffolk Counties; and all police departments in Connecticut who died in the line of duty, as well as 700 children who lost a parent on September 11, 2001. Ramos was killed yesterday with his partner Wenjian Liu (who didn’t have any children) by a lone gunman in Brooklyn.

Here’s the latest news and notes from the American League East:

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman has taken some huge gambles with his offseason moves (getting younger and stockpiling power arms) which belie the organization’s long held win-now, World Series or bust philosophy, opines Madden in a separate article.
  • Scott Boras tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will be ready by Opening Day. Earlier today, Cafardo reported there is no urgency on either side in negotiating an extension.
  • The Rays‘ search for offense in the wake of the Wil Myers trade is limited to what remains of the outfield free agent market or obtaining a player whose team will eat almost all the salary on a bad contract, writes the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, and B.J. Upton fit the latter category, according to Topkin.

Spring Training Deadline For Justin Upton Extension

Justin Upton will not negotiate a contact extension once Spring Training starts, his agent tells MLB Network Radio (audio link). Larry Reynolds says he will “never say no to anything” and “will take it as it comes” when asked by hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette whether Upton is open to an extension with the Padres or is intent on hitting free agency.

Reynolds also acknowledged the Braves never approached him about a long-term contract for Upton, who will earn $14.5MM in 2015, and wasn’t surprised by the trade, especially after Jason Heyward was dealt to the Cardinals. The Padres acquired Upton in a six-player swap with the Braves Friday and may be comfortable with the idea of him being a one-year rental knowing draft pick compensation is possible with a qualifying offer.


NL Notes: Dodgers, Padres, Stewart, Braves

The Dodgers did it: they ended the Yankees’ 15-year streak as Major League Baseball’s biggest spenders and owe more than $26.6MM in luxury tax, as Ronald Blum of The Associated Press writes.  The Dodgers finished with a record payroll of $257,283,410, more than $20MM above the previous high set by the Yankees last year.  More from the National League..

  • Despite making offensive upgrades, there are plenty more moves for the Padres to make, writes Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego. San Diego has some obvious weaknesses and Lin figures they’ll make at least two more moves. The Padres need left-handed hitting and a leadoff bat and a new face at first base would probably make sense.  The Padres could also look seek out another starter and search for something more stable than the shortstop duo of Alexi Amarista and Clint Barnes.
  • Dave Stewart’s journey to becoming the General Manager of the Diamondbacks has been years in the making, writes MLB.com’s Tom Singer.  “What I’ve always looked for is something to challenge me, something to keep the fire burning,” Stewart said.  Now the fourth ex-player currently in a GM seat, Stewart will look to turn the D’Backs around and get them into contention in the NL West.
  • In a Q&A session with Braves president of baseball operations John Hart, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked about new acquisition Dian Toscano, the team’s timeline for contending in relation to the new stadium, and the team’s priorities for the rest of the winter.

Cafardo On Shields, Scherzer, Wieters, Tulowitzki

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe touches on Nathan Eovaldi, one of the newest members of the Yankees.  Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia feels that the young pitcher has only scratched the surface of what he can do.  “At the end of the year he figured out how to throw a new pitch that is really going to help him. He throws hard and all of his pitches are hard, so this new pitch will help that out because he’s got a fastball rotation with split action,” Salty said.  More from today’s column..

  • James Shields is asking for a contract close to the five years and $110MM remaining (if the option is picked up) on the Cole Hamels deal, one major league source who was privy to Shields’s demands told Cafardo.  The Giants and Red Sox are in the picture, and the Yankees may be another suitor.
  • Many baseball execs feel that Max Scherzer will end up back with the Tigers.  The executives Cafardo spoke with think that Scherzer will top Jon Lester‘s six-year, $155MM pact but fall well short of $200MM, unless option years are counted.
  • When it comes to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, there seems no urgency on either side to visit a possible extension.  Wieters’s return should be huge for the Orioles, but agent Scott Boras will likely not consider anything until the end of the season.
  • Cafardo checked in with Mets officials regarding the recent Troy Tulowitzki rumors and none of them felt that there was anything to them.
  • Agent Alan Nero tells Cafardo that he is having a lot of dialogue with teams about Asdrubal Cabrera but nothing has come together just yet.  Cafardo suggests that Cabrera could take a one-year deal somewhere to re-establish his value.
  • Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin is the odd man out in San Diego with Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton in the fold.  The Orioles, Mariners, and Rays could be trade candidates for Quentin, who hasn’t played 100 games since 2011.  He’d be a solid DH candidate and Seattle could also use him in right field from time to time.  Of course, with an $8MM salary in 2015 and a $10MM option in 2016 that comes with a $3MM buyout, the Padres will have to eat some money to move him.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Blue Jays, Rasmus, D’Backs

On this date in 2010, the Red Sox and Bobby Jenks agreed to a two-year, $12MM deal. Jenks was brought in to be a top notch setup man for Jonathan Papelbon, but health troubles ultimately derailed that plan – he made 19 appearances for Boston in 2011 and that was all for him.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.


Nexen Accepts Jung-ho Kang Posting Fee From Unknown MLB Team

SATURDAY 10:20pm: The Phillies or Nationals may be frontrunners, a source tells Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Philadelphia has scouted Kang, and they traded incumbent shortstop Jimmy Rollins last week. Of course, we will update you when we hear more substantive news.

9:26am: The team that posted the winning bid isn’t yet known, but it isn’t the Mets, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes. It also isn’t the Padres, tweets CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, or the Dodgers, tweets the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez. The Orioles aren’t the team, either, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets, and it’s not the Blue Jays, according to Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner (on Twitter), or the Yankees or Braves, via ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Twitter links). It also was not the Giants, tweets the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea. Add the A’s to the list of clubs who did not win the bidding, says John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com is “led to believe” the Twins did not win (also Twitter). The Rays are also out, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Barring any surprises, it appears that 11 teams have been eliminated as potential landing spots for Kang.

FRIDAY 11:59pm: In an English-language article, Yonhap reports (h/t to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, on Twitter) that the club has in fact announced the acceptance of the bid. The article indicates that even Nexen is not sure which MLB club subitted the winning offer.

Per the article, Kang is seeking between $5MM and $6MM per season on a multi-year deal of up to four years in duration.

10:31pm: With the posting fee bids submitted for infielder Jung-ho Kang, the KBO’s Nexen Heroes are expected to accept an approximately $5MM bid for the right to negotiate a contract with the Korean star, as the Yonhap News Agency reports (Twitter link via Jeeho Yoo; Korean-language article, via Sun-Min Kim, on Twitter).

The MLB team with the winning bid has yet to be reported. If that club is unable to work out a deal with Kang, it would be refunded the amount of the posting fee. Otherwise, the team would owe that $5MM on top of whatever contractual terms it reaches with Kang.

Kang, 27, raised eyebrows with a 40 home run/1.198 OPS campaign last year. The star shortstop has been a productive hitter for some time now, but that impressive power display certainly raised his profile. The KBO has turned into a fairly drastic hitter’s league, though Kang’s numbers still look outstanding against league average.

Just how his tools translate to the big leagues remains to be seen, of course, and questions remain whether he can play up the middle at the game’s highest level. Be sure to give a listen to this week’s podcast for great insight on Kang from former MLB and KBO pitcher Ryan Sadowski of Global Sporting Integration.


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Jung-ho Kang | Newsstand

Quick Hits: Cuba, Padres

Earlier tonight, I asked MLBTR if the Padres will reach the postseason in 2015. Of the 33% respondents who said yes, most felt a Wild Card slot was more likely than a division title. Here’s the latest San Diego and Cuba news.

  • Teams are unlikely to establish academies in Cuba any time soon, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Cuban market is unlikely to be based on free agency, like in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. Some form of a posting system will probably be put in place. Alternatively, Cuba could be included in a rumored international draft. That means individual clubs will be loathe to invest in local infrastructure when all 30 teams could ultimately benefit.
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller is bringing a whole new level of tenacity and leadership to San Diego, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Preller, who Matt Kemp described as a “rock star,” is best known as a talent hawk. Despite a flurry of moves in the last couple days, more are expected. In addition to solving a roster crunch in the outfield, Preller is expected to dive into the international market and improve upon the organization’s amateur infrastructure.

Full Story | Comments | Categories: San Diego Padres

Poll: Will The Padres Reach The Postseason?

The Padres have been busy over the last couple weeks, with more moves likely to come. Recently hired GM A.J. Preller has pivoted from the organization’s slow rebuilding process to add established major league stars. Preller reportedly recognized a rotation capable of competing now, and he decided to add win-now position players to complement that strength.

The Padres have made eight moves this month, trading a number of prospects and young major leaguers in the process. The headliners are the additions of outfielders Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers in separate trades. The club also added catcher Derek Norris in a swap with the A’s, third baseman Will Middlebrooks in a trade with the Red Sox, and signed three free agentsJosh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, and Clint Barmes.

More trades are likely to be on the horizon. The club currently has an overwhelming volume of outfield depth. In addition to Kemp, Upton, and Myers, the Padres also have Seth Smith, Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Abraham Almonte, and Rymer Liriano. Almonte and Liriano have options, but the Friars likely need to deal two of the remaining four. First baseman Yonder Alonso could also be a trade candidate if the club is comfortable with somebody like Quentin or Smith manning first.

The moves were clearly made with an eye on the postseason. The lineup is now a safe bet to improve upon it’s league worst 535 runs scored. Of course, adding a few stout bats doesn’t guarantee a good outcome. Last season, the Atlanta Braves received strong offensive performances from Upton, Freddie Freeman, and Jason Heyward. They finished second to last in runs scored with 573. Excluding Evan Gattis when healthy, the supporting cast failed the Atlanta lineup. The same could easily happen in San Diego, where Middlebrooks, Norris, Alonso, Barmes, and Jedd Gyorko appear to be the everyday cast. There are reasons to be concerned about the offensive ceiling of all five players.

The Padres also pulled from their pitching depth to swing the trades. Jesse Hahn, Joe Wieland, and Burch Smith were dealt as part of the mayhem. Internal depth plus the additions of Johnson and Morrow could help to offset the losses, of which Hahn is the most noteworthy. Of course, Johnson and Morrow are major injury risks – both pitchers are frequent guests of the disabled list.

Despite trading a large quantity of prospects, the Padres managed to hang onto their best, namely catcher Austin Hedges, pitcher Matt Wisler, and outfielder Hunter Renfroe. Assuming the club doesn’t have more big moves up their sleeve, this month’s activity doesn’t necessarily cripple the minor league pipeline.

And that brings us to tonight’s poll question. Has Preller accomplished enough for the Padres to reach the postseason? Remember, San Diego probably has to best at least one of the Dodgers and Giants.


McDaniel On International Bonus Pools

A number of teams are expected to break the bank on international talent next July, writes Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs.com. Due to international spending restrictions, teams that spend more than 15% above their allotted pool may not ink any international free agents for over $300,000 in the following two signing periods. However, there is growing consensus within the industry that an international draft will be implemented when baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is re-visited after the 2016 season. If a draft is put in place, teams will have only two years to live with the current arrangement.

McDaniel’s sources have suggested that as many as 10 teams may blow past their limit when the next signing period begins on July 2. The Cubs, Blue Jays, and Phillies will “almost definitely” exceed their respective pools. As McDaniel notes, plans will likely be affected by verbal commitments as we get closer to July. Additionally, the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Angels have greatly exceeded their budgets during the current signing period, meaning they will be penalized during the next two periods.

If there truly are only two more years before a draft is implemented, then teams have an interesting “strategic choice.” At least four clubs – possibly five pending the outcome of the Yoan Moncada bidding – will be handicapped. More will spend heavily next summer, making themselves ineligible for big signings in 2016. If enough teams are aggressive, it could be advantageous to wait until 2016 for a spending spree. McDaniel also points out that the penalized teams are mostly those who usually spend a lot on international talent.

Put it all together, and it’s increasingly clear that clubs are unconcerned about the international bonus pool. While small market clubs may be loathe to pay excessive taxes (100% on overages), those theoretically get passed onto the player via a lower signing bonus. In my opinion, if most of the big spenders are excluded from the marketplace in 2016, then we could see some nontraditional sources of big bonuses.