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Attention Baseball Geeks: MLB Hot Stove 12/27/2014 by Brian Phillips

2) What other deals looked good to you?

The White Sox are in the conversation all of the sudden eh! I've always loved Jeff Samardzija. David Robertson gives them a legit closer obviously. Melky Cabrera is a nice piece. Adam LaRoche isn't sexy, but he had a solid year for Washington (and for once didn't get off to a horrific start.)

As much as it pains me to admit it, I like what Miami has done. The Marlins have added in December Mat Latos, Michael Morse, Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Martin Prado and David Phelps. Lump these guys with their stable of good young talent led by the Gioncarlo Stanton and all of the sudden you have a contender here. I'll never trust owner Jeffrey Loria, but I will pick Miami to vie for a playoff spot next season.

In Boston Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez arrive, but not without risk. The Sox have the right thought anyway pushing Hanley out to left and leaving the exciting young Xander Boegaerts at short. I like Rick Porcello for his extreme ground ball tilt at Fenway. Ditto Wade Miley. If the Sox get 2013 Justin Masterson they'll be thrilled. These guys better pitch well because it's anyone's guess as to what they'll get from Clay Buchholz after his horrid 2014.

I'm of two minds on San Diego. I'll give the Padres credit for making a lot of noise, but I'm not sure what to make of their noise. Matt Kemp reportedly has arthritic hips, and they sure gave up a lot of prospects for one year of Justin Upton. I doubt seriously he'll re-up to hit in spacious Petco Park. Getting Wil Myers from Tampa is fun, but you have to wonder about his being traded twice in two years. How's his wrist? The Padres are all in now, but with a load of right handed bats and not so good outfield defense.

Other deals of interest:

Uber leftie prospect Andrew Heaney went west to LA in the Dee Gordon/Dan Haren deal and then the Dodgers immediately flipped him down to the Angels for Howie Kendrick. I've always liked Kendrick, but Heaney has a chance to be special. 

Jon Lester to the Cubs gives them the number 1 they've needed since trading Samardzija. Adding Jason Motte isn't without risk, but he was lights out in 2012.

I like the Royals taking a chance on Kris Medlen. Yes he's coming off his second Tommy John, he'll be a bargain if he stays healthy.

The Mariners needed some right-handed wallup and Nelson Cruz brings that. I'm realistic though. He won't hit 40 playing for Seattle. 30? Perhaps. 

Toronto getting Josh Donaldson from Oakland was a nice. Sure the average was way down, but the third baseman still clubbed 29 home runs. He should go gangbusters up north.

St. Louis grabbing Jason Heyward from the Braves is a nice jolt for the Cards defense. I have a feeling they're going to get that power bat going again too.

One to watch:

In the Prado/Phelps to Miami deal the Yankees got hard throwing Nathan Eovaldi back. So far his career has been all about lighting up radar and not striking enough guys out. He is certainly a work in progress, but with a kid that throws as hard as he does..... We'll see. 


3) What deals left you scratching your head?

The deal Miami gave Giancarlo Stanton is bizarre. It's long, and heavily back loaded. Stanton has an opt out when he turns 30, but why would he bail for that kind of dough coming during his inevitable decline? He's not getting a new and better contract after he passes into his 30s. (I don't think anyway.) Whoever owns the Marlins will be paying Stanton a lot of money long after owner Loria is dead and in hell. 

Other than that.... It's not so much reservations as it is accepting that some teams are full on rebuilding. Oakland, Atlanta, and The Reds come to mind as clubs that seem to have already punted 2015. For Atlanta they are no doubt pushing for when their new park opens in 2017. And Oakland is just being Oakland. Billy Beane will always be looking for what he believes is the sell high for any player. 

I'm still waiting for the Yankees to do something big. Times have certainly changed. If the boss were still alive they'd pay whatever was necessary to bring in free agent ace Max Scherzer. His price tag is too much for the Yanks I'm reading. All that A. Rod money sitting on the books is a real drag on the budget.


4) Any significant fantasy ramifications?

With Robertson heading to the White Sox Dellin Betances is going to close for the Yankees. No one could hit him last year. He was phenomenal. That said guys are going to overpay like they do for closers all the time. If you're in a keeper league hopefully you stashed him away last year on the cheap. 

Don't pay Nelson Cruz for 40 home runs, but you knew that.

As I mentioned I'm intrigued by a change of scenery for Jason Heyward. 

Donaldson's price jumped.

Justin Upton will be a top five disappointment next season. 

Here's a cheap one dollar guy to profit on: The Mariners traded Michael Saunders to Toronto a couple of weeks ago. I've watched him for years, and yes while he's been a slow developing, injury prone disappointment, I can't help but feel there's a really good ballplayer in there. Keep an eye on him. 


5) As a Mariners fan, what do you make of their off season moves and how do you see the AL West shaping up in 2015?

Cruz will be a big boost. The best things they did though were the things they didn't do. The M's were in on all three Padres outfielders and that would have meant shipping off young pitching talent James Paxton and Tijuan Walker. The Mariners missed the playoffs by one game last year thanks to great pitching and defense. They still need to add another outfielder bat, but let's be smart about it. 

Tying up Kyle Seager long term was a no brainer. Make sure you watch him as much as you can next season. You probably knew he can hit, but 15 can flat out pick it too.

I really believe it'll be The Angels and Mariners going toe to toe in 2015. Oakland might have trouble finishing ahead of Houston believe it or not. The Rangers should be vastly improved just by vertue of having all those injured players back. 

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