Monday, December 25, 2006

Transaction Recap: Brewers, White Sox, Rangers, Padres, Royals, Twins, Devil Rays

Brewers

Signed SP Jeff Suppan to a 4-year, $42 million contract with a team option for 2011 (4)

As I detailed a few posts down, Suppan isn't the best man for the job, but it's good to see the Brewers taking an aggressive approach. SuppanSandwich is only the fourth best starter in his new rotation, but his signing prevents any of Milwaukee's NL Central rivals from getting him, and a reliable fourth starter is a very useful luxury for a team in contention.

Though I think the Brew Crew were correct to be aggressive in a weak division, a four-year contract for Suppan is hard to advocate. Injuries are a big enough concern for pitchers in long-term deals, but over the course of four years, a lot more things can go wrong with a soft-tosser than a power arm. I'd much rather have three years of Jason Schmidt, even at a slightly higher price, than four of Suppan.

White Sox/Rangers

White Sox (6) traded SP/RP Brandon McCarthy and OF David Paisano to Rangers (5) for SP John Danks, RP Nick Masset and SP Jacob Rasner

This trade surprised me, given Kenny Williams' stance that he wasn't going to give up five years of McCarthy at the trade deadline, but it's actually a favorable one for the Sox. Danks' minor-league statistics are promising; in fact, he looks much like a younger version of McCarthy, complete with another year and change of service time before free agency. (McCarthy was a better prospect at Danks' age, but his stock has fallen considerably in the past year.)

Like McCarthy, Danks has posted a poor ERA in the past year and a half as he moves to more difficult leagues, and his problems are related to allowing too many home runs. (22 homers in 140 innings in AA/AAA equates to an unacceptable rate in the majors.)

Nate Silver argues that McCarthy's problems with home runs, the big roadblock between him and an effective career, are largely the result of mistake pitches. As a Chicago-area viewer, I'd tend to agree, although I don't have film of every gopher ball handy. It's possible a new pitching coach could help him with it, but even with the proper discipline, a pitcher with McCarthy's flyball tendencies is going to give up 30 homers per year as a starter.

The throw-ins seem to favor the Sox. Paisano is an unknown quantity whose only experience is in the Venezuelan Summer League, while Masset is a nearly MLB-ready reliever. Rasner had an awful debut in A-ball last year, but he was just 19, so there's still time to see if he makes something of himself.

Padres

Signed 2b Marcus Giles to a 1-year, $3.25 million contract with a $4 million club option for 2008 (9)

Excellent job by the Padres. They were reportedly targeting Giles all winter, waited patiently for the second base market to sort itself out, and after the teams with holes had filled them, they swooped in and signed Giles at a discount price, perhaps using the presence of Marcus' brother Brian as negotiating leverage. That they managed to get the second year as a team option rather than a guaranteed year is icing on the cake, although it's unlikely the option will be declined.

Giles has averaged over 7.0 WARP the past four years, although BP is probably overrating his defense. Still, the Padres are likely adding a 4-5 win player for $3.25 mil. That's a hell of a deal.

Mark DeRosa is getting paid more annually on a longer contract. That's all you need to know about what a coup this was for San Diego.

Royals

Signed RP David Riske to a 1-year, $2 million contract with a club option for 2008 (6)

As the offseason develops, I become more and more confused about the Royals' plans. While Gil Meche may be around to see the fruits of the Royals' rebuilding efforts, Riske is a goner by that point. So why are they signing him?

I think it boils down to this: it's a good buy. Despite his apparent inconsistency, Riske has been a good reliever for four years and has a career ERA of 3.59 despite spending his entire career in the AL. I'm surprised he couldn't get more money or years than this; he's not that much worse than Justin Speier. This rating would be higher if the Royals were closer to contention, but they're likely to spend the 2007 season as the Detroit Lions of the AL.

Twins

Signed OF/DH Rondell White to a 1-year, $2.75 million contract (6)

This deal represents a reasonable risk for the potential reward. After all, White hit like Frank Thomas in the second half, with an .892 OPS. He's just one year removed from a .299 EqA season, and I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him be a productive player at age 35.

Of course, his ceiling is low, as he has no defensive value and can't be expected to play more than 100 games. The contract has an added bonus, though: it's small enough that the Twins can freely cut him if his start to 2007 resembles that of 2006. Of course, this relies on Ron Gardenhire actually replacing an "established" starter without having his hand forced, which is a George Mason-level longshot.

Devil Rays

Signed RP Al Reyes to a minor-league contract

This isn't huge news, but along with the other minor-league contracts they've given to pitchers, it shows the D-Rays are trying.

Besides, I like the potential upside. Reyes will have had 17 months of recovery time from surgery, and he was very effective in 2004-05 with the Cardinals with great peripherals. If he comes anywhere close to that level, he'll be a useful commodity to flip at the deadline.

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