Offseason Moves: Big Teams making Big Moves

Robinson+Cano%2C+after+being+formally+introduced+by+the+Seattle+Mariners+during+a+news+conference%2C+visits+Safeco+Field+in+Seattle+on+Thursday%2C+Dec.+12%2C+2013.+Cano%27s+10-year%2C+%24240+million+deal+is+the+highest+ever+paid+out+by+the+team+for+a+player.+%28Dean+Rutz%2FSeattle+Times%2FMCT%29

DEAN RUTZ

Robinson Cano, after being formally introduced by the Seattle Mariners during a news conference, visits Safeco Field in Seattle on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Cano's 10-year, $240 million deal is the highest ever paid out by the team for a player. (Dean Rutz/Seattle Times/MCT)

Spring Training has finally arrived, and there are some new faces with new teams for the 2014 campaign, along with teams who decided to lock up their homegrown talent in pursuit of a World Series title. Let’s take a look at the top ten biggest moves that happened this offseason starting from the top.

1. Robinson Cano (2B) – signed a ten year contract with the Mariners worth $240 million. A huge payday for Cano, and also a big investment for the Mariners who are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Was the deal worth it? – While $240 million is a bit ridiculous for any player, Cano would be the player to give that kind of money to. Over his 9 year career, Cano has proven time and time again that he is incredibly dangerous at the plate in clutch situations. With a career batting average of .309, he’ll be a consistent threat in the Mariners’ lineup. Cano had the advantage of a shorter fence in New York with right field in Yankee Stadium being 314 feet deep, so his doubles are likely to increase a bit this year, but he’ll still hit his fair share of home runs.

2. Matt Garza (RHP) – signed a four year, $50 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers with the option for a 5th year on the table. This is a huge pickup for the Brew Crew who have struggled to evoke consistency from their starting pitchers for quite some time. While Garza’s ERA  was a bit high in the last couple of years with the Chicago Cubs, he’s a pitcher that can eat up innings if need be, and that’s something that you can’t put a price on. If Garza is able to get deep into ballgames, watch out.

Was the deal worth it? Absolutely. Garza seems to be consistent in his starts and has good life on his fastball along with a filthy slider. He’ll do well in Milwaukee if he gets run support from his offense.

3. Brian McCann (C) – signed a 5 year, $85 million deal with the New York Yankees. The Yankees have finally found a solid catcher again. After Jorge Posada retired, the Yankees seemed to be in a little bit of a slump with catchers, but they look to solve that problem by signing McCann to a long term contract.

Was the deal worth it? – A catcher with 8 years of MLB experience is invaluable. When it comes to Brian McCann, he brings a left handed power bat to that lineup who will hit plenty of home runs. Expect an increase in home runs from McCann this year with Yankee stadiums’ infamous short porch in right field, which is a left handed hitters’ pull field. This was a good deal for the Yankees because McCann will be a valuable hitter, and maybe first basemen, long after his catching days have come to an end.

4. Nelson Cruz (OF) – signed a deal with the Baltimore Orioles for 1 year, $8 million. Cruz will have an automatic impact in this lineup along with the league home run leader in 2013, Chris Davis. Despite his involvement in the Biogenesis investigation last season landing him a 50 suspension, Cruz will be primed for this season with a new team and a change of scenery.

Was the deal worth it? – This is a low risk, high reward type of deal. Afterall, it’s only 8.13 percent of a $97 million payroll (baseballprospectus.com). If Cruz performs, it’s worth every penny. If not, the Orioles only have to put up with it for one year. This deal is absolutely worth it because Cruz can hit for power and average. He can add 30 plus home runs to an already powerful lineup. Advantage, Orioles.

5. Braves Young Core Players – Freddie Freeman (8 years, $135 million), Jason Heyward (2 years, $13 million), Andrelton Simmons (7 years, $58 million), Craig Kimbrel (4 years, $42 million), and Julio Teheran (6 years, $32 million) all signed huge deals for the Braves and these could pay off for the organization in the long run. Signing young talent is the way the Braves do things, and the way that they have done things for a long time.

Were the deals worth it? – The Atlanta Braves spent the most money on Freddie Freeman, which makes the most sense seeing as how the first basemen has brought a consistent glove and bat every season since being called up.

6. Curtis Granderson (CF) – signed a 4 year, $60 million contract with the New York Mets. Granderson had problems with his wrist last year after getting hit by a pitch in Spring Training and missing the early part of the season. He hit only .229 last year, but he’s primed for a comeback, and could be a candidate for National League Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Was the deal worth it? – Granderson will turn 33 years old in this month, so by the time his contract expires, he’ll be 37, and maybe by then it’ll be time to call it quits for the speedy center fielder. The Mets got Granderson at the right time in his career because they’ll be able to squeeze the last ounce of baseball out of him before he moves out of his prime and into his older days. This was a huge pickup for the Mets, as they could possibly contend for a National League East title this season with stellar arms like Matt Harvey, who won’t be back from Tommy John surgery until later in the season, and Zach Wheeler. Granderson is just another good piece to the Mets’ puzzle.

7. Carlos Beltran (RF) – signed a 3 year, $45 million deal with the New York Yankees. The Yankees went shopping this winter and got a few good bats to help them get back to the playoffs. Beltran, who is 36 years old has always been a threat at the plate from both sides, who can hit for power and average, if need be.

Was the deal worth it? – Like Granderson, Beltran will be almost done with baseball after his contract expires, so the Yankees did the right thing by picking him up as it could be Beltran’s last go around in baseball. Any team would love to have this guy on their team. He produces year after year and strikes fear in the hearts of pitchers everywhere just when they are hoping to escape a tough jam.

8. Jacoby Ellsbury (CF) – signed a 7 year, $153 million deal with the, guess who, New York Yankees. Yes, Brian Cashman, general manager for the Yankees, went out and spent a ton of money on free agents this offseason. Ellsbury is 30 years old, so by the time his contract expires, he’ll be 37, and again the Yankees will have to go out and spend money on more free agents. If this is the approach they choose to take, more power to them. Ever heard of a farm system? Guess not.

Was the deal worth it? – In some ways it was, and in some ways it wasn’t. For a guy that has proven that he can consistently get on base, it’s a great move. However, for a guy that has also proven that he can’t stay off the disabled list for very long recently, it could end up hurting the Yankees from a financial standpoint if he doesn’t remain healthy.

9. Grant Balfour (CL) – signed a 2 year, $12 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. Aside from Craig Kimbrel, who has been arguably the best closer in baseball for the last couple of years, Balfour has been come close to replicating that performance. Before he signed with Tampa Bay, he was with the Oakland Athletics, and last year he recorded 38 saves.

Was the deal worth it? – Tampa Bay got a steal in this one. If Balfour can remain healthy, he’ll be a force as the Rays’ closer with the loss of Fernando Rodney to the Mariners. Tampa Bay needed this deal, and they made the right move by picking up Balfour Rage.

10. Last but not least, Ervin Santana (RHP) – signed a one year deal worth $14.1 million with the Atlanta Braves. Santana posted a 3.24 ERA last season for the Kansas City Royals in 32 starts. Santana’s slider is quite a force to be reckoned with. It’s got a huge downward break that can give even the best of hitters total nightmares.

Was the deal worth it? – Absolutely. After the Braves lost their ace Kris Medlen earlier in the month to his second Tommy John surgery in four years, a deal had to be done for a prominent starting pitcher. Cue Ervin Santana, who remained a free agent until March 12th, 2014, almost halfway through spring training. The Braves won’t rush him into the rotation, but he should be ready to go by April 12th, the deadline for a team to add a fifth starter. Kudos to the Braves organization for responding to a devastating injury to their ace, and would’ve been Opening Day starter, Kris Medlen.

As the season progresses, we’ll see how these deals work out. These are some the best players in the game at this point. If they come through for their team, each team mentioned above could end up in the Fall Classic, otherwise known as the World Series, and hoisting the trophy for their organization.