Grading the 10 Biggest Moves of the 2014 MLB Offseason So Far

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Grading the 10 Biggest Moves of the 2014 MLB Offseason So Far

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB offseason is underway, and there have been key transactions already. This year’s free agent class entails a small amount of big names. Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury headline the bunch as the two most coveted free agents. Tier two free agents include Brian McCann, Mike Napoli, and Nelson Cruz. This particular class of free agents has a significant amount of mediocre players, but their services will be a much welcomed help to any ball club. Still, there are a minimal amount of free agents that can make a long-term, substantial impact on a team.

Teams are looking for players that have the ability to solidify the middle of their lineups. Napoli, McCann, Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Jarred Saltalamacchia, and Carlos Beltran are sought-after by any team that wants to compete. There are not many impactful infielders available this offseason so shortstop Stephen Drew will most likely be overpaid for his services. This free agency class also lacks starting pitching. However, there are a handful of serviceable veteran pitchers that have value to contenders. Tim Hudson, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, and Jason Vargas are among the pitchers being looked at to strengthen the back end of many teams’ rotations.

Many of the names mentioned have already found a team, while some are still searching for the right deal. It will definitely be interesting to see how teams will improve their rosters this year. The offseason has gotten off to a terrific start, and we will take a look on how teams have fared thus far.

Michael LeDuc is a contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @mike_leduc, like his Facebook page, and add him on Google.

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10. Dodgers sign Dan Haren

Dan Haren
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B

On just a one-year deal, the Los Angeles Dodgers give themselves much needed pitching depth. Dan Haren is not as good as he was two years ago, but he still has electrifying stuff at times. He has a great value as a fourth or fifth starter on a contending team and is a safe one-year rental.

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9. Josh Johnson Signs with Padres

Josh
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B-

I love one-year deals! Obtaining low-risk, high-reward players, especially pitchers, is one of the smartest moves in baseball. Josh Johnson struggled mightily in the powerful AL East last season, and he is clearly not built for the American League. He had an atrocious 2013 season, and signs aren’t exactly pointing in a good direction. You can’t blame a 6.18 ERA solely on pitching in the American League, but a move back to the National League may be exactly what this guy needs to be dominant again. If he returns to form he could potentially lead this young San Diego Padres staff.

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8. Phillies Re-sign Carlos Ruiz

Carlos Ruiz
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: C

Oh goodness, definitely a panic move by the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies were scared to lose Ruiz, so they overpaid him and even added an extra year to make sure he stayed. On one hand, I don’t blame them for holding onto a veteran catcher. Carlos Ruiz is a steady player who plays a very important position. But the Phillies overpaid for a guy who hit .268 with five home runs and an OPS of .688. $12 million was way too much.

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7. Jason Vargas Signs with Royals

Vargas
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B-

Perhaps the signing of Jason Vargas is preparation for an Ervin Santana exit. Vargas isn’t nearly as good as Santana is, but he’s still a pitcher with much value. The Kansas City Royals did not have to overpay for Vargas’ services so I gave this move a “B” because of the dollars attached. The Royals paid exactly what they are going to get out of Vargas. He adds depth and is a solid middle-of-the-rotation pitcher.

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6. Giants Re-sign Tim Lincecum

Tim Lincecum
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: C-

If you are going to overpay a pitcher, then sign him for one year. The San Francisco Giants re-signed the former Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum for two years and $35 million. As you all know by now, I am all for one-year contracts. Lincecum has struggled the last two years. He is not the pitcher that dominated a few years ago. The Giants have overpaid a pitcher who is most likely going to have an ERA over 4.00 next year. One year may have been fine, but if he struggles again this season the second year’s salary will hurt.

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5. Cardinals Trade David Freese to Angels

David Freese
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Grade (Cardinals): C+

Grade (Angels): B-

It’s hard to predict how this trade will work out for the Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals obtained outfielder Peter Bourjos and a handful of prospects for former World Series MVP David Freese. This move adds needed depth to the outfield, plus the Cardinals have possibly filled the void at third base with the signing of Peralta. The Cardinals may have sold Freese low after his down year. The return pieces are not very significant going forward, but time will tell. As for the Angels, the need at third base is filled at a low price.

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4. Giants Sign Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B

The two-year deal worth $23 million is a deal I can get on board with. The San Francisco Giants added an experienced veteran pitcher who still has enough in the tank to contribute. Tim Hudson is a solid option behind Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. If Tim Lincecum can rise from the dead, the Giants will have an excellent pitching staff. The ankle injury is the only concern for the 38 year old, but he can essentially help turn this team around.

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3. Jhonny Peralta Signs with Cardinals

Peralta
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B-

If Jhonny Peralta was effective at shortstop this would be a much better deal for the St. Louis Cardinals. Instead, they’re giving four years and $52 million to a third baseman to replace David Freese. It’s a legitimate upgrade from Freese, but the Cardinals really needed the upgrade at shortstop position. Nonetheless, it’s a much needed bat in the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup.

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2. Yankees Sign Brian McCann

Brian McCann
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: A

Brian McCann is an excellent addition for the New York Yankees. The catcher position has been a weakness since Jorge Posada retired. McCann’s left handed power will be extremely viable in Yankee Stadium with the short porch in right. Five years and $85 million might be excessive for a soon-to-be 30 year old. He’ll wrack up quite a bit of miles, but he can play DH in a couple of years if his legs start to betray him. His power helps solidify the Yankees’ lineup and his veteran leadership behind the plate can help bring the pitching staff back to form.

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1. Tigers Trade Prince Fielder for Rangers' Ian Kinsler

Prince Fielder
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Grade (Tigers): A

Grade (Rangers): C-

The Detroit Tigers have shed Prince Fielder’s contract who was owed an average of $24 million per year until 2020. In return, they get a serviceable player, Ian Kinsler. His contract has four years and $62 million left. Kinsler does not have the power of Fielder, but he can be just as valuable. The Tigerscan now move Cabrera to first base where he will last much longer. The Rangers fill a need short-term, but the withering Fielder is a terrible long-term plan. His power will help the Rangers for the next couple of years.

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