Hot Stove Notes: December 5th, 2011.

An article by posted on December 5, 2011

Welcome to one of the most exciting times in the Major League Baseball off-season…the Winter Meetings! Front office representatives from all MLB organizations will be making their way to Texas for the next few days, with the anticipation of some wheeling and dealing starting to happen for the top tier free agents. Over this past week, there were more small market deals, until the Marlins made a big splash last night before the official start of the meetings:

  • Kansas City signs Jonathon Broxton to a one-year/ $4 million deal.
  • Tampa Bay signs Jose Molina to one-year/$1.8 million deal.
  • LA Dodgers sign Chris Capuano for two-years/$10 million.
  • Miami signs Heath Bell for three-year/$27 million.
  • Miami signs Jose Reyes for six-years/$106 millon.

Again, like last week, it might be tough to see why these smaller deals (outside of Heath Bell) are a big deal, but let me help a little.

As you can see from my previous post on the Royals, you knew that the Royals were looking for pitching, specifically in their bullpen to bridge the gap to their closer, Joakim Soria. Jonathon Broxton started to build his reputation as a legitimate closer from 2008 to 2010, but with an ineffective 2011 (mostly due to injury), he was looking for a short-term opportunity to prove his health and up his value in the free agent market next off-season. So, he will be setting up for the Royals next year, acting as that bridge to Soria. If he comes back healthy, this could prove to protect many more leads for Kansas City.

Now, why is this a significant signing? I know that Yadier Molina is the best catcher out of all the Molina brothers, but even those Jose has been a backup for his entire career, he has been one of the best defensive back stops over the past decade. He has thrown out 40% of base stealers during his 12-year career and has a great reputation in helping young pitchers grow. Since the Rays declined the option on Kelly Shoppach and recently dealt John Jaso, they were looking for a defensive minded catcher to platoon with Jose Lobaton. Enter, Mr. Molina.

As a New York Mets fan, I was able to watch Chris Capuano pitch quite a bit and I really enjoyed watching him compete. Coming off an injury, Capuano signed a one-year deal with New York to show the rest of the league that he is healthy. He compiled an 11-12 record with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP, which isn’t all that impressive, but he is a left-hander that threw 186 innings. So, having a reliable starter that will go out there every fifth day to compete and keep his team in the game is very important.

In what is probably one of the bigger splashes so far in this slow Hot Stove season, Heath Bell has agreed to close ball games for the Miami Marlins for the next three years, earning $27 million. There is also an option for a fourth year, which could make the deal with $36 million. I’m very surprised that Bell has decided to join the Marlins, but this puts Miami on the map going into the Winter Meetings; they can woo other big time free agents with the fact that they just signed the reliever that has accumulated the most saves over the last three years.

Jose Reyes waves goodbye to the New York Mets and says hello to the Miami Marlins to the tune of six years and $106 million. The Marlins had decided to make a big charge to get Reyes at the Winter Meetings, and they were able to do so before the events even started today. He was the focal point of their off-season plans, especially when they contacted him the minute after the exclusive negotiating period with the Mets had ended in November. Now, the Marlins have said that they are going to focus on attracting Albert Pujols as well, and he has a nine-year offer sitting on the table from Miami. The Mets didn’t seem to do much to retain their homegrown shortstop, rumored to have a five-year/$80 million contract to offer Reyes, and Alderson said last night that if the offer from the Marlins was legitimate, then they are out of the bidding. I applaud Alderson because he stuck by his guns, he told everyone how he was going to approach Jose, and he did just that. It wouldn’t have been worth overpaying for his services because he has been injury prone over the last three seasons. New York will most likely turn to Ruben Tejada to replace Reyes at shortstop at Citi Field.

Look for things to really get interesting this week, especially with the free agents that everyone has been talking about since the Cardinals closed out the World Series.

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