Everything had to fall into place for the Rays to be able to sign a big bat for their open DH spot. The player would need to come on a short term deal and would have to have a reasonable annual salary. Those things happened because of the overflowing market for outfielders, and the Rays are very lucky to have ‘Pat the Bat’ under contract at a very under-market rate.
This signing pushes their payroll up to the 55-60 million dollar range. I’m guessing that they are done. No major holes need to be filled, no money left. The Rays will most likely head into 2009 with their current team.
Injecting Burrell into this lineup should make the Rays offense very solid next year. They have so many players likely to improve on what they did last year, and now they add ‘Pat the Bat’ to solidify things. Carl Crawford and BJ Upton should see their batting averages come back to life. Evan Longoria should improve all the parts of his game with the more experience he is getting. Burrell is obviously going to be better than what the Rays had at DH last year. Matt Joyce will be an improvement offensively and defensively in right field. I guess that you could see Dioner Navarro come back to earth, but when you look at the lineup as a whole, it is much improved. A lineup of Akinori Iwamura – Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria – Carlos Pena – Pat Burrell – BJ Upton – Dioner Navarro – Matt Joyce – Jason Bartlett is going to be very deadly for opposing pitchers to face. The defense, rotation, and bullpen should all remain the way they were last year, and the 97-win Tampa Bay Rays look primed to contend for a playoff spot once again.
A lot of teams passed on the chance to pick up a very good outfielder. The Angels, Reds, Braves, Phillies (before they signed Raul Ibanez), and other teams could’ve easily matched this offer. This is another reason why this is such a great signing by the Rays.
Things are going to be very tight in the AL East division. The Red Sox, Yankees, and of course Rays all stand a good shot at a playoff berth. First, I will analyze the starting rotations of these teams.
The Rays have the best rotation in my opinion. A rotation of Scott Kazmir – James Shields – Matt Garza – Andy Sonnanstine – David Price is very good, and very durable. The Yankees’ rotation might have more talent, but they also have a lot of injury-prone pitchers. (examples: AJ Burnett, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes) The Red Sox rotation also has their share of pitchers with an injury history (Josh Beckett, Disuke Matsuzaka, & Brad Penny). The Rays have the most durable rotation in the AL East.
I prefer Yankees and Red Sox lineups over the Rays, but not by much. If players like Upton and Crawford bounce back they’ll have a great hitting team. I guess that with those two players rebounding, and with Longoria advancing his batting skills with more experience, the Rays might have the best offense. I still lean toward the Yanks and BoSox, however, because those teams have more power.
The bullpens should all be near the same. The Rays might see some of the relievers come back to earth, but it should still be a solid group. It is pretty much a toss up between all 3 teams.
I know that defense doesn’t make a big impact on a teams’ win-loss record, but the Rays have the top one. Maybe it will tack on a couple wins over a team like the Yankees, who have a terrible defense.
The AL East race is shaping out to be the most competitive division in the MLB next year. I don’t know who I will pick, but I know things will be very close throughout.
The deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents was 12:00 P.M. Eastern Time yesterday. You can read all about free agent compensation here, see how the Elias ranking work here, and see those rankings here. Thanks to MLB Trade Rumors for all of these links. Below are players offered and not offered arbitration that I deemed questionable. Ignore the bolded posts; I can’t find a way to get rid of the.
- D’Backs don’t offer arb. to Adam Dunn. This was the dumbest decision of them all. Not to offer Dunn arbitration for fear he would accept is just plain sily. There would have been a 98% chance that he declines to sign for multiple years elsewhere, netting the D’Backs two picks. Even if for some reason he did accept the offer of arbitration, he would be a great trade chip. Dunn on a 1 year, 15 million dollar deal would bring back a lot in return. This makes zero sense to me and proves how cheap the D’Backs are.
- Phillies don’t offer arb. to Pat Burrell. It’s like the same thing as with Dunn. These guys are great players; they deserve an offer of arbitration. I know that the Phils don’t have much money to spend, but Burrell on a cheap 1 year deal would be a great piece to their team. They could either let Jamie Moyer go and keep Burrell, or even if they really wanted to not be stuck with Burrell, they could have just traded him. Like Dunn, he would make a lot of sense for a lot of teams for a year. This one does’t make much sense either.
- Yankees don’t offer arb. to Bobby Abreu. I find this surprising, because I know for a fact that Abreu would’ve declined and signed elsewhere on a multi-year contract. There was no way he was coming back to New York, and even if he did, he would be solid trade chip. I’m not understanding their logic on this one.
- Cubs don’t offer arb. to Kerry Wood. This was just flat out dumb. First of all, what were the chance that Wood would actually accept an offer of arbitration? I’d say around 20%. We all know that he deeply wants to stay with the Cubs, but I doubt he would sacrifice a possible 15-20 million to stick in Chicago. If Woody did accept, they could always just trade him. His salary would be moveable, and they could even get a decent prospect back. To me, this was just utter stupidness.
- Phillies don’t offer arb. to Jamie Moyer. I have no idea why Moyer didn’t get an offer. Wouldn’t the Phils like Jamie back on a 1 year deal at market price? Isn’t that what they are trying to get done this offseason; resign Moyer. I know that he stood a good chance of accepting, but I don’t think that would be a bad thing. At least you know you can get a pick if he does leave for whatever reason. Ruben Amaro has not had a very good start to his general managing career if you ask me.
- Astros don’t offer arb. to Randy Wolf. Remember when the Astros were supposedly the frontrunners for Ben Sheets? Now they can’t even afford Randy Wolf on a 1 year deal. I didn’t know that their payroll was this tight. Like a lot of other players on this list, he would have been very easy to trade had he accepted. Also, wasn’t this the reason for trading for Wolf, so that they could get a sandwich pick for some AAAA reliever? I think that trade is looking even worse now because the ‘Stros had to know at the time of the trade that they couldn’t afford to offer arb. to Wolf or to resign him. The Astros are one of the worst run franchises in all of baseball.
- Dodgers don’t offer arb. to Joe Beimel. This guy made only 2 million last year, and stands a great chance at nabbing at least a two year deal on the open market. I don’t see why the Dodgers wouldn’t offer to him. Beilmel would be a bargain on a 1 year deal, so he is a tradeable asset if the Dodgers truly didn’t want him.
- Cardinals don’t offer arb. to Braden Looper. He would be a great bargain on a one year deal, and is said to be looking for 3 years, making it likely he declines. Looper would’ve provided great depth to their rotation if they wanted him. Even if the Cards didn’t want him, he would be very easy to trade. This was a dumb decision and it will cost the Cards a sandwich pick.
- Cardinals don’t offer arb. to Russ Springer. I though they wanted him back. A 1 year deal at market value would be a good signing for them. I know that they knew he would accept, but that’s a good thing. Well, at least I think so.
- Mets don’t offer arb. to Luis Ayala. I know he was completely terrible last year, but he was solid in his stint with the Mets and has had a great track record his entire career. (except for last year, of course) He made only 1.7 million last year, and would be a solid signing for a year at about 2.5 million. If he declined, they would have gotten a draft pick for him.
As you can see there were a lot of teams that I felt made a mistake by not offering a key player arbitration. It looks like the economy is hurting everyone.
The Angels will have about 30 million to spend this offseason. The big question will be how to spend it. You can see their offseason needs here. Below are some possible scenarios.
- Sign Mark Teixera to a 23 million per year deal. With the remaining seven million, sign a setup reliever, resign Garret Anderson, and also sign a starting pitcher reclamation project. This fills all of their holes.
- Sign CC Sabathia to a 22 million per year deal. I’d only do this if they miss out on Mark Teixera, however. If this happens, sign Jason Giambi to a backloaded 2 year deal, sign a middle reliever, and bring back GA.
- If they miss out on both Tex and CC, then sign Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell to 14 million per year. Next, resign Francisco Rodriguez to a big contract. Finally, add Jason Giambi and a reclamation pitcher.
These are just three possible scenarios, but it’s what I would do if I was the GM of the Angels.
Pat Burrell is going to get a lot of money from some team. Lets look at who could offer the most.
Royals (frontrunner) Pat Burrell makes a lot of sense for the Royals. He is a big-bat left fielder with a ton of power. The Royals have a good amount of money to spend, but could probably, only afford one big name free agent. They could chose to go in a different direction and sign a shortstop or starting pitcher instead. This is a good possibility, however.
Braves (frontrunner) They too may decide to go in another direction such as adding a starting pitcher instead. The Braves could go for Burrell instead, however, if his price is low because there won’t be a huge market for him. He makes a lot of sense for their team if the want to add a big bat.
Mets (frontrunner) It seems as if they would rather go after a starting pitcher instead of a hitter. But if they get since the Braves and Phillies will be interested as well, the Mets might sign him anyway to keep him away from thoses two teams.
Angels (possible) They have shown interest in Burrell in the past and could go after him as a DH for 2009. If they can’t resign Mark Teixera I’m sure they’ll go all in for Burrell or Adam Dunn. Since they probably will resign Tex, I listed them as “possible.” If they miss out on Tex their the “frontrunners.”
Phillies (dark horse) They don’t have much money to spend at all, but if they trade Ryan Howard to open salary, or Burrell takes a big discount, then I could see him staying. He said he would like to return, as well.
This is a post where you can click on any tag you want to. It will be a side-bar link.
The Rockies are likely to entertain offers for Matt Holliday this winter. Lets take a look at some teams that could be interested.
Rockies (frontrunner) There is no clear fit for Holliday, making it likely that he stays put this winter. It seems as though teams would be more willing to sign a Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn, or Pat Burrell before trading top prospects for Holliday. I think he stays.
Rays (possible) If the Rays miss out on the big free agent targets named above then Holliday makes sense here. They would need to be willing to part with some prospects, however. I don’t think the Rox will ask for David Price again just as they did at the trade-deadline. I think Wade Davis and Reid Brignac would definatly get a deal done unless Dan O’Dowd is still asking for the moon like he did with Holliday and Brian Fuentes at the trade-deadline. I don’t know if the Rays would do that deal, either.
Angels (possible) The Angels are a possible destination if they miss out on Mark Teixera and maybe even if they bring back Tex. Nick Adenhart could be available and maybe Adenhart plus Sean Rodriguez = Matt Hoilliday. I think the Angels would do that move. The time for the Rockies to make that trade was July 28, 2008, however, because the Angels might of even offered more and gotten Holliday instead of Teixera. A deal still could be worked out, though.
Yankees (possible) The Yankees could pull off a trade for Holliday. If they let Bobby Abreu walk they could move Xavier Nady to right which opens up a run at Holliday to play left field. They would have to offer Phil Hughes or Austin Jackson, however. The Yankees seem to want to keep Jackson and make him their every-day center fielder at some point next year or in 2010 worst case scenerio. Hughes seems more likely, but that doesn’t mean they’ll move him. The Rockies would jump at a chance to get either, though, and you never know what Hank Steinbrenner will order Brian Cashman to do.
Phillies (possible) This might not happen becasue the Phillies don’t have much young talent. They would have to give up the entire farm to get him and that might not be enough. It would take a package of Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Greg Golson, and Joe Savery. This would kill the system, and I’m not sure they would want to do that for a rentall. They might not be able to afford it, either, unless they make a Ryan Howard trade and that doesn’t make a lot of sense unless they get a great offer. I don’t know if the Rox would even take that. They have a better center field prospect, better catcher, and get only 2 good, not great, pitching prospects.
Nationals (slim chance) It has been stated that the Nats could make a huge offer to the Rox and then ask for a 72 hour negotiation clause. Then they would offer him a major deal and get him to sign an extension with them. This doesn’t make much sense to me because A) Holliday will almost definatly want to test the free agent market unless he gets Scott Boras’ crazy demands in the extension. And B) Why don’t the Nats just keep their young talent and make this monster offer in the offseason of next year. I doubt this happens and if they’re even interested, Jim Bowden needs to be fired right away.
Royals (slim chance) They too are not likely for the same reasons the Nationals aren’t. But, since they are a possibility I will metion them.
Blue Jays (Dark Horse) This would be if my wild trade thought happens. I don’t think it’s likely, but that’s why they are a dark horse and not a favorite. You can see what I think about a possible aquisition in the link.
I recently throght of a wild trade that could potentially make sense between the Blue Jays and Rockies. The Blue Jays trade Roy Halladay and Lyle Overbay to the Rox for Matt Holliday and Garret Atkins. Yes, the Rockies lose a lot of fire power from their lineup, and the Jays lose their ace pitcher, but it still makes sense. The Rockies are said to be looking for an ace and Roy Halladay definatly fits the bill. They need to move one of Atkins/Holliday anyway to open room for Ian Stewart and could sign a big bat left fielder like Pat Burrell or Adam Dunn to fill the void left by Holliday. They could get Burrell or Dunn at a discount because they play in Coors Field and who wouldn’t want to come play there. It would be easier to lure one of them than it would to lure CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets. They also get a solid first baseman option in Overbay just in case Todd Helton is still hurt. This trade makes a lot of sense for the Rockies.
This also makes sense for the Blue Jays because adding Holliday and Atkins to the lineup would instantly give them a lineup that can compete with the Red Sox and Yankees. They lose their ace pitcher, but AJ Burnett is said to want to come back at the right price. If the Jays are without Halladay, I think they pay that price and bring Burnett back. A front two of Burnett and Shaun Marcum is pretty solid. They have other good pitchers as well. The bullpen is very good, and the lineup becomes good with this trade. I think this trade makes the Blue Jays a better team.