As you probably know MLB’s General Manager Meetings will be held next week in Dallas, Texas. We are sure to see several free agent signings there as clubs have their staff discussions and have immediate access to most all of the baseball agents in the same hotel.
There will also be the Rule V drafts and perhaps a few trades finalized. I mention this because there are several interesting transactions this week which I have to think are in preparation for those meetings as well as for the 2012 season.
Here are a few transactions in the last few days that I didn’t see much ink on:
The Cleveland Indians traded 2B Luis Valbuena to the Toronto Blue Jays for cash. I like Valbuena as a middle infielder with some pop and some speed and felt he was always looked past in Cleveland with their many MI prospects. Toronto offered salary arbitration to Kelly Johnson and with the new CBA in place will be a modified Type A free agent meaning that a club that signs him would not have to forfeit a draft pick. Johnson will likely turn down Toronto’s arbitration offer to look for a multi-year free agent contract (good luck with that Kelly – although you are lucky that most General Managers didn’t have you on their fantasy teams the last couple of years or they would know to stay away). If the Blue Jays don’t sign a free agent second baseman, Valbuena would have a chance to compete for that job; if they do then he would likely compete with Mike McCoy as a bench infielder.
The Kansas City Royals signed former LA Dodger closer Jonathan Broxton to a one year contract believed to be in the $4 million range. Broxton gives the Royals a lot of flexibility if he is healthy – he could setup Joakim Soria, or step in as the closer if the club either trades Soria or moves him back to the starting rotation (where he was before being moved to the bullpen).
In a somewhat surprising move the San Francisco Giants released OF Darren Ford. Ford, one of the fastest runners in baseball was not given much of a chance the last few seasons while GM Brian Sabean hired lots of veteran players ahead of younger outfielders. With Gary Brown on the way to CF in 2013, Ford once again didn’t have many opportunities with the Giants but may well find another employer.
Similarly the Pittsburgh Pirates released flychaser Xavier Paul. Strange because Paul played pretty well for the Pirates after coming over from the Dodgers, but with Alex Pressley making a good case to join Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata in the outfield and with Robbie Grossman’s showing in the AFL this year I guess Pittsburgh thought Paul was expendable. There are clubs he might help in 2012 either as a fourth outfielder or possibly as a platoon partner.
Both of these last transactions seem to me to have the additional ring of teams having to sign some minor league players to the forty man roster to protect them from the Rule V draft or to make room for either free agent or trade targets.