National League Central Offseason Moves

Cubs dump perennial headache Milton Bradley.

Post By – Pigpen

We continue our review of offseason moves (so far) with a look at the NL Central.  Transaction lists courtesy of the fantastic MLB Trade Rumors.

Cubs

  • Acquired/Re-signed: John Grabow, Ryne White, Scott Maine, Jeff Gray, Matthew Spencer, Ronny Morla, Mike Parisi, Carlos Silva, Marlon Byrd
  • Lost: Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman, Aaron Miles, Jake Fox, Milton Bradley

The Cubs’ biggest signing this offseason has been Marlon Byrd.  Presumptively pushed for by newly-hired hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, the Cubs have to hope this works out better than the last time they signed an outfielder from Texas.  Some call Byrd “the epitome of an average player,” I tend to agree more with Keith Law’s take that Byrd is “nice fourth outfielder who could play every day on a non-contender.”

Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva has been the most discussed move, and has described in a number of colorful ways: MLB’s White Elephant deal, something that makes no sense for the Cubs, good riddance to a million dollar pain in the ass, or, my favorite, a deal in which “we all lose.”  The Cubs were desperate to get rid of Bradley, who can’t get along with anybody, and last year, couldn’t hit, the one thing he’s always been able to do (when healthy), while the Mariners saw an opportunity to buy low while getting rid of Silva’s albatross of a contract.

Regardless of what you call it, it is clear that these teams both felt the players would be better off in a new situation.

The Cubs re-signed John Grabow, and Dave Cameron at Fangraphs put it best calling it a “waste of cash.” This deal is one of the worst so far this winter.

Getting anything for mostly-worthless Aaron Heilman was the best move for the Cubbies of the offseason.  Unfortunately when you’re a big market club, that isn’t going to cut it.  Seriously, what if the Yankees or Red Sox went an entire off-season and their biggest move was Marlon Byrd, and best move was trading a random middle reliever?  I understand that the NL Central is not the AL East, but this just goes to show you the state that the Cubs are in right now.  They’re broke from bad signings (Fukudome, Zambrano’s extension, Bradley, etc.), and have wasted their farm system by trading valuable prospects for players like Kevin Gregg.

Chicago-native and PR professional Curtis Granderson would have been a much better fit in center than Marlon Byrd.  Unfortunately, the Cubs didn’t have the prospects or cash to pull off the deal.  I’m going to go pour out an Old Style to another 100 years of losing.

Reds

  • Acquired/Re-signed: Justin Lehr, Wilkin Castillo, Laynce Nix, Ramon Hernandez, Aroldis Chapman
  • Lost: Danny Richar, Ramon Ramirez, Craig Tatum, Ben Jukich

The Reds have signed Aroldis Chapman for $30 million.  Very surprising that they went this high on him as a mid-market team.  While I may have a big market bias, this makes me question Chapman – the Yankees, Angels, or Red Sox could afford his asking price, so why did they pass?  Admittedly, there could be non-financial reasons behind Chapman winding up in Cincy.  According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Oakland finished second in the bidding.  Somewhere, Stephen Strasburg has to be wishing he’d been born outside of the U.S. in light of Chapman, a similar prospect, doubling his salary.

Quickly: they re-signed Rolen to an extension/restructuring to save money this year, they are clearly cash-strapped and admit that they are attempting to cut payroll.  They tried to move Harang and presumptively Arroyo and Brandon Phillips.

Remember when the Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez trade was a win-win?  Now it’s more of a lose-lose.

Also, as a former Jay Bruce owner in fantasy baseball, if I read one more article about Jay Bruce’s 2009 BABIP I will have my Master’s in Jay Bruce’s 2009 BABIP.  Congratulations to me.

Astros

  • Acquired/Re-signed: Jason Bourgeois, Chris Shelton, Alex Romero, Drew Meyer, Oswaldo Navarro, Gary Majewski, Casey Daigle, Roy Corcoran, Matt Lindstrom, Pedro Feliz, Brandon Lyon, Jason Michaels, Gustavo Chacin, Edgar Ferreira, Geoff Blum, Brett Myers
  • Lost: Chris Coste, LaTroy Hawkins, Luis Bryan, Robert Bono, Jorge Jimenez, Geoff Geary

Two things stand out about the Astros’ offseason: (1) They signed Sheletor; (2) they signed someone named Oswaldo.

Additionally, they just signed Brett Myers, and Brandon Lyon’s agent deserves a huge raise.  Seriously, how on earth did Lyon get a 3 year deal worth $15 million when, as Keith Law put it,  “His biggest selling point seemed to be that he could come at a small discount to teams that were willing to shy away from his inability to strike hitters out?”  Ed Wade ladies and gentlemen!

Pedro Feliz will be a reasonable facsimile of Miguel Tejada’s performance for the Astros, meaning that without improving other parts of their ballclub, the ‘Stros will continue to mire in mediocrity.

Brewers

  • Acquired/Re-signed: Adam Stern, Carlos Gomez, Mark DiFelice, Craig Counsell, Trevor Hoffman, Claudio Vargas, George Kottaras, Chris Capuano, John Halama, Gregg Zaun, Trent Oeltjen, Luis Cruz, Chuck Lofgren, Randy Wolf, A.J. Murray, LaTroy Hawkins, Kameron Loe, Matt Treanor
  • Lost: Jason Bourgeois, Corey Patterson, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall, J.J. Hardy, Mike Rivera

Two significant moves by the Brewers this offseason: Randy Wolf signed for 3/$30, and they traded persona non grata J.J. Hardy to the Twins for Carlos Gomez.

Gomez can’t hit, but will be a nice replacement for Mike Cameron in center.  Hardy slumped last year offensively, but it may have been due to bad luck.  He did manage to maintain his excellent defensive numbers, but with stud prospect Alcides Escobar ready to take over for him at short stop, a trade made sense.

It has long been speculated that the Brewers would land Mark Mulder, but nothing has happened yet.  The Brewers have also been linked to Jon Garland, Jarrod Washburn, and former-Brewer Doug Davis.

The Brewers also wasted $7.5 million on LaTroy Hawkins.  Apparently over paying for veteran relief is the thing to do in the NL Central (see, e.g., Hawkins, Lyon, and Grabow).  Shocking that it wasn’t the Pirates or Cardinals throwing away $11 million on Fernando Rodney.

Pirates

  • Acquired/Re-signed: Justin Thomas, Akinori Iwamura, Chris Jakubauskas, Wilfredo Ledezma, Vinnie Chulk, Bobby Crosby, John Raynor, Javier Lopez, Ryan Church, Brian Bass, Luke Carlin, Bryan Myrow
  • Lost: Luis Cruz, Chris Bootcheck, Jesse Chavez, Eric Hacker, Robinzon Diaz, Phil Dumatrait, Matt Capps

Another quiet offseason in the Steel City, but if you’re a Pirates fan, I’d call that a good thing.  The alternative is the Nationals’ offseason plan: Spend millions for marginal players who will never help your team get to the playoffs.

The Pirates signed former Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby, but the infield move that I liked was the one for Iwamura.  As Dave Cameron noted:

Aki Iwamura is not going to lead the Pirates to the playoffs, but he’s also a potentially useful player who will improve the 2009 club without harming the development of any significant pieces and likely came at a low cost to the organization. There is value in these kinds of transactions, even for teams that aren’t going to be winners next year. Just because a team won’t be contending in 2010 doesn’t mean they should avoid investing in the 2010 product.

He makes the team more watchable, is signed to a reasonable salary on a short-term deal, and they didn’t have to give up a valuable property to get him.

In a fairly surprising move, former closer Matt Capps was non-tendered.  While he was not particularly effective last year, it looks like that was due to a spike in his homerun rate.  If he can bring that back down, he may be able to come close to matching his ERA of 2007 (2.28) or 2008 (3.02).  Mostly Pirates fan should be furious that they got nothing for someone with value.  Then again, Pirates fans should be used to this already.

Cardinals

  • Acquired/Re-signed: Jason LaRue, Ruben Gotay, Brad Penny, Ben Jukich, Matt Holliday
  • Lost: Jarrett Hoffpauir, Brad Thompson, Joe Thurston, Mark DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Mike Parisi, Brian Barden, Mark DeRosa

The big news out of the Show Me State this offseason is that the Cardinals re-signed Matt Holliday to a 7-year, $120 million dollar deal.  With Jason Bay signing in New York, it’s not clear to me who the Cardinals were competing with for Holliday’s services.

With Matt Holliday at $17 million per year, and an extension coming for Pujols that figures to be in the $25 million range, the Cardinals will have roughly 40% of their payroll ($88 million last season) tied up in 2 players.  Additionally, Chris Carpenter will earn $14.5 million in 2010 and $15 million in 2011, along with a $15 million club option for 2012.  Further, Adam Wainwright will cost $9 million in 2012 and $12 million in 2013 if his options are picked up.

These are all good players, and one is probably the best player in baseball.  But, I have to ask – is this presumptive stars-and-scrubs model one that can be sustained over the long haul?

Penny was a good buy low opportunity due to his bad luck last season.

Seems like the Cardinals will eventually add the aforementioned Miguel Tejada, or Felipe Lopez, to man the hot corner in light of DeRosa’s signing with the Giants.

With this news coming out last week, do we need to consider hitting instructor Mark McGwire as an addition?

About firstorderhistorians

FOH is Troy Greer and Chad Brownfield. Troy and Chad began writing together on www.lastlifemedia.com and then moved on to other writing projects. Troy currently lives in Michigan and plays in a band called Seperated By Miles. Chad resides in Illinois and talks to people for a living.

7 thoughts on “National League Central Offseason Moves

  1. All I have to say about Milton Bradley is “Congrats” because he found another team dumb enough to fall for signing him.

    And of course everyone will be playing catch up to LAA anyway, and the Mariners don’t have enough to make a playoff run…

    The Cardinals probably talked it up like they were at odds with some other team over Holliday but I think it was all done to drum up interest for themselves by signing him.

    I’ll still never understand why Bay can’t stay in one place either…I’ve always thought he was too solid to move around as much as he does.

    Another good write up though for sure…

    • Ravenation

      Well when you have Scott Boras representing you and the dumb ass GM’s around MLB. What else can you expect but for team to overpay for talent that’s marginally above average at best.

      Selig and his minions just simply can’t get into their thicks skulls as to how dire the situation is with regard baseball’s finances.

      Look at the mess that the Mets are now in ? The Wilpon family as the team’s owners have seen $600 million wiped off the ‘family’s fortune’ because of the Madoff scandal. And they owe the state of New York as well as the federal government several million dollars in taxes.

      Alan Parkins

    • cal

      As an organization the Mets are a complete joke ! You’ve Beltran saying one thing and Minaya in their front office saying something completely different. Johan Santana , given a second chance must wish he either stayed with the Twins or perhaps signed with either the Yankees or Red Sox. He’s not going to win a thing at all with the Mets. They haven’t the stomach to be competitive and in David Wright you’ve got a poor man’s Derek Jeter !

      Alan Parkins

  2. Pingback: NL West Offseason Moves « First Order Historians

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