Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Week That Was: American League East

This continues a division-by-division look at last week's transactions in baseball. See the National League East entry for ground rules.

Traded for: Nobody
Traded away: Nobody
Free agents signed: Nobody

A lot of gnashing of teeth in Charm City.

Traded for: SP Rick Porcello, SP Wade Miley
Free agents signed: SP Justin Masterson

2015 Impact: It seemed the main focus of the Red Sox's past week was their failure to land free agent and former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, who signed with the Cubs. However, they added a pretty good pitcher (Porcello achieved career bests in innings, victories, ERA, WHIP, and walk percentage en route to a 3.43 ERA), a decent pitcher (Miley's ERA rose by eight tenths of a run from 3.55 in 2013 to 4.34 in 2014 but his peripherals were steady and he topped 194 innings pitched for the third straight season), and a pitcher who was awful last year (Masterson compiled a 5.88 ERA for two teams) but is due for a good year (Masterson is 26-20 with a 3.32 ERA in odd-numbered years this decade, 24-37 with a 5.08 ERA in even numbered years). Cespedes helps thin out a crowded outfield and he'll be a free agent after next season, so his departure doesn't hurt much. The Red Sox surrendered a lot of young players in these trades but didn't surrender any of their crown jewels (Wilson, 28, isn't actually all that young, but he's pitched only 56 big-league innings, making him the all-time leader in innings pitched for players born in Saudi Arabia.)

2016+ Impact: I don't see this as the typical established-players-for-prospects deal whose value shifts to the prospects as the years go by if the Red Sox can sign Porcello, who's due to become a free agent after the 2015 season, to an extension. If they can't, they won't be left with much, especially if their flyer on Masterson doesn't work. 


Traded for: SS Didi Gregorius
Traded away: SP Shane Greene
Free agents signed: RP Andrew Miller

2015 Impact: Gregorius is in the unenviable position of being The Guy Who Replaced Derek Jeter. Advanced fielding metrics don't see him as a standout fielder, but he'll be an improvement for the Yankees. He was a pretty bad hitter last year (.226/.290/.363 slash line) but that's because the lefty hitter was useless against southpaw pitchers. Against righties, he batted a respectable .247/.304/.402, so if the Yankees platoon him, as GM Brian Cashman has suggested, he could work out OK. Lefty reliever Miller is one of the prize pickups of this year's free agent class, though the track record of left-handed relievers in recent years is pretty frightening, and Miller was really bad (5.79 ERA from 2006 to 2011) before he became really good (2.57 ERA in the three seasons since) . Still, it seems pretty clear that the Yanks have improved. 

2016+ Impact: That depends on Miller not turning into a pumpkin and Greene not turning into a star. Greene was OK for the Yankees last year, with a slightly better-than-average 3.78 ERA in 15 appearances, all but one starts, but he's already 26, so I don't know that there's a lot of upside. 

Traded for: Nobody
Traded away: Nobody
Free agents signed: Nobody

They still can't believe Friedman and Maddon left.

Traded forOF Michael Saunders
Traded awaySP J.A. Happ
Free agents signed: Nobody

2015 Impact: The Jays made two huge moves in November, signing free agent catcher Russell Martin and trading for third baseman Josh Donaldson, so they were due for a breather. Saunders was hurt half of last year with shoulder and oblique injuries but has been a consistently above-average offensive performer. Happ hasn't had a better-than-average ERA since 2010. I like this trade for the Jays.

2016+ Impact: Happ's a free agent after the 2015 season, Saunders after 2016, so even if neither re-signs, this is a better trade for Toronto beyond 2015.

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