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Big League Stew

Done Deals: Ben Revere trade to Philly caps winter meetings activity

David Brown
Big League Stew

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We kept a running list of trades and signings that went down during the winter meetings. Thanks for reading and come back for more signings and trades as the offseason continues!

Thursday

Twins send Ben Revere to Phillies for Vance Worley, Trevor May
For the second time this offseason, the Minnesota Twins have traded a starting center fielder, moving 24-year-old Ben Revere to Philadelphia for right-handers Vance Worley and Trevor May. Back in November, the Twins dealt Denard Span to Washington. The Phillies, needing a center fielder ever since they dealt Shane Victorino down the stretch, will control Revere for at least four more seasons. They give up Worley, a part of their starting rotation the past two seasons, even if he wasn't an ace. He finished 2012 with a 4.20 ERA in 133 innings — reduced because of elbow pain. Rated the 69th best prospect by Baseball America before the 2012 season, May hasn't pitched above Class AA, where he posted a 4.87 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 149 2/3 innings in 2012.

BLS take: Whoa, another center fielder dealt from Minnesota? Somebody help Terry Ryan — he can't stop! But the Twins' GM has a plan to re-stock the team's pitching staff. He's added Worley, May and top prospect Alex Meyer (for Span) and has young outfielder Aaron Hicks waiting in the wings to play center. So he has traded players who can be replaced.

Defensively, Revere is one of the best outfielders in the league (considering range, not arm strength), and is capable of making the most spectacular of plays. He always hit over .300 in the minors and batted .294 in his second full season with the Twins. He also has 74 career stolen bases, so his speed kills. But he doesn't draw many walks and has yet to hit a home run in 1,064 plate appearances. The Phillies see Revere as a young Michael Bourn, but the statistical comparisons seem superficial. Revere's a great defensive center fielder with a noodle arm who's probably suited to bat eighth. That doesn't make it a bad trade.

Worley and May (assuming he develops) seem like a lot, but it's approximately what any team would have paid for Revere. Worley, also 24, is a good fourth or great fifth starter going forward. Nothing to sneeze at. The key is May, who has to develop his command, having walked 276 batters in 525 1/3 career innings. He could be a very good No. 3 starter, possibly a weaker No. 2. Better than Nick Blackburn and friends. — Dave Brown

Wednesday


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(AP)

Angels sign Blanton for $15 million

Needing starting help with Dan Haren departing for D.C. and Zack Greinke presumably too expensive to keep as well, the Los Angeles Angeles signed right-hander Joe Blanton for two years and $15 million, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Soon to be 32 years old, Blanton has a 4.37 ERA in 228 career starts with the A's, Phillies and Dodgers. He finished 2012 with a 4.71 ERA, along with 166 strikeouts and 34 walks in 30 starts.

BLS take: Blanton has not finished with an ERA that's better than the league average since 2009. In '12, his hit rate was near his career average, and his walk and strikeout rates were the best of his career, so that's encouraging. He's got a chance to be a good fifth starter, maybe a No. 4 if everything goes right. But for $7.5 million per season averaged out, he won't be much of a bargain. His goatee remains formidable.  — Dave Brown

Lefties double-up! Sean Burnett signs with Angels, Randy Choate goes to Cardinals

The Angels added Burnett, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, for two seasons with an option for a third, as confirmed by Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. He'll make $8 million the first two seasons. Burnett, who turned 30 in September, apparently priced himself beyond the budget for the Washington Nationals. He posted a 2.38 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 12 walks in 56 2/3 innings there in 2012. He has a 3.58 ERA in 362 1/3 career innings.

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How does Randy Choate's elbow stand it? (AP)

Reporter Sweeny Murti of WFAN radio (via Jon Heyman of CBS) had Choate headed to St. Louis, which gave him a three-year deal for $7.5 million. Choate, 37, has led the league in appearances in two of the past three seasons. He finished with a 3.03 ERA in 38 2/3 innings (80 games!) for the Marlins and Dodgers.

BLS take: Burnett is one of the more durable relievers in the majors, appearing an average 71 times the past four seasons. He did have surgery after 2012 to remove bone spurs, which he simply pitched through. Burnett, as you could figure, has been better against left-handed batters (.628 OPS vs. .746 against righties), though in 2010 he was oddly effective against righties. The Angels are doing a solid job of repairing their bullpen, also having added right-hander Ryan Madson this offseason. Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri are also in the mix.

BLS take: Randol Doyle Choate is an archetypical one-out lefty, or LOOGY. He has made 476 career appearances while compiling just 309 1/3 innings, allowing a .563 OPS against lefties and .806 against righties. He's a side-armer and has a healthy track record, but 37 years old seems advanced for a three-year deal. The Cardinals had trouble with their lefty situation in 2012 and Choate locks that down. The deal is not that out of whack. — Dave Brown

Eric Chavez signs one-year, $3 million deal with Arizona Diamondbacks
Chavez, who turns 35 on Friday, will play his 16th big-league season while wearing a D-backs uniform, Jack Magruder of FoxSportsArizona reports. The injury-prone veteran just had one of his healthiest season in years, hitting .281/.348/.496 with 16 homers and 37 RBIs for the New York Yankees.

BLS take: With such a small financial risk, you wonder why Brian Cashman couldn't have re-signed Chavez for both insurance and versatility he brought the Yankees last season. But it's a good and cheap move for the D-backs who will receive a left-handed bat for the left side of their infield. — Kevin Kaduk

Nate McLouth signs one-year, $2 million deal with Baltimore Orioles

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(Getty Images)

The veteran outfielder will return to Camden Yards for another go-round in the AL East, reports Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. Ken Rosenthal says the deal is worth $2 million plus another $500,000 in incentives.

BLS take: McLouth's play down the stretch for the O's last season was a fun story to watch. While many observers had written off the former All-Star's career, the 31-year-old hit .268/.342/.435 with seven homers and 18 RBIs over 55 games. The performance was enough to guarantee McLouth a paycheck for 2013 as well as an opportunity to play for a longer deal if he can prove that 2012 was not a fluke. — Kevin Kaduk

Jeff Keppinger signs three-year, $12 million deal with Chicago White Sox
The utility man is headed to the Windy City, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Keppinger is coming off a career year with the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting .325/.367/.439 with nine homers and 40 RBIs over 115 games.

BLS take: It's a good year to be a free-agent third baseman. Though Keppinger will turn 33 a few weeks into the 2013 season and just suffered a recent leg injury, he'll fill a big need for the Pale Hose at third. He's an above-average defender in the field and hits left-handers particularly well (.864 career OPS against southpaws). Rick Hahn's multi-year guarantee shows you just how hungry the market is for help at the third corner, but $12 million isn't an insane amount to pledge toward a guy who can help you at a few different positions. This move almost assuredly ends the chance of Kevin Youkilis returning to the South Side — it would have cost a lot more than $4 million to bring him back — and also puts a damper on the Yankees' hopes of getting a cheap stopgap replacement for Alex Rodriguez next season. — Kevin Kaduk

Tuesday

Marco Scutaro re-signs with San Francisco Giants for three years, $20 million
The Giants made it an offseason priority to bring back the free-agent triumvirate of Scutaro, Angel Pagan and Jeremy Affeldt, and now they have for $78 million. A late-season and postseason hero for the World Series champs, Scutaro also was pursued by the St. Louis Cardinals, who weren't willing to guarantee a third year for a player who just turned 37 years old. His deal was reported first by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

BLS take: Scutaro humorously was hoping for a 15-year contract worth "three thousand million dollars" at the Giants' victory rally in October, but this deal is pretty long for a player in his late 30s. Scutaro put on a heck of a push to get it, too, ending the season with the 20-game hitting streak and winning NLCS MVP. First, it rained. Then Scutaro drank the rain. Now, he's making it rain. It's certainly not a financial bargain for the Giants, but there's a chance Scutaro will be worth it going forward. He's a late bloomer anyway. And somebody's going to have to pay for that World Series trophy. — Dave Brown

Miami Marlins trade Yunel Escobar to Tampa Rays for prospect Derek Dietrich
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported the deal first. It gives the Rays a strong defensive shortstop who hit .253/.300/.344 with nine homers for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012. Earlier in the offseason, Escobar came to the Marlins in the Jose Reyes/Josh Johnson/Mark Buehrle megadeal. Dietrich played mostly in Double-A in 2012 and was ranked Tampa Bay's 13th best prospect by Baseball America.

BLS take: The Rays aren't afraid to take on players with awkward personal histories, and Escobar has ... struggled to acclimate himself to life here ever since he defected from Cuba. He gained notoriety a season ago for putting a gay slur on his eye black, for example. Joe Maddon has a challenge here, but it's nothing new for him. If Escobar can stay focused on baseball, they'll have a good starting shortstop for $5 million, which allows Ben Zobrist to resume his life as a super utility player. The Marlins continue to peel payroll, and collectively might make as much as Alex Rodriguez ($28 million) in 2013. But Dietrich might make a good major leaguer someday, and the Marlins have shown they're not really worried about what next season is going to look like. — Dave Brown

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Shane Victorino signs three-year, $37.5 million deal with Boston Red Sox
The 32-year-old outfielder is headed back east after signing a contract that was first reported by Alex Speier of WEEI.  Red Sox manager John Farrell tells Jim Bowden of SiriusXM's Inside Pitch that Victorino will play right field.

BLS take: That type of salary is a lot for an outfielder whose season-high homer total topped out at 18 in 2010 and just posted a career-worst .704 OPS in 2012. But Victorino's versatility in the outfield and switch-hitting status gives the Red Sox options, including the possibility of trading current center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Such a move would give Red Sox GM Ben Cherington an opportunity to restock a farm system that's in need of a talent infusion.

The best thing you can say about this deal is that you can see the end of it from here and it's not going to hamstring Boston's future like Carl Crawford's big deal (before it was traded to Los Angeles) or a Josh Hamilton contract (a rumor that was never going to happen and is now officially dead). But that still doesn't make it a good deal. Thirteen million per season is a lot of cheese for the Red Sox to give Victorino and if they're committed to experiencing a few growing pains these next few years, they could have done it in a much cheaper way. This deal particularly hurts considering the Red Sox sent Josh Reddick — a cheaper and better alternative in right field — to Oakland last offseason.

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Dan Haren signs one-year, $13 million deal with Washington Nationals
As first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Haren will join Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and the rest of the Washington gang pending a physical. Haren, who turned 32 years old late in the 2012 season, is coming off a down season for him, finishing with a 4.33 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 30 starts with the Los Angeles Angels. They bought out his $15.5 million option for $3.5 million.

BLS take: It turns out that Zack Greinke will not be the first major pitching domino to fall at the winter meetings, although Greinke's future has been shaped by Haren's arrival in Washington. Rosenthal says that Greinke will not be heading to D.C. as a result of the Haren deal. (Don't sweat it, Zack, there's always the Dodgers.) Haren could be a steal for Washington if he's healthier than he was in 2012, when he lost some zip on his fastball because of back trouble. — Dave Brown

Monday

Joakim Soria signs two-year, $8 million deal with the Texas Rangers
The former Royals closer will begin his comeback from Tommy John surgery in the Rangers bullpen, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had the financial details.

BLS take: The Tommy John surgery was actually the second of Soria's career, but Texas is apparently unfazed by the procedure as they're giving Soria the security of a two-year deal. Hey, it worked out well for Texas when it gave Joe Nathan a two-year pact last offseason. Brian Wilson, who was recently non-tendered by the Giants, is also a two-time Tommy John guy and he has to be encouraged after hearing the news of Soria's contract. — Kevin Kaduk

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Angel Pagan re-signs with the San Francisco Giants
The center fielder will remain in San Francisco after signing a four-year, $40 million deal, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports.

BLS take: The 31-year-old Pagan had a great season for the world champion Giants and was rewarded with a big deal after drawing a lot of interest on the open market. The price is a tad steep for San Francisco, but it obviously likes how his all-around skill set translates to AT&T Park. He hit 38 doubles and 15 triples in 2012 — both were career highs — and he'll have to keep those numbers plump for this deal to be a winner for the Giants. Meanwhile, the center field class has decreased by one with Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino the remaining headliners. The Phillies were in on the talks with Pagan and have a big need in center so it'll be interesting to see which route Ruben Amaro chooses to pursue. — Kevin Kaduk

Zach Duke signs a major-league deal with the Washington Nationals
The 29-year-old pitcher inked what is believed to be a one-year deal, reports Amanda Comak of the Washington Times.

BLS take: The Nats were looking for affordable bullpen depth with Tom Gorzelanny set for a raise and they got that with Duke. The lefty's career as a starter will be remembered for an extraordinarily low K/9 rate but that won't matter much as he tries to reinvent himself as a late-inning situational guy. — Kevin Kaduk

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Mike Napoli signs for three years with Boston Red Sox
Boston signed the 31-year-old slugging catcher to a three-year, $39 million deal Monday, pending a physical, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Eye On Baseball.

BLS take: Napoli batted .227/.343/.469 with 24 homers for the Rangers in 2012, and has slugged .507 in 2,653 career plate appearances with the Rangers and Angels. His best season was 2011, when he hit 30 homers and slugged .631 for Texas. He played 72 games at catcher in '12, along with 28 games at first base — where he probably will see a lot of time in 2013. — Dave Brown

James Loney signs with Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays could use Loney as the left-handed part of a platoon at first base after signing him for $2 million, plus $1 million in incentives, for 2013. Yahoo! Sports' own Tim Brown reported it first.

BLS take: As Brown writes, Loney compiled his worst offensive season in 2012, hitting .249/.293/.336 — a .630 OPS — with six homers in 465 plate appearances. He also grounded into 21 double plays. However, his career 104+ adjusted OPS indicates a slightly above-average hitter (although not among first basemen). He also has a .441 slugging percentage against right-handers for his career. Still just 28 years old, Loney has a great reputation on defense. — Dave Brown

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