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The Week in Transactions: Diamondbacks go for broke, Astros acquire Giles from Phillies

In which the Diamondbacks improved their rotation by several orders of magnitude, the Braves and Phillies both continued to rebuild, and the A's signed random relievers to multi-year deals. Oh yeah; the Indians did some more tinkering with the edges of the 40-man roster.

Zack Greinke, the $206.5M man
Zack Greinke, the $206.5M man
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Indians Transactions

December 1 (announced last week)

Signed RHP Felipe Paulino to a minor-league contract and invited him to Spring Training

December 7

Claimed OF Joey Butler off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays

Designated LHP Jayson Aquino for assignment

December 9

St. Louis Cardinals claimed LHP Jayson Aquino off waivers

December 10

San Diego Padres selected RHP Josh Martin in the Rule 5 Draft (major-league)

December 11

Signed OF Robbie Grossman to a minor-league contract and invited him to Spring Training

None of these players are guaranteed to make the Opening Day roster, or even play a game with the Indians, but there's a good chance that at least one of these players will make a meaningful contribution. Nobody was talking about Jerry Sands last winter as a potential bench player, but there he was during meaningful games. Some of that was because the Indians were running out of outfielders, but Sands did earn that opportunity all the same.

Joey Butler has the best chance of this bunch to be next year's Jerry Sands, even more than the current Jerry Sands. And even that endorsement is half-hearted, because Butler struck out in 82 of his 276 Plate Apperances with the Rays last year, and that was his first real MLB experience. Robbie Grossman seems more of a flyer than anything; perhaps that poor 2015 campaign isn't going to repeat itself, but even if it doesn't, he's going to AAA anyway.

With other clubs making big moves (see below), the Indians appear to the casual observer as observers themselves, content to pick at the edges rather than make meaningful improvements. But there is still a good month of Hot Stove season yet to go, and although the Indians aren't going to make any big free agent signings, they are going to be mentioned in connection with just about any trade talk involving a position player with any kind of power, at least until they trade for a position player with some kind of power. So, keep your finger well away from the Panic Button; there's still plenty of winter to go.

Josh Martin was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the San Diego Padres, and as a reliever, has a decent chance of sticking around for the entire season. A bullpen is one of the easier places for a team to stow a Rule 5 selection, the Cubs (Hector Rondon) and Orioles (TJ McFarland) did that with Indians minor-leaguers in 2013. And with Martin being a career reliever, he might be more of an asset than a liability on the 25-man roster.

Transactions from around MLB (emphasis on AL clubs)

With the sheer volume of moves made during Winter Meetings Week, I'm not going to cover all of the moves listed in detail, but if you're interested in talking about a move in the comments section, I'll give my opinion.

But I would like to talk generally about the first couple weeks of off-season moves, and how the Indians fit into all of it. Starting pitching has once again taken center stage in terms of both money and talent. Zack Grienke signed the most lucrative (in terms of Average Annual Value) in MLB history, and even Mike Pelfrey got $16M to pitch in a big-league rotation. Jeff Samadarzija, who is not among the best pitchers in baseball, got more guaranteed money than he would have dreamed of getting had he went to the NFL. What I'm saying is that starting pitching of all abilities is in high demand, and that presents the Indians with a dilemma. They of course could trade one of their top starters (Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar seem to be the pitchers mentioned regularly) for a king's ransom, but at the same time they would trading something they'd have no chance of acquiring for themselves should the current depth dematerialize in the humid summer air. Perhaps it would be less risky to trade prospects for major-league bats than one of the established starting pitchers.

December 6

Detroit Tigers signed RHP Mike Pelfrey to a two-year, $16M contract

So I suppose the replacement dollars for a major-league starter is set at $8M/year.

Detroit Tigers signed C Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a one-year, $507,500

The Marlins are still paying Salty, hence why the Tigers signed him to a minimum contract.

December 7

Kansas City Royals re-signed RHP Chris Young to a two-year, $10M contract ($8.0 2018 team option)

Boston Red Sox traded RHP Jonathan Aro and LHP Wade Miley to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Carson Smith and LHP Roenis Elias

December 8

Chicago Cubs traded 2B Starlin Castro to the New York Yankees for RHP Adam Warren and a PTBNL

Arizona Diamondbacks signed RHP Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5M contract

(highest AAV in MLB history)

Ken Rosenthal has an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how Arizona landed Greinke. Note to self: keep your contacts list updated.

Oakland Athletics trade RHP Evan Scribner to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Trey Cochran-Gill

Chicago Cubs signed 2B Ben Zobrist to a four-year, $56M contract

(full no-trade until 2018, partial no-trade 2019)

Detroit Tigers signed RHP Mark Lowe to a two-year, $11.0M contract

A former Tribe player gets a multi-year deal; somehow I think this will be a trend this week.

Chicago Cubs signed RHP John Lackey to a two-year, $32.0M contract

San Diego Padres traded 2B Jedd Gyorko (and Cash) to the St. Louis Cardinals for OF Jon Jay

Both players have their risks Gyorko is signed to long-term deal - Jay is one year from free agency, but had a terrible 2015

Colorado Rockies signed RHP Jason Motte to two-year, $10.0M contract

Colorado Rockies signed RHP Chad Qualls to two-year, $6.0M contract

December 9

San Francisco Giants signed RHP Jeff Samardzija to a five-year, $90.0M contract

Atlanta Braves traded RHP Shelby MIller and LHP Gabe Speier to the Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Aaron Blair, SS Dansby Swanson, and OF Ender Inciarte

Incredible haul for the Braves, who dealt a very good pitcher with three years left of team control for the cream of the Arizona organization. Included is Dansby Swanson, who was the top selection in the 2015 Draft.

Oakland Athletics traded 3B Brett Lawrie to the Chicago White Sox for RHP JB Wendelken and LHP Zack Erwin

New York Yankees traded LHP Justin Wilson to the Detroit Tigers for RHP Chad Green and RHP Luis Cessa

Pittsburgh PIrates traded 2B Neil Walker to the New York Mets for LHP Jon Niese

Milwaukee Brewers traded 1B Adam Lind to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Carlos Herrera, RHP Daniel Missaki and RHP Freddy Peralta

(Lind is a free agent after the 2016 season)

December 10

Atlanta Braves traded C Christian Bethancourt to the San Diego Padres for RHP Casey Kelly and C Ricardo Rodriguez

No, not that Ricardo Rodriguez. At this point the Braves are trying to trade everyone with major-league experience, even catchers with just over a year of service time.

Washington Nationals traded 3B Yunel Escobar (and cash) to the Los Angeles Angels for RHP Michael Brady and RHP Trevor Gott

Kansas City Royals signed RHP Joakim Soria to a three-year, $24M contract ($10M 2019 team option)

Texas Rangers traded LHP Will Lamb to the Chicago White Sox for RHP Myles Jaye

December 11

Oakland Athletics signed RHP Ryan Madson to a three-year, $22M contract

One does not try to place Billy Beane's moves into a larger strategic framework; you'll tie your grey matter into knots. Madson had a really nice year with the Royals after missing three full seasons, but I wouldn't bet that he'd have three more seasons just like it.

New York Mets signed IF Asdrubal Cabrera to a two-year, $16.5M contract ($8.5M 2018 team option)

The LGFT had his best offensive season 2012, but only got a two-year deal out of it. Wilmer Flores, the incumbent shortstop, is recovering from a broken leg suffered in the NLCS, so Cabrera will be an insurance policy at shortstop, and if Flores comes back at 100%, will move around the infield.

Oakland Athletics signed RHP John Axford to a two-year, $10.0M contract

Houston Astros signed LHP Tony Sipp to a three-year, $18.0M contract

Sipp will make more in 2016 ($6.0M) than he had in his MLB career to-date. Good for him.

December 12

Philadelphia Phillies trade RHP Ken Giles and SS Jonathan Arrauz to the Houston Astros for LHP Brett Oberholtzer, RHP Harold Arrauz, RHP Vincent Velasquez, RHP Thomas Eshelman, and RHP Mark Appel

The Astros get a dominant closer, but traded a bunch of pitching talent in process. You might recognize Mark Appel, the top pick in the 2013 draft, but he's not the best prospect in the bunch; that would be Velasquez, who could either be a mid-rotation starting pitcher or standout reliever. Appel's prospect stock has fallen to the point where it's more likely he ends up in the bullpen.

Pittsburgh Pirates trade RHP Charlie Morton to Philadelphia Phillies for RHP David Whitehead

Latest 40-man Roster

(embiggened version here)

Dec 13 2015

In what will be a very controversial move, I swapped Joey Butler for Jerry Sands as the bench "bat". Michael Brantley probably won't be ready for Opening Day, so there's a extra roster spot available. So, cheer up Jerry Sands fans, he still has a chance of making the club!