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November 21, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Home for the Holidays

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired OF-S Trayvon Robinson from the Mariners for INF-R Robert Andino. [11/20]

Baltimore’s acquisition of Alexi Casilla earlier in the offseason allows them to cash in Andino. As is, Robinson is not much of a prize. Robinson has struggled with contact throughout his 300-plus big-league plate appearances. You can live with the whiffs provided the batter has some power to his game. Robinson lacks that required pop. He could become a useful reserve outfielder if the Orioles can help him make consistent contact, allowing him to use his speed to his advantage. If not, no big loss. 

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Jeremy Guthrie to a three-year deal worth $25 million. [11/20]

Guthrie, who we ranked as the 27th-best free agent available, will stick around Kansas City for a few more seasons after all. The soon-to-be 34-year-old came to the Royals in a midseason trade and pitched well down the stretch. Dayton Moore and company liked what they saw from Guthrie enough to give him his desired three-year contact.

The Royals are paying Guthrie like a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher, and he fits the bill. Guthrie’s short frame has held up well, with his lone trip to the disabled list over the past three seasons stemming from a bicycle accident. Giving three years to a mid-30s innings sponge is undesirable and Gil Meche parallels are inevitable. Yet Meche’s deal called for considerably more money over a longer period. Besides, Meche did pitch solidly for the Royals over his first two seasons before injuries hit.

Most peculiar about Guthrie’s contract is the structure. Contracts are usually built in a manner where we see a steady rate, a gradual increase, or a gradual decrease in average annual salary. Guthrie’s is none of the above: He’ll make $5 million in 2013, $11 million in 2014, and $9 million in 2015. Presumably the Royals want more breathing room this season to add more players, perhaps another starting pitcher. The Royals will shed close to $20 million in waving farewell to Ervin Santana and Jeff Francoeur after the season.  This deal nets them a decent starter and some breathing room. Things could be worse.

NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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 Reportedly signed RHP Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal worth $15 million. [11/20]

Worrying about Kuroda’s transition to the American League East proved silly. Kuroda made the transition without losing any performance in translation. He even set career-highs in starts and innings for a single season. The preceding text makes this a ho-hum deal to analyze. Kuroda is a talented starter with back-to-back 200-plus inning seasons. For the Yankees to sign him to a one-year deal at a reasonable dollar amount is a great deal. True Kuroda, soon 38, could crater next season. But you can bet other teams wish they were able to take this risk. 

SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired INF-R Robert Andino from the Orioles for OF-S Trayvon Robinson. [11/20]

“Gutted the Red Sox” is a strong résumé entry in 29 big-league cities. But the Mariners acquisition of Andino has more to do with his defense, versatility, and the opportunity cost than his single off of Jonathan Papelbon. Andino is a solid-to-good defender at various positions, including shortstop. His bat is unworthy of praise, and yet he should hit better than Munenori Kawasaki did last season. Robinson had no future with the Mariners.

CHICAGO CUBS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Shawn Camp to a one-year deal worth $1.35 million. [11/19]

The Cubs signed Camp in late March knowing he could serve as a useful situational reliever. Camp did retire righties as expected, but pitched surprisingly well against lefties, too. The explanation for the improvement seems to stem from an alteration in pitch usage. Camp stopped using his changeup against lefties, instead using his slider on both sides of the plate. The deal is reasonable whether Camp fails to build upon his newfound success or not.

MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed OF-L Juan Pierre to a one-year deal worth $1.6 million. [11/17]

On the heels of erasing the past year, the Marlins reached into their past and brought back a player from their most recent World Championship team. Pierre is coming off a sound season in Philadelphia, where he hit over .300 for the first time since 2009. He’s still dependent on his legs for a large chunk of his offensive value. Given the length and the cost, it’s hard to dislike the deal. Pierre is unlikely to repeat last season, but he does give the Marlins another outfield option in case neither Gorkys Hernandez nor Justin Ruggiano prove worthy of playing time next season.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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