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American League

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KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Signed RHP Luke Hochevar to a two-year deal worth $10 million. [12/3]

Could it be that the Royals are preparing to trade Wade Davis or Greg Holland, or is Dayton Moore simply building a deeper bullpen than last year? Hochevar could play an important role no matter the route the Royals take. The former no. 1 pick missed last season due to Tommy John surgery, which obscures his prospects for '15. If Hochevar can resume his 2013 dominance—and remember, he spent that season striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings while maintaining a sub-2 ERA—then Ned Yost might have a dominant late-game trio to call upon regardless of potential departures. Of course the Royals could also hold onto those folks and use Hochevar in middle relief to start the year. Either way, this signing provides us with a storyline worth monitoring into next season.

ATLANTA BRAVES
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Signed RHP Jim Johnson to a one-year deal worth $1.6 million. [12//3]
Non-tendered RHPs Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen. [12/2]

It would be quite the story if Johnson rebounds in '15 and lands a lucrative free-agent contract, just a year after seemingly squandering his chance at a big payday. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Johnson and Roger McDowell have work to do, namely finding his old sinker and command. If Johnson can make those gains, then he should give the Braves an additional high-leverage arm to throw out there. And if not? Well, expect to see him signing for about half this amount in 12-to-14 months' time.

Beachy and Medlen were the most attractive pitchers non-tendered. Both are injury risks, however, which makes their stocks uncertain. In most cases like this, the player (or players) re-sign with their original team. We'll see if that's the case for either (or both) of these guys.

CINCINNATI REDS
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Acquired RHP Matt Magill from the Dodgers in exchange for OF-R Chris Heisey. [12/2]

You might remember Magill from a disastrous 2013 start against the Rockies, during which he walked nine batters in six innings. Unsurprisingly, his wildness hasn't disappeared—not even with a move to the bullpen last season. Because Magill's stuff is closer to good than elite, he's unlikely to become the new Carlos Marmol. That means he'll need to improve upon his geography if he wants a meaningful career in the majors. A fresh start and some new instruction could help Magill realize his potential as a back-end starter or middle reliever.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Acquired OF-R Chris Heisey from the Reds in exchange for RHP Matt Magill. [12/2]

Yes, the Dodgers acquired an outfielder. Heisey is nothing special—a reserve type with a good glove whose bat is held back by an aggressive approach—but he represents the first eyebrow-raising moment of the Zaidi-Friedman era. As with other moves that appear counterproductive at first blush, the odds are that time will bring the motive behind this one into clearer focus; whether that's through one or multiple trades is anyone's guess, but at minimum Heisey gives the Dodgers another option.

If there is an interesting thing about Heisey, it's probably his success as a pinch-hitter* (career .283/.335/.587 in 155 plate appearances). Who knows, maybe he's the new Greg Dobbs and he'll stick around for another half-decade based on his perceived value off the bench. As such, you can bet that he'll be on someone's bench come April, be it the Dodgers or not.

*Some would say his career reverse splits. Trouble with that is Heisey's splits have worn a more traditional look over the past three seasons.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Non-tendered 1B-R Gaby Sanchez. [12/2]
Acquired INF-R Sean Rodriguez from the Rays in exchange for a player to be named later and cash considerations. [12/1]

The Pirates' roster is changing complexions, with Pedro Alvarez taking over at first base and Josh Harrison filling the vacancy at third base, leaving Neal Huntington in need of different skill sets. Assuming Clint Hurdle intends to start Pedro Alvarez versus more lefties than he did with either Ike Davis or Garrett Jones, then the need for a right-handed first baseman diminished, thus opening a spot on the bench for a truer Harrison replacement; hence Sanchez's exit, hence Rodriguez's arrival. Rodriguez has just enough arm to play tolerable defense on the left side, and just enough pop to overlook his swing-and-miss and platoon issues. He's not a secret superstar or anything like that, but he's a quality utility man whose final season of team control is worth the cost (likely a Rule 5-eligible player).

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Signed SS-R Clint Barmes to a one-year deal with an option. [12/3]
Non-tendered SS-S Everth Cabrera. [12/2]

Cabrera was the most accomplished position player non-tendered. While the 28-year-old has looked the part of a promising two-way shortstop before, his miserable 2014 and a string of off-the-field issues—ranging from a 50-game suspension to a recent DUI arrest—have slowed his star's ascent to the point where the Padres felt his last two seasons of team control weren't worth the headache. Invariably, some team will overlook the maturity issues and pen Cabrera as their new shortstop. The more pressing concern for that team will be whether he can overcome his durability woes and stay on the field.

With these moves paired together, Barmes appears to be Cabrera's successor at shortstop. That's not an ideal succession plan, at least not for Padres fans who enjoy offense—Barmes' 64 OPS+ is the sixth-worst among batters with more than 600 plate appearances since 2012. But the good news is Barmes remains a talented defender who could be around to serve as nothing more than a safety net, as he did for the Pirates and Jordy Mercer last season. Expect A.J. Preller to use the rest of the offseason searching for an upgrade at short; shy of finding one, he'll need to keep Barmes away from deer.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Signed RHP Matt Belisle to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million with incentives that could increase the value to $4 million. [12/2]

Belisle's reputation as a relief workhorse is well deserved, as he's appeared in 60 or more games in each of the past five seasons. Throughout that streak, his game has remained the same: throw a lot of strikes with a mostly average arsenal. Belisle's peripherals slipped last season, with his strikeout and walk percentages reaching career-worst marks in Colorado, yet there are reasons to think he can be a productive middle reliever. Consider that Belisle continued to throw strikes and miss bats at a respectable rate, or that he didn't allow a higher percentage of extra-base hits than normal; getting away from Coors Field should be a plus, too. Given the cost, the Cardinals have no reason not to find out for sure.