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December 7, 2012 4:22 pm

Overthinking It: Teams That Still Have Holes to Fill

15

Ben Lindbergh

What work is still left to be done for some of baseball's playoff contenders?

Although this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings were regarded as relatively slow, only seven teams checked out of the Opryland without making some sort of move. While Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton remain at large and Angel Pagan was the highest-ranked free agent removed from the market, many clubs found ways to fill holes during the four-day event. But even though the most eventful week of the winter is over, it’s still fairly early in the offseason, and a number of teams left Nashville with help wanted at one or more positions. Here are six winning teams from 2012 that will have to plug holes before Opening Day to return to contention in 2013:

Oakland Athletics, Shortstop: As of today, Oakland’s shortstop depth chart is topped by 29-year-old Adam Rosales, a career .241 TAv hitter without a great glove. The A’s have been open about their desire to upgrade at the position, with Stephen Drew and Hiroyuki Nakajima named by Billy Beane as their top free-agent targets. Drew declined to exercise a $10 million mutual option that would have kept him in Oakland through 2013, but he and the team continue to discuss another deal.  The A’s aren’t depending on Drew: the team reportedly engaged in trade talks for Yunel Escobar and Asdrubal Cabrera in Nashville and could go after Jhonny Peralta if Drew departs. While the outcome is no clearer than it was a week ago, A’s director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said the team was able to “lay some groundwork” that could lead to a solution later this winter.

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December 5, 2012 12:00 am

Transaction Analysis: Nationals Sign Dan Haren

4

Sam Miller

New Nationals starter Dan Haren's fastball has declined considerably over the last several seasons, but how worried should Washington be?

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November 19, 2012 12:00 am

Overthinking It: All Quiet on the Free Agent Front

4

Ben Lindbergh

Despite many factors pointing toward increased spending, baseball's salaries haven't seemed much more inflated this winter.

Late this season, Major League Baseball completed new broadcast deals with ESPN, Fox, and Turner Sports that will roughly double the amount of money the league receives from those three networks beginning in 2014. Couple those contracts with increasingly lucrative local TV deals, the highest regular-season attendance since 2008, the success of MLB Advanced Media, the new CBA’s restrictions on how much teams can spend in the draft and on the international market, the trend toward locking up young players before they become free agents, and the Dodgers’ apparent willingness to make their fans forget Frank McCourt by becoming big-time buyers, and the stage appeared to be set for significant offseason inflation.

It’s been less than three weeks since Sergio Romo struck out the AL MVP looking to end the World Series, and only a few prominent players have signed. However, the players who ink early have the potential to help dictate what the next few months might look like, and if an influx of cash were burning holes in baseball teams’ pockets, we would expect to see the new market rate reflected in the early returns. While it’s too soon to say with any certainty what the rest of the winter will look like, we can examine the first few signings for any evidence that a new spending boom has begun. Here’s a selection of deals signed so far compared to the contracts comparable players commanded last winter:

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