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American League

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ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Signed OF-"S" Daniel Nava to a one-year deal worth $1.375 million. [12/16]

It didn't take Nava long after being non-tendered to find a big-league deal and, in all likelihood, a starting assignment.

Nava is coming off a brutal season. He joined the Rays in late July after being waived by the Red Sox, and while his .269 True Average in St. Pete looks fairly good, it was built on an unsustainable, walk-or-bust approach. It's true that Nava's success has always hinged on his disciplined approach and ability to grind out free passes. But he posted new career-lows in average and slugging, thus continuing his three-year power slide by posting a .050 ISO—or a figure roughly equal to Jason Tyner's career mark.

If the Angels add no one else of note (and that seems to be the plan), there's a real chance Nava enters the season as the most-days left fielder. "Most-days" because, though he's a switch-hitter, he's not a good one. His multi-year TAv has him as a .282-hitter against righties and a .222-hitter versus lefties. Those numbers were reversed in 2015, but there's a reason he once stopped hitting right-handed and not left-handed. Presumably the Angels will pay heed to the larger sample and pair Nava with someone like Craig Gentry. That's far from ideal for a team looking to compete in 2016—even if it does produce better results than the previous motley crew managed. —R.J. Anderson

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Reportedly sign OF-L Hyun-soo Kim to a two-year contract worth $7 million. [12/15]

The Orioles may have technically been an above-average offense in the American League last year (7th out of 15 teams in runs scored), but they certainly were not lacking for holes. J.J. Hardy's disappointing season left a large void at short, but what may have been more painful was the .640 OPS they got out of their left fielders and the .684 OPS from their designated hitters (including 22 games of uber-slugger Chris Davis). In fact, 11 players saw time in left field during the Orioles' 2015 season and, amazingly, not a single one played 40 games there. In a strange twist of fate, they now turn to the KBO in order to try and sure up a position cheaply; or at least give themselves another in a glut of likely disappointing options.

Enter Kim, who has received plenty of scouts' looks in international tournaments, playing for South Korea in both the 2009 and 2013 WBC, and most recently winning MVP of the 2015 Premier 12 tournament. He's a contact-oriented hitter, with a good approach at the plate and some pop—but not as much as the 27 homers he hit in the KBO last year makes it seem. In Korea, he's walked over 100 times more than he's struck out in the last seven seasons, but this guy finished second among all pitchers last season in strikeouts, so. In the field, he's not particularly fleet of foot, but adequate enough to play in a corner without embarrassing himself. If that sounds like a poor version of Nick Markakis, you're in the right ballpark.

Should the Orioles make no further moves, he's likely the starter against right-handers in left field, but it would be no more than a patch until something or someone better comes along—and that someone could be as soon as days away. —Bret Sayre

CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Signed 1B/DH-R Mike Napoli to a one-year deal worth $7 million plus incentives. [12/16]

You may have heard, but Napoli was two very different ballplayers in 2015. Red Sox Mike Napoli was the embodiment of his team’s unexpected failures: a poor-hitting first baseman who defied expectations to post an awful slash line that bordered on .200/.300/.400. (That’s an ugly set of numbers, even when taking into account the pitcher-dominant era we’re sitting on the fringes of.) Rangers Mike Napoli was the embodiment of his team’s unexpected successes: a great-hitting left fielder who defied expectations to post an amazing slash line that bordered on .300/.400/.500. (That’s a fantastic set of numbers even if you were to post them during the offense-heavy era of the early ‘00’s.)

So which Napoli would you bet on returning for his age-34 season? Would you put your money on the guy who looked like a non-roster invitee, who had a much larger sample of work, but from a time slightly further in the past? Or would you expect something closer to the guy who resembled a squat, right-handed Chris Davis, who did his damage in just 91 plate appearances during the regular season? Judging on the amount of money and time the Indians have invested in Nap, their guess seems to be squarely in the middle.

Chris Antonetti seems to be betting on something a lot more like 2013-14 Mike Napoli, at least judging from the one-year, $7-to-$10 million contract. That Napoli posted True Averages of .294 and .295–marks that are solidly above average and required him to walk and whiff quite a bit–and absolutely pummel left-handed pitching.

It’s that platoon split that makes the Indians an ideal fit, namely because they leverage the platoon advantage as much as any team in baseball. While the word today is that he will be the everyday first baseman (shifting Carlos Santana into the DH role he was born to fill), it would probably behoove the team to sit him against tough right-handers. There’s no one who currently fits the role of platoon partner for Napoli on the team, but a left-handed hitter can be found on the market; Kelly Johnson comes to mind, and the team has a pauper’s Daniel Nava in new arrival Robbie Grossman.

In essence, he’s an amplified version of the team’s previous designated lefty-crusher–Ryan Raburn–that can add some defensive value at first base. And by offering a single-year deal, the team can go for it today while retaining flexibility in case a long-term option, like slugging prospect Bobby Bradley, continues to develop.

If he doesn’t hit, this is obviously a bad deal. The team could have put these resources into a more pressing need; the Indians currently need one, two, or three new outfielders, depending on who you ask. But most of the time Mike Napoli hits. It is what he has done in the past, and though his performance appears to be regressing, it is what you can expect him to do in the future. Last year, Napoli was two players: Ian Desmond with the Sox, and Anthony Rizzo with the Rangers. This year, he’ll probably just hit like one: himself. —Bryan Grosnick

Signed OF-R Rajai Davis to a one-year deal worth $5.25 million. [12/16]

From one American League Central team to another.

Davis becomes Cleveland's latest right-handed outfield option, joining a group that includes Chris Johnson, Jerry Sands, Joey Butler, and Collin Cowgill. Boy howdy, what a bunch. As is the case with most of those fellers, Davis is a platoon player through and through. His multi-year True Average against righties is .240—or more than .050 points lower than his mark versus lefties—and in the past he's had issues with stepping in the bucket, thus limiting his ability to reach the outside pitch.

Where Davis tends to excel is on the basepaths. Prior to last season, he was among the top four or five stolen-base threats in the majors. For whatever reason, he stole just 18 bases in 2015—his fewest since 2006, when he appeared in all of 20 games. Davis' in-play baserunning numbers suffered too, though his home-to-first times remained in the plus or better range.

Since Davis turned 35 in October, it's fair to wonder if he intends to save his legs for important stolen bases and nothing more. The problem with that—besides it lowering his offensive value, obviously—is that he's never been a graceful outfielder. Rather, he's often relied upon his speed to atone for spotty routes. As such, it's probably best for the Indians if Davis sees most of his action as part of a left-field platoon. —R.J. Anderson

TEXAS RANGERS
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Signed OF-R Justin Ruggiano to a one-year deal worth $1.65 million. [12/17]

The Rangers do us all a favor by adding "Scrooge" a week before Christmas. Ruggiano has bounced around a lot in his career—in part, no doubt, due to the personality that precipitated that nomenclature—but he's a useful platoon player (his multi-year True Average versus lefties is .327) with more than enough athleticism to offer defensive value across the outfield. On paper, he's a good fit for the Rangers, who start left-handed hitters in left and right fields. (And at first base, where Ruggiano will reportedly see action during the spring.) Provided Ruggiano doesn't wear out his welcome by springtime, he should be a fixture in Texas' lineup against lefties. —R.J. Anderson

NEW YORK METS
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Signed RHP Bartolo Colon to a one-year deal worth $7.25 million. [12/16]

Signed LHP Jerry Blevins to a one-year, $4 million contract. [12/15]

The Mets re-add a fan favorite from last year's team. No, not Yoenis Cespedes, but someone else who fills a hole. With Jon Niese in Pittsburgh and Zack Wheeler months from hitting the year-mark in his recovery process, the Mets needed someone to fill out their rotation. In theory, the Mets could've used Rafael Montero, some other prospect, or a NRI type. Instead, they chose to bring back Colon.

Colon's surface-level statistics have been substandard the last two seasons, but he's continued to throw strikes and tally innings with his fastball-heavy approach. The Mets aren't likely to ask him to do much more than that as a 43-year-old. Besides, there are other factors at play. Colon's familiarity with New York, and his apparent willingness to shift to the bullpen upon Wheeler's return, for instance. Plus, you know, the entertainment factor, which can't be discounted—not from a fan's perspective, anyway.

You might quibble with the cost, but let's be real: this money isn't keeping the Mets from landing Cespedes or some other free-agent target. And if it is, the Mets have bigger problems than Colon. —R.J. Anderson

When you start a new job, the best thing you can do is make a good first impression. Wear nice clothes. Work hard. And, if at all possible, keep your ERA to a minimum. Blevins made a dynamite first impression in Queens after coming over in trade before the 2015 season, and he’s reaping the rewards now on a one-year guaranteed deal, despite making only seven appearances last year. His BABIP was zero, he refused to allow a baserunner and, until a well-hit ball fractured his throwing arm, he looked like the second coming of John Franco.

Of course, that’s not really who Jerry Blevins is. The past tells us that Blevins is a total LOOGY, but a fairly effective one. Over his career he’s held left-handed hitters to a .257 on-base percentage and a .322 slugging percentage, and his best years (2014 and the start to 2015) have been closest in the rear-view mirror. While 2014 saw him strike out more batters than ever before, it’s much more likely that he’ll regress to something closer to his career numbers in 2016, which would make him a viable guy to hurl at lefties in matchup situations, but not the second coming of Andrew Miller.

There’s also the issue of his return from injury. As lucky as he was to avoid giving up a run, he suffered the first broken left wing on a line drive, then re-broke it in a freak fall in August and missed his chance to return to the team in time for their playoff run. Now, I don’t know what mirror he broke or ladder he walked under, but even though these are non-throwing injuries, it still remains to be seen what the time off will do to his pitches.

Today, Jerry Blevins’ 0.00 ERA with the Mets is the same as C.J. Nitkowski’s 0.00 ERA with the Mets, which is to say that absolutely anything is possible in less five innings. Bud Smith threw a no-hitter in nine. Magic is real, but only in the small things. It’s hard to expect that Blevins will be a dominant left-handed setup man, despite what his 2015 ERA demonstrated, because he’s never done that before. Blevins sure made a good impression on the Mets last season, now let’s see if he can do the work.

—Bryan Grosnick

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Signed INF-R Sean Rodriguez to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. [12/15]

From a timing perspective, this deal is sure to unsettle Pirates fans. Just last week, Neal Huntington traded Neil Walker for Jon Niese, leaving the Pirates with an opening at second base. Now Huntington has signed Rodriguez, who almost certainly isn't pegged for more than a utility role. Yet, because of the timing, Rodriguez now becomes, by virtue of being a veteran with experience at the position, the favorite to open the season at the keystone.

That wouldn't be so bad if Rodriguez had played better last season. Instead, he turned in one of the worst efforts of his career, combining a low average with an overaggressive approach and minimal pop. Hitting lefties and playing all over have been the foundation he built his career upon. Yet both were missing in 2015: his .245 True Average against lefties was nearly 20 points lower than his multi-year mark—a figure that bakes in last season's performance—and he played most of his defensive innings at first base (though he saw some action across the infield and in the outfield corners). Boring.

Presuming Rodriguez plays better in 2016—and sheesh, he can't play much worse—he should slot in as a handy utilityman or, yes, perhaps as a platoon option at second base until Jung-ho Kang returns. —R.J. Anderson

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mattstupp
12/18
Curious what the writers' thoughts on the Jerry Blevins signing is. Seemed like a good signing for the Mets- filling a real need without breaking the bank or over-committing on years. Tony Sipp just got 3 years, $18 mil while Blevins gets $4 or 5 million for one year.
bgrosnick
12/18
My thoughts on Blevins have been added since your comment. I think it's a pretty reasonable low-risk add for a team that definitely needed another lefty in the 'pen.
kcjlo10
12/18
Who is THAT Korean player (referred to in the main page)?
sebaker
12/20
Pirates have announced that Harrison will start at second, Kang at third when he returns. (Rodriguez, Hanson, and may even Rogers will see time at third until then.)