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BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Signed DH-L Pedro Alvarez to a one-year deal worth $5.75 million plus incentives. [3/8]

This was all but a given once the Orioles missed out on Dexter Fowler.

By now, you’ve heard and read enough about Alvarez’s game to qualify as an expert witness. In brief: he can mash right-handed pitching, but he he can’t hit lefties or field. The Orioles figure, then, to use Alvarez as their most-days DH, with Chris Davis slotting in at first base and Mark Trumbo in right field. That’s suboptimal defensively—remember when Trumbo was s’posed to replace Davis at the cold corner?—however it’s the Orioles’ best-possible lineup and it’s going to result in a lot of dingers, which will be fun.

Provided Buck Showalter doesn’t ask Alvarez to do the things he can’t do—and Showalter has a good reputation for putting flawed players in position to succeed—this deal could be prove to be one of the winter’s best values. —R.J. Anderson

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Claimed C-L Rob Brantly off waivers from the White Sox. [3/12]

There was a point—113-plus points, really―back in 2012 when the bat-first Brantly looked like the Marlins’ catcher of the future. He’d just arrived from Detroit in the Anibal Sanchez trade, and had taken to the majors in a hurry by hitting .290/.372/.460. Since then, Brantly has done nothing positive worth writing about. Alas there are plenty of negatives to touch on, including the facts that he’s out of options and played in more Double-A games last season than Triple-A games. Short story shorter: set your watches folks, because Brantly will be back on the waiver wire before the games start to count. —R.J. Anderson

TAMPA BAY RAYS
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Signed RHP David Carpenter to a minor-league deal. [3/11]

This time a year ago, Carpenter looked like a legitimate late-inning reliever who threw strikes with his mid-to-upper-90s fastball and ended sequences with his slider. Now he’s working on his fourth team since. To recap: he pitched poorly for the Yankees; missed significant time due to a bum shoulder with the Nationals; and made one spring appearance with the Braves before receiving a pink slip. Talk about an increasingly southern azimuth, huh? Anyway, this is a low-cost gamble by the Rays: If Carpenter looks broke, he can be discarded without incident; if he looks good, he can help a bullpen that needs it—in 2016 and beyond, as he has two years of team control remaining. —R.J. Anderson

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Signed LHP Randy Choate to a minor-league deal. [3/11]

The Barry Bonds of left-handed specialists, Choate had an uncharacteristic 2015. Though he was used almost as literally as any left-handed one-out guy in history (he averaged 1.2 outs per appearance), he nonetheless allowed left-handed batters to post a .250 True Average. That just won’t do for someone whose raison d'être is putting down same-handed hitters. Factor in how Choate turned 40 last September, and you can understand why he’s settling for a minor-league pact less than a month from Opening Day. This deal will probably go for naught on the Blue Jays’ part (as most minor-league deals do), but you can never count a good LOOGY out—heck, you have to work quick to count them in. —R.J. Anderson

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Signed LHP Franklin Morales to a minor-league deal. [3/5]

Remember when Morales was an intriguing prospect? He’s now 30 years old and settling for minor-league deals in spite of pitching decently for the world champions. You might think of Morales as a mop-up man due to his starting past and inability to miss bats, but he’s become a reliable out-getter against left-handed hitters. Last season, he held same-handers to a .205 True Average, sinking his multi-year figure to .222. The Brewers have a few other southpaws in camp—Will Smith is a lock (if he isn’t traded); Sean Nolin is out of options; then there’s Chris Capuano and Cesar Jimenez still hanging on—so there aren’t any guarantees that Morales will find a home in Milwaukee. That’s too bad: a successful transition into a LOOGY role might extend his career by, say, eight, nine years. —R.J. Anderson

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Signed 3B-R David Freese to a one-year, $3 million contract [3/12]

As an everyday third baseman, Freese might have been a second-division starter—the type of guy a team uses to plug a gap, but never truly satisfies. However, the Pirates once again made a bargain pickup for depth by inking their former division rival to a contract to come in and back up at the corners. In that role, he could really shine and provide much-desired depth.

Last year was a bit of an offensive and defensive renaissance for Freese, who had greatly disappointed in 2013 and 2014. With Freese’s defensive issues (-22.2 FRAA over the past three seasons), he’s required to hit in order to pull his weight. Last year, he did hit a little—a .268 TAv is nothing to sneeze at—and bumped up his slugging percentage a bit over .400 (with 14 homers) for the first time since 2012. He also benefited from two things that might be cause for a little regression in the upcoming season: first, he took a career-high 12 HBPs despite only seeing 470 plate appearances, which helped his OBP out more than usual. Also, he posted a reverse platoon split; despite having a career .262 TAv against righties, it probably wouldn’t be good to expect him to carry over that particular kind of production next season.

The real issue with Freese can be his defense, which could make for an interesting twist in Pittsburgh. As detailed in Big Data Baseball, the Pirates have been very creative with positioning in the infield over the past few seasons, and there’s a chance that could offset some of Freese’s range deficiencies—look at how Neil Walker’s defensive stats jumped up when the team started positioning differently. If not, Freese could well give back much of his offensive value on the diamond; while 2015 saw his FRAA jump up to average (0.4 FRAA), the past two years saw terrible values (-14.1 and -8.5 FRAA, respectively), and the other major defensive metrics don’t see him as an above-average fielder just yet.

It’s a little odd that the Pirates went with another right-handed bat, given how heavy in lefties the team already is; only Gregory Polanco, Matt Joyce, and John Jaso take cuts from the left side of the plate. Nevertheless, he’s a great value at the price, and having someone to back up the already-injured Jung-ho Kang and the soon-to-be-injured John Jaso is very wise. It can be hard to lean on a player like Freese while in the decline phase of his career. But as a backup? That’s a very nice deal for the Pirates, and a bat that could matter late in the season (or post-season) for a team that could use one. —Bryan Grosnick

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ErikBFlom
3/14
I wonder how you can put a dollar value on Showalter's ability to take limited-use pieces and make a team. The man has to be underpaid. The one thing I have to give Angelos: he seems to have found a great marriage of GM and manager skill sets.
PastorStephen
3/14
All the analysis I have read about the Pedro Alvarez signing is that Mark Trumbo will most certainly play the OF with Davis at 1st. Is this truly a given? It seems that it would be prudent to place Davis' athleticism and upside in the outfield given the aptitude he's shown (albeit in a short sample) and play the already proven OF-inept Trumbo at 1st base. Thoughts?