Joe Kelly signs with Dodgers
Well, for the first time a member of the 2018 World Series winning Red Sox is joining a new team. Boston brought back both Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi and there were rumors they’d like to do the same with Joe Kelly, but that hasn’t happened. Instead, the righty and October standout has agreed to a three-year, $25 million deal with the Dodgers. I am certainly a little bummed about this from a strictly fan perspective. Kelly was amazing in the postseason, and the idea that he could potentially be that over a full season was certainly enticing. It’s not hard to see why the Dodgers would take that chance. However, Kelly was also incredibly inconsistent over his Red Sox career, and he’s had month-long flashes before going back to poor command. Maybe there was a real change this time that will keep him consistently great. If so, good for him and good for the Dodgers. I wouldn’t be willing to give him a three-year deal to see if that’s the case, though.
Yankees sign J.A. Happ
The Yankees made one of the bigger splashes of the offseason a few weeks ago when they traded for James Paxton to boost their rotation, but it was known they’d wanted at least one more starter this winter. New York was connected to both Eovaldi and Patrick Corbin, but weren’t willing to give extra years in those deals. Now, they have their second addition, who is actually a return. On Wednesday the Yankees agreed to a two-year deal with a third-year vesting option with J.A. Happ. The lefty is probably not on the same level as guys like Eovaldi and Corbin, and he’s certainly quite a bit older as well. However, the Red Sox shouldn’t really be celebrating this. I think the narrative of Happ owning Boston has fallen off some, but even if he doesn’t dominate them every time we’ve seen many instances of what Happ can bring to the table. This isn’t the sexiest addition for the Yankees, and it doesn’t quite put them over the top as a clear favorite or anything, but Happ is solid.
Rays sign Charlie Morton
The Yankees weren’t the only AL East team upgrading their rotation on Wednesday. A little before that Happ deal started to break, news came out that the Rays had added to their rotation as well. Tampa Bay agreed to a two-year, $30 million deal with former Astro Charlie Morton. This is a really interesting deal for a team that is not exactly known for splurging in free agency. Morton obviously isn’t a superstar and isn’t breaking the bank, but he’s a potentially huge addition. The righty has totally transformed over the last few years and his hard-throwing style helped him thrive in Houston. Morton is a little older, but he gives the Rays a true starter, which is something they lacked beyond Blake Snell. They are also connected to bats like Nelson Cruz, so the Rays look like they’re going to be a threat in the AL East yet again in 2019.
Jeurys Familia signs three-year deal with the Mets
Joe Kelly wasn’t the only right-handed reliever agreeing to a three-year deal on Wednesday. Right around the same time, it came out that the Mets had reunited with their former closer, signing Jeurys Familia to a three-year deal worth $30 million. Familia, of course, had spent the majority of his career in Queens before being traded to Oakland this past July. Now he’s back in New York, and there’s a couple ways of looking at this. For one thing, if Kelly is worth 3/25 in this market then Familia is a steal. Perhaps he doesn’t have the same upside — though that’s arguable — he has a much more impressive track record than the former Red Sox. Furthermore, it’s clear that if Boston wants a high-caliber reliever this winter they are going to have to be willing to give out a three-year deal. That includes for guys like David Robertson or Adam Ottavino. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
Lance Lynn signs three-year deal with Rangers
Wednesday was the day of the three-year deal, apparently. The Rangers got in on the action in the evening, signing long-time Cardinal and short-time Yankee Lance Lynn to a three-year deal. If you’ll recall, Lynn was one of the veterans last offseason who was waiting into March before finally signing a deal, which meant he had an abbreviated spring training. That clearly affected him early on with the Twins and his numbers for the year look awful because of that period. However, he did look a bit better as the season went on and he has a long track record of consistent production. The Rangers are an interesting team with intriguing talent on offense and no pitching whatsoever, so just getting a consistently solid veteran would be a big step in the right direction. Anything to get more challenges thrown at Houston.
Angels sign Justin Bour
This one confused me. The Angels, the perpetually confusing team out west, signed Justin Bour to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. Now, any deal that small can’t be really bad just because they can cut it loose without losing much of anything. In that sense, it’s fine. However, I don’t know how he fits unless they are willing to move on from playing Albert Pujols. Bour is strictly a first base/DH player, and Pujols handles first base while Shohei Ohtani is their primary DH. There is part-time playing time available, but I’m not sure Bour is the guy you’d sign for that. Or maybe he is! I really want the Angels to be good because Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani are two of the most exciting players in the game and they deserve a bigger spotlight. So, I’m hoping this works out in a way I’m not seeing.