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MLB Roundup: Recapping the Holiday Week

Catching up on the few things that have happened around the league

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

It’s been a little while since we’ve done one of these, so there’s some old-ish news in this post. If you’ve been following the baseball world over the holiday week, this won’t be news to you! If you haven’t, well, it’s the holidays so there isn’t quite as much going on as your typical week.

Nelson Cruz signs in Minnesota

The biggest signing of the last week-plus came from the Twins, which is not a sentence you will hear for many weeks in a given baseball offseason. They did make a decent splash last week, however, signing veteran slugger Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal worth a little more than $14 million. Cruz has been one of the best power hitters in the game over the last decade, with a few hiccups here and there including a PED suspension that has been largely forgotten. His lack of defense along with the fact that he’ll be 39 in July are obviously notable faults for the slugger and why he didn’t get a bigger deal, but Cruz has posted a wRC+ of at least 130 in each of the last five seasons. Minnesota making this deal is interesting, but it makes sense. Though the Twins had a disappointing 2018, the AL Central is wide open behind Cleveland, and even the Indians are seemingly getting worse in order to cut salary. If Minnesota gets bounce backs from Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, they could be a surprising club in the coming season. As for how the Red Sox should feel about this, Cruz was rumored to be of interest to the Rays, so keeping the slugger out of Tampa is a good thing for Boston.

The Diamondbacks may trade Robbie Ray

After trading Paul Goldschmidt earlier this winter, the Diamondbacks are now committed to a rebuild. Despite that, it seemed as though they weren’t exactly set on trading left-handed starter Robbie Ray unless they were blown away. Nick Cafardo, however, is reporting that teams are calling on the southpaw with Houston and Philadelphia showing the most interest. Ray has huge talent and just turned 27 after the regular season ended, so it’s not hard to see why there is interest out there. Two years ago he was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, and he has struck out over 11 batters per nine innings in each of the last three seasons. All of that being said, he struggled a bit last year and his control has been an issue throughout his career. It’s understandable for the Diamondbacks to want to hold him for now and hope he can rebuild his value by the trade deadline, though with the rotation depth Houston has lost one can see them making a real push. I’m not the biggest Ray fan out there — that control really scares me — but I’d prefer the Astros not get another high-strikeout machine in their rotation, thank you very much.

Jonathan Lucroy signs with the Angels

It wasn’t all that long ago that Lucroy was one of the best catchers in all of baseball, trailing Buster Posey but probably no one else. That alone will continue to give him chances for the foreseeable future given the utter lack of talent at the position around the league, but the truth is the former All-Star just hasn’t been good for a couple of years. His 2018 was particularly disappointing as he put up a 70 wRC+ (30 percent worse than league-average) as his power just continued to disappear. Despite the poor production in 2018, the Angels are taking a chance on the veteran, though not an expensive one. Los Angeles signed him to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. It’s hard to really fault any deal that is this cheap, though the optimism shouldn’t be too high, either. The Angels have an uphill battle to begin with and their success likely comes down to their pitching staff more than any addition to their lineup. As for Red Sox fans that want to see an upgrade behind the plate, A) it’s probably not coming and B) Lucroy isn’t the upgrade his name value may suggest.

Matt Shoemaker signs with the Blue Jays

We go from a new Angel to a former Angel, and one signing with one of the Red Sox’ rivals. The Blue Jays added to their rotation over the last week, signing former L.A. starter Matt Shoemaker to a one-year deal worth something around $3 million. The righty has never really been a star, but he had a period a few years back when he first came up in which he was a consistently better-than-average starter. That sounds like faint praise, but those guys are not as easy to find as one may think. Unfortunately for him and the Angels, the injury bug has bit him the last couple of years and he’s combined for 108 23 innings since the start of the 2017 season. If he’s healthy, the Blue Jays could have gotten a solid arm to place in the back half of their rotation to give them steady, if unsexy, production. Toronto’s in a bit of a transition year as they await prospects like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, but they could be a pain in their matchups with Boston next year.