It’s been just about a week since our last roundup. Here’s what happened since we’ve last spoken.
Edwin Encarnación signs with the White Sox
The White Sox see an opening and they appear to be going for it. After making a big splash at the start of the winter signing Yasmani Grandal and recently following that up with a Dallas Keuchel signing, they have added a big bat to the middle of their order by bringing Edwin Encarnación aboard. The slugger will get $12 million on a one-year deal with an option for a second year. Chicago still has some issues with their roster, but they have undeniably had a strong winter and are setting themselves up to be in the mix in an open AL Central with another couple of moves. Encarnación is about as consistent as one can be at the plate, providing big power on a yearly basis. Considering Zack Collins was in the running to be their DH on Opening Day before this move, Chicago gets considerably better here.
Sox Spin: The Red Sox were never going to make sense for Encarnación unless they felt he could play first base everyday or J.D. Martinez could play in the outfield everyday. Neither seems likely. This move does further enhance Chicago as a legitimate wildcard contender, though, and also takes a bat away from the Yankees. New York has the depth to make up for this loss, though.
Dellin Betances signs with the Mets
Dellin Betances is staying in his hometown of New York, but he’s still changing jerseys. The longtime Yankees reliever has agreed to a one-year deal with the Mets with a guaranteed base pay of $10.5 million. There is a player option for 2021 as well. Betances was one of the most intriguing options available in a weak reliever free agent class this winter. After five years of consistently dominating in the late innings for the Yankees, he looked set to cash in big time this winter before injuries wiped out basically his entire 2019 campaign. That led to this one-year pillow deal. The Mets won out in what was almost certainly a big competition for the righty, and they now have an interesting, albeit uncertain, bullpen. With Betances and Edwin Díaz they have two of the most talented bounce-back players in all of baseball, and that goes with Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, Brad Brach and Justin Wilson. There’s a lot of names there, and if things go well this could be a dominant unit.
Sox Spin: Ultimately, this salary is almost certainly out of what the Red Sox are willing to pay this winter, which is a shame. Betances has the talent to be a top-flight reliever, and to have that with only one guaranteed year attached is a bargain any team in baseball would want.
César Hernández signs with the Indians
Most of the focus for the Indians this winter has been what has or could be leaving — Corey Kluber has already been dealt and Francisco Lindor has been the center of rumors all winter — but over the holiday week they added a player. That player is former Phillies second baseman César Hernández, who signed a one-year deal worth $6.25 million. Cleveland had a glaring hole at the keystone position after losing Jason Kipnis to free agency, and this is a solid way of filling it. Hernández was one of many solid, not-great/not-terrible options at the position. He’s fallen off a bit the last couple of years, particularly last season with his typically high walk rate, but he still projects to be a solid-average hitter with average-to-good defense at second base. That’s not going to blow anyone away, of course, but you need two-win players to win divisions, and he is just that.
Sox Spin: Hernández was probably my preferred choice among that big glut of second base options, but once the Red Sox signed José Peraza, that ship sailed.
Corey Dickerson signs with the Marlins
I don’t like making predictions because the prospect of being publicly wrong scares me, but I feel comfortable saying the Marlins are not going to make the playoffs in 2020. Despite that, they are still signing good players, which is a neat thing to see. They agreed to a two-year deal worth $17.5 million with Corey Dickerson. This is exactly what teams like the Marlins should be doing. No one is suggesting these rebuilding teams sign Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon, but where you have holes that won’t be filled by a prospect in the first few months of the year, sign a solid, mid-level player to give your fans something to watch. Dickerson isn’t going to provide much of anything defensively, but he’s been an above-average bat for his entire career and is coming off a huge (half) year where he was hitting everything hard. If/When the Marlins do have an outfielder that could take Dickerson’s place, they have a nice trade chip with whom they can acquire more prospects. It’s a win/win.
Sox Spin: Nothing really here for the Red Sox. He didn’t make sense in Boston unless they think he could learn first base — he’s only played the outfield in his career — and he signed with a non-contender in the NL.
Kole Calhoun signs with the Diamondbacks
Arizona made a big splash not too long ago when they signed Madison Bumgarner, and now they have supplemented it with a smaller move. Arizona added former Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun on a two-year deal worth $16 million with a team option for a third year. The right fielder is coming off a season that saw career-high power numbers, though that was, of course, the norm around the league. In all, he is roughly an average all-around player, much like Hernández above. The Diamondbacks are a sneaky wildcard contender next year, albeit one with (in my view) a low ceiling.
Sox Spin: As with Dickerson, there’s really no effect here for the Red Sox. That is, unless they do end up trading Mookie Betts, which would obviously leave them with a hole in right field.