There were a couple of rather interesting developments on the trade and free agent front today at the winter meetings. I'll give you some brief thoughts on them.
J.J. Putz and failed ex-Chicago White Sox prospect Jeremy Reed go from the Seattle Mariners to the New York Mets for Aaron Heilman. (Okay, there was more than that but I'm just breaking down the imporant part.)
From what I understand, the Mariners are dumping payroll like they're going out of business. Other than that it's not a terrible move for the M's. Heilman has been complaining for quite a while that he should be a starter and his pedigree (18th overall pick in 2001 out of Notre Dame) warrants the move from the bullpen to the rotation. His stats on the other hand.... not so much. In his debut year in 2003, Heilman made 13 starts to a tune of a 6.75 ERA. After that season, he wasn't given much of a chance to hold down a spot in the Mets rotation. A open spot should be no problem for Heilman to come by in Seattle as the M's had one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball in 2008. Aside from that, it was key for Seattle to get something in exchange for Putz, a former All Star closer because they are a team in transition. New York on the other hand will bring in a valuable piece to its bullpen in Putz despite some injury problems in 2008. Putz still posted a Sub.-4.00 ERA and will be a nice bridge to newly signed closer Francisco Rodriguez.
The other part of this trade was the Mets sending reliever Joe Smith (not the power forward) to the Cleveland Indians who then sent promisng outfielder Franklin Guiterrez to the Mariners as well. Smith should be a welcomed addition to the Indians bullpen as he posted an ERA just around 3.50 in his two years of MLB service. He'll provide another arm to a pen that already includes solid setup men like Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez and a closer like...
This leads me to the next chunk of news from today: Former Chicago Cubs closer Kerry Wood is going to be the 9th inning man in Cleveland according to the worldwide leader in sports.. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3761317
This is a huge move by the Indians which should give them an incredibly strong pitching staff in general with the likes of Fausto Carmona, Cliff Lee and the up and coming Aaron Laffey. Wood should cap off the late innings nicely. Now if they could only fix that offense.
Obviously the CC Sabathia signing is a big deal and we don't really need to explain why. The interesting thing about the deal however is that Sabathia can opt out after the third year in case he gets sick of the constant scrutiny. I assume he would in one year. Any thoughts?
The final big deal of the day was a straight up trade between the Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Rays. The Rays sent Edwin Jackson packing for a chance to develop Matt Joyce's offense to go along with the already stellar outfield he plays. This will probably work out for both teams as the Rays will likely let Rocco Baldelli walk and put uber-stud David Price into the rotation. The Tigers, well, they'll take whatever they can get.