Approaching the end of the Winter Meetings, trades and free agent signings have slowed considerably, but we still have a few notable transactions to report.
3 more Type A/B free agents have signed:
William Kondou SP - San Diego, 2 years/$9MM. The Surf Babies continue their aggressive acquisition program. Kondou features very good control and a tough sinker, although it's much more effective against righties. Originally an Int'l Free Agent signed by Jackson, he has 58 wins and a 4.95 ERA over 8 seasons. He'll compete for a starting job, although his limited number of quality pitches and his best season (10, mostly used in relief) suggest he's best out of the pen. Grade: B
Daniel McDowell SS - Richmond, 3 years/$16.2MM. Richmond fans, say "hi" to Alan Leach's replacement. He won't hit like Leach, although he should be adequate for a SS, and should be about as the same defensively. With Harry Adams to give McDowell an occasional day off and be a defensive replacement, SS will still be well-patrolled for the Poor Men. Given the economical price tag, this is Grade A.
Alan Leach SS - Tucson, 4 years/$$54MM. Leach is arguably the "other" superstar in this year's FA class. He's among the 3 or 4 best offensive SS's in the league - still capable of 35+ HR's (as last year's 38 attests) and maybe 40+ in the Tucson Electric bandbox. It's perhaps a mild surprise that he signed with Tucson, but I like the signing. Rochester improved by 23 wins last year: if Tucson matches that and gets to 81 wins, who knows? And with rookies Leonardo Hardy and Carlos Escuela taking over 2B abd 3B, Tucson suddenly looks a lot better. Grade A.
And we've 3 more trades of late:
Augusta gets: SP Carter Jefferson
El Paso gets: C Vladimir Ordonez and SP Alan Bigley
The Polar Bears get a back-of-rotation guy for a reasonable price. It'll be 2 or 3 years before we know if Bigley will have a ML career, but it's plausible. Crystal Ball says: pretty much a no-risk move for Augusta; El Paso's potential benefits are years away.
Nashville gets: RP Charlie Hernandez
Richmond gets: RP Haywood Cox
Having shored up their pen, the Poor Men ship out a reliever looking for a shot this year for a similar (lively arm, wild) prospect. Hernandez gets excellent, late movement on his sinker/slider/circle change assortment but has chronic control trouble. Cox is a similar pitcher, ut has a few more years to try to develop his control. Crystal Ball says: Ramblers give Hernandez a shot this year, but he flops.
Syracuse gets: C Lonny Campbell
Little Rock gets: C Patrick Herman
Exchange of pitch-calling, defensive savant catchers. Both could hang around the AAA-to-backup ML'er gravy train for awhile. Herman is a bit better hitter so more likley to have any impact this year. Crystal Ball says: gimme a blockbuster to say something about.