The Rays come out of the Winter Meetings a better team than when they entered five days ago. Not many other teams can say that. Not that it's a competition. They made the biggest trade of the week in acquiring Yunel Escobar. James Loney was added during the week, too. Rumors about James Shields filled the hallways of the Opryland Hotel like a thick fog, though no deal seemed to gain any real traction.
The team is still in need of a DH and will surely be active in the reliever market with J.P. Howell and Kyle Farnsworth uncertain to return. Let's take a look at the other major moves that were accomplished this week in the American League.
Signed Shane Victorino to a 3yr/$39MM (lol) contract.
Signed Mike Napoli to a 3yr/$39MM contract to play first base.
Signed reliever Koji Uehara to a one year deal, which was their best move of the three.
Lost Eric Chavez to the Diamondbacks, leaving a gaping hole at third base.
Offered a 1yr/$12MM deal to Kevin Youkilis, who is also fielding a 2yr/$18MM offer from the Indians.
Signed Joe Blanton to a 2yr/$15MM deal.
Signed Jeff Keppinger to a 3yr/$12MM deal. Good luck to you, Kepp.
Signed Joakim Soria to a 2yr/$8MM deal. If he's effective he'll be a nice addition to the back end of that bullpen with Joe Nathan.
That's about it, unless you're a huge Ramon Cabrera fan. The Rays added a valuable piece to their lineup and defense while the Yankees look to be a mess and the Red Sox are paying Victorinio and his .667 OPS for the next three years. Not bad, not bad at all.
-As you've all heard by now Rays' Farm Director Mitch Lukevics received minor-league baseball's lifetime achievement award recently, only a few short weeks after the death of his wife, Karen. Mark Topkin had a nice write up in the Tampa Bay Times yesterday.
-As Sam Miller points out, Koji Uehara is really, really good.
-This collection of Joe Maddon: Hipster Manager photos is faaaaaaaantastic.