I was out and about yesterday, so I missed out on discussing a couple news items:
Rays Sign J.P. Howell to a One Year, $1.1M Contract
This is the feel-good news that everyone has been waiting for. Friedman doesn't appear to have saved much money by going this route, signing Howell for $300-900K less than he would have received otherwise, but when you work on a budget, it makes sense to save money any way possible. Also, non-tendering Howell allowed Friedman the flexibility to include incentives in Howell's contract, which are presumably contingent upon how many innings Howell pitches this season. Recent reports suggest Howell won't be ready for Opening Day, but he's optimistic about only missing a month or so of the season.
Hideki Matsui Signs a One Year,
$7M $4.5M Deal with the Athletics
Strike one more name off our "Buy Low" wishlist. I'm surprised that Matsui is getting such an expensive contract, but we haven't seen many bargains yet this year, so I probably shouldn't be. If Matsui is getting
$7M $4.5M, then what will players like Magglio Ordonez be able to grab? I'm still crossing my fingers that the Rays can nab Edwin Encarnacion or Manny Ramirez for cheap, but in the end, it's going to come down to which players get forgotten by every other team.
EDIT: It just came out that the earlier report was wrong: Matsui is signed to a one year, $4.5M deal. That's more reasonable, so maybe the market is starting to come down after all.
We already covered this last night, but I found an extra tidbit on MLBTradeRumors this morning that I thought was interesting: if you look at all the remaining free agent starters and all the pitchers available next off-season, there are no front-line aces that jump out at you. Carl Pavano is currently one of the best available free-agent arms, so any team looking to upgrade their rotation will need to start looking to make a trade. The trade market for Zack Grienke and Matt Garza has already heated up in the last week, and I wouldn't be surprised if interest only increases.
If Andrew Friedman plays his cards right (and really, when hasn't he?), the Rays could get a very nice package in return for Garza. The Nationals are already suggested to be "aggressively pursuing" Garza, and Ed Price just tweeted that the Rangers made a hard push for Garza last night. This could get fun.
In the meantime, I'm getting way too giddy envisioning Sergio Mitre in the Yankee rotation...