As the tri-state area, along with the rest of the Northeast region of the United States continues to try and get life back to normal after Hurricane Sandy, we saw quite a few moves out on the open market yesterday in the MLB while the Giants enjoyed their victory parade. The only trade happened between the Angels and Royals; Kansas City sent minor-leaguer Brandon Sisk to Los Angeles for right-handed starter Ervin Santana and cash considerations.
Santana had fallen out of favor with the Angels organization, and there were rumors his $13 million option wouldn’t be picked up, but it was exercised so he could be dealt to Kansas City. The once above average starter had a disappointing season for the Angels in 2012, posting a 9-13 record with a 5.16 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 133 strikeouts, and league-leading 39 homers allowed in 178 innings pitched. On the other hand, Sisk enjoyed a solid year in Triple-A, as he put together a 2.54 ERA in 50 relief appearances and 67.1 innings pitched.
Recently, we heard rumors that Los Angeles would be trying to move both Santana and Dan Haren, and with the Royals in obvious need of starting pitching for 2013, now add Ervin to the mix, as well as claiming Chris Volstad. Why is this move significant to the Mets? We heard last week Kansas City was willing to trade one of their young bats (Alex Gordon being one) to get some pitching. Since New York has a surplus of starting pitching and lack of depth in the outfield, it certainly was something to look into. However, now that Royals GM Dayton Moore has received two low-value pitchers, he may not be looking for much more.
On the other hand, Sandy Alderson and company will be watching the free agent wire for inexpensive relief pitching to once again bolster the bullpen. So, news that Rafael Soriano opted out of his deal with the Yankees didn’t catch anyone’s attention in Flushing. Especially since his agent, Scott Boras, feels that his client can get a four-year deal worth $60 million on the open market this winter, which would be a record for closers.
However, options were declined on two relievers that caught my eye. The Diamondbacks decided to part ways with reliever Matt Lindstrom, who they acquired in August through a trade with the Orioles that sent away Joe Saunders. The hard-throwing 32-year-old put together a solid season between both teams, going 1-0 with a 2.68 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 40 strikeouts in 47 innings pitched. His option for 2013 was due to cost Arizona $4 million, who elected to pay his $200K buyout instead.
In what was not shocking news, the Royals declined the $8 million option they held on Joakim Soria, who missed all 2012 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The two-time All-Star closer received a $750K buyout, making him a free agent. Despite having a down year in 2011 (5-5, 4.03 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 60 K’s in 60.1 IP), Soria will attract a lot of attention on the open market because in five years, he’s racked up 160 saves with a 2.48 career ERA, and will be coming at a discount.
Out of these two, Soria would probably be more realistic for the Mets, as he would be the one to command a less expensive contract in the 1-2 year range. However, there are plenty of teams in the market for another closer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees become interested. Now that Mariano Rivera is second-guessing his 2013 status and Soriano opting out, the Bronx Bombers could be looking for someone to pitch the ninth inning, and if they really wanted Soria, Brian Cashman could easily outbid Sandy Alderson right now.
Also, don’t overlook former Met Hisanori Takahashi earning his release from the Pirates, making him a free agent. Alderson has mentioned he’d like to bring in a veteran southpaw for the bullpen to compliment Josh Edgin, and Takahashi could fit that mold. He struggled while splitting time with Pittsburgh and the Angels, appearing in 51 games and throwing 50.1 innings pitched, compiling a 5.54 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He is tougher on lefties (.238/.283/.381 with 4.14 K/BB) than righties (.252/.321/.418 with 2.12 K/BB), while finishing a two-year/$8 million deal. However, I would prefer someone like Randy Choate, who is not only much cheaper (coming off 2-year/$2.5 million deal), but has 12-years of experience under his belt while stifling lefty hitters (.201/.278/.284 opponent BA).