Signed RHP Al Albuquerque to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million. [1/15]
While Billy Eppler has had a busy offseason, most of his activity has revolved around position players. Whereas prior to this deal Eppler had added four new members to his lineup and an entirely new bench during the first half of the winter, his biggest get on the mound was . . . uh, Deolis Guerra? Fortunately, Albuquerque is a decent, low-risk addition.
Non-tendered earlier in the offseason by the Tigers, Albuquerque is coming off a rough season in which he missed fewer bats and barrels than usual—a troubling combination given his control is as trustworthy as Ric Flair. The two constants in his game are his slider-heavy approach and (unsurprisingly) his trouble with left-handed batters. As such, there's a real chance he's little more than Jose Alvarez's right-handed complement. Given the cost—and keep in mind that Albuquerque has another year of team control remaining—that would be a dull, acceptable outcome
Agreed to a two-year extension with 2B-R Logan Forsythe worth $9.25 million with a club option worth an additional $8.5 million. [1/15]
As simple as contract extensions get. Forsythe waives his right to two arbitration hearings (and potentially his first winter of free agency) in exchange for some guaranteed money. Why would Forsythe cash in? He entered 2015 with a career 85 OPS+ and just one year in which he played in triple-digit games. And why would the Rays lock in his costs? A variety of reasons. Most importantly, Forsythe is fresh off posting the fifth-best True Average among second basemen, and has proved that he's over his early-career injury woes. Besides, check the price tag again. Even if Forsythe reverts to his old ways—that is to say, becomes little more than a lefty-mashing reserve—he'll appeal to other teams searching for cheap bench help. Solid.
Signed RHP Joe Blanton to a one-year deal worth $4 million with incentives. [1/19]
What does it say about the Dodgers' winter that their biggest free-agent bullpen addition is Blanton? Probably something more complimentary than would've been said a year ago.
The story of Blanton's career resurrection is well known. He returned last season in dominating fashion following his 2014-long near-retirement experience—which, to hear some tell it, is as transformative as a near-death experience. In addition to commanding his low-90s fastball to both sides of the plate, he leaned more on his slider than usual. Blanton's results were impressive, particularly following his midseason trade to the Pirates, as he managed a 1.57 ERA and a strikeout rate exceeding 10 per nine, all the while recording four-plus outs in 12 of his 21 appearances.
You wonder if the Dodgers have that last note in mind as it pertains to Blanton's role. Depending on the health of their starters, the Dodgers could enter the season with a 'pen comprising an elite closer and myriad middle-relief types. Blanton's ability to eat multiple innings would give them a different dynamic—one that would allow Dave Roberts to maintain a quick hook with his back-end starters, and one that would minimize the Dodgers' need to play musical chairs with their minor-league arms. Speculate freely for the time being, because we're just a few weeks away from finding out for sure.