Day One of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee was filled with a lot of talk, but business picked up in a big way during Day Two, with two high-profile trades and a highly-coveted free agent landing in an unexpected destination. As for the rumor-front, chatter on a possible Jose Fernandez trade continues and we might finally start seeing some movement among the big-name outfielders on the market.
There's still plenty of room for drama in the coming days, so be sure to keep refreshing our constantly-updated player news page for all the latest. Also be sure to follow @Rotoworld_BB and @djshort if you are on Twitter.
Miller Time in Arizona
Hours after finalizing their six-year, $206.5 million contract with new staff ace Zack Greinke, the Diamondbacks pulled off another whopper on Tuesday by reportedly acquiring right-hander Shelby Miller and left-hander Gabe Speier from the Braves for outfielder Ender Inciarte, prospect right-hander Aaron Blair, and 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson.
It's a considerable haul for Atlanta, which I'll get into more below, but if it wasn't obvious already, Arizona has clearly shifted into win-now mode. Led by Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, the Diamondbacks were quietly second in the National League in runs scored and third in OPS this past season, so they are a legitimate threat to contend in 2016 with the high-profile additions to their rotation and a hopefully-healthy year out of Patrick Corbin.
While Miller didn't get much help from the Braves' offense in 2015, he pitched quite well, posting a 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. How much of that is sustainable is up to debate. Neither his strikeout rate nor his control are elite and while he increased his ground ball rate in 2015, it's probably unfair to expect him to allow only 13 home runs again while moving to a more hitter-friendly ballpark. Still, he gives Arizona another quality arm alongside Greinke and Corbin and remains under team control for three more seasons. We can probably rule out a pursuit of Mike Leake at this point, so the final two spots in the rotation will be some combination of Robbie Ray, Rubby De La Rosa, Chase Anderson, and Archie Bradley. Not bad.
The Braves reportedly coveted Pollock as part of a possible return package for Miller, but they have to be absolutely thrilled about how things turned out. This sounds like the type of return you'd expect for someone like Jose Fernandez. Inciarte, one of the game's best defenders, will help right away and figures to be a regular in center field over Michael Bourn. Blair, 23, had a 2.92 ERA and 120/50 K/BB ratio over 160 1/3 innings this past season between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. The strikeouts haven't really been there at the higher levels, but he has good control and generates a ton of ground balls. Atlanta has been stockpiling young arms and he should be able to help at the major league level relatively soon.
The real stunner is Swanson, who was just drafted by Arizona six months ago and got off to a quick start in Low-A in between missing some time with a concussion. Teams previously had to wait a year to officially deal players they drafted (they were players-to-be-named), but the rule was changed this year after the Trea Turner situation. Swanson is expected to move quickly and should stick at shortstop for the long-term. The Braves also have Ozhaino Albies in the system, but that's a nice problem to have. 2016 still looks pretty bleak for Braves fans, but perhaps life after Andrelton Simmons won't be so bad? There's at least some more hope after Tuesday's deal.
Zorilla Takes Chicago
Going into Tuesday, most considered the Mets and Nationals as the finalists for Ben Zobrist, but the coveted free agent soon caught many off guard by signing a four-year, $56 million contract with the Cubs. The deal reunites him with Joe Maddon, who was his manager in Tampa Bay from 2006-2014. The decision ultimately wasn't about money, as the Mets reportedly made a comparable offer, but the familiarity with Maddon and the proximity to his home ultimately swayed him.
Zobrist turns 35 next May and batted .276/.359/.450 with 13 home runs and 56 RBI over 126 games this past season between the Athletics and Royals. While his versatility has been a key selling-point, he has slipped somewhat defensively and would like to focus on one position in 2016. We'll get into it more below, but moving Starlin Castro to the Yankees will allow him to be a regular at second base. With his on-base ability and contacted-oriented approach, the veteran switch-hitter is a great fit for a team who struck out more than anybody else in 2016. Sure, he's a gamble at his age, but $14 million AAV (average annual value) doesn't sound so bad in this market, especially with the Cubs going for it.
Speaking of going for it, the Cubs probably aren't done. They still have a need in center field and there's been trade chatter regarding Jorge Soler and Javier Baez in recent days. Who knows, they could still make a play for Jason Heyward. With Zobrist off the board, the market for the rest of the free agent position players should begin to fall into place soon.
Yankees Acquire Castro
As mentioned above, in order to make room for Zobrist, the Cubs traded Castro to the Yankees for right-hander Adam Warren and a player to be named later (expected to be Brendan Ryan). New York will be responsible for the $38 million remaining on Castro's contract, which includes $7 million in 2016, $9 million in 2017, $10 million in 2018, and $11 million in 2019, with a $16 million club option or a $1 million buyout for 2020.
It's a decent gamble for the Yankees, who were looking at a combination of Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at second base for 2016. Castro batted just .265 with 11 home runs and a .671 OPS over 151 games this past season, but he played better after moving to second base during the second half. That's the glass half-full approach to things, but Castro hasn't made any progress with his approach and it's fair to wonder if he ever will as he goes into his age-26 season. He's frustrating. Still, fantasy owners can't complain about the move to Yankee Stadium and multi-position eligibility. There's some upside even if he hasn't progressed as hoped.
Warren had a 3.29 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 over 17 starts and 26 relief appearances this past season. The 28-year-old is an interesting get for Chicago, but he'll likely remain in a swingman-type of role. Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel, and Kyle Hendricks are already lined up for the rotation, but Warren makes for a fine alternative if there's an injury.
Winter Meetings Quick Hits: The Marlins reportedly told the Dodgers that they would want Corey Seager, Julio Urias, Joc Pederson, and two more pieces as part of a trade for Jose Fernandez… The Cardinals acquired infielder Jedd Gyorko from the Padres for outfielder Jon Jay … Giancarlo Stanton (hand) resumed a hitting program last week … Rangers general manager Jon Daniels denied a report Tuesday that he's shopping Prince Fielder … MASN Sports' Roch Kubatko reports that the Orioles offered Chris Davis a contract "in the neighborhood" of $150 million on Tuesday … After being spurned by Ben Zobrist, the Mets reportedly have some interest in a trade for Pirates second baseman Neil Walker … The Angels are reportedly having ongoing conversations with the agent for Justin Upton … Wilmer Flores suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left ankle, but is expected to be ready for spring training … The Braves have reportedly signed catcher Tyler Flowers to a two-year, $5.3 million contract, pending a physical … The Giants aren't expected to make a run at Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda, who was officially posted by the Hiroshima Carp on Tuesday … The Mets are said to be drawing interest in left-hander Jon Niese … 7-10 teams have reportedly expressed interest in Marcell Ozuna… Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Tuesday that he sees Jarrod Dyson as a regular in 2016 … The White Sox and Athletics are reportedly having serious trade discussions about Brett Lawrie … The Rockies addressed the back-end of their bullpen on Tuesday by adding right-handers Jason Motte and Chad Qualls on two-year contracts...