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Who needs the winter meetings? Notable Tuesday MLB transactions

While Paul Konerko deliberates, the baseball world spins out of control with multiple trades and huge contracts, rumored and official

Tom Pennington

Around 2 p.m., Bruce Levine relayed what turned out to be the most real White Sox news item of the day:

The day already had a couple notable signings under its belt -- the Red Sox and A.J. Pierzynski (one year, $8.25 million), the Tigers and Joe Nathan (two years, dollars not official) -- but Major League Baseball was only getting warmed up. By the end of the business day on the East Coast, there were six trades and five major signings.

It's the fastest-moving offseason that anybody can remember, and it looks like Konerko is the only person in the game using the winter meetings as some kind of opening bell.

Here's how the day unfolded:

Free agency worked a little smoother for Pierzynski this year. His market took the scenic route in coming together for him last winter, and while he ended up with an appropriate salary for 2013, the one-year, $7 million contract seemed a little bit like settling.

If Pierzynski wanted multiple years, he might be disappointed, but otherwise, this should work for him -- he gets a slight raise even after regression to his career norms last year, and hooking up with a contender means he's more likely to be participating in the postseason as a player, not an analyst.

Red Sox fans might need some time to get used to him -- not the personality, but the lack of walks. He drew just three walks over 251 plate appearances in the second half last year, so there's at least one guy in the Boston lineup who won't make pitchers sweat.

Having freed up some cash by trading Prince Fielder and Doug Fister in stunning moves, the Tigers used some of it to shore up their bullpen. That said, while Brad Ausmus will have the luxury of a brand-name closer, Detroit's bullpen is still shallow, and that was the bigger issue last year.

But they're not done yet. Reports have them targeting Shin-Soo Choo, but with the money flying around and the other megadeal outfielder locked up, Scott Boras could be primed to drag this one out.

The rare intradivisional trade makes sense on both sides, as the A's needed an outfield glove, and the Rangers needed a potential corner outfield bat. Choice is ready for an audition, but his bat isn't certain, and the A's don't have the room to let him grow into a position.

The A's have now traded away three of their recent first-round picks over the last five months -- Choice went 10th overall in 2010, a day after they traded Jemile Weeks (2008) to Baltimore. They also moved Grant Green (2009) to the Angels at the deadline last year for Alberto Callaspo.

  • Rays acquire Ryan Hanigan from the Reds and Heath Bell from the Diamondbacks
  • Reds acquire LHP David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks
  • Diamondbacks acquire RHP Justin Choate and a PTBNL from the Rays.

A three-team deal! The Rays continued to prioritize pitch-framing, trading for Hanigan a couple days after signing Jose Molina, then extending him for three years and $10.75 million, with an option for 2017. They also acquired Heath Bell, who has bombed out of two consecutive closing roles and burned some bridges along the way, but they'll only be on the hook for $4.5 million of his $9 million salary. Bell will be paid by three teams himself next season, with the Marlins covering $4 million from the previous trade, and Arizona's kicking in $500,000).

By acquiring a defensive-metric superstar and a jerk, it's harder to think of a more Rays trade than this one. They already had two catchers under team control before adding Hanigan, so Jose Lobaton figures to be available. Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times threw out this teaser..

... but nothing came of it. Andrew Friedman is posturing that the Rays can carry three catchers, but that only makes sense if one of them can hit well enough to DH. That's not the case here, so there could still be fire behind this smoke.

Having just landed Gentry, the A's continued to both pare down their outfield and beef up their bullpen by acquiring Gregerson, a day after trading for Baltimore's Jim Johnson.

The Rockies cleared a path out of town for Fowler when Dan O'Dowd questioned his intangibles. They sent him on his way by dealing him to Houston for a worse outfielder and a pitcher with a 5.35 ERA over 65 career starts. Purple Row isn't pleased.

Because Coors Field wreaks havoc with outfield metrics and home/road splits, it's hard to tell what kind of player Fowler really is, but there's no doubt that 1) he's the best player in the deal, and 2) at $7.5 million, he's the Astros' most expensive player. Not to mention:

This is less than Saltalamacchia was expected to receive as the best 20something starting option behind the plate. His career year was fueled by an out-of-nowhere BABIP and it's hard to watch him throw, but this is one contract that really didn't spur any sticker shock to me.

Now here's some shock, although it's not because of the contract itself, because Ellsbury was in position to get a dump truck of cash poured on him, and that's what happened. It's more the team (going from Boston to New York) and the speed with which it went from zero to done. The Yankees are still talking to Robinson Cano, and it's hard to imagine that Cano will go anywhere else. And there's also Masahiro Tanaka. They're back, even if it might end up costing them.

This didn't seem to need to be a priority.

Throw in a couple minor moves -- the Phillies trading for Brad Lincoln, signing Wil Nieves -- and the baseball world is passing Paul Konerko by.

Wednesday possibilities

*Carlos Beltran might be returning to Kansas City, with three years and $48 million the rumored contract.

*Brian Wilson is close to returning to the Dodgers on a one-year contract. I'd rather see Nathan's cheek-flapping deep breaths than Wilson's shoepolish beard.

*Who will Choo choo-choo-choose?

*And what of Toblerone Lobaton?

*What will Curtis Granderson enjoy enjoying next?