Hot Stove Roundup – 11/2

Now that the 2011 season is officially in the books, the Winter 2011/2012 Hot Stove season can officially commence!  I’ll be writing semi-regular recaps on the goings-on of the offseason, and providing commentary and analysis as well.  With that said, let’s kick off the first Hot Stove recap:

CC Sabathia opts out, then opts back in
As expected, CC Sabathia opted out of the remaining four years on his current contract with the Yankees, and the next day signed a new five-year deal.  The old deal was worth $92 million over the course of the four years, and the new deal is worth $122 million, with a six year option.
Sabathia is the Yankees’ ace, a true workhorse, and by all accounts, a good clubhouse presence.  He finished 4th in the American League in innings pitched this season, 9th in ERA, 2nd in FIP, and 1st in fWAR.  He’s made at least 28 starts in every season of his career, and he’s never had a significant arm injury.  He might be wider than a Mack truck, but he’s going to give the Yankees 230 innings a year with an ERA around 3.00.  He should be among the league leaders in WAR for years to come.  Not much to complain about with this deal.

Derek Lowe traded to the Cleveland Indians for cash money
The Atlanta Braves traded Derek Lowe to the Cleveland Indians on Halloween morning, getting $10 million of Lowe’s $15 million in return, in addition to 23-year-old prospect Chris Jones.  With their rotation stacked already and four potentially superb pitching prospects nearly ready for the majors, the Braves felt the time was right to trade Lowe, who had a 5.03 ERA this season.
For the Indians, this trade represents a belief in DIPS theory.  While Lowe’s ERA was 5.03, his FIP was 3.70, perfectly acceptable for a 4th starter.  Lowe seems to be an ideal candidate for a bounce back next season, and for only $5 million, the Indians could really have a steal here.  If Lowe gives them, say, 190 innings with an FIP around 3.80, then the Indians have picked up 2.5 WAR for the price of 1.0.  Good deal for the Tribe.
As for Chris Jones, he’s a 23-year-old left-handed reliever, who played in high-A last year.  He’s not much of a prospect, although Baseball Prospectus prospect guru Kevin Goldstein thinks he has the potential to be a LOOGY in the future.  He’s a throw-in at best.

Other Minor Moves, Oct. 31-Nov. 2:
The Indians declined their 2012 option on center fielder Grady Sizemore.  The oft-injured Sizemore was due to make $9 million in 2012, but the Indians chose to pay the $500K buyout instead.  Sizemore makes an interesting option for teams that need an outfielder,  and should come cheap.  No guarantees about his health, though.
The Yankees released right-handed pitcher Andrew Brackman, their first-round pick in 2007.  Brackman has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness throughout his career, but would make an intriguing option for a team looking for some Triple-A pitching depth with the potential for much more.
Frank McCourt has agreed to sell the Dodgers.  This is good news for Dodger fans, as McCourt was one of the worst owners in baseball history.  The news that McCourt is selling is the first move in the long road back to respectability and competitiveness for the once-proud franchise.  The popular rumor indicates that Mark Cuban might make a run at the team, but Major League Baseball leadership has hindered him from getting involved in the league in the past.

That’s the Hot Stove Roundup for October 31st-November 2nd.  Free agents can begin negotiating with other teams starting on November 3rd, so the action should heat up soon.

-NM

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