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Extensions and Minor Moves Set Stage for Winter Meetings

Evan Longoria

The MLB Winter Meetings begin in a week and that’s when negotiations really begin to heat up. The big free agents remain unsigned, but teams have not been waiting until December to make moves. Among the biggest news of the offseason, so far, is the Tampa Bay Rays committing long-term to the cornerstone of their franchise. Third baseman Evan Longoria has re-signed with the team for an additional 6-years and $100-million. The deal could work out great for both parties with Longoria having job security for, possibly, the rest of his career and the Rays may have saved some money in the long run by keeping him away from free agency.

Evan Longoria

Third baseman Evan Longoria took a hometown discount for the Tampa Bay Rays. Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Another All-Star third baseman is also rumored to be in the market for a contract extension. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports the New York Mets have offered David Wright a 7-year deal worth somewhere between $125-$150-million. He is currently owed $16-million for the 2013 season. After a disappointing and injury-plagued 2011, Wright bounced back last year hitting .306/.391/.492 with 21 homeruns. There has been speculation the Mets would attempt to trade the 29-year-old this offseason and, while the team still appears to need more overhauling before becoming a legitimate contender, this indicates they may be more willing to build around him than letting him walk and spending that money elsewhere.

As for free agents, Texas Rangers catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli has begun meeting with teams. At this point, he has spoken with representatives from the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners and is also scheduled to meet with the Rangers this week. The Mariners badly need someone to improve one of the league’s worst offenses and Napoli would also allow Jesus Montero to become the team’s full-time designated hitter. In Boston, Napoli would more than likely be used as a 1B/DH combo, as the Red Sox already have Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway, and David Ross behind the plate. Some around the league believe Napoli could make his decision on his next team sometime next week.

The New York Yankees, meanwhile, have been staying busy by focusing on keeping their players who helped the team return to the ALCS last year (USA Today). The Yankees have offered Andy Pettitte a one-year, $11-million deal to return to the Bronx, which he will likely accept. After already keeping Hiroki Kuroda from leaving for Japan by signing him to a new one-year contract, the Yankees will have largely the same rotation as they did in 2012, with Michael Pineda also returning a couple months into the season. As for the bullpen, New York is reportedly making progress on bringing back Mariano Rivera to reclaim his closer’s role. And, in the outfield, there are rumors that Ichiro Suzuki will also return to the team, which will be especially important with the potential departure of Nick Swisher. The bottom line is, don’t expect the 2013 Yankees to be much different than the 2012 version.

In the west, the Los Angeles Angels have chosen their apparent closer. According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, they signed Ryan Madson to a one-year deal. The signing comes as a bit of a risk as Madson missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the spring. He was supposed to hold the same job with the Cincinnati Reds last year before suffering the elbow injury. During his last full season, in 2011, with the Philadelphia Phillies, Madson notched 32 saves while posting a 2.37 ERA. By signing with the Angels, Ernesto Frieri, who saved 23 games for the team last year, will likely be demoted to a set up role. The Reds, meanwhile, are working towards a multi-year agreement with Jonathan Broxton, who could become that team’s closer, meaning Aroldis Chapman could finally make the move to the rotation.

The Chicago Cubs are using value signings to fill out their starting rotation. After signing Scott Baker earlier this month, they signed Scott Feldman to a one-year, $6-million contract. Chicago is hoping a move to the National League will help him improve on the 5.09 ERA he posted with the Rangers in 2012. Feldman likely projects to be a back-of-the-rotation starter.

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