Just not the power itself, because that’s mostly AL bound. But a review of the players switching leagues so far this winter definitely favors the NL, mostly because that’s where the pitching is going.
AL to NL
Cliff Lee – Phillies
Zack Greinke – Brewers
Shaun Marcum – Brewers
Javier Vazquez – Marlins
Kerry Wood – Cubs
J.J. Putz – Diamondbacks
Matt Guerrier – Dodgers
Carlos Pena – Cubs
Orlando Hudson – Padres
Lance Berkman – Cardinals
John Buck – Marlins
Jason Bartlett – Padres
Bill Hall – Astros
Lyle Overbay – Pirates
Ty Wigginton – Rockies
Jose Lopez – Rockies
NL to AL
Pedro Feliciano – Yankees
Hisanori Takahashi – Angels
Adrian Gonzalez – Red Sox
Adam Dunn – White Sox
Josh Willingham – Athletics
Mark Reynolds – Orioles
Tsuyoshi Nishioka – Twins (from Japan)
Russell Martin – Yankees
Miguel Olivo – Mariners
Alcides Escobar – Royals
The AL’s top imports so far are a pair of former Mets relievers and it could enter 2011 missing a full quarter of its top 20 starting pitchers. Lee and Greinke were certainly among the top 10, and Marcum belonged in the next 10. Next is Andy Pettitte, who still might opt to call it a career. Also, there’s Carl Pavano. I wouldn’t really put Pavano in the top 20, but he did go 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA for the Twins last season. He and Lee tied for the AL lead in complete games with seven.
All of that pitching making its way out of the league would seem to be good news for the offensive imports. Gonzalez, Dunn and Reynolds could combine for 110 homers next year. The AL hasn’t lost a whole lot offensively. I hesitated to even include Berkman, who has spent his entire career in the NL outside of two unproductive months with the Yankees. Pena could bounce back and Buck was an All-Star last season, but the hitting side of things definitely favors the AL.
The rest of the winter should belong to the AL as well. The Yankees, Angels and Rangers all appear to have more money to spend than any NL team. It’s unlikely that Adrian Beltre will switch leagues, and bats like Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche may make their way to the AL. We could also see AL contenders make plays for Carlos Zambrano, Wandy Rodriguez, Ricky Nolasco and others in trade talks.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.
Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.
Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.
Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.
Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.
The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”
Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.
Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.
On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.