Circling the Central 2/1

Things are starting to calm down around the league as most of the interesting free agents have signed and the Winter meetings have come and gone with relatively few trades. Some of the biggest names have signed (outside of the Central), like Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Garza, but there are still plenty out there, including former and possibly future Indian, Ubaldo Jimenez.

Kansas City Royals
If anyone was wondering what happened to Jason Donald after he was traded to the Reds, he is back in the Central. After spending all of 2013 in AAA Louisville, Donald has signed a minor league deal with the Royals as a possible utility infielder (but more likely as a AAA shortstop). On the same day, the Royals also signed former Yankee outfielder Melky Mesa.

Looking for a back-up for Gold Glover Salvador Perez, the Royals have brought in 37 year old Ramon Hernandez on a minor league deal. He will compete in Spring Training for the reserve role and may have an edge on the competition due to his extreme amount of Major League experience.

The Royals have also brought in a little more relief help, in Guilermo MotaBrad Penny and Jon Rauch. They already have one of the strongest bullpens in the league, but are bringing in the two veterans on minor league contracts with Spring Training invites just in case. In addition to these relievers, the Royals have brought back left hander Bruce Chen who could be a member of the bullpen or rotation, depending on their needs.

For some more outfield depth, the Royals traded for outfielder Carlos Peguero from the Mariners in exchange for a PTBNL. Peguero has been a top prospect for years, but failed to impress at the Major League level.

Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have been pretty quiet the last month after a big start to their off-season, with just a few minor league signings to talk about. Chicago has brought in reliever Scott Carroll and infielders Christian Marrero and Eric Patterson while they re-signed Dylan Axelrod and Brett Omogrosso.

Chicago had been interested in signing Masahiro Tanaka, going to the point of posting the $20M fee and offering a $100M deal to the Japanese ace. This was the sixth highest known amount offered, but it isn't surprising that the White Sox didn't go all in after their recent results with foreign born players like Alexei Ramirez and the current risk they are taking with the Cuban slugger, Jose Abreu.

Minnesota Twins
In a similar vein to the previous two editions of 'Circling the Central', the Minnesota Twins are looking for pitching. Despite already signing four free agent starting pitchers, the Twins aren't happy with their end of the rotation options of Sam Deduno and Scott Diamond. While nothing is official, the Twins are still looking into at least Bronson Arroyo and Johan Santana, but are apparently not interested in Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana.

Minnesota is also interested in a bunch of international free agent pitchers including Suk-min Yoon (Korea), Misael Siverio and Odrisamer Despaigne. With all the options available, foreign and domestic, there is no reason the Twins won't get at least one of targets. Speaking of foreign pitchers, the Twins have made a new one by selling Andrew Albers to the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization.

One signing the Twins have actually made is to bring back reliever Matt Guerrier with a minor league contract and a Spring Training invite.

Detroit Tigers
Despite an almost total reconstruction of their bullpen (by adding Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlain), the Tigers, along with the Indians, have been rumored in discussions about 36 year old, right handed reliever, Luis Ayala. Ayala has had three great seasons in a row with the Yankees, Orioles and Braves and is looking for a Major League deal.

While we generally haven't been covering every minor league signing, the Tigers recently made two that Indians fans will care about. Ezequiel Carrera and Trevor Crowe have both signed with Detroit in an effort to resurrect their careers. Chances are neither will make the Major League team, but either could be used as a fourth outfielder for defensive purposes and as a pinch runner.

During the time period covered in this article, many arbitration eligible players have signed with their teams, but since they are not really changes to the roster, they weren't included. The one player worth mentioning, however, is the Tigers Max Scherzer, who set a new record for largest raise, getting a one year deal of $15.525M for 2014, his final year of arbitration.

While the Tigers have been the busiest team in the Central this off-season, they appear to be done with the big moves and ready to go into the 2014 with their revamped defense.

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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