Circling the Central 12/20

When we left last you (on December 5th), the Tigers had traded Prince Fielder, the Twins were signing every pitcher in sight and the White Sox were mulling bringing back Paul Konerko. We have some more signings, trades and rumors for you as we continue to circle the Central.

Detroit Tigers
After a really busy week right before the previous edition came out, things have really cooled down for the Tigers. They have been involved in rumors for just about every single big name free agent, but don't appear to be directly chasing any. They did sign Rajai Davis for a two year deal as a fourth outfielder. With Andy Dirks, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter already with the team, it is unlikely that they will sign any more outfielders like Shin-Soo Choo or Nelson Cruz.

In the buy low category, the Tigers signed Joba Chamberlain to a single season, $2.5M contract. He will likely pitch out of the bullpen, where Detroit will see if they can fix the Yankees' perennial prospect. The Tigers are not done revamping their bullpen quite yet either, if rumors are true. They are set to lose former closer Joaquin Benoit (likely to San Diego) and are looking for more supplemental parts to pitch ahead of new closer Joe Nathan. One right hander they have been interested in is Matt Albers, who pitched for the Indians in 2013.

Kansas City Royals
The Royals big move was trading giant left-handed reliever Will Smith to the Milwaukee Brewers for Norichika Aoki. Aoki is a 32 year old outfielder, but will just be playing his third season in Major League Baseball after coming over from Japan. He is in the final year of his contract and will make less than $2M in 2014 before becoming a free agent.

Unaware of how players tend to decline in their 30's, the Royals have signed Omar Infante to a four year, $30M deal. Kansas City struggled when trying to find a starting second baseman, but it looked like they finally found their man in Emilio Bonifacio. This signing will likely push Bonifacio back to the outfield with Infante as the starting second baseman.

Finally, the Royals have given up on defensive minded outfielder David Lough and have traded him to the Orioles for infielder Danny Valencia.

Minnesota Twins
The Twins spent the early off-season signing starting pitchers, but they weren't done yet. After being rumored to be going after Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo, they re-signed Mike Pelfrey who started for them in 2013. With Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes already signed, the Twins have now brought in three of the mid-level starters available on the free agent market.

Early on, they had also been rumored to be trying to sign a catcher to replace Joe Mauer, who is moving permanently to first, but they have now given up with A.J. Pierzynski and J.P. Arencibia signing with the Rangers and Jarrod Saltalamacchia going to Miami. They are likely still looking for a catcher, but will not be signing anyone to a long term deal. Surprisingly, the Twins dealt the one catcher they had, Ryan Doumit, to the Braves for left handed pitcher Sean Gilmartin.

Former (for a couple weeks) Indian Jason Kubel has also signed with the Twins for a minor league deal and invite to Spring Training. This is significantly less than his team option that the Indians declined a few months ago.

Chicago White Sox
Just after the last edition came out, Chicago decided to bring back fan favorite Paul Konerko. The signing was creative however as he was already owed $1M for 2014 from his last contract. He will be paid that million in addition to another $1.5M with another million deferred through 2021. Konerko has announced that this will be his last season. With the signing, it increases the White Sox chances of trying to trade or release Adam Dunn.

The White Sox also traded Hector Santiago in the losing part of a three team deal that involved Mark Trumbo and Tyler Skaggs going to the Diamondbacks and Angels. The White Sox did receive outfielder Adam Eaton, a fourth outfielder is nothing compared to a top/mid starter like Santiago who has a career ERA of 3.41 and K/9 of 8.7 in over 200 innings.

In preparation of losing a starter, the Sox signed 30 year old starter Felipe Paulino for a $1.75M one year deal. He didn't throw at all in 2013 after going through Tommy John surgery, but was having the best start of his career in 2012 with the Royals before the injury occurred.

In an attempt to get even younger, the White Sox brought 23 year old third baseman Matt Davidson in via trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In exchange, Addison Reed will be going to Arizona to be their closer. This is a little surprising since the D-Backs aren't particularly deep at third base, but do have two former closers already in their bullpen. With three relievers gone from the Sox bullpen, they have filled some of that gap by signing a two year deal with Scott Downs.

Joseph Coblitz

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 the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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