Despite the fact that not a single ball was thrown or bat was swung, the month of January was big for baseball, with a lot of signings and trades that really helped some teams. I'll be going through the big signings and trades in relative chronological order from earliest to most recent.
The first event I'm going to talk about is the extension of Padre's first baseman Wil Myers. Myers won rookie of the year in 2013 with the Rays, but injuries plagued his next few years. After a little more time in Tampa Bay he was sent West to the San Diego Padres. After a not so memorable year, Myers made the move from the outfield to first base. This change proved great for Myers and the Padres, capitalized by Myer's All-Star Game selection and participation in the Home Run Derby. This return to his 2013 form got him an extension this offseason. The contract is 6yrs/$80 million and is great for both sides. Myers is making a good deal of money, reflecting his productivity, and the Padres hold onto a great player with a lot of potential for the next 6 years.
The next January move was made by the NL East Phillies. After having a breakout season, highlighted by a 2016 All-Star Game selection in the final man vote, Michael Saunders became a staple of the slugging Wild Card winning Blue Jays lineup. When Saunders became a free agent at the end of the postseason, the Phillies decided to jump on the potential, signing Saunders to a 1yr/$8 million deal. The Phillies will try to use Saunders to help them in this rebuilding phase, hoping he will play like the All-Star he was a year ago.
The next deal is one made by the Royals. The team had very few to no problems when it came to hitting, but starting pitching was quite the opposite. Starting pitching was a big problem for KC and they had to come up with a solution before their big players (Hosmer, Cain, etc.) hit free agency next offseason. They did find a solution however, well the solution kinda found them. Danny Duffy, almost out of nowhere it felt like, became the ace the Royals needed. He was winning games almost every time he started, and became the dominant starter the Royals desperately needed. Realizing the fact that Duffy would be a free agent after the 2017 season, the Royals tried to extend him, and Duffy took the Royals offer of 5yrs/$65 million. The Royals hope that Duffy can return to his pure dominance from 2016 and hope he could be a long term solution for an ace.
This next signing was a big one for Canada. After losing one of their slugging outfielders, the Blue Jays didn't want to miss out on their other powerful outfielder, so they re-signed Jose Bautista. Bautista had an injury plagued 2016 but still showed his great amount of power when he was healthy, helping the Blue Jays to the ALCS. Bautista has had a long story of success up North and both him and the Blue Jays will hope he continues that. Bautista signed a 1yr/$18 million contract with mutual options for 2018 and 2019.
A few days later another slugging outfielder re-signed with their team, Mark Trumbo, the 2016 MLB home run leader re-signed with the Orioles. Trumbo had a comeback year in 2016, returning to the slugging outfielder he was with the Angels. As previously said he hit a major league leading 47 home runs, helping the O's to a wild card berth. Trumbo signed a 3yr/$37.5 million contract. This move will create great protection in the lineup for guys like Manny Machado, and Chris Davis, and will fill an outfield and DH spot. The Orioles will look for a similar performance from Trumbo, and will hope Trumbo will participate in the All-Star game and Home Run Derby like he did in 2016.
The next signing shows the determination and perseverance of a closing pitcher, Greg Holland. Holland was a big part of the 2014 AL champion Royals, and saved 32 games for them in 2015, but during this stretch he was plagued by injury. This eventually caused a need for Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss some of 2015 and all of 2016. After this stretch was over he was a free agent, with no where to go. No team trusted his arm, despite him being dominant before the injury, but to silence his critics he held a showcase. He pitched exceptionally well and his performance caught the eyes of many teams, especially the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies had a similar story to Holland's former team the Royals, where their offense was exceptional, but their pitching was not. The Rockies struggled with both starting and relief pitching in 2016, looking for the healthy Holland for help. Holland signed a 1yr/$7 million contract, with a vesting option for 2018. This move will help the Rockies be competitive in the NL West, and Holland will hopefully be part of the foundation for Rockies baseball in the future.
Finally the last big deal of January was a swap of a Major Leaguer and a top prospect. This deal was between the Dodgers and Rays, the Dodgers acquiring second baseman Logan Forsythe, while the Rays got top pitching prospect Jose De Leon. Forsythe is a solid second baseman, constantly ranking in MLB Networks top 10 second basemen in the MLB, but despite this, Forsythe wasn't the Dodgers first choice. The Twin's Brian Dozier was the Dodgers first choice, but after disagreements on terms between the two clubs, the trade was abandoned. This led the Dodgers to Tampa Bay. The Rays had a large asking price for their second baseman Forsythe, but with a dyer need for a second baseman the Dodgers agreed to the Rays price trading MLB pipeline's number 33 prospect Jose De Leon to Tampa Bay. De Leon is a starting pitcher and very promising, so the Rays will hope that his potential can play a role in the future. The Rays are currently rebuilding and De Leon will hopefully bolster the Ray's rotation, with guys like Blake Snell and Chris Archer already helping the Rays. This move will hopefully fill the hole that was second base for the Dodgers, and help the Rays in the near future.
January was a busy month for baseball with the hall of fame voting (congradulations to Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, and Ivan Rodriquez), but one also filled with tragedy. MLB lost 2 players this month, the young fireballer Yodano Ventura, and beloved infielder Andy Marte. I have put my official statement on rounding the bases' official Instagram, and I purposely avoided writing about this in depth in an effort to keep the positive theme of the website, but I refuse to not mention it. Both players died in separate car crashes in the Dominican Republic, and there are no reports of alcohol or drug usage. My condolences are with both families and at the end of the day these were 2 young men taken way to early.
I hope everyone enjoys their Super Bowl Sunday and 25 days till pitchers and catchers report!