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Carlos Quentin, Matt Garza Reportedly on the Trade Block

The Winter Meetings in Orlando have ended but that doesn’t mean the trades and signings have been finalized. Cliff Lee still has to sign a deal, Zack Greinke may be traded, and guys like Adrian Beltre, Derrek Lee, and Adam LaRoche are still out there. There are two other names that reportedly are available in trades and both to me can be difference-makers: Carlos Quentin and Matt Garza.

CARLOS QUENTIN, OF, WHITE SOX, 2nd YEAR ARBITRATION

Is he available? The Chicago Sun-Times says he is, Kenny Williams says not really.

Why would the White Sox trade him? They signed Adam Dunn and re-signed Paul Konerko so they have power in the lineup. They need bullpen help and can’t afford to spend more money on free agents, so moving Quentin to get help is an option. He’s also set for a raise entering his second year of arbitration.

Why should my team go after him? Though he’s a career .251 hitter, he has plenty of true power and was an MVP candidate in 2008. You can’t find his pop too many places so he’s worth a gamble that the batting average will improve.

MATT GARZA, SP, RAYS, 2nd YEAR ARBITRATION

Is He Available? Multiple reports said he was being shopped by the Rays at the Winter Meetings and that he still is being shopped.

Why would the Rays trade him? They’ve lost Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena and their only truly reliable bat is Evan Longoria, so they could use some offensive help. On the other hand, they have a surplus of pitching including David Price, Jeff Neimann, Wade Davis, James Shields, and Jeremy Hellickson, so they can afford to deal from a position of strength to fix a weakness.

Why should my team go after him? He’s thrown back-to-back 200+ inning seasons and you know what you can expect from him. He’s reliable, a good strikeout pitcher, and he’s proven he can pitch in the playoffs. Most other teams would want to lock him up, not deal him, so he’ll be a nice addition for a team. He’s also under club control through the 2013 season.

Yankees Must Respond to Red Sox by Signing Cliff Lee

The arms race between the AL East powerhouses Boston and New York has been taken to new heights this offseason after stellar moves by the Red Sox. As a result, the Yankees now have no choice but to sign left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee to combat the additions of lefties Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford by Boston. Lee could not be in a better position to get the deal he wants from the Yankees.

Before the Red Sox’s moves the Yankees were reportedly hesitant to give Lee a seventh year, but that will not be a problem anymore. The Yankees likely would have been the highest bidders in terms of dollars but with the lack of a state income tax in Texas, the Rangers could have offered Lee a similar net compensation. There’s no way that can happen now. Yankees GM Brian Cashman is going to offer whatever it takes and it would seem the Yankees might again pay far more than they have to in order to ensure they get their man.

The Red Sox scored 818 runs last year — second most in baseball behind the Yankees’ 859. Crawford scored 110 runs last year and Gonzalez drove in 101. Crawford also stole 47 bases last year, while Gonzalez hit 31 home runs, only 11 of which came in his former home, power-robbing PETCO Park. Gonzalez hits well to the opposite field and should see a lot of what used to be fly-ball outs to left at PETCO turn into home runs and doubles off-the-wall at Fenway Park.

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Red Sox $300 Million on Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez Is Money Well Spent

The offseason after finishing 3rd in the division with an 89-73 record, the New York Yankees went on a massive spending spree. They signed pitcher CC Sabathia to a 7-year $161 million deal, first baseman Mark Teixeira to an 8-year $180 million deal, and A.J. Burnett to a 5-year $82.5 million contract. In one offseason the Yankees tied up $420 million but the moves paid off — they won the World Series in 2009.

Last season, the Boston Red Sox went 89-73 and finished 3rd in the AL East. Much like the ’08 Yankees, the ’10 Red Sox were crushed by injuries and fell below expectations. As a response, they went on a massive spending spree this winter, and there still is time for more moves to be made.

First, the Red Sox finally acquired Adrian Gonzalez, a player they long had coveted, in a trade with the Padres. Though Boston gave up Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, and Reymond Fuentes, they’re getting a slugger who bashed over 30 home runs in four straight seasons and has a lifetime OPS of .875 despite hitting in the spacious Petco Park. On top of his offense, Gonzalez is a fantastic fielder and said to be a great clubhouse leader. Boston reportedly will give him a 7-year $154 million extension and hope he’s recovered from shoulder surgery in time for the start of the season in April.

Their next splash came late Wednesday evening when it was reported that the Red Sox had agreed on a 7-year $142 million deal with Carl Crawford. The move was a surprise because the Angels were said to be closing in on an agreement with Crawford until Boston whipped out the checkbook. Crawford is 29 years old and will be making just over $20 million per season based on the deal that runs until he’s 36. Crawford is a four-time All-Star, lifetime .296 hitter, and speedster who steals 50 bags per year while slugging over .450.

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Mark Reynolds Traded to Orioles for David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio

Former Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds is packing his bags and taking his talents to Baltimore. That means the fans at Camden Yards will be seeing lots of home runs, and far more strikeouts from their new player manning the hot corner.

Reynolds actually finished the season under the Mendoza Line, batting just .198 due to a horrendous September slump. Reynolds is still a lifetime .817 OPS guy and has bashed as many as 44 home runs in a season. While his strikeouts will remain high because of his batting approach, he’s a good candidate for a bounceback year in Baltimore and should bash at least 30 bombs per season with the short porch in left field.

The Diamondbacks are getting two pitchers in return from Baltimore, David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. Hernandez is a 25-year-old who was a starting pitcher throughout his career in the minors and was recently converted into a reliever this past year. He started 19 games in 2009 and posted a 5.42 ERA while he started just eight games last season and relieved the rest of the time. Hernandez gave up nine home runs in just 79.1 innings but moving to the NL West from the AL East should help his numbers.

Mickolio is a 26-year-old right hander who has relieved in parts of three seasons with the Orioles, though he only has 25 innings of big league experience. Avoiding the AL East bats should help his chances of succeeding, but he only crosses me as an average reliever at best. Arizona is merely getting arms while Baltimore is getting a third baseman who should crush the ball at Camden Yards. You’ll have to deal with the low average, but I like Reynolds’ chances of bouncing back.

Blue Jays Trade Shaun Marcum to Brewers, Sets Up Deal for Zack Greinke?

Shaun Marcum is a very good American League pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays who reportedly was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday night. There were no indications that the Blue Jays were looking to deal the right hander who has just over three years of major league service time and made just under $1 million last season.

Marcum emerged in 2008 going 9-7 with a 3.39 ERA in 25 starts before hurting his arm. He had Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2009 season, but he bounced back with a 13-8 record and 3.64 ERA this past year. Marcum is turning 29 years old and seems to be an asset and centerpiece of Toronto’s pitching rotation, begging the question: why would they want to trade him?

The only answer that makes sense is that the Blue Jays are preparing to make a deal for Zack Greinke. Greinke is sick of playing for the non-competitive Kansas City Royals and wants out. Though he has a no-trade clause, he reportedly is willing to accept a trade to any team. Rotoworld has been all over the Greinke trade rumors and pointed out that the Blue Jays have been making a push for the Cy Young winner.

It’s quite likely that trading Marcum for minor league prospects is a precursor to a Zack Greinke trade. Whether the Blue Jays intend on flipping some of the players to KC or keeping them to re-stock their system we don’t know, but one of the two must be the case. Why else would they trade a valuable player like Shawn Marcum?

UPDATE: The Brewers likely gave up second baseman prospect Brett Lawrie in the trade.

Washington Nationals Sign Jayson Werth for 7 years, $126 Million

On a day where the Red Sox may have become the biggest losers of the MLB off-season by missing out on San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez, Jayson Werth worth became the clear-cut winner.  The Winter Meetings are a day away, but the former Phillies outfielder is going to go down as baseball’s luckiest man of the year after signing with the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

Washington signed Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal.  It’s a big splash for the Nationals, who are trying to add some established stars to their crop of young talent, but the length of the deal is outrageous.  Werth will be 32 years old in May.  He’s hit over 80 RBI and surpassed 25 home runs only twice in his career.  Werth also struck out more than 140 times during those two seasons, which were his last two with the Phillies.

I guess that’s why Scott Boras is the best in the business.  Ryan Howard is the same age as Werth and a perennial 40-plus homer 125-plus RBI guy, yet the Phillies caught a ton of flack for signing him to a five-year, $125 million extension.  Somehow Boras convinced Washington to sign Werth through age 39 at top dollar.  Come to think of it, I may even assume someone from the Nationals’ front office was drunk when this entire thing went down.

Window Closes for Red Sox to Negotiate Extension With Adrian Gonzalez

Christmas has not come early for Boston Red Sox fans — yet.  Boston reportedly could not reach a long-term extension with Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez during the allotted negotiating period, and as a result the trade has not been finalized.   Sound familiar?  Sox fans were convinced their team had reached a deal with Mark Teixeira two years ago, only to have the Yankees swoop in at the last second.  Earlier in the decade, it looked as though Boston had a deal in place to acquire Alex Rodriguez until the MLB supposedly wouldn’t allow the restructuring of A-Rod’s contract that would have had to take place.

The deal is not completely done, however.  The fact that a trade was in place means the Padres and Red Sox agreed on some sort of exchange, but Gonzalez and his agent could not agree with Boston management on the financial terms of an extension.  A deal could still be hammered out down the road, but the Sox are dangerously close to a public relations disaster.

Having recently purchased a European soccer team, John Henry and the Red Sox ownership can not afford to give fans the impression that they are afraid to open the checkbook an opportunity presents itself.  Red Sox players have even chimed in on the deal and there has been an obvious level of excitement surrounding the team since the trade was revealed.

My gut feeling is that this thing will get done at some point, but the Red Sox are definitely playing with fire.  Gonzalez is reportedly seeking an eight-year deal, but considering he’s only 28 years old that should not come as a surprise to the Sox brass.  If the deal falls through completely, Henry and company will be dealing with an extremely disgruntled fan base.