The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings came and went without many free agent signings. The two biggest prizes of the Hot Stove season – Manny Machado and Bryce Harper – have yet to make a decision. But in just a few days before Christmas, there have been a wave of signings.
The Nationals are showing no signs of throwing in the towel with Harper likely to sign elsewhere this offseason. The team enhanced their starting rotation by signing Anibal Sanchez to a 2-year, $19 million deal. The Nationals had previously inked Patrick Corbin to a 6-year, $140 million deal in December. The Nationals have been one of the busier teams this offseason. The addition of Sanchez is in addition to not one, but two catchers: Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes. It certainly seems like the Nationals approach in 2019 will be to build a team that will be heavy on pitching as they added Kyle Barraclough (trade with the Miami Marlins), Trevor Rosenthal (free agent) and Tanner Rainey (trade with the Reds for Tanner Roark) as bullpen arms.
One former Nationals player that found a new home was Daniel Murphy. The free agent signed a 2-year, $24 million contract with the Colorado Rockies. The contract includes a third-year mutual option for the 2021 season with a buyout of $6 million dollars that could increase to $7 million if Murphy meets certain incentives. While some question whether the 33-year old Murphy is still a viable defensive option at second base (particularly after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee in the 2017 offseason), he will certainly play some first base for the Rockies, who are really looking at what the two-time Silver Slugger’s bat brings to the lineup. Murphy will add depth to a Rockies lineup that already includes Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story. The Rockies were a surprising entry into last year’s post-season and the addition of Murphy is a sign that they are making moves to improve a roster that couldn’t make it past the NLDS in 2018.
And the St. Louis Cardinals made their second major move of the offseason, acquiring free agent relief pitcher Andrew Miller. The terms of the deal include a third-year option that Miller can earn by meeting certain inning requirements. Miller was on the disabled list for much of last year with hamstring, knee, and shoulder issues. When healthy, Miller is truly a Swiss army knife who will take the ball in any inning, and has not shown an issue with a heavy workload in the past. With the Cardinals lacking a true closer at the moment, Miller adds versatility to a bullpen that was 20th in team ERA and 27th in WHIP.