Earlier this offseason the Reds picked up Bronson Arroyo's option protecting him from free agency. That move sparked a few criticisms as the Reds were likely overpaying him but that was only a little bit compared to the extension they just gave him. Arroyo is the perfect 3rd or 4th starter, a capable innings eater that won't hurt you and for that the Reds decided to give him a 3 year extension for $35M. Wow. Over the last 4 years the best FIP that Arroyo has had was in 2009 when it was 4.50. Consider this a pure ERA move as Bronson Arroyo has had a 3.86 ERA over the last 2 years and a move the Reds are likely going to regret.
Mark Reynolds was traded today to the Baltimore Orioles and in return the Diamondbacks get relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. Originally Chris Tillman was mentioned in the rumors and I was completely against the deal as I don't think Mark Reynolds is worth a young starting pitcher. But, for two OK relievers you'll generally always take the everyday position player. However, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that Mark Reynolds is, you know, all that good. His basically been a poor defender his entire career and his lone calling card, hitting, isn't so great when you consider his context. 6.4, 2.1, 24.8, -0.3, those are Mark Reynolds' park adjusted runs above average over his career. The outlier is his sole legitimate hitting season in 2009 when he had a 3.6 WAR, the other seasons in his career Reynolds has basically been an average player.
Reynolds has 2 years left on his contract paying him $5.0M in 2011 and $7.5M in 2012. While it's not a lot of money, the Orioles will probably have to get Reynolds' current production as he moves into a tougher park to hit in (although still a hitters park) in the more advanced league. It's not a lot to ask for and a team like the Orioles are better off with Reynolds at 3b than a Miguel Tejada or Garrett Atkins, but don't think the Orioles are getting the 44 homer 2009 version of Mark Reynolds.
The Adrian Gonzalez trade is getting all of the headlines, but living slightly under the radar is the Brewers trade acquiring starting pitcher Shaun Marcum from the Jays in return for top prospect Brett Lawrie. The Brewers aren't likely trying to compete in 2011 but they desperately need pitching and Marcum is a darn good one. After missing all of 2009 recovering from Tommy John Surgery Marcum displayed fantastic control (1.98 bb/9) putting up a great 3.64 ERA which was backed up by his 3.74 FIP. Further, Lawrie currently plays 2b which is blocked by Rickie Weeks and if he moves to the OF he's blocked by Ryan Braun and Corey Hart. Although Lawrie is quite the prospect he doesn't have a real place on the Brewers and in getting Marcum the Brewers can piece together a rotation and not be tempted to sign guys like Jeff Suppan. Marcum should slide nicely into the Brewer's #2 slot behind Yovani Gallardo. While they'll struggle with the rest of their rotation, getting Marcum is a great start.
As for the Blue Jays perspective, while most teams are struggling to find pitching it's actually somewhat of a surplus for the Jays. Rickey Romero and Brandon Morrow made great strides last year and with Brad Mills, Brett Cecil, Mark Rzepczynski and Kyle Drabek behind them, Shaun Marcum became expandable. Brett Lawrie won't be able to help out the team in 2011 but the Jays didn't really expect to compete then.
I would call this trade a draw but I have to side with getting the proven pitcher who still has a few years before he hits free agency over the prospect without a position. Yes, the Blue Jays dealt from a position of strength, but it wasn't like Marcum was going to leave in 2012 like Adrian Gonzalez would from the Padres. FanGraphs mentions that Toronto may be gathering pieces for a future trade so we may need to reserve judgement, but for now although it doesn't necessarily hurt the Blue Jays, call it a win for the Brewers. Plus, there is always this.
Finally, the Cardinals signed
DH outfielder Lance Berkman to a 1-year deal worth $8M. $8M seems steep for a free agent like Berkman when you compare it to last year where Vlad Guerrero got $5M and Jim Thome got $1.5M but everything that has occurred this offseason tells us that more money is being spent, so that may not be a fair comparison. Berkman was hurt last year, lost his power and forgot how to hit lefties but when you can get on base, and the Big Puma can, you can still be a productive hitter. Berkman won't hit .300 or hit 30 homers but he should get on base about 40% of the time and provide Pujols and Holliday opportunities for RBI without affecting their long term payroll and ability to keep Mr. Pujols. Not a great signing as there will undoubtedly be cheaper/similar DH/OF players that are signed late in the offseason, but not a bad one either on a one-year deal.
Finally, the Cardinals signed