Approaching the end of January, neither Bryce Harper nor Manny Machado, arguably two of the five best players in the game, has signed a contract. Both players have reportedly received offers, but the market remains quiet. You know who has signed? A host of guys you may have rostered in fantasy baseball around 2015.
Jett Bandy signed a minor league contract with the Rangers. Bandy played with the Brewers in the beginning of last season after the Angels traded the useful utility catcher to the Brewers for Martín Maldonado and Drew Gagnon. Fans can think of him as an inanimate carbon rod's version of Yasmani Grandal.
Nov. 30-Dec. 6
The Cardinals brought back Chasen Shreve on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Shreve was deemed unfit for the Yankees Super Bullpen of Doom, but he had a 3.07 ERA with the Cardinals last year. The Indians signed Trayce Thompson, who at this point is solely notable for being Klay Thompson’s brother.
On Nov. 3rd, The Marlins made 11 minor league signings, including Pedro Alvarez, Dixon Machado, Deven Marrero and Bryan Holaday. Yes, that Pedro Alvarez is still kicking around! Later that week, Matt Moore signed with the Tigers. As recently as 2016, Moore was an in-demand pitcher at the trade deadline. Last year, the Rangers demoted him to the bullpen after logging a 6.79 ERA and 5.25 FIP over 102 innings. In years past, Moore signing a free-agent contract before Dallas Keuchel would’ve been a given. Now, it’s a surprise.
Chris Owings, who spent six mediocre years with the Diamondbacks, signed with the Royals. Jonathan Schoop and Ronald Torreyes signed with the Twins. Although Schoop played next to Machado with the Orioles, he is, in fact, not Manny Machado.
Tuffy Gosewisch signed a minor league deal with the Brewers. Anything to keep the Gosewisch name in our venerated sport is fine by me. C Chris Herrmann signed with the Athletics. Knowing Billy Beane, Chris Herrmann will be a useful 2 WAR backup catcher in 2019. The Angels also signed a cavalcade of … names: Wilfredo Tovar, Peter Bourjos, Cesar Puello, Jarrett Parker and Forrest Snow. For a long time, I thought Jarrett Parker was the tiger from the film Life of Pi, but I was sorely mistaken. The Red Sox signed Gorkys Hernandez to a minor league contract. The Gorkys abides.
GROSSMAN: Peter Magowan Changed the Giants Forever
Dec. 13th was a sad day for the Tigers fans, as the front office ruled itself out of the Machado sweepstakes by signing Jordy Mercer. Daniel Descalso signed with the Cubs, only notable as the front office keeps trying to convince fans that Descalso was the key move that put them out of the Harper and Machado market. The Royals signed Terrance Gore, presumably to eventually trade him to a playoff team.
You remember Pat Venditte, the switch pitcher, right? No? Well, it was cool, I promise. He signed with the Giants. Other players signed: Gregorio Petit, Rex Brothers, noted baseball player Phil Gosselin, and Rob Brantly, none of whom are better than Bryce Harper, Marwin Gonzalez, or even Brandon Guyer.
The Blue Jays signed the bespectacled Eric Sogard. Not rec specs, just regular eyeglasses. The Cubs signed Kendall Graveman, best known for injury-plagued years with the Athletics and Blue Jays, and his all-time great spoonerism, Grendall Kaveman.
The Mets signed Arquimedes Caminero and Rymer Liriano, likely to give them AAA players worth playing. The Indians signed former Cubs pitching prospect Justin Grimm. The Red Sox figured they needed to add to their World Series-winning roster by adding Juan Centeno, Zach Putnam, Erasmo Ramirez and Domingo Tapia to minor league contracts. Huge moves. The Pirates signed Tyler Lyons and Patrick Kivlehan. The Yankees signed Billy Burns. Yes, you heard that right, that's former speedy Athletics outfielder Billy Burns, who turns out couldn't hit after all.
The big name pitcher that went this week was obviously Odrisamer Despaigne to the Reds. The Reds also added Christian Colon and Mason Williams. Shelby Miller, the subject of one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history, signed with the Rangers along with Jeanmar Gomez and the Twins’ greatest one-hit wonder of the 21st century, Danny Santana. Speaking of bad trades and the Twins, John Ryan Murphy inked a deal with the Diamondbacks (I bet the Twins would rather have Aaron Hicks).
The Yankees signed perpetual fantasy sleeper Drew Hutchinson. Meanwhile, former Yankee David Phelps signed with the Blue Jays, another one who wasn't good enough for the Super Bullpen of Doom. White Sox legend Avisail Garcia, who was really good for a couple months, signed with the Blue Jays. The Cubs named Craig Breslow “director of strategic initiatives for baseball operations” which is the longest title Craig Breslow will ever have until he begins his oncology career.
This article is getting far too long, so let’s go through this as quickly as possible. Wilmer Flores is a Diamondback. Ryan Goins, D.J. Peterson, Randall Delgado and Evan Marshall are all on the White Sox, presumably to encourage Manny Machado to sign there with all their help. The Marlins signed Hector Noesi to a minor league deal. The Tigers signed former top prospect Gordon Beckham, best-known for triggering one of the best Hawk Harrelson moments of all time.
Yesterday, the Twins signed Mike Olt, who hasn't had a major league at-bat since 2015. Olt was a coveted prospect of the Rangers, who traded him to acquire Matt Garza. In theory, Olt was a spare Joey Gallo hanging around. In reality, he had a vision problem which meant he couldn't see the ball properly, got surgery for it, and then still couldn't hit. Now he's in the Twins organization.
And yesterday, the Red Sox topped it all by signing thrice-suspended Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia to a minor league deal, according to John Heyman. Unsigned reliever Peter Moylan, who will still probably sign before either Harper or Machado, identified how absurd it's for pretty much every free agent.
We’re done here. Yes, if a player was mentioned on this list, they were all employed earlier than Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this offseason, even if Bartolo Colón is arguably a better investment than any of them.
And they say free agency is broken?