2014 December

1st  The Mariners come to terms on a 4-year deal with free agent OF Nelson Cruz.

Tampa Bay trades utility player Sean Rodriguez to the Pirates for a player to be named later (minor league pitcher Buddy Borden). Rodriguez has played every position except pitcher and catcher.

2ndThe Twins agree to a 1-year  $10.5M deal with free agent OF Torii Hunter, 40.

The Dodgers obtain OF Chris Helsey from the Reds for P Matt Magill.

The Cardinals agree to a 1-year contract with free agent P Matt Belisle.

3rdLong-time Oriole Nick Markakis agrees to a 4-year contract with the Braves.  The vet batted .276 last year and is expected to fill a void left by the recent trade of Jason Heyward. Atlanta also agrees to terms on a 1-year deal with free agent P Jim Johnson.

Seattle trades outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays for veteran lefty J.A. Happ.  Happ was 11-11 last year with a 4.22 ERA.  Saunders is expected to start, which makes Melky Cabrera’s days numbered.

The Royals agree to a 2-year $10 million deal with righty Luke Hochevar, who sat out last season following Tommy John surgery.

The Blue Jays agree to a one-year $1 million contract with free agent 1B Justin Smoak.

4thIn a three-team swap, the Yankees acquire their new shortstop, picking up 24-year-old Didi Gregorius from Arizona.  The Diamondbacks receive pitcher Robbie Ray and infield prospect Domingo Leyba from Detroit. Detroit gets starter Shane Greene from the Yankees.  Not resting, the Yankees finish the day off by agreeing to a 4-year $36 million contract with reliever Andrew Miller.  Miller reportedly spurned another 4-year offer for $40M. Miller split last season between the Red Sox and the Orioles. The signing will make it easier to let David Robertson go.

5thThe Rays name Kevin Cash as their new manager. At age 36, he becomes the youngest manager in the majors.

8thThe Indians acquire 1B Brandon Moss from the Athletics in exchange for 2B prospect Joe Wendle.

9th  Jon Lester agrees to a six-year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs, turning down offers from San Francisco and Boston, his former team. The Red Sox had made a curious offer of four years and $70 million last March, but in the final days before the Chicago signing, had upped it to $135 million for 6 years. The Giants were in the neighborhood of $150 million for 6 years with some indication they might have added a 7thyear. According to Sports Illustrated, the Las Vegas odds on the Cubs winning the 2015 World Series drop from 50 to 1 to 12 to 1.

The White Sox bring Jeff Samardzija back to Chicago, acquiring him from the A’s for a package of four young players: P Chris Bassitt, C Josh Phegley, 1B Rangel Ravelo and IF Marcus Semien. The 30-year-old Samardzija will be a free agent after the 2015 season. The Sox also acquire Michael Ynoa in the deal.

The Cubs trade 2 minor league pitchers to Arizona for veteran All-star catcher Miguel Montero.

10th  The Astros sign free agent pitchers Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek to a 3-year contract worth $18.5M and 2-year $12.5M contract, respectively.

The Marlins trade reliever Chris Hatcher and prize rookie pitcher Andrew Heaney to the Dodgers for speedster Dee Gordon. Minutes later the Dodgers swap Heaney to the Angels for vet 2B Howie Kendrick. A nostalgic Heaney tweets, “Well, @ Dodgers we had a good run! Great to be a part of such a storied franchise. #thanksforthememories”

The Phillies continue their tear down sending P Antonio Bastardo to the Pirates in exchange for P Joely Rodriguez. Bastardo appeared in 244 games over the past 4 years, averaging 11 Ks per 9 innings.

11th   The Tigers send P Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for OF Yoenis Cespedes and P Alex Wilson. They then acquire P Alfredo Simon from the Reds in exchange for P Jonathon Crawford and IF Eugenio Suarez.

Ace or ace bandage? The Marlins obtain brittle Mat Latos from the Reds for P Anthony DeSclafani and C Chad Wallach.

The Twins agree to terms on a 4-year contract with free agent P Ervin Santana worth $55M. He’ll quickly lose $6.9M of it and 80 games when he tests positive for drugs just before the season opener.

The Red Sox agree to terms on a 1-year deal worth $9.5M with free agent P Justin Masterson.

The Mets agree to terms on a 1-year deal with free agent OF John Mayberry Jr.

The Royals agree to terms on a 2-year $17M deal with free agent 1B/DH Kendrys Morales.

The Cardinals agree to terms on a 1-year deal with free agent 3B Mark Reynolds.

The Red Sox acquire P Wade Miley from the Diamondbacks for pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, and IF Raymel Flores. Miley won 34 games in the past 3 seasons while averaging a skosh under 200 innings a year.

12th   Here’s your old locker. The Cubs sign free agent P Jason Hammel to a 2-year contract worth $18M.

The Pirates re-sign lefty Francisco Liriano to a $39M 3-year contract.

The U.S. Senate confirms the appointment of Mark Stewart to be ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.  Stewart played 7 games for the White Sox in 1985, hitting .273 before a knee injury the following year curtailed his career. Stewart is the first major league player to become a U.S. ambassador.

13th   The White Sox come to terms on a 3-year $42M contract with free agent OF Melky Cabrera.

15th   The Astros sign free agent SS Jed Lowrie to a 3-year deal worth $23M.

The Royals reach agreement on a 1-year $11M deal with free agent of Alex Rios.

16th   The Marlins agree to a 2-year deal with free agent OF Michael Morse.

The Padres sign free agent P Brandon Morrow to a 1-year deal.

The Dodgers sign Brandon McCarthy, lately of the Yankees, to a hefty 4-year, $48M contract.

The Yankees re-sign Chris Capuano to a one-year contract worth $5 million. The lefty went 2-3 for the Yankees after signing on July 24.

The Angels trade P Kevin Jepsen to the Rays for OF Matt Joyce.

17th   The Royals come to terms with free agent P Edinson Volquez on a 2-year deal worth $20M.

The Mariners obtain OF Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs for minor league P Matt Brazis.

The Red Sox obtain P Anthony Varvaro from the Braves for minor league P Aaron Kurcz.

18th   The Athletics get P Eury De La Rosa from the Diamondbacks in exchange for cash considerations.

The Royals sign free agent P Kris Medlen to a 2-year deal.

The Padres obtain all-star catcher Derek Norris from the Athletics in exchange for pitchers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez.

The Dodgers trade cornerstone OF Matt Kemp and C Tim Federoiwicz along with $32M to the Padres for C Yasmani Grandal, and pitchers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin. The Padres hesitate after a medical report shows that Kemp has arthritic hips, but the deal goes through.Wieland and Eflin are just passing through LA on their way to Philadelphia. The trade opens up an outfield spot for the much-anticipated Joe Pederson, PCL rookie of the year. Pederson had a 30/30 year at Albuquerque, the first 30-30 player in 80 years in the PCL.  Frank Demeree was the last in 1934.

19th   Busy day. The Padres acquire 24-year-old OF Wil Myers, C Ryan Hanigan, and pitcher Gerardo Reyes and Jose Castillo from the Rays in a 3-team swap. The Rays get C Rene Rivera, 1B Jake Bauers and P Burch Smith from the Padres, and OF Steven Souza and P Travis Ott from the Nationals. The Nationals get P Joe Ross and a player to be named from the Padres (Trea Turner). Turner, a shortstop from NC State, was the Padres first round draft pick in June 2014, and because of a rule that prohibits a team from trading a player until he has spent a full year with his first organization, he will open the season with San Diego’s AA team.  He will hit .322 in 58 games before shifting to AAA Syracuse, the Nationals top minor league team.  The odd situation will prompt MLB to change the rule to allow newly drafted players to be traded immediately after the World Series.

The Padres keep dealing as they obtain OF Justin Upton and a player to be named from the Braves in exchange for blue chipper P Max Fried, infielders Jace Peterson and Dustin Peterson, and OF Mallex Smith. Upton hit 29 homers and 34 doubles last year.

The Giants re-sign pitcher Jake Peavy to a 2-year $24M contract. Peavy is the only pitcher to win games in consecutive World Series for teams in each league.  He started 32 games last year but has not had consecutive 30-start seasons since 2006-07.

Dancing? Impressions? The Cubs announce the signing of veteran reliever Jason Motte to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million plus performance bonuses.  A converted catcher, Motte, 32, only played for St. Louis.  The Cubs continue signing veterans, inking David Ross to a 2-year $5 million deal. The 38-year-old Ross was something of a personal catcher to Jon Lester in Boston. In 29 games over 2 seasons catching Lester, the lefty had a 2.77 ERA with 192 K’s in 195 innings.  Ross said last May, “When you mix his stuff with my brains, it’s awesome.”

The Dodgers get SS Jimmy Rollins and cash from the Phillies for recently acquired minor league pitchers Tim Windle and Zach Eflin. Rollins waives his no-trade clause to go to LA. The trade breaks up the 11-year double play combo of Rollins and Chase Utley, the longest tenure in NL history.

The Yankees send high-priced IF Martin Prado, P David Phelps and cash to the Marlins in exchange for pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Domingo German, and IF Garrett Jones. The hard-throwing Eovaldi led the NL in hits allowed

The Giants acquire 3B Casey McGehee from the Marlins for minor league hurlers Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo.

22ndThe Giants sign reliever Sergio Romo to another 2-year contract, this one worth $15M.

23rd  With a $5 million bid the Pirates win the rights to negotiate with Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang. They have 30 days in which to reach an agreement with the hard-hitting 27-year-old. Failing to do so would return Kang to the Nexen Heroes who would refund the posting fee to Pittsburgh. He is looking for a 4-year $5 million deal.

Veteran reliever Jason Grilli sings a 2-year $8M contract with the Braves. Grilli split his 2014 season between the Pirates and the Angels serving as the setup man for the Haloes.

Make way. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, claimed off waivers by the Cubs from the Dodgers last week, is claimed off waivers by the Orioles. And Shane Peterson, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers from the A’s, is plucked off by the Brewers. Chicago takes SF lefty Mike Kickham off waivers, but he will be with them just two weeks.

29th   The Padres obtain P Shawn Kelley from the Yankees for minor league P Johnny Barbato.

30th   The Mariners acquire OF Seth Smith from the Padres for P Brandon Maurer.

The Rays agree to a 1-year deal with free agent SS Asdrubal Cabrera.

31st    The Dodgers sign free agent lefty Brett Anderson to a 1-year contract worth $10M. Anderson made just 5 starts after the All-star break.

The Phillies send OF Marlon Byrd and cash to the Reds for minor leaguer Ben Lively.