Peter will cover the Randy Johnson transaction tomorrow, instead I'll look at some of the minor transactions.
Cincinnati signs Willy Taveras for two years.
Meet the new Corey Patterson. Thievery on the basepaths remains Taveras' best asset. It's nothing shy of amazing that Taveras attempted 75 steals while only reaching base just 165 times. That means he ran 45% of the time. Taveras still doesn't get on base enough to hit leadoff, and defensively - an area in which you (and apparently Walt Jocketty) would expect Taveras speed to be extremely beneficial - Taveras flops. Over the last three years Taveras has been worth roughly -6.8, -10.2, and 12.7 runs with the leather. Overall, Taveras is probably a slightly above replacement level center fielder, and whether you're a fan of Norris Hopper or not, he's probably just as good. One last thing: why sign Taveras - owner of four years of service time - to a two year deal?
Tampa Bay signs Joe Nelson for one year (1.3 million)
When numerous reports suggested that ~20 teams were interested in Nelson I raised my eyebrows. In fact, I asked a few people these questions:
How many of these teams are looking at his 2.00 ERA and thinking, there's us a prime set-up man, and how many of these teams are looking at his FIP and tRA and penciling him as a middle reliever?
Naturally a team that would seemingly fit in the latter category won his services, and for a modest rate. Nelson had a 3.45 FIP last season with some impressive strikeout totals and a declined walk rate, but even if he can't repeat that, and instead posts a FIP around 4 in 50 innings you're looking at NLRS around 4. That's 0.4 WAR, or worth 2.4 million, for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility you would expect that player to get paid around 950k. If Nelson is simply a tad bit better, 0.5 WAR, arbitration salary would be ~1.13 million, so the Rays are paying him basically what he deserves and a touch more. This is advertised as a one year deal, but the Rays will have him under control for an additional two seasons, assuming he's not non-tendered for ineffectiveness by then.
Seattle signs Jamie Burke to a minor league deal