It's time to kick off blog coverage for Season 25 with a recap of the top free agent signings this offseason!
1. Howie Lockwood, 28, RP
Previous Team: Burlington
Signed with Nashville - 5 Years, $63.8 Million
Relievers getting paid was a big theme this offseason, and Lockwood tops the list. Looking at his ratings, it's not hard to see why, as it's tough to find any weaknesses. He boasts a career 2.82 ERA, showing it translates to on-the-field success. He's also just 28 years old. Nice pickup for Nashville.
2. Gio Navarro, 28, SP
Previous Team: Albuquerque
Signed with Nashville - 5 Years, $55.8 Million
Navarro has elite ratings across the board as well. If it weren't for one key rating, his durability, he would be a sure fire max contract player. His extremely low durability will greatly limit his innings compared to your conventional starter (126.1 is his career high), but a 3.16 career ERA indicates those innings should be highly effective.
3. Allan Blackley, 36, SP
Previous Team: Chicago
Signed with Pawtucket - 5 Years, $54 Million
It's not often you see a 36 year-old get a 5 year deal, but if anyone deserves it, it's Blackley. His ratings remain outstanding, Cy Young caliber even, and will be a huge boost to the Pawtucket rotation. Age-related decline may be a concern for the later years of the deal, but it may well be worth it for what he'll do the next couple of seasons.
4. Raul Alburquerque, 26, RP
Previous Team: Burlington
Signed with Syracuse - 5 Years, $54 Million
Alburquerque is the other RP to really cash in this offseason, and you can't really blame Syracuse for offering him such a lucrative deal. He has pretty amazing ratings with no real weaknesses, and is only 26 years old. Looks like Syracuse has found their bullpen anchor for the next several seasons.
5. Jesus Johnson, 28, SP
Previous Team: Burlington
Signed with Cleveland - 4 Years, $37.2 Million
Johnson has worked out of the bullpen most of his career, but is certainly a capable starter. It looks like he will get that opportunity in his new home, Cleveland. His durability is a touch low, but high stamina should make up for it, and he did go 185 innings last season. With his excellent ratings elsewhere, there's no reason to think he won't succeed.
6. Omir Kelly, 32, SP
Previous Team: Oakland
Signed with Boise - 5 Years, $40 Million
Kelly is nice SP, with a ceiling a bit better than his 4.59 career ERA may indicate. His RH split and mediocre out pitch seems to be his weaknesses. Still, he should put forth solid numbers and is capable of eating a ton of innings with an excellent durability-stamina combination.
7. Juan Cervantes, 32, LF
Previous Team: Cleveland
Re-Signed with Cleveland - 3 Years, $23 Million
And a non-pitcher finally appears on the list! Cervantes is a nice lead-off type with very nice contact and batting eye ratings with nice speed. He's a plus LF and passable at CF. Cleveland re-upped this solid contributor for three more seasons.
8. Hiroyuki Masato, 29, 3B
Previous Team: Boise
Signed with Durham - 4 Years, $29 Million
Masato is a plus defensive 3B, with an average bat and some nice speed. Playing in Durham may boost the offensive stats a bit. Overall, this appears to be a nice signing.
9. Darrel Atkins, 31, 1B
Previous Team: New York
Signed with Syracuse - 5 Years, $35.8 Million
At the plate, Atkins has a great contact/batting eye combo and a strong RH split that should lead to some nice AVG and OBP numbers. He has a little bit of pop too. Catcher seems to be his natural position and he's a decent one at that. He is a bit of an injury risk.
10. Ellis Brock, 35, SP
Previous Team: Oklahoma City
Signed with Salt Lake City - 2 Years, $13.5 Million
The 35 year-old righty sports phenomenal career numbers, but there are some questions whether or not he is losing some of his effectiveness with age. He should still be very solid, and a 2 year deal seems about right for him at this point.
11. Max Acevedo, 31, 1B
Previous Team: Helena
Signed with New York - 4 Years, $26.8 Million
Coming off an outstanding run with Helena, which saw him break the World's RBI record last season and pound 62 Home Runs, Acevedo, a pure power hitter, heads to New York. He also has great splits, but low contact and batting eye, which means a lot of strikeouts, but when he connects, look out.
12. Anthony Wilkinson, 34, SP
Previous Team: Durham
Signed with Little Rock - 3 Years, $19.9 Million
Wilkinson goes from an NL powerhouse to an AL powerhouse this offseason, as the 34 year-old righty signed with Little Rock. He's coming off a very nice season in Durham, and his ratings are very good, so it wouldn't be surprised to continue his good fortunes in Little Rock.
13. Willy Lester, 32, 3B
Previous Team: Pawtucket
Signed with Salt Lake City - 3 Years, $18.9 Million
Lester is still a very solid defensive 3B at this point in his career, although he's been playing mostly in RF for SLC. Nice Batting Eye, Contact and Splits, with some speed but low power. Still a nice player to have for sure.
14. Patrick Grieve, 31, 2B
Previous Team: Louisville
Signed with New Britain - 1 Year, $6.1 million
Grieve is a terror on the basepaths with a nice batting eye and splits. He doesn't have much power and his contact is average, but with a .371 career OBP and his baserunning and speed, he definitely adds value.
15. Sal Nelson, 36, SP
Previous Team: Honolulu
Signed with New Britain - 1 Year, $6 Million
Nelson is a nice SP, who's still going strong at age 36. His splits are only good, not great, but other than that, the rest of his ratings are outstanding. He's definitely capable of putting up some good number this season for New Britain.