The American League East continues to be a hotbed of activity in the off season, as the Toronto Blue Jays made moves to try to keep up with the Red Sox. They signed Russell Martin, the best catcher in this year’s free agent market to a five-year 82 million dollar contract. Then they traded third baseman Brett Lawrie and 3 prospects for Oakland’s All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson. For most teams, it seems strange to trade your top player when you are already a playoff team. But Billy Bean and the Athletics front office are always thinking of maximizing their talent with a tight budget. The key was acquiring Lawrie. Although he was injured last season, he is younger than Donaldson and the A’s expect Lawrie to make a full recovery. They are projecting that when he’s healthy he will have power numbers that make up for much of what they lost by trading Donaldson. Lawrie also has a lower salary and if their scouts did their homework well, the prospects they added will help them to stay competitive in the future. The Blue Jays move indicates they are trying to win now.
The team the Blue Jays and Red Sox are trying to chase down, the Baltimore Orioles, took a hit as Nelson Cruz, who led the Major Leagues with 40 home runs last season, left to sign a four year deal for 57 million dollars to join the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners who came up a game short of making the wild card spot have become big spenders. Last year Robinson Cano signed a huge contract and reports are that Kyle Seager will ink a 7 year 100 million dollar deal soon.
Rumor has it that the Orioles are interested in trading for outfielder, Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers, in an effort to make up for the loss of Cruz. Kemp was one of the hottest hitters in the National League during the second half of the season, so
the Dodgers are not about to give him away. The Dodgers are looking for a shortstop to replace Hanley Ramirez, and they’d like to upgrade the catching position and their pitching. If the Orioles can address a couple of those needs, they might have a deal.