As the winter meetings approach, the big league teams have already been busy trading parts and tinkering with rosters, so let's take this nice little pre-Thanksgiving lull to take a look at the Hot Stove (where maybe the stuffing is warming) and think about the impact.
Leonys Martin (to the Mariners from the Rangers): Seattle is trying to retrofit a bit to a younger lineup after going in that direction and then being waylaid in the wake of the Robinson Cano signing. Martin, who has pop and speed, and fell flat in Texas last year, should benefit from a new start, and the Northwest could be a nice place to start. Martin looked like an AL verson of Starling Marte until last year. A new scene might bring some of that back.
Aaron Hicks (to the Yankees from the Twins): Interesting acquisition for a team sitting on Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran, among others, ready to chase flies. I am guessing Hicks winds up getting the playing time while Gardner or Ellsbury is swapped, and Beltran plays 87 games.
Craig Kimbrel (to the Red Sox from the Padres): Arguably the best closer goes to the team seemingly most obsessed with finding a closer, Kimbrel should be a fine addition in Boston. However, the cost was two very fine prospects in outfielder Manuel Margot and shortstop Javier Guerra, both of whom should figure in the Friars 2016 mix. Kimbrel will be a top AL closer as well in a deal that does help both teams, it seems.
Francisco Rodriguez (to the Tigers from the Brewers): Detroit's search for a closer has been much more futile than that of the Red Sox. K-Rod turns 34 next year and has been pretty steady over the past 14 years, so this could steady the slot until someone home grown appears in the Motor City. Expect 30 saves and remember, he is easier to watch than Fernando Rodney.
Jose Pirela (to Padres from Yankees): For young (18) but untested Ronald Herrera, the Pads now have more infield possiblities than just about anyone, and some of those involved (Jedd Gyorko, Cory Spangenberg, among others) could evolve into a solid infield. The question for Pirela is where can he see daylight.
Jonathan Villar (from the Astros to the Brewers): Villar, with 42 big league swipes, is sort of the American League's Dee Gordon, with good numbers as a minor leaguer (.261 average, .337 OBP and 252 steals).
Erick Aybar/Andrelton Simmons (Angels to Braves and vice versa): Everyone knows how much I like Aybar, who is consistent (.276-6-55 with 19 steals over 162-game career mean) and, well, Simmons is a defensive whiz who has a little pop (17 homers in 2012) but not much else (.666 career OPS). The Angels are good at scoring runs, so the pressure should be off both guys to do their thing. I like this both ways.
Cameron Maybin (Braves to Tigers): Maybin is so tempting but still never puts it all together. But, he is now on a team with Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez, so much like Simmons, he will need to just settle in, play some defense and get on base, letting his mates drive him in. He is still just 28, so time to step into those peak years at the right place and time.
Jesse Chavez (A's to Blue Jays): Chavez did everything that was asked of him in Oakland, and filled the gaps, but whether anyone likes it or not, he is not a 200-inning starter. He is great as a spot starter, fill-in and long pitcher but gives the impression he is more than that. Liam Hendriks (whom Oakland got in exchange) has a lot more upside. Chavez will not remain in the Jays rotation, no matter how much we like him or want him to.