First the Carlos Beltran drama. Now the two free agents the NY Mets coveted signed with other teams. First was catcher Bengie Molina. The Mets were rumored to have offered Molina a multi-year contract. However he signed for just one year for a lot less money with the SF Giants, the team he spent the past three years with. The move is great for the Giants as he can continue to guide the young, dominant pitching staff and groom rookie catcher Buster Posey (instead of throwing him into the fire by having him as the starting catcher when he is not ready). Molina hit .265 in 132 games with 20 homeruns and 80 RBIs in 2009. Now the Mets will have to go with the combination of Omir Santos and veteran Henry Blanco until prospect Josh Thole (who performed well in his 2009 September call-up) is ready.
Second was right-handed starter Joel Pineiro. Pineiro thrived under the tutelage of St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan. He was looking for a long-term deal similar to the one Randy Wolf received from the Milwaukee Brewers (three years and close to $30 million). Unfortunately for the Mets, Pineiro received a two-year, $16 million contract offer from the LA Angels that he could not turn down. If Pineiro can continue to pitch like he did in St. Louis, the Angels will have one of the best rotations in the game with Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir, Ervin Santana, and Pineiro. The Mets still have major holes in their rotation due to injuries to ace Johan Santana, John Maine, Fernando Nieve, and Jonathon Niese, and inconsistency in Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez.
With Pineiro’s signing brought another free agent pitcher to sign a deal. This was Vicente Padilla, who decided to re-sign with the LA Dodgers for one year. Despite shooting himself in the leg in November, he is expected to be healthy at the start of spring training. Padilla, after being released in 2009 by the Texas Rangers, pitched very well for the Dodgers and their push through the playoffs (4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in the regular season plus 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 3 postseason starts).
Free agent left-handed starter Doug Davis decided to return to the Milwaukee Brewers, signing a one year deal with an option for 2011. This deal is great for the Brewers as they are getting a pitcher who provides durability. Davis has made at least 33 starts and pitched in 190 innings in five of the past six seasons (the only season being 2008 when he battled thyroid cancer). Adding Davis leaves the Brewers with seven starting pitchers heading into spring training, with one probably moving to the bullpen. Those with spots include ace Yovani Gallardo, Wolf, and Davis, with Manny Parra, Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan, and Chris Narveson battling for the final two spots.
Free agent right-handed reliever Octavio Dotel signed a one year deal with an option for 2011 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who continue to stabilize their bullpen this offseason. Pirates GM Neal Huntington announced that there now is no competition for the closer’s job as it is not Dotel’s to lose. Dotel noted that the opportunity to step back into a closer’s role was the main determinant in his decision to join the Pirates as Pittsburgh was the only team able to guarantee him that opportunity.