Under MLB Hot-Stove Christmas Tree

Christmas is here, and it’s time for all of the fans around MLB to unwrap all of the goodies under the off-season hot stove tree. The hot stove season allows teams to regroup and rebuild, and for fans of all teams to rekindle hopes that their year can be as un-probable and magical as the 2014 Kansas City Royals.

In Boston, Red Sox Nation is all a glow with hopes that October soon will be here. Boston needed pop in the lineup, and almost $200 million dollars later, they got it! Third baseman Pablo Sandoval and left fielder Hanley Ramirez should make the middle of that order very explosive. Though the big name hurler still isn’t in hand, the acquisitions of Rick Porcello and Wade Miley gives the Red Sox a pair good young starting pitchers. There could still be more help on the way, as Boston is rumored to be in on Max Scherzer and James Shields sweepstakes.

Christmas in New York has been suspiciously quiet this off season. After the big spending spree in the 2013 off-season, the Yankees have been much more reserved. Chase Headley was signed to a four-year $52 million deal that puts him at third base and ousts A-Rod to the DH role. Didi Gregorious was acquired to fill the role of short stop by Derek Jeter, and Martin Prado was shipped to the Miami. RHP Nathan Eovaldi went to New York in the deal and could be the steal of the off-season. Eovaldi, who turns 25 in February, has shown signs of brilliance in his early career. If the Yankees can harness that talent, he could be every bit as good as an expensive James Shields signing.

As we stay on the east coast and sled down south, Miami has the league all a buzz with some major moves. Giancarlo Stanton inked a 13-year $325 million deal and grabbed everybody’s attention. Then, they added second baseman/short stop Dee Gordon from the Dodgers. Matt Latos was added to the rotation via Cincinnati and Michael Morse looks to play first base after signing a two-year deal. Martin Prado will be the everyday third-baseman, so Casey McGehee was shipped to San Francisco. The Marlins still aren’t done, but those are some great stocking stuffers. Looks for Miami to add a couple of more pieces before pitchers and catchers report.

The Atlanta Braves have moved contracts that they can’t renew, like lumps of coal in their stockings, as they look forward to 2017 when their new stadium opens. The biggest acquisition was John Hart signing on as the president of baseball operations. His job is to get this team and organization going in the right direction and he has.

Jason Heyward and Justin Upton were in the final years of their contracts, so Hart promptly trade them away to St. Louis and San Diego. The big returns in those deals? Starter Shelby Miller will be under team control through 2018 and 21 year old Max Fried is a left-handed pitcher that was the number seven pick in the 2012 draft. He will be on the shelf until 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery this past August.

Two more things to keep an eye on as well. New right fielder Nick Markakis signed a four-year $44 million deal that gives the Braves less strike outs and a decent glove in right. Also, look for slugging second baseman Jose Peraza to come up from the minors this year and complete a Simmons-Peraza-Freeman double play combo for years to come.

The city of Chicago will be dreaming of future confetti-parade White Christmas’s, as huge moves have a Wind City World Series on the horizon in the next few years. Jon Lester, the most talked about 2014 free-agent, lands on the north-side. With the slew of young talent coming in, general manager Theo Epstein has Cubs fans believing again for the first time in close to a decade.

Meanwhile, on the south-side the White Sox brought in starter Jeff Samardzija, first baseman Adam Laroche, outfielder Melky Cabrera and closer David Robertson. That is enough to make the the guys in black a legitimate contender in 2015.

The Los Angeles Dodgers seem to now be a more complete team for 2015. They made a number of trades that will bring in short stop Jimmy Rollins, second baseman Howie Kendrick, first base/outfielder Matt Joyce and catcher Yasmani Grandal all to Tinseltown. Though they lose the hard-hitting Matt Kemp, maybe the room in their outfield will make for a smoother locker room.

Santa’s hot-stove workshop has been busy with a fee more gifts for fans around the league. Seattle got their man in the slugger Nelson Cruz. The Arizona Diamondbacks get Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, The Kansas City Royals grab starter Kris Medlen and first baseman Kendrys Morales and the Giants have re-signed Jake Peavy.

The Toronto Blue Jays picked up MVP Candidate Josh Donaldson from the Athletics, and a pair of Canadians in outfielder Michael Saunders and catcher Russell Martin. They are still hoping that Santa will bring them a second baseman, and maybe a few bullpen arms as stocking stuffers.

Though there is still a lot more to come, the 2014 Hot Stove is the hottest it has ever been. As all fans continue to unwrap their free-agents and trades, let’s make a toast for what should be an exciting MLB New Year!

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