Winter Meetings madness: Recapping the AL Central moves

BY Lindsey Foltin • December 12, 2014

Cleveland Indians

The Indians added some much-needed power to their lineup with the acquisition of Brandon Moss.

The Indians made the first official move of this year's Winter Meetings, acquiring All-Star slugger Brandon Moss from the Oakland A's in exchange for second base prospect Joey Wendle.

While Wendle has a ton of potential as a major-league infielder, he's still at least a year or two away from the big leagues.

Moss on the other hand, is a proven commodity and the Indians see him as an upgrade to the middle of the lineup, despite the fact that he's coming off major hip surgery.

While Billy Beane has a history of being right, this move is somewhat head-scratching.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers lineup just got even better with the addition of All-Star slugger Yoenis Cespedes.

There was a lot of smoke and little fire surrounding the Tigers through the first three days of the Winter Meetings. While there seemed to be a new rumor about Max Scherzer every other hour, the meetings ended with Mad Max remaining unsigned and the Tigers going out with a bang.

On Thursday, Detroit landed All-Star slugger Yoenis Cespedes from Boston and Alfredo Simon from Cincinnati in two separate trades.

The Tigers had to give up Rick Porcello for Cespedes, but they also picked up reliever Alex Wilson and minor leaguer Gabe Speier. In the second trade, Detroit filled Porcello's hole in the rotation by acquiring veteran Alfredo Simon from the Reds in exchange for right-hander Jonathon Crawford and infielder Eugenio Suarez.

Minnesota Twins

All was quiet on the Twins front until Wednesday night, when rumors about a possible Ervin Santana deal started to heat up.

The Twins hope veteran Ervin Santana will provide a spark to their struggling starting rotation.

While Santana has been linked to the Twins for a few weeks now, not many expected Minnesota to dole out the cash needed to land the veteran righty. So it came as somewhat of a surprise when the Twins agreed to a reported four-year, $55 million contract -- the largest free agent deal in club history -- with Santana Thursday afternoon.

This marks the second consecutive winter the Twins are spending big money on a free agent starter. Santana's reported deal is slightly more than what they paid to sign Ricky Nolasco last offseason, who's first year with Minnesota was a forgettable one.

The Twins' starting rotation had the worst ERA in baseball in 2014, so they are somewhat desperate for pitching. But this team is not one starter away from contending in the AL Central, so it's hard to make sense of this move.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals and GM Dayton Moore remained quiet for most of the week, but they did end up leaving with one major goal accomplished -- finding a designated hitter to replace Billy Butler.

The Royals are betting on Kendrys Morales to bounce back from a dreadful 2014 campaign.

As the meetings wound down Thursday afternoon, the Royals closed in on a deal with free agent DH Kendrys Morales. The 31-year-old veteran slugger has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal with KC, which could increase to $18.5 million due to incentives.

The Royals are betting that Morales' horrendous 2014 season was an anomaly -- possibly a result of the late start he got after misreading the free agent market. If that's the case, Morales (a career .271 hitter with a .460 slugging percentage) should serve as a solid, less expensive upgrade to Butler.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox put on quite a show at the Winter Meetings, starting the week off with a flurry of moves that shocked baseball.

On Monday, the Sox made waves when they signed closer David Robertson to a $46 million, four-year contract. Less than 12 hours later, Chicago also acquired starter Jeff Samardzija in a trade from the Oakland A's. The All-Star pitcher was dealt to the South Side of Chicago along with Michael Ynoa, in exchange for infielder Marcus Semien, first baseman Rangel Ravelo, catcher Josh Phegley and lefty Chris Bassitt.

Trading for Jeff Samardzija was just one of the offseason moves that gives the White Sox a leg up on the rest of the AL Central.

In addition to signing Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke earlier this offseason, these moves signaled to the rest of the AL Central that the Pale Hose are not content to rebuild anymore. With Chris Sale and Jose Abreu in the prime of their careers, now is the time for Rick Hahn and the rest of the White Sox front office to make a run at the postseason. 

On paper, the White Sox now look like the team to beat in the AL Central. But there are surely still plenty of moves to be made and a lot can happen before spring training gets underway in February.

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