At long last, spring (training) is here!


2 Every darned spring, this section of this column includes some sort of Rays deal that other execs place in their What An Awesome Trade files. The upset is that this year, they did it without even moving David Price. But the rest of the sport loved the three-way trade with Cincinnati and Arizona that brought them an underappreciated defensive whiz behind the plate in Ryan Hanigan, whom they promptly extended for three years, $10.75 million. For the record, Tampa Bay also got Heath Bell and gave up two midlevel prospects (pitcher Justin Choate and outfielder Todd Glaesmann) in this trade. And the Reds got left-hander David Holmberg from Arizona when the transaction dust had settled.

3 Let's hand the A's the bronze for happily taking Jim Johnson off the Orioles' hands, for the meager price of second-tier catching prospect David Freitas and the artist formerly known as Jemile Weeks.

Fun poll fact: It always warms our hearts when a trade goes down that works for everybody. And that happened again this winter. The three-way Diamondbacks-White Sox-Angels extravaganza that sent Mark Trumbo, Adam Eaton, Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago flying in all directions was one of those deals. Votes flooded in for all three teams. Ditto the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler swap, although the Rangers got four votes for reeling in Fielder. There were three "both teams win" votes and zero for the Kinsler/Detroit end alone.

Bargain free agents

Best free agents signed to one-year deals:

1 You know the cash registers are ringing in this sport when a guy making 16 million bucks a year is considered a bargain. But our group loved, loved, loved the idea of the Yankees bringing back Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year deal. Even at the highest salary per year (tied with A.J. Burnett) of any free-agent pitcher who wasn't named Tanaka.


2 A.J. Pierzynski owns this category. He got the most votes of any player on the board in last year's survey. He missed repeating this year by only one vote. So for no fuss, no muss and no long-term commitment beyond their one-year, $8.25 million deal, the Red Sox reel in one of four catchers in the sport who have hit 40-plus homers over the past two seasons. The others: McCann, Matt Wieters and Wilin Rosario. "I love the fit of that guy, in that park, on that club," one NL exec said. 

3 It tells us something when a guy gets a bunch of votes -- for anything in this survey -- before he even signs his contract. But that was A.J. Burnett, a beautiful one-year acquisition waiting to happen. Even at $16 million. If he'd signed with a team with a better shot to play in October than the Phillies -- say, the Pirates, Orioles or Nationals -- he might even have ranked higher on this list. But there's no such thing as a bad one-year deal for a pitcher who led his league in strikeout ratio last year. Right?

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