MLB hot stove report: an amazin’ off-season

James LeBlanc

What an off-season it has been for Major League Baseball. I can not remember another winter where so many big names have a new place to call home for the time being. The team that has done by far the most is the New York Mets. Way back in the beginning of the off-season it looked as if they were not going to be able to sign anybody, as nobody thought they were committed to put a winning team on the field right now. However, new GM Omar Minaya had a plan and he shocked the baseball world by offering a Pedro Martinez a four year deal worth $53 million. This stunned everybody including Pedro himself who was planning on signing with the Red Sox or the Yankees for less money, but after hearing the Mets offer, he couldn’t sign on the dotted line fast enough. This signing instantly gave the Mets credibility.

And then they followed that up by coming out of nowhere to win the Carlos Beltran derby by signing him to a 7 year $119 million deal. This was especially surprising because in the beginning of the off-season the Mets weren’t even viewed as competitors in the Beltran sweepstakes. Beltran will give the Mets a new face for the organization which is good because Mike Piazza only has one more year left on his contract. He also completes a core of young stars mixing with the likes of Jose Reyes, Kaz Matsui and David Wright.

The Mets may not be done yet, as certain reports have them signing Carlos Delgado as well. It is more likely however that they will go the route of a cheaper, better defensive first-baseman such as John Olerud or Travis Lee. This could all change though if they are able to deal Mike Cameron to the As for Eric Byrnes. Then it would be open season on Delgado. Speaking of Delgado the Florida Marlins have been courting him heavily, they are trying to save the off-season in which all they have accomplished is bringing in aging starting pitcher Al Leiter.

The Yankees have been very busy as well reworking their entire pitching staff. They signed Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano, as well as trading for the big unit Randy Johnson, who in his New York debut knocked over a camera-man. They also brought back Tino “The Bambino” Marinez.

This is not to say that all the big news came from New York. The Dodgers made a lot of noise too. First they let Adrian Beltre walk to Seattle and traded Shawn Green to the Diamondbacks for next to nothing. But then they shelled out the big bucks in stealing J.D. Drew from Atlanta.

Atlanta made noise too by cashing in on Billy Beane’s desire to save money by trading for Tim Hudson. The Cardinals benefited from this too by trading for Mark Mulder. The Diamondbacks did more than just get Shawn Green as they shelled out the big money for free agent third baseman Troy Glaus. As previously mentioned Seattle scored big with MVP runner up Adrian Beltre but they also acquired the most desirable first baseman on the market in Richie Sexon.

There was other big news going around the off-season not related to free agents or trades. Probably the biggest and most important thing that was done over the winter was Major League Baseball enforcing a much stricter policy on steroid use with a possible 10 game penalty for first time offenders. It’s not quite a zero tolerance policy, but its definitely a step in the right direction, and congrats to Major League Baseball for doing the right thing.