The winter holiday period has generally been a hot-stove, quiet period, but perhaps especially this year, given that so many free agency deals were made before Christmas. It’s been quiet, but in recent years there have been some big moves on the last day of the calendar.
Here are the major deals that took place on December 31st in the 21st century:
- 2018: Mariners agree to contract with Japan’s Hurler Yuusei Kikuchi.
After dominating eight seasons in Japan, the Seibu Lions posted Kikuchi ahead of their 2019 campaign. On the same day, news broke that the Mariners had acquired an opponent. Kikuchi agreed to his first three-year, $43 million deal with Seattle. The deal included a player option for $13 million and a four-year club option that promised Kikuchi an additional $66 million. Kikuchi will have a challenging start to his league career in 2019-20 as he posted a 5.39 ERA in 41 appearances in his season. However, he found some form in his 2021, posting a 4.41 ERA in 157 innings. That was enough for Kikuchi to decline his player option, but not enough for Seattle to exercise his four-year club option, so Kikuchi went on the open market and built a new home in Toronto ahead of the 2022 season. I found it.
After back-to-back playoff appearances, the Reds took a step back in 2014, finishing 76-86. With a solid core still under contract, GM Walt Jocketty made a move to beef up his offense, acquiring veteran Bird from the rebuilding Phillies, who earned his $8 million in 2015. of debt, of which the Phillies borne half. In exchange, they got Lively, a promising young pitcher in the Reds system. He started in his 20 games for Philadelphia between his 2017 and his 2018 season, but was waived by the Royals in 2018 and made his last major league pitch in 2019. . 286/. 448 and had 19 home runs in 96 games, the Reds were out of contention, and he hit him that year with the Giants in August. I repeated.
- 2013: Astros sign veteran relief pitcher Jesse Crane to a one-year, $3.25 million contract.
In 2013, the Astros lost 111 and were in the middle of a rebuilding season. 2014 saw the emergence of some of the core players who would become building blocks in Houston over the next decade or so, and the team clearly felt that the veteran leadership wouldn’t hurt the young clubhouse. Crane, then 31, had been a solid reliever for Minnesota for years, but has developed into an elite relief arm over the last three seasons for the White Sox. From 2011 to 2013, he pitched 150 innings with a 2.10 ERA for Chicago. Unfortunately for Houston, Crane was on the injured list in spring training as he recovered from offseason surgery, and he’s been on the ball since the 2013 season for the Astros and other big league teams. I didn’t throw either.
- 2012: Royals sign 38-year-old veteran player Miguel Tejada to a minor league contract
Tejada spent many years with the Orioles and Athletics, winning the AL MVP award in 2002. Tejada’s last MLB season came in 2011 when he batted . 239/. 270/. Still, he was on the Royals’ big league roster in 2013, appearing in 53 games and batting . He looked set to finish the season with a calf injury, but after testing positive twice, the season ended with a 105-game suspension and he will play in the major leagues again. It never happened.
With a disappointing 79-83 record in 2011, the White Sox were comfortable sending All-Star outfielder and Californian Quentin out west. The 29-year-old was worth his 2.5 fWAR last season, and White won his two young pitchers for the Sox. Unfortunately for Chicago, Castro pitched just 6 2/3 innings of relief, while Hernandez was torched with eight earned runs in four innings in the team’s lone start. For the Padres, Quentin was productive if he could stay on the field, and in his first two seasons he batted .268/.368/.498 in 168 games. His knee continues to cause problems, and a disappointment in 2014 will be his last appearance in the big leagues.
- 2010: Orioles sign veteran Derek Lee for a one year contract.
In his prime, Lee was a highly productive hitter for the Cubs and Marlins, finishing third in MVP voting in 2005. While those numbers were declining, Lee still had good numbers in 2010. 246/.302/.404 with 12 home runs in 85 games with the Orioles that year. I struggled with the line. 337/.398/.584 in 28 games for the Bucks before retiring at the end of the year.
- 2009: cubs sign Marlon Byrd Phillies sign three-year deal Danis Baez for a two-year contract.
The first of Bird’s two NYE deals came at the end of 2009, and the Cubs added him to a deal that would pay $15 million over the next three years. Byrd appeared in the All-Star Game in his first season with Chicago, batting . 293/. 346/. A dismal start to the 2012 season (43-3) saw him traded to the Red Sox in April of that year in the final year of his three-year contract. Baez shifted quite a bit in the big leagues before landing in Philadelphia, appearing for five teams in eight years and posting a combined 4.04 ERA. The Phillies signed him to his two-year $5.25MM contract, but Baez struggled quite a bit, wrestling his 5.48 ERA in his first year and his 6.25 ERA in his second. The Phillies released him in August 2011 and he never pitched in the big leagues again.
- 2004: Yankees recall veteran Tino Martinez on a one-year, $3 million deal.
Martinez appeared in 1,054 games for the Yankees between 1996 and 2001, winning four World Series rings during that time. Jason GiambiHe had played for the Devil Rays the previous year, but after they rejected his $8 million option, the Yankees swooped in and added him as cover for his replacement player. 37-year-old Martinez appeared in 131 games for the Yankees that year, and while he wasn’t as much of an offensive threat as he was a few years ago, he still batted .241/.328/.439. The Yankees went 95-67 in 2005 and he hit 17 home runs. The Yankees turned down his $3 million option for 2006, and Martinez retired.