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Hot Stove: 1/28

Long update today. Many signings, including a new Nationals set-up man, a new right fielder for the Red Sox, and a third baseman to shore up the Orioles' infield.

Record of the Day

Youngest prospect on MLB.com's 2012 Top 100 Prospects list: Francisco Lindor, 18 years old (Indians).

No. 32 prospect Francisco Lindor, born on 11/14/1993, was the youngest player featured on the Top 100 Prospects list, beating out second youngest and No. 23 prospect Miguel Sano (Twins, born 5/11/1993) by whopping six months and three days. He has only played in five games as a professional, but the then-17-year-old was 6-19 (.316 AVG) with a stolen base and four runs scored for the Class A Short-Season Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The Indians shortstop profiles to be a catalyst in Cleveland's future.

Free Agent Signings

Nationals signed Brad Lidge (0-2, 1.40 ERA, .225 BAA, 1 save, 2012 age: 35) to a one-year, $1 million deal.

Red Sox signed Cody Ross (14 HR, 52 RBI, .240 AVG, 5 SB, 2012 age: 31) to a one-year, $3 million deal.

Orioles signed Wilson Betemit (8 HR, 46 RBI, .285 AVG, 4 SB, 2012 age: 30) to a two-year, $3.25 million deal ($1.625 million per season).

Rays signed Jeff Keppinger (6 HR, 35 RBI, .277 AVG, 0 SB, 2012 age: 32) to a one-year, $1.525 million deal.

Phillies signed Juan Pierre (2 HR, 50 RBI, .279 AVG, 27 SB, 2012 age: 34) to a minor league deal.

Giants agreed to terms with Ryan Theriot (1 HR, 47 RBI, .271 AVG, 4 SB, 2012 age: 32) on a one-year, $1.25 million deal (plus up to $700,000 in incentives).

Red Sox signed John Maine (missed 2011 season, 41-36 career record, 4.35 ERA, 2012 age: 31) to a minor league deal.

Indians signed Dan Wheeler (2-2, 4.38 ERA, .246 BAA, 2012 age: 34) to a minor league deal.

Mets signed Matt Tuiasosopo (missed 2011 season, 5 career HR, .176 AVG, 2012 age: 26).

Brad Lidge, who has endured one of the more up-and-down careers in recent memory, will join the Nationals as a joint set-up man with Tyler Clippard while trying to again resurrect his career. Lidge's inconsistency has in part been due to injuries, which almost caused him to quit while in the minor leagues. Brad was talked out of it, and after limited big league experience in 2002, broke in with the Astros in 2003 as a full-time reliever. In 78 games, Lidge was 6-3 with a 3.60 ERA and .202 BAA. He ascended to closer in 2004 and became an incredible force at the back end of the Houston bullpen, posting a 1.90 ERA and minuscule .174 BAA with 29 saves in 80 games. Lidge was back in 2005 for a full season at the closer's spot, and continued to wow hitters with a 2.29 ERA, .223 BAA, and a career-high 42 saves in 46 chances in 70 appearances. His control deceived him in 2006, causing his ERA to bloat to 5.28 despite his 32 saves. He was back at it in 2007, dropping his ERA to 3.36 but losing the closer's role and ending up with 19 saves in 66 appearances. He was traded to the Phillies, where he resurrected himself with an incredible season that grabbed the baseball world's attention. In 72 appearances in 2008, the new Philadelphia closer posted a 1.95 ERA, .198 BAA, and saved all 41 of his opportunities. Include the Phillies' World Series run, and Lidge saved all 48 of his opportunities with a 1.83 ERA in 81 appearances. Those numbers led him to the National League Comeback Player of the Year. This success was short-lived, as he struggled immensely in 2009. While going 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA, Lidge saved only 31 games in 42 tries while letting opponents bat .301 in 67 appearances off him. He rebounded again in 2010, finishing with a 2.96 ERA and 27 saves in 32 tries and letting opponents bat just .194 off him in 50 appearances.  Shoulder issues caused him to miss the first half of 2011, where Ryan Madson (now with the Reds) took over as closer and did not yield the position to Lidge upon his return. Working as a set-up man, Lidge performed very well in his limited action, posting a 1.40 ERA and .225 BAA in 25 appearances. Over his 10-year career, he is 26-31 with a 3.44 ERA, .220 BAA, and 223 saves in 592 games (one start, coming as a 25 year old with the Astros in 2002).  

Cody Ross will compete with Ryan Sweeney for the right field role, or perhaps platoon with him. Cody has already played with five teams prior to signing with Boston, making most of his fame as the hero of the Giants World Series run in 2010. He saw his first success with the Marlins, already his fourth team since playing with the Tigers, Dodgers, and Reds from 2003-2006. Ross batted .335 with 12 home runs in just 66 games in 2007 for the Fish. In having only 173 at bats, that would have translated into 38 home runs, 124 RBI, and 184 hits for a .335 average in a full, 550 at bat season. He earned a full-time role for Florida in 2008, and responded with 22 home runs, 73 RBI, and a .260 average in 145 games.  2009 would prove to be his best year, as he hit 24 home runs, knocked in 90, and batted .270 in 151 games. The Portales, New Mexico native split 2010 with the Marlins and Giants, finishing with 14 home runs and a .269 average in 153 games.  He was the hero of the postseason, hitting five home runs, knocking in ten, and batting .294 in 15 games. Last year, Ross underperformed by hitting only 14 home runs and batting .240 in 121 games, putting him at exactly 100 career home runs. Over his eight-year career, he hit 100 home runs, knocked in 371, and batted .261 with 28 stolen bases in 757 games.

Jeff Keppinger joins the Rays as a versatile super-utility man who can and has played all over the diamond over his career. Despite appearing at six different positions, every one but center field, pitcher, and catcher since 2007, the right handed hitting Keppinger will man second base in the shallow Rays infield. Tampa Bay will be the sixth team of Keppinger's short career, having played for the Mets, Royals, Reds, Astros, and Giants already. The right-handed hitting Keppinger caught eyes in 2007 in a 67 game stint with Cincinnati, where he hit five home runs and batted .332 in his limited action. That caused the Reds to rethink Keppinger's back up role, and he earned a full-time one in 2008. In 121 games, he didn't perform as well, hitting just three home runs and batting .266. He was traded to Houston, where his career took off. He batted a modest .256 with seven home runs in 107 games in that first year in 2009, but 2010 would be his best. In 137 games, he hit six home runs and batted .288 with four stolen bases, helping him to 34 doubles. He was playing very well — four home runs, .307 average in 43 games– upon his trade to San Francisco — but his level of play decreased in 56 games there. Adding the two home runs and .255 average for the Giants, Keppinger hit six home runs and batted .277 in 99 games. Over his seven-year career, he hit 32 home runs and batted .281 with 11 stolen bases in 586 games. 

Tuiasosopo is one of my favorites, mostly because nobody can't like a guy with a name like that. Also, when he hit his first career home run in 2009, the announcer had actually predicted it, saying "I expect him to hit his first big league home run today; he's gonna get into a good count today, he's going to get a fastball down, and he's gonna hit it out of left-center field, probably, oh, maybe in the second deck... 3-1 count." Tuiasosopo hit a 3-1 fastball, down in the zone, just feet from landing in the second deck in left-center field. 

Trades

Phillies traded Wilson Valdez (1 HR, 30 RBI, .249 AVG, 3 SB, 2012 age: 34) to the Reds for Jeremy Horst (0-0, 2.93 ERA, .290 BAA, 2012 age: 26).

Other News

Tigers officially announced their signing of Prince Fielder.

Top 100 Prospects were announced, with Rays pitcher Matt Moore taking No. 1. Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was No. 2, and Angels outfielder Mike Trout took the third spot. White Sox pitcher Addison Reed barely reached the list, making No. 100. The Padres and A's put up six players each, the Padres led by No. 39 prospect Yonder Alonso and the A's led by No. 26 Jarrod Parker. Perhaps my favorite was Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton, who checked in at No. 34 after stealing 103 bases for Class A Dayton last year. The Nationals put up four prospects: Harper, Anthony Rendon (27), Alex Meyer (83), and Sammy Solis (86). 

Phillies signed Hunter Pence to a one-year, $10.4 million deal to avoid arbitration. 

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Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves

If your team is not included, please leave a comment.

HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. BAA: batting average against. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage

Zack Silverman

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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