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While you were sleeping: A Hot Stove refresh

March 28, 2017

It is important for those of us who live and breathe baseball to empathize with those who don't. Apparently, some of you have busy lives -- family, work, travel, even crazy stuff like football, basketball and hockey -- that interfere with your ability to digest the ins and outs of

It is important for those of us who live and breathe baseball to empathize with those who don't. Apparently, some of you have busy lives -- family, work, travel, even crazy stuff like football, basketball and hockey -- that interfere with your ability to digest the ins and outs of baseball's offseason. It happens, and we forgive you.
We're also here to help. With the 2017 season about to begin, consider this our effort to get those of you who slept through the Hot Stove season caught up on all the big things you missed. Here are 20 key plot points from what was a typically wild offseason in MLB.
1. Chris Sale changed Sox
This was the offseason's biggest blockbuster, and it appears all the more important now that we don't know if David Price's left elbow is going to hold up for the season. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski sent the White Sox MLBPipeline's No. 2 prospect in the game -- second baseman Yoan Moncada -- along with right-hander Michael Kopech (No. 16), center fielder Luis Alexander Basabe and righty Victor Diaz.
2. The Nationals went all-in on Adam Eaton
The South Siders got a huge haul for both their ace starter and their center fielder, with Nats general manager Mike Rizzo giving up MLBPipeline's No. 11-rated prospect Lucas Giolito, No. 46 Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning for Eaton, an offensive sparkplug coming off a dynamic defensive year.

3. Edwin Encarnacion is with the Indians
Not exactly known for major free-agent splashes (this was probably their biggest since their 1999 signing of Roberto Alomar), the Indians -- looking to further bolster a World Series-caliber roster that was already getting Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar back from injury -- took advantage of some market factors that allowed Encarnacion to fall to them at three years and $60 million. Encarnacion had actually turned down four years and $80 million from the Blue Jays, who quickly pivoted to Kendrys Morales.
We are assuming the "Edwing" -- that imaginary parrot Encarnacion carries on his home run trot -- cleared customs.
4. Yoenis Cespedes won free agency
Cespedes is the only player who got a nine-figure deal (four years, $110 million), and he got it to remain with the Mets, the team he wanted to be with all along. Now he can finally afford some cool vehicles after showing up to 2016 Spring Training in a bunch of old jalopies.
5. The Rockies gave Ian Desmond five years and $70 million
To be a first baseman. Really. And then Desmond broke his left hand in Spring Training.
6. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto made, like, three trades a day
Actually, it was 15 trades involving 41 players, give or take. But don't worry: Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz are still with Seattle.
7. William Fowler defected from the Cubs to the Cardinals
A year after Jason Heyward did the opposite. The Cubs and the Cards might have their differences, but they seem to agree on what makes a good outfielder.

8. The All-Star Game doesn't determine home-field advantage anymore
This was negotiated in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which also changed the free-agent Draft-pick compensation system and put a $5 million cap on international signings, among other features. But the change to the Midsummer Classic -- something many fans and media members had clamored for, especially after the 103-win Cubs opened the 2016 Series on the road -- is the most pertinent change affecting the new season.
9. Closers are expensive
Albertin Chapman's return to the Yankees on a five-year, $86 million contract was the top end of the ninth-inning market, but Kenley Jansen was not far off at five years, $80 million to stay with the Dodgers. And even though his stuff is not as scintillating as those two, Mark Melancon did pretty well for himself -- four years and $62 million from a Giants team that famously fizzled in the ninth in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Cubs.
10. Wade Davis went from the 2015 champs to the '16 champs
Speaking of closers, the Cubs have a new one. They traded Jorge Soler straight up for one year of Davis, who has given up all of 24 earned runs across 182 2/3 innings over the past three seasons.

11. The power market was depreciated
Though closers cost a lot of cash, teams didn't pay a premium for power bats. Mike Napoli is back for his third stint with the Rangers on a one-year, $8.5 million deal after hitting a career-high 34 homers for Cleveland last year. Reigning home run champ Mark Trumbo came back to Baltimore on a three-year, $37.5 million deal that was far less than his initial asking price. Reigning NL champ Chris Carter got just $3.5 million with the Yanks, for whom he will be, at most, a part-time player.
12. Jose Bautista didn't go anywhere
This was an offshoot of the above-mentioned market conditions and Bautista's injury-plagued 2016. Joey Bats had reportedly been seeking a $150 million extension just a year ago. Instead, he wound up with a one-year, $18.5 million guarantee that will no doubt have him hungry to prove a lot of people wrong (and we all know what happened the last time people doubted Bautista).
13. The Astros loaded their lineup
They achieved better balance and improved clubhouse leadership by bringing back Carlos Beltran on a one-year deal, signing Josh Reddick for four and trading for Brian McCann. While the lineup looks good, everybody's wondering if the Astros will swing a trade for an ace-type starter at some point after Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers battled injury issues last year.
14. The baseball world lost another ultra-talented young pitcher
Our tears were not yet dry from the Jose Fernandez tragedy when we learned that Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in January. He was just 25 and appeared poised for a big year. The grieving Royals are trying to press on as best they can after trading for Nathan Karns and signing Jason Hammel to fill their rotation holes.
The Marlins, meanwhile, signed Edinson Volquez and tried to bolster their bullpen with Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa.
15. Michael Trout won the American League MVP Award
Offering a momentary sense of order to a chaotic world. Kristopher Bryant won the NL MVP Award a year after winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award, two years after winning Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year Award and three years after winning the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur player in the country. Poor kid can't catch a break.
16. The Pirates moved Andrew McCutchen
To right field. Not to another club. Though there were plenty of trade rumors that preceded his repositioning.
17. Intentional walks are now automatic
No longer are pitchers required to throw four wide ones, which means we won't see occasionally odd stuff like this:

18. Rich Hill got $48 million to stay with the Dodgers
The same pitcher who was in independent ball in 2015. Way to go, Hill!
19. Bartolo Colon is with the Braves
They also signed R.A. Dickey, cornering the market on geriatric arms. Most importantly, Bartolo stays in the NL, which means career homer No. 2 can't possibly be far behind.
20. Baseball is still awesome
Watch this Javier Baez tag from the World Baseball Classic and try to disagree:

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.