MLB Trade/Free Agent News: Ranking Every Team's Best Offseason Move
The 2011-2012 offseason is now halfway done, and in 2011, we saw a lot of major free agent moves that nobody saw coming, such as the deals for Jonathan Papelbon and Albert Pujols. Others were no surprise at all, such as the Kansas City Royals actually acquiring some pitching.
Some teams, as expected, made larger moves than others, as they are big market teams. Does that mean they made the best moves of the free agency period? Not necessarily.
Which teams have made the best moves thus far? All 30 teams' best moves are ranked here.
30. Atlanta Braves: Eric Hinske
The Braves are in the process of becoming the best team in baseball. We've seen some of that the past couple seasons, and it only plans to get better. As a result, they aren't really signing or trading for anyone.
Eric Hinske's re-signing is the biggest thing they've done, though if they get a nice piece in a Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado trade, then that will take this spot on the list.
It's going to be a pattern for a few teams to start off this list; they haven't made any moves of note because they don't really need to, so don't worry if your team is ranked this far down.
29. New York Yankees: Freddy Garcia
The Yankees are almost guaranteed to make a big move, as they seem to do so nearly every free agency period. This year, however, they've been quiet, doing next to nothing besides re-signing Freddy Garcia and Andruw Jones.
Freddy Garcia had a nice year for the Yankees in 2011, and he will provide depth to the pitching staff again in 2012.
28. San Francisco Giants: Angel Pagan
The Giants have a great pitching core, but a questionable lineup, particularly in the outfield. To remedy that, they traded for Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, and you can pretty much swap either or for this spot.
Cabrera had a good 2011 season, but that has been unlike him, and Pagan seems to be a bit on the hot-and-cold side as well. Time will tell if these moves were smart or not.
27. Seattle Mariners: George Sherrill
The Mariners have become almost notorious for having a great starting rotation that can't get any wins thanks to an anemic hitting squad that consists of Ichiro and little else. What did Seattle do to fix that?
So far, pretty much nothing, though they did bolster their bullpen by acquiring George Sherrill. He had a quiet comeback year in Atlanta and should do fine in Seattle, even if it's not the move they needed to make.
26. Houston Astros: Jed Lowrie
The Houston Astros, along with the Oakland Athletics, were the two teams that were expected to sell the farm this offseason. The A's have done exactly that, while the Astros still have Wandy Rodriguez and everyone else.
The only major move has been getting Jed Lowrie and others for Mark Melancon. It's tough to say how good the trade is yet since Lowrie has yet to play every day. He certainly will have the opportunity to do so now.
25. Toronto Blue Jays: Jason Frasor
The Blue Jays' offseason has been a tough one to figure out. They're clearly trying to make moves, seeing as how they almost got Yu Darvish, but haven't gotten much. All they've done is acquire Jason Frasor from the White Sox.
They already had Frasor before trading him at the deadline last season, so it's not much of a modification for them.
24. Baltimore Orioles: Endy Chavez
The Orioles are one of those teams that tends to make their moves later in the offseason, or it at least feels that way. So far, their biggest move has been the acquisition of Endy Chavez.
Chavez made a name for himself in Texas this past season and had a nice year. Since Baltimore's only paying $1.5 million, it's a nice move, even though it doesn't look like much on the surface.
23. Detroit Tigers: Octavio Dotel
When your biggest offseason move is acquiring a reliever, it either means you're working slowly or that your team is already set. For the Tigers, it's mostly the latter.
Octavio Dotel has pitched well in recent years, and provides veteran help to the bullpen. It's not the hole they necessarily need to fill, but having a good bullpen is always an asset.
22. Cleveland Indians: Derek Lowe
The Indians had one major task this offseason, and that was to find a first baseman. Instead, they went and quickly acquired Derek Lowe from the Braves.
This move wasn't all that bad, as it's not easy to find a durable guy to pitch 200 innings, even if Derek Lowe is not exactly the best guy to pull that off anymore.
21. Oakland Athletics: Josh Reddick
The Oakland Athletics continually trade their players for prospects. That's all well and good, but when you keep trading your young talent for bunches of prospects, there's no room in there for a title run.
Nonetheless, I like the pickup they got in the Andrew Bailey trade. Josh Reddick is a young outfielder who will be an everyday player in Oakland, and it could be a trade that really works out.
20. Los Angeles Dodgers: Chris Capuano
The Dodgers made quite a few moves in free agency, but most of them felt like they overpaid. Mark Ellis, Aaron Harang, and Chris Capuano all got pretty nice multi-year deals.
Of the three, Capuano feels like the best move. He was inconsistent with the Mets, but his good outings were great, and those kinds of performances are what they need to find with Hiroki Kuroda likely gone.
19. New York Mets: Frank Francisco
The New York Mets had an awful bullpen last season, and the Toronto Blue Jays were looking for a higher-end closer. As a result, they let Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco go into free agency, and the Mets signed both.
Francisco is a more consistent reliever, so he gets the nod here, as he is certainly an improvement.
18. Tampa Bay Rays: Kyle Farnsworth
I'm not sure why Kyle Farnsworth has such a following of haters, as he seems to be an entirely capable pitcher. He had a great year as closer for the Rays that went mostly unheralded, and they were able to sign him at a bargain due to his age.
As much as I may like this move though, when signing a 36-year-old reliever is your biggest move, that's saying very little. You could argue that signing Matt Moore was the team's biggest, but he's only played a few MLB games thus far in his career, so the jury's still out on him.
17. Chicago Cubs: David DeJesus
I've been bouncing back and forth about what to think of this trade. On the one hand, the Cubs got DeJesus for a bargain, and he could be great in the Cubs outfield as long as he plays like he did in his prime.
On the other hand, he had a poor 2011, and it remains to be seen if that was a fluke or if he's no longer the same player.
16. Cincinnati Reds: Mat Latos
Mat Latos has had a short but great career with San Diego, and he should provide the Reds with an ace if all goes well. He's still young, and could be great.
Having said that, the Reds gave up nearly everything for him, and I'm always wary of acquiring Padres pitchers. He's an upgrade over Edinson Volquez, but the stats in San Diego better transfer to Cincinnati.
15. Chicago White Sox: John Danks
The White Sox lost Mark Buehrle to free agency, and since they're in semi-rebuilding mode, they instead gave the Buehrle-type contract to another player, John Danks.
In five seasons, Danks has been very good, but I'm not sold on him being an ace of the staff yet. I think they overpaid, but if he can pitch like he did from 2008 to 2010, they'll be fine with it.
14. Kansas City Royals: Jonathan Sanchez
The Kansas City Royals made some moves to bolster their poor pitching staff this offseason, acquiring both Jonathan Broxton and Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez struggled this past season, but was great the couple seasons before that.
If he can bounce back, then this was a great pickup for the Royals, and even if he doesn't, he'll actually still be an improvement for them.
13. San Diego Padres: Carlos Quentin
The San Diego Padres needed to infuse power hitting into their lineup, and at this point it didn't matter who. Perhaps surprisingly, the White Sox continue to want to trade with them, and they sent over Carlos Quentin.
Quentin's not too much of a fielder, and he won't hit for a high average, but he's a near guarantee for 20 home runs, which is far better than what anyone else was doing in San Diego.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates: Clint Barmes
The Pittsburgh Pirates made a lot of small free agent moves this offseason. None were necessarily huge, but given their budget and their track record, it was a very good time for them.
The best pickup was Clint Barmes. He won't do much with the bat, but he's one of the most underrated infielders on defense in baseball. Perhaps I'm overrating this since it's more than one might expect from the Pirates, but it is a nice move.
11. Arizona Diamondbacks: Trevor Cahill
I almost put this a lot lower, but the contract that Cahill is under is actually a great one, especially for Arizona. The expensive years are team options, so if it doesn't work out they aren't out too much.
The Diamondbacks gave up quite a bit to acquire Cahill, who has had one great year and two decent years in MLB so far. If he continues to improve, it would be a great pickup. Plus, he'd arguably be the No. 3 guy in Arizona, so there's not as much pressure.
10. Minnesota Twins: Josh Willingham
The Minnesota Twins made quite a few free agent moves to help with losing Michael Cuddyer, and while some of them were questionable, one that looks to be really good is Josh Willingham.
Willingham is a solid power-hitting outfielder who can be hot and cold, but is at least reliable enough when cold to be an everyday player. He didn't cost the Twins all that much either.
9. Boston Red Sox: Andrew Bailey
You can see why the A's were a popular trade target in the offseason; three in a row in the top 12 and we're not even done yet. Andrew Bailey was acquired after they lost Jonathan Papelbon to free agency. Was it an improvement?
If Bailey pitches like he did his first two seasons, perhaps. He was just good this year, but two seasons with an ERA under 2.00 is great to see, and if he returns to that elite level, then the Red Sox may have found themselves a new longtime closer.
8. Colorado Rockies: Michael Cuddyer
Michael Cuddyer was the leader of the Twins last year, and is one of those types of players where stats don't tell the whole story of his value, though his numbers are good to begin with.
The Colorado Rockies picked him up, which means that his numbers are sure to skyrocket while playing in Coors Field. We've seen free agent pitchers go to Colorado and falter many times, so I would imagine a hitter would thrive.
7. Miami Marlins: Jose Reyes
The Miami Marlins made their presence known this offseason, and signed players to huge deals. Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell will all make a big impact in 2012. However, all three were overpaid.
Reyes' contract in particular was absurd. He is injury prone, but his talent can't be denied, and if he can get 150 games in a few times for the Marlins, then he'll be an asset to the team for some time. At least, he better be considering how much they're paying him.
6. Washington Nationals: Gio Gonzalez
The Washington Nationals made perhaps the big trade of the offseason, acquiring Gio Gonzalez from the A's for a good chunk of talent. As a result, they were able to find a No. 2 guy behind Stephen Strasburg.
I like this trade a lot more than some others do. Gonzalez's walks are on the high side, but he's looked great his past two seasons, and he feels like a young gun on the cusp of stardom.
5. Texas Rangers: Yu Darvish
This is a very tough free agent move to rate. Most pitchers acquired by the posting system have not done much. Some are good in the first year, like Daisuke Matsuzaka, then fall off, while others never really get it going.
Looking at his stats compared to others, I feel very confident of two things. First, the Rangers will overpay for him. Second, he will be a great pitcher in MLB, despite everything seemingly going against that statement.
4. Philadelphia Phillies: Jonathan Papelbon
Even though they had Ryan Madson as their closer already, the Phillies were somehow able to improve on their closer situation by acquiring Jonathan Papelbon.
Papelbon can be an elite closer, and even when the Red Sox seemed to turn on him, he was still very good. With a change of scenery, he could go right back to being elite.
3. Milwaukee Brewers: Aramis Ramirez
I might be taking a tough stance here, but I love this move. The Milwaukee Brewers were likely going to lose Prince Fielder, so they brought in a guy who can not only produce good power numbers, but can do so at third base.
There are few third basemen that can say that, and Aramis Ramirez got a much worse rap than he should have with the Cubs, as he did have some very good seasons.
2. St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Beltran
The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series, yet lost their star player and manager during the offseason. How does a team recover from that?
Well, signing a high-quality bat for a couple years helps. Carlos Beltran had some health issues, but is an All-Star when healthy, and the deal was for few enough years that it should not be any trouble.
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Albert Pujols
Did the Angels pay Albert Pujols too much? Perhaps. Did they give too many years to a guy who will be 32 at the start of the season? Certainly. Was it the best move of the offseason?
Without a doubt. Albert Pujols has been the best player of the past decade, and he has at least five more MVP-type seasons left in him. Even if the last couple years are wasted, the rest of the deal will be great.
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