MLB Teams That Are Already Winning the Offseason
With the winter meetings among us, we're finally seeing free agency kick into high gear with a number of big names starting to make their moves.
A number of these players have gotten speculation out of the way, signing long-term extensions with their teams early on, while others have cashed in big and will look to make a splash in a new city.
The winter meetings will be over in a matter of no time, but that doesn't mean the wheeling and dealing will come to an end, as a GM's work is just beginning with more than two months before spring training kicks off.
Here are some early winners this offseason that could be poised for bigger and better things in 2013.
With the prospect of Michael Bourn leaving Atlanta for a new organization, you can't blame the Braves for making a big splash in the free-agent market in signing B.J. Upton.
Upton bombed 28 home runs and stole 31 bases in 2012, showing that he has the combination of power and speed that's always in demand.
He has, however, had some down numbers over the past two seasons. Upton batted only .246 in 2012, which was actually the first time he reached a .245 average since 2008.
The NL East is continually improving as teams continue to jockey for positioning, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Braves continue to make moves as they solidify their lineup ahead of spring training.
New York Yankees
Having sat out the entire 2011 season, it was hard to say exactly what should be expected from Andy Pettitte when he signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal to return to the Yankees in 2012.
He showed plenty during his 33 appearances with New York in his past two seasons, including a sub-3.00 ERA and five wins in 12 starts in 2012.
They solidified another spot in the rotation in securing a one-year deal with Hiroki Kuroda, whose decision to stay in New York instead of heading back to Japan should give the Yankees the force they need in the rotation to go along with a returning Pettitte.
If they both play like they did last season, they could be in good shape, but putting two rotation spots in the hands of pitchers hovering around 40 years old always bears some risks.
The Detroit Tigers' season ended on a very sour note in 2012, as they would fall short at the hands of the San Francisco Giants in the Fall Classic.
They're back to the drawing board and have already made a big move in signing Torii Hunter to a two-year, $26 million deal, bringing him back to the division where he got his start.
Even though he'll be 38 years old in 2013, Hunter is coming off one of his best seasons and still boasts a great amount of talent in the outfield, something that will no doubt come in handy in the spacious confines of Comerica Park.
Boston Red Sox
Having dumped a massive amount of payroll last summer, the Boston Red Sox have plenty of holes to fill this offseason.
They got off to a great start in signing Mike Napoli to a three-year, $39 million contract. His offensive capacity will go a long way toward filling the void left by Adrian Gonzalez, and the ability to play multiple positions is an asset for any team.
Boston also secured one of the most underrated outfield options available after signing Shane Victorino to a three-year deal worth nearly $40 million.
Victorino batted a career-low .255 in 2012, but having posted a .282 batting average during his first seven seasons in a Phillies uniform, he's been a strong enough presence in the batter's box to give Red Sox fans confidence heading into 2013.
San Francisco Giants
Leading the league with 15 triples and swiping 29 bags, Angel Pagan's speed is a huge asset, and with a .288 batting average in 2012, he's been able to show consistency at the plate.
With the Giants again in 2013, Pagan will have a great opportunity to build on his early success, and fans will certainly hope he doesn't revert to his days in New York.
They also re-signed a key asset from their championship run, inking Marco Scutaro to a three-year deal worth $20 million.
His performance in the postseason propelled the Giants to their second World Series title in three years, as he batted .500 during the NLCS, good enough to earn him series MVP honors.
In signing Dan Haren to a one-year, $13 million deal for the 2013 season, the Washington Nationals continue to show that they're going to push to make moves until they feel they have the winning formula.
With Edwin Jackson likely set to join a new rotation, Haren's off-speed pitches will be a great asset in a division that boasts plenty of strong hitters.
The team also solidified a position they've wanted to shore up for quite some time in trading for center fielder Denard Span.
Span brings a career on-base percentage of nearly .360 to the Nationals, and if his concussion issues are completely past him he should be a strong fixture in one of the NL East's best lineups.
Toronto Blue Jays
Leading into the end of the summer, it looked like Melky Cabrera could be an MVP candidate and in turn work his way into a huge contract this offseason, but that all changed when he was handed a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing supplement.
Had that suspension not been handed down, Cabrera would've been in line to receive far more than the $16 million contract he signed with Toronto, so the Blue Jays can be thankful they're getting him for a relative steal.
Along with Cabrera, the team brought in a slew of big names that should shift the balance of power in the division and give Toronto a great chance to contend for postseason position.
Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck all made their way north of the border via Miami, giving Toronto two All-Star-caliber starting pitchers and a game-changing shortstop.
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