MLB Offseason Grades for All 30 Teams After Josh Hamilton to the Angels
For any MLB team, a successful offseason is one that improves the current roster and solidifies the long-term plan. The following grades reflect that simple criteria.
Trades, waiver claims and free-agent signings were influences in every case. For certain clubs, retirements and recent injuries have been significant, too. Moreover, teams are being held accountable for missed opportunities and any weaknesses that haven't been addressed yet this winter.
The "key additions" for these teams are players who didn't finish 2012 with the organization, but figure to contend for a 25-man roster spot. Most "key subtractions" have found new homes already, while others are free agents who will not be pursued by their former teams.
Let's assess offseason performance thus far.
*On each slide, "all offseason activity" links to MLBDepthCharts, which provides a comprehensive list of transactions.
Arizona Diamondbacks: C
Justin Upton hasn't been traded...yet.
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Key additions: IF/OF Lars Anderson, RP Heath Bell, 3B Eric Chavez, SS Didi Gregorius, SP Brandon McCarthy, RP Tony Sipp.
Key subtractions: RP Matt Albers, SP Trevor Bauer, RP Bryan Shaw, CF Chris Young.
The Arizona Diamondbacks spent much of November shopping Justin Upton for an experienced and controllable shortstop. Ultimately, they acquired Gregorius in a three-team trade, though he just made his MLB debut last September. Is he ready for the everyday job?
Chavez fits well as a platoon player and Young was expensive and expendable. McCarthy is a steady strike-thrower who will be a great influence in the clubhouse.
But the D-Backs may have given up too early on Bauer considering his potential.
Atlanta Braves: B+
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Key additions: CF B.J. Upton, RP Jordan Walden.
Key subtractions: SP Tommy Hanson, OF Eric Hinske.
Many of the older free-agent outfielders were on the cusp of decline, so the Atlanta Braves overpaid for Upton, who just recently turned 28. It's a safe investment that could look great in hindsight if he ever fully realizes his potential (or at least rebounds from a .298 OBP).
Atlanta didn't have space for Hanson in the rotation and they were fortunate to get a cheap middle reliever in exchange.
The team intends to move Martin Prado to third base, but that would mean acquiring another outfielder. Perhaps management will make a play for Cody Ross.
Baltimore Orioles: C+
The Orioles did not tender a contract to Mark Reynolds.
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Key additions: 2B Alexi Casilla.
Key subtractions: 1B/3B Mark Reynolds.
Cutting ties with Reynolds was the right move. The Baltimore Orioles lineup would be stronger if it included a power hitter with better contact ability. Until the O's make a move for one, however, this cannot be considered a successful offseason.
Baltimore really needs an innings eater and GM Dan Duquette tells MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli that re-signing Joe Saunders has been discussed. The bullpen pitched more often than most in baseball and shouldn't be relied upon to duplicate its brilliance in 2013.
Boston Red Sox: B
Shane Victorino is Boston's new starting right fielder.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Key additions: SP Ryan Dempster, SS Stephen Drew, OF Jonny Gomes, 1B/C Mike Napoli, C David Ross, RP Koji Uehara, RF Shane Victorino.
Key subtractions: none.
Plenty of free-agent action, including a few questionable signings.
Dempster fared poorly during his stint with the Texas Rangers. His pitching against AL teams prior to that wasn't impressive, either. The Boston Red Sox are gambling on a right-hander entering his age-36 season.
Gomes has ugly platoon splits, so it's unclear why the team gave him a multiyear deal.
Yet Boston did well by signing Uehara, whose strikeout-to-walk ratio is off the charts. He's an elite setup man when healthy and his base salary will only be $4.25 million. Also, Victorino makes sense as somebody who could slide over to center field if Jacoby Ellsbury departs next winter.
The Red Sox have guaranteed Drew $9.5 million with another $500,000 in performance bonuses. That's not too bad for the most reputable middle infielder available. He'll serve as a stop gap while Jose Iglesias finishes developing in the minors.
Chicago Cubs: B+
Alfonso Soriano is on the trading block.
John Gress/Getty Images
Key additions: SP Scott Baker, SP Scott Feldman, RP Kyuji Fujikawa, OF Nate Schierholtz.
Key subtractions: 1B Bryan LaHair.
Like Matt Garza, Baker and Feldman could be flipped for prospects next summer if they restore their value during the early months. Both signed one-year contracts and won't restrict the Chicago Cubs from spending elsewhere as the rebuilding progresses.
The Cubs received nearly $1 million by selling LaHair to Japan. He didn't figure into their future plans, anyway.
The Cubs missed out on right-hander Anibal Sanchez with a five-year offer that fell short of Detroit's. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Theo Epstein maxed out at $77 million, whereas Sanchez later signed for $80 million.
Alfonso Soriano is expected to be traded soon, but that would take much-needed balance out of the lineup. Outfielders David DeJesus and Schierholtz really struggle against left-handed pitching.
Chicago White Sox: A-
Jake Peavy re-signed with the White Sox.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Key additions: IF Jeff Keppinger.
Key subtractions: RP Phil Humber, 3B Kevin Youkilis.
Thankfully, free agent Jake Peavy quickly agreed to a two-year, $29 million contact. It's a good deal for the Chicago White Sox if he avoids the disabled list.
Youkilis was an important contributor on the 2012 team, but new GM Rick Hahn found a great replacement at a discount. Keppinger provides greater versatility at one-third of the average annual price.
With Brett Myers available on the open market, Chicago should probably add another bullpen arm.
Cincinnati Reds: A
David Maxwell/Getty Images
Key additions: OF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jack Hannahan.
Key subtractions: RP Ryan Madson, CF Drew Stubbs.
Choo is a clear upgrade over Stubbs in center field. Even better, the Cincinnati Reds swayed the Cleveland Indians to throw in cash to make up the 2013 salary difference.
With Aroldis Chapman transitioning to the rotation, they re-signed Jonathan Broxton.
The Reds might be out of money if they bring back Scott Rolen in a reserve role. Already, though, they look like a juggernaut.
Cleveland Indians: B
Trevor Bauer has the potential to be a No. 1 starter.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Key additions: RP Matt Albers, SP Trevor Bauer, 1B/3B Mark Reynolds, RP Bryan Shaw, CF Drew Stubbs.
Key subtractions: IF/OF Lars Anderson, 3B Jack Hannahan, OF Shin-Soo Choo, RP Tony Sipp.
Bauer and Stubbs will be under team control through the middle of the decade. By then, the Cleveland Indians hope to be relevant again.
The added bullpen depth foreshadows that the Tribe may trade closer Chris Perez. It's in the team's best interest considering his cost and complaints.
Another starting pitcher is definitely on the shopping list.
Colorado Rockies: B-
Colorado has listened to offers for center fielder Dexter Fowler.
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Key additions: RP Wilton Lopez.
Key subtractions: SP Alex White.
The Colorado Rockies hoped to revamp their pitching staff this offseason.
They've made one decent move so far, exchanging underwhelming Alex White for Houston Astros reliever Wilton Lopez. It adds a bit to their payroll (Lopez is first-time arbitration eligible), but the 29-year-old has the high ground ball rate and fastball command to succeed at high altitude.
Rockies officials admit that they "sorely need a dependable starter" to bolster the rotation, according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding. Outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Dexter Fowler could be dealt to acquire one.
If neither depart, Colorado is expected to explore free agency.
Detroit Tigers: A-
Torii Hunter signed for two years and $26 million.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Key additions: RF Torii Hunter.
Key subtractions: RP Jose Valverde, DH Delmon Young.
Reports suggested that as many as a dozen teams had interest in Hunter. On the Detroit Tigers, he's expected to bat in the No. 2 spot between Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera.
Victor Martinez will return from an ACL injury in 2013, so Young is out of the picture.
GM Dan Dombrowski has confidence that prospect Bruce Rondon can take over as closer, but his wildness in the minor leagues suggests otherwise. The Tigers could use another veteran reliever to compete with him for the job in spring training.
Houston Astros: B
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Key additions: RP Josh Fields, SP/RP Phil Humber, 1B Carlos Pena, SP Alex White.
Key subtractions: RP Wilton Lopez.
The Houston Astros selected Fields with the first pick in the Rule IV draft earlier this month. That ensures he'll be on the 25-man roster throughout the summer.
The 27-year-old had an ugly walk rate as a professional until last season when he dominated within the Boston Red Sox system.
White will fight for a rotation spot, but the Astros could have addressed another position with the trade. Claiming Humber off waivers in late November seemingly gave them enough starting candidates.
By signing Pena, Houston has presumably ended its pursuit of Lance Berkman. It's a low-risk deal, as Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that only $2.9 million is guaranteed.
Kansas City Royals: B
The Royals overpaid to retain Jeremy Guthrie.
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Key additions: SP Wade Davis, SP Ervin Santana, SP James Shields.
Key subtractions: OF Wil Myers, SP Jake Odorizzi.
The Kansas City Royals held true their promise to revamp the starting rotation. Shields is the ace they've been waiting for and the team has nice depth behind him.
However, they weren't wise to give Jeremy Guthrie $25 million. His strong outings after the 2012 All-Star break didn't reverse the aging process. His best years are already behind him.
In that trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, K.C. surrendered two high-ceiling prospects. The Royals may regret that later on.
Los Angeles Angels: B-
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Key additions: SP Joe Blanton, RP Sean Burnett, LF Josh Hamilton, SP Tommy Hanson.
Key subtractions: SP Zack Greinke, SP Dan Haren, IF Maicer Izturis, SP Ervin Santana, RP Jordan Walden.
There's plenty to digest here.
The Hamilton signing is excellent in the short term. His left-handed swing brings balance to a lineup previously led by Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, all of whom swing from the other side. Plus, getting him means that the rival Texas Rangers didn't.
On the other hand, his durability concerns and past addiction make it highly unlikely that he'll be a $25 million-per-year player toward the end of the deal.
Wild Walden is gone from the Los Angeles Angels bullpen and Burnett has been added. That's an obvious upgrade.
The team's rotation depth, however, remains suspect.
Blanton is very vulnerable to home runs, only a few of which Trout will be able to rob. That multiyear deal is not justified.
Hanson doesn't qualify as a solid mid-rotation option, either. He has been losing velocity and underachieving in the National League. The right-hander showed great promise as a prospect, but back and shoulder injuries have lowered his ceiling.
Los Angeles Dodgers: B+
Brandon League's three-year deal was ill-advised.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Key additions: SP Zack Greinke, SP Ryu Hyun-jin, IF/OF Skip Schumaker.
Key subtractions: SP Joe Blanton, RF Shane Victorino.
Expense isn't an issue for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will inevitably smash the National League record with their 2013 payroll.
Brandon League has never possessed the consistent control of a dependable closer. This team had no business re-signing him for three years with Kenley Jansen already on board.
That said, L.A. desperately needed to solidify its rotation behind Clayton Kershaw. Greinke and Ryu should combine for 400 innings and nearly as many strikeouts in each of the next six seasons.
The Dodgers are far from done. They've been listening to offers for young shortstop Dee Gordon as well as surplus starting pitchers Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang. Which of them gets dealt—and for how much—will certainly affect their offseason grade.
Miami Marlins: D
Miami moved many of its best players in November's blockbuster.
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Key additions: SP Henderson Alvarez, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, C Jeff Mathis, OF Juan Pierre.
Key subtractions: IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, C John Buck, SP Mark Buehrle, SP Josh Johnson, SS Jose Reyes.
Let's remember that the Miami Marlins were already in terrible shape entering the winter because they utterly failed during the 2012 season.
The Fish can take pride in the little things, like the fact that they haven't traded superstar Giancarlo Stanton yet. Moreover, Miami flipped Yunel Escobar for a promising infield prospect and dumped Buck's and Johnson's expiring contracts.
Milwaukee Brewers: C
Burke Badenhop isn't going to lead the Brewers to the postseason.
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Key additions: RP Burke Badenhop, RP Travis Webb.
Key subtractions: none.
The Milwaukee Brewers have focused on improving their pitching staff, but GM Doug Melvin is reluctant to spend on true difference-makers.
Badenhop doesn't intimidate like most other MLB setup men do. Webb, who has never pitched in the majors, will make Milwaukee's bullpen solely because he's left-handed.
Minnesota Twins: C
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Key additions: SP Kevin Correia, SP Mike Pelfrey (pending), SP Vance Worley.
Key subtractions: SP Scott Baker, 2B Alexi Casilla, OF Ben Revere, CF Denard Span.
The Minnesota Twins have more confidence in their starting rotation than they did two months ago, but not much. None of their three newcomers has ever pitched in the American League.
Of them, Pelfrey probably has the most potential. He pitched nearly 900 innings with the New York Mets and hasn't turned 30 yet. You wonder, though, why the Twins signed this Tommy John survivor instead of their own Scott Baker. They ultimately saved $1.5 million, but lost some peace of mind.
Meanwhile, the outfield is now two-thirds empty.
New York Mets: B+
David Wright's contract extension will make him a Met for life.
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Key additions: C John Buck, C Travis d'Arnaud.
Key subtractions: OF Jason Bay, SP R.A. Dickey, SP Mike Pelfrey, C Josh Thole, OF Andres Torres.
Extending David Wright makes everything seem OK. He's now under contract into the next decade.
Though fans won't be pleased with the Dickey deal, it was made in the franchise's best interest. After weeks of negotiating, the New York Mets accepted that they couldn't afford the contract the NL Cy Young award winner sought. Might as well sell high on him.
All the reports about d'Arnaud are very encouraging, particularly the news that his knee is healthy. Pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard also has a high ceiling. We'll see him by 2015 (if not earlier).
The Mets just need to figure out their vacancy in center field.
New York Yankees: C
Kevin Youkilis will play third base until Alex Rodriguez is healthy.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Key additions: OF Ichiro Suzuki (pending), 3B Kevin Youkilis.
Key subtractions: 3B Eric Chavez, OF Andruw Jones, C Russell Martin, OF Nick Swisher.
The New York Yankees knew they wouldn't be retaining all their free agents. GM Brian Cashman prioritized pitching above all else and quickly re-signed Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera to one-year deals.
Ownership's mandate to lower payroll by 2014 has led to some embarrassment. New York lost a Russell Martin bidding war to the Pittsburgh Pirates! It's unclear who the team's primary catcher will be next season.
Derek Jeter (ankle) is questionable for Opening Day—and fat—while Alex Rodriguez (hip) will certainly miss a chunk of the regular season. The Yankees overpaid for injury-prone Youkilis to fill in at third base.
Oakland Athletics: B+
The Athletics have great outfield depth after adding Chris Young.
Ralph Freso/Getty Images
Key additions: CF Chris Young, SS Hiroyuki Nakajima.
Key subtractions: OF Jonny Gomes, SP Brandon McCarthy, SS Cliff Pennington.
Entering 2013, the Oakland Athletics will boast one of Major League Baseball's deepest outfields. It's unclear what will become of Coco Crisp, but starting Young between Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick will make for a very powerful threesome.
Re-signing Bartolo Colon doesn't quite compensate for the loss of McCarthy. Though his suspension will end in early April, there's no way of knowing how he'll compete without performance-enhancing drugs. Expect his velocity to drop.
The vacancy at shortstop was weighing down Oakland's grade for awhile, but GM Billy Beane should be commended for inking Nakajima. The terms—two years and $6.5 million—make him a terrific bargain compared to Stephen Drew.
Philadelphia Phillies: B+
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Key additions: RP Mike Adams, SP John Lannan, OF Ben Revere, IF Michael Young.
Key subtractions: RP Josh Lindblom, SP Vance Worley.
Signing Lannan to be the rotation's No. 4 guy for a $2.5 million base salary was a no-brainer. So was trading for Young when the Texas Rangers put themselves on the hook for $10 million.
The Philadelphia Phillies strengthened their bridge to Jonathan Papelbon and found a long-term center fielder, but there ought to be more pop added to this lineup.
Pittsburgh Pirates: B-
GM Neil Huntington called signing Russell Martin his "big move."
Al Bello/Getty Images
Key additions: C Russell Martin.
Key subtractions: C Rod Barajas, SP Kevin Correia.
Pittsburgh Pirates catchers were historically bad at throwing out would-be base-stealers last season. Martin will remedy that while joining Andrew McCutchen as a power threat from the right side.
The starting rotation isn't full yet and closer Joel Hanrahan could be dealt soon. The Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be a likely trade partner. They have a surplus of experienced arms.
San Diego Padres: C
Yasmani Grandal will miss nearly one-third of the 2013 season.
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
Key additions: SP Tyson Ross.
Key subtractions: RP Josh Spence.
A 50-game PED suspension handed down by Major League Baseball will keep catcher Yasmani Grandal off the field until Memorial Day. The punishment prevents the San Diego Padres from shopping Nick Hundley.
Andrew Cashner suffered a lacerated tendon in his right thumb while hunting. "To say he'll be ready by Opening Day is not realistic," according to GM Josh Byrnes.
It's been a relatively disappointing offseason, but Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports about a potential big-name addition:
Padres and Edwin Jackson continue to negotiate towards 3- year deal according to Padres source— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 16, 2012
Jackson is arguably the best starting pitcher left as the free-agent market shrinks. He's durable, consistent and just 29 years old. The Padres, of course, suffered countless losses to their pitching staff last season due to injury.
No reason to celebrate until they agree to terms.
San Francisco Giants: B+
The Giants re-signed Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Key additions: RP Chad Gaudin, OF Andres Torres.
Key subtractions: OF Melky Cabrera.
It was important for the San Francisco Giants to keep their postseason heroes. Free agents Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro all signed contracts of three-plus years in length.
The Giants would be even more satisfied with their offseason if they found a way to lock up NL MVP Buster Posey. He's first-time arbitration eligible this winter.
Seattle Mariners: B
Chone Figgins has been released after an awful stint in Seattle.
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
Key additions: OF Jason Bay.
Key subtractions: IF/OF Chone Figgins.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma re-signed for $14 million a few days into free agency. Recall that older, less effective starting pitchers have gotten more lucrative deals (e.g. Joe Blanton). Oliver Perez's contract became official the same week. He'll earn $1.5 million to pitch out of the bullpen in 2013.
Bay, a native of the Pacific Northwest, signed for just $1 million. He offers a high reward at minimal risk and will presumably begin next season in a platoon role.
The Seattle Mariners released Figgins with $8 million remaining on his contract. According to Baseball-Reference.com, he provided -1.6 WAR. The quality and quantity of his playing time decreased each year.
GM Jack Zduriencik has completed some shrewd moves, but Seattle's offseason cannot be held in high regard until he acquires an established outfielder. The M's are linked to prominent free agents like Michael Bourn, Cody Ross and Nick Swisher.
St. Louis Cardinals: A-
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Key additions: RP Randy Choate, IF/OF Ty Wigginton.
Key subtractions: IF/OF Skip Schumaker.
In great shape to contend entering this offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals have been relatively quiet.
Choate becomes the first LOOGY in MLB history to sign for three guaranteed years, but his splits justify it. He has allowed a measly .563 OPS to left-handed batters in his career and fared even better against them the past couple seasons.
The Cardinals got encouraging news about Rafael Furcal's elbow—it's completely healed.
Tampa Bay Rays: B+
James Shields, one of baseball's most durable pitcher, is gone.
Charles Sonnenblick/Getty Images
Key additions: SS Yunel Escobar, SP Roberto Hernandez (pending), 1B James Loney, OF Wil Myers, SP Jake Odorizzi.
Key subtractions: RP Burke Badenhop, SP Wade Davis, IF Jeff Keppinger, 1B Carlos Pena, SP James Shields, CF B.J. Upton.
The back end of the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen remains intact. The team picked up Fernando Rodney's team option and re-signed Joel Peralta on very friendly terms.
The Escobar acquisition raised some eyebrows because of the concerns about his maturity and work ethic. If there's anybody who can make him a team player, it's manager Joe Maddon. Regardless, Escobar's experience on turf will make him an asset to Tampa Bay's defense.
Despite shedding lots of salary in the Kansas City Royals trade, the Rays still have solid starting rotation depth.
They wisely extended Evan Longoria before the New York Mets came to an agreement with David Wright. Waiting until after that new standard was set may have cost the organization millions of dollars.
Still left on the shopping list: designated hitter, catching depth, right-handed platoon partner for Loney.
Texas Rangers: F
The Rangers traded their all-time hits leader, Michael Young.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Key additions: RP Joakim Soria.
Key subtractions: RP Mike Adams, SP Scott Feldman, LF Josh Hamilton, C/1B Mike Napoli, RP Koji Uehara, IF Michael Young.
It's been a train wreck so far.
The Texas Rangers needed to eat most of Young's salary to trade him. They will face Hamilton 19 times each year and Napoli nearly as often. Texas let Uehara walk, but made a longer commitment to Soria, who's coming off his second Tommy John surgery.
This team was expected to acquire either Hamilton or Zack Greinke, only to miss out on both. Holes atop their rotation and in the outfield haven't been filled yet. Doing so will likely cost Texas some highly touted prospects.
Toronto Blue Jays: A
Toronto has spent lavishly to improve.
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Key additions: IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, SP Mark Buehrle, OF Melky Cabrera, SP R.A. Dickey, IF Maicer Izturis, SP Josh Johnson, SS Jose Reyes, C Josh Thole.
Key subtractions: SP Henderson Alvarez, C Travis d'Arnaud, SS Yunel Escobar, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, C Jeff Mathis.
The Toronto Blue Jays have gone from punching bag to AL East favorites this offseason. What used to be an injury-torn starting rotation will compare favorably to most in baseball, especially after acquiring reigning NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey.
Simply, the Blue jays are mortgaging their future to win now. And it looks like they will.
Washington Nationals: B+
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Key additions: SP Dan Haren, CF Denard Span.
Key subtractions: RP Sean Burnett, SP John Lannan.
It's hard to argue with any decisions the Washington Nationals are making. They amazingly convinced Haren to sign a one-year deal and needed just one prospect to acquire Span for center field.
Still, the Adam LaRoche negotiations haven't gone well. The two sides "are at a stalemate," reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson, with Washington reluctant to sign him beyond 2014.
The Nationals could simply move Mike Morse to first base if LaRoche goes elsewhere, but he doesn't provide comparable defensive value or plate discipline.