Ranking Every Key MLB Offseason Trade, Free-Agent Signing from Worst to Best
Christmas came early for quite a few players across Major League Baseball.
Between trades and free-agent signings, there has been a whirlwind of activity already, and the offseason isn't even halfway over yet.
Several rosters have already seen a complete makeover, and others simply added complementary pieces.
Here is a complete list of the key transactions thus far, ranked from worst to best.
41. Joe Blanton: Los Angeles Angels
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During the MLB winter meetings, the Los Angeles Angels were on the hunt for pitching. They landed Sean Burnett in one deal to bolster their bullpen and followed up with a two-year, $15 million contract for free-agent starting pitcher Joe Blanton.
Blanton finished last season with a 10-13 record and 4.71 ERA, earning $10 million in the process.
Blanton will give the Angels durability—he's delivered at least 190 innings in six of the past eight seasons—but he's also surrendered close to 30 home runs in each of his past three full seasons.
For fans who expected the Angels to sign Zack Greinke, signing Blanton was a massive disappointment.
40. Shane Victorino: Boston Red Sox
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One of the biggest priorities for the Boston Red Sox this offseason was to bolster their outfield.
They attempted to do just that with the signing of Shane Victorino to a three-year, $39 million contract.
Keith Law of ESPN was just one expert who was completely perplexed by the signing.
Victorino's three-year, $39 million contract with the Boston Red Sox vaults to the top of the rankings of the worst contracts signed so far this offseason, giving him virtually the same total dollars that Angel Pagan—a superior player—will receive in a contract that's a year longer.
The Sox have now squandered a substantial amount of the payroll flexibility they obtained over the summer when they traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers just to rid themselves of two awful contracts, yet they have little to show for their recent spending spree.
Fans posting on forums seem to be in agreement as well. The Sox seem committed to shorter contracts with a higher AAV (Average Annual Value).
In this case, $13 million a year seemed like overkill.
39. Jonny Gomes: Boston Red Sox
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The Boston Red Sox added some right-handed muscle with the signing of free-agent outfielder Jonny Gomes to a two-year, $10 million contract.
Gomes is one of the more personable players in MLB, and he will be a huge help to a Red Sox clubhouse that has had its share of misery the past two seasons.
However, the Red Sox quintupled Gomes' salary from last season for a man who's essentially a platoon player.
Gomes hits .284/.382/.512 against lefties and .223/.307/.425 against righties in his career. Throw in the fact that he's not gifted defensively, and it's clear why many believe the Red Sox paid far too much.
38. Melky Cabrera: Toronto Blue Jays
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Overspending appears to be in vogue this offseason.
Melky Cabrera's new two-year, $16 million contract is a prime example.
Cabrera was "rewarded" with a $2 million raise over last season's salary after disgracing himself and the San Francisco Giants by testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone and then attempting to cover it up.
The Blue Jays can't possibly know how much PEDs affected Cabera's abilities on the field. Giving him two years was indeed perplexing.
The sane course of action would have been a one-year deal and to let Cabrera prove that he can indeed perform without using enhancements.
37. James Shields to Kansas City Royals for Prospect Outfielder Wil Myers
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The Kansas City Royals were desperate to bolster their starting rotation.
In fact, they were so desperate they gave away four top prospects, including the Minor League Player of the Year, to achieve their goal.
The Royals dealt Wil Myers—along with prospects Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi and Patrick Leonard—to the Tampa Bay Rays for starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis.
The Royals certainly bolstered their rotation, but at what cost?
Since 1992, 14 position players have won Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year honors:
1992: Tim Salmon
1993: Manny Ramirez
1994: Derek Jeter
1995: Andruw Jones
1996: Andruw Jones
1997: Paul Konerko
1998: Eric Chavez
2002: Rocco Baldelli
2003: Joe Mauer
2005: Delmon Young
2006: Alex Gordon
2007: Jay Bruce
2008: Matt Wieters
2009: Jason Heyward
2011: Mike Trout
With the exception of Baldelli—who retired at 28 because of injuries—each one of the above players has gone on to great success in MLB.
That's what the Royals gave up in Myers.
Shields presents a good bargain this coming season at $9 million, and the Royals hold a team option for 2014 as well. However, they gave up four top-quality prospects who are now under team control with the Rays for at least the next six seasons.
36. Stephen Drew: Boston Red Sox
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On Monday, the Boston Red Sox took care of another need by signing shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year, $9.5 million contract.
Drew hit a combined .223 with seven home runs and 28 RBI in 79 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland A's last season.
He returned after suffering a badly fractured ankle in 2011. The biggest question surrounding Drew and his return is his lateral mobility. It certainly concerned the Diamondbacks to the point that they didn't feel he was a viable option in their future infield.
If Drew is able to bounce back—so to speak—then it could be a bargain for the Red Sox. They don't seem to be worried about taking short-term chances at this point.
35. Brandon League: Los Angeles Dodgers
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Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti made the bullpen a priority this winter, wanting to keep his group intact.
He partially accomplished that with the signing of Brandon League to a three-year, $22.5 million deal. League will have another year tacked onto the contract for an additional $7.5 million if he finishes 55 games in 2015.
The general consensus, however, was that this was clearly an overpay on the part of the Dodgers. League's FRA (Fair Run Average) was 3.24 last season, not even in the top 100 for relievers. His WAR was ranked 51st among relievers.
However, let's remember: Dodgers president Stan Kasten said they would worry about payroll later.
34. Michael Young to Phillies
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Last week, Texas Rangers long-time infielder Michael Young agreed to waive his no-trade clause and accepted a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. In return, the Phillies sent reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league reliever Lisalverto Bonilla.
The Rangers will also pay the Phillies $10 million of the $16 million owed to Young for the 2013 season.
Young had a down year, hitting just .277 with eight homers and 67 RBI. He will now take over at third base for the Phillies—a position he has not played full-time since 2009.
The deal itself somewhat makes sense for the Phillies, who were looking to replace Placido Polanco. But it only takes care of the position for one season, and they're doing it with a player only one year younger than Polanco.
Young's numbers were down across the board last season. At 36 years of age, it's unlikely Young will all of a sudden find a fountain of youth and get back to numbers posted during his prime.
A risky deal at best.
33. Tommy Hanson to Los Angeles Angels for Reliever Jordan Walden
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The Atlanta Braves shipped starting pitcher Tommy Hanson to the Los Angeles Angels in late November in exchange for reliever Jordan Walden.
A fairly even swap for both teams.
Hanson is under team control for the next three seasons, Walden for four. Both are relatively the same age (25), and both have tremendous upside.
It's still a bit risky for the Angels, however. Hanson regressed last year, posting a 4.48 ERA in 31 starts and a significantly lower strikeout rate.
The Angels may have beefed up their offense with the addition of Josh Hamilton, but adding starters Hanson and Joe Blanton to replace Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana wasn't quite what Angels fans had in mind.
32. Jeremy Guthrie: Kansas City Royals
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Jeremy Guthrie posted solid numbers following his trade to the Kansas City Royals last season. After a disastrous stint with the Colorado Rockies, Guthrie was 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts for the Royals.
It was apparently enough to earn him a three-year, $25 million contract.
Guthrie has posted one winning season in six full years with a lifetime 4.28 ERA. Counting on him to repeat his brief success over the next three seasons is a stretch.
31. Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati Reds
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In a three-team, nine-player trade, the Cincinnati Reds acquired an outfielder who could be the answer to their problems in the leadoff spot of their batting order.
The Arizona Diamondbacks gave up on a top pitching prospect. In return, they may have gotten the shortstop of their future.
Shin-Soo Choo was dealt by the Cleveland Indians to the Reds. The Tribe also sent relief pitcher Tony Sipp to the Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks dealt top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer to the Indians after Bauer reportedly fell out of favor with Diamondbacks management. They also received shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Reds—a need they prioritized this offseason.
In addition, the Indians received underperforming center fielder Drew Stubbs from the Reds.
The deal is good and bad for all three teams involved. The Reds bolstered their offense with the acquisition of Choo, who hit .310 in 99 games at the top of the order last season. Choo is only under contract for one more season, however.
The Diamondbacks may have given up on Bauer too early, despite their misgivings about his pregame routine and workout regime.
Meanwhile, Greorious has been labeled as a great defender with not much of a bat.
And Stubbs was a disappointment, hitting just .213 with a 30.5 percent strikeout rate.
Needs were certainly filled for all teams involved. However, risk is certainly a factor in almost every major piece of this trade as well.
30. Anibal Sanchez: Detroit Tigers
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Earlier this month, it was reported that the Detroit Tigers offered free agent Anibal Sanchez a contract that was insulting.
They made up for it in a big way.
Two weeks later, Sanchez agreed to a five-year, $80 million contract to stay in Motown.
The "insulting" offer was a four-year, $48 million deal.
If that's insulting, then I'm clearly in the wrong line of work.
The original deal actually seemed much more in line with Sanchez's body of work. But since overpaying is the theme of this offseason, apparently the new contract is fair.
29. Zack Greinke: Los Angeles Dodgers
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Speaking of overpaying...
The Los Angeles Dodgers made Zack Greinke the richest right-handed pitcher in baseball, signing him to a six-year, $147 million contract.
Greinke's deal dwarfs the contract signed by San Francisco Giants right-hander Matt Cain, who inked a five-year, $112.5 million extension in April.
And Cain had a better season overall.
28. Jeff Keppinger: Chicago White Sox
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After suffering a broken leg in a fall at home, Jeff Keppinger still signed a three-year, $12 million contract.
The Chicago White Sox have Keppinger penciled in as their third baseman after the departure of Kevin Youkilis. The returning Brent Morel still may have something to say about that, however.
Keppinger hit a career-high .325 last season for the Tampa Bay Rays, with nine homers and 40 RBI. He's also very difficult to strike out and had the highest on-base percentage (.376) against left-handed pitchers in the American League as well.
Overall, not a bad signing for the White Sox, and at a reasonable cost. At worst, Keppinger splits time at third with Morel if he is over the back issues that plagued him last season.
27. Ryan Ludwick: Cincinnati Reds
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Ryan Ludwick was a tremendous bargain for the Cincinnati Reds last season. He hit .275 with 26 home runs and 80 RBI for the bargain price of just $2 million.
Ludwick more than quadrupled his salary as a result, signing a two-year, $15 million contract with a mutual option for a third season.
If Ludwick can match the production over the next two seasons, it would be a relative bargain for the Reds as well, considering some of the other contracts recently signed.
Let's see if Ludwick can replicate his success in a non-contract year.
26. Jake Peavy: Chicago White Sox
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The Chicago White Sox didn't hesitate in declining the 2013 option on Jake Peavy's contract.
But they didn't hesitate in re-signing him either.
Peavy signed a two-year, $29 million contract to remain in Chicago. The White Sox will also pay Peavy the $4 million buyout of his 2013 option in yearly installments beginning in 2016.
Peavy was solid in 2012 and was also pain-free after enduring years of struggles with his shoulder. He was 11-12 with a 3.37 ERA in 32 starts this past season, ranking third in the American League with 23 quality starts as well.
If Peavy continues to stay healthy and provide quality innings, it's a solid deal for the White Sox. Health has everything to do with the quality of this contract.
25. David Ortiz: Boston Red Sox
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The Boston Red Sox wasted little time this offseason in bringing back their star slugger.
Designated hitter David Ortiz signed a two-year, $26 million contract in early November. The deal calls for an additional $4 million in incentives if Ortiz's Achilles tendon doesn't act up again.
Ortiz suffered a sprained Achilles tendon in July and played in only one additional game for the rest of the season. Still, in just 90 games, Ortiz was productive, hitting .318 with 23 home runs, 60 RBI and a 1.026 OPS.
The deal is not devoid of risk, however. Ortiz turned 37 last month, and he's yet to resume baseball activities, with the Achilles tendon still not fully recovered.
24. Russell Martin: Pittsburgh Pirates
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In a market largely devoid of quality catching, Russell Martin was able to capitalize.
Martin signed a two-year, $17 million contract to take over catching duties for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates are hoping that Martin can continue providing pop at the plate and help offer protection for center fielder Andrew McCutchen.
Again, some definite risk involved. First, Martin hit just .211 last season. He struggled to slug above the .400 mark despite the 21 home runs. His strikeout rate is on the rise as well.
On the flip side, Martin's defense is considerably better than that of Rod Barajas. Martin also threw out 24 percent of runners attempting to steal last season. Barajas managed just a six percent rate.
If Martin can raise the average to .240 with 20 homers and 75 RBI and continue providing solid defense, it's a deal that makes sense.
23. Jonathan Broxton: Cincinnati Reds
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With the Cincinnati Reds intending to move closer Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation, they needed to go out and sign a new closer.
They found one right in their own backyard: Jonathan Broxton.
Broxton signed a three-year, $21 million contract to remain in Cincinnati—a sizable increase over his $4 million salary in 2012.
The deal certainly has risks attached. Broxton did enjoy a bounce-back season, posting a combined 27 saves and 2.48 ERA between the Reds and Kansas City Royals.
However, Broxton is nowhere close to being the fireballer that posted a 13.5 K/9 rate while blowing hitters away during his heyday with the Los Angeles Dodgers. While he remained injury-free in 2012, it's still a risk moving forward.
Not to mention the fact that Chapman as a starter is a completely unknown commodity.
22. Dan Haren: Washington Nationals
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The 2012 season was indeed troubling for starter Dan Haren.
After making 214 consecutive starts dating back to 2005, Haren was scratched from a start in June because of lingering back issues. Those back issues forced a trip to the disabled list for the first time in his career as well.
Haren posted a 12-13 record with a 4.33 ERA in 30 starts for the Los Angeles Angels, who declined the $15.5 million option on his contract for the 2013 season.
Haren saw diminished velocity as well, and the Chicago Cubs nixed a potential trade because of concerns about his back.
Only time will tell.
21. Ryan Madson: Los Angeles Angels
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The Los Angeles Angels made several moves to bolster a bullpen that blew an American League-leading 22 saves last season.
Signing Ryan Madson was part of that plan.
The Angels signed Madson to a one-year, $3.5 million contract. Madson underwent Tommy John surgery in April and is expected to be ready by Opening Day.
The Angels feel good about the signing. Dr. Lewis Yocum, the team's medical director, performed the surgery on Madson, and he rehabbed in Anaheim throughout much of the season.
If Madson returns to previous form, the contract is an absolute steal. If not, it's a low-risk, one-year deal at best.
20. Joakim Soria: Texas Rangers
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The Texas Rangers didn't have a whole lot of success in signing their own free agents. But they had no trouble in signing from outside of their organization, despite some risk.
The Rangers inked reliever Joakim Soria to a two-year, $8 million contract in early December. Soria is rehabbing from a second career Tommy John surgery and likely won't be available until at least early May.
Even in announcing the deal, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels recognized the risk factor.
"When he's right, he can be an impactful person in the bullpen. When he comes back, we want him to come back once, get it right, and be a big part of our bullpen."
Yes, when he's right—whether he'll be right again is another issue entirely.
19. Kevin Youkilis: New York Yankees
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Did the New York Yankees overpay to acquire third baseman Kevin Youkilis?
They were left without much of a choice in the matter.
After striking out in efforts to acquire other third basemen, the Yankees inked Youkilis to a one-year, $12 million deal.
The Yankees are now paying $40 million in 2013 for third basemen—the injured Alex Rodriguez is making $28 million.
Youkilis hit a career-low .235 last season for the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, with 19 home runs, 60 RBI and a .745 OPS, also representing a career low.
While the Yankees have concerns with Rodriguez's pending hip surgery that will keep him sidelined for at least six months, Youkilis has health concerns of his own.
The past three seasons have seen Youkilis suffer through a spate of injuries, so if he goes down at any point early in 2013, the Yankees will have the one of the most expensive disabled list memberships in history.
And that's just for one position.
18. Mike Adams: Philadelphia Phillies
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The Philadelphia Phillies took a big step in shoring up their bullpen, signing reliever Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million contract.
Adams will help bridge the gap between the starting rotation and closer Jonathan Papelbon.
He has been one of the most reliable relievers in the majors since 2008, but he suffered through neck and arm stiffness at the end of last season. He had surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome in October.
If Adams makes a full recovery, the Phillies get a reliever who posted a 1.98 ERA and 311 strikeouts in 295 innings since 2008.
17. Mark Reynolds: Cleveland Indians
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The Cleveland Indians have taken a couple of chances on transactions this offseason. One was in trading for center fielder Drew Stubbs.
The other was the signing of Mark Reynolds.
Reynolds inked a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tribe. In Reynolds, the Indians are hoping to add much needed power from the right side of the plate, much like Stubbs.
But in both, the Indians are also taking on low batting averages and high strikeout rates. It could be fun watching balls fly out of the park on a regular basis, but Indians fans can expect close to 400 strikeouts between the two as well.
16. Koji Uehara: Boston Red Sox
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The Boston Red Sox made a move to bolster its bullpen with the signing of Koji Uehara.
Inking a one-year, $4.25 million deal, Uehara is expected to deliver for the Red Sox what he gave to the Texas Rangers last season. That in itself was pretty spectacular—Uehara posted a sparkling 1.75 ERA and 0.64 WHIP in 37 appearances.
Uehara's 14.3 K/BB rate was one of the best ever recorded in the modern era, and he will likely serve as one of the setup men for closer Andrew Bailey.
15. Nate McLouth: Baltimore Orioles
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Outfielder Nate McLouth was a key contributor for the Baltimore Orioles down the stretch last season and in the playoffs.
They're hoping McLouth continues his resurgence.
The Orioles signed McLouth to a one-year, $2 million deal with incentives that could pay him another $500,000.
McLouth hit .268 with seven home runs and 19 RBI in 55 games, providing solid insurance for manager Buck Showalter in the absence of Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis.
McLouth will likely fill the fourth outfielder role as Reimold returns from a neck injury. But from the Orioles' perspective, $2 million is a small price to pay for a known commodity as insurance.
14. Andy Pettite: New York Yankees
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Andy Pettitte took a little while in determining whether or not he'd be back for the 2013 season. But once he made up his mind, the New York Yankees pounced.
Pettitte signed a one-year, $12 million contract to return to the Bronx for one more season.
He was 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA, pitching effectively throughout the season despite missing three months with a fractured fibula.
Pettitte steps in behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda in the starting rotation. For the Yankees, signing a deal with Pettitte was almost a foregone conclusion. For them, the money was well worth it.
13. Hiroki Kuroda: New York Yankees
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While Andy Pettitte signing with the New York Yankees may have been a foregone conclusion, it wasn't quite the same with Hiroki Kuroda.
Solid signing by the Yankees here. Kuroda was indispensable last season, posting a 16-11 record and 3.32 ERA in 33 starts.
12. Denard Span to Washington Nationals
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The Washington Nationals took care of a need for a pure center fielder with the acquisition of Denard Span.
Span was acquired from the Minnesota Twins for young fireballing right-hander Alex Meyer.
Span is young and affordable. He's signed through the 2014 season with a $9 million option for 2015. The move allows the Nationals to move Bryce Harper to a more preferred corner outfield spot.
Span also gives the Nationals good speed, along with excellent defense up the middle.
General manager Mike Rizzo avoided the temptation of signing pricier free agents such as B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn. With Span, he saves a bundle of cash and fixes a long-standing problem in the process.
11. Ben Revere to Philadelphia Phillies
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With the acquisition of center fielder Ben Revere, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. found an even less expensive option than fellow GM Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals.
With Denard Span going to the Nats, Amaro pulled off a deal of his own with the Minnesota Twins, acquiring Revere for starting pitcher Vance Worley and minor league prospect Trevor May.
In dealing away two starting outfielders, the Twins upgraded their pitching—a clear need entering the postseason.
For the Phillies, Amaro now has his potential long-term answer in center field to replace Shane Victorino. Definitely a solid deal for both sides.
10. David Wright: New York Mets
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The New York Mets may have finally been successful in keeping a homegrown product.
Third baseman David Wright signed an eight-year, $138 contract extension, likely keeping him in New York for the duration of his career.
The Mets will be paying Wright through the 2025 season, with $15.5 million being deferred.
Make no mistake about it, this was a deal that the Mets had to finalize. If Wright was left hanging and possibly traded, owner Fred Wilpon would have seen an even-more empty stadium than what he's dealing with now.
The Mets historically have had trouble keeping its homegrown star players. Tom Seaver was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977 in one of the most unpopular deals in franchise history.
At least Wilpon has one good signing to hang his hat on.
9. B.J. Upton: Atlanta Braves
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The Philadelphia Phillies figured to be huge players in the market for the services of free-agent center fielder B.J. Upton.
However, the division-rival Atlanta Braves got to Upton.
Upton agreed to a five-year, $75.25 million contract, supplanting Michael Bourn as the regular center fielder.
Upton brings a mix of youth, athleticism, power from the right side and solid defense up the middle. The knock against Upton has been the low batting average and the high strikeout rate.
Upton hasn't hit above .250 since 2008, and his strikeout percentage increased to 26.7 percent last season.
While the Braves would like Upton to be more selective and get on base a bit more, they also love the blend of power and speed.
Upton helps out Dan Uggla on the right side of the plate to complement left-handed sluggers Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann.
8. Brandon McCarthy: Arizona Diamondbacks
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There is definitely an element of risk in signing any pitcher with a history of arm troubles.
For the Arizona Diamondbacks, the risk could reap a huge reward.
The Diamondbacks signed Brandon McCarthy to a two-year, $15.5 million contract. McCarthy is reunited with former teammate Trevor Cahill and gives Arizona a solid top four in the starting rotation, along with Ian Kennedy and Wade Miley.
McCarthy's previous shoulder issues are certainly a concern and present an element of risk. But a 3.29 ERA in his two years in Oakland were enough to convince the Diamondbacks that the risk was worth it.
7. Torii Hunter: Detroit Tigers
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One of the weak spots in the Detroit Tigers lineup was taken care of with the signing of Torii Hunter.
Hunter inked a two-year, $26 million deal with the Tigers in November. His signing takes care of a position that has been somewhat of a black hole in Detroit for the past two years.
Hunter hit a career-high .313 last season for the Los Angeles Angels with 16 home runs and 92 RBI. That represents a major upgrade over last year's right fielders for the Tigers, who hit a combined .235 with 13 home runs, ranking last in the American League in OPS.
6. Marco Scutaro: San Francisco Giants
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Second baseman Marco Scutaro earned his paycheck and more last season for the San Francisco Giants. Now, he'll enjoy a nice raise as well.
Scutaro signed a three-year, $20 million contract to remain with the Giants, helping keep intact the roster that captured the World Series title.
Scutaro hit .362 in 61 regular-season games, won the NLCS MVP award and drove in the winning run in Game 4 of the World Series against the Detroit Tigers.
I'd say that warranted a raise.
5. Angel Pagan: San Francisco Giants
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Not only was it a priority for the San Francisco Giants to retain second baseman Marco Scutaro, but they had no intentions of letting go of center fielder Angel Pagan either.
Pagan signed a four-year, $40 million contract to remain with the Giants.
Pagan was a spark at the top of the order for manager Bruce Bochy, hitting .288 with a career-best 38 doubles and a league-leading 15 triples.
Pagan was picked up in the previous offseason in a swap of center fielders with the New York Mets; the Mets receiving Andres Torres in return.
Torres had a disappointing one season in New York and, ironically, returned to San Francisco, signing a one-year, $2 million deal.
Pagan was a perfect fit in the Giants offense at the top of the order. At just 31 years of age, he figures to keep producing at a steady level throughout the life of the deal.
4. Ryan Dempster: Boston Red Sox
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The Boston Red Sox have four starters on their roster who were admittedly shaky at times last season. Now, they have a veteran to help add some stability.
Ryan Dempster agreed to a two-year, $26.5 million contract to join the Red Sox. He will help stabilize a starting rotation that includes Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales. John Lackey will also return from Tommy John surgery to add depth as well.
It was clear from the start that the Red Sox wanted a veteran who could add the potential of 180-to-200 innings, and more for the short term.
The Red Sox have a number of prospects who could well be ready to contribute as early as 2014. Allen Webster and Matt Barnes sit atop that list.
Dempster represents good short-term value in helping to bridge the gap between now and when those youngsters are ready.
3. Josh Hamilton: Los Angeles Angels
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Raise your hand if you thought the Los Angeles Angels were front-runners for the services of free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Didn't think so.
The Angels pulled off an even bigger surprise than the signing of Albert Pujols last offseason. They swooped in and signed Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract.
Without question, this was one of the boldest signings of the offseason. Hamilton gives the Angels a potent weapon in their offense, along with Mike Trout and Pujols.
It also gives general manager Jerry DiPoto more trade chips in a bid to acquire another starting pitcher. With Hamilton on board, the Angels now have an overabundance of position players. Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, Kendrys Morales and even Mark Trumbo could now be considered trade chips in an effort to bolster the starting rotation.
Does the Hamilton deal present major risk? Absolutely. Hamilton's substance abuse issues and injury history certainly can't be ignored.
But for DiPoto and owner Arte Moreno, the possible reward far outweighs the risk. Subsequent deals that could be made would also make the Angels even that much better.
2. R.A. Dickey to Toronto Blue Jays
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Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos had already added four All-Stars to his roster before last week.
He decided that one more was needed.
The Blue Jays acquired R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets in a seven-player deal that was finalized on Monday.
Dickey agreed to a two-year extension for $25 million and will now front a rotation that includes Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow.
Anthopoulos has added Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera as well, adding five former All-Stars to his roster.
The Blue Jays clearly gave up a lot in letting go top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
However, after the earlier trade with the Miami Marlins that brought over Johnson, Buehrle, Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck, along with the signing of Cabrera, it's clear what the Blue Jays' intent is.
To win now.
1. Reyes, Buehrle, Johnson, Bonifacio and Buck to Toronto Blue Jays
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The 2013 MLB offseason got off to a rousing start with the announcement of a blockbuster deal that shocked the baseball world.
The Toronto Blue Jays acquired shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck and center fielder/second baseman Emilio Bonifacio from the Miami Marlins.
In return, the Marlins received shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, right-handed pitcher Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis, outfield prospect Jake Marisnick, pitching prospects Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino and cash.
The trade didn't just put the Blue Jays in the conversation for the AL East Division title next season, it vaulted them into pennant contenders as well.
Reyes will likely sit atop the batting order, along with newly acquired left fielder Melky Cabrera, providing table-setting opportunities for sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista.
Johnson and Buehrle will help provide quality in a starting rotation that was badly beaten up last season.
For a team that hasn't had a sniff of the playoffs since their last World Series title in 1993, this deal is a game-changer and could very well help end a very long drought.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.