Shields against the Rangers, Sept. 9.
The 2013 Major League Baseball offseason has been one of the more active, exciting and eye-opening offseasons in recent memory thus far.
As MLB prepares to head into the New Year, the clock is ticking on teams looking to assemble competitive rosters on Opening Day.
For teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, the offseason is for the most part coming to a close, while teams like the Seattle Mariners have yet to make a significant move.
Here are some notable winners and losers this offseason heading into the New Year.
Haren against the White Sox, Sept. 22.
The unprecedented 98-win season the Washington Nationals put together in 2012 came to a disappointing end after dropping Game 5 in the NLDS to the Cardinals.
This was a pretty complete team in 2012, but with the free-agency loss of pitcher Edwin Jackson, they needed to fill a whole in the rotation.
GM Mike Rizzo flashed some leather of his own, going out and acquiring one of the biggest names in free agency this year, Dan Haren.
Haren, who will earn $13 million in 2013, will join a rotation which includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler. Haren will be the only member of the rotation who failed to post a winning record and an ERA under 4 in 2012.
Haren will fit nicely into the young Nationals rotation, one that’s turning into one of the most formidable in baseball.
The acquisition of Denard Span from the Twins filled one of the only blatant holes on this Nationals team last season, a leadoff hitting center fielder.
The Nationals lost their top pitching prospect in Alex Meyer in the deal, but with a young rotation with four guys under 30, the move was beneficial in the end.
The Nationals will be a serious World Series contender in 2012, and the rest of the NL should be afraid. Very afraid.
Keppinger vs. the Red Sox, Sept. 20.
The Chicago White Sox have been one of the more stagnant teams in baseball and have yet to fill the many holes that now sit vacantly in their lineup.
President of baseball operations Kenny Williams and GM Rick Hahn need to make some noise in a division making plenty of it.
Among some notable names the Sox have lost are reliever Brian Bruney, Orlando Hudson, Francisco Liriano, second baseman Jose Lopez, A.J. Pierzynski, starting pitcher Philip Humber and Kevin Youkilis.
On Dec. 10, the Sox signed 32-year-old Jeff Keppinger to a three-year deal worth $12 million.
Keppinger enjoyed an excellent season with Tampa Bay in 2012, batting .325 with 40 RBI and nine home runs.
For the price, the deal is decent, but Keppinger, whose breakout season came late in his career, is an offensive gamble heading into next season.
The White Sox need to make some deals to strengthen their bullpen, which posted the third-worst ERA in baseball at 4.52, and fill the gaping hole at catcher.
If the Sox remain stagnant this offseason, they won’t even touch the division rival Tigers, and their playoff hopes will likely be crushed.
Hunter slugging one on Sept. 30 against the Rangers.
The American League Champion Detroit Tigers were a team to be reckoned with in 2012.
After a few slumping bats that cut their playoff run short in the World Series, a veteran bat could be the difference in hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy.
GM Dave Dombrowski went out and picked up one of the most consistent outfielders offensively and defensively over the last decade in Torii Hunter.
Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glover and four-time All-Star, will be a nice addition to the arsenal of young talent in the Tiger outfield.
The most important move of the Tigers this offseason was the signing of Anibal Sanchez on Monday for five years, $80 million.
Dombrowski called long-term pitching contracts “risky," reported The Detroit News, but that’s hardly the case with Sanchez.
Sanchez has posted an ERA of under four in each of the last four seasons, a statistic few free-agent pitchers could claim this offseason.
He also was the youngest starter in free agency entering the prime of his career, making the $80 million contract warranted and worth the money.
The question going into next season will be, did the Tigers do enough to compete with the Blue Jays’ new lineup?
Right now, the Tigers organization is cutting it close, but Victor Martinez returning from injury may offer the bat they need to complete their roster for 2013.
Baker pitching against the Red Sox Aug. 8, 2011.
I have no doubt that Theo Epstein has something up his sleeve this offseason, but right now, I’m not seeing it.
In November, the organization made a series of notable moves, including adding pitcher Scott Baker, catcher Dioner Navarro, reliever Shawn Camp, outfielder Brian Bogusevic and potential starter Scott Feldman.
Multiple additions of mediocre talent aren’t going to impact a club that posted 101 losses last season.
The signing of 20-year-old Cuban sensation Jorge Soler to a nine-year deal back in June was a nice move, but Epstein has yet to bring in young talent worthy of complimenting the young star in the future.
Epstein will likely listen to offers for Garza, who’s entering the final year of his deal, in an attempt to acquire more young talent to build around.
This team is at least four to five years from being competitive again. Look for another disappointing season in 2013 with Houston leaving the NL Central.
Dickey and Thole Oct. 2 against the Marlins.
GM Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays organization have spent enough seasons in the basement of the AL East.
Now, the Jays look to take advantage of a weakening division after a few of this offseason’s most shocking moves thus far.
Player acquisitions aside, the hiring of John Gibbons in November was the best managerial move they could have made. Gibbons was the Jays manager from 2004 to 2008, and his tenure included a second-place finish in the highly-competitive AL East in 2006.
Gibbons will lead this team of newly acquired All-Stars to the promise land in 2013.
Commisioner Selig made the offseason-defining deal with Miami official on Nov. 20 that sent Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio to the Jays in return for Yunel Escobar, Jeff Mathis, Henderson Alvarez and prospects Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani.
The Jays keeping catcher J.P. Arencibia was an important aspect of the deal. The 26-year-old Arencibia has been a solid offensive and defensive catcher for the Jays over the last couple of seasons.
If the mega-deal wasn’t enough, Arencibia will have the challenge of catching knuckleballer and Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, who signed a two-year, $25 million extension after being traded from the Mets.
While the initial reaction for Mets fans will likely be disgust at first, catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud and Class-A pitcher Noah Syndergaard were some of the most prized possessions in the Jays organization and a great acquisition for the Mets.
Dickey will top off a rotation that includes Johnson, Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero.
The Jays are certainly the favorite to not only win the AL East, but also the World Series in 2013.
Wil Myers at the Futures Game, July 8.
Since 2010, Wil Myers has been one of the most coveted outfielder prospects in all of baseball in the Kansas City Royals organization.
In return, the Royals received starters Wade Davis and James Shields from Tampa Bay.
After losing center fielder B.J. Upton to the Braves in free agency, this was an excellent move for Tampa Bay. They received a future everyday starting center fielder to replace Upton.
For the Royals, this seems like a rushed attempt to win now, even though all the pieces to the puzzle aren’t there.
Shields, whose contract expires after the 2013 season, turns 31 tomorrow and is starting the process of descending from his prime.
The Royals also acquired Ervin Santana back in October in a trade with the Angels.
The 30-year-old Santana looked anything but convincing in 2012, posting a 9-13 record with a 5.16 ERA.
While I understand the Royals' urgency to compete immediately after decades of losing baseball, a rotation of Shields, Guthrie, Santana, Davis and Bruce Chen just won’t be enough in an American League with Detroit, Toronto and Los Angeles.