This has not been a very quiet offseason for the MLB. The hot stove has been cooking with an array of transactions across the league.
With just five weeks to go before spring training, a number of teams have made big-time trades to get better. In terms of impact, look no further than a good old-fashioned blockbuster that is sure to shake up the race in the AL East.
Here are the five best mutually beneficial trades that have gone through so far.
Considered a top suitor for Michael Bourn, the Washington Nationals surprised everybody by trading pitching prospect Alex Meyer to the Minnesota Twins for center fielder Denard Span (via SI.com).
In picking up the speedster—who is still under contract at a reasonable price for two more seasons—the Nats plugged one of their few remaining holes.
With the Nationals on the verge of breaking through to the World Series, though, Span may be the last piece they need to win it all.
The Twins did pretty good in their own right. Meyer is a flame-throwing righty who can hit 100 miles per hour on the radar gun.
In a deal that was not very popular in Kansas City, the Royals sent highly touted prospect Wil Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays for starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis (via CBS Sports).
While K.C. gambled in trading its slugging right-field prospect, the team is counting on Shields and Davis to help pitch them into the playoffs.
Along with Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana, the Royals have assembled a starting rotation that can at least stand up to the Detroit Tigers.
In addition to adding Myers, the Rays also picked up pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery, along with third-base prospect Patrick Leonard.
Tampa Bay is banking on Myers being the hard-hitting slugger they have been wanting to pair with Evan Longoria in its batting order.
After a 2012 that saw the Cincinnati Reds come within a game of the National League Championship Series, the second coming of the Big Red Machine acquired Shin-Soo Choo from the Cleveland Indians in a nine-player deal that also involved the Arizona Diamondbacks (via USA Today).
In Choo, the Reds received a good defensive outfielder that can consistently get on base and hit for some power. Cincy also added former Tribe shortstop Jason Donald.
The Diamondbacks came away with first-base prospect Lars Anderson, shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius and relief pitcher Tony Sipp from the Indians, while Cleveland nabbed former Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs, as well as blue-chip pitching prospect Trevor Bauer and relievers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw from Arizona.
Stubbs gives Cleveland much-needed power in their lineup as new manager Terry Francona helps to put the pieces in place to make the Indians contenders again.
In most years, the trading of a reigning Cy Young winner would have been the move of the offseason.
But because the Toronto Blue Jays had already made a big trade—acquiring the core of the Miami Marlins—that immediately pushed them into the playoff discussion, the addition of R.A. Dickey became the cherry on top (via Hardball Talk).
After shipping off catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud and pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard to grab the knuckleballer, the Blue Jays became the prohibitive favorite to win the AL East.
To their credit, the Mets have put their franchise building blocks in place by acquiring d’Arnaud and Syndergaard. d’Arnaud should be a top backstop in the major leagues after some more seasoning while Syndergaard is a hard-throwing, blue-chip pitching prospect.
The Blue Jays were also able to extend Dickey until 2015 (via Yahoo! Sports), ensuring his presence in the rotation for the next three years.
When news of this trade broke (via Yahoo! Sports), it sounded like a fantasy baseball trade made over a too few many beers.
For Miami Marlins fans, the trade that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays for six high-level prospects and Yunel Escobar was a nightmare.
However, the Marlins were justifiably looking to dump salary. After a disastrous 69-93 season, they just could not afford to maintain such a high payroll.
The flawed franchise has spent millions not only on the team, but on building a new stadium.
The was a slap in the face of the taxpayers and fans who had ponied up the money, but commissioner Bud Selig and other general managers in baseball think the Marlins fared quite well.
With the star players they acquired in this deal, the Blue Jays—who have not been to the playoffs since 1993—became overnight favorites for a playoff spot.