Comparing Every MLB Team's 2013 Offseason Return to 2012
Do MLB teams adjust their offseason strategies from one year to the next? This slideshow compares moves they completed prior to the 2012 season with what's being done to prepare for 2013.
In every case, a single word or phrase adequately sums up the winter activity (or lack thereof).
Of course, finances dictate which transactions do or don't come to fruition. Several historically modest franchises have opened up their wallets recently, while others reluctantly tighten their belts.
One year makes all the difference.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...risky.
The Arizona Diamondbacks needed to make wholesale changes to catch up with the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
But $15.5 million for Brandon McCarthy, who has never pitched a full season? And $26 million for Cody Ross, a glorified platoon player?
Scott Miller of CBS Sports reports that Justin Upton rejected a trade to Seattle that would have returned a handful of young pitchers. A major league source tells him that the outfielder could still be dealt this winter.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...pleasant.
Modest free-agent signings of Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel certainly paid off. Hill won the 2012 NL Silver Slugger Award at second base, while the latter led Arizona in home runs and runs batted in.
Trevor Cahill logged 200 innings, though departed prospect Jarrod Parker was arguably more productive for the Oakland Athletics.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...incomplete.
Using their starting pitching surplus, the Atlanta Braves obtained Jordan Walden. The move trims payroll and makes the bullpen even more unhittable.
B.J. Upton was probably the safest choice in center field, though Michael Bourn is still on option in left. David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that general manager Frank Wren would be open to a deal.
The Braves need somebody to play there.
Extending Martin Prado's contract should also be discussed.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...quiet.
Dumping Derek Lowe proved to be an addition by subtraction. Atlanta finished with 94 wins, its highest total since 2004.
However, the front office passed on an opportunity to trade Jair Jurrjens when he was at peak value.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...equally incomplete.
Nate McLouth will reprise his outfield role at a $2 million base salary.
His signing remains the biggest move of the winter for the Baltimore Orioles. They have yet to add a veteran starting pitcher or middle-of-the-order bat.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...outstanding.
Corner infielder Wilson Betemit piled up plenty of extra-base hits in limited plate appearances and Luis Ayala contributed to one of baseball's best bullpens.
Baltimore completely remodeled its rotation by acquiring Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Jason Hammel early in 2012. They had the three lowest earned run averages among Orioles who pitched at least 100 innings.
It's no coincidence that this was Dan Duquette's first winter as Executive VP of Baseball Operations.
Boston Red Sox
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...hectic.
All the offseason activity ensures that the Boston Red Sox will be more competitive in 2013.
Still, several of the free-agent signings have been ill-advised.
Outfielder Jonny Gomes, for example, will earn $5 million per year to start a couple games each week. Ryan Dempster gets an expensive two-year deal despite well-documented difficulty with American League lineups.
At least the Red Sox were wise enough to make a managerial change and pick up Koji Uehara at low price.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...regrettable.
Josh Reddick and Marco Scutaro made huge impacts on playoff-bound teams, while Boston's newcomers generally disappointed.
Aaron Cook struck out only 20 batters in 18 starts and provided negative WAR. Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon were supposed to preserve leads in the later innings, but both struggled in limited action.
The only offseason move that panned out? Cody Ross' one-year deal.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...surprisingly busy.
Of course, the Chicago Cubs remain longshots to contend next summer. They had very poor pitching in place before adding a half-dozen arms in free agency.
Buying low on starting candidates Scott Baker and Scott Feldman allows the Cubs to flip them for prospects if they perform well early on.
The team, however, has yet to trade outfielder Alfonso Soriano. That has to get done before Opening Day.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...low key.
Reliever Shawn Camp turned out to be a great bargain. Released by the Seattle Mariners in spring training, the Cubs picked him up in late March for barely the league minimum. He ultimately led the National League in appearances.
The front office completed two significant trades, one of which seriously backfired.
Ian Stewart and Casey Weather struggled mightily at the major league and Triple-A levels, respectively. Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu, meanwhile, enjoyed career years with the Colorado Rockies.
Fortunately, the Cubs acquired their first baseman of the future, Anthony Rizzo, in a separate deal.
Chicago White Sox
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...successful.
The Chicago White Sox wasted no time re-signing Jake Peavy to a two-year deal with a player option for 2015.
There's considerable risk involved, as the right-hander missed time on the disabled list during each of the previous four seasons. It will be remembered fondly if he replicates his 2012 campaign in terms of durability and effectiveness.
General manager Rick Hahn locked up Jeff Keppinger to an even longer deal, but for only $4 million annually. His contact ability and defensive versatility are worth it.
Chicago also resisted the urge to bring back A.J. Pierzynski. His recent power numbers were fluky and the club should be just fine with Tyler Flowers regularly behind the plate.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...quiet.
In hindsight, extending John Danks' contract might have been a mistake. He dealt with serious shoulder problems last season and is still owed $57 million through 2016.
Picking up minor league free agent Jose Quintana deepened the starting rotation. The soon-to-be 24-year-old produced immediately as a rookie and maintained a sub-3.00 ERA through his first 100 innings pitched.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...too good to be true.
Not only did the Cincinnati Reds meet all their needs, but they did so without losing any important players.
Shin-Soo Choo will fill the lead-off spot and provide far more value than the players who tried in 2012. He usually flirts with a .400 on-base percentage. Minor league speedster Billy Hamilton has another year to refine his skills before replacing this impending free agent in center field.
Cincinnati committed $36 million to Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Ludwick.
The former received a longer deal, which could prove problematic if his walk rate spikes.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...mostly good.
Trades for Mat Latos and Sean Marshall transformed the pitching staff. Each is under team control for another three seasons.
Ryan Ludwick brought balance to the lineup as a right-handed batter. Combining the salary, buyout and achieved performance bonuses, the Reds paid only $2.85 million for his 26 home runs.
On the other hand, Ryan Madson milked them for nearly three times as much. He underwent Tommy John surgery in spring training and never threw a pitch.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...atypical.
Nick Swisher undoubtedly improves the lineup. The native Ohioan provides power, plate discipline and durability.
However, unless payroll expands, it could be difficult for the Cleveland Indians to build a balanced roster around his $14 million annual salary.
Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds fill voids as a starting pitcher and corner infielder, respectively. They will cost a minimum of $13 million in 2013.
The Tribe moved Shin-Soo Choo after he shunned extension talks again. Talented right-hander Trevor Bauer came in return from the Arizona Diamondbacks, though he must gain better command of his repertoire to find MLB success.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...wasted.
With $10 million to spend, the Indians acquired Derek Lowe and re-signed oft-injured outfielder Grady Sizemore.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...unacceptable.
Coming off their worst season in franchise history, the Colorado Rockies were supposed to do more to improve the pitching staff.
Jeff Francis—and his lifetime .289 batting average against—doesn't intimidate anybody. Neither do Jeff Karstens or Brandon Webb, who the Rockies reportedly have shown interest in (via Troy E. Renck, The Denver Post).
To salvage the offseason from utter failure, the team added Wilton Lopez. He's an upgrade over Colorado's other late-inning relievers.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...exciting but counterproductive.
Ageless Jamie Moyer helped early on, but faded in May.
Free agents Michael Cuddyer and Ramon Hernandez missed significant time with injuries, while veteran trade acquisitions Jeremy Guthrie and Marco Scutaro underachieved.
The aforementioned swap with the Chicago Cubs turned out to be the Rockies' lone positive transaction.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...expensive.
This what-have-you-done-for-me-lately industry rewards players who thrive in their walk years. That's why the Detroit Tigers had to spend $106 million on Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez. Bidding was intense in both cases.
These additions definitely make the team better.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...shocking.
Nobody could have foreseen the Tigers signing Prince Fielder.
To get optimal value out of the $214 million deal, they should eventually convert him into a designated hitter. His fielding at first base is detrimental.
The slugger batted .313/.412/.528 in 2012 and started every game.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...boring.
The Houston Astros don't want to sign major league players for 2013. The AL West will tear them apart regardless of who they add.
Unfortunately, many of their top prospects are not ready to join the active roster.
Better to ink Carlos Pena and Jose Veras to one-year deals than expose others too soon.
The team traded for John Ely and Alex White, starting pitchers who were inconsistent in recent seasons.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...just as boring.
Former MLB regulars Jack Cust, Zach Duke and Livan Hernandez signed minor league deals, but didn't make it through spring training.
It's safe to say that the Astros took advantage of the Boston Red Sox in the Jed Lowrie trade.
Kansas City Royals
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...unprecedented.
It's been years since the Kansas City Royals had a starting pitcher of James Shields' caliber. With Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana also on board, K.C. could open this season with its first-ever $80 million payroll.
The penny-pinching Royals historically retain high-ceiling prospects through their arbitration years. Uncharacteristically, GM Dayton Moore dealt Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi to improve the 2013 roster.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...regrettable.
Despite all the bad publicity that came with Melky Cabrera's failed PED test, the Royals sorely needed his offensive production. Jonathan Sanchez could not have been more disappointing.
Yuniesky Betancourt struggled and Bruce Chen's earned run average ballooned after re-signing.
The highlight was working out a team-friendly extension with Alex Gordon in March.
Los Angeles Angels
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...very, very risky.
The Los Angeles Angels accepted Josh Hamilton despite the inherent risks. They weren't scared of Tommy Hanson's injury history or Ryan Madson's surgically-repaired elbow.
There's no telling whether these moves will carry L.A. to the World Series or miserably fail.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...surreal.
The top free-agent position player and pitcher committed to the Angels at the 2011 winter meetings. Neither met expectations, but Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson will be under contract through 2016 and 2021, respectively.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...what we all expected.
Of course the Los Angeles Dodgers got Zack Greinke. How could he turn down the largest contract offer a right-handed pitcher has ever received?
The Dodgers also paid $61.7 million for Hyun-jin Ryu—who might end up in the bullpen—and committed to Brandon League for three years (never mind his inconsistency).
Their 2011-12 offseason was...completely different.
Before Guggenheim Partners purchased the franchise, GM Ned Colletti shopped for bargains.
His "big-name acquisitions" were Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang. Mark Ellis and Jerry Hairston were the biggest additions to the lineup.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...embarrassing.
After stripping the roster prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Miami Marlins made their most outrageous move yet. They unloaded most remaining veteran players, including Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes who signed the previous winter.
Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco will likely see everyday action after agreeing to major league deals.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...thrilling.
A brand-new ballpark meant millions of dollars in expected revenue.
The Marlins were linked to all the best available free agents. They reportedly made serious overtures to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
Buehrle, Reyes and Heath Bell ultimately joined forces on a team that many analysts expected to contend for a postseason berth.
In hindsight, it would have been wiser to pass on Bell, whose previous success was somewhat a product of cavernous Petco Park. If that money had gone to veteran position players, perhaps Miami's lineup has enough depth to withstand midseason injuries to Emilio Bonifacio and Giancarlo Stanton.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...all about the bullpen.
The Milwaukee Brewers love their offense and plan to form a starting rotation with budding internal candidates.
All the notable new pieces are relievers: Burke Badenhop, Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny, who received a multi-year deal.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...excellent.
Aramis Ramirez received a three-year, $36 million contract to protect Ryan Braun. He certainly fulfilled his duties in 2012, driving home 105 runs en route to a ninth-place finish in NL MVP voting.
Norichika Aoki provided even more bang for the buck. The Brewers intended to use him off the bench, but he quickly became a starter and posted a .288/.355/.433 triple-slash line in 588 plate appearances.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...rotation-obsessed.
Underwhelming starting pitching plunged the Minnesota Twins to the AL Central.
This offseason, they have been solely focused on improving in that facet.
Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Vance Worley will all join the rotation immediately. Newcomers Trevor May and Alex Meyer are expected to co-lead the staff in future years.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...cost-effective.
Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham basically replaced Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer for half the guaranteed dollars.
Minnesota also recruited veteran infielder Jamey Carroll. He has unusually good on-base skills for a utility guy in his late 30s.
New York Mets
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...ambivalent.
Ideally, the New York Mets would have locked up R.A. Dickey and David Wright. At least they received a talented package for the veteran knuckleballer.
The team has a bright future.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...a mix of hits and misses.
GM Sandy Alderson is still kicking himself. He exchanged Angel Pagan for Andres Torres and signing Frank Francisco to a multi-year deal.
With that said, the Mets milked 100-plus innings out of Chris Young (minor league deal) and extended Jon Niese prior to Opening Day.
New York Yankees
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...infuriating.
Many of us were skeptical, but it's true—the New York Yankees will get below the luxury tax by 2014.
Unwillingness to guarantee pay beyond this season prevented them from retaining catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Nick Swisher. For the first time in MLB history, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians signed players the Yankees couldn't afford!
Aside from renewing contracts for familiar faces, they inked Kevin Youkilis.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...Mets-like.
The regrets: swapping Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda and re-signing Andruw Jones.
The successes: Eric Chavez (.845 OPS), Hiroki Kuroda (219.2 IP) and Andy Pettitte (2.87 ERA).
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...modest.
The Oakland Athletics went the cheaper route when choosing which veteran starter to retain—Bartolo Colon or Brandon McCarthy—and selecting Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima over Stephen Drew.
They enter 2013 with enviable outfield depth after acquiring Chris Young.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...the key to a playoff berth.
The A's transformed over the winter.
Leading power sources Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick were new to the Bay Area. The same was true about Bartolo Colon, Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker, who each pitched more than 150 innings.
Under-the-radar additions like Jonny Gomes and Brandon Moss also excelled.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...compromised by existing bloated contracts.
The Philadelphia Phillies sought outfield, third base, bullpen and starting rotation help. Ben Revere, Michael Young, Mike Adams and John Lannan can man those positions, but not at an All-Star level.
If not for a handful of high-priced players already on the roster, the front office would have pursued superior alternatives.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...over early.
Jonathan Papelbon and Jimmy Rollins agreed to terms before the holidays.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...impressive.
GM Neil Huntington is making splashes with his job on the line.
Jason Grilli and Russell Martin clearly had other options, but both decided to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Trading Joel Hanrahan gave the club the resources to continue adding.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...OK.
A change of scenery did wonders for A.J. Burnett, though Rod Barajas (.206 BA) and Erik Bedard (5.01 ERA) didn't sip from the same fountain of youth.
San Diego Padres
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...head-scratching.
The Peter O'Malley-led group that bought the San Diego Padres last summer and negotiated a $1.2 billion television deal can't afford anyone better than Jason Marquis?
With an injury-plagued starting rotation, fans expected a durable free agent like Dan Haren or Edwin Jackson to sign.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...used to build for the future.
The Padres never intended to "rent" Carlos Quentin and Huston Street. Each would've been unsigned after the 2012 season, but the team successfully extended them.
Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal (both received in the Mat Latos trade) should be around for awhile, too.
San Francisco Giants
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...one long honeymoon.
No recent World Series champion has ever seemed so indebted to the players who made it possible.
The San Francisco Giants re-signed Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro to generous deals. They also gave three years to Santiago Casilla and reunited with Andres Torres.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...about upgrading the outfield.
The team cut ties with Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz and Torres. Gregor Blanco, Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan replaced them.
That worked out pretty well.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...heartbreaking.
The winter began with good news as Hisashi Iwakuma and Oliver Perez opted to return.
But the Seattle Mariners have since dealt with one disappointment after another.
They fought hard for Mike Napoli, who now has a pending deal with the Boston Red Sox. Josh Hamilton committed to a division rival and, according to Fox Sports, Justin Upton used his limited no-trade clause to veto a completed deal.
Evidently, the Pacific Northwest isn't a desirable destination.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...better.
Iwakuma and Perez were bargains, and the Mariners clearly got more production from Jesus Montero than the New York Yankees did from Michael Pineda.
Trade acquisition John Jaso quietly led the offense (.276/.394/.456 with 50 RBI).
St. Louis Cardinals
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...uneventful.
And appropriately so.
Signing Randy Choate provides the St. Louis Cardinals with a weapon against left-handed sluggers, while Ty Wigginton's arrival improves the bench.
The team isn't looking to do anything else.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...dramatic.
Cardinals fans couldn't imagine life without Albert Pujols, so the news of his departure hit hard.
However, after comparing the stats, Carlos Beltran adequately replaced him in 2012.
Tampa Bay Rays
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...a step back.
With 2013 approaching, the Tampa Bay Rays are very comparable to the New York Mets.
Lengthening Evan Longoria's contract is obviously worth celebrating. Plus, the farm system has terrific depth.
But newly-signed James Loney and Roberto Hernandez can't compensate for what Wade Davis and James Shields used to contribute.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...typical.
The Rays went for low-cost, high-reward free agents.
Carlos Pena unfortunately regressed and finished below the Mendoza line.
Meanwhile, Fernando Rodney took over as closer and set the single-season ERA record, and Jeff Keppinger batted .325/.367/.439.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...frustrating.
The Texas Rangers expected to sign either Zack Greinke or Josh Hamilton, but came away empty-handed.
Joakim Soria will be great...when he actually pitches. According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, his recovery from Tommy John surgery could keep him out into June.
A.J. Pierzynski is a serious regression candidate after a 2012 power surge and everyone's worried about Lance Berkman's knees.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...excellent.
Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan were worth the cost.
Toronto Blue Jays
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...amazing!
Cost be damned, the Toronto Blue Jays spent nearly $90 million to add Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson, thus revamping their starting rotation. Johnson—the riskiest member of the trio—is only under contract for one more season.
Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis are both versatile defenders as well as efficient base-stealers.
With All-Stars Melky Cabrera and Jose Reyes projected to bat atop the lineup, the Blue Jays should be scoring early and often in 2013.
These moves certainly took a toll on Toronto's farm system, but set the team up for immediate success.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...forgettable.
You could say the Blue Jays went one-for-three that winter with their bullpen acquisitions.
Darren Oliver produced a 2.06 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 62 appearances. He dominated opposing batters, regardless of handedness.
Unfortunately, Francisco Cordero (another elderly reliever) struggled in a setup role and totaled five losses. Projected closer Sergio Santos pitched only five innings before succumbing to a shoulder injury.
Their 2012-13 offseason has been...exactly as planned.
Major League Baseball's winningest team from 2012 entered the offseason with aspirations to acquire a center fielder, sign a veteran starting pitcher and re-sign Adam LaRoche.
Take a bow, GM Mike Rizzo.
Denard Span comes with an excellent defensive reputation and team-friendly contract. Health permitting, Dan Haren will eat his usual 200-plus innings.
Their 2011-12 offseason was...what set the tone.
Even after the Washington Nationals paid nine figures for Jayson Werth the previous winter, it wasn't clear that the team was ready to contend.
Then came the Gio Gonzalez trade. Not only did the Nats move top prospects for an arbitration-eligible player, they extended the left-hander for $42 million.
That changed everything.
I came, I saw, I tweeted something clever about it.
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