The Toronto Blue Jays had a grip on the winter wars.
While there are still a few weeks remaining before the official start of spring training, the time has come to start taking a look at which MLB teams have officially won the offseason.
Sure, there are still a few marquee-type free agents out there (read: Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano), but those chips do not represent big enough splashes to really tip the scales…unless, of course, one team were to swoop in and sign all three of them.
The likelihood of that happening is next to none.
This winter, baseball fans have witnessed several big-name players taking up residency with new teams, some via free agency and others via trade.
Either way you slice it, at the end of the day, some general managers have earned the right to walk a bit taller these days, while others are left to ponder what their next moves should be.
Here is a look at five teams who have officially won this offseason.
Shane Victorino represents a change in culture in Boston.
Quietly, the Boston Red Sox have had a very successful offseason.
Consider this: Matthew Pouliot of NBC’s Hardball Talk posted a list of the top 50 available free agents heading into the offseason.
The Boston Red Sox signed five of them, four of whom were in the top 21.
The team took care of its first priority by bringing back David Ortiz. From there, a peppering of free agents were signed.
David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Ryan Dempster and Stephen Drew were all brought in with the idea of changing the culture of the team while filling existing gaps in the lineup.
All of these contracts are for three years or less, something that has revealed itself to be important to the Red Sox right now: short contracts at the sacrifice of slightly overpaying for talent.
Nevertheless, the team has assembled a lineup that should help right the ship heading into the 2013 season.
Additionally, the team managed to trade for Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan as well, giving them a formidable bullpen.
In what could be called a pleasant surprise, the Kansas City Royals are officially one of the winners of this offseason.
The Royals have not finished above .500 since 2003 and have not finished higher than third in the AL Central since 1995.
A team can only stay stagnant for so long before changes must be made.
The Royals have sat back and watched some fine young talent develop in the form of first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas, for example. However, young players can only get you so far.
The Royals, like the Blue Jays, needed to shake things up a bit, and that’s exactly what they did.
First, the team traded for Ervin Santana from the Los Angeles Angels. Second, they re-signed Jeremy Guthrie. At this point, things already were looking up for the team.
They weren’t finished there.
In early December, the team pulled off a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that brought back 40 percent of its 2013 rotation in the form of ace James Shields and Wade Davis.
Suddenly, almost over night, the Royals have a pitching staff that can compete with most other teams.
South Korean pitching sensation Hyun-Jin Ryu
The Los Angeles Dodgers started flexing their financial muscle at the end of the 2012 season and really just have not let up.
While the team has not made many moves this offseason, it truly hasn't needed to.
Remember, they did just acquire Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett from the Boston Red Sox.
However, they set their sights on Zack Greinke, and they kept up with it until he finally became theirs.
The result: Greinke signed the richest contract for a right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball history for six years and $159 million.
After getting the perfect complementary piece to Clayton Kershaw in Greinke, the Dodgers set their sights overseas.
It was there that they paid over $25 million to the Hanwha Eagles, a South Korean baseball team, for the right to negotiate a contract with pitching sensation Hyun-Jin Ryu.
From there, the Dodgers signed Ryu for six years and $36 million, securing arguably the most sought-after international free agent this winter.
R.A. Dickey was just the icing on the cake for Toronto.
Picture this: You’re Alex Anthopoulos, the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. You’ve just witnessed your ballclub finish fourth in the American League East for the fifth consecutive time.
You have an extremely strong farm system, from which many other teams would love to pilfer talent.
What do you do?
The answer is and was quite simple for Anthopoulos: shake things up.
With that type of thinking, he was able to orchestrate a major trade with the Miami Marlins that rocked the MLB landscape.
The trade brought in Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio.
Anthopoulos wasn’t done there.
The Blue Jays also signed free-agent left fielder Melky Cabrera and finished off their shopping by trading for National League Cy Young Award Winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets.
That translates into six key moves and a seriously bolstered team, rendering the Blue Jays the far and away winners of the offseason.
The Nats lost Edwin Jackson but gained Dan Haren
The Washington Nationals have a lot of expectations to live up to in 2013.
After an impressive 98-win season in 2012, the Nats would go on to witness their season end in the NLDS in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Since then, the team lost Edwin Jackson, a 10-game winner for the Nats in 2012, to free agency.
Rather than shell out crazy money to obtain a pitcher like Zack Greinke, the team decided to take a chance on 12-game winner Dan Haren, who found himself a free agent after the Angels opted to decline his team option for 2013.
Haren owns a lifetime 3.66 ERA and 1.181 WHIP in 10 seasons.
Additionally, the Nationals pulled off a huge trade of their own, acquiring center fielder Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins.
Span is a lifetime .284 batter who will fill the role of the Nationals' everyday center fielder, as well as leadoff man.
Last but certainly not least, the team was able to come to terms with free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the two sides agreed to a two-year and $24-million contract with a mutual option for 2015.