Power Ranking the MLB Offseason's 25 Best Signings, Trades

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIJanuary 22, 2013

Power Ranking the MLB Offseason's 25 Best Signings, Trades

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    The MLB offseason has been exciting as teams have made certain unexpected moves, while players have gone unexpected places.

    From Josh Hamilton going to Los Angeles to the multiple trades that took place, this offseason has been one of many surprises.

    Here's a look at the 25 best signings and trades of this offseason.

25. Nationals Sign Dan Haren

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    The Washington Nationals lost starter Edwin Jackson to free agency.

    So, what did they do?

    They signed another good starter to replace him in Dan Haren.

    While Haren didn't have a great 2012 season, he's still someone who could strike out 200 batters in a year.

    With a starting rotation that was already dominant in 2012, Haren will no doubt bring a lot to the table in 2013.

24. Giants Re-Sign Angel Pagan

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    Angel Pagan played a huge role in helping the San Francisco Giants win the World Series.

    For his play, the Giants rewarded him with a four-year, $45-million deal.

    That's a little more than $10 million a year for a guy who hit .288 with an on-base percentage of .338.

    That's not bad for a guy in the leadoff spot.

23. Angels Sign Ryan Madson

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    Ryan Madson didn't pitch last year due to injury, but the Los Angeles Angels got a steal when they signed him to a free-agent deal.

    Madson will be the setup man just like he was in Philadelphia.

    The Angels have all the hitting in place, and the signing of Madson helped ensure the bullpen was solidified.

22. Giants Re-Sign Jeremy Affeldt

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    Jeremy Affeldt, or Mr. Holds as I like to call him, was an important re-signing for the Giants.

    In a year where he could have tested the market and signed for a few more dollars elsewhere, Affeldt chose to stay with a franchise who has a winning formula.

    While Affeldt will never get closer money, he will still make $7 million a year, which is good for a setup man.

    The Giants should continue to have a strong bullpen, thanks in large part to Affeldt remaining in town.

21. Kansas City Acquires James Shields

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    The Kansas City Royals finally have a legitimate No. 1 starter in James Shields.

    While some will say the Royals gave up too much for Shields, others point to the fact that they're making strides for their big-league club.

    The Royals gave up prospects Wil Myers and Mike Montgomery, among others, to acquire Shields.

    Kansas City now has a starter that will easily strike out 200 batters and give teams trouble every fifth day.

    Without the move, the Royals would continue to have one of the best minor-league systems, but one of the worst major-league teams.

20. Phillies Acquire Michael Young

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    Michael Young had no place to play in Texas, so the Philadelphia Phillies hopped in to acquire him.

    The trade is great for both parties as the Phillies can slot Young in at third base and Young gets to play every day.

    Young is a career .301 hitter, and although he's not a spring chicken, he'll still give the Phillies a few good years at the hot corner.

    If anything, it allows the Phils to wait on Maikel Franco to develop at third base.

19. Red Sox Sign Ryan Dempster

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    The Boston Red Sox may have stumbled onto something big in their effort to rebuild.

    Ryan Dempster is an innings eater and has pitched well over the last five seasons.

    He has a 3.74 ERA over that time frame, although it was mostly in the National League.

    Moving to the American League East is a different ballgame as every team has a great offense.

    If Dempster pitches the way he did in Texas with a 5.09 ERA, then this is a horrible move. But, if he pitches like he did in Chicago, he'll be very good in the middle of the Sox rotation.

18. Red Sox Sign Mike Napoli

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    The Boston Red Sox finally got a deal done with Mike Napoli.

    However, it's not the three-year, $39 million deal that was originally agreed upon.

    Due to health concerns, the Red Sox and Napoli finally settled on a one-year deal that could be worth up to $13 million with incentives.

    Napoli will spend most of his time at first base, although he could be used at catcher as well.

    He hit 24 home runs last year, but struggled with a .227 average in 108 games.

    If he can get his hip issues worked out, then there's no reason to believe Napoli won't return to his 2011 form that saw him hit .320 with 30 home runs and 75 RBI.

17. Ryan Ludwick Re-Signs with Reds

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    The Cincinnati Reds made a few good moves this offseason, including re-signing Ryan Ludwick to a two-year, $15 million deal.

    Ludwick hit .275 with 25 home runs and 80 RBI in 2012. He was also the only real offensive force in the playoff series loss to the San Francisco Giants.

    Re-signing Ludwick means the Reds have a powerful outfield with Ludwick, Jay Bruce and Shin Soo-Choo.

16. Braves Acquire Jordan Walden

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    As if the Atlanta Braves didn't already have a dominant bullpen, they traded for Jordan Walden.

    Walden was traded to the Braves from the Los Angeles Angels for Tommy Hanson.

    The Braves were able to get rid of Hanson, who has shown his struggles as of late, and acquire a guy who had a successful stint as a closer.

    In 2011, Walden earned 34 saves as the closer for the Angels.

    Throw him in with Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty and you have the best bullpen in all of baseball.

15. Adam LaRoche Re-Signs with Nationals

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    Adam LaRoche wanted a three-year deal, but no team was willing to give him that kind of deal, especially since he was tied to draft-pick compensation.

    However, it was known that both he and Washington wanted him to return. In the end, it all worked out as LaRoche signed a two-year deal worth $24 million, with a mutual option for 2015.

    LaRoche brings back his power into the middle of the lineup. Last year, he was one of the more underrated first basemen in the game even though he hit .271 with 33 home runs and 100 RBI.

    He also took home a Gold Glove.

    Having him back in Washington further legitimizes Washington's chances to repeat as division champs.

14. Nick Swisher Signs with Indians

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    The Cleveland Indians added some key pieces to their team this offseason, but none were bigger than signing Nick Swisher.

    Swisher has hit more than 21 home runs in each of the last eight years and has a .274 batting average over the last three years.

    Playing in a weaker American League Central will help Swisher to improve his numbers, but Progressive Field isn't as much of a hitter's park as Yankee Stadium is.

    However, that shouldn't matter much as Swisher will now be the guy batting in the middle of the lineup with all of the RBI opportunities.

    His numbers will greatly increase now that he is "the" offense power in the lineup.

13. Tampa Bay Acquires Montgomery, Myers

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    When the Tampa Bay Rays traded away James Shields, they got a handsome return from the Kansas City Royals.

    The Rays acquired Wil Myers and Mike Montgomery, along with two other players in exchange for Shields and pitcher Wade Davis.

    The move was great for Tampa Bay, as they replenished their farm system which gave them prospects who are close to being ready for the big leagues.

    Myers is rated the No. 3 overall prospect by mlb.com and will likely be ready to make a contribution this season.

    Montgomery is now the No. 7 prospect in the Rays' system. Although he struggled last year, he could still get back to being the top pitching prospect he once was, giving the Rays another young, dominant starting pitcher.

12. Rafael Soriano Signs with Nationals

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    The Washington Nationals made a big splash by signing Rafael Soriano.

    While they still want to build through the draft, the Nationals realize they are in the "win now" mode.

    Signing Soriano makes their bullpen scary, ranking the Nationals only second behind the Atlanta Braves.

    Soriano joins Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen at the back end of the bullpen, something that will give many opponents fits this year.

11. Seattle Mariners Acquire Kendrys Morales

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    The Seattle Mariners have tried in every way possible to make moves this offseason.

    Some have worked, others like the failed Justin Upton trade, have not.

    However, one trade that has worked was trading Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales.

    Morales is best known for breaking his leg while celebrating a walk-off home run, but the dude can flat out hit the ball a mile.

    In 2009, Morales hit 34 home runs and 108 RBI. In 2010, he broke his leg and hasn't been the same in Los Angeles.

    Now, he gets fresh scenery in Seattle where he'll try to regain his form from 2009.

10. Blue Jays Acquire R.A. Dickey

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    I struggle a little with the Toronto Blue Jays trading for reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey.

    On the one hand, he is a Cy Young winner who won 20 games and struck out 230 batters last year.

    On the other hand, it was a career year and something Dickey had never previously gotten close to in his career.

    While the knuckleball will allow him to pitch longer than other players, the jury is still out on whether last year was a fluke or not.

    Either way, the Blue Jays are looking to compete in the AL East and acquiring Dickey was one of the things that had to be done.

9. B.J. Upton Signs with Braves

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    The Atlanta Braves needed a center fielder and with the price of Michael Bourn being so high, B.J. Upton was the best available at the position.

    Upton needed to get out of Tampa Bay where he was never going to be paid well.

    There's no real explanation needed here.

    Upton has a lot of power and can hit 20-plus home runs. Plus, he's a great defender in center field.

    His average still needs a little work, though.

    Still, it's a great signing for the Braves at a decent price of $15 million a year.

8. Nationals Acquire A.J. Cole

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    While they sent Michael Morse to Seattle, the Washington Nationals acquired baseball's No. 57 prospect A.J. Cole in a three-team deal that also included Oakland.

    After trading a bunch of prospects to land Gio Gonzalez last year, the Nationals were able to replenish their farm a little by getting Cole in return.

    Ironic, isn't it?

    Cole was traded as part of the Gonzalez deal, and now he's back in the Washington system.

    The right-hander is a part of the Nats' future and will likely take a rotation spot in 2014.

7. Cubs Signs Edwin Jackson

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    The Chicago Cubs actually made a splash in free agency.

    After trading away two starters before the deadline last year, the Cubs needed to sign a legitimate starter this offseason. And they've done that with the signing of Edwin Jackson.

    Jackson has struggled throughout his career, but that's due to him never having an actual home.

    In Chicago, he has a place he can call home for the next four years and can actually settle into a rhythm without worrying about his next contract.

6. Mariners Acquire Michael Morse

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    The Seattle Mariners made another splash in recent weeks by acquiring Michael Morse in a three-team deal with Washington and Oakland.

    And, all they had to give up was catcher John Jaso.

    Seattle acquired another power hitter for the middle of its lineup, and that will only help as Seattle tries to compete in a loaded AL West.

    Morse hit .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI in 102 games last year.

    Give him a full season like 2011 and he could hit 30 home runs and drive in almost 100 runs again.

5. David Ortiz Re-Signs with Red Sox

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    There is a lot of division within the Boston Red Sox, especially while Bobby Valentine was at the helm.

    Now, he's gone and the Red Sox have new management.

    However, the key to the offseason was re-signing David Ortiz, who is one of the most beloved players in team history.

    Ortiz is that leader on and off the field.

    Without him, there is no heart to the Red Sox.

4. Mets Acquire Top Prospects

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    When the New York Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays, they acquired a lot in return.

    The main piece was top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, who will be an all-star catcher within the next few years.

    Add in another top pitching prospect in Noah Syndergaard and you have a sweet deal for the Mets.

    By 2014, Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler will be at the top of the Mets' rotation, creating a great duo at the top of the rotation.

3. Josh Hamilton Signs with Angels

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    What makes Josh Hamilton signing with the Los Angeles Angels so great is that he previously played with the division-rival Texas Rangers.

    Hamilton brings his big bat to the middle of the Angels' lineup, giving Los Angeles one of the scariest orders in all of baseball.

    Can you imagine how pitchers are going to feel having to face Mike Trout, Hamilton and Albert Pujols all in a row.

    Who do you pitch around and who do you pitch to?

2. Zack Greinke Signs with Dodgers

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers have a plethora of pitching, but they couldn't just let Zack Greinke go somewhere else.

    Arguably the best pitcher on the market, Greinke brings more power to the top of the Dodger rotation.

    Over the last two years, Greinke has gone 31-11 with a 3.63 ERA and 401 strikeouts.

    He's simply been dominant and should do the same with the Dodgers.

    Greinke may be one of the last pieces the spend-happy Dodgers need to make a run at the World Series.

1. Blue Jays Acquire King's Ransom

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    The Toronto Blue Jays had the biggest pickup of the entire offseason when they got a king's ransom in a trade with the Miami Marlins.

    Just one year ago, the Marlins touted a new era with a new ballpark, new uniforms and a lot of expensive players.

    One year later, not only are all of those players gone, but so are the others who were there before.

    But, the Blue Jays aren't complaining.

    Toronto acquired Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck and Mark Buehrle for a plethora of their top young talent.

    However, the Blue Jays want to compete now and gave up what they had to in order to get all of this talent.

    This trade has made the Blue Jays the favorite in the AL East entering the 2013 season.