With less than two weeks before pitchers and catchers start reporting, MLB offseason moves will likely still be transacted.
Several prominent free agents (Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse, Joe Saunders, Brian Wilson) are still out there for the taking. It's entirely possible that trades could still take place as well.
However, what is the one move made or not made by each MLB team this offseason that could come back to haunt them?
Here is a "what if' scenario for each MLB team that could have affected the rest of the offseason and their 2013 season.
Much of the Arizona Diamondbacks' activity this offseason was centered on one main goal—trading right fielder Justin Upton.
From the outset, general manager Kevin Towers was actively looking for a willing partner that was willing to take on Upton. In fact, he's been looking since the 2010 offseason.
Now, he has his wish—but at what cost?
The Diamondbacks essentially traded off players that didn't fit into the mold of manager Kirk Gibson, that's what Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports believed. Passan intimated that the Diamondbacks traded away talent for grit.
For Upton and Chris Johnson, the Braves received back one player who can help immediately (Martin Prado), a possible fifth starter (Randall Delgado) and three fringe prospects who may never amount to anything.
If Arizona had the mindset of keeping Upton all along, they could easily have built a team that could win now and in the future.
Every general manager has made a deal that haunts them—this could be that deal for Towers.
The Atlanta Braves made a major splash this offseason by signing free-agent outfielder B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75.25 million contract.
What if that deal never happened?
Here is what could have happened had Upton and the Braves not agreed.
Justin Upton would not be in Atlanta right now.
Brother Justin probably wouldn't be manning left field for Atlanta. Without the lure of having brother B.J. there, Atlanta and Arizona likely wouldn't have talked. They didn't consummate a deal earlier when Arizona was interested in shortstop Andrelton Simmons. It's quite possible talks would have completely ended right there and then.
Braves could have been forced to overpay to bring back Michael Bourn.
Considering that the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals chose different paths in taking care of their needs in center field, it's quite possible the Braves may have been forced to overpay to bring Michael Bourn back into the fold. Other options out there simply wouldn't have cut it for Atlanta.
The Baltimore Orioles declined the $11 million option on the contract of first baseman Mark Reynolds for the 2013 season. In addition, while Reynolds indicated a preference to stay in Baltimore, the two sides never seriously negotiated a deal for that to happen.
Now, Reynolds will attempt to help the Cleveland Indians for $6 million next season.
What if that deal never happened?
The Orioles wouldn't still be on the hunt for a designated hitter right now.
Chances are, if the O's had re-negotiated a new deal and kept Reynolds, the team would not be actively searching for a designated hitter. Chris Davis could certainly help fill the role and give Reynolds an occasional rest at first base.
Now, they have to rely on players like Wilson Betemit and Nolan Reimold to fill the role. I'm guessing that makes O's fans cringe right about now.
The Boston Red Sox turned a three-year, $39 million offer for free-agent slugger Mike Napoli into a one-year, $5 million deal instead. Napoli's hip condition—avascular necrosis—took the Red Sox off the hook for another guaranteed $34 million.
It's entirely possible that Napoli's hips hold up for the next two or three seasons, but the Red Sox weren't about to take that risk.
However, what if they walked away from the deal altogether?
Adam LaRoche would have become a huge priority.
All offseason, free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche was looking for a three-year deal. If Napoli and the Sox hadn't come to an agreement and they walked away weeks ago, that third guaranteed year that LaRoche was looking for might have come into play with the Red Sox.
After all, they were quite fond of three-year, $39 million deals this offseason. That's about what they could have offered to LaRoche.
The Red Sox would still be shopping for right-handed offensive help.
By acquiring Napoli, the Red Sox hooked up a potent right-handed bat that will be a major weapon at Fenway Park. The loss of Cody Ross precipitated the need for the Sox to find that bat. Without Napoli in the fold, general manager Ben Cherington would have had to become really resourceful in finding that bat.
The Chicago Cubs made a huge play for free-agent pitcher Anibal Sanchez, offering five years and $77.5 million. Sanchez ended up going back to Detroit for just a few million more.
What if the Cubs were successful in pulling off that deal?
Edwin Jackson would still be looking for a multi-year contract.
With Sanchez in the fold, the Cubs would not have signed Jackson to a four-year, $52 million deal. The Cubs viewed Sanchez much more as a piece that could work for them in the future around their long-term plan. Jackson is a durable innings-eater who will more likely act as a place-setting while the Cubs develop other prospects.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein was looking to regenerate a fanbase by making an offer to Sanchez. While it didn't quite work, it clearly showed that the Cubs are willing to spend on high-ticket players they believe fit their overall plan.
The one move they didn't make, however, was bringing back free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski. He will now suit up with a new team for the first time in nine years, signing a one-year, $7.5 million deal with the Texas Rangers.
What if the Sox had re-signed Pierzynski?
New general manager Rick Hahn wouldn't be forced to answer questions about his confidence in Tyler Flowers.
Flowers will now get his chance to shine—or spit the bit—with Pierzynski out of the picture. Flowers has hit just .205 in 273 career at-bats over parts of four seasons and will be tasked with contributing his fair share in Pierzynski's absence.
This is without a doubt the first test of Hahn's new regime in Chicago. A vocal fanbase is still grieving Pierzynski's loss, and Hahn has already been forced to defend his decision.
“One, we believe in Tyler Flowers," Hahn said last week. "We feel that we are not going to lose anything defensively. He is outstanding at calling a game, at catching and throwing. Our pitchers love throwing to him. And, offensively, this is a guy who, while he’s different from A.J., he is going to strike out more, the average is going to be a bit lower in all probability, he’s still really good at taking a walk and hitting for power to all fields. … Two, we had priorities that we felt were a little more pressing – that being the pitching staff, that being third base. It really came down to prioritizing things. … It was difficult. It was honestly difficult."
It couldn't have been all that difficult, it literally came down to just a matter of a few million dollars. If Flowers falters, Hahn will be face the wrath of an angry Sox fan base for a good long while.
He might just want to give the job back to Kenny Williams.
Last year, Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was lights-out after taking over in early May. Chapman converted 38 of 42 save opportunities, striking out 122 batters in 71.2 innings while posting a 1.51 ERA.
Now, the Reds are planning on transitioning Chapman to the starting rotation, hoping that he can give them close to the same type of performance in 200+ innings.
What if the Reds kept Chapman in the bullpen?
Jonathan Broxton would not have been re-signed.
Well, the Reds at least wouldn't have signed Broxton for three years and $21 million to be a seventh/eighth inning guy, for sure. Sean Marshall, Jose Arredondo, Sam Lecure and Logan Ondrusek would have continued in their roles behind Chapman. Considering the Reds had the top bullpen ERA in the National League, that's not a bad thing.
Walt Jocketty would have a targeted another lefty bullpen arm.
With the extra money saved not signing Broxton, general manager Jocketty might have gone after one more lefty arm to complement his bullpen. Chapman and Marshall are both lefties, but one more situational lefty wouldn't have been a bad idea.
In trading for top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer, the Cleveland Indians believe that they fortified their starting rotation for the future. In acquiring Bauer, they also received a potential power bat in center fielder Drew Stubbs.
What if that trade didn't happen?
It would have been a long offseason.
Simply put, the Indians received a treasure trove in their deal for Bauer. They received a potential No. 1 or No. 2 for years to come along with a promising 28-year-old outfielder in Stubbs who just may have needed a change in scenery.
Without that trade, GM Chris Antonetti would have been completely hamstrung given the financial situation in Cleveland.
Antonetti would have been looking in the scrap heap for pitching help.
The Indians needed offense, but they also needed arms as well. Their starting pitching was simply atrocious in 2012. The addition of Brett Myers could help, but without Bauer, Antonetti would have been bargain-basement shopping for pitchers like Carl Pavano and Derek Lowe.
Oh, wait—they already tried Lowe. Never mind.
Simply put, the Bauer trade at least gave the Indians hope for the future. Without it, hope would be springing eternal.
The Colorado Rockies' biggest transaction this offseason was the acquisition of Wilton Lopez from the Houston Astros for starting pitcher Alex White.
Lopez will presumably take over as closer full-time in 2014 after the Rockies rid themselves of the contract of current closer Rafael Betancourt.
What if the Rockies didn't acquire Lopez?
Honestly, it would have been a completely disastrous offseason otherwise. Jeff Francis was the only other "major" transaction—the word major being loosely applied. Spring training is likely going to be a major audition for the bullpen as it stands.
The Detroit Tigers ponied up considerable cash to bring starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez back into the fold, agreeing to pay him $80 million over five years.
What if that deal wasn't successful?
The Tigers might have given more consideration to signing closer Rafael Soriano.
This is of course just a theory, but if Detroit hadn't landed Sanchez, they certainly would have had money to at least consider the possibility of signing Soriano.
James Shields could be pitching in Motown.
The Tigers were seriously interested in acquiring Shields before the Kansas City Royals eventually ponied up the right package for the Tampa Bay Rays. GM Dave Dombrowski may have been more inclined to sweeten the pot if Sanchez weren't in play for Detroit.
The Houston Astros brought in Carlos Pena on a one-year, $2.9 million contract, effectively becoming their full-time designated hitter as they begin play in the American League for the first time in 2013.
What if the Astros didn't sign Pena?
Lance Berkman could have possibly decided on another Texas team.
Berkman signed with the Texas Rangers for one year and $11 million, an awful lot of money for an aging player who saw action in just 32 games last year and endured two knee surgeries.
The signing of Pena was the obvious writing on the wall for Berkman, who turned to the other boys in Texas for the chance to remain in his hometown state.
Would the Astros have offered Berkman a similar deal? Absolutely not, but the draw of Texas and the chance to return home was taken off the table with the signing of Pena, anyway.
The Tampa Bay Rays shipped starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals in early December for top hitting prospect Wil Myers. Reaction to the deal was swift, and it became clear that the Royals were looking to win and win now.
What if that trade didn't happen?
Ryan Dempster could be a Royal right now.
Before the Shields trade, the Royals were hot on the heels of free-agent pitcher Ryan Dempster, who eventually signed with the Boston Red Sox.
Royals owner David Glass made it clear he would be willing to spend money for pitching, and their actions prior to the trade clearly spelled out that initiative.
R.A. Dickey might have been pitching at Kauffman Stadium instead of the Rogers Centre.
The Royals were interested in dealing for Cy Young winner Dickey as well, but at the time were not willing to include Myers in the deal. Still, talks could have intensified had the Royals not acquired Shields and Davis.
The Royals would have gone after a bevy of mid-rotation starters rather than an ace.
Earlier in the offseason, the Royals were interested in the likes of Kevin Correia, Brett Myers and Jair Jurrjens. None of them are top-of-the-rotation material, so it's likely that was a backup plan in case they couldn't land a No.1 starter.
After signing Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract, the Los Angeles Angels let everyone know that if they can't pitch their way to a World Series, they'll attempt to get there by hitting.
What if that deal didn't happen?
Zack Greinke still wouldn't have signed with the Angels.
It became apparent early on in the process that the Angels simply weren't willing to commit to the kind of dollars eventually offered up to Greinke. If Hamilton didn't sign, it likely wouldn't have changed the Angels' way of thinking.
Kendrys Morales would likely still be the Angels' DH.
The signing of Hamilton created a glut in Anaheim—something had to give.
Morales was the one to give.
The Los Angeles Dodgers made Zack Greinke the richest right-hander in MLB history, signing him to a six-year, $147 million deal.
What if that deal never happened?
The Dodgers definitely would have been in play for Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse.
With the money the Dodgers were clearly looking to spend, they were going to land a top-shelf pitcher if they weren't successful in landing Greinke. They were interested in both Sanchez and Lohse early in the offseason.
R.A. Dickey could have been throwing his knuckler at Dodger Stadium.
Without Greinke in the fold, the Dodgers might have given more consideration to dealing for Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported in early December that the Dodgers were one of eight teams believed to have interest at the time.
When the Miami Marlins pulled off their deal with the Toronto Blue Jays in November, they completely alienated a fanbase already disgruntled with a team that badly under-performed in 2012.
Having already rid themselves of Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Anibal Sanchez, Gaby Sanchez, Edward Mujica and Omar Infante, the dismantling of the Marlins continued with the Blue Jays trade.
What if the Marlins' deal with the Blue Jays fell through?
The fire sale would have happened regardless.
The Marlins and Jays came to an agreement that clearly worked for the Jays. Had that not happened, there's no question the Marlins would have sought other avenues of opportunity to unload salary.
Simply put, there was absolutely no way any of the players dealt would have continued in a Marlins uniform in 2013.
The Milwaukee Brewers have made very few moves this offseason, acquiring Mike Gonzalez, Tom Gorzellany and Burke Badenhop to help their struggling bullpen and bringing injured shortstop Alex Gonzalez back.
The Brewers are still considering the possibility of signing free-agent starting pitcher Kyle Lohse.
At the recent Brewers FanFest, owner Mark Attanasio didn't rule out the chance.
“There’s always a chance,” Attanasio said. “Again, it’s a function of size of contract, length of contract. Kyle had a phenomenal two seasons the last two seasons. We just have to see if that fits in our overall scheme.”
What if the Brewers did in fact sign Lohse?
Their offseason would be complete.
With limited finances, the Brewers shored up a shaky bullpen with the acquisition of Gonzalez, Gorzellany and Badenhop. They also found an inexpensive backup plan at shortstop by signing Gonzalez for just $1.5 million. Jean Segura is the heir apparent, but Gonzalez gives manager Ron Roenicke some insurance.
Singing Lohse would give the Brewers a solid No. 2 option behind ace Yovani Gallardo. Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta certainly have potential, but the Brewers' rotation would certainly considered much stronger with Lohse in the mix.
It was clear the Brewers were going to be financially conservative this offseason, given declining attendance and a miserable TV contract. Lohse's signing with the Brewers would definitely be considered a long-shot, and it wouldn't have affected their earlier offseason transactions.
The Minnesota Twins traded Denard Span to the Washington Nationals in late November, not really a surprise since Span's name had been mentioned in various rumors for well over a year.
However, just a week after dealing Span, the Twins let go of promising outfielder Ben Revere, shipping him to the Philadelphia Phillies for Vance Worley and minor-league prospect Trevor May.
What if the trade for Revere didn't happen?
The Twins would have found another suitor.
It was clear the Twins were looking for pitching, and they were going to go after young hurlers under team control. If not the Phillies, another team would have been in the mix.
The Twins knew they had a major trading commodity in Revere—a youngster with blazing speed and the ability to hit .300 doesn't grow on trees. In addition, Revere was under team control for the next five years, the major reason he got more in value than Span.
The New York Mets dealt Cy Young Award-winning pitcher R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays along with catcher Josh Thole for catcher John Buck, prospect catcher Travis d'Arnaud, prospect pitcher Noah Syndergaard and prospect outfielder Wuilmer Becerra.
What if the trade never happened?
The Mets would still be looking at a dismal 2013 season.
Even with Dickey in the fold next year, the Mets simply have too many holes offensively to even think about contending for a playoff berth in 2013. With an outfield consisting of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin and Collin Cowgill, I don't think too many fans are turning cartwheels at the prospects.
Dickey would have been traded elsewhere.
It was apparent that the Mets weren't willing to offer Dickey the contract he eventually agreed to with the Blue Jays. What they were interested in was a return package that could set them up for that future. Many feel they achieved just that in the deal with the Jays.
General manager Sandy Alderson would absolutely have entered into a deal with another team if he got a return package comparable to the one he received from the Blue Jays.
Much has been said about the players signed by the New York Yankees this offseason. They brought back a bevy of veterans on one-year deals, none of them under the age of 37.
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte all returned for short-team deals, and all of them are at least 39. The baby of the bunch was Hiroki Kuroda, whom the Yankees brought back for one year and $15 million.
What if the Yankees said no to Kuroda?
The Yankees might have considered a more serious run at free-agent catcher Mike Napoli.
With Russell Martin departing, the Yankees may have considered going after Napoli more fiercely. In retrospect, a wise decision not to.
The Yankees would have gone after other one-year options with veteran pitchers.
With managing partner Hal Steinbrenner's edict to reduce payroll under the $189 million luxury tax threshold by 2014, free-agent pitchers like Anibal Sanchez, Zack Greinke and Kyle Lohse were never seriously considered by the Yankees.
If they hadn't signed Kuroda, they clearly would have gone after temporary one-year solutions in order to help get to that goal.
The Oakland Athletics wanted some insurance for outfielders Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes, who missed a combined 75 games in 2012. The acquisition of Chris Young gave manager Bob Melvin that added insurance.
What if the A's hadn't dealt for Young?
Jonny Gomes would likely still be in an A's uniform.
A's general manager Billy Beane had expressed an interest in bringing back much of his 2012 roster. However, the trade for Young meant that Gomes was expendable.
Beane acknowledged at the time time that the Young deal "will have an impact" on Gomes' status.
Gomes was an unquestioned leader for the A's in the clubhouse and contributed mightily to their cause offensively, belting 18 HR with 47 RBI in 279 at-bats.
In pulling off the deal that landed Michael Young, the Philadelphia Phillies took care of an immediate need at third base, spending only $6 million in the process. The Texas Rangers picked up $10 million of the $16 million owed to Young in 2013.
What if the Young deal didn't happen?
The Phillies might have more strongly considered signing Kevin Youkilis.
Wanting to find a right-handed option at third base, the Phillies certainly may have given more consideration to signing Youkilis. They were at one time considered serious contenders for his services.
More thought might have been given to moving Chase Utley to third.
The Phillies all but squashed the idea of moving Utley to third base in September. However, if the deal with Young hadn't gone through and the team was unsuccessful in attempts to land another option, could they have given that idea more thought?
It's unlikely, given the fact that Freddy Galvis broke his back and was suspended for 50 games, his future certainly in question.
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed catcher Russell Martin to a two-year, $17 million contract, infusing their offense with a solid right-handed bat and upgrading defensively behind the plate.
What if the Pirates hadn't signed Martin?
The Pirates could have opted for A.J. Pierzynski.
With a relatively thin market, the Pirates may have been willing to go after Pierzynski on a one-year deal. Gerald Laird, Yorvit Torrealba and Kelly Shoppach were other candidates at the time, however, none of them were attractive everyday options.
In looking at the offseason moves for the San Diego Padres, one major point stands out.
Not one major move was completed, despite the team being under new ownership.
The biggest commitment made this offseason was the recent one-year, $8.75 million deal given to Chase Headley, avoiding arbitration.
Well, I suppose one could count the Jason Marquis signing as a deal as well.
Marquis was brought back on a one-year, $3 million deal after posting a 4.04 ERA in 15 starts last season. Just how Marquis performs with shorter fences at Petco Park is another story entirely.
What if the Padres hadn't re-signed Marquis?
Um, maybe nothing?
The Padres showed absolutely no inclination to sign anyone this offseason. Despite having new ownership, the Padres acted like the Padres of old, much to the chagrin of their fans.
The Padres finished their final 100 games at 55-45 last season, so there is certainly encouragement that a young squad can continue to mature and develop.
But making no moves of note was puzzling, indeed.
The San Francisco Giants made a point of re-signing key contributors from their 2012 World Series-winning roster, including Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro.
Scutaro resigned for three years and $20 million.
What if the Giants hadn't re-signed Scutaro?
The Giants might have considered Stephen Drew as a short-term option.
I've decided to go with the territorial thing here—keep the A's from moving to San Jose, keep Drew from re-signing with Oakland.
The Giants may have considered signing Japanese star Hiroyuki Nakajima.
More of a territorial thing here as well. Hey, why not—I was on a roll.
The Seattle Mariners likely rejoiced when they learned the Washington Nationals had re-signed first baseman Adam LaRoche. They then knew they had an opportunity to land a big bat in outfielder Michael Morse.
But what if the Morse deal didn't happen?
Michael Bourn might already be a Mariner.
Outfielder Michael Bourn is still looking for a job. If Morse hadn't been dealt to Seattle, he might already have one.
The Mariners could still make a play for Bourn at this point, but without Morse in the fold, general manager Jack Zduriencik may have given strong consideration quite a bit earlier.
The St. Louis Cardinals were without a doubt one of the least active teams of the offseason. Their major signings included reliever Randy Choate and utility man Ty Wigginton. Their only significant trade was sending reserve infielder Skip Schumaker to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cards could have actually done without making any of the deals at all. Choate will certainly be a help to fellow lefty Marc Rzepczynski in the pen, but not signing him wouldn't have drastically changed the course of their offseason.
Without question, the Cardinals were one of the more well-positioned teams heading into the offseason.
The Tampa Bay Rays made a move to add a potentially potent bat this offseason. They grabbed top hitting prospect Wil Myers from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis.
What if the Shields trade never happened?
Jeremy Hellickson might have been dealt instead.
If it hadn't been Shields, it likely would have been Hellickson. The Royals were just as intent on acquiring him as well.
General manager Andrew Friedman would have sought another trade opportunity to acquire a big bat.
Before the Rays settled on Myers, they were involved in talks to acquire Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco from the Cincinnati Reds in a proposed three-team trade.
Those are the exact type of deals that Friedman prefers—young guys like Myers who have offensive potential and are under team control for several years.
When Josh Hamilton signed with the rival Los Angeles Angels for five years and $125 million, they successfully stole a player away from the Texas Rangers for the second year in a row.
C.J. Wilson jumped ship last year with his five-year deal as well.
What if the Rangers had signed Hamilton?
They would have been financially hamstrung in adding more pieces.
By signing Hamilton, the Rangers would have gone way over last year's payroll of $120 million. They clearly would have been financially challenged to add complementary pieces.
Lance Berkman would not have been signed.
It's doubtful that Lance Berkman would have been calling Rangers Ballpark home in 2013. By signing Hamilton, the Rangers likely wound't have had the financial wherewithal to sign Berkman. Internal candidates like Mike Olt, Jurickson Profar and David Murphy could have been given at-bats instead.
In trading for Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck, the Toronto Blue Jays clearly showed they were ready to win and win now.
What if the Blue Jays were unsuccessful in pulling off the deal?
The Blue Jays likely would have seriously gone after Anibal Sanchez.
Without pulling off the above trade, the Jays were intent on improving their starting pitching. One of the players they would have made a hard push for was Sanchez.
Back in early November, the Jays were perfectly willing to pay out a high average annual value for Sanchez.
The Blue Jays still would have gone after R.A. Dickey.
Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has never been one to shy away from a major deal, so Dickey definitely still would have been in play even without the above trade happening.
Melky Cabrera still would have been signed.
Back in early November, Anthopoulos prioritized his team's needs—pitching, second base and left field. Cabrera still would have been an option regardless.
The Washington Nationals signed Dan Haren to replace Edwin Jackson in their starting rotation for the 2013 season, spending $13 million in the process.
What if the Nationals passed on Haren?
They might have been more serious in their pursuit of James Shields.
The Nationals at one time were in discussions with the Tampa Bay Rays, with Shields being the primary topic of discussion. That deal might have been further discussed without the addition of Haren.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.