Best and Worst of MLB Offseason
On Nov. 13, the Blue Jays and Marlins completed a 12-player blockbuster trade that completely changed both teams' prospects for this season.
The Jays are now the likely favorite in the AL East after winning just 73 games last season, while the Marlins have tanked and cut millions in payroll.
Here are two bottom-feeders and three contenders; the two worst and three best offseasons of all the teams in MLB.
The Houston Astros were the worst team in baseball last season, and they have not done much to change that.
After losing 107 games in 2012, the Astros' biggest acquisition was Carlos Pena. In his first three seasons with the Rays, Pena was an excellent hitter, posting a career-high WAR (wins above replacement) of 6.8 in 2007. He has fallen drastically since then, however.
In 2012, he hit just .197 with 19 home runs. On top of that, he had a career-high 182 strikeouts in 497 at-bats, or one in every 2.73 times he stepped up to the plate.
The Astros did acquire three young pitchers: Brad Peacock, John Ely and Alex White. If they can become solid major league players long-term, then this winter will not be a complete waste.
However, White and Ely have not had much success in their limited time in the majors. White has a career 6.03 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in 149.1 innings. Ely is not much better, with a 5.70 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP in 115.1 innings.
Just one year removed from signing Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle and building a new ballpark, the Marlins dismantled their roster in a series of money-saving moves.
The Blue Jays took full advantage of the Marlins' cost-cutting and have vaulted themselves into championship contention.
Miami won just 69 games last season, but they could be even worse this year. They can't replace Reyes, Buehrle or Josh Johnson quickly, and their biggest acquisition was the 35-year-old Juan Pierre.
For an organization that showed so much promise last season, this winter was an enormous letdown for baseball fans in southern Florida.
The Atlanta Braves struggled to hit for power last season, so they acquired brothers B.J. and Justin Upton.
Atlanta ranked 22nd in slugging, .389, and T-19th in home runs, 149, last season. B.J. had 28 home runs, drove in 78 runs and had a .454 slugging percentage for the Rays last season.
Justin hit just 17 homers in 2012, but in 2011 he hit 31 with 88 RBIs and a .289 batting average in his best MLB season, posting a 5.7 WAR, according to ESPN. Atlanta can only hope that they will be getting the 2011 Justin Upton.
Beyond the Uptons, Atlanta also acquired Chris Johnson to play third base. Johnson is still fairly young at 28. Between Houston and Arizona last season, he hit .281 with 15 homers and 76 RBIs. While his numbers won't blow anyone away, he will be another hitter whom opposing teams will have to respect, and he will provide decent power and average behind the Uptons in the order.
Finally, the Braves brought in relief pitcher Jordan Walden to provide depth for their bullpen. In three seasons with the Angels, Walden has had a 3.06 ERA while striking out 138 batters in just 114.2 innings pitched.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels were one of the best hitting teams last season; they were first in batting average, fifth in on-base percentage and ninth in home runs. Then they signed 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton away from the division rival Texas Rangers.
Hamilton's .285 batting average was his lowest in the past three seasons, but he hit 43 home runs and drove in 128 runs for the Rangers last season. Trout, Hamilton and Pujols will be an absolute nightmare for pitchers in the AL West.
The Angels added depth to their pitching rotation, acquiring Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton. All three pitchers threw at least 170 innings and 140 strikeouts last season.
They also signed Ryan Madson at closer, who had 32 saves and a 2.37 ERA in 2011. Sean Burnett will add depth to the bullpen, and was reliable with a 2.38 ERA in 70 appearances last season.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays made the most noise of any team this offseason.
They acquired three excellent starting pitchers: R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson. All three pitched at least 190 innings last season with an ERA under four. Dickey was the best of the three last season, winning the NL Cy Young, but Buehrle's career record is 174-132 and Johnson's is 56-37.
The Jays acquired two All-Star-caliber hitters as well. Jose Reyes has a career batting average of .287 and has stolen at least 30 bases six times in his career. Melky Cabrera has hit above .300 the past two seasons, hitting .346 last season before testing positive for testosterone.
Their ability to get on base and into scoring position will be extremely valuable to the sluggers that will follow them in the order. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are both capable of hitting 40 home runs, and they will love the extra chances for RBIs.
The Blue Jays have added a lot of salary long-term with their offseason moves, but that salary should also translate into a roster capable of competing into October.