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Spring Training Report Cards for MLB's Top 30 Offseason Acquisitions

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2013

Spring Training Report Cards for MLB's Top 30 Offseason Acquisitions

1 of 31

    Spring training has come to an end, and the 2013 MLB season is set to kick off this Sunday with the season in full swing on Monday.

    While spring training results are not always a great indicator of success for the upcoming season, it certainly doesn't hurt to get off to a strong start. If nothing else it gives fans a chance to see the team's top newcomers in action for the first time.

    With that in mind, here is a look at how the top 30 offseason acquisitions fared this spring, along with my grade on how they performed.

     

    *Note: All stats via Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.

3B Michael Young, Philadelphia Phillies

2 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .264/.304/.361, 4 2B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 10 R

     

    Summary

    After spending the past 13 seasons with the Rangers, Young was dealt to the Rangers this offseason following the worst year of his career.

    At 36, there's no question he's on the downswing of his career, but he represents an upgrade at third for the Phillies nonetheless. He looked decent this spring, and in the final year of his contract he'll be looking to prove he still has something left.

     

    Grade: B-

RP Joel Hanrahan, Boston Red Sox

3 of 31

    Spring Stats

    9 G, 7.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 8 K

     

    Summary

    After Jonathan Papelbon departed in free agency last offseason, the Red Sox dealt for A's closer Andrew Bailey as a long-term solution in the ninth inning. Instead, Bailey missed most of the season and the spot remained a question this winter.

    Again they went to the trade market to fill the void, acquiring two-time All-Star Hanrahan from the Pirates, and he'll lead what should be an improved Red Sox bullpen in 2013.

     

    Grade: D

CF Ben Revere, Philadelphia Phillies

4 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .337/.382/.398, 5 2B, 7 RBI, 17 R, 10 SB

     

    Summary

    With the trades of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, the Phillies entered the offseason with major question marks in the outfield and no real in-house option to fill the void in center field.

    They found their man in speedy Twins right fielder Ben Revere, trading pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May to acquire the 24-year-old who swiped 74 bases over the past two seasons.

     

    Grade: A

SP Jason Vargas, Los Angeles Angels

5 of 31

    Spring Stats

    5 G, 21 IP, 23 H, 11 ER, 5 BB, 15 K

     

    Summary

    In search of an innings-eating starter to fill out their new-look rotation, the Angels dealt slugger Kendrys Morales to the offensively challenged Mariners for Vargas.

    The left-hander won a career-high 14 games last season, while reaching the 200-inning mark for the second straight season. He's not an ace, but he's a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm and should bring stability to the Angels' revamped staff.

     

    Grade: C-

3B Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees

6 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .271/.321/.750, 6 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 9 R

     

    Summary

    Even before a wave of injuries struck this spring, the Yankees were down a man with Alex Rodriguez undergoing hip surgery and expected to miss at least half the season.

    The team signed Youkilis to a one-year, $12 million deal as a result to shore up third base. After struggling to open the 2012 season in Boston, Youkilis got back on track following a trade to the White Sox. He may not be the All-Star of old, but he's still a solid hitter with terrific plate discipline.

     

    Grade: A-

SP Dan Haren, Washington Nationals

7 of 31

    Spring Stats

    6 G, 25.1 IP, 30 H, 18 ER, 5 BB, 18 K

     

    Summary

    With Edwin Jackson gone in free agency, the Nationals signed Haren to a one-year, $13 million deal to be their No. 4 starter, as the veteran looks to rebound from last year and set himself up for a big payday.

    A dip in velocity coupled with nagging back and hip problems caused Haren to fall off significantly last season, and the 32-year-old is out to prove he is still a frontline starter.

     

    Grade: D-

C/1B Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox

8 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .304/.353/.500, 3 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 6 R

     

    Summary

    The breakout season came a year too early for Napoli, as he hit .320 with a 1.046 OPS in 2011, but came back to earth last season before hitting free agency in the winter.

    A failed physical cost him some money and years, and he wound up signing a one-year, $5 million deal with incentives to join the Red Sox. He'll spend most of his time at first base, and with a 1.107 OPS in 19 career games at Fenway Park it could be a good fit.

     

    Grade: B

RF Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers

9 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .324/.352/.515, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 11 R

     

    Summary

    At 36, Hunter turned in one of the best seasons of his career last year, hitting a career-high .313 with 16 home runs and 92 RBI for the Angels.

    The team opted not to re-sign him, and the Tigers made him one of the first free-agent signings of the offseason, filling a major void in right field and adding a terrific veteran presence to the clubhouse.

     

    Grade: A

CF Denard Span, Washington Nationals

10 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .220/.352/.271, 3 2B, 1 RBI, 9 R

     

    Summary

    For years, the Nationals have been in search of a franchise center fielder and true leadoff hitter, and they killed two birds with one stone when they shipped highly regarded pitching prospect Alex Meyer to the Twins for Span.

    A career .284/.357/.389 hitter and Gold Glove-caliber defender, his addition gives the Nationals as complete a top-to-bottom roster as any team in baseball.

     

    Grade: C

SP Mark Buehrle, Toronto Blue Jays

11 of 31

    Spring Stats

    5 G, 13 IP, 21 H, 9 ER, 7 BB, 7 K

     

    Summary

    Buehrle was one of a number of veterans the Blue Jays acquired this offseason, and while he may not be as sexy a name as Jose Reyes or R.A. Dickey, he's as reliable as any pitcher in the game.

    The 34-year-old has won double-digit games and pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past 12 seasons, and he has also won four straight Gold Gloves. He's the type of veteran who leads by example, and he could be a glue guy for the new-look Blue Jays.

     

    Grade: D

RF Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox

12 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .179/.289/.308, 1 2B, 2 3B, 3 RBI, 7 R

     

    Summary

    With a ton of money to spend and holes up and down the roster, the Red Sox were as aggressive as any team in free agency this winter, and they gave Victorino a three-year, $39 million deal to play right field.

    Coming off of the worst season of his career, they may have overpaid for the 32-year-old veteran. A weak spring training that included a 1-for-11 showing playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic hasn't helped quell those concerns.

     

    Grade: F

SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers

13 of 31

    Spring Stats

    7 G, 27.1 IP, 17 H, 10 ER, 8 BB, 27 K

     

    Summary

    The top international arm on the market this winter, the Dodgers signed Ryu to a six-year, $36 million deal after winning negotiating rights with a $25.7 million posting fee.

    The 26-year-old was 98-52 with a 2.80 ERA and 1,238 strikeouts in 1,269 innings over seven seasons for the Hanwha Eagles. With a four-pitch repertoire, he'll look to transfer that success to the United States, and he's looked sharp so far this spring.

     

    Grade: A

DH Kendrys Morales, Seattle Mariners

14 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .305/.323/.610, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 14 R

     

    Summary

    Looking to bolster what has been the lowest-scoring offense in the American League each of the past three seasons, the Mariners sent workhorse left-hander Jason Vargas to the Angels for Morales.

    After missing most of 2010 and all of 2011 with injuries, he was not quite the same dynamic hitter he was pre-injury, but he provides a welcome power bat in the middle of the Seattle lineup nonetheless.

     

    Grade: A

SP Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee Brewers

15 of 31

    Spring Stats

    1 G, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

     

    Summary

    Lohse spent most of the offseason looking for a job, finally signing a three-year, $33 million deal with the Brewers on Monday, in time to make one start before the end of spring training.

    He's kept himself in shape this offseason and could be ready to make his first start when his rotation spot comes around to open the season, and he'll give the Brewers another reliable frontline starter alongside Yovani Gallardo.

     

    Grade: B

CF Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds

16 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .366/.409/.561, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 11 R

     

    Summary

    Much like the Nationals, the Reds entered the offseason in need of an upgrade in center field and a proven on-base threat atop their lineup. A three-team deal with the Indians and Diamondbacks solved both problems, as they acquired the veteran Choo.

    Though not a prototypical leadoff hitter, Choo has a .381 career on-base percentage and remains a 20/20 threat with a complete all-around game. He should make an already dynamic Reds lineup that much more dangerous.

     

    Grade: B+

RP Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals

17 of 31

    Spring Stats

    7 G, 6.2 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 8 K

     

    Summary

    The top closer on the free-agent market this offseason, Soriano turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees and as a result required draft-pick compensation to sign.

    That hurt his value, but he wound up signing a two-year, $28 million deal with Washington, taking over closer duties for a stacked Nationals team expected to contend for a title. 

     

    Grade: D

SP Ryan Dempster, Boston Red Sox

18 of 31

    Spring Stats

    5 G, 17.2 IP, 15 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 10 K

     

    Summary

    Looking to improve a starting rotation that ranked 27th in the league last season with a 5.19 ERA, the Red Sox added the veteran Dempster on a two-year, $26.5 million deal.

    The 35-year-old was fantastic for the Cubs last season, but struggled after being traded to the Rangers in what was his first go-around in the American League. He'll help change the entire culture of the Boston clubhouse and should give the team a solid No. 3 starter.

     

    Grade: B

3B Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks

19 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .220/.278/.260, 2 2B, 8 RBI, 7 R

     

    Summary

    One of the most versatile players in the game, Prado posted a 5.6 WAR (h/t FanGraphs) last season as he hit .301 with 10 home runs, 17 steals and 70 RBI while playing five different positions.

    The Braves traded him to Arizona in the deal that brought Justin Upton to Atlanta, and he'll serve as the team's everyday third baseman. He's the type of player who does a little bit of everything for a team, and does it well.

     

    Grade: D

SP Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs

20 of 31

    Spring Stats

    5 G, 20 IP, 18 H, 9 ER, 5 BB, 8 K

     

    Summary

    The Cubs turned their attention this offseason to shoring up their starting rotation, and Jackson was their big signing, as he got a four-year, $52 million deal.

    He's never been a staff ace, but he is as durable as they come, and that is incredibly valuable this day and age. He'll give the rebuilding Cubs a proven veteran in the middle of their young staff.

     

    Grade: C+

CF Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians

21 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .213/.273/.295, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 5 R

     

    Summary

    The speedy Bourn was one of the last marquee free agents to sign this offseason, as he joins an Indians team that had as busy an offseason as anyone adding veteran pieces.

    He strikes out more than you'd like out of your leadoff hitter, but he is one of the premier base stealers in the game and plays Gold Glove defense in center field.

     

    Grade: D

1B Michael Morse, Seattle Mariners

22 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .370/.453/.926, 3 2B, 9 HR, 15 RBI, 14 R

     

    Summary

    After adding Kendrys Morales to their offense, the Mariners continued to improve their lineup with the addition of Morse. The slugger began his big league career with Seattle back in 2005.

    After the team acquired Denard Span and re-signed Adam LaRoche, Morse was the odd man out in Washington. He battled injuries last season, but still managed 18 home runs in 406 at-bats, and he's been fantastic this spring.

     

    Grade: A+

SP Josh Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays

23 of 31

    Spring Stats

    5 G, 16 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 21 K

     

    Summary

    Health has been an issue for Johnson throughout his career, but he showed the type of pitcher he's capable of being in 2010 when he led the NL with a 2.30 ERA.

    He stayed healthy last season, making 31 starts, but his numbers were down across the board while pitching for a disappointing Marlins team. A change of scenery and another healthy season could result in big numbers.

     

    Grade: A

1B Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians

24 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .396/.475/.585, 1 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 9 R

     

    Summary

    Swisher spent the past four seasons with the Yankees, averaging 26 home runs and 87 RBI per season as he has been a consistent source of power and run production throughout his career.

    Expected to be sellers, the Indians instead added a number of pieces this offseason, and Swisher was their big addition as he signed a four-year, $56 million deal. He'll serve as the team's primary run producer and veteran leader in a young clubhouse.

     

    Grade: A

SS Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays

25 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .483/.531/.690, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R

     

    Summary

    After winning the NL batting title in 2011, Reyes signed a six-year, $106 million deal as the Marlins' key acquisition during last offseason's spending spree.

    Reyes now joins a loaded Blue Jays lineup, where he'll serve as the table setter ahead of sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, among others. Expect a ton of runs scored as he should rank as one of the more productive shortstops in the league.

     

    Grade: A

CF B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves

26 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .347/.342/.507, 6 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R

     

    Summary

    With Michael Bourn gone in free agency, the Braves gave Upton a five-year, $75.25 million deal to replace him after he spent the first eight seasons of his career in Tampa Bay.

    Always one of the better power/speed threats in the game, Upton hit a career-high 28 home runs last season while swiping 31 bases. He strikes out a ton (169 K in 2012) and doesn't hit for a particularly high average (.255 career), but his skill set makes him incredibly valuable nonetheless, and a change of scenery could lead to a breakout season.

     

    Grade: B+

SP James Shields, Kansas City Royals

27 of 31

    Spring Stats

    6 G, 18.2 IP, 23 H, 14 ER, 4 BB, 15 K

     

    Summary

    Held down by their rotation the past few seasons while an impressive crop of homegrown position players has developed, the Royals acquired the ace they've desperately needed when they dealt a talented package of prospects to the Rays for Shields.

    He certainly fits the bill of a workhorse rotation leader, and he's gone 31-22 with a 3.15 ERA and 14 complete games over the past two seasons. He should immediately make the Royals better as they push toward contention.

     

    Grade: C-

LF Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves

28 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .286/.333/.586, 3 2B, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 13 R

     

    Summary

    Two months after signing his brother B.J. as a free agent, the Braves pulled off a blockbuster deal and acquired Upton from the Diamondbacks for a package of players built around Martin Prado and Randall Delgado.

    Still only 25, Upton already has six big league seasons under his belt, and there is still plenty of room for improvement. He's flashed some good power this spring, and perhaps this is the year he finally emerges as a bona fide superstar.

     

    Grade: A

SP R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays

29 of 31

    Spring Stats

    2 G, 5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

     

    Summary

    It's not very often the reigning Cy Young winner is traded, but then again nothing about the career of R.A. Dickey has been particularly normal, so it's fitting that he was moved.

    He joins a Blue Jays team with sky-high expectations after their busy offseason, and while he may struggle to match his phenomenal 2012 season, he'll be the ace of their vastly improved staff.

     

    Grade: C

RF Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels

30 of 31

    Spring Stats

    .278/.298/.481, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 6 R

     

    Summary

    One of the most feared sluggers in the league, Hamilton launched a career-high 43 home runs last season while driving in 128 runs as he continued to drive the Rangers offense.

    Texas failed in its attempts to re-sign him this offseason, and he joined the division-rival Angels on a five-year, $125 million deal. He now joins Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo among others in a loaded Angels lineup.

     

    Grade: C+

SP Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers

31 of 31

    Spring Stats

    3 G, 8 IP, 12 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 5 K

     

    Summary

    Looking for a frontline starter to slot behind Clayton Kershaw in their rotation, the Dodgers signed Greinke to a six-year, $147 million deal as the top pitcher on the market.

    He's battled injuries already this spring, and the Dodgers may well have overpaid for the 29-year-old right-hander, but he filled their biggest need this entering the offseason.

    Greinke's time with the Dodgers has not gotten off to a good start.

     

    Grade: F

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