2013 MLB Predictions: Big Offseason Spenders That Will Get Return on Investment

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2013

Greed is not always good.

The New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox have all spent a ton of money recently, and all three look likely to miss the playoffs this year.

With the new collective bargaining agreement, it's getting harder and harder for teams to use free agency to pick up the best talent. Small-market teams are able to sign their prospects to long-term deals that are financially friendly.

That hasn't stopped some teams from making some major noise through the free-agent market or trades, which is becoming much more common now.

While spending money is far from a guarantee for success in baseball, these three teams really helped themselves through eventful offseasons.


Cleveland Indians

In what was one of the most unlikely offseasons for any team in recent memory, the Cleveland Indians went out and splashed some major cash. After what was a disastrous season, management clearly felt the need to open wallets.

The Indians signed Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Mark Reynolds and Brett Myers. There was also the trade that brought in Drew Stubbs and Trevor Bauer.

With Stubbs, Bourn and Michael Brantley, Cleveland has one of the best defensive outfields in the league. It has both gloves and speed to cover the gaps.

Mike Aviles, Swisher, Bourn and Reynolds bring in some much-needed offense as well.

Pitching is still a bit of a concern. Myers will eat up some innings, and you know exactly what you're getting with him. That can't be said with Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, who need to step up this year. Signing Scott Kazmir and Daisuke Matsuzaka to minor league deals could very well turn out to be the best moves of the offseason. The two are the kind of low-risk, high-reward players that come cheaply, which works perfectly for a small-market team like the Tribe.


Toronto Blue Jays

If there was ever a season for the Toronto Blue Jays to revamp in the offseason, this was it.

Both the Red Sox and Yankees are looking at down years. There's a very real possibility the Yankees could finish the season below .500. In terms of the other competition, the Baltimore Orioles will have a hard time repeating the magic of last season, and the Tampa Bay Rays have offensive concerns.

Meanwhile, Toronto added Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, Melky Cabrera and Emilio Bonifacio.

The Blue Jays' rotation is stacked. Having Ricky Romero struggle so much this spring wasn't part of the plan, but otherwise, Toronto doesn't have much to worry about there.

Reyes and Cabrera are great additions to an offense that already included J.P. Arencibia, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Fans should expect Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus to continue to improve as well.

Toronto has a very good chance of bringing home a pennant.


Atlanta Braves

It should be an extremely competitive race at the top of the National League East. The Washington Nationals could very well be the best team in MLB going into the season. Right behind them are the Atlanta Braves.

There isn't an outfield scarier than what the Braves have. Bringing in both B.J. and Justin Upton to join Jason Heyward is just unfair for opposing pitchers. You could make a very good case that Justin Upton or Heyward could win the NL MVP Award.

Atlanta already had a strong infield that mixes solid power with good defense. Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman could hit more than 20 home runs apiece. Meanwhile, Andrelton Simmons has one of the best gloves in baseball despite being 23 years old.

Jordan Walden is also a very good pickup for the bullpen. He struggled in the closer role last season but should thrive with Craig Kimbrel as the established ninth-inning guy.

Frank Wren didn't need to do much with this team this offseason. Signing B.J. Upton and trading for Justin Upton were absolute masterstrokes, though.