Picking All 30 MLB Teams' Best Offseason Move Thus Far

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2013

Picking All 30 MLB Teams' Best Offseason Move Thus Far

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    A month-and-a-half into the MLB offseason, and with the Winter Meetings behind us, there has already been plenty of activity in free agency and on the trade market since the 2013 season ended.

    A number of top free agents have yet to find new homes, with Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz topping the list of available bats, and Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana representing the market's top remaining arms. The trade market could still see some big moves as well, with David Price and Jeff Samardzija expected to be moved.

    As things stand here in the middle of December, though, here is a look at each team's best move so far this offseason.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Best Move

    • Acquired LF Mark Trumbo from the Angels for OF Adam Eaton and SP Tyler Skaggs in a three-team deal



    The Diamondbacks' No. 1 priority this offseason was finding a power bat to protect Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup, and they got their man when they traded for Mark Trumbo at the Winter Meetings.

    Giving up Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs does not hurt as much as it may seem on the surface, either, especially considering that A.J. Pollock passed Eaton on the depth chart in center field last year and Archie Bradley has emerged as the team's best pitching prospect.

    All in all, this was a solid deal for a Diamondbacks team that is looking to get back in the playoff mix.

Atlanta Braves

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    Best Move

    • None



    The Braves have yet to make a transaction of note this offseason, though they are close to a deal with Gavin Floyd, according to a tweet from David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    They'll likely stay relatively quiet without a clear area of need to address. That said, they could look to start working towards extensions with some of their young core pieces, with Freddie Freeman being perhaps the best place to start.


Baltimore Orioles

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    Best Move

    • Signed RP Ryan Webb to a two-year, $4.5 million deal



    Unloading Jim Johnson and what projected to be an arbitration salary north of $10 million was a good move for the Orioles, and they got a decent buy-low bounce-back candidate (Jemile Weeks) in return, but there are still too many question marks surrounding that move for it to be the choice here.

    Instead, the signing of Ryan Webb looks like their best move to this point. In an offseason where guys like Boone Logan (three years, $16.5 million) and Joe Smith (three years, $15.75 million) are being paid top dollar, Webb came cheap on a two-year deal after posting a 2.91 ERA over 66 appearances last season.

Boston Red Sox

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    Best Move

    • Re-signed 1B Mike Napoli to a two-year, $32 million deal



    There's no question that Mike Napoli was the one piece the Red Sox had to retain among their free agents this offseason, as the first-base market was thin, and there was a significant gap between Napoli and the rest of the field.

    After ranking second on the team in home runs and RBI last season and playing a surprisingly good defensive first base, Napoli is worth every penny of the $32 million deal he received. The fact that the Red Sox were able to keep it to two years is a bonus as well, with the health of Napoli's hip over the long-term still being a question mark.

Chicago Cubs

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    Best Move

    • Signed IF/OF Ryan Roberts to a minor league contract



    Year 3 of the Cubs' rebuilding efforts under Theo Epstein and Co. has been very quiet to this point, and with the team expected to struggle once again this coming year before making a run at respectability in 2015, they could very well stay that way.

    Among the small moves the team has made this winter, signing Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal could wind up being the best. Back in 2011, "TatMan" posted a .768 OPS with 19 home runs and 18 steals, and he brings good defensive versatility that could win him a utility spot.

Chicago White Sox

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    Best Move

    • Acquired CF Adam Eaton from the Diamondbacks for SP Hector Santiago in a three-team trade



    The White Sox added another young piece to their puzzle at the Winter Meetings, shipping left-hander Hector Santiago to the Angels in a three-team deal that netted them Diamondbacks center fielder Adam Eaton.

    Eaton was among the favorites to win NL Rookie of the Year heading into last season, but an elbow injury kept him sidelined until early July, and he never really got things going. That said, he still projects as a solid table-setter atop the lineup and a plus defensive outfielder, so expect better production in 2014.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Best Move

    • Acquired SP David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks for C Ryan Hanigan in a three-team trade



    The signing of veteran backup Brayan Pena all but spelled the end of Ryan Hanigan's time in Cincinnati, and the team quickly found an interested party for Hanigan's services in the Rays. The Diamondbacks were also involved in what ended up being a three-team trade, and left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg wound up going from Arizona to Cincinnati in the deal.

    The 22-year-old went 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.195 WHIP in 26 Double-A starts last season and projects as a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm over the long-term. He should be ready to make an impact at the big league level as soon as this coming year.

Cleveland Indians

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    Best Move

    • Signed RP John Axford to a one-year deal



    Though the financial details of the deal are not yet available, the Indians agreed to a one-year deal with John Axford on Sunday night, according to a tweet from Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.

    Axford saved 46 games with a 1.95 ERA for the Brewers back in 2011. However, he has struggled at times over the past two seasons and spent most of 2013 working in a setup role.

    He was traded to the Cardinals in August and posted a 1.74 ERA in 13 games with the team. As long as this doesn't approach the one-year, $10 million deal that Brian Wilson got from the Dodgers (it won't), it looks like a good move for an Indians team in desperate need of bullpen help.

Colorado Rockies

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    Best Move

    • Acquired SP Brett Anderson from the A's for SP Drew Pomeranz and SP Chris Jensen



    The Rockies' rotation was already vastly improved from 2012 to 2013, thanks in large part to healthy seasons from Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa, as well as the emergence of Tyler Chatwood. Now, the addition of Brett Anderson should make them even better, provided he can stay on the field.

    The left-hander went 11-11 with a 4.06 ERA in 30 starts as a rookie back in 2009, but he has managed just 43 starts over the past four years, with no more than 19 in any one season. He has frontline stuff when healthy, though, and was well worth the risk for Colorado.

Detroit Tigers

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    Best Move

    • Signed RP Joe Nathan to a two-year, $20 million deal



    It remains to be seen if the Prince Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler swap winds up biting the Tigers, as it leaves them with much less protection for all-world slugger Miguel Cabrera in the middle of the lineup. However, there is no question that the Joe Nathan signing makes them a better team immediately.

    The closer role was a mess last season until midway through the year, when Joaquin Benoit stepped up. But with Benoit now gone via free agency, the Nathan signing was a must.

    The 39-year-old is the active saves leader now that Mariano Rivera has retired, and he was great once again in 2013 with 43 saves and a 1.39 ERA.

Houston Astros

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    Best Move

    • Acquired CF Dexter Fowler from the Rockies for SP Jordan Lyles and OF Brandon Barnes



    The Astros have been fairly busy this offseasonat least compared to last yearas they not only traded for Dexter Fowler but also signed Scott Feldman (three years, $30 million) and Chad Qualls (two years, $6 million) to multi-year deals.

    Fowler was the big pickup, though, as the 27-year-old gives them another piece to build around alongside Jose Altuve and Jason Castro in the lineup. He has just average power and speed, but with a .365 career on-base percentage, he is a terrific option as a table-setter atop the lineup.

Kansas City Royals

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    Best Move

    • Acquired RF Norichika Aoki from the Brewers for RP Will Smith



    The Royals entered the offseason in need of a replacement for Ervin Santana in the rotation and a potential upgrade at both second base and right field. They found their pitcher in Jason Vargas, giving him a surprisingly big four-year, $32 million deal, but the better move to this point looks like their trade for Norichika Aoki.

    The 31-year-old hit .286/.356/.370 with eight home runs and 20 steals last season, and he came relatively cheap given how deep the Royals bullpen is, as losing Smith is far from a big blow. Aoki gives the team an everyday option in right field and could wind up being their leadoff hitter as well.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Best Move

    • Acquired SP Hector Santiago and SP Tyler Skaggs from the White Sox and Diamondbacks for LF Mark Trumbo



    After trading for David Freese and signing Joe Smith earlier this offseason, the Angels went into the Winter Meetings having still not addressed their starting rotation, a glaring need that had to be dealt with if they hoped to make a legitimate run at the playoffs in 2014.

    They weren't quick to part with Mark Trumbo, but the right deal came along, and they were smart to pull the trigger, as Hector Santiago (26) and Tyler Skaggs (22) give them a pair of young left-handers who can step into the rotation and help right away.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Best Move

    • Re-signed 3B Juan Uribe to a two-year, $15 million deal



    In an incredibly thin third-base market, the Dodgers best option was to re-sign Juan Uribe. And that's exactly what they did, and it was for relatively cheap given the fact that he was far and away the best option available.

    The 34-year-old had been seeking a three-year contract, but the Dodgers held firm in only wanting to offer him two, and that makes the deal look even better on their side. As good as Uribe was in 2013, it's still hard to forget just how bad he was during his first two years in L.A., so a two-year deal is certainly less of a risk.

Miami Marlins

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    Best Move

    • Signed C Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year, $21 million deal



    A year after selling big and essentially starting over from scratch, the Marlins are back in a position to spend some money on the free-agent market this offseason, and they filled their biggest need with one of the top catching options available.

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia put up career bests across the board with a .273/.338/.466 line this past season, and while the 28-year-old is average at best defensively, he does a nice job handling a staff and will be important in helping the team's terrific young rotation take the next step forward.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Best Move

    • Selected SP Wei-Chung Wang in the Rule 5 draft



    The Brewers made perhaps the most intriguing selection of the Rule 5 draft, taking 21-year-old Wei-Chung Wang from the Pirates. The left-hander has just one minor league season under his belt but was eligible for the draft because the first contract he signed with the Pirates was voided after it was discovered he needed Tommy John surgery.

    His 12 pro appearances (11 starts) all came at the Rookie League level, so it will be a significant jump if he does wind up sticking with the Brewers big league club this coming year.

    "We're hoping for some upside here, coming off of Tommy John surgery," Brewers GM Doug Melvin said to John Schlegel of MLB.com. "It's a chance to capture what we might consider a high-level prospect."

Minnesota Twins

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    Best Move

    • Signed SP Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal



    After getting an MLB-worst 5.26 ERA out of their starting pitchers last season, the Twins have been aggressive this offseason in their pursuit of arms, signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes and re-signing Mike Pelfrey to join Kevin Correia and Samuel Deduno in the rotation.

    The deal they gave Nolasco is the richest free-agent contract in franchise history, and while he may not be a ace-caliber pitcher, he is a steady veteran who can eat innings and provide the team with a reliable option. With the price of starting pitching continuing to climb, the $49 million he got over four years is actually very reasonable.

New York Mets

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    Best Move

    • Signed Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million deal



    The Mets set out to find an impact outfield bat this offseason, and they got their guy in Curtis Granderson. He may have ranked behind the likes of other free agent outfielders like Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, but he also came much cheaper and on a significantly shorter deal than what Ellsbury signed for and what Choo is likely to get.

    The 32-year-old played in just 61 games last year, but it was due to a pair of fluke injuries resulting in two separate hit-by-pitches. Prior to that, he had been very durable, averaging 153 games played from 2006-2012. As long as he stays on the field, he'll be a welcomed addition in the middle of the Mets' lineup.

New York Yankees

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    Best Move

    • Signed C Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million deal



    The Yankees have made a trio of free-agent splashes already this offseason, signing Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Of those three, the best signing on the surface looks to be McCann, as he was the best option available at a position that badly needed to be upgraded.

    Yankees catchers hit a combined .213/.289/.298 with a position-low eight home runs last season. McCann missed time early in 2013 and played in just 102 games, but he still hit .256/.336/.461 with 20 home runs and 57 RBI over 356 at-bats. He'll likely need to move out from behind the plate before his contract is up, but his offense should still play at first base or DH.

Oakland Athletics

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    Best Move

    • Acquired RP Luke Gregerson from the Padres for OF Seth Smith



    The A's biggest move so far this offseason has been the addition of All-Star closer Jim Johnson, but given his high salary and the fact that he blew an MLB-high nine saves last season, their best move looks to be the acquisition of Luke Gregerson for outfielder/DH Seth Smith.

    Gregerson has a 2.88 ERA and 9.1 K/9 mark in 363 career appearances, and he has been one of the top setup men in baseball since he debuted back in 2009. Smith was part of a rotation of bats in the outfield and at DH for the A's, but he can be replaced fairly easily and was set to become somewhat expensive in his final year of arbitration.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Best Move

    • Acquired RP Brad Lincoln from the Blue Jays C Erik Kratz and RP Rob Rasmussen



    The Phillies have made some questionable moves this offseason, most notably handing out a three-year, $26 million deal to a 34-year-old Carlos Ruiz who was coming off of a poor season. Adding right-hander Brad Lincoln to the back end of their bullpen looks to be a solid move, though.

    Even with Mike Adams coming back from injury and Antonio Bastardo returning from suspension, the bullpen was still in need of another proven veteran arm or two. The 28-year-old Lincoln split time between the rotation and bullpen to start his career but has pitched primarily out of the bullpen the past two years and emerged as a viable setup option.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Best Move

    • Signed SP Edinson Volquez to a one-year, $5 million deal



    The Pirates struck gold with their signing of Francisco Liriano last offseason, and they picked up another high-upside reclamation project of sorts in Edinson Volquez on a one-year deal at the Winter Meetings.

    Volquez was the Padres Opening Day starter last year, and while he has always had plus stuff, control problems have hampered him time and again.

    With the status of A.J. Burnett still in doubt, Volquez gives the team some needed depth as a possible No. 5 starter option and on a relatively cheap one-year deal that was well worth taking a chance on.

San Diego Padres

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    Best Move

    • Acquired RP Patrick Schuster from the Astros for RP Anthony Bass



    After sending reliever Anthony Bass (pictured) to the Astros for a player to be named at the beginning of the Winter Meetings, the Padres got Patrick Schuster in return after Houston selected him from the Diamondbacks with the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 draft.

    The 23-year-old left-hander spent all of last season at the High-A level, so he has his work cut out for him if he hopes to make the jump to the big leagues. That said, his numbers were impressive, as he posted a 1.83 ERA and 9.1 K/9 in 44.1 innings of work over 55 appearances.

San Francisco Giants

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    Best Move

    • Signed LF Michael Morse to a one-year, $6 million deal



    Having already re-signed the likes of Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez and Ryan Vogelsong, while also adding veteran Tim Hudson on a two-year deal to replace Barry Zito in the rotation, the Giants biggest need heading into the Winter Meetings was clearly an upgrade in left field.

    A handful of players led by Gregor Blanco hit a combined .257/.314/.337 with five home runs while manning left field last season, so upgrading the position was not all that difficult. There were easily safer options on the market, but Michael Morse was one of the better buy-low candidates out there, and if he can hit 20 home runs and drive in 70 or so RBI, his power bat would be a welcomed addition to the lineup.

Seattle Mariners

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    Best Move

    • Signed 1B/OF Corey Hart to a one-year, $6 million deal



    The 10-year, $240 million the Mariners gave Robinson Cano was obviously the big deal in Seattle and throughout the league so far this offseason. But as far as the best bang-for-your-buck deal, the addition of Corey Hart could wind up being Seattle's best signing.

    Hart missed all of 2013 with a pair of knee surgeries, but he averaged 29 home runs and 83 RBI in the three seasons leading up to last year. He was the perfect candidate for an incentive-laden deal, and he comes far cheaper than if Kendrys Morales had agreed to the $14.1 million qualifying offer the team made him at the beginning of the offseason.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Best Move

    • Signed SS Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $52 million deal



    Spending $13 million per year on a player who is limited defensively and coming off of a PED suspension would be a questionable move for almost every other team in baseball, but for the Cardinals, signing Jhonny Peralta fills the one big need they had to address.

    The 31-year-old hit .303/.358/.457 with 30 doubles, 11 home runs and 55 RBI over 409 at-bats for the Tigers last year, and he was the top option at the position on a free-agent market that also included Stephen Drew and little else of note.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Best Move

    • Acquired C Ryan Hanigan from the Reds for RP Justin Choate and CF Todd Glaesmann in a three-team trade



    The Rays have gone with Jose Molina as their starting catcher for the past two years, trading offensive production for a veteran defensive presence that can handle their pitching staff. While Molina was re-signed, the team has also added Ryan Hanigan to the mix, and the latter will likely be their starter.

    Hanigan hit just .198/.306/.261 with two home runs and 21 RBI over 222 at-bats last season, but he entered the year with a .275/.370/.360 career line over his first six MLB seasons in Cincinnati.

Texas Rangers

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    Best Move

    • Acquired LF Michael Choice and 2B Chris Bostick from the A's for OF Craig Gentry and RP Josh Lindblom



    The addition of Prince Fielder was the biggest move for Texas so far this offseason, and slotting him between Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios in the middle of their order certainly makes them better heading into the 2014 season.

    Even with the money the Tigers kicked in for in that trade, Fielder is still expensive and could be an albatross on the back end of his contract if his offensive production falls off at all.

    Instead, the acquisition of powerful outfield prospect Michael Choice for what amounts to a fourth outfielder and middle reliever looks like an absolute steal. He is penciled in as their starting left fielder as things stand now, and he could thrive in the launching pad that is the Ballpark in Arlington.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Best Move

    • Signed C Dioner Navarro to a two-year, $8 million deal



    The Blue Jays have been significantly quieter this offseason after an incredibly busy winter last year, and they'll rely on essentially the same core of players as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 campaign.

    They are still in the market for another frontline starter, but as things stand now, their big pickup has been Dioner Navarro.

    Navarro is still just 29, and he posted an .856 OPS with 13 home runs and 34 RBI in just 240 at-bats last season. He's not been an everyday catcher since the 2009 season, when he was still playing for the Rays, and he represents a significant upgrade over J.P. Arencibia.

Washington Nationals

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    Best Move

    • Acquired SP Doug Fister from the Tigers for UTIL Steve Lombardozzi, RP Ian Krol and SP Robbie Ray



    In what was the best deal of the offseason so far, in my opinion, the Nationals landed Doug Fister for a utility player, a middle reliever and one solid pitching prospect in Robbie Ray. On the open market, Fister would have been one of the better arms out there this season, and he immediately makes a good Nationals team that much better.

    The 29-year-old right-hander was 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA this past season, and he is under team control through the end of the 2015 season. He joins Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann in what is arguably the best rotation in baseball now from top to bottom.