5 MLB Teams That Can Still Turn Around Disappointing Offseasons
The 2013 offseason has been a particularly active one. The New York Yankees let Robinson Cano walk and instead inked Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. And on the trade front, Doug Fister and Dexter Fowler were surprisingly dealt to the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, respectively.
But there are some teams that, for whatever reason, have decided to take the backseat this offseason. The Pittsburgh Pirates have been one of those teams. Despite enjoying their first playoff berth since 1992, the team has only made a handful of forgettable low-reward acquisitions this offseason.
Regardless of these teams' laid-back offseasons thus far, there is still plenty of hope before the 2014 season starts.
Read on to see all of the MLB teams that can still turn around disappointing offseasons.
For a team that acquired both B.J. Upton and Justin Upton last offseason, the Atlanta Braves have been a tad quiet this offseason. Despite their recent acquisitions of backup catcher Ryan Doumit and post-injury starting pitcher Gavin Floyd, the Braves have done little to improve their existing roster.
In fact, the Braves let homegrown catcher Brian McCann and veteran starter Tim Hudson sign with the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants, respectively.
Most Braves fans were hoping the team would replace maligned second baseman Dan Uggla, who posted a mere .179 batting average, park-adjusted 78 OPS+ and minus-19 DRS, according to Fangraphs. But perhaps with Tommy La Stella climbing the ranks in the minors—and the dearth of available second basemen—fans will only have to endure Uggla for one more season.
One area the Braves could still look to improve, however, is their bullpen. And while closer Craig Kimbrel has re-defined "dominant," the Braves' reliever corps severely lacks a veteran presence.
General manager Frank Wren could easily rectify this void by signing Grant Balfour, who recently had a two-year, $15 million contract stripped away due to allegedly failing a physical. Even adding converted southpaw specialist Oliver Perez would serve as nice depth behind Luis Avilan.
The Baltimore Orioles have been surprising contenders over the past two seasons. Despite missing the playoffs in 2013, the club still notched 85 wins—which was a respectable follow-up to their 93-win campaign in 2012.
But with the flurry of moves going down in the American League East, the Orioles' absentee offseason might not bode well for 2014.
The team's most significant move thus far has been dealing overpaid closer Jim Johnson to the Oakland Athletics for Jemile Weeks. In addition, the Orioles recently acquired outfielder David Lough from the Kansas City Royals for Danny Valencia. Needless to say, neither of these transactions truly bettered the roster.
If the Orioles want to rival the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, the team may need to invest in both Shin-Soo Choo and Ubaldo Jimenez.
Choo, who posted a 15.7 percent walk rate, park-adjusted 143 OPS+, 21 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 2013, would be an instant upgrade over Lough (or even Nick Markakis, for that matter). And while the team's rotation is currently full, Jimenez and his 3.30 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 114 ERA+) would provide a great one-two punch with Chris Tillman.
UPDATE: The Orioles are now out of the running for Shin Soo-Choo after he signed a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
The Pittsburgh Pirates advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1992 last season. But despite the triumphant campaign, they have yet to execute a single noteworthy move this offseason.
To date, the team has only added Chris Stewart, Edinson Volquez and Clint Barmes. Especially if veteran anchor A.J. Burnett decides to retire, the Pirates' lack of moves will certainly have a negative effect on the team's success in 2014.
Acquiring a veteran starting pitcher should be the Pirates' No. 1 priority. Perhaps free-agent Bronson Arroyo fits the bill.
Arroyo, who was originally drafted by the Bucs in 1995, has owned a 4.10 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 106 ERA+), 1.26 WHIP and 2.54-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio since 2004. The right-hander has also been a workhorse over that span, averaging 207 innings per season.
Given the Pirates' win-now mode, the front office cannot continue to employ its current laid-back offseason strategy.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals have been far from inactive this offseason. The team has added the likes of Jason Vargas, Norichika Aoki, Omar Infante and Danny Valencia thus far.
But even with the subtle improvements, the Royals still have little chance of dethroning the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. The only way the fledgling franchise could emerge as a real contender would be by trading for David Price.
Like the unexpected acquisition of James Shields last offseason, the Royals have proven capable of swinging a deal for proven talent—even at the cost their farm system.
Adding Price, who owns a career 3.19 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 122 ERA+), 1.15 WHIP and 3.06-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, would immediately propel the Royals from a fringe playoff team to a legitimate wild-card candidate.
Without a Price-esque acquisition, however, the Royals risk a step backward from their 86-win 2013 season.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays revamped their entire roster last offseason. General manager Alex Anthopoulos added R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio in trades with the New York Mets and Miami Marlins in hopes of making a playoff run.
But even though the team failed to achieve its goal, sporting a 74-88 record, Anthopoulos has still taken the opposite approach this offseason. In fact, the Blue Jays' only free-agent signing has been catcher Dioner Navarro.
With a weak rotation of Dickey, Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek, the Blue Jays need immediate starting pitching help. Adding one of Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza or Ervin Santana via free agency would be prudent, but perhaps dangling Sergio Santos and/or Colby Rasmus could net the Jays a cheaper, younger option.