There have been a number of free-agent signings and trades thus far during the 2014 MLB offseason as teams look to improve their rosters for the coming season. Some of the deals have been surprises, and others have seemed like great fits.
Many teams out there have made moves that make sense based on what their offseason goals are. Some were looking to add players who will give them the best chance at a World Series in 2014, while others wanted to acquire young talent that would give them a solid core to build around.
The following teams have done a great job of accomplishing their goals so far this winter. There is the potential for them to continue to make more moves before Opening Day as well.
Entering the 2014 MLB offseason, the Washington Nationals already had a rotation that had Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez in the first three spots. That group got even stronger this winter thanks to a great trade pulled off by general manager Mike Rizzo.
Washington was able to acquire Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers for Stephen Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and Robbie Ray. Fister has gone 24-19 with a 3.57 ERA over the past two seasons and will be an outstanding fourth option for the Nationals rotation.
Mike Axisa of CBS Sports has even gone as far as saying that the Fister deal gives the Nationals the best rotation in all of baseball.
In addition to adding Fister, the Nationals were able to strengthen their bullpen by adding Jerry Blevins. Throw in the signing of Nate McLouth to serve as the team's fourth outfielder, and it is hard not to like what Washington has done this offseason. McLouth hit 12 home runs last season and he will be a nice left-handed bat with some pop off the bench.
The Texas Rangers have yet to win a World Series since the franchise moved to Texas in 1972, but they have come close over the past few years. This winter, they made two moves that may finally help them win the elusive title.
Earlier this offseason, Texas dealt Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder. Adding Fielder and his 40-plus home run power to the Rangers lineup is a huge boost.
The move looks even better now that it is coupled with the team's addition of Shin-Soo Choo. The Rangers' new outfielder is an on-base machine, and he should provide Fielder and the rest of the lineup with a number of RBI opportunities.
Texas has also shored up the catching situation by re-signing Geovany Soto and adding J.P. Arencibia. These two should combine to be a good pair behind the plate.
Richard Justice of MLB.com has stated that by adding Choo, that the Rangers have become the top team in the American League.
In addition to these moves, the Rangers also brought in Michael Choice in a trade with the Oakland Athletics. Choice could be a breakout player this year and has had a strong track record as a prospect in the A's system. During his minor league career, he hit .290 and averaged 18 home runs a year over the past three seasons.
John Sickels of Minor League Ball wrote that Choice's best tool is his power and that he should be an above-average player in Texas.
The New York Yankees have never been a team that was afraid to spend money, and they have once again opened up their checkbooks to bring in a number of top players this winter.
New York's first move was to sign Brian McCann. The former Atlanta Braves catcher is regarded as one of the top offensive players at his position and has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the past six seasons.
Next, the Yankees went out and signed Kelly Johnson. They also added Brian Roberts as a second base option. While neither will be able to replicate Robinson Cano's production, they should both provide value to the Yankees from the position.
While the Yankees already had a number of players capable of starting in their outfield, they went out and signed two of the top outfielders on the market. Adding both Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran into the mix will make their lineup much more dynamic in 2014. Last season, Beltran hit 24 home runs and Ellsbury stole 52 bases, so the pair will provide the Yankees with a nice mix of power and speed.
In addition to these moves, the Yankees also strengthened their pitching staff by re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and bringing in Matt Thornton to improve their bullpen. Kuroda only won 11 games for the Yankees last season, but had an impressive 3.31 ERA. He should be a key cog in their rotation next season.
The Chicago White Sox found themselves in the cellar of the American League Central last season, and as a result, the team has been actively looking to improve via both the trade and free-agent markets.
Chicago got off to an early start when it signed Cuban defector Jose Dariel Abreu in October. The White Sox's new first baseman demonstrated an impressive ability to hit for both power and average during his time in Cuba and international competitions.
Veteran first baseman Paul Konerko re-signed with the team this winter. While he is no longer a starter, his presence will be invaluable in the locker room and he will also serve as a talented bat off of the bench.
General manager Rick Hahn spent a lot of time on the phone with the Arizona Diamondbacks front office this winter as he worked with them on two deals. In a three-team trade, the White Sox were able to acquire Adam Eaton. Additionally, they sent Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks for Matt Davidson in a separate deal.
Both of these trades allowed the White Sox to add young talent that could become a part of the team's core for years to come.
The signings of Felipe Paulino and Ronald Belisario give the team players with some upside to fill out spots in the back-end of both the starting rotation and bullpen.
As a result of all of these moves, Dave Schoenfield of ESPN has noted that the White Sox have been having a very underrated offseason.