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Grading MLB's Top 15 Offseason Acquisitions Heading into May

Karl BuscheckContributor IIIDecember 28, 2016

Grading MLB's Top 15 Offseason Acquisitions Heading into May

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    Chris Schneider

    From the record-setting Jose Abreu to the wildly underachieving Prince Fielder, it's time to dish out grades for MLB's top 15 offseason acquisitions heading into May. 

    Of course, the Chicago White Sox's slugger is far from the only big-money pickup who receives a high mark. Conversely, Fielder is definitely not the only premier name who has all sorts of room for improvement. Plus, there are a few stars who fall right in the middle.  

    Now, let's take a look at the grades for MLB's top 15 offseason acquisitions. 

Tim Hudson, SP, San Francisco Giants

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    2014 Salary: $11 million

     

    The Report Card

    The key to Tim Hudson's tremendous start with the San Francisco Giants is his historically good command. 

    In 37 innings of work, the 38-year-old has issued just two free passes while racking up 25 strikeouts. Hudson started the season without allowing a walk in his first 30 innings, which set a San Francisco Giants' franchise record, per the SFGStats Twitter account.

    The right-hander, who owns a 2.19 ERA, has pitched at least seven frames in all five of his outings. At this point, Hudson is pitching his way toward his fourth All-Star selection of his career. 

     

    Grade: A

Carlos Beltran, RF, New York Yankees

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    Chris O'Meara

    2014 Salary: $15 million

     

    The Report Card

    Carlos Beltran sure likes hitting at Yankee Stadium. 

    In his first 12 games in the Bronx, the switch-hitter is batting .349 with a 1.184 OPS, six doubles and four home runs. However, Beltran has been far less productive on the road. In 11 contests, the veteran is swinging at a clip of .208 with a .553 OPS. 

    Beltran has proved to be a solid pickup for the New York Yankees, but his early-season road woes keep his grade from rising any higher. 

     

    Grade: B+

Nelson Cruz, OF/DH, Baltimore Orioles

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    Carlos Osorio

    2014 Salary: $8 million

     

    The Report Card

    Playing on a one-year, $8 million deal, Nelson Cruz has been a major bargain for the Baltimore Orioles. 

    In his first 23 contests, the 33-year-old is hitting .284/.376/.580 with seven home runs and 25 RBI. Cruz has been one of the most powerful hitters in all of baseball, as his .295 ISO is tied for the sixth-highest mark in MLB, per FanGraphs

    However, Cruz's outfield defense has been just as bad as advertised. In 12 games, the slugger has already cost the Baltimore Orioles three runs, per Baseball Info Solutions' Defensive Runs Saved on Baseball-Reference.com

     

    Grade: A-

Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners

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    STEPHEN BRASHEAR

    2014 Salary: $24 million

     

    The Report Card

    With a .301 average, Robinson Cano's first month with the Seattle Mariners has been far from a disaster.

    However, the second baseman has suffered from a serious lack of power. Cano owns a .387 slugging percentage and has connected on just one home run in his first 24 games. For a bit of context, the left-handed hitter has a .502 slugging percentage over the course of his career. 

    Cano can't blame the power outage on Safeco Field either, as he's slugging just .404 on the road. 

     

    Grade: B-

Ervin Santana, SP, Atlanta Braves

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    Frank Franklin II

    2014 Salary: $14.1 million

     

    The Report Card

    Ervin Santana has been dealing in his first month with the Atlanta Braves. 

    In 27.2 innings of work, the right-hander has produced a 1.95 ERA and has totaled 31 strikeouts. Santana has recorded at least six punchouts in each of his first four outings, which makes him the first Atlanta Braves pitcher to accomplish that feat since 1900, per ESPN Stats & Info.

    Along with Hudson, Santana has been one of the best short-term free-agent signings among all starting pitchers. 

     

    Grade: A

Brian McCann, C, New York Yankees

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    John Minchillo

    2014 Salary: $17 million

     

    The Report Card

    With a .270 average in his last 10 games, Brian McCann is definitely heating up after an ice-cold start to his career with the New York Yankees. Still, the veteran catcher has displayed a noticeable lack of patience at the plate. In 24 games, McCann has walked just four times and has a .279 OBP.

    Meanwhile, behind the plate, the well-regarded backstop his done an excellent job working with the Yankees' pitching staff. On Twitter, Peter Gammons praised McCann for helping Masahiro Tanaka "transition" smoothly to the big leagues. 

     

    Grade: C+

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Baltimore Orioles

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    Kathy Willens

    2014 Salary: $11.25 million

     

    The Report Card

    With a 6.59 ERA in his first five starts, Ubaldo Jimenez has been a complete bust for the Baltimore Orioles. 

    In 27.1 innings of work, the right-hander has allowed an absurd number of baserunners. Jimenez has given up 33 hits and issued 17 free passes. That walk total is tied for the third-worst mark in all of baseball. Jimenez has also struggled extensively against right-handed batters, who are batting .354 against him.

    The biggest concern of all for the Orioles, though, is that the American League East has battered the 30-year-old. Four of Jimenez's five outings have been against division rivals, and the 2010 All-Star has pitched six innings in just one of those starts. 

     

    Grade: F

Joe Nathan, RP, Detroit Tigers

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    Duane Burleson

    2014 Salary: $9 million

     

    The Report Card

    Joe Nathan is slowly settling in after a rough start to his career with the Detroit Tigers. 

    The veteran closer allowed runs in three of his first four outings for the club. During that stretch, Nathan issued four walks over 3.2 innings of work. However, Nathan has walked just one batter in six appearances since then and his ERA has dropped from 12.27 to 5.59.

    Nathan's early-season struggles keep his grade low for now, but there's no doubt that the six-time All-Star is still one of the premier closers in the game. 

     

    Grade: C+

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, New York Yankees

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    John Minchillo

    2014 Salary: $21.1 million

     

    The Report Card

    One month into his seven-year, $153 million deal, Jacoby Ellsbury has been a game changer for the New York Yankees. 

    The center fielder has hit for a high average (.312), posted an impressive OBP (.369) and racked up eight stolen bases. Ellsbury has also totaled eight doubles and collected a couple of triples. The team's table-setter even filled in at the No. 3 spot in the lineup when Mark Teixeira was on the disabled list.  

    The only thing that the left-handed batter hasn't done just yet is hit his first home run as a member of the Yankees. 

     

    Grade: A-

Matt Garza, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    2014 Salary: $12.5 million

     

    The Report Card

    Back on April 2, in his first start as a Milwaukee Brewer, Matt Garza was sensational as he worked eight innings, allowing just one run on two hits. Ultimately, though, Garza took the loss as the club fell 1-0 to the Atlanta Braves.

    In his next three outings, however, the veteran wasn't nearly as effective, serving up at least eight hits each time he took the mound. The 30-year-old finally earned his first win as a Brewer on April 25 when he was facing off against his old club, the Chicago Cubs. Garza pitched seven frames and allowed two runs while tying his season-high of seven strikeouts.

    His 4.09 ERA is somewhat underwhelming, but the starter has consistently given his team the chance to win in the first month of the season. 

     

    Grade: B

Shin-Soo Choo, LF, Texas Rangers

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    2014 Salary: $14 million

     

    The Report Card

    Shin-Soo Choo has been an on-base machine for the Texas Rangers.

    In his first month with the club, the leadoff man has posted a .427 OBP, which is the sixth-best mark in baseball. Choo, who has historically struggled against left-handed pitching, has been teeing off against them in April. In limited action, he's hitting .391 (9-for-23) with a pair of doubles.

    On the basepaths, the 31-year-old has not been efficient as he's just 1-for-3 on stolen base attempts. The left fielder has only appeared in 21 games on the year, as he's missed much of the past week with a sprained ankle. 

     

    Grade: A-

Jhonny Peralta, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Michael Keating

    2014 Salary: $15.5 million

     

    The Report Card

    With six home runs in the first month of the season, Jhonny Peralta is providing the St. Louis Cardinals with plenty of pop. 

    The big issue for the shortstop is that he's hitting just .193. Remarkably, the 31-year-old has just one more hit (17) than strikeouts (16). Peralta has been brutal on the road where he batting .155 (9-for-58). At home, Peralta is hitting a respectable .267 (8-for-30). Unfortunately, the Cardinals have played just nine games at Busch Stadium in April. 

     

    Grade:

Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    2014 Salary: $22 million

     

    The Report Card

    Tanaka has been downright nasty in his first month in the big leagues. 

    Through five starts, the right-hander has recorded 46 strikeouts in 35.2 innings while walking just six batters. As Richard Justice of MLB.com notes, the New York Yankees starter is just the second pitcher since 1914 to record three double-digit strikeout games in his first five career appearances. 

    When he's not recording strikeouts, Tanaka has a knack for inducing ground-ball outs thanks to his ability to consistently keep his pitches down in the zone. 

     

    Grade: A

Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers

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    LM Otero

    2014 Salary: $23 million

     

    The Report Card

    Suffice it to say that Fielder's opening month with the Texas Rangers has not gone well. 

    In his first 26 games for the AL West club, Fielder has posted a .316 slugging percentage while hitting just two home runs. That mark is substantially lower than the .524 slugging percentage that Fielder has put up over the course of his career. 

    The five-time All-Star is slowly beginning to wake up at the plate. In the past 10 contests, Fielder is hitting .264 (9-for-34). However, even with that minor improvement, the slugger sits at just .200 on the year. 

    One absolutely alarming stat is that Fielder is hitting .037 (1-for-27) in eight day games in 2014. 

     

    Grade: D

Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox

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    Charles Rex Arbogast

    2014 Salary: $7 million

     

    The Report Card

    Abreu is off to an unbelievable start with the Chicago White Sox.

    The powerful right-handed hitter leads all of baseball in home runs (10), RBI (32), extra-base hits (17) and total bases (67). The first baseman has also set the record for the most home runs and RBI ever for a rookie in the month of April, per the MLB Stat of the Day Twitter account.

    Over the past 10 days, the Cuban slugger has simply been on fire. During that stretch, he has six home runs, 18 RBI and an .881 slugging percentage, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

     

    Grade: A

     

    Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and MLB.com unless otherwise noted. Salary information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts on BaseballProspectus.com.

    If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.

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