Each MLB Team's Best, Worst 2015-16 Offseason Move Thus Far
The MLB offseason is far from over, as the free-agent market for position players continues to move as slowly as any in recent memory.
With that being said, teams still have plenty of time to make significant decisions, both good and bad, before the start of spring training.
Ahead, we'll take a look at each team's best and worst offseason decisions to date.
We obviously won't know how these deals play out until the season gets underway, and in some cases not until several years down the road, so consider this a gut reaction of sorts to each team's offseason.
Best Move: Signing SP Zack Greinke
At the beginning of the offseason, most people had the Zack Greinke derby pegged as a two-horse race between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
However, it was another NL West team that swooped in and stole the stud right-hander away, as the Arizona Diamondbacks signed him to a six-year, $206.5 million deal.
The signing showed that the Diamondbacks are committed to building a winner around their terrific young offensive nucleus, and it should allow them to take a significant step forward in 2016.
Worst Move: Paying a king's ransom for SP Shelby Miller
Acquiring Shelby Miller to serve as a controllable young starting pitcher to slot behind the aforementioned Greinke in the rotation is a great move for a Diamondbacks team that is looking to contend immediately.
What wasn't so great is how much the team gave up to acquire the 25-year-old from the Atlanta Braves.
Ender Inciarte is a 25-year-old outfielder with five remaining years of team control who is coming off a season where he hit .303 and posted a 5.3 WAR.
He wasn't even the centerpiece of the deal, though, as that honor went to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft Dansby Swanson, who given his polished game could be the Braves' everyday shortstop by late 2017.
Rounding out the deal was right-hander Aaron Blair, who is a top-100 prospect in his own right and was also a top-five prospect in the D'Backs system.
The move addressed a need, but it came with a steep price.
Best Move: Trading SP Shelby Miller
The Atlanta Braves have quickly built their farm system into one of the best in baseball thanks to a bevy of trades in the past calendar year, and the deal that sent Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks may wind up being the best move of all.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson has legitimate star potential and should shoot through the minors. Right-hander Aaron Blair has No. 2 starter potential and a high floor, and center fielder Ender Inciarte gives them some immediate help at the big league level and a long-term piece considering he's still only 25.
Miller was a tough piece to move given his age, but it stands to reason that the Braves weren't going to be contenders during his remaining three years of team control, so moving him now when his value was sky-high was a terrific move.
Worst Move: Trading C Christian Bethancourt
After trading Evan Gattis to the Houston Astros last winter, the Braves appeared ready to turn over the primary catching duties to prospect Christian Betancourt in 2015.
However, he struggled to begin the season and was eventually demoted to Triple-A after losing the starting job to veteran A.J. Pierzynski.
While his 2015 season did not go according to plan, he's still a 24-year-old former top prospect, and it's worth noting he hit .327/.359/.490 with 23 extra-base hits in 202 at-bats after returning to Triple-A.
Despite what appears to still be a good deal of upside, the Braves shipped Bethancourt to the San Diego Padres for right-hander Casey Kelly and catcher Richard Rodriguez in December.
Best Move: Re-signing RP Darren O'Day
It's been a tough offseason for the Baltimore Orioles, as a number of key players hit free agency and then Matt Wieters unexpectedly accepted his qualifying offer to take $15.8 million off the table for free-agent spending.
However, the team did well to keep one of the game's elite setup relievers when it re-signed Darren O'Day to a four-year, $31 million deal.
Over the past four seasons while pitching for the Orioles, he's made 273 appearances and posted a 1.92 ERA, 0.939 WHIP and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Even if the team decides to change track in a couple of years and start rebuilding, O'Day should be an easy piece to move, so long as he keeps performing at such a high level. There's no reason to think he won't.
Worst Move: Losing SP Tim Berry off waivers
Entering the 2015 season, left-hander Tim Berry ranked as the No. 7 prospect in the Orioles system, according to Baseball America.
His second go-around at the Double-A level didn't go well, though, as he had a 7.32 ERA and 1.713 WHIP in 82.1 innings of work.
The 24-year-old still has the stuff to succeed at the big league level, and the Orioles were no doubt disappointed when they were unable to sneak him through waivers, as the Miami Marlins claimed him.
Boston Red Sox
Best Move: Acquiring RP Carson Smith and SP Roenis Elias
While signing ace David Price will be the headlining move of the offseason for the Boston Red Sox, addressing the bullpen was arguably a bigger need than shoring up the rotation.
The team made an early splash to acquire Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres, but the trade that landed young right-hander Carson Smith ranks as Boston's best move of the winter.
In exchange for starter Wade Miley, who had become expendable after the Price signing, the Red Sox picked up a 26-year-old reliever with legitimate closer stuff in Smith.
He recorded 13 saves as a rookie last season with a 2.31 ERA, 1.014 WHIP and 92 strikeouts in 70 innings, and he'll give the team a lights-out setup man to pair with Kimbrel.
Also heading to Boston in the deal was left-hander Roenis Elias, who went 15-20 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.308 WHIP in 51 games (49 starts) for the Mariners the past two seasons. He has five years of team control left, and if nothing else he provides useful depth.
Worst Move: Nothing
So does this mean the Red Sox have had a perfect offseason?
Not necessarily, but there is no clear-cut "worst move" for the franchise to this point.
Price gives Boston the ace it desperately needed, and Chris Young provides a right-handed outfield bat capable of platooning with Jackie Bradley Jr., so the team's two free-agent signings both fill a need.
The Sox look like clear winners in the trade mentioned above, and while they gave up a good deal to land Kimbrel, there have been mixed reviews on the real upside of prospects Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra. Plus, the farm system is still stacked.
Worst to first is a tough climb, but the Red Sox have had a nice offseason to this point.
Best Move: Signing RF Jason Heyward
The Chicago Cubs entered the offseason in need of a center fielder who could provide some solid on-base skills atop the lineup and plus defense playing alongside the shaky duo of Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber.
The fact that Chicago signed Jason Heyward away from the rival St. Louis Cardinals to fill that need was just a cherry on top, because he was exactly the type of player the team was looking for, regardless of where he was coming from.
Obviously, there is some risk tied to any eight-year, $184 million commitment, especially for someone who is by no means an elite offensive player. However, given his current age Heyward will still be in his prime through the duration of the deal, as he'll be 33 years old in 2023.
Heyward can also opt out after three and four years, which he almost certainly will if he remains a 6-WAR player.
Worst Move: Selling low on SS Starlin Castro
Let me preface this by saying that Adam Warren should be a terrific addition to the Cubs bullpen, as his ability to provide multiple innings or even start as needed will help add some depth to the relief corps.
The decision to trade Starlin Castro was also a precursor to signing veteran Ben Zobrist, who will help provide some much-needed on-base skill ahead of the team's sluggers.
All of that said, it still feels like the Cubs sold low on Castro.
Cubs fans loved the idea of a Castro-for-Noah Syndergaard swap when the Mets were looking for a shortstop, as Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com pointed out, but that kind of return was a pipe dream at best for a low on-base percentage shortstop with middling defensive skill.
Still, it seems like they should have been able to get more for a 25-year-old, three-time All-Star with 991 career hits who finished the 2015 season on fire with a .369/.400/.655 line in September.
Chicago White Sox
Best Move: Acquiring 2B/3B Brett Lawrie
A breakout candidate for several years running now, Brett Lawrie has been a major disappointment since bursting on the scene with a .953 OPS and 3.6 WAR in 150 at-bats as 21-year-old back in 2011.
Injuries have played a significant role in that, but even when he managed to stay healthy last season, he hit just .260/.299/.407 with 29 doubles, 16 home runs and 60 RBI.
That said, he's still only 25 years old, and a move to hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field and a return to a more disciplined, contact-oriented approach at the plate could yet bring about that breakout performance everyone has been waiting for.
With Oakland motivated to move him after re-acquiring Jed Lowrie, the White Sox were able to acquire Lawrie for a pair of mid-level prospects in Zack Erwin and Jeffrey Wendelken.
It was a low-risk, high-reward move for a team that needed infield help in the worst way.
Worst Move: Giving up the prospect talent to acquire 3B Todd Frazier
It's not that Todd Frazier won't be a terrific addition to the middle of the White Sox lineup, as he should provide the protection for Jose Abreu that the team was hoping it would get with Adam LaRoche last season.
Are the White Sox going to be legitimate contenders in the next two seasons, though? And if not, what are the chances Frazier sticks around beyond 2017 when he hits free agency for the first time?
If this trade does wind up being for two years of Frazier, the White Sox may have a hard time justifying what they gave up to acquire him.
Heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the three-team deal was top pitching prospect Frankie Montas, second baseman Micah Johnson and outfielder Trayce Thompson.
Montas has an electric arm and figures to make his mark one way or another, whether in the rotation or at the back of the bullpen. Johnson was a work in progress defensively, but he had the tools to be a legitimate leadoff hitter, and Thompson impressed down the stretch last season and had 20-20 potential.
Is that worth two years of Frazier when few project the team to contend for a wild-card spot, let alone a title?
Best Move: Trading RP Aroldis Chapman
In the big picture, the Cincinnati Reds should have moved Aroldis Chapman at the deadline last year at the same time they were shipping out Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Marlon Byrd.
Instead, they waited until the offseason, when they were all but forced to deal the flame-throwing closer ahead of his final year of arbitration eligibility.
That cost the Reds significant leverage in negotiations, even before the domestic violence allegations, and moving him for a reasonable return only got harder from there.
Taking all of that into consideration, the fact that the Reds were able to trade him at all ranks as something of a victory.
While they didn't get an elite prospect in return, they did net a solid four-player package headlined by fringe top-10 prospects in third baseman Eric Jagielo and right-hander Rookie Davis.
Worst Move: Involving the Dodgers in the Todd Frazier deal
In the three-team deal that sent Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox, the Reds wound up acquiring second baseman Jose Peraza, outfielder Scott Schebler and infielder Brandon Dixon from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers picked up right-hander Frankie Montas, second baseman Micah Johnson and outfielder Trayce Thompson from the White Sox in the trade. At least at first glance, the Dodgers appear to have gotten the better of the deal simply by swapping prospects with the Reds.
- Reds: Peraza (5), Schebler (12), Hicks (NR)
- Dodgers: Montas (8), Johnson (9), Thompson (10)
Peraza may have been the best of the bunch, but the Dodgers package looks significantly deeper, and for a rebuilding team like the Reds, it appears they passed on both quality and quantity by including the Dodgers.
Best Move: Signing 1B Mike Napoli
The Cleveland Indians' biggest need entering the offseason was to find a right-handed bat with some power to slot in the middle of the lineup.
It's easy to say someone like Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton would be the perfect fit, but the small-market Indians have never been a team to spend big in free agency. That was unlikely to change this winter even with the opportunity to contend.
That meant thinking outside the box and looking for bargains in free agency, and the one-year, $7 million deal signed by Mike Napoli has a chance to be a great bargain.
The 2015 season wasn't a great one for Napoli, who hit .224/.324/.410 with 18 home runs and 50 RBI.
However, something seemed to click after he was traded to the Texas Rangers in August, and over his final 35 games he batted .295/.396/.513 with five home runs and 10 RBI.
Worst Move: Releasing 3B Chris Johnson
The Indians acquired Chris Johnson from the Atlanta Braves last season in a swap of bad contracts, as Cleveland managed to unload both Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn in the process.
However, with two years and $17.5 million left on his deal, the Indians opted to outright release Johnson on Dec. 21 rather than have him occupy a roster spot.
The 31-year-old has seen his production fall off dramatically since he contended for a batting title with a BABIP-aided .321 average in 2013, per FanGraphs, and he hit just .255/.286/.337 in 243 at-bats last season.
That said, he showed some signs of life with a .289/.312/.367 line and five extra-base hits in 90 at-bats after joining the Indians in August.
At least keeping him around as a bench bat in hope he could rebuild some value and become a trade chip could have potentially saved the Indians a few million dollars, especially considering third base is far from settled at this point.
Best Move: Signing 1B/3B Mark Reynolds
With veteran Justin Morneau missing significant time last season, 27-year-old Ben Paulsen became a surprise contributor as the primary first baseman.
Paulsen wound up hitting .277/.326/.462 with 19 doubles, 11 home runs and 49 RBI in 325 at-bats as a rookie, and after the team declined its option on Morneau, Paulsen appears set to be the primary first baseman once again.
However, given his .235/.289/.265 line against left-handed pitching, finding him a platoon partner was a must.
Mark Reynolds proved he can still be a useful part-time player last year with the St. Louis Cardinals when he posted a .713 OPS with 21 doubles and 13 home runs in 382 at-bats.
On a one-year, $2.6 million deal and with his raw power, Reynolds should deliver some solid value at Coors Field.
Worst Move: Trading Rule 5 pick SP/RP Luis Perdomo
In no way, shape or form should the Colorado Rockies ever trade a starting pitcher with any semblance of ability.
Luis Perdomo was one of the more intriguing arms available in this year's Rule 5 draft after the 22-year-old enjoyed a breakout season of sorts and pitched in the Futures Game. The Rockies grabbed him with the No. 4 overall pick.
He's never pitched above High-A and remains something of a project, but if any team could justify setting aside a roster spot to secure someone with his potential, it's the pitching-starved Rockies.
Instead, they quickly shipped him to the San Diego Padres for cash or a player to be named.
Best Move: Finally making the bullpen a priority
We could highlight a number of moves as the best for the Detroit Tigers this offseason, but we'll go broad here and say that finally prioritizing the bullpen as an offseason area of need ranks as their best move of the winter.
Here's where the Tigers bullpen has ranked in recent years:
- 2013: 4.01 ERA, 24th in MLB
- 2014: 4.29 ERA, 27th in MLB
- 2015: 4.38 ERA, 27th in MLB
With that in mind, the team acquired setup men Justin Wilson and Mark Lowe and closer Francisco Rodriguez to completely overhaul the late innings, and that should help improve the pitching staff as a whole dramatically.
Worst Move: Nothing
Aside from adding those three bullpen arms, the Tigers also bolstered their rotation with the signings of Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey, acquired Cameron Maybin as a platoon partner for Anthony Gose in center field and signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and infielder Mike Aviles to fill out the bench.
It's hard to find fault in any of those moves at this point, and all things considered it's been a terrific first offseason at the helm for new general manager Al Avila.
They may not be finished, either, as a move to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes to play left field is not out of the question.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Dec. 24 that the team appears to be "waiting back" as his price potentially drops, and the four-year, $72 million deal signed by Alex Gordon supports the idea that pricing on the outfield market as a whole could be plummeting.
Best Move: Acquiring RP Ken Giles
It cost the Houston Astros a significant amount, but they landed the impact bullpen arm who was atop their offseason wish list when they acquired Ken Giles from the Philadelphia Phillies.
Vincent Velasquez, Mark Appel, Thomas Eshelman, Harold Arauz and Brett Oberholtzer all went to the Phillies in the deal, but in return the Astros got a shutdown option for the ninth inning who has five years of team control remaining.
The trade also allows Luke Gregerson to return to the eighth-inning setup role, which should strengthen the bullpen as a whole.
Bringing back left-hander Tony Sipp on a three-year, $18 million deal was also a great move for the Astros.
Worst Move: Selling C Hank Conger
The Astros paid a relatively steep price to acquire Hank Conger from the Angels last offseason, sending catcher Carlos Perez and right-hander Nick Tropeano to Los Angeles in the deal.
His .229/.311/.448 line was nothing special, but he showed terrific pop off the bench with 11 doubles and 11 home runs and graded out as one of the better pitch-framers in the league.
Despite what appeared to be a breakout season of sorts offensively from Conger and the subsequently declining offensive game of starter Jason Castro, the Astros shipped Conger to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations.
That leaves Max Stassi, who hit .211/.279/.384 in Triple-A last year and has just 42 career big league at-bats to his credit, as the front-runner for the backup catcher role.
Kansas City Royals
Best Move: Re-signing LF Alex Gordon
As recently as Dec. 23, a report surfaced that the Kansas City Royals had been told they "no chance" of re-signing Alex Gordon as things stood, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
A couple of weeks later, the star left fielder was back on the fold after the two sides agreed to a four-year, $72 million deal.
That certainly looks like a hometown discount, and what Gordon said seems to back that up, per ESPN.com: "We've been here for 10 years and really established our home here...at the end of the day my heart has always been, and I think always will be, in Kansas City."
A slowly developing outfield market could have also contributed to the lower-than-expected contract, as Heyman had Gordon projected for a five-year, $100 million deal at the beginning of the offseason.
Worst Move: Spending $25 million on RP Joakim Soria
Signing Joakim Soria to help ease the losses of Greg Holland and Ryan Madson makes sense, but for a small-market team like the Royals with other needs to address, the $25 million investment doesn't.
Even with Holland and Madson gone, a late-inning trio of Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis looked awfully strong.
Meanwhile, the team is still in the market for another starting pitcher, another outfielder and an upgrade over Omar Infante at second base. It also faces a number of potential in-house extensions in the near future.
A low-risk, high-reward signing like the Madson deal last offseason would have made more sense.
Los Angeles Angels
Best Move: Acquiring 3B Yunel Escobar
The Los Angeles Angels still have a glaring hole to fill in left field and in the middle of the lineup, but they did a nice job of replacing David Freese at the hot corner by acquiring Yunel Escobar from the Washington Nationals.
Escobar has had his ups and downs, but he hit .314/.375/.415 with 25 doubles and 75 runs scored last season, and he's also capable of playing second base if the team decides to promote prospects Kyle Kubitza or Kaleb Cowart at some point.
From a financial standpoint, Escobar really doesn't impact any other offseason business either as he has a reasonable $7 million salary for 2016 and a $7 million option for 2017.
Worst Move: Trading entirely too much for SS Andrelton Simmons
The pitching still will no doubt love the addition of defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, but for a team that needed to upgrade offensively, the Angels gave up too much for a career .256/.304/.362 hitter.
Erick Aybar is entering the final year of his contract anyway, so moving him made sense, but the team also shipped out what most considered to be its top two prospects in left-hander Sean Newcomb and right-hander Christopher Ellis.
According to MLB.com, Newcomb, 22, ranks as the No. 19 prospect in baseball after he went 9-3 with a 2.38 ERA, 1.272 WHIP and 168 strikeouts in 136 innings last season while reaching Double-A.
Ellis, 23, saw his stock rise this past year after he went 11-9 with a 3.90 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 140.2 innings while also reaching Double-A.
That's a steep price to pay for a one-dimensional player, even if he is the game's best defensive shortstop.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Best Move: Getting involved in the Todd Frazier deal
Remember last offseason when the Washington Nationals jumped into a three-team deal with the San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays and somehow walked away with Trea Turner and Joe Ross in exchange for Steven Souza and Travis Ott?
This could wind up being this offseason's version of that trade.
The Dodgers traded Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler and Brandon Dixon to the Cincinnati Reds and in return picked up a trio of prospects from the Chicago White Sox who far outweighed that group.
Frankie Montas could challenge for a rotation spot or a late-inning relief role at some point this coming season. Trayce Thompson has 20-20 potential and can provide a platoon option for Joc Pederson. Micah Johnson replaces Peraza as the future at second base.
While Peraza was a terrific prospect, Schebler was essentially a spare part as a corner outfielder, and Dixon looks like nothing more than organizational depth.
Worst Move: Signing SP Scott Kazmir
Assuming Zack Greinke was Plan A and someone like Jordan Zimmermann was Plan B for the Dodgers to address the starting rotation, what letter do you think Scott Kazmir was?
After failing to sign any of the top arms or put together a significant trade, the Dodgers settled for Kazmir and Kenta Maeda to fill out the rotation.
The three-year, $48 million price tag wasn't unreasonable, but did the Dodgers really need another left-hander with Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson, Alex Wood and Hyun-jin Ryu already in the mix?
At least he didn't come with draft pick compensation tied to him like Yovani Gallardo or Wei-Yin Chen would have, but it still looks like a somewhat desperate move by the Dodgers.
Best Move: Claiming SP/RP Tim Berry off waivers
It's been a quiet offseason for the Miami Marlins, who have seemingly been more focused on deflecting Jose Fernandez trade buzz and trying to extend Dee Gordon than on improving a team that finished 71-91 last year.
The moves they have made have been small in scale, but one that could pay off is claiming left-hander Tim Berry off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles.
Berry ranked as the No. 7 prospect in the Orioles system entering 2015, according to Baseball America.
He put up a disastrous 7.32 ERA in Double-A last year, but the 24-year-old still has the stuff to make an impact at the big league level and the upside to do it as a starter or late-inning reliever.
Worst Move: Nothing
While the previous two teams to earn "nothing" as their worst move (the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers) have enjoyed productive offseasons, the Marlins earn a "nothing" here because that's exactly what they've done this winter.
Edwin Jackson has been the big offseason addition to this point, as he'll try to earn a rotation spot but is far better suited in the bullpen.
Outside of that signing, guys like Justin Maxwell, Dylan Axelrod, Adrian Nieto, Xavier Scruggs and Dustin McGowan have agreed to minor league contracts with spring training invites.
Try to contain your excitement, Marlins fans.
Best Move: Signing 3B Will Middlebrooks
With a projected arbitration salary of just $1.5 million, Will Middlebrooks was a somewhat surprising non-tender by the San Diego Padres.
The former Red Sox farmhand burst onto the scene in 2012 with an .835 OPS and 15 home runs in 267 at-bats, but he's hit just .213/.258/.363 over the past three seasons and been demoted to the minors on more than one occasion.
That being said, the 27-year-old still provides some legitimate upside and power potential, and for a Milwaukee Brewers team with a glaring hole at third base and in the process of rebuilding, he's well worth taking a flier on.
This could wind up being the best minor league deal handed out this winter.
Worst Move: Selling low on RP Francisco Rodriguez
Francisco Rodriguez has established himself as one of the best closers in baseball, and he's arguably been at his very best in recent years, yet he still doesn't always get the credit he deserves.
The past two seasons, he's converted 82 of 89 (92.1 percent) save chances with a 2.66 ERA, 0.928 WHIP and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
During that same span, Craig Kimbrel has converted 86 of 94 (91.5 percent) save chances with a 2.08 ERA, 0.975 WHIP and 13.5 K/9.
Kimbrel is the more dominant arm, but the point is that the gap between the two pitchers in terms of ninth-inning effectiveness is not nearly as large as some might think.
So why then were the San Diego Padres able to land a package of four prospects for Kimbrel, who is owed $24.5 million over the next two seasons, while the Brewers settled for mid-level infield prospect Javier Betancourt in exchange for K-Rod, who is a far better bargain at $13 million for the next two years?
It seems like the Brewers sold low.
Best Move: Signing DH Byung-ho Park
Signing a first baseman/designated hitter like Byung-ho Park may not have looked like a need at the time, but after the Minnesota Twins decided to hold onto third baseman Trevor Plouffe and move Miguel Sano to left field, their offense now has a chance to be significantly better.
Park, 29, was an absolute monster for the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization last year as he hit .343/.436/.714 with 35 doubles, 53 home runs and 146 RBI.
Despite those gaudy numbers and the success of Jung-ho Kang as the first position player to make the jump from the KBO last year, the Twins were still able to sign Park to a team-friendly four-year, $12 million deal after an $18.5 million posting fee.
He won't be a 50-homer guy stateside, but the addition of Park and full seasons from Sano and Byron Buxton could elevate the Twins to being one of the top offenses in the American League.
Worst Move: Nothing
Aside from the addition of Park, the Twins also did well to address the catcher position with the addition of John Ryan Murphy, who could be this year's Francisco Cervelli in his first opportunity at an expanded role.
The only other significant addition made by the team this offseason has been signing Fernando Abad to a minor league deal to address the need for a left-handed reliever other than closer Glen Perkins.
Adding another southpaw or two to compete for that job would be nice, but Abad was a nice buy-low candidate. He had mediocre numbers in 2015 but posted a 1.57 ERA and 0.855 WHIP over 69 appearances in 2014.
With continued development from their young players and a bit more stability from the starting rotation, the Twins should be able to build off a surprisingly good 2015 campaign.
New York Mets
Best Move: Acquiring 2B Neil Walker
While many New York Mets fans were calling for the team to re-sign Daniel Murphy after his postseason heroics, it didn't make sense for the team to make a long-term commitment to the veteran with Dilson Herrera knocking on the door.
At the same time, the Mets were already tasked with replacing Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup, and Murphy was arguably their second-best hitter in 2015.
That made acquiring Neil Walker the perfect solution, as he's entering the final year of his contract and is capable of putting similar, if not slightly better, numbers than Murphy did a year ago.
Jon Niese, whom New York shipped to Pittsburgh in the deal, had become an expendable piece with Steven Matz assuming a full-time rotation spot, Zack Wheeler expected back at some point and veteran Bartolo Colon also coming back.
Worst Move: Signing SS Asdrubal Cabrera
Let's do a blind comparison of two players.
- Player A: .263/.295/.408, 22 2B, 16 HR, 59 RBI, -10 DRS, -3.3 UZR/150
- Player B: .265/.315/.430, 28 2B, 15 HR, 58 RBI, -7 DRS, -10.4 UZR/150
Is Player B a slight upgrade over Player A?
Is Player B worth $18.5 million over two years as a replacement for Player A, who is still pre-arbitration on a team that is apparently strapped for cash?
Player A is Wilmer Flores. Player B is Asdrubal Cabrera.
New York Yankees
Best Move: Acquiring 2B Starlin Castro
Slowly but surely, the New York Yankees have started getting younger, and now they have a middle infield of Starlin Castro (25) and Didi Gregorius (25) that should hold things down for the foreseeable future.
Castro disappointed for much of the 2015 season, but he finished strong with a .369/.400/.655 line in September.
He'll never be a big on-base threat and is average at best defensively, but the move to second base should make his bat that much more valuable. He has a career .281/.321/.404 line and 991 hits to his credit, so there's plenty to like about that bat.
Castro is owed $40.43 million over the next four seasons and has a $16 million option with a $1 million buyout in 2020.
Worst Move: Acquiring RP Aroldis Chapman
Strictly from a public perception standpoint, acquiring a player who is facing domestic violence allegations does not reflect well on the New York Yankees.
The police never pressed charges in the incident that occurred last October, so chances are he won't face a long suspension, but it was still enough to scare off the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were close to acquiring Chapman during the winter meetings, per ESPN.com's Jim Bowden.
The late-inning trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman has a chance to be dominant, and there doesn't appear to be any Drew Storen-Jonathan Papelbon type situation brewing here.
"I signed with the Yankees to win and I'm not stupid, he's a heck of a pitcher," Miller told NJ Advance Media in regard to his closer job likely going to the flame-throwing newcomer.
Still, this move just doesn't reflect particularly well on the Yankees.
Best Move: Acquiring RP Liam Hendriks
The Oakland Athletics' focus this offseason has been on upgrading a bullpen that ranked 28th in the majors last season with a 4.63 ERA.
One key addition to the rebuilt relief corps is hard-throwing Liam Hendriks, whom the A's acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for swingman Jesse Chavez.
The 26-year-old Hendriks saw his fastball velocity increase from 91.3 mph in 2014 to 94.9 mph this past season, and he enjoyed the best season of his career as a result with a 2.92 ERA, 1.082 WHIP and 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings in 58 appearances.
Making the deal even better for the A's? Hendriks has four remaining years of team control, while Chavez is headed for free agency after the 2016 season.
Worst Move: Spending $22 million on RP Ryan Madson
Similar to how Kansas City Royals' signing of Joakim Soria ranks as their worst move, the addition of Madson is not necessarily a bad one from a roster-need standpoint; however, the $22 million investment is tough to justify for a small-market team that is constantly trading away established talent to save money.
A healthy Sean Doolittle will likely return to the closer's role this coming season, so the fourth highest-paid player on the A's in 2016 will be an eighth-inning setup man.
Add to that the fact that we're talking about a 35-year-old pitcher who finally turned in a healthy season in 2015 after missing the previous three years with arm issues, and this deal seems like a big risk for Billy Beane and Co.
Best Move: Focusing on low-risk additions to the pitching staff that can potentially be flipped in July
As the Philadelphia Phillies begin the early stages of the rebuilding process, the focus will be on developing their young talent and continuing to add to a minor league system that has quickly grown into one of the best in baseball.
The Cubs did well when they were rebuilding to sign pitchers like Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel to low-risk deals and then flip them at the deadline in the trades that brought Jake Arrieta and Addison Russell to Chicago.
The Phillies have taken a similar approach this winter by acquiring Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton for the starting rotation and signing David Hernandez, Edward Mujica and James Russell in the bullpen.
All five guys come at a relatively low cost, and all five are capable of building their value into becoming legitimate trade chips come July.
Worst Move: Nothing
The Phillies' big move of the offseason was trading Ken Giles to the Houston Astros for a package of five pitchers, and that could well wind up being their best move if just one of those pitchers turns into a long-term piece of the rebuilding puzzle.
Other than that, they acquired outfielder Peter Bourjos from the St. Louis Cardinals and selected outfielder Tyler Goeddel and reliever Daniel Stumpf in the Rule 5 draft.
All of those moves, as well as the five additions to the pitching staff highlighted above, are in line with what a rebuilding team should do in the offseason.
Best Move: Signing RP Neftali Feliz
Who is going to be this year's reclamation project for Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage?
It's a question that has been asked more than once this offseason, and we may have gotten our answer Wednesday morning when the team signed Neftali Feliz to a one-year, $3.9 million deal, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo.
An All-Star closer with electric stuff when he first broke into the league with the Texas Rangers, Feliz saw his career sidetracked when he tried to make the move to the starting rotation and then dealt with a number of arm issues.
While the results weren't great this past season (48 G, 6.38 ERA), he did stay healthy, and that's the first step. His 4.05 FIP was a promising sign, as was his 94.6 mph average fastball velocity, so the power stuff is still there.
With Joakim Soria departing in free agency, Feliz could fill the need for a right-handed setup man if Searage can work his magic once again.
Worst Move: Nothing
The Pirates also signed veteran Ryan Vogelsong to a one-year, $2 million deal in hopes he can fill a rotation spot until Tyler Glasnow is ready. They also acquired Jon Niese from the New York Mets to address the other open rotation spot.
Relievers Yoervis Medina and Juan Nicasio were also intriguing buy-low candidates for the bullpen alongside Feliz, and the left-handed-hitting John Jaso was an outside-the-box solution to finding a platoon partner for Michael Morse at first base.
There's no splash signing or blockbuster deal here—just another solid offseason from a Pirates team that has done a great job of working around its financial constraints to build a perennial contender.
San Diego Padres
Best Move: Acquiring SP/RP Drew Pomeranz
In a move that will allow Wil Myers to shift from center field to first base, the San Diego Padres shipped incumbent first baseman Yonder Alonso to the Oakland Athletics for left-hander Drew Pomeranz.
A starter to begin his career, Pomeranz has served as a swingman of sorts during his time in Oakland, but he has performed significantly better out of the bullpen in his career.
- Starter: 49 GS, 10-20, 4.60 ERA, 1.426 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 228.2 IP
- Reliever: 58 G, 4-4, 2.14 ERA, 1.016 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 63.0 IP
With Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit both traded this offseason, Pomeranz will team with Brandon Maurer to anchor the back end of the bullpen. He could be in for a breakout season with the move to Petco Park.
Worst Move: Trading IF Jedd Gyorko
Jedd Gyorko appeared to be on his way to becoming an elite offensive second baseman when he posted a .745 OPS with 26 doubles and 23 home runs as a rookie in 2013.
That was enough for the Padres to give him a five-year, $35 million extension, but he struggled to a .229/.289/.365 line with 26 home runs in 821 at-bats over the past two seasons.
Those numbers don't necessarily tell the whole story, though, as he looked like the Gyorko of old after the All-Star break last season with a .739 OPS, 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 70 games.
With four years and $32 million left on his back-loaded deal, the Padres shipped him to St. Louis in exchange for outfielder Jon Jay, but it's a move they could quickly regret if Gyorko builds off his strong second half.
San Francisco Giants
Best Move: Signing SP Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija
Just like their rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants missed out on signing Zack Greinke.
However, unlike the Dodgers, the Giants moved quickly on their backup plan as they signed Jeff Samardzija to a five-year, $90 million deal shortly after Greinke joined the Diamondbacks.
They didn't stop there, though, as they followed up by signing Johnny Cueto to a six-year, $130 million pact. Those two newcomers alongside ace Madison Bumgarner should give the Giants as formidable a rotation as any in the National League.
Cueto has some long-term health concerns, and Samardzija will need to rebound from a poor 2015 season, but the Giants were proactive in addressing their need for starting pitching and look like the NL West favorites as a result.
Worst Move: Non-tendering RP Yusmeiro Petit
Over the past two seasons, Yusmeiro Petit has made 13 starts and 68 relief appearances for the Giants, going a combined 6-6 with a 3.68 ERA, 1.083 WHIP and 192 strikeouts in 193 innings of work.
This past season he started just one game, but he was still a useful bullpen arm with a 3.67 ERA and 1.184 WHIP in 76 innings of work.
Despite those numbers and a reasonable projected arbitration salary of $2.4 million, the Giants opted to non-tender the 31-year-old.
He quickly caught on with the Nationals on a one-year, $2.5 million deal that includes a $3 million option for 2017, and if injury strikes the Giants rotation, they could sorely miss him.
Best Move: Acquiring SP Nate Karns, OF Boog Powell and RP C.J. Riefenhauser
The Seattle Mariners' decisions to commit to Ketel Marte at shortstop and eventually to acquire Adam Lind from the Milwaukee Brewers made Brad Miller and Logan Morrison expendable pieces.
They turned those essentially spare parts and reliever Danny Farquhar into Nate Karns, Boog Powell and C.J. Riefenhauser.
Karns, 28, went 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 147 innings of work as a rookie last season and has five years of team control remaining.
Powell, 22, hit .295/.385/.392 with 28 extra-base hits while reaching the Triple-A level last season. He could be in for a breakout performance as his power continues to develop.
Riefenhauser was shipped to the Baltimore Orioles as the player to be named in the Mark Trumbo deal.
That gives the Mariners two potential long-term pieces, though, in exchange for two guys who had been ousted from starting jobs.
Worst Move: Trading RP Carson Smith for SP Wade Miley
Following the signing of David Price, the Boston Red Sox found themselves with six starting pitchers vying for five rotation spots, and for the second year in a row Wade Miley was moved during the winter meetings.
Looking for a solid veteran arm to fill out the rotation after Hisashi Iwakuma agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mariners sent a fantastic young reliever in Carson Smith and a controllable lefty in Roenis Elias to the Red Sox in exchange for Miley and reliever Jonathan Aro.
Shortly after that the Dodgers' deal with Iwakuma fell apart, and he wound up back with the Mariners, which made the Miley trade look somewhat unnecessary.
Either way, Seattle should not have moved a controllable reliever with closer stuff like Smith for a middle-of-the-rotation starter; in comparison, Ken Giles got the Phillies a package of five pitchers, two of which were Mark Appel and Vincent Velasquez.
St. Louis Cardinals
Best Move: Signing SP Mike Leake
News that Lance Lynn had undergone Tommy John surgery and would miss the 2016 season quickly put the St. Louis Cardinals in the market for a starting pitcher, and they made a serious run at David Price before he joined the Red Sox.
Things were slow to develop from there, but they eventually focused in on Mike Leake, who was signed to a five-year, $80 million deal.
He's not an ace, but Leake is a durable middle-of-the-rotation arm, and the fact that he's entering his age-28 season made him a more attractive target for a five-year deal than most pitchers on the market.
Leake has a 3.19 ERA and 0.898 WHIP in six career starts at Busch Stadium.
Worst Move: Re-signing RP Jonathan Broxton
The St. Louis Cardinals added Jonathan Broxton for the stretch run last season along with Steve Cishek, as they hoped one of the two would step into the role of right-handed setup man alongside Kevin Siegrist.
Broxton pitched well on the surface with a 2.66 ERA in 26 appearances with the Cardinals, but that came with a 4.6 BB/9 rate, 1.352 WHIP and 3.56 FIP, which could all signal a step back in 2016.
Despite those regression signs, as well as the fact that Jordan Walden is expected back healthy at some point, the Cardinals opted to bring Broxton back on a two-year, $7.5 million deal.
That's not big money by any means, but this is the same pitcher who had a 5.89 ERA in 40 appearances with the Cincinnati Reds before coming to the Cardinals last season.
Tampa Bay Rays
Best Move: Acquiring C Hank Conger
The catcher position has been a black hole for the Tampa Bay Rays offensively in recent years, and despite some quick power outbursts from Curt Casali and J.P. Arencibia, last season was no different.
Rene Rivera in particular was disappointing, as he hit .178/.213/.275 after posting a .252/.319/.432 line with the San Diego Padres in 2014.
Casali and Rivera were expected to be the catchers once again in 2016, but the team may have found a significant upgrade over both when it acquired Hank Conger from the Houston Astros for cash considerations.
His .229/.311/.448 line was nothing special, but he showed terrific pop off the bench with 11 doubles and 11 home runs and graded out as one of the better pitch-framers in the league.
Worst Move: Trading SP Nate Karns and OF Boog Powell
The Tampa Bay Rays once again found themselves with a wealth of starting pitching and a mediocre offense heading into the offseason, so trading a starter made sense.
That starter wound up being 28-year-old Nate Karns, who made sense as a trade chip given his solid performance and remaining control but limited upside given his age.
That being said, shipping him off along with a quality prospect in Boog Powell should have netted the team more than the trio of Brad Miller, Logan Morrison and Danny Farquhar, given the value placed on controllable pitching this winter.
Miller (.258/.329/.402, 11 HR, 46 RBI) and Morrison (.225/.302/.383, 17 HR, 54 RBI) are not exactly game-changing additions to the offense, and Farquhar (43 G, 5.12 ERA) had a rough season in 2015.
Best Move: Re-signing SP Colby Lewis
Over the past two seasons, no one has thrown more innings for the Texas Rangers than the 375 twirled by veteran Colby Lewis, and he did that while earning a combined $6 million.
The 36-year-old went 17-9 this past season and worked a career-high 204.2 innings.
While his 4.66 ERA and 1.236 WHIP aren't exactly front-line material, he was a no-brainer to bring back on a one-year, $6 million deal if only for the sake of depth.
With Yu Darvish still working his way back from Tommy John surgery and both Derek Holland and Martin Perez missing time last year, the durability that Lewis provides is invaluable insurance.
Worst Move: Nothing
The Rangers didn't have many glaring needs to address this winter, and aside from the Lewis signing, their only major move was trading disgruntled outfielder Leonys Martin to the Seattle Mariners for reliever Tom Wilhelmsen.
They also took a chance on 32-year-old Tony Barnette, who emerged as a dominant closer in Japan after originally being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks but never reaching in the majors.
They added Justin Ruggiano as a platoon option and insurance policy for Josh Hamilton in left field, and with that their offseason needs appear to be addressed.
It's full speed ahead for a team that figures to be among the American League favorites heading into the season.
Toronto Blue Jays
Best Move: Signing SP J.A. Happ
For all the hype surrounding David Price, Johnny Cueto and to a lesser extend Scott Kazmir and Mike Leake at the trade deadline, it was J.A. Happ who wound up being the best performer of any starting pitcher who was dealt in July.
Traded from Seattle to Pittsburgh, Happ went 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA (2.19 FIP), 1.026 WHIP and 69 strikeouts in 63.1 innings.
His brief time spent with pitching guru Ray Searage may well wind up being a turning point in his career, and while a return to the American League could be a minor cause for concern, he was well worth the three-year, $36 million investment.
Worst Move: Re-signing SP Marco Estrada for $26 million
Marco Estrada was nothing short of fantastic for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, including a fantastic postseason performance, and there is little question he has one of the best changeups in baseball.
He's proved he can be a solid starter and one who is capable of stepping up in a big spot, and it's understandable that the Blue Jays would reward him for that with a $26 million commitment over two years.
However, we can't ignore the regression signs.
His .216 BABIP was the lowest in baseball, per FanGraphs. Supporters will say that's because he pitches to contact and gets a lot of weak contact with his changeup, and they're not wrong about those things, but that is still abnormally low and almost certainly to climb.
His 3.13 ERA came with a 4.40 FIP, and chances are he'll land closer to the FIP than ERA in 2016.
Is a 4.00 ERA pitcher worth $13 million these days? Maybe, but the Blue Jays may have been better served letting someone else pay for Estrada's uncharacteristically good season.
Best Move: Signing RP Shawn Kelley
The Washington Nationals ranked 10th in the majors with a 3.46 ERA from their bullpen last season, but with Matt Thornton and Casey Janssen departing and a mess in the closer's role, they were in need of an overhaul.
They added Yusmeiro Petit, Oliver Perez, Trevor Gott and Shawn Kelley to the mix this offseason, and Kelley is the one to keep an eye on.
Inked to a three-year, $15 million deal, the 31-year-old has shown dominant stuff the past three seasons with an 11.6 K/9 rate over 169 appearances.
After posting an ERA over 4.00 in 2013 and 2014 while pitching with the Yankees, he had the best season of his career with the Padres last year when he had a 2.45 ERA, 1.091 WHIP and 11.0 K/9 rate in 53 appearances.
He could take over as the team's closer at some point, but either way he's a terrific addition at a reasonable price.
Worst Move: Not trading Jonathan Papelbon or Drew Storen
Speaking of that closer's role, the Nationals can't just pretend all the ugliness at the trade deadline last year didn't happen and enter the year with both Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon in the bullpen, can they?
At this point, it looks like there's a good chance that's exactly what will happen.
Storen rightfully felt slighted when he was pushed out of the ninth inning in the midst of a terrific season in favor of unnecessary deadline addition Papelbon.
Add in the choking incident between Papelbon and the face of the franchise in Bryce Harper, and it's shocking that the team has not done anything to rectify this situation yet.