Grading Each MLB Team's Offseason Moves Entering 2018
Let's pretend for a moment that the MLB offseason is winding down and Opening Day is just around the corner.
Sounds pretty nice, right?
Especially for those of us currently residing in subzero temperatures.
The question we'll address here is how each MLB team would look if the offseason were to abruptly end.
Filling necessary roster holes was the biggest factor for teams looking to contend, while maximizing trade chips and looking for potential bargains was the name of the game for rebuilding clubs.
Teams were simply given a grade of A, B, C, D or F based on the moves they've made.
Think of a "C" grade as satisfactory, while anything above represents an offseason winner and anything below an offseason loser.
- Nov. 30: RHP Brad Boxberger acquired from TB for RHP Curtis Taylor.
- Dec. 14: RHP Albert Suarez selected in Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 22: RHP Yoshihisa Hirano signed in free agency (two years, $6 million).
The Arizona Diamondbacks' list of needs was relatively short heading into the offseason, but priority No. 1 was shoring up a bullpen that tallied 20 blown saves and lost closer Fernando Rodney to free agency.
With incumbent setup man Archie Bradley likely to assume ninth-inning duties for the first time in his career, the team has done well to add a pair of arms with closing experience for insurance in Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano.
Boxberger was an All-Star in 2015 when he led the AL with 41 saves before injuries opened the door for Alex Colome to supplant him in the closer's role in Tampa Bay.
As for Hirano, the 33-year-old has racked up 143 saves over the past five seasons pitching for the Orix Buffaloes in the Japanese League. With a plus splitter and a deceptive delivery, he could slide right into a crucial late-inning role.
If the season started today, the D-backs would be in pretty good shape.
- Nov. 20: RHP Josh Ravin acquired from LAD for cash considerations.
- Nov. 30: RHP Jim Johnson traded to LAA for LHP Justin Kelly.
- Dec. 1: RHP Chase Whitley claimed off waivers from TB.
- Dec. 14: RHP Anyelo Gomez selected in Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 16: OF Matt Kemp traded to LAD for 1B Adrian Gonzalez, LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Brandon McCarthy, IF Charlie Culberson and cash.
- Dec. 20: OF Preston Tucker acquired from HOU for PTBNL.
The big move of the offseason so far for the Atlanta Braves was the five-player deal that sent Matt Kemp to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson.
The swap essentially boiled down to the Braves taking on more money in 2018 in the form of three expiring contracts for a chance to get out from under the $16.75 million that is owed to Kemp in 2019.
It's a smart move for a team that's still not quite ready to make the leap to contention but could be ready to do so in short order.
The also managed to flip veteran reliever Jim Johnson and his $5 million salary, while also getting younger in the bullpen by adding Chase Whitley, Josh Ravin and Rule 5 pick Anyelo Gomez.
It will be interesting to see what Preston Tucker does with a change of scenery after he posted a .798 OPS with 24 home runs and 96 RBI in Triple-A this past season while being blocked at the MLB level in Houston.
- Nov. 22: OF Jaycob Brugman acquired from OAK for RHP Jake Bray.
- Dec. 14: RHP Jose Mesa selected in Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 14: RHP Michael Kelly signed in free agency (MLB deal).
What exactly is the Baltimore Orioles' plan?
Hold on to trade chips like Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Brad Brach, and then clean up the scraps of the starting pitching market in hopes of posting a winning record and avoiding a last-place finish in the AL East?
That doesn't sound great.
The O's had the worst starting pitching in baseball last season with a miserable 5.70 ERA, and they've done absolutely nothing to address that situation to this point.
In fact, they've really done nothing of significance, period.
It looks like the window of contention for this current group has slammed shut and everyone realizes it except the front office.
Sell. Sell now. Starting building toward the future.
Throwing a couple Band-Aids on the starting rotation at the end of the offseason and hoping for the best is just a wasted year.
Boston Red Sox
- Dec. 18: 1B Mitch Moreland re-signed in free agency (two years, $13 million).
For those of you still convinced the Boston Red Sox should have broken the bank to sign Eric Hosmer, let's start by taking a closer look at his average numbers versus Mitch Moreland's over the past three seasons.
- Hosmer: 119 OPS+, 29 2B, 23 HR, 97 RBI, 92 R, 2.9 WAR
- Moreland: 100 OPS+, 27 2B, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 58 R, 1.6 WAR
Hosmer is the better player, but it's hard to say he's worth a contract three times the length and more than three times the annual value. Yet, he reportedly has a six-year, $120 million offer forthcoming from the San Diego Padres, according to MLB Network's Buster Olney.
This may actually turn out to be a major bullet dodged by the Red Sox.
That still doesn't fill the Red Sox's need for a power bat, though.
Boston has long been viewed as the favorite to sign J.D. Martinez, and there's still plenty of time for that to happen.
However, until it does, the offseason has to be graded accordingly.
And if it doesn't, what's the backup plan?
- Nov. 29: LHP Dario Alvarez signed in free agency (MLB deal).
- Dec. 7: RHP Tyler Chatwood signed in free agency (three years, $38 million).
- Dec. 12: RHP Brandon Morrow signed in free agency (two years, $18 million plus $12 million option for 2020 with a $3 million buyout).
- Dec. 12: LHP Drew Smyly signed in free agency (two years, $10 million).
- Dec. 16: RHP Steve Cishek signed in free agency (two years, $13 million).
It's been a busy offseason for the Chicago Cubs as they set to work rebuilding a starting rotation that lost two key members and a bullpen that imploded in the postseason.
Tyler Chatwood will fill one of the starting spots, and it's not hard to be optimistic about his chances of success now that he won't be pitching half his games at Coors Field.
- 2016 Home ERA: 6.12
- 2016 Road ERA: 1.69
- 2017 Home ERA: 6.01
- 2017 Road ERA: 3.49
Pretty eye-opening stuff.
As for the bullpen, Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek could wind up battling it out for the closer's role if no one else is added to the mix, and both pitchers look like great fits thanks to their low walk rates—an issue that plagued the relief corps last season.
Adding another starter would be nice, but this looks like a team that's poised for another push even if it's done making moves.
Chicago White Sox
- Nov. 16: RHP Thyago Vieira acquired from SEA for international bonus money.
- Dec. 1: C Welington Castillo signed in free agency (two years, $14.5 million plus $8 million option for 2020 with a $500,000 buyout).
The Chicago White Sox were not expected to make much noise this offseason because most of their notable trade chips have already been cashed in and they're still at least a few years removed from making a climb back toward contention.
That said, adding veteran catcher Welington Castillo on a two-year deal with a third-year option to help anchor the young pitching staff was a terrific decision.
The front office also took advantage of the Seattle Mariners in their strong push to sign Shohei Ohtani by flipping some unused international bonus money for power-armed Thyago Vieira.
Don't be surprised if the 24-year-old is closing games on the South Side before the 2018 season is over.
Not selling high on Avisail Garcia looks like a mistake because he's a major regression candidate, but perhaps the market just isn't there, so it's tough to hold that against what has been an otherwise terrific—albeit fairly quiet—offseason.
- Dec. 26: RHP Jared Hughes signed in free agency (two years, $4.5 million).
Not much to talk about for the Cincinnati Reds.
Jared Hughes was a surprise non-tender by the Milwaukee Brewers after he posted a 3.02 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with 12 holds in 67 appearances last season.
He looks like a steal for $4.5 million over two seasons, and he'll be a welcome addition to a bullpen that has some quality arms but was still fairly thin.
Rumors continue to swirl about a possible Billy Hamilton-to-San Francisco trade, and Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported on Tuesday that those talks are still ongoing.
But so far, the Hughes signing has been the only notable move out of Cincinnati.
- Nov. 20: IF/OF Rob Refsnyder claimed off waivers from TOR.
- Dec. 13: RHP Shawn Armstrong traded to SEA for international bonus money.
- Dec. 23: 1B Yonder Alonso signed in free agency (two years, $15 million plus $9 million vesting option for 2020 with a $1 million buyout).
It's hard to properly judge the Yonder Alonso signing until we see what sort of money Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda command.
With money taken out of the equation, both look like better options to replace Carlos Santana as the left-handed hitting side of a first base/designated hitter platoon with Edwin Encarnacion.
Alonso enjoyed a breakout season in 2017 and maintained strong on-base numbers, but he hit just .254/.354/.420 with eight home runs and 24 RBI after the All-Star break.
He could wind up being a relative bargain to those other guys on a two-year, $15 million deal with a reasonable third-year option, but if they end up signing for similar money, this could be a misfire that stems from simple impatience.
Just as important, the team has also done nothing to replace Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith in the bullpen.
Danny Salazar or Mike Clevinger could wind up filling a relief role, but an outside addition of some sort would still be nice.
- Dec. 8: C Chris Iannetta signed in free agency (two years, $7.75 million plus $5.25 million option for 2020 with a $750,000 buyout).
- Dec. 15: RHP Bryan Shaw signed in free agency (three years, $25 million plus $9 million vesting option for 2021 with a $2 million buyout).
- Dec. 15: LHP Jake McGee re-signed in free agency (three years, $25 million plus $9 million vesting option for 2021 with a $2 million buyout).
The Colorado Rockies began the offseason with three gaping holes in the bullpen left by the free agency of Greg Holland, Jake McGee and Pat Neshek.
McGee was re-signed to a three-year deal, and workhorse Bryan Shaw signed a matching contract on the same day, leaving the closer's role as the biggest remaining area of need.
Thomas Harding of MLB.com wrote: "In my mind, Greg Holland remains the favorite to return as the Rockies' closer. Various people familiar with the situation have indicated that Holland, represented by high-profile agent Scott Boras, is interested in coming back to Colorado. The Rockies have made an offer but have been willing to keep talking. Last year, the talks went through the holiday season before Holland signed in January during the team's Winter Caravan."
At any rate, it looks like the Rockies are in a prime position to add a proven closer of some sort.
Signing Chris Iannetta also looks like a great move after he posted a 114 OPS+ with 17 home runs in 316 plate appearances while once again grading out as a plus defender.
Re-sign Holland and first baseman Mark Reynolds and this just might be an "A" offseason.
- Nov. 20: LHP Ryan Carpenter signed in free agency (MLB deal).
- Dec. 5: OF Leonys Martin signed in free agency (one year, $1.75 million).
- Dec. 8: RHP Mike Fiers signed in free agency (one year, $6 million).
- Dec. 13: 2B Ian Kinsler traded to LAA for OF Troy Montgomery and RHP Wilkel Hernandez.
- Dec. 14: OF Victor Reyes selected in Rule 5 draft.
Mike Fiers is exactly the type of pitcher a rebuilding team like the Detroit Tigers should be taking a chance on with a one-year deal.
Best-case scenario: He turns in a strong first half and brings back a couple decent prospects at the deadline.
Worst-case scenario: The team waves goodbye to his $6 million salary next offseason and there's no harm done.
Flipping Ian Kinsler was inevitable, and outfield prospect Troy Montgomery has shown some potential since the Los Angeles Angels grabbed him in the eighth round of the 2016 draft.
Meanwhile, Leonys Martin and Rule 5 pick Victor Reyes could both wind up seeing significant playing time as low-cost outfield options.
This is what an offseason looks like for a rebuilding team that's short on viable trade chips.
- Dec. 13: RHP Joe Smith signed in free agency (two years, $15 million).
- Dec. 14: LHP Anthony Gose selected in Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 15: RHP Hector Rondon signed in free agency (two years, $8.5 million).
- Dec. 20: OF Preston Tucker traded to ATL for PTBNL.
Signing Joe Smith and Hector Rondon is a nice start for the Houston Astros, but it shouldn't be the extent of their offseason.
Adding at least one more quality relief arm—ideally one of the left-handed variety—looks like a must after manager A.J. Hinch was forced to lean heavily on his starters out of the bullpen during the team's postseason push.
There's also still the possibility of a splashy addition to the starting rotation.
The club met with free agent Yu Darvish earlier this month, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, and with Dallas Keuchel staring down free agency next offseason, that could represent a good forward-thinking addition by the front office.
If the season started today, the Astros would once again be as dangerous as any team in baseball.
At the same time, it feels like there's still work to be done this winter.
Kansas City Royals
- Dec. 5: RHP Wily Peralta signed in free agency (one year, $1.5 million plus $3 million option for 2019 with a $25,000 buyout).
- Dec. 7: RHP Scott Barlow signed in free agency (MLB deal).
- Dec. 14: RHP Burch Smith acquired from NYM following Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 14: RHP Brad Keller acquired from CIN following Rule 5 draft.
Scooping up Rule 5 talent to fill out the bullpen and taking a flier on former Opening Day starter Wily Peralta is exactly the type of moves the Kansas City Royals should be making in the early stages of what will likely be a lengthy rebuild.
Now it's time to do more.
All-Star reliever Kelvin Herrera should already have his bags packed with free agency awaiting next offseason, and 2017 breakout star Whit Merrifield should be aggressively shopped on the trade market as a Swiss army knife in the mold of Ben Zobrist.
Would eating some of Ian Kennedy's salary be enough for someone to bite? Is anyone willing to give up a couple quality prospects for Danny Duffy?
These are the questions the team should be asking. It's time to tear it down to the studs, and there's no sense tiptoeing around that fact.
Los Angeles Angels
- Nov. 2: OF Justin Upton signs extension (five years, $106 million).
- Nov. 30: RHP Jim Johnson acquired from ATL for LHP Justin Kelly.
- Dec. 9: RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani signed as an international free agent.
- Dec. 13: 2B Ian Kinsler acquired from DET for OF Troy Montgomery and RHP Wilkel Hernandez.
- Dec. 14: RHP Luke Bard selected in Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 15: 3B Zack Cozart signed in free agency (three years, $38 million).
- Dec. 16: SS Kevin Maitan signed as an international free agent.
Don't look now, but the Los Angeles Angels finally got some help for Mike Trout.
A full season of Justin Upton and the additions of Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart leaves the club with a significantly improved offense and an infield defense that will rival any in baseball.
Then there's Shohei Ohtani.
Not sure many outside of the Angels front office thought they had a serious chance of landing the Japanese superstar. Now he has a chance to be a true game-changer as a two-way standout.
There's still work to be done before spring training rolls around, though.
The late-inning trio of Blake Parker, Cam Bedrosian and Jim Johnson is not scaring anyone, and there are enough injury questions in the starting rotation that they need another depth arm or two at the very least.
Still, it's hard to call the Angels anything but winners so far this offseason.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Nov. 20: RHP Josh Ravin traded to ATL for cash considerations.
- Dec. 16: 1B Adrian Gonzalez, LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Brandon McCarthy, IF Charlie Culberson and cash traded to ATL for OF Matt Kemp.
- Dec. 20: RHP Tom Koehler signed in free agency (one year, $2 million).
- Dec. 22: LHP Henry Owens claimed off waivers from ARI.
The Dodgers will save significant luxury-tax money this season by unloading the combined $51.5 million that was owed to Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy in exchange for taking on the final two years of Matt Kemp's deal.
Now they need to add a bullpen arm or two with that money they saved to help offset the departures of Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson in free agency.
Tom Koehler was added on a one-year, $2 million deal, and he pitched well out of the bullpen after joining the Toronto Blue Jays last season, posting a 2.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 9.5 K/9 in 15 appearances.
The roster is still loaded, and they're undoubtedly one of the NL favorites as currently constructed, but it seems like a team that finished one win away from a World Series title last October would be motivated to do more.
- Nov. 3: C Chad Wallach claimed off waivers from CIN.
- Nov. 20: 1B Garrett Cooper and LHP Caleb Smith acquired from NYY for RHP Michael King and international bonus money.
- Dec. 7: 2B Dee Gordon and international bonus money traded to SEA for RHP Nick Neidert, SS Christopher Torres and RHP Robert Dugger.
- Dec. 11: RF Giancarlo Stanton and cash traded to NYY for 2B Starlin Castro, RHP Jorge Guzman and SS Jose Devers.
- Dec. 13: RHP Edinson Volquez released.
- Dec. 14: OF Marcell Ozuna traded to STL for RHP Sandy Alcantara, OF Magneuris Sierra, RHP Zac Gallen and LHP Daniel Castano.
- Dec. 14: RHP Brett Graves and RHP Elieser Hernandez selected in Rule 5 draft.
The Miami Marlins' new ownership group has landed with a thud this offseason.
Make no mistake, blowing it up and rebuilding was the right move for a team that went 77-85 last season, wasn't going to contend in 2018 and hasn't made the playoffs since 2003.
However, the return packages it has received for the star players it's been shipping out of town have been uninspiring, to say the least.
Nick Neidert, Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra and Jorge Guzman all easily rank among the top prospects in a thin Miami system, but none are consensus Top-100 guys, and that's unacceptable given the talent that has been jettisoned.
That's what happens when slashing payroll takes priority over adding talent.
- Dec. 21: RHP Jhoulys Chacin signed in free agency (two years, $15.5 million).
- Dec. 21: RHP Yovani Gallardo signed in free agency (one year, $2 million).
After a surprising run at contention this past season—a few years ahead of schedule—the Milwaukee Brewers looked poised to make a splash this winter, and the starting rotation looked like just the place to do it.
Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb are all still available on the free-agent market, but to this point, the biggest addition has been Jhoulys Chacin.
Now, that's not meant to be a knock on Chacin.
The 29-year-old was quietly terrific with the Padres last season, going 13-10 with a 3.89 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 153 strikeouts in 180.1 innings, and he has a chance to be a steal for $15.5 million over two years.
However, he doesn't exactly fit the bill as the "missing piece" type to push this club over the top.
There's also still a hole to fill at second base, and the bullpen could use another arm or two after Anthony Swarzak and Jared Hughes took their talents elsewhere in free agency.
The Chacin signing has a chance to be one of the best of the offseason, but it doesn't quite move the needle enough for a team on the fringe.
- Dec. 6: C David Banuelos and OF Jacob Pearson acquired from SEA and LAA for international bonus money.
- Dec. 13: RHP Michael Pineda signed in free agency (two years, $10 million).
- Dec. 14: RHP Tyler Kinley selected in Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 15: RHP Fernando Rodney signed in free agency (one year, $4.25 million plus $4.25 million option for 2019 with a $250,000 buyout).
- Dec. 26: LHP Zach Duke signed in free agency (one year, ~$2 million).
The Minnesota Twins need to add a quality starting pitcher. It's as simple as that.
Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios were a solid one-two punch atop the rotation, and both Kyle Gibson and Adalberto Mejia are capable back-end arms, but they need another top-tier starter if they want to run with the big boys.
There's also the question of the bullpen.
They managed to get by with Brandon Kintzler and Matt Belisle handling closing duties last season, and they'll no doubt be walking a tightrope again this season with Fernando Rodney and his 4.23 ERA and six blown saves last year entrusted with the role.
Young guys like Trevor Hildenberger, J.T. Chargois, John Curtiss, Gabriel Moya and Rule 5 pick Tyler Kinley could wind up being the X-factor on this club as they fill in the gaps in the relief corps.
The talent is here, but will they pull the trigger on the big move? That could be the difference between a "D" and an "A."
New York Mets
- Dec. 15: RHP Anthony Swarzak signed in free agency (two years, $14 million).
"Sure hope all our starters stay healthy this time." — the New York Mets front office, probably.
Jacob deGrom was the only pitcher on the roster to throw more than 120 innings last season, and there's nothing in the track records of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler to think they are going to be viable members of the rotation in 2018.
So what's the plan?
To this point, the only outside addition has been reliever Anthony Swarzak, who will essentially replace Addison Reed in the setup role alongside AJ Ramos and closer Jeurys Familia.
The current infield of Dominic Smith, Wilmer Flores, Amed Rosario and Asdrubal Cabrera is not exactly Murderer's Row, and with Michael Conforto recovering from shoulder surgery and Yoenis Cespedes struggling to stay healthy last year, it's hard to see the offense as anything but a weakness.
It's almost hard to believe this is the same team that was in the World Series in 2015.
The front office has given no indication it's ready to make any significant moves, so grading the offseason to this point might be the same as grading the offseason as a whole.
New York Yankees
- Dec. 11: RF Giancarlo Stanton and cash acquired from MIA for 2B Starlin Castro, RHP Jorge Guzman and SS Jose Devers.
- Dec. 12: 3B Chase Headley, RHP Bryan Mitchell and cash traded to SD for OF Jabari Blash.
- Dec. 26: LHP CC Sabathia re-signed in free agency (one year, $10 million).
Honestly, the New York Yankees could have brought back CC Sabathia on the one-year, $10 million deal they signed him to and called it an offseason and no one would have been surprised.
Instead, they went ahead and added a 28-year-old superstar fresh off a 59-homer, 132-RBI season that earned him NL MVP honors.
Talks have centered around the 2018-19 free-agent class and the potential availability of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado for so long that no one expected the Yankees to make a major splash a year early.
And the thing is, the Giancarlo Stanton trade didn't cost them any of their elite-level prospects, and it doesn't take them out of the running for one of those guys next winter.
Scary stuff for the rest of the MLB world.
With a full season of Sonny Gray in the rotation, the best bullpen in baseball and an absolute juggernaut of an offense, the Yankees are now the clear AL East favorites and belong right alongside the Astros and Indians as top dogs in the AL.
- Nov. 15: 1B Ryon Healy traded to SEA for SS Alexander Campos and RHP Emilio Pagan.
- Nov. 20: OF Ramon Laureano acquired from HOU for RHP Brandon Bailey.
- Dec. 7: RHP Yusmeiro Petit signed in free agency (two years, $9 million plus $5.5 million option for 2020 with a $1 million buyout).
- Dec. 11: 2B Joey Wendle traded to TB for PTBNL.
- Dec. 14: OF Stephen Piscotty acquired from STL for SS Yairo Munoz and 2B Max Schrock.
The Oakland Athletics could surprise some people this year after a quietly solid offseason.
Shipping out controllable slugger Ryon Healy will open up the DH spot for Khris Davis, who was brutal defensively (-13 DRS, -14.7 UZR/150) in left field. That should, in turn, serve as a boost to the pitching staff.
Meanwhile, buying low on Stephen Piscotty could pay huge dividends. After all, he's just a year removed from posting a 113 OPS+ with 35 doubles, 22 home runs and 85 RBI, and he's owed a team-friendly $31.2 million over the next five years.
The other notable addition is right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, who tallied 91.1 innings for the Angels last season spanning one start and 59 relief appearances. His 2.76 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 were elite numbers, and his ability to go multiple innings makes him incredibly valuable.
Holding on to controllable starters Sean Manaea and Kendall Graveman could be a sign the A's have high hopes for the upcoming season. Otherwise, it seems likely their names would have at least popped up more prominently on the rumor mill.
- Dec. 15: SS Freddy Galvis traded to SD for RHP Enyel De Los Santos.
- Dec. 15: RHP Pat Neshek signed in free agency (two years, $15.25 million plus $7 million option for 2020 with a $700,000 buyout).
- Dec. 15: RHP Tommy Hunter signed in free agency (two years, $18 million).
- Dec. 20: 1B Carlos Santana signed in free agency (three years, $59.5 million plus $17.5 million option for 2021 with a $500,000 buyout).
The Philadelphia Phillies are finally starting to spend all the money they stockpiled during those lean rebuilding years, and they're spending it well.
Pat Neshek (23 HLD, 1.59 ERA, 10.0 K/9) and Tommy Hunter (26 HLD, 2.61 ERA, 9.8 K/9) will join Hector Neris (26/29 SV, 3.01 ERA, 10.4 K/9) and Luis Garcia (14 HLD, 2.65 ERA, 7.6 K/9) to form a potentially dominant back end of the bullpen.
Meanwhile, flipping Freddy Galvis for promising right-hander Enyel De Los Santos opens up an everyday spot for top prospect J.P. Crawford, and signing Carlos Santana to a three-year deal gives the offense a veteran presence with terrific on-base skills and 30-homer pop.
The starting rotation remains unaddressed, though.
Aaron Nola emerged as a legitimate staff ace last season, and there's plenty of potential behind him, but he's the only sure thing on the staff right now, so adding another proven veteran would be nice.
Still, it's been a good offseason for a team on the rise.
- Nov. 6: LHP Nik Turley claimed off waivers from MIN.
- Dec. 11: SS Engelb Vielma claimed off waivers from PHI.
- Dec. 14: RHP Jordan Milbrath selected in Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 14: RHP Nick Burdi acquired from PHI following Rule 5 draft.
The Pittsburgh Pirates can't just stand pat.
If they don't plan on making any significant additions to the roster, there's no reason not to flip Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison before the start of spring training.
That trio would bring a significant prospect haul to an organization that relies heavily on young, controllable talent to help overcome small-market constraints.
While they're at it, shopping flame-throwing closer Felipe Rivero might not be a bad idea either, as his remaining control and stellar numbers this past season would make him a hot commodity.
There's still talent on this roster, but at this point, it's hard to see them keeping pace with the Cubs and Cardinals in the NL Central.
So they might as well maximize their biggest trade chips now and get a head start on retooling the roster.
A full-scale rebuild is not needed here, but simply sitting on their hands and playing for a winning record won't do them any good in the long run.
San Diego Padres
- Nov. 22: RHP Colton Brewer signed in free agency (MLB deal).
- Dec. 12: 3B Chase Headley, RHP Bryan Mitchell and cash acquired from NYY for OF Jabari Blash.
- Dec. 12: IF Ryan Schimpf traded to TB for SS Deion Tansel.
- Dec. 15: SS Freddy Galvis acquired from PHI for RHP Enyel De Los Santos.
- Dec. 17: RHP Jordan Lyles re-signed in free agency (one year, $750,000 plus $1 million option for 2019 with a $250,000 buyout).
- Dec. 20: LHP Travis Wood released.
The Freddy Galvis trade remains a head-scratcher.
Why would a rebuilding team trade a legitimate 50-grade pitching prospect with middle-of-the-rotation upside for an overpriced ($7.4 million projected), underperforming (83 OPS+, 1.3 WAR) player one year removed from free agency?
They could have thrown a $5 million at Alcides Escobar in free agency and kept the prospect if they were that desperate for a veteran shortstop.
Releasing Travis Wood for nothing also seems silly.
On the other hand, taking on the contract of Chase Headley to get a pitcher they've liked for a while in Bryan Mitchell is a move that makes perfect sense given the current state of the team.
Their legitimate involvement in the Eric Hosmer market is surprising, and it will be interesting to see where they turn their attention after he makes his decision, regardless of the outcome.
San Francisco Giants
- Dec. 14: RHP Julian Fernandez selected in Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 15: LHP Matt Moore and international bonus money traded to TEX for RHP Sam Wolff and RHP Israel Cruz.
- Dec. 19: C Nick Hundley re-signed in free agency (one year, $2.5 million).
- Dec. 20: 3B Evan Longoria and cash acquired from TB for CF Denard Span, IF Christian Arroyo, LHP Matt Krook and RHP Stephen Woods.
The Evan Longoria trade made it clear the San Francisco Giants view themselves as contenders in 2018.
That makes one of us.
There's still plenty of talent on the roster, but there are also multiple holes, and the team will be banking hard on bounce-back seasons from Johnny Cueto and Mark Melancon.
While the third base position has now been addressed, the outfield is still a huge question mark.
Finding a power bat to man left field and a plus defender to play center field is more than just a wish-list item for this team; it's a must if it hopes to have any chance of sneaking into the postseason.
The decision to trade Matt Moore to slide safely under the luxury-tax threshold also leaves the back of the starting rotation in flux, with Ty Blach and Chris Stratton are now both penciled into spots on the staff.
A thin farm system and an aging core put the Giants in a dangerous position long-term, but their undivided attention appears to still be on the present.
- Nov. 2: UT Andrew Romine claimed off waivers from DET.
- Nov. 15: 1B Ryon Healy acquired from OAK for SS Alexander Campos and LHP Emilio Pagan.
- Nov. 16: RHP Thyago Vieira traded to CWS for international bonus money.
- Nov. 18: RHP Nick Rumbelow acquired from NYY for LHP JP Sears and RHP Juan Then.
- Nov. 30: LHP Sam Moll claimed off waivers from PIT.
- Dec. 7: CF Dee Gordon and international bonus money acquired from MIA for RHP Nick Neidert, SS Chris Torres and RHP Robert Dugger.
- Dec. 8: RHP Mike Morin claimed off waivers from KC.
- Dec. 11: OF Cam Perkins claimed off waivers from PHI.
- Dec. 13: RHP Shawn Armstrong acquired from CLE for international bonus money.
- Dec. 14: 1B Mike Ford selected in Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 20: RHP Juan Nicasio signed in free agency (two years, $17 million).
All of those moves, yet the starting rotation remains a huge question mark.
James Paxton is a legitimate ace if he can stay healthy, Felix Hernandez and Mike Leake are capable middle-of-the-rotation arms at this point in their careers, and the rest of the in-house options are No. 5 starters or organizational depth at best.
Missing out on Shohei Ohtani was an unfortunate blow, but the Mariners need to have a Plan B.
Opening the season with a diminished Hernandez as the No. 2 starter and both Erasmo Ramirez and Marco Gonzales occupying spots in the rotation is not a recipe for success.
Adding Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy should make an already potent lineup that much more dangerous, and Juan Nicasio is a good pickup for the bullpen.
It all boils down to that starting pitching, though.
St. Louis Cardinals
- Dec. 1: SS Aledmys Diaz traded to TOR for OF J.B. Woodman.
- Dec. 5: RHP Miles Mikolas signed in free agency (two years, $15.5 million).
- Dec. 14: OF Marcell Ozuna acquired from MIA for RHP Sandy Alcantara, OF Magneuris Sierra, RHP Zac Gallen and LHP Daniel Castano.
- Dec. 14: OF Stephen Piscotty traded to OAK for SS Yairo Munoz and 2B Max Schrock.
- Dec. 14: RHP Luke Gregerson signed in free agency (two years, $10 million plus $5 million option for 2020 with a $1 million buyout).
In the long run, the St. Louis Cardinals might have dodged a bullet missing out on Giancarlo Stanton and instead settling for Marcell Ozuna.
For an organization that has always been hesitant to bog down the payroll with mega deals, getting two years of Ozuna as opposed to a decade of Stanton sticks with the organizational philosophy.
And let's not forget just how good Ozuna was last season when he posted a 145 OPS+ with 37 home runs and 124 RBI. Not a bad consolation prize.
Trading Stephen Piscotty for a pair of solid middle infield prospects and not having to part with any of their top-tier prospects in the Ozuna deal means the farm system is still in great shape.
The only thing missing from the offseason is a closer.
Luke Gregerson looks like a steal on a two-year, $10 million deal, at least relative to what other relievers are getting this winter, but he's struggled in the past when asked to close games.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Nov. 27: UT Micah Johnson claimed off waivers from SF.
- Nov. 30: RHP Brad Boxberger traded to ARI for RHP Curtis Taylor.
- Dec. 11: 2B Joey Wendle acquired from OAK for PTBNL.
- Dec. 12: IF Ryan Schimpf acquired from SD for SS Deion Tansel.
- Dec. 20: 3B Evan Longoria and cash traded to SF for CF Denard Span, IF Christian Arroyo, LHP Matt Krook and RHP Stephen Woods.
The next month will go a long way in determining the next several years for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Was trading Evan Longoria a one-off move to maximize his value or the start of a full-scale rebuild that will also see Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome on the move?
Prospects Brent Honeywell, Willy Adames and Jake Bauers are all knocking on the door, and newcomer Christian Arroyo could slide right into the starting third base job after coming over in the Longoria deal.
For now, all we can really judge them on is that Longoria trade, and all things considered, they got a decent return.
It feels like there's still a lot of offseason left for this team, though.
- Nov. 20: RHP Ronald Herrera acquired from NYY for LHP Reiver Sanmartin.
- Nov. 27: C Juan Centeno claimed off waivers from HOU.
- Nov. 28: RHP Doug Fister signed in free agency (one year, $3.5 million plus $4.5 million option for 2019 with a $500,000 buyout).
- Dec. 6: LHP Mike Minor signed in free agency (three years, $28 million).
- Dec. 14: OF Carlos Tocci acquired from CWS following Rule 5 draft.
- Dec. 15: LHP Matt Moore and international bonus acquired from SF for RHP Sam Wolff and RHP Israel Cruz.
- Dec. 15: RHP Chris Martin signed in free agency (MLB deal).
Let the great six-man rotation experiment begin.
While it's not a philosophy that makes sense for a lot of teams, the current makeup of the Texas Rangers pitching staff lends itself to the idea.
Ace Cole Hamels is 34 years old and coming off a season where he posted a 4.20 ERA and pitched just 148 innings, so potentially robbing him of five or six starts for the sake of keeping him fresh and healthy looks like a worthwhile payoff.
The rest of the rotation could be veteran Doug Fister, bounce-back candidate Matt Moore, injury returnee Martin Perez and relievers trying to move into a starting role in Mike Minor and Matt Bush—all candidates to benefit from a six-man staff.
If they're comfortable with Delino DeShields Jr. filling the center field spot after he finished the 2017 season strong, the lineup looks to be set.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Nov. 6: RHP Taylor Gurrieri selected off waivers from TB.
- Nov. 20: IF Gift Ngoepe acquired from PIT for PTBNL or cash.
- Dec. 1: SS Aledmys Diaz acquired from STL for OF J.B. Woodman.
The Toronto Blue Jays have balked at the idea of moving Josh Donaldson and other potential trade chips this offseason in favor of gearing up for another run at contention.
In fact, general manager Ross Atkins is focused on fielding the "best possible team" for the 2018 season, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.
Does he think that team is already in place?
After losing 86 games last season and with the Yankees and Red Sox looking like clearly superior teams in the AL East, the Blue Jays' biggest addition this offseason has been bounce-back candidate Aledmys Diaz, who will fill a utility role and serve as insurance to the oft-injured duo of Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki.
Not sure he's going to account for the 10-15 wins the Blue Jays will need to add to be relevant.
The outfield looks like an obvious place the team could upgrade with Teoscar Hernandez and Steve Pearce currently penciled into starting jobs. The back of the starting rotation and the bullpen could also benefit from some attention.
This looks like another team that's not ready to accept the fact that a rebuild, or at least a retool, is necessary, and it could wind up hurting them in the long run.
- Dec. 21: RHP Brandon Kintzler re-signed in free agency (two years, $10 million).
- Dec. 22: 1B Matt Adams signed in free agency (one year, $4 million).
Big-picture, the Washington Nationals did not need to do much this offseason.
Replacing Adam Lind with Matt Adams and bringing back deadline-pickup Brandon Kintzler to shore up the bullpen cross off the two biggest items on the to-do list.
Adding some starting pitching depth to help bridge the gap to a healthy Joe Ross would be ideal, especially after Erick Fedde was knocked around in his first taste of MLB action last season.
However, the return of Adam Eaton will trump any outside addition the team makes, and there's probably no team with a more pressing desire to win now than the Nationals as Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez all enter walk years.
It will be interesting to see how aggressively they go all in on the 2018 season.
A prospect like Juan Soto doesn't have a clear path to playing time in the near future and would be an attractive centerpiece in a blockbuster deal. Just something to keep in mind.