Early Winners, Losers of MLB's Biggest Offseason Trades

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterApril 16, 2015

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If we were to only look at a team's record and place in the standings, picking the winners and losers of the biggest trades made this past offseason in baseball would be simple. But where’s the fun in that?

From All-Stars to MVP and Cy Young Award candidates, players who run the gamut of individual success at the major league level—and some who have yet to get a taste of big league action—found themselves on the move this past winter.

So, let's take a closer look at the teams and players involved in these deals and see which ones are the biggest winners and losers this early in the 2015 MLB season.

Winners: San Diego Padres

It was a big winter for the San Diego Padres, as new general manager A.J. Preller acquired a slew of impact hitters to hopefully improve an offense that finished last in the major leagues in batting average (.226), on-base percentage (.292) and slugging (.342) in 2014.

Targeting right-handed power hitters, Preller traded for an entirely new outfield with deals for Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton, and he also added some thump at third base and behind the plate in Will Middlebrooks and Derek Norris, respectively.

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Through 10 games this season, the new-and-improved Padres' 43 runs scored has them tied with the Dodgers and right behind the Rockies (45) for most in the National League. On top of that, the team’s offense ranks fifth in the major leagues with a .278 batting average as well as seventh in OPS (.755).

Upton has been the most productive of their new additions, batting .351/.405/.703 with at least one hit in all 10 games, and he also has three home runs, seven RBI and nine runs scored. His eighth-inning homer Wednesday off the Arizona Diamondbacks' Randall Delgado broke a 2-2 tie and ultimately won the game for the Padres.

Kemp is still looking for his first homer for the Padres, but he's still off to a nice start otherwise, with a .341 batting average, three doubles, two triples and seven RBI through 10 games. Upton and Kemp have driven in a combined 14 runs so far, 33 percent of San Diego’s runs.

Meanwhile, Myers seems to have adjusted to his new role of Padres leadoff hitter/center fielder, as he’s already scored eight runs and stolen two bases while batting .293 with a team-leading five doubles. However, it is somewhat worrisome that he’s yet to draw a walk through 42 plate appearances.

But what was arguably Preller’s biggest offseason move didn’t transpire until hours before the start of the 2015 season, when he pried closer Craig Kimbrel from the Braves as part of a larger deal in which the Padres take on a majority of his and Melvin Upton Jr.’s remaining contracts.

So far, it’s been business as usual for baseball’s best closer. Kimbrel picked up his third save in as many chances Wednesday, and he’s now thrown five scoreless innings with six strikeouts to begin the season.

Winners: Detroit Tigers

With an MLB-best 8-1 record entering Thursday, everything has gone right for the Detroit Tigers to open the season—well, except for former ace Justin Verlander and Opening Day closer Joe Nathan’s respective trips to the disabled list, that is.

While Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler have raked out of the gate, batting a combined .351 with 23 runs scored and 26 RBI through nine games, the Tigers’ explosive offense has also received significant contributions from offseason acquisitions Yoenis Cespedes and Anthony Gose.

Cespedes, who came over from the Red Sox in exchange for Rick Porcello, has posted a .308 batting average with five extra-base hits this season, although he’s yet to hit a home run yet in a Tiger uniform. For what it’s worth, however, he has taken one away in left field.

Detroit’s acquisition of Gose from the Blue Jays occurred relatively early in the offseason and seemed to fly under the radar, but the 24-year-old has quickly opened eyes this season with a .391 batting average, six runs scored, four extra-base hits and five RBI despite playing in only five games.

After losing Max Scherzer to free agency, it was widely assumed that the Tigers would pursue one of the other top pitchers on the open market. Instead, the organization upgraded its starting rotation through a pair of trades, acquiring right-handers Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon from the Yankees (as part of a three-team deal) and Reds, respectively.

Greene, 26, made a name for himself last season as a rookie in the Yankees starting rotation, pitching to a 3.78 ERA (3.73 FIP) and striking out 23.5 percent of all batters faced.

Simon enjoyed a breakout 2014 campaign in the Reds’ starting rotation, posting a 3.44 ERA and earning a trip to his first All-Star Game. However, many saw his strong performance as a fluke given his 4.33 FIP and therefore questioned Detroit’s decision to acquire the 33-year-old.

Simon has pitched just about as well as possible in his first two starts, going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA over 13.1 innings. Greene, meanwhile, has been even more dominant to begin the season, winning both of his starts behind a stellar 0.50 WHIP and 16 scoreless innings.

Greene and Simon’s overwhelming success thus far is a major reason why the Tigers lead all 30 clubs in ERA (1.91) and opponents’ OPS (.490) and rank second in WHIP (0.86). However, neither hurler should be expected to keep carrying the team’s rotation.

Losers: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox’s two big trades last winter centered around building a more efficient and sustainable starting rotation, which is why the team targeted a pair of younger pitchers who were also extension candidates.

Boston received right-hander Rick Porcello from Detroit during the offseason in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, and the two sides recently agreed on a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension through 2019. The 26-year-old sinkerballer has pitched well in both starts this season, posting a 3.86 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 14 innings, and, as usual, he’s done a great job generating ground-ball outs.

Unfortunately, his new long-term teammate, Wade Miley, hasn’t fared as well.

The Red Sox acquired Miley from Arizona during the offseason and then bought his remaining arbitration years with a three-year, $19.25 million pact. The 28-year-old registered a 4.34 ERA last season in 201.1 innings in the desert, but he also saw an uptick in strikeouts, and the advanced metrics (3.50 xFIP) suggested that he deserved better. He also induced plenty of grounders, which is always a good thing in a hitter-friendly ballpark.

Granted, it’s an incredibly small sample size, but Miley just hasn’t looked sharp during his first two starts for the Red Sox, a notion reinforced by his 10.57 ERA in 7.2 innings thus far. It certainly didn’t help that he allowed seven runs in his last outing and failed to escape the first inning.

However, Miley’s track record of success speaks for itself, and it shouldn’t take long for him to overcome the slow start with his new team.

All stats are courtesy of MLB.com and reflect games through April 15.

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