Final MLB Team-by-Team Offseason Report Cards Post-Machado, Harper Signings
Opening Day on March 28 is less than three weeks away, and multiple high-profile free agents—including ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel—remain unsigned.
Still, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper—the offseason's most coveted targets—have finally fallen off the board.
With most players signed and the exhibition slate surging forward, let's offer some "final" (with the above outlined caveat) offseason grades for all 30 clubs.
Keep in mind, grades are subjective (obviously) and based on teams' needs entering the winter as well as their big-picture objectives—rebuilding, retooling, going all-in, etc.
The Arizona Diamondbacks' winter was mostly about subtracting.
They traded franchise icon and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals and lost left-hander Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollock to free agency.
In other words, the Snakes shed three key players from a team that finished 82-80 in 2018 and made few significant additions other than, notably, adding veteran outfielder Adam Jones on a one-year, $3 million deal, per Jeff Passan of ESPN.com.
It's not a huge financial outlay, but what does it say about the Diamondbacks' plans?
Are they committed to a rebuild and ready to deal players such as left-hander Robbie Ray, outfielder David Peralta, third baseman Jake Lamb and right-hander Zack Greinke? If not, they'll be stuck between contending and rebuilding, which is a terrible place to be.
The defending National League East champion Atlanta Braves are flush with young talent in the major and minor league ranks.
They scored a bargain this offseason by re-signing right fielder Nick Markakis (one year, $6 million with a team option for 2020), and they inked veteran catcher Brian McCann (one year, $2 million).
They also took a flier on third baseman and 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson by handing him a one-year, $23 million pact. It could pay off, or it could backfire in expensive fashion.
The Braves haven't been quiet this winter, but they may not have done enough to repeat in a deep division.
The Baltimore Orioles' biggest offseason move was replacing seasoned skipper Buck Showalter with Brandon Hyde.
Hyde is inheriting one heck of a tough gig.
The O's lost 115 games in 2018 and might be even worse in 2019. They sloughed off some salary by not tendering contracts to infielder Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph but didn't have any high-profile trade chips to jettison after trading the likes of Zack Britton and Manny Machado last summer.
For the most part, they're lurching toward another last-place finish. Get used to it, Baltimore fans.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox re-signed right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (four years, $68 million) and slugger Steve Pearce (one year, $6.3 million). They may have overpaid for Eovaldi given his injury issues (including two Tommy John surgeries), but both players were major cogs in the Sox's 2018 championship run.
Boston will be a force once again, but it needs help in the bullpen. The in-house duo of Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes won't cut it in the ninth inning for a squad with repeat-title aspirations.
Kimbrel, the Red Sox's most recent closer and an All-Star with the team for the past three seasons, is available. Yes, a long-term deal could sting on the back end. But it might be time for Boston to swallow its financial pride and pull the trigger.
The Chicago Cubs kicked off the winter by exercising Cole Hamels' $20 million option. It looked like they were prepared to throw around some money.
Since then, they haven't done much.
Hamels pitched well for the Cubs after coming over from the Texas Rangers in a trade-deadline deal last season, but he's also entering his age-35 campaign and hasn't posted a sub-4.49 FIP since 2016.
If the Cubs had $20 million available for him, why didn't they have anything left to significantly upgrade the offense or bullpen in what should be a highly competitive NL Central scramble?
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox featured heavily in rumors surrounding both Harper and Machado. Four out of five Bleacher Report experts predicted Machado would end up on the South Side.
Instead, Harper is with the Philadelphia Phillies, Machado is with the San Diego Padres and the ChiSox remain stocked with young talent but far from a surefire contender in the AL Central, let alone the Junior Circuit.
The lost 100 games last season as well as top pitching prospect Michael Kopech to Tommy John surgery. They've made only supplementary additions such as reliever Kelvin Herrera (two years, $18 million), outfielder Jon Jay (one year, $4 million) and right-hander Ivan Nova (acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates).
They might still make noise in baseball's weakest division, but whiffing on Harper and Machado hurts.
The Cincinnati Reds flipped the script this offseason, entering as assumed sellers and instead adding veteran outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig along with left-hander Alex Wood in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For good measure, they acquired right-hander Tanner Roark from the Washington Nationals and righty Sonny Gray from the New York Yankees.
Clearly, the Reds intend to compete in a stacked NL Central. It might prove to be a mistake. Still, credit them for trying in an era in which many franchises are all too quickly embracing the tank.
Grade: B (with extra credit for moxie)
The Cleveland Indians are the ostensible favorites in the AL Central, but they've slipped a rung below the AL's top tier.
That's "thanks" to an offseason in which they've lost outfielder Michael Brantley to free agency and swapped expensive low-average slugger Edwin Encarnacion for expensive low-average slugger (and old friend) Carlos Santana ($34.5 million in base salary remaining prior to 2021 club option) in a three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners.
Yes, the Tribe signed right-hander Carlos Carrasco to a team-friendly extension that could go as many as four years and boast an elite starting five.
If the Indians want to do more than slip into the playoffs and get bounced in the division series round, however, they likely haven't done enough.
The Colorado Rockies bid adieu to free-agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu and replaced him with veteran Daniel Murphy (two years, $24 million). That could be a wash offensively if Murphy stays healthy and enjoys a Coors Field bump.
Elsewhere, the Rockies lost top-tier reliever Adam Ottavino, who signed with the New York Yankees, and have failed to significantly upgrade behind the dish after their catchers slashed a dismal .206/.307/.349.
They've made two straight wild-card appearances. Their chances for a third consecutive postseason berth are in jeopardy after a too timid offseason.
The rebuilding Detroit Tigers haven't unloaded any major veteran assets for glitzy prospect packages.
Instead, they've added mid- or lower-tier veterans such as starting pitchers Matt Moore and Tyson Ross and infielder Jordy Mercer on lightweight one-year contracts.
The plan appears to be for them to chew innings and fill roles in 2019 and maybe build enough value to be flipped for something at the non-waiver deadline.
It's not pulse-accelerating, but it's where things stand in the Motor City.
On the good side of the ledger, the Houston Astros signed outfielder Michael Brantley (two years, $32 million). If he can stay healthy, Brantley will gild one of the game's deepest offensive attacks.
The 'Stros also acquired Aledmys Diaz from the Toronto Blue Jays and signed catcher Robinson Chirinos (one year, $5.8 million).
On the not-so-good side, the Astros lost right-hander Charlie Morton via free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. to injury. Keuchel too may soon be gone unless Houston makes an eleventh-hour move.
Was acquiring Wade Miley (one year, $4.5 million guaranteed) enough to offset those losses and support co-aces Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole? Meh.
Also, was Chirinos and his .222 batting average in 2018 enough of an answer at catcher after Houston finished last season 19th at the position? Double meh.
For a club with championship aspirations, the Astros had a predominantly ho-hum offseason.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals are rebuilding, which is overdue.
They inked fleet-footed, light-hitting center fielder Billy Hamilton (one year, $5.3 million) and utility man Chris Owings (one year, $3 million). Fine.
The Royals' biggest mistake was not actively shopping 30-year-old second baseman Whit Merrifield, who's controllable through 2023 with his team option and coming off a career year.
Yeah, he might be a part of Kansas City's future. More likely, he was the Royals' one decent shot at a solid prospect haul this winter.
Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels face the real prospect of losing Mike Trout, the best baseball player on the planet, after the 2020 season if they can't build a winner around him.
This winter, they've signed reinforcements such as right-hander Matt Harvey (one year, $11 million), reliever Cody Allen (one year, $8.5 million), catcher Jonathan Lucroy (one year, $3.4 million), right-hander Trevor Cahill (one year, $9 million) and first baseman Justin Bour (one year, $2.5 million).
Those players could move the needle for the Halos. But they won't vault them into the AL's upper echelon (Boston, Houston and the New York Yankees).
Barring a last-minute Keuchel signing, the Angels' winter is the equivalent of room-temperature margarine on toast.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers began the offseason by signing ace Clayton Kershaw to a three-year, $93 million extension and negating an opt-out clause that could have made him a free agent. Mission accomplished.
Now, because of shoulder discomfort, Kershaw's status for Opening Day against Arizona is in doubt, per MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.
That raises red flags, but let's assume it's mere a blip and not the beginning of the end for arguably the greatest pitcher of his generation.
The Dodgers also signed free-agent outfielder A.J. Pollock (four years, $55 million with a $10 million fifth-year player option). It was a gamble on an injury-prone player but also a sign Los Angeles isn't finished throwing around money.
Would it have been cool if the Dodger's had gone all-in for Harper? Yeah. Is their winter a bust? No.
The Miami Marlins opened the offseason by signing 22-year-old Cuban Victor Victor Mesa and his younger brother, 17-year-old Victor Mesa Jr.
The elder Mesa has the tools—particularly speed, arm strength and defense—to crack the big leagues in the near-term with the rebuilding Fish.
The Marlins also finally traded catcher J.T. Realmuto, a long-rumored target, to the Phillies for a package headlined by fireballing pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez.
In all, the Marlins enriched its prospect trove but could still be a 100-loss club in 2019.
The Milwaukee Brewers reached Game 7 of the National League Championship Series in 2018. The Fall Classic was a fingernail's grip away.
They've signed catcher Yasmani Grandal (one year, $16 million with a mutual $16 million option for 2020 or a $2.25 million buyout.) They re-inked infielder Mike Moustakas (one year, $10 million with a 2020 mutual option for $11 million).
Those are significant additions and position Milwaukee to potentially repeat as division champions in the NL Central.
That said, they could bolster a decent but unspectacular starting rotation that lacks a postseason-tested ace. Maybe that can wait until the trade deadline. For now, the Brewers have done enough to stay squarely in the conversation.
The Minnesota Twins claimed C.J. Cron and his 30 homers off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays. They signed second baseman Jonathan Schoop (one year, $7.5 million), who was an All-Star as recently as 2017.
Most notably, they landed veteran masher Nelson Cruz (one year, $14.3 million with a $12 million club option for 2020).
After snagging the second wild-card position in 2017 and finishing below .500 in 2018, the Twinkies have undeniably upgraded their offense.
On the other hand, they should have poured more resources into a starting rotation that finished 22nd with a 4.54 ERA and a bullpen that finished 22nd with a 4.45 ERA.
New York Mets
No one can accuse New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen of being timid.
The new Queens executive brought in second baseman Robinson Cano and reliever Edwin Diaz in a trade with the Seattle Mariners.
Additionally, he signed catcher Wilson Ramos to an affordable two-year, $19 million contract, inked veteran infielder Jed Lowrie for two years and $20 million and brought back former closer Jeurys Familia for three years and $30 million.
Assuming the pitching rotation remains healthy (rub your rabbits' feet, Mets fans), the Amazins could contend in a stacked NL East. If not, these deals will reek of hubris and desperation.
New York Yankees
No Harper, no Machado...no problem?
Most expert observers and casual fans assumed the New York Yankees would wade deeply into the sweepstakes this winter for the aforementioned pair of 26-year-old superstars. As it turns out, nope.
Instead, the Yanks added infield depth by inking LeMahieu (two years, $24 million) and Troy Tulowitzki (league minimum, with the rest of his $20 million paid by the Toronto Blue Jays). They buttressed the starting rotation by acquiring left-hander James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners and re-upping southpaws CC Sabathia (one year, $8 million) and J.A. Happ (two years, $34 million).
They also re-signed outfielder Brett Gardner (one year, $9.5 million), shipped Gray to the Reds for a mid-tier prospect (Shed Long) and a 2019 competitive-balance draft pick and kept their bullpen elite by re-upping Zack Britton (three years, $39 million) and signing Ottavino (three years, $27 million).
In all, it wasn't the blockbuster offseason some in the Bronx were undoubtedly anticipating, but the Yankees are positioned to contend for a title nonetheless.
The Oakland Athletics won 97 games in 2018. They owe it to their fans to try to compete again in 2019, small-market machinations be damned.
They can't and didn't compete for the most expensive free agents, but the A's did sign reliever Joakim Soria (two years, $15 million) to boost a strong bullpen and re-signed veteran Mike Fiers (two years, $14.1 million) to undergird a young starting corps that's without the services of ace Sean Manaea (shoulder surgery).
Their biggest move may have been acquiring infielder Jurickson Profar from the Texas Rangers in a three-team trade. Profar hit 20 homers with 35 doubles, six triples and 10 stolen bases in 2018 and is entering his age-26 season. Might he be Oakland's latest bit of found money? At this point, there's no reason to doubt legendary executive Billy Beane and Co.
Hang on...did the Phillies sign any big free agents this winter? Talk among yourselves while we check.
After months of hemming, hawing and otherwise making us wait, Bryce Harper and the Phils agreed to a record-breaking 13-year, $330 million deal.
Will that contract be ugly on the back end as Harper approaches age 40? Yup. Was it a huge win in the moment for a Phillies team with cash to burn and an emerging young nucleus? Even more yup.
Philadelphia also acquired shortstop Jean Segura from the Mariners, signed outfielder Andrew McCutchen (three years, $50 million) and reeled in reliever David Robertson (two years, $23 million).
Another starting pitcher wouldn't hurt (paging Keuchel), but even the harshest Philly boo bird couldn't accuse the team of an unproductive offseason.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a predictably mundane offseason. Possibly their "biggest" acquisition was injury-prone but skilled outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall, whom they signed for one year and $2.8 million.
Last season at the non-waiver trade deadline, Pittsburgh acquired Chris Archer from the Tampa Bay Rays in a surprising blockbuster deal.
Maybe Archer will help the Pirates be unexpected contenders in 2019. More likely, the right-hander and others will be on the trading block as the small-spending Bucs accept reality by summer.
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres are on the doorstep of significance.
They have the No. 1 farm system in the game by Bleacher Report's estimation. Infielder Fernando Tatis Jr. is coming.
When he arrives, he'll be joined on the left side by Machado, who signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres. Almost no one saw that coming, even as the Pads popped up in various credible rumors.
Here's the bottom line: The Friars landed one of the top two free agents of the 2018-19 offseason and could be World Series hopefuls in a year or two if they add some pitching at their pitcher-friendly park.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have made a gaggle of ancillary additions under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. Will it be enough to reverse two straight losing seasons? That's an open question.
There's an outside chance San Francisco could contend behind a core that includes franchise icons such as catcher Buster Posey and left-hander Madison Bumgarner.
There's an equal chance the Giants will be buried by the All-Star break and will wish they'd traded postseason-legend Bumgarner (who's owed an affordable $12 million in his contract year) sooner.
Overall, San Francisco's offseason has been all about treading water and hoping for the best.
Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto loves to trade. This winter was no exception, as he sent Paxton to the Yankees, Cano and Diaz to the Mets and Santana to the Indians, among other trades.
In the process, he's brought in some interesting prospects and possibly positioned the Mariners for contention a few clicks down the road.
At the same time, he's turned a club that won 89 games in 2018 to one that could lose that many or more in 2019.
Rebuilds hurt. This one will be no different.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals went big when they acquired Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks in early December for a significant package. He might be a one-year rental unless he signs an extension, but Goldy is the best first baseman in baseball and one of the game's top all-around players.
The Cardinals also signed lefty reliever Andrew Miller (two years, $25 million) and are hoping he'll morph back into the guy who earned top-10 AL Cy Young Award finishes in 2015 and 2016 before injuries interceded.
Add it up, and you have a Cards club that's unequivocally gunning for the Cubs and Brewers in the NL Central. There's risk if Goldschmidt walks and/or Miller wobbles, and St. Louis might still need starting pitching. But the team isn't shying away from win-now boldness.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays upgraded their rotation by signing right-hander Charlie Morton (two years, $30 million), but they needed to do more to improve an offense that finished 27th in baseball with 150 home runs.
Instead, they waived C.J. Cron (30 homers) and missed out on free-agent sluggers such as Nelson Cruz.
The Rays won 90 games last season and employ the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner in Blake Snell. No one expected them to sign Harper or Machado, and Morton is a fine addition. But they didn't spend the winter acting like they wanted to hang with the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East.
The Texas Rangers have given up some assets, including Profar, whom they sent to the division-rival A's.
They've also added some veteran pitchers, including Lance Lynn (three years, $30 million) and Shelby Miller (one year, $2 million plus incentives) in the hope they can eat innings and maybe pitch well enough to bring back a decent return at the trade deadline.
Lynn seems like an overpay considering he posted a 4.77 ERA in 2018 with the Twins and Yankees, but overall, Texas is employing the classic strategy of a franchise in the initial stage of a rebuild.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays' biggest move this winter? Releasing infielder Troy Tulowitzki and letting him sign with the division-rival Yankees for the league minimum while eating the remaining $20 million left on his contract.
They also dealt popular Canadian-born catcher Russell Martin to the Dodgers for a pair of so-so prospects (Ronny Brito and Andrew Sopko).
Suffice it to say, it hasn't been a banner winter north of the border.
The Jays can't compete with the Red Sox, Yankees and even the Rays in the AL East. It's time to accept that and rebuild. At least Toronto fans can dream on top prospect and presumed savior Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
No pressure, kid.
The Washington Nationals lost Bryce Harper. We'll pause while Nats fans grab a hanky.
On the other hand, they signed left-hander Corbin (six years, $140 million). He joins ace Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg to form a potentially elite rotation in D.C.
The Nats also inked Kurt Suzuki (two years, $10 million) and acquired Yan Gomes from Cleveland to shore up the catching position. They took fliers on right-hander Anibal Sanchez (two years, $19 million), second baseman Brian Dozier (one year, $9 million) and reliever Trevor Rosenthal (one year, $7 million).
If everything breaks right, they can compete sans Harper. If not, they'll watch enviously as their former franchise star rakes in a Phillies uniform.