Which MLB Team's Offseason Additions Will Have the Biggest Impact?

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2021

Which MLB Team's Offseason Additions Will Have the Biggest Impact?

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    With spring training in full swing and preseason games officially underway, now is the perfect time for a refresher on what was another busy MLB offseason.

    However, rather than just running down all the notable new faces in camp for each of the 30 MLB clubs, we decided to take it one step further and dig into some projections.

    Ahead we've ranked all 30 teams based on the projected WAR of their newcomers who were acquired via free agency or trade this offseason. Those numbers come via the Depth Chart projections at FanGraphs.

    Winning the offseason and winning games don't always go hand-in-hand, but the teams at the top of this list have set themselves up well for the 2021 season.

Nos. 30-26

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    Jason Castro
    Jason CastroJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    30. Cincinnati Reds (1.0 projected WAR)

    • RP Sean Doolittle (0.3), RP Jeff Hoffman (0.3), RP Noe Ramirez (0.3), RP Cam Bedrosian (0.3), SS Kyle Holder (minus-0.2)

    The Reds lost Raisel Iglesias, Archie Bradley and Robert Stephenson this offseason, and Michael Lorenzen is expected to move into the rotation, so it's not surprising to see multiple additions in the bullpen. Failing to find a viable everyday shortstop and replace Trevor Bauer in the rotation clearly hurts their outlook.


    29. Houston Astros (1.4 projected WAR)

    • C Jason Castro (0.9), OF Steven Souza Jr. (0.3), RP Pedro Baez (0.2), RP Steve Cishek, RP Ryne Stanek

    There is still time for the Astros to replace George Springer in center field. But thus far, the biggest addition has been bringing back Jason Castro to share catching duties with Martin Maldonado. At least they found a way to re-sign Michael Brantley.


    28. Arizona Diamondbacks (1.5 projected WAR)

    • RP Joakim Soria (0.9), IF Asdrubal Cabrera (0.3), RP Tyler Clippard (0.2), RP Chris Devenski (0.1), RP Ryan Buchter

    A year after handing Madison Bumgarner a five-year, $85 million contract in hopes of making a postseason push, the D-backs appear ready to take a step back and wait on the development of their farm system. Any of the four relievers they added to the bullpen could be a trade chip by July.


    26 (tie). Baltimore Orioles (1.8 projected WAR)

    • SS Freddy Galvis (0.8), SP Felix Hernandez (0.6), 2B Yolmer Sanchez (0.4), RP Mac Sceroler, RP Tyler Wells

    The shortstop carousel continues to spin in Baltimore after Jose Iglesias was traded to the Los Angeles Angels and Freddy Galvis was signed to a one-year deal to replace him. It's going to be fun to see if 34-year-old Felix Hernandez has anything left in the tank after a strong showing last spring prior to opting out of the 2020 season.


    26 (tie). Pittsburgh Pirates (1.8 projected WAR)

    • SP Tyler Anderson (1.6), C Michael Perez (0.3), RP David Bednar (0.2), RP Chasen Shreve (0.1), IF Todd Frazier (minus-0.1), RP Luis Oviedo (minus-0.1), OF Dustin Fowler (minus-0.2)

    Left-hander Tyler Anderson posted a 4.36 FIP in 59.2 innings as a regular member of the San Francisco Giants rotation last year, and the projection systems seem optimistic he'll be a useful addition on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Someone has to start games in Pittsburgh.

Nos. 25-21

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    Kolten Wong
    Kolten WongJae C. Hong/Associated Press

    25. Colorado Rockies (2.0 projected WAR)

    • SP Austin Gomber (1.5), 1B C.J. Cron (0.5), RP Robert Stephenson (0.1), RP Jordan Sheffield (minus-0.1)

    The promising projection for Austin Gomber fails to negate the value lost when Nolan Arenado was shipped to the St. Louis Cardinals for a fraction of what he's worth. That said, the 27-year-old left-hander does offer some quality upside to the starting staff. How many home runs will C.J. Cron hit in Coors Field?


    24. Miami Marlins (2.1 projected WAR)

    • OF Adam Duvall (1.1), RP Anthony Bass (0.5), RP Dylan Floro (0.5), RP Adam Cimber, RP John Curtiss, RP Ross Detwiler, RP Paul Campbell

    Anthony Bass and Dylan Floro will be key late-inning arms in a rebuilt Miami bullpen, and Bass could wind up seeing the bulk of the save opportunities. Slugger Adam Duvall could be one of the steals of the offseason on a one-year, $5 million contract after he posted a 113 OPS+ with 16 home runs in 57 games last year.


    23. Oakland Athletics (2.5 projected WAR)

    • SS Elvis Andrus (1.4), RP Trevor Rosenthal (0.4), 1B Mitch Moreland (0.2), C Aramis Garcia (0.2), OF Ka'ai Tom (0.1), RP Sergio Romo (0.1), RP Adam Kolarek (0.1), RP Nik Turley, RP Dany Jimenez

    The Athletics had a busy February after losing several key pieces to free agency earlier in the offseason. Trevor Rosenthal will need to adequately replace Liam Hendriks in the ninth-inning role to keep the bullpen from becoming an issue. Don't sleep on Rule 5 pick Ka'ai Tom, who had a .912 OPS with 60 extra-base hits over 132 games in the upper levels of the Cleveland system in 2019.


    22. Milwaukee Brewers (2.9 projected WAR)

    • 2B Kolten Wong (1.8), 3B Travis Shaw (0.8), IF Daniel Robertson (0.2), OF Derek Fisher (0.1), RP Brad Boxberger

    Snatching Gold Glove-winning second baseman Kolten Wong away from the division rival St. Louis Cardinals was a nice win for the Brewers, and it will allow Keston Hiura to focus on the offensive side of his game with a move to first base. Former All-Star Brad Boxberger is a nice under-the-radar addition to an already-stacked relief corps.


    21. Philadelphia Phillies (3.4 projected WAR)

    • RP Jose Alvarado (0.9), SP Matt Moore (0.8), RP Archie Bradley (0.8), RP Chase Anderson (0.4), IF Brad Miller (0.2), RP Brandon Kintzler (0.2), RP Tony Watson (0.1)

    The focus of the offseason for the Phillies, aside from re-signing J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, has been rebuilding a bullpen that was the worst in baseball a year ago. Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson are in camp on minor league deals, but they should be locks for roster spots unless they show diminished stuff.

Nos. 20-16

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    Trevor Bauer
    Trevor BauerRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    20. Cleveland (3.9 projected WAR)

    • OF Eddie Rosario (1.6), IF Amed Rosario (1.3), IF Andres Gimenez (0.9), RP Blake Parker (0.1), RP Trevor Stephan

    Eddie Rosario should be a significant upgrade to Cleveland's corner outfield situation, and he'll be asked to step into Carlos Santana's spot as a run producer in the middle of the lineup. Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez have a lot to live up to as the centerpieces of the Francisco Lindor trade, and they'll be fighting for playing time after Cesar Hernandez was re-signed at second base.


    19. Detroit Tigers (4.2 projected WAR)

    • OF Robbie Grossman (1.1), SP Jose Urena (1.0), C Wilson Ramos (0.8), 1B Renato Nunez (0.7), OF Nomar Mazara (0.4), SP Julio Teheran (0.2), RP Derek Holland

    The Tigers have quietly done an excellent job bargain-shopping over the past several offseasons, and this could wind up being their best haul yet. Robbie Grossman is a great transition player for a team emerging from a rebuild, Wilson Ramos will stabilize a shaky catcher position, and both Renato Nunez and Nomar Mazara could prove cheap sources of power.


    18. Los Angeles Dodgers (4.6 projected WAR)

    • SP Trevor Bauer (4.2), RP Corey Knebel (0.4)

    Considering the Dodgers re-signed their two biggest free agents in Justin Turner and Blake Treinen, the addition of reigning National League Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer comes without any glaring losses to counter the scales. Corey Knebel will replace Pedro Baez in a setup role, and Jake McGee also walked from last year's bullpen, but the defending champs look even better on paper heading into 2021.


    16 (tie). Tampa Bay Rays (4.8 projected WAR)

    • SP Chris Archer (2.0), SP Rich Hill (1.0), SP Michael Wacha (1.0), C Francisco Mejia (0.4), RP Collin McHugh (0.4)

    It will be fun to see what the Tampa Bay coaching staff can squeeze out of Chris Archer, Rich Hill and Michael Wacha in the starting rotation. All three are talented pitchers who can't be counted on to come anywhere close to 30 starts, so expect plenty of mixing and matching to eat up innings. Collin McHugh could prove an invaluable multi-inning weapon for an oft-used relief corps.


    16 (tie). St. Louis Cardinals (4.8 projected WAR)

    • 3B Nolan Arenado (4.8)

    The Cardinals only have one new face on the projected Opening Day roster, but he's one of the faces of baseball. Nolan Arenado will need to prove his home/road splits at Coors Field are a matter of circumstance and not an overly inflated stat line. But DJ LeMahieu did that in New York, and there's no ignoring how tremendously talented Arenado is on both sides of the ball.

Nos. 15-11

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    Kyle Schwarber
    Kyle SchwarberJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    14 (tie). Seattle Mariners (5.1 projected WAR)

    • SP James Paxton (2.6), SP Chris Flexen (1.3), RP Rafael Montero (1.0), RP Keynan Middleton (0.2), RP Will Vest

    The Mariners turned a reunion with Taijuan Walker into a valuable trade chip last summer, and now they'll look to similarly resurrect the career of James Paxton. Chris Flexen spent 2020 pitching in the KBO and was one of the league's best pitchers, going 8-4 with a 3.01 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 132 strikeouts in 116.2 innings. He'll be one to watch in his return stateside.


    14 (tie). Atlanta Braves (5.1 projected WAR)

    • SP Charlie Morton (3.5), SP Drew Smyly (1.6), 3B Jake Lamb

    The Braves used 14 different starting pitchers to get through 60 games last year, so it's no surprise they prioritized shoring up the starting staff with veterans Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly. Everything finally seemed to click for the 31-year-old Smyly last year when he logged an overpowering 42-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 26.1 innings, and a late-career breakout could be forthcoming in 2021.


    13. Washington Nationals (5.8 projected WAR)

    • LF Kyle Schwarber (2.0), SP Jon Lester (1.1), RP Brad Hand (1.1), 1B Josh Bell (0.9), C Alex Avila (0.9), RP Jeremy Jeffress (0.1), OF Gerardo Parra (minus-0.3)

    The Nationals struggled mightily to find consistent offensive production beyond Trea Turner and Juan Soto last season. Sluggers Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell could combine for 60 home runs and 200 RBI hitting behind those two on-base machines. Swapping Brad Hand in for a declining Sean Doolittle will be a boon to the relief corps.


    11(tie). New York Yankees (5.9 projected WAR)

    • SP Corey Kluber (2.9), SP Jameson Taillon (2.1), RP Justin Wilson (0.6), Darren O'Day (0.3)

    The Yankees have a lot riding on Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon solidifying the starting rotation behind ace Gerrit Cole. The rest of the starting rotation options are a mishmash of wild cards, including Domingo German, Luis Severino, Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia. An already-deep bullpen added two more good pieces in Justin Wilson and Darren O'Day.


    11(tie). Boston Red Sox (5.9 projected WAR)

    • SP Garrett Richards (1.8), OF Hunter Renfroe (0.9), RP Adam Ottavino (0.8), IF/OF Enrique Hernandez (0.8), OF Franchy Cordero (0.6), IF/OF Marwin Gonzalez (0.6), SP/RP Matt Andriese (0.3), RP Hirokazu Sawamura (0.1), RP Garrett Whitlock

    A healthy Garrett Richards made 10 starts with the San Diego Padres last season, but he hasn't broken the 100-inning mark since 2015. A new-look outfield will see Hunter Renfroe and Franchy Cordero join rising star Alex Verdugo, and the versatile duo of Enrique Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez could also see time in the grass.

Nos. 10-6

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    Joc Pederson
    Joc PedersonJennifer Stewart/Associated Press

    10. Minnesota Twins (6.1 projected WAR)

    • SS Andrelton Simmons (2.8), SP J.A. Happ (1.5), SP Matt Shoemaker (1.1), RP Alex Colome (0.5), RP Hansel Robles (0.2)

    Veterans J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker will be asked to chew through innings at the back of the Minnesota rotation, filling the void left by the departure of Jake Odorizzi. The addition of all-time great defensive shortstop Andrelton Simmons should also be a boost to the pitching staff, while Alex Colome will join left-hander Taylor Rogers at the back of the bullpen.


    8 (tie). Kansas City Royals (6.4 projected WAR)

    • SP Mike Minor (2.5), 1B Carlos Santana (1.6), LF Andrew Benintendi (1.5), IF Hanser Alberto (0.5), OF Michael A. Taylor (0.3), RP Wade Davis, RP Brad Brach

    Still in the early stages of a rebuild, the Royals nevertheless made a concerted effort to improve their MLB roster this offseason. Carlos Santana and Mike Minor will bring a veteran presence to a young clubhouse, while Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor were both good buy-low investments who could return significant value. This team could be a thorn in the side of the presumptive American League Central contenders in 2021.


    8 (tie). Chicago Cubs (6.4 projected WAR)

    • LF Joc Pederson (2.0), SP Zach Davies (1.7), SP Jake Arrieta (1.1), SP Trevor Williams (0.9), RP Brandon Workman (0.3), C Austin Romine (0.2), OF Jake Marisnick (0.2)

    The Yu Darvish trade looked like the beginning of an offseason fire sale for the Cubs, but they instead held onto their other big trade chips. They did non-tender Kyle Schwarber, which paved the way for Joc Pederson to be signed as the new left fielder. How well Jake Arrieta and Trevor Williams pitch in the middle of the rotation may be the team's biggest X-factor in 2021.


    7. Chicago White Sox (6.5 projected WAR)

    • SP Lance Lynn (3.0), RP Liam Hendriks (1.9), RF Adam Eaton (1.5), C Jonathan Lucroy (0.1)

    Losing James McCann in the backup catcher role hurts, and Dane Dunning could develop into an excellent MLB starter for the Texas Rangers in the years to come. But it's hard not to view the White Sox as an improved team this offseason. Lance Lynn gives them the third top-tier starter they were lacking a year ago, Liam Hendriks is the best reliever in baseball, and Adam Eaton could be one of the buy-low pickups of the winter.


    6. Los Angeles Angels (6.7 projected WAR)

    • SS Jose Iglesias (2.3), SP Jose Quintana (1.9), SP Alex Cobb (1.2), RP Raisel Iglesias (1.1), C Kurt Suzuki (0.5), RP Alex Claudio (0.2), OF Dexter Fowler (minus-0.1), OF Juan Lagares (minus-0.1), RP Junior Guerra (minus-0.1), RP Jose Alberto Rivera (minus-0.2)

    Will Jose Quintana and Alex Cobb be enough to dramatically improve a starting rotation that ranked 29th in the majors with a 5.52 ERA last year? That will be the determining factor in whether the Angels can finally return to the postseason or if it will be another wasted year of Mike Trout's prime.

5. San Francisco Giants (7.1 Projected WAR)

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    Anthony DeSclafani
    Anthony DeSclafaniGene J. Puskar/Associated Press


    • SP Anthony DeSclafani (2.0)
    • SP Alex Wood (1.8)
    • IF Tommy La Stella (1.1)
    • SP Aaron Sanchez (0.7)
    • RP Matt Wisler (0.7)
    • RP Jake McGee (0.4)
    • C Curt Casali (0.3)
    • RP Nick Tropeano (0.1)

    A year after hitting on Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly with low-risk, high-reward contracts, the San Francisco Giants took a similar approach to build their 2021 rotation. They gave out one-year deals to Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Aaron Sanchez for a combined $13 million.

    Tommy La Stella is an on-base machine atop the lineup, and the duo of Matt Wisler and Jake McGee will go a long way toward shoring up what has been a shaky bullpen.

    Don't be surprised if the Giants are No. 1 on this list next offseason when they have nearly $100 million coming off the books.

4. Texas Rangers (7.3 Projected WAR)

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    Kohei Arihara
    Kohei AriharaCharlie Riedel/Associated Press


    • SP Kohei Arihara (2.6)
    • SP Dane Dunning (2.1)
    • SP Mike Foltynewicz (1.4)
    • 1B Nate Lowe (1.2)
    • C Jonah Heim (0.3)
    • RP Josh Sborz (0.2)
    • DH Khris Davis (0.1)
    • RP Brett de Geus
    • OF Delino DeShields (minus-0.1)
    • OF David Dahl (minus-0.2)
    • IF Charlie Culberson (minus-0.3)

    An offseason that started with a clear declaration they no longer viewed themselves as short-term contenders by way of the Lance Lynn trade ended with the Texas Rangers quietly adding a nice haul of incoming talent.

    Nate Lowe never got a real shot in Tampa Bay and has 30-homer power, Mike Foltynewicz and David Dahl are both former All-Stars, and Dane Dunning might wind up being the best pitcher in the starting rotation in 2021.

    Right-hander Kohei Arihara put together a solid six-year run with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan, including a 2019 season that saw him go 15-8 with a 2.46 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 164.1 innings. His two-year, $6.2 million deal came with little fanfare, but he could easily outperform his salary.

3. Toronto Blue Jays (10.5 Projected WAR)

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    George Springer
    George SpringerMark Brown/MLB Photos via Getty Images


    • CF George Springer (3.8)
    • 2B Marcus Semien (3.0)
    • SP Steven Matz (1.6)
    • RP Kirby Yates (1.4)
    • RP David Phelps (0.4)
    • RP Tyler Chatwood (0.3)

    It was clear from the start of the offseason that the Toronto Blue Jays were out to make a splash, and they did just that by signing George Springer to a six-year, $150 million deal.

    Marcus Semien has a lot to prove on a one-year, $18 million contract after a down season in 2020, but he's just a year removed from a third-place finish in AL MVP voting.

    Steven Matz, Tyler Chatwood and David Phelps are part of a muddled pitching staff that has a chance to be a major strength or a glaring weakness, and there's a lot to sort out there between now and Opening Day.

2. San Diego Padres (13.5 Projected WAR)

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    Yu Darvish
    Yu DarvishCharlie Riedel/Associated Press


    • SP Yu Darvish (4.2)
    • SP Blake Snell (3.5)
    • SP Joe Musgrove (3.4)
    • IF Ha-Seong Kim (1.1)
    • C Victor Caratini (0.7)
    • RP Mark Melancon (0.4)
    • RP Keone Kela (0.2)

    The San Diego Padres finally landed the proven frontline starter they've been targeting for the past several years, and then they added two more for good measure.

    With Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove joining Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack, there's a case to be made that the Padres have the best rotation in baseball. That's without taking into account the injured Mike Clevinger and uber-prospect MacKenzie Gore.

    Ha-Seong Kim hit .306/.397/.523 with 30 home runs, 109 RBI and 23 steals in 2020, and he's still just 25 years old. He'll need to earn his playing time in a crowded infield, but he could be a star.

1. New York Mets (13.8 Projected WAR)

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press


    • SS Francisco Lindor (5.0)
    • SP Carlos Carrasco (3.6)
    • SP Taijuan Walker (1.5)
    • RP Trevor May (1.3)
    • C James McCann (1.1)
    • OF Kevin Pillar (0.5)
    • IF Jonathan Villar (0.4)
    • RP Aaron Loup (0.3)
    • RP Jacob Barnes (0.1)
    • OF Albert Almora Jr.
    • RP Mike Montgomery

    Despite missing out on Trevor Bauer and George Springer, the New York Mets still walked away with an enviable haul of talent this offseason. Eleven newcomers are projected to break camp with a spot on the Opening Day roster.

    Francisco Lindor was the headliner, but shoring up the catcher position with James McCann has a chance to be equally impactful for a team that has been looking for a long-term answer behind the plate for years.

    Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker and a healthy Marcus Stroman joining Jacob deGrom and an eventually healthy Noah Syndergaard makes it easy to envision the starting rotation being a clear strength for the Mets.

    This team has the pieces. Now we just need to see how smoothly they all fit together.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.