MLB Hot Stove: 15 Most Underrated Moves of the MLB Offseason
Plenty of MLB teams have made moves this offseason to either enter or return to pennant races in 2011. Some of those moves made a lot of noise, such as the Red Sox trading for Adrian Gonzalez or Cliff Lee spurning the Yankees and Rangers to return to the Phillies.
Some other moves were made that got significantly less air time this offseason.
Many of those purportedly less buzzworthy moves will have similar impact as the the big moves that got everyone talking.
Here are the 15 most underrated offseason moves in MLB.
No. 15: Tampa Bay Trades Away Matt Garza for Prospects
After Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano signed with new teams this offseason, it looks like the Rays may return to one of the two back seats in the AL East this season.
The Rays did the right thing in acquiring some bats by trading Matt Garza. The general consensus is that the prospects received by the Rays for Garza aren't ready to contribute right away, but it is also that the Cubs overpaid.
Hak-Ju Lee was the Cubs sixth-rated prospect and could help the Rays this season.
No. 14: Atlanta Braves Add Power With Dan Uggla
The Braves needed power well before Chipper Jones went down with an injury last season. With Jones' return uncertain, Atlanta needed a big bat more than ever.
Uggla can provide that. He has hit more than 30 home runs in each of the past four seasons, including a career-high 33 in 2010.
If the Braves get Jones back to combine with Uggla and Jason Heyward, they'll be right back in the NL East race.
No. 13: Royals Sign Melky Cabrera
Melky Cabrera didn't give Atlanta what it was hoping for last season, just as he seemingly underperformed for the Yankees in more than four seasons.
He usually bats around .275 and is an upgrade in the Royals outfield. He's not going to rip off 25 home runs or scare too many pitchers, but he's a nice player to plug into a small-market lineup.
No. 12: Brewers Trade for Shaun Marcum
Shaun Marcum put together a very solid 13-8 campaign in 2010 with the Toronto Blue Jays. Now he gets placed on a team with better run support.
The big trade involving the Brewers' starting rotation was for Zack Greinke. But Marcum is the player that brings the rotation together, giving Milwaukee four viable starters.
They'll use a five-man rotation.
No. 11: Orioles Trade for J.J. Hardy
The Baltimore Orioles usually trade away proven players for prospects. They went the other way this offseason.
J.J. Hardy, a shortstop, will wow no one with either his batting or fielding, but is solid in both areas. The Orioles sent away two pitchers that have never pitched in the majors despite being in the crippled Baltimore system.
At 28 years old, Hardy still has time to grow.
No. 10: Blue Jays Trade for Rajai Davis
Rajai Davis is a rising star that adds speed and contact hitting to the Blue Jays' lineup. In 2010, Davis set career highs in games played (143), runs (66), hits (149), RBI (52), and stolen bases (50).
The Blue Jays made some nice moves to create legitimacy in their lineup.
Davis is the real coup.
His base-running puts pressure on pitchers to hold him at first. With bigger bats supporting him in Toronto, his runs should increase.
No. 9: Oakland Signs Hideki Matsui
Hideki Matsui is a ways off of his heyday from 2003-2005, but he is still a strong bat for a team trying to re-emerge in the AL West.
He still gets extra-base hits (24 doubles and 21 home runs in 2010) and batted .274 last season. As long as Matsui stays healthy, he's a nice signing for Oakland.
No. 8: Los Angeles Dodgers Sign Juan Uribe
The Dodgers signing Juan Uribe is less about what they got and more about what they took. Nobody is going to confuse Uribe for one of the top shortstops in the MLB, but he is a solid player.
Los Angeles gets that.
They make their NL West rivals, the world champion San Francisco Giants, react by signing Miguel Tejada.
It was a good move in picking up a solid player while also hurting a team in Los Angeles' own division.
No. 7: Rangers Sign Brandon Webb
When Cliff Lee spurned the Rangers to go to the Phillies, it left the defending American League champions without an ace starting pitcher.
Picking up Webb was a great move.
It's a gamble, considering Webb hasn't pitched in nearly two seasons due to injury, but if he can get anywhere near where he was in his Cy Young-winning days, the Rangers won't be too far from what they got from Lee.
No. 6: Red Sox Sign Bobby Jenks
The Red Sox needed some help in their bullpen. After picking up a couple bats, it was all that was holding Boston back. Bobby Jenks adds depth to the pen.
Now the Sox have a respectable bullpen and are the favorites in the AL East—and maybe the whole league.
Jenks filled a closer role for the Chicago White Sox, but will likely take on a new role with the Red Sox since Jonathan Papelbon has solidified himself as closer there.
No. 5: Royals Sign Jeff Francoeur
Jeff Francoeur isn't an All-Star outfielder, but he has put up numbers in the past that had people thinking about it.
Frenchy hasn't batted better than .250 the past two seasons, but has shown strong hitting before.
The Royals are hoping to cash in on a player devalued by recent struggles but a history with plenty of production.
No. 4: White Sox Sign Adam Dunn
Adam Dunn's power made him one of the hottest names as the trade deadline approached last season. He ended up staying in Washington and hitting 38 home runs and batting in 103 runs.
The good news for Dunn is that he has some other bats in the lineup with him now.
Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin and A.J. Pierzynski now have someone to take the pitching attention off of them.
No. 3: Minnesota Twins Re-Ink Jim Thome
Whatever Jim Thome is doing to keep batting like he's 28 years old, it's working.
The 40-year-old was the second-best batter in the MLB against right-handed pitching last season behind Josh Hamilton. He batted .302 and had a .697 slugging percentage against righties.
The one-year deal Thome signed with the Twins is worth a maximum of $4.4 million and is less money than the Rangers offered him.
He's a presence in the locker room and in the batter's box.
No. 2: Detroit Tigers Land Victor Martinez
The AL Central has been extremely competitive the last several seasons, headlined by the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox. The Tigers made a move to make sure they stay in the hunt by signing Victor Martinez.
With Miguel Cabrera, Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta and now Martinez, the Tigers now have one of the stronger lineups in the American League.
No. 1: Cincinnati Reds Extend Jay Bruce
After the 23-year-old Jay Bruce had a career season and showed his potential in 2010, the Cincinnati Reds were smart to lock him up long-term.
Bruce signed on for six seasons at $51 million with the Reds. He's a player that could easily produce 30 home runs and 90 RBI per season throughout that contract.