Now that spring training has begun, it’s time to look back at this offseason. And what an offseason it was. Spending was up and it was like 1999 all over again.
However, some teams spent wisely and made some good acquisitions, while other teams didn’t spend their money so wisely. As the knight said in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “They chose poorly.”
We’ll look at the teams that chose poorly later, but for now, we will look at the five winners from this offseason.
1. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox acquired Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres for four prospects and then signed Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million contract, giving Boston two superstars at the top of their order. Not only are Gonzalez and Crawford great hitters, but they are great defenders as well and will improve Boston’s overall defense.
The Red Sox gave up some top prospects for Gonzalez, but they didn’t gut their system. They still had three prospects land in Keith Law’s top-100 for 2011.
2. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies already had a top starting rotation with messers Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Then they go out this offseason and sign Cliff Lee to give them a rotation baseball hasn’t seen in years.
Lee was the biggest free-agent prize this offseason and he signed with the Phillies for five years and $120 million with an option for 2016. The fact that Hamels is now their No. 4 starter is a joke.
3. Milwaukee Brewers
Brewer starters finished 15th in ERA, 15th in WHIP, and 14th in innings pitched amongst National League teams in 2010. So what did GM Doug Melvin do to fix this issue? He went out and acquired a legit No.2 starter in Shaun Marcum and then hit the mother load when he acquired the 2009 American League Cy Young award winner in Zack Greinke from the Kansas City Royals.
In two fell swoops, the Brewers went from having one of the worst rotations in the NL to, on paper at least, having one of the best. Marcum, Greinke, and Yovani Gallardo as a top three is pretty legit.
4. Toronto Blue Jays
I don’t care what other moves a GM makes during the course of an offseason, anytime he unloads the worst contract in baseball, he is a winner. When GM Alex Anthopolous unloaded Vernon Wells and the $86 million remaining on his contract, the Blue Jays became a big winner this winter. This one move alone will allow the Blue Jays to aggressively pursue other free agents or put more money into their farm system.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Jose Bautista extension because I thought there is a big risk involved, but I liked their other acquisitions of Rajai Davis, Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco and Scott Podsednik. I also thought they did well in acquiring Brett Lawrie, who they will move over from second to third, in the Marcum trade.
5. Oakland A’s
The A’s finished 11th in the American League in runs scored, 13th in HRs, and tied for 10th in OPS. Offense was a top priority for Billy Beane’s ballclub.
While Beane didn’t land Adrian Beltre like he hoped, he did go out and get Josh Willingham from the Nationals, David DeJesus from the Royals and signed Hideki Matsui away from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Later, we’ll take a look at the five losers from this offseason.
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