The 2017-2018 offseason is over and Spring Training is officially on the way. So, who are this offseason’s winners and losers? Of course we won’t really know until the season ends, but we can still make some reasonable judgements. I should also add that the order of teams isn’t done on purpose.
1. NEW YORK YANKEES
Anytime you add the game’s top home run hitter to an already loaded lineup for virtually nothing, you did a pretty good job. The team also avoided a rotation meltdown by re-signing CC Sabathia and avoiding losing Masahiro Tanaka. The rotation could use another arm but it’s not that necessary and the team has an elite farm system with interesting arms such as Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams. The team also shed Chase Headley’s bad contract and virtually replaced him with the cheaper and better Brandon Drury, who besides playing third base can also fill-in at second. Speaking of second base… after trading Starlin Castro in the aforementioned Giancarlo Stanton trade, they signed Neil Walker to a bargain contract. That’s another 20 home run bat to replace Castro’s. Can the team now overcome Houston for the pennant?
2. LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Looking to finally make it back to the playoffs with Mike Trout before his free agency after next season, they moved fast to re-sign LF Justin Upton. Would they have been better of waiting considering how the offseason went? Maybe, but they couldn’t have possibly known that at that point, and Upton still likely would’ve received a contract in that same vicinity. Of course that was only the beginning as they acquired Ian Kinsler and signed Zack Cozart as well. These moves allowed them to close their revolving door at second base and gave them a solid new third baseman. They can also move Cozart to second base after this season (Kinsler is a free agent), and pursue Josh Donaldson or Manny Machado as his replacement at third base. Even all of that wasn’t all that they did. You can make an argument that they should’ve done more to strengthen their bullpen, but at this point they’re in my opinion the favorites for the top AL Wild Card, and if the Houston Astros struggle in any way, the only team in the division that I can see overtaking them to win it.
3. MINNESOTA TWINS
In a bad need of starting pitching, Minnesota acquired Jake Odorizzi for practically nothing, then signed Lance Lynn to a bargain contract. Now granted neither is an ace, but both will be moving to a pitcher’s park while having serious potential. Prior to his injury and even last season (minus the peripherals), Lynn was a good #2-3 starter, and Odorizzi is a former top prospect who flashed top of the rotation stuff at the end of last season. They needed bullpen help too so they signed Addison Reed and Fernando Rodney. To top it all off they signed Logan Morrison to another bargain contract. Are they contenders? I don’t think so, but these moves make the team definite favorites for one of the AL Wild Card spots.
1. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
What should a team do when its core is aging and they’re riddled with bad contracts? Why add more of course! It’s bad enough by itself, but the fact that they did it by also depleting their already weak farm system makes it downright insane. Then they acquired a declining defensively weak OF to play in a park with a deep OF. The worst part is that they still seem to be behind 3 teams in their division (LA, Arizona, and Colorado) and have another one breathing down their neck (San Diego).
2. SAN DIEGO PADRES
Any team that signs Eric Hosmer to an 8 year $144 million deal has to be on this list. Why would a rebuilding team give this deal to a streaky first baseman that is below average defensively and that rarely impresses offensively? Why would that same team extend their closer instead of cashing in on him? They could still trade Brad Hand of course, but it’s usually not done after basically telling the player that they don’t want him to leave the team. In other words they’re not any closer to the playoffs and have cost themselves prospects. In fact they directly gave up one with a 94-98 mph heater for a stopgap at shortstop. They also took on a bad contract for a 26 year old reliever with a 4.20 FIP and 4.7 K/9. Maybe GM A.J. Preller had a point when he tried to cheat in trades as he clearly can’t do his job right fairly.
3. BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Their best player is a free agent after the upcoming season and they’re unable to extend him (or re-sign him based on their history and current financials), so what should a team do in this situation? They could keep him for the season if they can contend, and flip him at the trading deadline for prospects. Contending however is hard to imagine when one of the weakest pitching rotations in the game is improved by signing Andrew Cashner and re-signing Chris Tillman. Sharing the division with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox doesn’t exactly make it any easier, or having the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins as their Wild Card rivals. You can even make an argument that they’re behind Toronto and maybe even Tampa Bay in their own division. Considering their weak farm system and other key free agents at the same time (CP Zach Britton, CF Adam Jones), it made sense to trade Manny Machado when they would’ve received the most in return, and they considered that, but they expected an unrealistic return and thus stayed pat. Things don’t look bright for Baltimore in the near future.
4. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
After Rhys Hoskins broke out as their new first baseman of the future, it was odd to see them sign a new one. While Carlos Santana is great at getting on base, his low averages and unimpressive power for a first baseman make this move highly questionable. Seriously look at his stats: How is .259/.366/.498 with 23 HR and 79 RBI worth the same amount of money as this other first baseman’s 263/.359/.529 with 42 HR and 127 RBI?! That’s Edwin Encarnacion’s 2016 by the way. Now granted Santana is two years younger and a better defender, but first basemen are expected to be more of an asset offensively than defensively, and I don’t think that the two year difference is enough to warrant them getting the same contract. Now granted, they did make room for J.P. Crawford at SS by trading Freddy Galvis (as I mentioned earlier), but it’s not like they received a top prospect in return. Why couldn’t they improve their rotation instead? What?! Didn’t they just sign Jake Arrieta?! Well, let’s take a look at him… His ERA dropped from 1.77 in 2015 to 3.18 in 2016 and 3.53 in 2017. More importantly his FIP dropped from 2.35 in 2015 to 3.52 in 2017 and 4.16 in 2017. It gets worse, his fastball velocity dropped from 94.9 in 2015 to 94.3 in 2016 and 92.6 in 2017. In short, he’s rapidly declining. Steamer projects a 4.19 ERA and a 4.11 FIP for him in 2018! Did I mention that he’s 32 and is getting paid $25 million a year for the next 3 years?! Doesn’t sound like a good deal now does it?
So there it is, my list of this offseason’s biggest winners and losers. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.