THIS OFFSEASON’S WINNERS & LOSERS PLUS QUICK THOUGHTS ON TWO MAJOR EXTENSIONS
First, let’s get the extensions out of the way. Mike Trout has all but signed an extension with the LA Angels. I don’t understand it at all. He could’ve made MILLIONS more on the open market, received lucrative endorsement deals for signing with a popular team and put himself in a better spot to win a World Series. This was a great move for the Angels and a bad one for Trout (unless he sharply declines or has his career ended early due to injuries).
Let’s take a look at this offseason’s winners and losers (in no particular order).
1. NEW YORK YANKEES
The Bronx Bombers improved their rotation by acquiring James Paxton and replaced David Robertson in the bullpen with Adam Ottavino. They largely kept the rest of their free agent pitchers, re-signing Zack Britton, J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia. On the position player side of things, they let LF Andrew McCutchen go, and replaced him by re-signing Brett Gardner in a questionable move. Another eyebrow raiser was them signing DJ LeMahieu to a pretty high contract for the bench, of course he can still end up starting. They also extended CF Aaron Hicks on a bargain deal and SP Luis Severino to another good extension, and added SS Troy Tulowitzki for basically nothing in a low risk/high reward move. Finishing the offseason, they added SP Gio Gonzalez on a bargain deal. The Bronx Bombers are now the favorites in their division and one of the contenders to win the World Series.
2. SEATTLE MARINERS
GM Jerry DiPoto didn’t disappoint as Seattle cleaned house. DiPoto made multiple trades: shipping out I SP James Paxton to the New York Yankees for prospects. They also shipped off 2B Robinson Cano and CP Edwin Diaz to the New York Mets in a great move to significantly cut payroll obligations and sell high on one of the most volatile assets in the game: a closer. They made other moves, such as flipping C Mike Zunino to Tampa Bay for their new CF Mallex Smith. They also brought in DH Edwin Encarnacion to replace DH Nelson Cruz. They had an almost offseason for a rebuilding team and were right to launch it in the first place.
3. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
They may have put themselves as the favorites in the NL Central by acquiring 1B Paul Goldschmidt from Arizona and then extending him. They also extended new ace SP Miles Mikolas on a potentially bargain deal and added RP Andrew Miller. Even re-signing SP Adam Wainwright may end up being a good deal.
4. CINCINNATI REDS
Has any team improved as much as them this offseason? Where they went from a last place team last season to potential division contenders this one? They improved their rotation by adding Alex Wood, Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark. All three are in contract years and Wood and Gray have significant upside. Their lineup was already on the rise and now they added RF Yasiel Puig in his own contract year and only subtracted CF Billy Hamilton. If there’s a downside, it’s that all of their major acquisitions are hitting free agency after the season. They may not go to the playoffs, but they’ll actually be competitive and that is a win by itself.
5. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
They solidified their bullpen by adding new closer David Robertson. They also vastly improved their lineup by adding new SS Jean Segura in a lopsided trade, signed LF Andrew McCutchen, finally dumped 1B Carlos Santana and to top it all off signed RF Bryce Harper. They are easily the most improved team in the NL East and potentially even contenders if everything works out for them.
6. COLORADO ROCKIES
They may have failed to improve at catcher, but saved money by not re-signing RP Adam Ottavino, 2B DJ LeMahue and RF Carlos Gonzalez. They added 1B Daniel Murphy and extended 3B Nolan Arenado in great moves.
1. BOSTON RED SOX
The defending champions re-signed SP Nathan Eovaldi and that was pretty much the extent of their big moves. I don’t think that Eovaldi will stay healthy or worth the contract production-wise based on his peripherals. I really don’t like that they were surprisingly cheap with their bullpen, not re-signing CP Craig Kimbrel or adding anyone to improve a questionable looking staff. They ended their offseason by extending their injury-risk ace Chris Sale. Sale’s fastball velocity is down and they didn’t even risk using him in crucial games in the playoffs, but now they’re paying him even more money. This isn’t what a team hoping to repeat should be doing.
2. BALTIMORE ORIOLES
They are rebuilding and weren’t expected to do anything, they took it to the extreme, literally doing practically nothing, not even signing rentals that they could flip for prospects at the trading deadline. Their only notable move is passing on re-signing RF Adam Jones.
3. CHICAGO WHITE SOX
They let SP James Shields wall as a free agent and replaced him in the rotation with Ivan Nova (who they acquired from Pittsburgh). They also added Ervin Santana on a minor league deal. They should’ve done more to improve their rotation. As far as their bullpen goes, they added Alex Colome to be their new closer, which was a good move. Turning to their lineup, the only relevant move was acquiring 1B Yonder Alonso, who serves as insurance for free agent-to be Jose Abreu. The biggest story of their offseason however was a failed pursuit of Manny Machado, which only confirmed the fact that they’re not as appealing a destination as their northern neighbors (despite their own weak offseason). Why didn’t they trade or extend Abreu? Why didn’t they acquire more pitching?
4. CLEVELAND INDIANS
Cleveland’s bullpen took a hit as they lost both Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to free agency. Turning to their lineup, they shipped out C Yan Gomes, 1B Yonder Alonso and DH Edwin Encarnacion cost-cutting moves, replacing them with 1B Jake Bauers and 1B Carlos Santana. There’s no sugarcoating that they got worse across the board. I understand why they did it, but they still have a weak OF and shaky bullpen.
5. CHICAGO CUBS
Their biggest acquisition after declining in each season since winning it all in 2016 was IF Daniel Descalso. They did manage to dump pitcher Drew Smyly on Texas, but then invested $20 million in SP Cole Hamels, whose peripherals are forewarning a disaster. They also lost 2B Daniel Murphy to free agency, though in his case they didn’t really have a suitable position available to play him at. Their bullpen looks weaker, their rotation is a question mark due to age and health and their lineup is still shaky. The worst part was their lie that they didn’t have any money to spend. That obviously false claim insulted the intelligence of anyone who heard it.