This offseason has been truly rewarding, giving us endless trades, free agent signings, and even head-scratching non-tenders to analyze. Looking back at the 2017 offseason which was about as boring as watching paint dry, this offseason has kept baseball fans on their toes, despite both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper still looking for their new employers. With that being said, let’s observe which teams make Santa’s “nice” list and who is relegated to the dreaded “naughty” list this Christmas.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
To this point, the Orioles only acquisition of note has been that of SS Richie Martin, whom they selected in the Rule 5 draft from the Oakland Athletics. The Orioles main approach this offseason has been to take a new organizational direction, evidenced by their signing of Brandon Hyde as their new manager and Mike Elias (formerly assistant GM of the Houston Astros) as their general manager. While there’s no need to hand out contracts to free agents at this stage of their rebuild, the bullpen which finished 27th in MLB with a 4.78 ERA needs at least one, if not two reinforcements. A true win for the Orioles would be to move the remaining 3 years and $43 million on Alex Cobb’s contract, but until then, it’s been a very “ho-hum” offseason for the Orioles.
Boston Red Sox
As World Series Champions, expectation will always be higher, and rightfully so. Postseason star Nathan Eovaldi was rewarded with a 4 year $68 million contract and gives the team a source of quality innings behind Sale, Price, and Porcello. Dustin Pedroia has been quoted as saying he’s ready to come back from the injuries that have sidelined him the past two seasons, but signing an inexpensive, veteran stopgap option even with Brock Holt on the roster would do the team no harm. The team’s biggest losses this offseason come from the bullpen; Joe Kelly signed with the Dodgers and Craig Kimbrel’s pursuit a $100 million contract all but removes him from returning to the Red Sox given their luxury tax concerns. They signed Erasmo Ramirez to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training, but if that is their only move to address the bullpen, it will definitely leave some scratching their heads… wait and see.
New York Yankees
In the first notable move of the offseason, the Yankees acquired former Mariners ace James Paxton, whom they still control for three more seasons. JA Happ went 7-0 in his 63 innings of work with the Yankees after being acquired at the trade deadline, and that was enough for the team to hand him a 2 year, $34 million dollar extension this offseason. The short one-year commitment to CC Sabathia is also a wise move which gives the Yankees much needed depth in their starting rotation for 2019 while leaving the door open to a marquee free agent starting pitcher in 2019, which there is A TON of. The bullpen still needs to be addressed with the departures of Zach Britton and David Robertson, and if the team is unable to sign Manny Machado, they need to sign a shortstop to fill in while Didi Gregorious returns from injury. So far, so good, but there is work left to be done to compete with the Rays and Red Sox.
Tampa Bay Rays
Queue the applause. Charlie Morton’s career renaissance with the Astros earned him a 2 year $30 million contract, which fortifies what was an already talented rotation headlined by AL CY Young Blake Snell and rising youngsters Ryan Yarbrough and Tyler Glasnow. Separate trades also brought back Mike Zunino from the Mariners and Yandy Diaz from the Indians. With the subtractions of Jake Bauers and CJ Cron, the Rays have been active in the Nelson Cruz market and all signs point towards them being the favorites to sign him. The Rays will always have to play within the constraints of a tight budget and small payroll, but even then can they afford to give Cruz a 2 year deal in the $30-35 million range. Impressive offseason from the 2018 season’s most surprising team.
Toronto Blue Jays
Talk about a quiet offseason. Aside from releasing Troy Tulowitzki from the remainder of his contract, not much has happened of note in Toronto. Erik Sogard was signed to a minor-league deal, and figures to compete for a utility role in the infield during Spring Training. There’s not much else this team has to do; their farm system is absolutely stacked and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will make his debut very early in the 2019 season, with Bo Bichette not far behind. If Marcus Stroman is traded, which wouldn’t be a smart decision given that his potential return value has never been lower, signing a stopgap starting pitcher would help piece the rotation for the coming season without jeopardizing the team’s future finances. Quiet offseason so far, but not much else to be expected from this team given their situation.