The Top 10 Moves of the MLB Offseason

A+view+of+Yankee+Stadium+in+Bronx%2C+N.Y.+at+sunset+prior+to+the+start+of+a+game+on+Sept.+18%2C+2014.+The+Yankees+hosted+Airmen+for+the+singing+of+the+National+Anthem%2C+Color+Guard+presentation%2C+and+F-16C+Fighting+Falcon+flyover+in+honor+of+the+U.S.+Air+Force+67th+birthday.+%28U.S.+Air+National+Guard+photo+by+Tech.+Sgt.+Matt+Hecht%2FReleased%29

A view of Yankee Stadium in Bronx, N.Y. at sunset prior to the start of a game on Sept. 18, 2014. The Yankees hosted Airmen for the singing of the National Anthem, Color Guard presentation, and F-16C Fighting Falcon flyover in honor of the U.S. Air Force 67th birthday. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)

 

As we begin spring training, the MLB offseason is officially coming to an end. Every offseason is full of interesting moves, as all 30 clubs wheel and deal in an attempt to improve. Here’s a rundown of ten of the most important trades and free agent signings made across the league.

 

  1. Philadelphia Phillies trade Ken Giles to the Houston Astros for Mark Appel, Brett Oberholtzer, Thomas Eshelman, Harold Arauz and Vincent Velasquez
    One of the few bright spots of the otherwise terrible 2015 season for the Philadelphia Phillies was their closer, Ken Giles. He saved 15 games for the team, while sporting a very low ERA of only 1.80. On Dec. 12, he was shipped off to the Houston Astros in exchange for five players, including the top pick of the 2013 MLB draft, Mark Appel.  This move makes strategic sense for both teams. While Giles is certainly an asset, the struggling Phillies have little use for a strong relief pitcher right now, given that they don’t win many games. The Astros, meanwhile, are an up-and-coming team that won 86 games in 2015 without a strong bullpen presence. Their bullpen wound up being their downfall, as they blew an eighth-inning lead in Game 4 of the AL Division Series that would have won them the series. By adding a lock-down closer at the back end of the bullpen, the Astros sharply improve their late-game status. Philadelphia, meanwhile, acquired five players, including the aforementioned Appel. While he has not played in the major leagues yet, and has been struggling in the minors, he will be a major part of the Phillies’ future if he can figure it all out.

 

  1. Chicago Cubs sign Ben Zobrist to a four-year, $56 million contract
    The Kansas City Royals won the World Series last year for the first time in 30 years, in large part due to their acquisition of Ben Zobrist in July. Zobrist is known as a versatile veteran who can play just about any position in the field. While there was speculation that the Royals would sign him back, he wound up going to the Cubs for a lucrative contract. He’ll primarily play second base, filling the void that the Cubs created by trading Starlin Castro to the Yankees. His consistently strong offensive production ensures another great season from the Cubs.

 

  1. Cincinnati Reds trade Aroldis Chapman to the New York Yankees for Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, Tony Renda, and Caleb Cotham
    The bullpen of the Yankees was already excellent, with Andrew Miller closing out games for the club and Dellin Betances pitching the eighth inning to set him up. The pair is considered to be among the elite relief pitchers in baseball, and now they will be joined by Aroldis Chapman. Known for being the hardest thrower in baseball, Chapman has saved 145 games over the last four seasons, while being able to throw up to 106 miles-per-hour. With Miller, Betances and Chapman all pitching at the end of games, the Yankees look to have the best bullpen in baseball by far, which will help them immensely in their quest to win the American League East. The re-building Reds, meanwhile, will shed plenty of payroll by dumping Chapman, and acquire four minor league prospects, whom they hope will pan out in the future.

 

  1. Cincinnati Reds trade Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox, in a three-team trade involving the Los Angeles Dodgers
    Todd Frazier has established himself as one of the best third basemen in baseball, making the National League All-Star team two consecutive years, and winning the Home Run Derby in his home park last year. As part of their effort to shed payroll, the Reds traded the fan favorite to the Chicago White Sox. The move is a much bigger deal for the White Sox, who finished in fourth place in the American League Central last year. They add Frazier’s bat to an already-potent offense that includes slugging first baseman Jose Abreu and outfielder Melky Cabrera. With those solid hitters in the lineup, the White Sox are poised to make a bid at the playoffs this year.

 

  1. Boston Red Sox sign David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract
    The Boston Red Sox had yet another disappointing season in 2015. Despite the acquisitions of outfielder Hanley Ramirez and third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the Sox finished in last place in the American League East. Boston took more cracks at the market this year, trading for closer Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres, and making this big free agent signing.
    David Price has been the centerpiece of two major trade deadline moves: he was sent from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Detroit Tigers in July 2014, and helped the Tigers win their fourth straight American League Central title. A year later, Detroit traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays, where Price helped them win their first division crown in 22 years. While the Blue Jays had hoped that they would re-sign Price, the Red Sox offered him the largest contract ever offered to a left-handed pitcher, with Price making roughly $32 million a year. He’ll turn 30 this season, so Boston is hoping that they are catching Price at his prime, and that he’ll lead them to another playoff run.

 

  1. New York Mets sign Yoenis Céspedes to a three-year, $75 million contract
    The New York Mets, just off the pace of the Washington Nationals in the National League East at the July trade deadline, made a big splash, trading two minor league pitchers to the Detriot Tigers in exchange for slugging outfielder Yoenis Céspedes. Céspedes had an excellent second half with the Mets, helping propel the team to their first playoff trip in nine years, and their first National League Championship in 15 years.
    After much speculation over where he would sign, Céspedes is sticking with the Mets, on a contract valued at $25 million per year. He will now anchor a decent offense, which is coupled with the star-studded pitching rotation that has made the Mets the favorite to win the East once again in 2016. New York will be counting on Céspedes to continue his second-half 2015 magic throughout the 2016 season.

 

  1. Detroit Tigers sign Justin Upton to a six-year, $132.8 million contract
    After winning the American League Central four consecutive times, the Detroit Tigers regressed badly in 2015, coming in last place in the division. They were looking for an upgrade to their offense in the offseason, and they got it in the form of outfielder Justin Upton. While he rarely leads the league in anything, Upton has established a reputation as a solid, middle-of-the-order hitter. This reputation got him a $22.1 million per year contract, and a spot on an offense anchored by stars like Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler. With the further additions of outfielder Cameron Maybin, starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, and closer Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit has put themselves in a position to contend once again.

 

  1. San Francisco Giants sign Johnny Cueto to a seven-year, $125 million contract
    After several years of being the ace pitcher of the Cincinnati Reds, Johnny Cueto was traded to the Kansas City Royals in July 2015, as part of the Royals’ World Series run. While the bid was ultimately successful, Cueto pitched poorly throughout the second half of the season and the playoffs, and Kansas City subsequently had little interest in signing him back. The San Francisco Giants, however, were willing to take an expensive chance. They had a decent season in 2015, winning 84 games and finishing second in the National League West for the fourth time in five seasons. If Cueto returns to his pre-2015 form, he’ll be a key component of a dangerous rotation that includes 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner and fellow off-season acquisition Jeff Samardzija.

 

  1. Chicago Cubs sign Jason Heyward to an eight-year, $184 million contract
    The St. Louis Cardinals a few seasons ago had to give up a jewel for Jason Heyward, trading young starting pitcher Shelby Miller to the Braves. He had a strong 2015 for the Cardinals, posting career-high totals in hits, batting average and on-base percentage. This sparked a lot of speculation as to where the free-agent outfielder would land in the off-season. Despite being offered more money by both the Cardinals and the Washington Nationals, the Cubs landed Heyward instead. He essentially opted to go to a younger, arguably more dangerous team.The deal is a big one for the Cubs. Heyward will turn 26 in 2016, and he is under contract to Chicago until he is 33: the prime of his career. He joins a starting lineup that already includes sluggers such as third baseman Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The young, inspiring Cubs won 97 games without Heyward in 2015, and the addition of a blooming outfielder like him may very well push them over the 100-win mark: not just for this season, but for years to come.

 

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks sign Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract
    The battle for Zack Greinke was perceived as a two-team race between the Los Angeles Dodgers, and rival San Francisco Giants. There had been speculation that division rival Arizona, in need of starting pitching, would make a bid for the ace, but nobody took them seriously…until the Diamondbacks dropped a $206.5 million bomb for Greinke.
    Coupled with the acquisition of starter Shelby Miller from the Atlanta Braves, the move makes Arizona instant contenders. The offense was superb in 2015, with first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and outfielders David Peralta and A.J. Pollock having excellent seasons. However, the team lacked great pitching in 2015, and they won a mere 79 games. With the addition of Greinke as an ace, the Diamondbacks look a lot more formidable than they did going into last year. They still may not be as good as the Dodgers or the Giants, but this was a statement signing that shows Arizona is a team to be respected in 2016.