Off-Season Grades

The off-season is certainly still going on, especially with names such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales still available on the open market. However, teams have now reported to Spring Training for Pitchers and Catchers, so it is time to hand out off-season grades. 

AL East

Baltimore Orioles – D

The Orioles have not addressed major areas of concern, especially the Starting Rotation and Bullpen. They have also failed to extend key players, such as Chris Davis and Matt Wieters. They have been involved in many rumors, but have yet to make any significant additions.

Boston Red Sox – B

They did not need to upgrade in many areas, but they still lost two key players – Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. They have signed A.J. Pierzynski to serve as their starting Catcher and Edward Mujica as their primary Set-up man. They are still betting big on Jackie Bradley Jr. to be their Centerfielder.

New York Yankees – B+

In order to have any chance of contending in 2014, the Yankees needed an off-season like this. They signed Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kelly Johnson, Carlos Beltran, Brian Roberts and Masahiro Tanaka. They still have holes in the infield, and they have also not done anything to combat their aging roster.

Tampa Bay Rays – B+

Their best decision of the off-season was not trading ace David Price. They also addressed the few needs they had going into the off-season by trading for Ryan Hanigan and Heath Bell and signing Grant Balfour.

Toronto Blue Jays – C+

The Blue Jays seem to be waiting for the top Free Agents’ prices to drop. They still need to improve their Starting Rotation, but their lineup and bullpen are still very strong.

 

AL Central

Chicago White Sox – A

The White Sox committed to a full rebuild this offseason. They acquired 22-year-old Matt Davidson and 25-year-old Adam Eaton. The White Sox will not be a competitive team in 2014, but they needed an off-season like this to begin their rebuild.

Cleveland Indians – B-

The Indians gave a reasonable two-year deal to a bounce-back candidate David Murphy to play Rightfield. They also chose to replace non-tender Chris Perez with another bounce-back candidate John Axford to serve as their closer. Even if these two acquisitions succeed, the Indians still have too much uncertainty in their rotation.

Detroit Tigers – C+

The big moves by the Tigers this offseason weakened their 2014 roster, but have given them a better chance at retaining Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera. The Fielder deal for Kinsler made sense, as they needed a 2nd baseman and it cleared payroll. However, trading Doug Fister for a utility infielder, 5th starter and low-level pitching prospect did not make sense even to clear payroll.

Kansas City Royals – B-

The Royals made two good moves in trading for Nori Aoki and signing Omar Infante. However, giving Jason Vargas  a 4-year contract is puzzling especially when he is not much better than Bruce Chen, who they just signed for 1-year. Even with Vargas, the Royals have serious questions in their rotation.

Minnesota Twins – B

The Twins made two surprising moves by signing two Starting Pitchers to multi-year deals, despite being in the midst of a serious rebuild. The Twins are unlikely to be competitive this season, but by improving their rotation, the Twins could be ready by 2015.

 

AL West

Houston Astros – B

The Astros’ biggest move was to trade for Centerfielder Dexter Fowler. They also spent $30 million to land Scott Feldman to anchor their rotation for the next three years. The Astros are just waiting for their elite Farm System to graduate to the Big Leagues.

Los Angeles Angels – B+

They pulled off two key trades to improve two substantial areas of need. They may have overpaid for David Freese, but he is an upgrade at 3rd base. They made out very well in the three-team trade that saw them trade Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks for Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago to contribute in their rotation.

Oakland Athletics – B+

The A’s have had a very busy offseason, as they have pulled off 4 significant trades, including a surprising trade for Jim Johnson to serve as their closer. They did not have any glaring needs heading into the offseason, but still made several important moves that serve to add plenty of depth to their roster. They traded from an area of depth to acquire Luke Gregerson to improve their bullpen. They also landed Jim Johnson for failed prospect, Jemile Weeks.

Seattle Mariners – B

The Mariners certainly made the biggest splash of the offseason by signing Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract. However, the Mariners have not adequately strengthened their roster this offseason. Signing Corey Hart and trading for Logan Morrison seemed redundant and a risky bet, as both are injury prone and lack versatility. They also strengthened their bullpen by signing Fernando Rodney to a 2-year deal.

Texas Rangers – B+

The Rangers acquired Prince Fielder to take over at 1st base and cleared a starting spot for Jurickson Profar at the same time. They also signed Shin-Soo Choo to a 7-year, $130 million dollar contract. One area of concern is in the rotation where they have constantly dealt with injuries, the latest victim was Derek Holland, who was slated at their #2 starter.

 

NL East

Atlanta Braves – B-

The Braves lost a few key players, such as Brian McCann, Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson. They have been relatively quiet this off-season, minus the extensions they signed with Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. The Braves won 96 games in 2013 and are relying heavily on improvements from their young core, something that did not work out too well for the Nationals in 2013.

Miami Marlins – B

The Marlins biggest move this off-season was signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but other than that the Marlins have not made any significant acquisitions. Their focus has been on bringing in veteran players that can improve their clubhouse, which explains their signings of Rafael Furcal and Garret Jones.

New York Mets – B+

The Mets have had a very busy off-season, seemingly setting them up to contend in 2015, when Matt Harvey returns from Tommy John surgery. They strengthened their rotation with Chris Young and Curtis Granderson. Bartolo Colon should also improve their rotation.

Philadelphia Phillies – B-

The Phillies’ roster continues to get older and they have done little to combat this. Signing 36-year-old Marlon Byrd to a 2-year deal and 35-year-old Carlos Ruiz to a 3-year deal did not help them get younger. They should be somewhat competitive this year, but are unlikely to reach the postseason. They have at least chosen to commit to trying to win this season by signing A.J. Burnett.

Washington Nationals – A

Unlike last off-season, the Nationals tried to improve their roster, rather than standing pat. They were the team to pull off the biggest steal of the off-season when they acquired Doug Fister from the Tigers. They improved their rotation and bullpen, but had little other needs that needed to be addressed.

 

NL Central

Chicago Cubs – C+

The Cubs had a very quiet off-season, except for the Tanaka rumors. In the midst of a rebuild, the Cubs had little additions they could make, especially since they sold off many of their trade chips during the season.

Cincinnati Reds – C

The Reds have had a very quiet off-season, which would have been fine if they didn’t lose as many key contributors. They lost Bronson Arroyo to Free Agency, but believe they have the internal options to replace him. Their biggest loss was Shin-Soo Choo, who provided a .423 OBP in 2013. They plan to turn to Billy Hamilton to fill the void in Centerfield; however, Hamilton had just a .308 OBP in Triple-A.

Milwaukee Brewers – B

The Brewers took a wise course in waiting out the Free Agent market and then were able to land Matt Garza at a reasonable rate without sacrificing a draft pick. They also picked up LHP Will Smith by trading Nori Aoki, which also served to open an Outfield position for Khris Davis, who impressed them in a short stint last season.

Pittsburgh Pirates – C+

Like many teams in the NL Central, the Pirates have had a very quiet offseason. They signed Edison Volquez and hope he will be this year’s Francisco Liriano. Their biggest mistake of the off-season was not offering A.J. Burnett a Qualifying Offer, as they will not receive a draft pick now that he has signed with the Phillies.  They may still acquire someone, but thus far they have not addressed a glaring need at first base.

St. Louis Cardinals – A

The Cardinals addressed their holes swiftly this off-season, beginning with their trade of David Freese for Peter Bourjos. The most significant move was when they signed Jhonny Peralta to a 4-year, $52 Million deal, just two days later. Shortstop has long been an area of concern for the Cardinals. Finally, they signed Mark Ellis as insurance if Kolten Wong struggles.

 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks – B

The Diamondbacks addressed a major area of weakness – power- by acquiring Mark Trumbo from the Angels, but did give up Tyler Skaggs. They also traded 3rd base prospect Matt Davidson for Addison Reed to serve as their closer. Finally, they signed Bronson Arroyo to a 2-year deal worth $23.5 Million.

Colorado Rockies – B+

The Rockies had a very eventful off-season to say the least. They pulled off 4 significant trades: acquiring Jordan Lyles, Brandon Barnes, Brett Anderson, Franklin Morales and Drew Stubbs and trading Dexter Fowler, Drew Pomeranz, Jonathon Herrera and Josh Outman. The Rockies also landed Justin Morneau and Boone Logan via Free Agency.

Los Angeles Dodgers – A

They have the most expensive bullpen in baseball, but it is likely to be worth it, as they signed Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, and J.P Howell to substantial deals this off-season. Their best move of the off-season was extending Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers also brought in Paul Maholm in a low risk deal to provide insurance to their rotation if Josh Beckett is not healthy.

San Diego Padres – B+

The Padres seem to be attempting to contend this season, as they brought in Josh Johnson on a 1-year low-risk deal. They also landed Joaguin Benoit to a 2-year, $15.5 Million deal. Prior to doling out $15.5 Million to Benoit, the Padres traded Luke Gregerson, who has completed three straight seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA, for Seth Smith, who fits best as part of a platoon.

San Francisco Giants – B

The Giants kicked off their off-season early, when they re-signed Tim Lincecum to a 2-year, $40.5 Million on October 25th. They continued to strengthen their rotation by signing Tim Hudson and then improving their Left Field situation by signing Michael Morse.

Anthony Cacchione

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