Football season might be in full swing, but as a new President is taking office, this is really a time to celebrate America. There is nothing more American than baseball, and despite being able to see your breath, baseball season is not over. This has been a very active offseason, with several big names changing cities, and teams looking poised to finish differently than last year.
Here is a look at the offseason so far...
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are going to be awful next season. Chris Sale is gone, Adam Eaton was dealt, and allstars like Jose Abreu, Jose Quintana, Melky Cabrera and Todd Frazier are all on the block. How are the White Sox winners? They traded for arguably the best offensive prospect in Yoan Moncada and arguably the best pitching prospect in Lucas Giolito. Add in Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez and a few others, and the South Siders have just added to create one of the best farm systems in the league. We cannot expect them to win right away. However, grouping those players with the likes of Carlos Rodon, Tim Anderson, and whoever they land for Quintana will create a future contender. Around 2020, this will be one of the best teams in the league.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have not signed a lot of players. They did however trade for an ace, and an elite setup man, while dumping the worst thing since unsliced bread (Buchholz) and keeping their first round pick. The Red Sox were a very strong team last season, and despite losing David Ortiz, Chris Sale joins David Price and Cy-Young winner Rick Porcello to form one of the most menacing rotations in all of baseball. While Mitch Moreland will not be able to replace Ortiz, the runs that Chris Sale prevents that the likes of Buchholz allowed should balance everything out for the Red Sox to remain a major contender. The only downside of all of the trades is Pablo Sandoval might get another chance.
The Astros were supposed to be a lot better last season than they really were. A lineup that includes young players like George Springer, and Carlos Correa to join stars like Jose Altuve and (former?) ace Dallas Kuechal added top prospects like AJ Reed and Alex Bregman into an already talented lineup. It will only get better for them. Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick and Brian McCann provide the Astros with veteran bats, that will slot into a very strong lineup. McCann is an obvious upgrade behind the plate, and Reddick provides them with a consistent .300 hitter. The pitching corp seems a little weak, however prospects such as Tony Kemp and Colin Moran would be valuable to a lot of teams, and have no future in Houston. I wouldn’t rule out a trade for Quintana, or the Astros being the best team in their division.
The Pirates had one goal this offseason. Trade Andrew McCutchen. Cutch is not the same superstar he used to be. The former elite has been declining the past few seasons, in terms of running, hitting, fielding, you name it. He still has an amazing track record that a lot of teams would cherish. Despite trying their hardest to trade McCutchen, it never happened. With McCutchen probably being too expensivr to be resigned, a top prospect in Austin Meadows right around the corner, and a star knowing his team wants him gone, their failure to accomplish their goal makes them a loser this offseason.
It is not an easy task to replace an ace. Jose Fernandez was amongst the best pitchers in the league, and it cannot be expected of them. But some sort of effort would be nice. Let’s not forget, the Marlins gave Giancarlo Stanton a record breaking deal last offseason. That should be their way of showing the world that they are trying to win. They did not take Stanton’s money off of the books, and they did not bring in an effective enough (starting) pitcher to make a difference. Adam Conley has a lot of potential, but when your projected opening day starter is Wei-Yin Chen, who had an ERA just below 5.00 last season, you are not putting yourself in a position to win, just wasting money on the game’s most threatening power hitter.
From an entertainment standpoint, the Dodgers are not losers. From a competition standpoint, they will win their division. From a financial standpoint, the Dodgers failed. They have been facing luxury tax penalties for years, and going into the offseason, they said that they wanted to bring those numbers down. Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen were both in a position to leave and save the Dodgers some money. The Dodgers brought them both back on more expensive deals than they were on before. There were cheaper options out there, and the team could have traded from their deep farm system to land good players on inexpensive deals. When the likes of Joc Pederson, Julio Urias, and Corey Seager are arbitration eligible, this team is going to be in even worse financial trouble. While they will be a good team in 2017, the owners are going to be paying hundreds of millions of dollars each year. It’ll be tough to retain Kershaw if he opts out of his contract in 2018
Best Remaining Free Agents
A four time all-star, Matt Wieters is capable of doing big things. The former Oriole is coming off of a down season, after only playing 101 games between 2014 and 2015. The one-time stud has not played his best baseball over the past few seasons, however a catcher with his potential should be a hot commodity entering the season. Last year, Wieters signed a qualifying offer to remain with the Orioles, who chose not to bring him back for 2017. With a .243 average last season, and declines in pitch framing, Wieters needs to redeem himself before making big money. This late in the offseason, we can expect a team without a decent catcher to give him a shot.
Prediction: Rockies, 1 year 8 million
Hammel is not the type of pitcher that will start an all-star game. He isn’t an ace, but in a year with few desirable arms on the market, Hammel’s sub 3.75 ERA over the past three seasons should be enough for a team to add him as a fourth arm. The recent Cub had elbow discomfort this past season, which at the age of 34 might have some teams doubting his ability. Striking out almost a batter per inning, we can expect to see him sign soon.
Prediction: Rangers, 2 years $17 million
As we all noted during the post season, this is a time where elite bullpen arms are more important than ever. While Andrew Miller is a completely different breed, Greg Holland was the ace of the dominant Royals bullpen just a couple of years ago. But Holland needed to undergo Tommy John surgery, and missed all of last season. Now, he’s expected back, and is available to all teams. The two-time allstar should have no problem finding a new team, as players have had strong returns from Tommy John recently. We do not know what to expect once he’s back, he might not be the same player, but someone will give him a shot.
Prediction: Nationals 1 year $5 million
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