The offseason is over! Spring training is here! The dust has finally settled on the hot stove season, and while some teams are entering the 2023 season with a familiar squad, others have a completely new look.
Yes, it does help to have an owner who is willing to spend money, but there is no grading on a curve here. If the Padres can run one of the highest payrolls in the sport, then your local small-market owner can afford to spend a little more.
Let’s hand out some offseason grades — starting with the clubs that dominated the offseason and ending with the ones that left much to be desired.
Jump to a team:
AL East: BAL | BOS | NYY | TB | TOR
AL Central: CHW | CLE | DET | KC | MIN
AL West: HOU | LAA | OAK | SEA | TEX
NL East: ATL | MIA | NYM | PHI | WSH
NL Central: CHC | CIN | MIL | PIT | STL
NL West: ARI | COL | LAD | SD | SF
Additions: RHP Justin Verlander, RHP Kodai Senga, LHP Jose Quintana, RHP David Robertson, LHP Brooks Raley, C Omar Narvaez, OF Tommy Pham (re-signed OF Brandon Nimmo, RHP Edwin Diaz, RHP Adam Ottavino)
Departures: RHP Jacob deGrom, RHP Chris Bassitt, RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Seth Lugo, RHP Trevor Williams, C James McCann
The Mets’ payroll, including tax penalties, will be a projected $468.5 million — more than $150 million higher than the Yankees’ payroll. That has inevitably led to some backlash from fellow owners. There is crying in baseball. “I’m not responsible for how other teams run their clubs,” owner Steve Cohen told ESPN’s Jeff Passan in a recent interview.
Exactly. The Mets spent, and spent big — some of it on re-signing their own players and some of it on replacing free agents with new free agents. It’s the most expensive team in history, and on paper, it’s as good as the 101-win team from last season.
Of course, they also wanted Carlos Correa. He would have made them a better team in 2023, but I think not signing him is better for the team over the long haul. Brett Baty looks like he will hit and should settle in nicely at third base, and, let’s face it, even Cohen probably has limits on how much he wants to spend on payroll. And in a couple of years, they’ll likely need to replace Verlander and Max Scherzer.
Additions: LHP Carlos Rodon, RHP Tommy Kahnle (re-signed OF Aaron Judge, 1B Anthony Rizzo)
Departures: RHP Jameson Taillon, DH Matt Carpenter, OF Andrew Benintendi, LHP Aroldis Chapman
It may seem now like a foregone conclusion that Judge would end up back in pinstripes, but that was hardly a guarantee. Most players who reach free agency do end up signing with a new team, so credit general manager Brian Cashman and the Yankees for forging a deal with a player they had to have. Yes, $360 million for a player entering his age-31 season is a long-term risk, but Judge should remain one of the best players in the game in the short term and should age well if he stays healthy.
Then, they get Rodon, who is 27-13 with a 2.67 ERA and 33.9% strikeout rate over the past two seasons. That’s an upgrade over Taillon and helps solidify what should be one of the best rotations in the majors. I’m not worried about left field, where I think Oswaldo Cabrera eventually takes over and plays well. Another reliever would have been nice, and Yankees fans would have liked Josh Donaldson getting shipped out to the Winnipeg Goldeyes or Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, but Judge plus Rodon is a great offseason.
Additions: SS Trea Turner, RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Craig Kimbrel, LHP Gregory Soto, LHP Matt Strahm, IF Josh Harrison
Departures: RHP Zach Eflin, 2B Jean Segura, OF Matt Vierling, RHP David Robertson, RHP Noah Syndergaard
Dave Dombrowski’s baseball philosophy is as unnuanced as eggs and toast for breakfast: Get star players. No GM is better at doing it, and he did it once again, signing Turner — an all-around star who puts up MVP-caliber numbers in his best seasons — to an 11-year, $300 million deal. He has the speed to give the Phillies the top-of-the-order hitter they need, allowing them to move Kyle Schwarber into more of an RBI slot (although Turner has enough pop to hit in the middle of the lineup as well). No, he’s not going to be the starting shortstop when he’s 40, but Dombrowski isn’t getting paid to worry about 2033.
Walker might have been a little bit of an overpay, but he’s proved he can handle the rigors of the National League East and is a solid No. 3 or 4 behind co-aces Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. I’m less enthused about the Kimbrel and Soto acquisitions, as both have wobbly control and could either find themselves pitching in big moments late in games or buried in mop-up duty. Still, adding Turner to a World Series contender makes this a great offseason.
Additions: RHP Pablo Lopez, OF Joey Gallo, C Christian Vazquez, OF Michael Taylor, SS Kyle Farmer (re-signed SS Carlos Correa)
Departures: IF Luis Arraez, 3B Gio Urshela, RHP Dylan Bundy
At the beginning of the offseason, it wouldn’t necessarily have been a shocking surprise if Correa returned to the Twins, although the Giants were the favorite to land him. But the way everything unfolded, with the Giants and then the Mets backing out on agreements and then Correa going back to Minnesota, it feels like a huge win for the Twins. Those first hugs at spring training might feel a little awkward, though.
The Twins, already deep in outfielders, signed Gallo to a low-risk, one-year deal and traded for Taylor, who gives them insurance in center field for the injury-prone Byron Buxton. I’m hardly the president of the Joey Gallo Fan Club, but a Taylor-Buxton-Gallo outfield would be the best defensive trio in the game, and I kind of love the idea of the Twins just running with that as often as possible. Then, we got one of the biggest trades of the offseason. Most view the Twins as the winner in the Lopez-Arraez deal (they also got shortstop prospect Jose Salas), and Lopez is certainly a nice addition to the rotation if he can follow up last year’s career-high 180 innings.
Additions: LHP Tyler Anderson, RF Hunter Renfroe, 3B Gio Urshela, IF Brandon Drury, RHP Carlos Estevez
Departures: RHP Michael Lorenzen, RHP Janson Junk, RHP Elvis Peguero
There were no splashy signings here, and the group above will make $49 million in 2023, so you can debate whether that money would have been wisely spent on a star player — like a shortstop, which the Angels needed. But the Angels needed depth, so I like GM Perry Minasian’s moves.
The bottom of the Angels’ roster in 2022, especially on the offensive side, was worse than the Billy Bob Thornton remake of “Bad News Bears.” They had 21 position players who were all below replacement level, combining for minus-8.8 bWAR. Those 21 players used up 41% of the Angels’ total plate appearances. Now, some of that bad WAR was from players still projected as key members of the 2023 team, including Jared Walsh and Max Stassi, but you get the point: The Angels had too many bad performers, which is how you can finish 73-89 with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Renfroe, Urshela and Drury, meanwhile, were worth 8.4 WAR. Anderson and Estevez combined for 5.4 WAR. The improved depth — and a healthy Anthony Rendon — should lift the Angels into the playoff race.
Additions: SS Dansby Swanson, RHP Jameson Taillon, CF Cody Bellinger, 1B Eric Hosmer, 1B/DH Trey Mancini, C Tucker Barnhart, RHP Brad Boxberger (re-signed LHP Drew Smyly)
Departures: C Willson Contreras, DH Franmil Reyes, 1B Frank Schwindel, LHP Wade Miley
The Cubs had a subtle but intriguing offseason, with one obvious theme: They’re going to be better on defense. Gold Glove winner Swanson heads to Wrigley on a seven-year deal, so the Cubs will shift Nico Hoerner to second base, where he could win a Gold Glove. Swanson might not replicate the 5.7-WAR season he had in 2022, but his defense, power and durability give him a high floor. Barnhart is a two-time Gold Glover and replaces Contreras, although he certainly won’t replace Contreras’ bat. And Bellinger on a one-year deal (with a mutual option for 2024)? Why not? Even if there’s only a 10% chance that he turns back into a star, he at least gives them plus defense in center. Add it up, and the Cubs’ up-the-middle defense might be the best in the majors.
On the pitching side, Taillon projects as a solid innings-eater after throwing 177 innings for the Yankees. Leaving Yankee Stadium won’t necessarily help, as he’s been much better at home the past two seasons, but he gives them a solid mid-tier starter. They then doubled down on rotation depth in bringing back Smyly to give them eight or nine options for the rotation — which is kind of what you need these days. Don’t worry about the Hosmer signing; the Cubs are just paying the minimum, and he’s keeping first base warm until Matt Mervis (.309, 36 home runs in the minors) is ready.
Additions: SS Xander Bogaerts, RHP Seth Lugo, DH Matt Carpenter, DH Nelson Cruz, OF Adam Engel, RHP Michael Wacha (re-signed RHP Robert Suarez and RHP Nick Martinez)
Departures: OF Jurickson Profar, 1B/OF Wil Myers, DH Josh Bell, LHP Sean Manaea, RHP Mike Clevinger, IF Brandon Drury, C Jorge Alfaro
Trea Turner reportedly turned down $342 million from the Padres. Aaron Judge flew to the winter meetings in San Diego, where the Padres reportedly offered him $400 million. Finally, the Padres found a player willing to take their money when Bogaerts signed an 11-year, $280 million deal. Is that a lot of money for a player entering his age-30 season? Yes. Is it a lot for a player who hit 15 home runs last season? Yes. Is he exactly what the Padres needed? Not really, given they already had two shortstops in Ha-seong Kim and Fernando Tatis Jr. Hey, acquire good players and figure out how to make it work. The Padres will slide Kim to second, Jake Cronenworth to first and Tatis to right field (where he should be good with his speed and arm strength). With Manny Machado at third and Gold Glover Trent Grisham in center, the Padres should be fine defensively, despite some skepticism about Bogaerts repeating his defensive metrics from 2022.
The team also signed Yu Darvish to a $108 million extension that runs through 2028 — when he’ll be 42 years old. I actually don’t mind that deal; it’s all about the value in the first three to four years anyway. The price of Bogaerts’ contract and some debatable pitching moves prevent this from being an “A” offseason, however. Wacha was a nice last-minute depth addition, although he’s pretty much a five-and-dive guy, while Lugo and Martinez have been better out of the bullpen but are projected to start. The five-year, $46 million deal for Suarez feels a tad excessive. Just keep him away from Bryce Harper. I do like the roll of the dice on Carpenter. He won’t slug .727 again, but even if he’s 65% of what he was last season, the Padres will be happy.
Additions: C Sean Murphy, RHP Joe Jimenez, LHP Lucas Luetge, OF Sam Hilliard, OF Jordan Luplow, LHP Kolby Allard, RHP Nick Anderson
Departures: SS Dansby Swanson, C/DH William Contreras, RHP Kenley Jansen, RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Kyle Muller
Look, they’re going to miss Swanson, no doubt — especially at the level he played last season. They’ll miss his defense (a Gold Glove in 2022) and durability. And losing another fan favorite and homegrown star the offseason after seeing Freddie Freeman leave Atlanta has to be hard for Braves fans, no matter how many games their team wins this year.
Atlanta does believe Vaughn Grissom can handle shortstop, especially after an offseason working with infield guru Ron Washington, and the Braves haven’t made many wrong decisions in recent years. Another right one was the trade for Murphy, whom they immediately signed to a long-term extension. They added a couple of bullpen arms. The rotation remains one of the deepest in the majors. The Braves are loaded for another run.
Additions: OF Teoscar Hernandez, 2B Kolten Wong, OF AJ Pollock, IF Tommy La Stella, RHP Trevor Gott, OF/C Cooper Hummel
Departures: OF Mitch Haniger, RHP Erik Swanson, 2B Adam Frazier, OF Jesse Winker, DH Carlos Santana, IF Abraham Toro
The Mariners had a conservative, if predictable, offseason — one that left most Mariners fans a little frustrated with their reluctance to go after one of the big-ticket free agents. President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto replaced the unproductive roster spots from 2022 with players who were better: Hernandez, Wong and Pollock combined for 6.3 WAR, and that’s with Pollock having a poor season, while the departures accounted for 3.3 WAR, more than half of that coming from Swanson’s stellar season in relief. No, not super exciting, but three wins could be the difference between making the playoffs and missing them — if not enough to chase down the Astros. Hernandez, Wong and Pollock are also each on one-year deals, so there remains flexibility to pursue Ohtani next offseason. At least, that’s what Mariners fans are dreaming of.
Additions: C Gabriel Moreno, 3B Evan Longoria, OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., RHP Scott McGough, OF Kyle Lewis, RHP Cole Sulser; LHP Andrew Chafin (re-signed RHP Zach Davies)
Departures: OF Daulton Varsho, RHP Ian Kennedy, OF/C Cooper Hummel
With one playoff appearance in the past 11 seasons, the D-backs are on a quest for relevance. They improved 22 games last season, and half that in 2023 would put them in the wild-card race. They have a top-rated farm system that includes Rookie of the Year favorite Corbin Carroll and some potential impact starting pitchers. They feel close to breaking out — but it also feels like the offseason fell a little short. Yes, now we’re getting to the part of the rankings that include owners who are probably not Steve Cohen fans.
I say that with a big thumbs-up to the Varsho/Moreno trade, dealing from their depth of young outfielders to acquire a premium young catcher who is major league ready. The bullpen has been an issue for several years, and the D-backs did just add Chafin, one of the best lefty relievers the past two seasons, and Scott McGough, who saved 69 games in Japan the past two seasons. We’ll see if those two end up being late-game impact guys. And instead of making a bold addition to the rotation, they simply re-signed Davies, who is 8-17 with a 4.97 ERA the past two seasons. Oh, and their payroll is still some $35 million less than what it was in 2018. Arizona should be better, and that young outfield will be fast and fun, but imagine if they had pumped another $50 million into the roster.
Additions: RHP Jacob deGrom, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Jake Odorizzi (re-signed LHP Martin Perez)
Departures: LHP Matt Moore (still unsigned), OF Kole Calhoun, LHP Kolby Allard
New GM Chris Young added four new starting pitchers to a rotation that ranked 25th in the majors — including one who might be the best in the majors if he stays healthy. That’s the catch with this offseason: It could pay off huge and the Rangers could go from 94 losses to 94 wins, but on the flip side, deGrom has been injured the past two seasons and Eovaldi and Heaney also spent a lot of time on the injured list in 2022. I understand the gamble for a franchise that hasn’t had a winning record and playoff appearance since 2016, so this is the ultimate “check back in October” grade. I do think it was a mistake not to address the outfield (27th in the majors in OPS).
Additions: RHP Zach Eflin
Departures: OF Kevin Kiermaier, RHP Corey Kluber, LHP Brooks Raley, 1B Ji-Man Choi, C Mike Zunino, RHP J.P. Feyereisen, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, RHP JT Chargois
The rapid turnover of the roster continues — only nine players from the Rays’ 2020 World Series team remain on the 40-man roster. They signed Eflin to a three-year, $40 million contract — a deal we would probably criticize if it was any other organization but one we expect to turn out well for the Rays. They did sign Yandy Diaz, Jeffrey Springs and Pete Fairbanks to contract extensions, so that makes this a positive offseason even with only the one major addition to the 40-man roster (they picked up a bunch of minor leaguers in deals). The Springs deal could be worth up to $46 million including a 2027 club option, but that will be a bargain if Springs pitches like he did in 2022 (2.46 ERA with 144 K’s in 135 innings). Factoring in the extensions raises the overall grade.
Additions: 1B Jose Abreu (re-signed OF Michael Brantley and RHP Rafael Montero)
Departures: RHP Justin Verlander, 1B Yuli Gurriel, UT Aledmys Diaz, 1B Trey Mancini
The biggest mistake most World Series champions make is to simply bring everyone back and expect the same results. That’s mostly what the Astros did in an offseason spent without a general manager after owner Jim Crane parted ways with James Click in early November and didn’t hire Dana Brown until late January. The Astros made an upgrade at first base with Abreu, who had an interesting season with the White Sox: less power than ever (15 home runs) but a higher average with fewer strikeouts. I’m skeptical about how the three-year deal plays out at Abreu’s age, but it should work for 2023. They still have enviable rotation and bullpen depth, but you don’t just replace a Cy Young winner who went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA. The lineup is now also counting on four players in their 30s in Abreu (36), Brantley (36), Martin Maldonado (36) and Jose Altuve (33). Signing Cristian Javier to a five-year extension that runs through 2027 helps boost the overall offseason grade.
Additions: RHP Chris Bassitt, OF Daulton Varsho, RHP Erik Swanson, OF Kevin Kiermaier, 1B Brandon Belt, RHP Zach Thompson
Departures: OF Teoscar Hernandez, C Gabriel Moreno, RHP Ross Stripling, OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., OF Raimel Tapia, RHP David Phelps
I’m not a huge fan of this offseason. In raw WAR totals from 2022, the Blue Jays upgraded from 9.9 to 11.0 — or about one win. But that undersells Moreno’s long-term value, so it mostly feels like the Jays are just kind of spinning their wheels here.
I also have some concerns about the new players. Over the past two seasons, Bassitt had a 2.74 ERA at home pitching in good pitcher’s parks with the A’s and Mets and 3.85 on the road. Now he moves to a tougher division in a tough park for pitchers. Varsho struggled against left-handed pitchers in 2022, so he has to show he’s more than a platoon bat. Kiermaier is coming off labrum surgery, while Belt is coming off the worst season of his career and will be 35, so those are two bets on older players. It could all work and push the Jays to a division title: Varsho and Kiermaier are both plus defenders and Belt was terrific as recently as 2021 (.274/.378/.597). I know they had the catching depth, but the best long-term option might have been to keep Moreno, let Alejandro Kirk serve as a DH and ride out Hernandez’s final season.
Additions: 2B/1B Luis Arraez, IF Jean Segura, RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP JT Chargois, RHP Matt Barnes, SS Jacob Amaya, LHP A.J. Puk
Departures: RHP Pablo Lopez, SS Miguel Rojas, 3B Brian Anderson, OF JJ Bleday
In isolation, I’m fine with the Arraez/Lopez trade, although it could come back to haunt the Marlins if 19-year-old shortstop Jose Salas, who also went to the Twins, develops. I’m uneasy with all the jiggering of the defense here: Jazz Chisholm Jr. to center field, Segura to third base and Arraez playing second, where his range isn’t great.
And while they have potential depth in the rotation, the only guys who pitched more than 107 innings last season were Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara and the 37-year-old Cueto. But, hey, it’s not like the Marlins are going to spend in free agency, so you can understand GM Kim Ng trying to get creative here to solve the lack of offensive production in the outfield last season. If the young pitchers such as Jesus Luzardo and Trevor Rogers can ramp up to 150 innings or so, Miami could surprise.
Additions: C William Contreras, LHP Wade Miley, DH Jesse Winker, 3B Brian Anderson, IF Abraham Toro, IF Owen Miller, RHP Elvis Peguero
Departures: OF Hunter Renfroe, 2B Kolten Wong, IF Jace Peterson, DH Andrew McCutchen, C Omar Narvaez, LHP Brent Suter, RHP Brad Boxberger, OF Esteury Ruiz
It’s not exactly fair to say the window has closed on this recent run of success, although the Brewers missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2017 and will be transitioning to some younger players in 2023, including outfielders Garrett Mitchell, Sal Frelick and Joey Wiemer and infielder Brice Turang. The big deal was acquiring Contreras. The Braves might not have believed in his ability to catch, but he’ll get the opportunity in Milwaukee while also getting some DH at-bats. Otherwise, it’s mostly a group of veteran placeholders in Winker, Anderson and Miley, as the Brewers will hope they bought low on three players who had injury issues in 2022. The Brewers are always confident they can build a decent bullpen, but they didn’t do much to provide more help behind closer Devin Williams.
Additions: C Willson Contreras (re-signed RHP Adam Wainwright)
Departures: C Yadier Molina, DH Albert Pujols, LHP Jose Quintana, OF Corey Dickerson
The stated top goal entering the offseason was to replace Molina, and the Cardinals did that with Contreras, who will provide a nice upgrade at the plate and serviceable defense. Otherwise, however: crickets, much to the frustration of Cardinals fans who wanted the team to add a starting pitcher or shortstop. Indeed, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak acknowledged the team fell short in negotiations with multiple free agents — but it didn’t sound like the Cards were in on big names anyway. “A lot of people had us connected to the shortstop and starting pitching market, and, candidly, we really weren’t all that active in that,” Mozeliak told reporters.
The Cardinals are as risk averse as any organization, and while it doesn’t make for splashy headlines, it’s worked: They haven’t had a losing season since 2007. They don’t gamble on risky nine-figure deals in free agency. They trust their prospects and their ability to get the most out of them. In the National League Central, they didn’t have to do much, as they’re still the clear division favorites. They’ll count on comebacks from Tyler O’Neill and Jack Flaherty, Lars Nootbaar having a breakout season and rookie sensation Jordan Walker making an impact in the second half. I gave them a high grade for the Contreras signing, but, man, this is a team that really could have used a Verlander or Rodon.
Additions: LHP Kyle Muller, OF Esteury Ruiz, IF Jace Peterson, UT Aledmys Diaz, RHP Shintaro Fujinami, RHP Drew Rucinski, RHP Trevor May, RHP Freddy Tarnok, 1B Jesus Aguilar, C Manny Pina, OF JJ Bleday
Departures: C Sean Murphy, LHP Cole Irvin, OF Chad Pinder, LHP A.J. Puk
Some works of art or literature are meant to inspire through beauty or creativity or emotional power. These A’s will not be that version of a baseball team. The Murphy trade produced quantity, as the Billy Beane (now David Forst) front offices have always preferred. Muller is a huge, 6-foot-7 lefty who perhaps finally curbed his control issues in Triple-A. Ruiz is a blazer who stole 85 bases in the minors. They were the big returns in the Murphy trade, and they could be fun, but most prospect analysts don’t see a high ceiling for either player.
The A’s showed some creativity in signing Fujinami, a 6-foot-6 righty who had long-standing control issues in Japan but throws in the mid-90s, and Rucinski, a former major leaguer who pitched the past four seasons in Korea. I don’t like the Puk-Bleday swap, as Bleday has struggled to make contact in the minors and hit .167 in 65 games with the Marlins.
Additions: DH Josh Bell, C Mike Zunino
Departures: C Austin Hedges, IF Owen Miller
The grade below is certainly not reflective of how good the Guardians might be in 2023 — which might be very good as they add even more young pitching and young infielders to last year’s division champs. Bell will give them a nice on-base presence, although not necessarily the power bat they needed (he hit 17 home runs and his big 37-homer 2019 season appears, like many hitters from that season, a juiced ball outlier). Zunino hit 33 home runs in 2021 but hit under .200 in 2019, 2020 and 2022 (a season in which he played only 36 games), so there is more about his defense and veteran presence to help rookie Bo Naylor.
Given the payroll remains about $30 million less than where it was in 2017-18, it feels like the Guardians could have been a little more adventurous. I get holding on to all the young players — you don’t want to trade the wrong ones — but they could have packaged some of their prospect depth for an impact starter or outfielder.
Additions: OF Masataka Yoshida, RHP Corey Kluber, RHP Chris Martin, RHP Kenley Jansen, DH Justin Turner, SS Adalberto Mondesi, OF Adam Duvall
Departures: SS Xander Bogaerts, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, DH J.D. Martinez, LHP Rich Hill, RHP Michael Wacha, OF Tommy Pham
This might sound a little shocking, but it’s possible Red Sox fans are overreacting. No executive has faced the wrath of their fan base this offseason more than Chaim Bloom. It’s almost like Red Sox Nation has forgotten the team was in the American League Championship Series way back in … 2021. I understand the frustration, primarily on letting Bogaerts walk, but the Red Sox did end up extending Rafael Devers and he’s the better long-term play given their age difference. Without the Devers extension, this grade would have been lower, mostly because the rotation wasn’t really addressed.
Yoshida comes over from Japan on a $90 million deal, with the Red Sox betting he can sustain the high OBPs he posted in Japan (.449 in 2022 with 82 walks and 42 strikeouts). Many insiders think the Red Sox overpaid, but if he’s getting on base 40% of the time, that will work, although his lack of speed and defense caps his ceiling. I’m also a little wary of Jansen, given the new pitch clock rules (he’s been one of the slowest workers in the majors).
Additions: OF Andrew McCutchen, LHP Rich Hill, 1B/DH Carlos Santana, 1B Ji-man Choi, LHP Jarlin Garcia, C Austin Hedges, RHP Vince Velasquez
Departures: IF Kevin Newman, RHP Zach Thompson
The Pirates are coming off back-to-back 100-loss seasons (and played at a 111-loss pace in 2020). The only young foundation-type players they added in 2022 were shortstop Oneil Cruz and pitcher Roansy Contreras, and most of their top prospects are unlikely to make a major impact in 2023 (although don’t overlook catcher Endy Rodriguez). At some point, however, you need to stop losing 100 games, and that’s what it looks like the goal is here. Is that an admirable goal? Enjoy the McCutchen throwback bobblehead giveaway nights, Pirates fans.
Additions: RHP Kyle Gibson, LHP Cole Irvin, 2B Adam Frazier, C James McCann, RHP Mychal Givens
Departures: RHP Jordan Lyles, 2B Rougned Odor
I understand the process here … but this feels like a missed opportunity. GM Mike Elias came from the Astros. The 2022 Orioles, who won 83 games, are similar to the 2015 Astros, a surprise wild-card team that year with 86 wins. Those Astros played the long game, however, not making significant additions from outside the organization until Verlander in 2017 and then Gerrit Cole prior to the 2018 season.
That’s the approach Elias is using with the Orioles. With Gunnar Henderson and Grayson Rodriguez joining Adley Rutschman, the young core should be dynamic — with others on the way. Still, this was probably the best free agent market that we’ll see over the next few years and the Orioles’ payroll is so low they could have afforded one of the free agent starters. Again, however: the Astros’ blueprint. At some point, the Orioles are probably more likely to use their farm system depth to trade for a starter (as with Verlander and Cole) rather than commit nine figures. It means the 2023 Orioles will probably take a small step back, as the Astros did in 2016.
Additions: DH J.D. Martinez, SS Miguel Rojas, RHP Noah Syndergaard, RHP J.P. Feyereisen, OF David Peralta, RHP Alex Reyes
Departures: SS Trea Turner, 3B Justin Turner, OF Cody Bellinger, LHP Tyler Anderson, LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Chris Martin, RHP Craig Kimbrel, RHP Tommy Kahnle, OF Joey Gallo, RHP Trevor Bauer
Take a deep breath, Dodgers fans: This is still a good baseball team that can win a World Series — just not one that will win 111 games again. The team is losing many key veterans and most of the replacements are going to be internal, guys like Miguel Vargas and James Outman and Michael Busch and Bobby Miller. I like the addition of Rojas, a topflight defender, to give them an option at shortstop. It was time to move on from Bellinger, and the DH swap of Justin Turner for Martinez is probably a minor plus — the sentimentality of losing a fan favorite like Turner notwithstanding
If you want to grumble about this offseason, it’s that the Dodgers initially seemed intent on getting below the luxury tax level to reset their tax rate but weren’t able to do that — they have to pay Bauer — and sit about $5 million over. Which means the Padres — the Padres! — will run a higher payroll than the Dodgers in 2023. In the end, they’re going to miss Trea Turner, and it’s fair to argue that if they were willing to run $285 million payrolls the past two seasons, they could have done it again, but the payroll is only about $244 after the recent signing of Peralta.
Additions: OF Mitch Haniger, OF Michael Conforto, RHP Ross Stripling, LHP Sean Manaea, LHP Taylor Rogers (OF Joc Pederson accepted qualifying offer)
Departures: LHP Carlos Rodon, 1B Brandon Belt, 3B Evan Longoria, LHP Jarlin Garcia
Let’s face it: This didn’t go exactly the way the Giants hoped. Having finally cleared out future payroll, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was in prime position to sign a face-of-the-franchise star and spend whatever necessary to do that. It didn’t happen. Judge didn’t go home to play for the team he rooted for as a kid. They signed Correa, only to back out of the deal. Meanwhile, Rodon signed with the Yankees. Oh, they made some moves in the end — a couple of outfielders, a couple of starting pitchers. The outfielders were both injured in 2022 (Conforto missed the entire season), and Stripling and Manaea have been inconsistent. Uniting the Rogers brothers is fun. The grade doesn’t mean the Giants will be bad, but they didn’t get Judge and they lost an ace.
Additions: RHP Michael Lorenzen, LHP Matthew Boyd, OF Matt Vierling, UT Nick Maton
Departures: LHP Gregory Soto, RHP Joe Jimenez, C Tucker Barnhart
Welcome to Rebuild II, Let’s Hope This One Goes Better. Buy your season tickets now! Man, what a miserable 2022 for the Tigers. The pitchers got hurt. The hot-shot rookies didn’t perform as expected. The big free agent had a .278 OBP. It was about as ugly a season as a team that viewed itself as a contender could have. Enter Scott Harris, new president of baseball operations. He comes over from the Giants, where he spent the past three seasons as their general manager, and he’s not trying to fake that the club is trying to win. He made a couple of minor trades and signed Lorenzen and Boyd to one-year contracts.
Really, the Tigers clearly won’t mind if they lose the most games in the majors and end up with the top pick in 2024. This is more of an incomplete than a bad grade. Vierling could be a sleeper, and maybe they flip Lorenzen and Boyd at the trade deadline for some High-A lottery tickets.
Additions: RHP Jordan Lyles, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, LHP Aroldis Chapman (re-signed RHP Zack Greinke)
Departures: OF Michael Taylor, SS Adalberto Mondesi, 1B Ryan O’Hearn
There’s a new general manager in J.J. Picollo, but this offseason merely resembled the unproductive ones under Dayton Moore in recent years (Picollo was his top lieutenant). Lyles, Yarbrough, Chapman and Greinke combined for a 4.21 ERA and 3.4 bWAR in 2022 — and Greinke was responsible for 2.6 of that WAR even though he averaged just 4.8 strikeouts per nine innings. For that group, they’ll be paying $23.75 million — more than the Mariners are paying Luis Castillo or the Phillies are paying Zack Wheeler. Look, the Royals are just treading water: Their hope is for Bobby Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino and MJ Melendez to turn into big stars and then figure out how to build around that trio.
Additions: 1B Dominic Smith, 3B Jeimer Candelario, RHP Trevor Williams
Departures: 1B Luke Voit, DH Nelson Cruz
A recent headline in the Washington Post read, “The Nationals’ sale remains a mess with no end in sight.” You could apply that to the Nationals’ prospective place in the standings in 2023 as well. The Nationals don’t care about winning in 2023 and, like the Tigers, aren’t trying to fake it. They do have some intriguing young players from last summer’s Juan Soto trade and the Scherzer/Trea Turner trade from the year before, plus the recent high draft picks, so it’s all about player development at the major and minor league levels. As for the additions to the big league roster: Meh. Candelario did have a 3.8-WAR season in 2021 and Smith raked in 2020, so there’s a small chance for bounce-backs there.
Additions: OF/1B Wil Myers, SS Kevin Newman, C Luke Maile, OF Nick Solak
Departures: 3B Mike Moustakas, SS Kyle Farmer, RHP Jeff Hoffman, LHP Mike Minor, IF Donovan Solano
Yeah, I’m with you: It’s no fun writing about teams that don’t want to spend any money. Now imagine being a Reds fans. Over the past decade, only the Marlins have a worse record.
For the second straight offseason, team president Phil Castellini (son of majority owner Bob Castellini) put a foot in his mouth. Last year, he angered fans by asking, “Where you gonna go?” after criticism of the team’s post-lockout trades. This January, during a luncheon for a fan organization known as the Rosie Reds, Castellini said the team operates like a nonprofit organization. Then he complained about guaranteed contracts and unveiled a slideshow claiming too many teams are out of contention on Opening Day.
That seems true for the 2023 Reds. It’s also true that the 2021 Reds won 83 games and were in a playoff position in late August until slumping in September. That team was then ripped apart. You know the Castellinis are counting down until the final day of 2023, which is when they can finally close out Joey Votto’s contract (no doubt exercising a $7 million buyout rather than pay Votto $20 million in 2024). The Reds would then have no guaranteed money on the books for 2024.
Additions: OF Andrew Benintendi, RHP Mike Clevinger
Departures: 1B Jose Abreu, RHP Johnny Cueto, OF AJ Pollock
Yeah, that’s not the most inspiring offseason. Benintendi does fill a void in left field and allows the White Sox to move Andrew Vaughn to first base, but that displaced team leader Abreu — seemingly the only position player on the roster who could ever stay healthy.
And that’s before we get to Clevinger, who now is under MLB investigation for allegedly violating the league’s domestic violence policy. On the field, Clevinger struggled last year coming off Tommy John surgery and has had just one full healthy season in his career.
The window is hardly closed on this group, but roster depth is a big concern and that wasn’t addressed. The White Sox are middle of the pack in payroll, but it’s a shame that 86-year-old owner Jerry Reinsdorf — who bought the team in 1981 for $19 million, or about what he’ll pay Yasmani Grandal this season — just won’t go the extra mile.
Additions: LHP Brent Suter, 3B Nolan Jones, RHP Jose Urena
Departures: RHP Alex Colome, OF Sam Hilliard, OF Connor Joe
Yawn. Here’s the thing: The Rockies’ payroll is actually sandwiched between the Cardinals and Mariners, but while those teams harbor World Series aspirations, what do the Rockies aspire to? Actually, they are trying to win; it’s just hard to tell. “We’re not going to tank. We never have, never will,” owner Dick Monfort recently told the Denver Post. He believes the team can finish over .500. He wants to win, but the Rockies remain predictable in their lack of action and creativity. Take a gamble on Bellinger. Roll the dice on Gallo or Conforto. Sign a bunch of relievers (wait, scratch that idea).