Certainly during the regular season, MLB GMs are hard at work attempting to plug holes and address issues as they come up, but the offseason is when GMs really get an opportunity to work their magic. Some teams begin total rebuilding projects, others simply reload by throwing money at their problems.
A big thanks and salute one last time to MLBDepthCharts.com for their amazing work that made this entire series a million times easier to put together. I’ve gone back and forth in my head on exactly how I should rank the teams, based simply on the level of talent they acquired this offseason, or based on the probable impact of those moves. I’ll save the projections for a later date, and tonight simply look at the sum of talent infused into each team’s roster. There will be plenty of time to assess the impact. I’ll also be focusing on just Major League talent, I don’t want this article to start reading like a MiLB textbook or anything. If you’re on this list, you’re expected to play with the big boys all season.
It’s no surprise that the Halos come in at the top of this list, they did exactly what any team with a multi-billion dollar television contract would do, spend wildly. They wanted to use that money to bring back Zack Greinke, but when he bolted for the Los Angeles team that actually plays in Los Angeles, they had to spend that money on something. Josh Hamilton was the benefactor of that, when they failed to upgrade their starting staff they saw fit to just add more offense. Hamilton was probably the top free agent this offseason, and he’ll be paid like it. Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas, and Joe Blanton will not represent much of a difference from what they got out of Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, and Garrett Richards/Jerome Williams. They did well though to replenish what initially looked like a completely gutted rotation. The sheer quantity of quality Major Leaguers as well as Joe Blanton (mwahahaha) give them the top spot once again.
Needless to say there is quite a drop off after the Angels, no other team in the division has their resources and it shows. But the Athletics did a very admirable job addressing a couple needs, one that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. Chris Young is a dynamic outfielder with plus defensive skills and can hit for good power, adding a player of his caliber somewhat for depth purposes is pretty impressive. Hiro Nakajima is something of an unknown in the United States, but if his career in Japan is any indication he has a bright future. Chris Resop, Andy Parrino, and Andrew Werner are guys who may fill out the 25 man roster, but will not be in the most featured and prominent roles.
The Rangers did a bit of hole plugging this offseason, adding aging veterans in Pierzynski and Berkman on 1 year contracts after the departures of Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli (although Napoli’s contract still isn’t official with Boston). The two of them can still be quality players, but their best years are behind them. Pierzynski did have a big power year in 2012, but it remains to be seen if he can repeat that performance. The additions of Frasor and Soria especially will no doubt help the bullpen, and those two are what vaulted the Rangers into the number 3 spot on this list.
I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not exactly sure what the Mariners are trying to do. Signing a couple of past their prime outfielders and trading their most effective starter not named Felix Hernandez for a probably eternally hobbled Kendrys Morales is rather questionable for a team in their position. Based on pure talent, Ibanez has a flair for the dramatic as he showed with the New York Yankees in 2012, but his days as an everyday outfielder probably should be over, but they are apparently not. Jason Bay wishes he had stayed in Boston with the Red Sox, he was flat out awful in New York with the Mets and he’s just happy to have a job now, his ceiling is mediocrity. Kendrys Morales is the most talented of the bunch that they acquired, but I’m still not entirely sure why they did it. He’ll probably suffer slightly from playing in Seattle as opposed to Anaheim. Scott Cousins, well he’s still hated in San Francisco for the Buster Posey incident, but he’s okay in my book.
I promise I have nothing against the Astros, they simply are at the bottom of the barrel now. I like the Carlos Pena signing for them, someone who can help the team acclimate to the American League with his extensive experience in the AL. Beyond that, it’s a lot of filler players. But Philip Humber does have a perfect game on his resume and that’s nothing to take lightly. I am interested to see if Alex White can realize any of the potential that made him sought after as a prospect, he’ll get ample opportunities in Houston.
There isn’t much left to be done this offseason, so I doubt much will be missed between now and Spring Training in the transaction department (Unless Justin Upton has a sudden change of heart regarding Seattle). As the NFL playoffs rage on, we inch ever closer to baseball season. At that time the A’s will be able to prove just how they stack up against the new 5 team AL West.