Friday, February 10, 2017

MLB Off-Season Winners and Losers

Major League Baseball Spring Training is right around the corner, which means we are only 2 months away from meaningful baseball games. And while every team has a chance at this point in the season, some have done a better job than others in building their teams up this off-season. Today, we'll take a look at which teams helped themselves the most, and which teams made some mistakes they could have avoided.

Best Move for 2017: The Boston Red Sox acquire starting pitcher Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox for a prospect package headlined by second baseman Yoan Moncada.

The White Sox decided to start a rebuilding phase, and they wisely realized the quickest way to rebuild their farm system was to trade their best asset at the peak of his value. Sale has long been one of the league's best pitchers, but his talent was being wasted on a sub .500 White Sox team that didn't have a lot of hope for the future.

The Red Sox parted with Moncada, top pitching prospect Michael Kopech and two other solid prospects to land Sale, and they now have a very intimidating top 3 in their starting rotation. Sale makes Boston the AL favorites at this point.

Best Move for the Future: The Chicago White Sox land a massive haul headlined by SP Lucas Giolito from the Washington Nationals in exchange for outfielder Adam Eaton.

Adam Eaton is among the most underrated players in baseball, as he plays excellent defense and is also an above average hitter and base runner. He's also on an extremely team-friendly contract for the next few seasons, which made his value even higher.

While the Nationals certainly gave up a large haul of talent, they reportedly weren't as high on Giolito as others around the league. The team also seems to have endless resources when it comes to spending, so losing a few top minor league prospects isn't as difficult for them to swallow when they can just go out and sign a Max Scherzer when they desire.

Worst Move for 2017: The Colorado Rockies sign Ian Desmond to a 5 year, $70 million contract... and plan to move him to first base.

It's been mentioned ad-nauseam since the Rockies and Desmond agreed to terms, but signing a shortstop/center fielder to play first base makes no sense. Desmond is generally an average hitter (.743 career OPS) compared to the whole league, but he's a very good hitter when compared with center fielders and shortstops. With free agents like Pedro Alvarez (.759 career OPS) and Chris Carter (.777) still lingering on the open market, capable of playing first base and unlikely to command huge dollars, it makes the signing very questionable.

Desmond will likely be moved around the infield and the outfield this season as the Rockies see fit, which does give him more value. However, wasting his defensive ability by playing him at first base, a position which has better free agent hitters still available, is a terrible use of assets. They undoubtedly think they're being creative and thinking outside the box, but this decision was foolish and will only look worse over the next few years.

Worst Move for the Future: The Minnesota Twins fail to trade Brian Dozier to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jose De Leon and a lesser prospect, instead watching the Tampa Bay Rays trade Logan Forsythe for the major-league ready pitching prospect.

Dozier's second half last year was one of the best half seasons in the last decade, and there's no reason to think it's a sign of things to come. He's unlikely to be nearly as good as he was over the final few months last season. While Dozier is a very good player even if he returns to his career norms, his trade value is unlikely to be any higher than it was this off-season. While De Leon on his own isn't worth Dozier, the Dodgers clearly would have been willing to add something if they ultimately gave up De Leon for the inferior Forsythe. The Twins will regret not having De Leon in a few seasons.

Best Under the Radar Move: The Kansas City Royals sign starting pitcher Jason Hammel for 2 seasons at a bargain rate.

After pitching fairly well for the World Champion Chicago Cubs all season, Hammel found himself as the odd man out when the pitching staff was shortened in October. Once the Cubs failed to pick up his very reasonable $12 million option, teams seemed to be scared off.

Hammel may not be quite as effective as last season as he moves to the American League, but he should still be a solid mid-rotation starter and he's going to make just $5 million this coming season. At the very least, the Royals are likely to have a decent trade chip if they aren't contending this season.

World Series Prediction: Boston Red Sox over Chicago Cubs in 6 games.

Because sometimes things are too obvious not to happen.



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