Which MLB Team Made The Biggest Splash This Offseason?
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Slam Diego made a run for the ages last season and are loaded with young talent. The Wild West lived up to its name when the Friars made the first splash by trading for ace pitchers Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. Add in 25-year-old shortstop Ha-seong Kim of Korea and the NL West is going to be a very exciting division to watch. Just when you thought the Padres were done for 2021, the team announced a massive extension for Fernando Tatis Jr. to the tune of 14 years and $340 million. This team is going to be exciting for years to come!
"Anything you can do, we can do better" said the LA Dodgers. The World Series
champions cemented their position as the favorites to repeat in 2021 with the addition of the top free agent on the market, Cy Young award winner Trevor Bauer. Bauer immediately joins a top three rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. In addition to Bauer, third baseman Justin Turner is also returning Los Angeles for two more seasons in a deal worth $34 million and a third-year club option. Turner, was the last piece of the puzzle for a Dodgers' club that is absolutely LOADED.
New owner Steve Cohen came in with a win-or-die mentality and the notion that no player was off limits. Mets fans may be disappointed they didn't land Bauer, but in no way did they strikeout this offseason. First they picked up catcher James McCann, then landed both Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland who they acquired via trade. Lindor, a 4-time All-Star, boasts a career .285 batting average with 138 home runs and 411 RBI's.
We noted that the Yankees top priority this offseason should be to re-sign DJ LeMahieu and that's exactly what the front office did. In 2019, he signed a two-year $24 million deal with the Bronx bombers and he’s been worth every penny, winning the Silver Slugger Award in both seasons, and the AL batting title in 2020.
While the LeMahieu move was a major victory for the team, losing starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka weakened the rotation. Tanaka returned to Japan to play for the Rakuten Golden Eagles on a two-year deal worth $17.2 million after spending seven seasons with the Yankees. A two-time All-Star, he went 78-46 with a 3.74 ERA in his time in the Bronx. The team also added starters Cory Kluber and Jameson Taillon for some much needed depth behind ace Gerrit Cole.
While the Yankees added pitching in the offseason, it was AL East foe Toronto who made an offensive splash. The Jays were ousted in the Wild Card round and have a young nucleus of talent. To bolster the offense, they added one of the hottest free agents in Astros' centerfielder George Springer to a six-year $150 million deal. Springer, the 2017 World Series MVP, who hit 39 home runs and 96 RBI's in 2019. In addition, they acquired shortstop Marcus Semien, who finished third in AL MVP voting in 2019, and was one of three finalists for a Gold Glove that same year.
Down in the ATL, the Braves were one series away from making it to the World Series as they fell
short to the Dodgers in a battle of two of the best offensive teams in baseball. Freddie Freeman hit 13 home runs and racked up 53 RBI, but it was crucial to lock down Marcell Ozuna to form a formidable 1-2 punch in the middle of the order. Ozuna inked a four-year, $64 million deal, after nearly accounting for a National League Triple Crown in a shortened 2020 season.
The Phillies finished second to last in the NL East and speculation circled around the future of catcher J.T. Realmuto who was set to begin his third season in Philadelphia. Good news for Phils' fans. On January 29, the team signed Realmuto to a five-year, $115.5 million contract, the largest ever for a catcher.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals remained relatively quiet for the majority of January. As the month came to a close they brought back Adam Wainwright and re-signed catching stalwart Yadier Molina. Then boom came the explosive addition of Nolan Arenado from the Rockies. The 5x All-Star, 8x Gold Glove Award winner, and 4x Silver Slugger award winner, provides an impact bat in the middle of the lineup and stellar defense in the field.
Tampa Bay Rays
Last year's top contenders added what they believed were missing pieces in the offseason, while the AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays took a different approach. The Rays who are accustomed to dealing players at their peaks, sent Snell to the Padres and playoff veteran Charlie Morton to the Braves. Chris Archer and the Rays reunited on a one-year deal worth $6.5 million and the club also recently acquired pitchers Rich Hill and Colin McHugh. While the rotation will look different, don't count out Tampa Bay who always finds a way to stay in the playoff hunt.
If you didn't see your team on the list time is running out, but there are still free agents like Justin Turner, James Paxton, Jackie Bradley Jr. (pictured above), and Jake Odorizzi still available.
Pitchers and catchers return for Spring Training next week beginning on Wednesday, February 17th while full squad workouts are set to begin on the 22nd.
There will be no extended playoffs this year, but a full slate of 162 games is still on tap. So grab your favorite Dugout Mug
and raise a barrel.
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