With Bryce Harper finally signing and Spring Training in full swing, the wild MLB Offseason has wrapped up, and these teams are left better (or worse) heading into 2019
Winners: Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Patrick Corbin
Three young players that are all still in their primes signed big contracts this offseason. Corbin started the signing frenzy when he joined Washington for $140 million on six years. The contract is that of an ace starting pitcher, and much more than Corbin could’ve expected going in to free agency. Machado waited for his best offer, and then made headlines when he signed with the Padres for 10 years and a cool $300 million, but Harper one-upped both when he signed to Washington this week on a 13-year, $330 million deal, the biggest in the history of the league. Teams spared no expenses this offseason on stars, and have set the bargaining blueprint for up-and-coming free agents for years to come.
Loser: Yasmani Grandal
The Dodgers fan in me can’t help but smile about this one. Grandal trapped himself in his own head this offseason and ultimately misread his market. After turning down multiple-year deals (expecting that he’d get something better) from solid teams; including a reported 4-year/$60 million offer from the Mets, Grandal had to settle for a one-year deal in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is a good landing spot for Grandal, but a catcher that posted 24 home runs and a .815 OPS in 2018 should have gotten a better deal.
Winner: The St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals didn’t have the most attention-grabbing or explosive offseason, but they might have had the most consistent. They started by releasing first baseman Matt Adams and acquiring perennial MVP contender Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks. From there, they locked up relievers Chasen Shreve and Dominic Leone on long-term deals to stay with the team, and added Andrew Miller to further bolster the ‘pen. The last thing they did was re-sign Michael Wacha and Marcell Ozuna, avoiding arbitration and keeping core parts of their roster together.
Loser: The New York Yankees
The Yankees are not losers for a bad roster, coach, or management; but instead lost the offseason because of their lack of a big signing. They opened as heavy favorites to land Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper, and ended up with neither. When you’re a team that banks heavily on landing superstar players in their prime with big money, it’s disappointing when you don’t do it in a year with top-tier free agents.
Winner: The Philadelphia Phillies
The 2018 season fast-forwarded a rebuild in Philadelphia that was sure to take multiple years, and resulted in the team going 80-82 – much better than anyone expected. Add J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, and David Robertson; now you’ve got a pretty good team. Oh, and they won the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. For a team that was rebuilding a short year ago, Philadelphia took huge steps forward – their outfield is filled with talent, and their lineup has big bats throughout the order. The Phillies are the ultimate winners of the offseason, as they spared no expense in pushing their team from the brink of contention to a playoff-worthy roster.
Loser: The Arizona Diamondbacks
The biggest loser trophy goes to Arizona. The team had one of its better seasons in recent history, but flared out in September, losing the NL West lead and not even settling for a wild card spot. The woes continued into the offseason for Arizona, as they lost stud pitcher Patrick Corbin to the Nationals in free agency. From there, the D-Backs traded away Paul Goldschmidt for prospects, and lost centerfielder A.J. Pollock to their division rivals in Los Angeles. Not only did the Diamondbacks lose their three best players, but they lost them to teams all in the National League in exchange for a couple of decent prospects – not the best way to kick off the 2019 season.