Posted by Joe Lucia on Feb 25, 2014 17:15
For all intents and purposes, the 2013 MLB offseason is over. Sure, there are still three marquee free agents on the market, but Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales, or Ervin Santana probably won't change much in the way of grades. At the beginning of the month, I looked at the winners and losers of this winter, and there have actually been some changes since then - most notably, the Baltimore Orioles going from a loser to one of the teams that fared best this winter.
Anyway, here are the grades for each team and a brief explanation of why they earned the grade they received.
Tampa Bay Rays: A-. As the old phrase goes, "that's so Rays". And sure enough, the Rays had a tremendous winter once again. First and foremost, they did *not* trade ace David Price, refusing to sell low on their best asset. The club revamped their bullpen by signing closer Grant Balfour, acquiring The Heath Bell Experience, picking up Brad Boxberger in a trade, and bringing back a hopefully healthy Juan Carlos Oviedo. The Rays also added some pitching depth in former Nationals prospect Nate Karns (in exchange for third catcher Jose Lobaton and a pair of other prospects), and solidified their catching depth by re-signing Jose Molina and acquiring Ryan Hanigan in the Bell trade. Tampa Bay also re-signed David DeJesus and James Loney, while bringing in Logan Forsythe as part of the return from San Diego along with Boxberger. It's amazing what Tampa Bay does year after year on such a shoestring budget.
Texas Rangers: A-. During a winter where the AL West went crazy, the Rangers had to follow suit. They let Nelson Cruz walk, and replaced him with Shin-Soo Choo. Texas dealt long-time second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Tigers for Prince Fielder, upgrading their offense and allowing stud prospect Jurickson Profar to move into the lineup as well. The Rangers also bought low on a few players, bringing in Tommy Hanson, J.P. Arencibia, and Michael Choice to fill lesser roles on the team. Out of all of the AL West squads, the Rangers may have improved the most out of all of them, and are once again in a great position to contend.
Toronto Blue Jays: F. After last winter's blockbuster trade that went poof, the Blue Jays pretty much stood pat this winter. Their only major acquisition was Dioner Navarro, who will be replacing J.P. Arencibia behind the dish. Aside from that...it's a lot of the same stuff in Toronto. The Blue Jays didn't bother replacing the injury-prone Josh Johnson in the rotation, instead opting to roll with an endless parade of injury-prone starters past R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle. The Blue Jays are counting on health to improve on their 74 wins from last year, but considering how much work the other AL East teams put into improving their teams this winter, Toronto might be left in the dust.
Washington Nationals: A. We close with the Nationals, who took a preseason favorite team from 2013 and turned it into...an even better preseason favorite team. They replaced Dan Haren in the rotation with Doug Fister, a superior, cheaper pitcher. They return their entire starting offense from a year ago, though Anthony Rendon will be up and starting at second base for the entire year. They added three complimentary pieces at reasonable prices as well - Jose Lobaton, Nate McLouth, and Jerry Blevins. All Washington has to do is stay healthy, and they should coast to the playoffs.