All of the deals, signings and news in this Major League Baseball offseason are essentially over (thank GOD). There have been a number of surprises you didn’t see coming, like N.L. MVP Ryan Braun testing positive for a banned substance; uncharacteristic silences from teams like the Yankees and Red Sox (aside from the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero swap with the Mariners and Yanks) and the blockbusters deals of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.
Let’s outline the three biggest winners and losers in this MLB offseason. Keep in mind that the teams listed are expected to be contenders or were contenders last season to be on this, explaining the absence of the likes of the lowly Astros.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Anytime you can sign the best pitcher available on the market, C.J. Wilson, and land the biggest offensive free agent in recent memory in Albert Pujols, your team definitely qualifies as the biggest winner of the offseason. Suddenly, Texas will be very challenged just to win the division, much less the pennant.
As carefree as they may have been with their spending, the new-look, new-stadium and new-identity Marlins landed shortstop Jose Reyes, and pitchers Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, all top free agents. They also signed other notable players like Carlos Zambrano. How players like Reyes and Zambrano gel with the existing Marlins core will go a long way to determining how far they go.
New York Yankees
Although they didn’t make a huge number of moves in the market, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Swapping a touted catching prospect in Montero to the Mariners for an equally touted pitching prospect in Pineda shores up one of their biggest weaknesses, the rotation. And if you ask me, getting rid of A.J. Burnett was one of the smartest moves they could’ve done to get rid of his aura of inconsistency.
This offseason was just an absolute disaster for the Brew Crew. Losing the possible face of the franchise in Fielder across Lake Michigan to Detroit and having the MVP Braun called into suspicion were two things that will never help a team. Although they snagged Aramis Ramirez, the team as a whole will hardly be able to replicate last year’s success.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants were unable to reach the postseason following their first championship in generations, but the agony didn’t end there. The Giants did virtually nothing to improve on the pitching side, and failed at signing aces Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain to new contracts. On the offensive side, they lost Carlos Beltran to the world champion Cardinals from what little offensive firepower they had. If it weren’t for the recovery of catcher Buster Posey, San Francisco would be in deep trouble.
An easy thing to do is to think of an N.L. team that had a more disappointing second half of the regular season than the Giants. The Braves, who held the wild-card lead firmly in their grasp at the start of September, lost control in a free-fall and completely missed the postseason all together. Worse – they have done very little to improve a team marked with a collapse on their track record.