Grading Each Team’s Offseason (So Far): American League

Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America

Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America

American League East

Boston Red Sox

Key Additions: LHP David Price, RHP Craig Kimbrel, RHP Carson Smith, OF Chris Young

Key Departures: LHP Rich Hill, LHP Wade Miley, OF Manuel Margot

Grade: A-

Following another abysmal season in Boston, the Red Sox owner decided that enough was enough, hiring new President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowski has only been in town a few months, but he has already put his stamp on this team. The Red Sox front office knew going into the offseason where the weaknesses were. The team needed a front of the line pitcher as well as more bullpen depth. Before the Winter Meetings even got under way, Dombrowski and company had already checked off both boxes.

First, the team dipped into their deep prospect pool, trading away a collection of four talents, all positionally blocked at the major league level, for one of the most dominant closers in all of baseball in right hander Craig Kimbrel. Solidify the bullpen? Check. They then followed by signing pitcher David Price to the biggest average annual value contract of all time to solidify the top of the rotation. Solidify the rotation? Check. The Red Sox also added another reliever, Carson Smith, who figures to also work in some high leverage situations.

With a few smart moves, the Red Sox addressed all their needs, and may have put themselves in position as favorites in the American League East, just one year removed from another last place finish.

Toronto Blue Jays

Key Additions: RHP Jesse Chavez, LHP J.A. Happ

Key Departures: RHP Liam Hendricks, LHP David Price, LHP Mark Buerhle, C Dioner Navarro, RHP Mark Lowe

Grade: C+

While their division rival Red Sox were wheeling and dealing, the Blue Jays made some moves of their own, with some questionable decisions along the way. After finishing atop the American League East for the first time in quite awhile, the Jays knew they weren’t going to be able to stay complacent this offseason. The Jays knew they would be losing David Price, and did not make any substantial effort to keep him in Toronto for the foreseeable future. The Jays then watched as Price signed with the Red Sox on the largest contract in MLB history in terms of average annual value.

In losing price, the Blue Jays lost an ace. However, it may be time to place Marcus Stroman in that role, and it appears that is what the Blue Jays are now doing. So far the only moves the Jays have made are the signing of J.A. Happ and the acquisition of Jesse Chavez via trade. Neither move is very inspiring, and the Jays look to have both a worse starting rotation and bullpen than last year given their losses, but the team still has the offensive juggernaut that they did last year. The Jays may have been passed by the Red Sox as AL East favorites, but the Jays will still give them a real run for their money in 2016, David Price or not.

New York Yankees

Key Additions: IF Starlin Castro, OF Aaron Hicks

Key Departures: LHP Justin Wilson, IF Brendan Ryan, RHP Adam Warren, IF Jose Pirela, C John Ryan Murphy, OF Chris Young

Grade: C

While the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox got off to a quick start this offseason, the New York Yankees were still reeling from their Wild Card loss last season. Despite their massive payroll, the Yankees were soundly beaten by a team with a payroll that was a third the size.

Going into this offseason, the Yankees knew their were upgrades that needed to be made. To this point, they haven’t really made them. Sure, they’ve added outfielder Aaron Hicks and infielder Starlin Castro, getting younger in the process, but does that really make the Yankees “better.” Perhaps incrementally, but the team that has always spent it’s way to the top seems overly wary to spend at all.

As of now, the Yankees have watched the Red Sox get better and the Jays get slightly worse. Either way, the Yankees find themselves as likely the third best team in the division, with an ever aging roster.

Tampa Bay Rays

Key Additions: C Hank Conger, IF Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison, RHP Danny Farquhar

Key Departures: RHP Nate Karns, IF Asdrubal Cabrera, OF Boog Powell, DH/1B John Jaso

Grade: C

Along with the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays hung around .500 all year last season, while the Yankees and Blue Jays fought for the division crown. Coming off yet another boringly average season, the Rays were one of the teams involved in the first big trade of the offseason.The Rays traded from their pitching depth, acquiring a new shortstop, with the departure of Asdrubal Cabrera via free agency, and also acquired a first baseman who comes cheaper than current iteration James Loney.

The Rays have followed that initial move with a whole lot of nothing, and currently sit only slightly, if at all, better than they were last year. The Rays do have further pitching depth, and seem willing to trade from it, with several areas of need around the diamond. If the Rays move no further, they will once again be a third or fourth place team in an improving division for 2016.

Baltimore Orioles

Key Additions: 1B/OF Mark Trumbo, OF L.J. Hoes, OF Hyun-Soo Kim

Key Departures: C Steve Clevenger, LHP Wei-Yin Chen, 1B Chris Davis?

Grade: D+

The team that perhaps has done the worst by far in the AL East this offseason is the Baltimore Orioles. After a pedestrian 2015 season, in which they finished at exactly .500, the Orioles have so far lost a greater deal of talent than they have gained. Chen seems to already be gone, leaving a glaring hole in an already weak rotation. Chris Davis is stuck in some sort of limbo with one foot in the door and one foot out the door, making his decision ever more important to the Orioles 2016 season.

The Orioles did acquire a couple of minor parts, such as Mark Trumbo (a clear downgrade at first base), as well as Korean outfielder Kim, who is a very high risk potentially high reward type of player. After finishing at .500 last year, as the roster is currently constituted, the Orioles look to be at least five wins worse than that. The Orioles offseason hasn’t been a disaster so far, and there’s still some time to make some moves, but at this point it isn’t looking to good going forward.

7 Responses

  1. concernedcitizen20099

    AL Central is not weak.

    It has produced the WS Champion, the AL Champion many years over the past decade.
    AL Central has may rising teams in the Twins, White Sox, Indians
    with perennial contenders in the Tigers and Royals.
    Writer does not do his homework.

    And, the Writer ranks the Astros offseason as a B+
    after they lose 8 key players and gain only a closer?

    Weak aticle and analysis…

    Reply
    • danumd87

      The AL central is definitely mediocre at present. The Royals are perennial contenders while the tigers have the look of a good team which still is too old and has far too many holes to truly be competitive. The Twins are ok and on the rise but not ready to compete for anything yet. Meanwhile the Indians and white sox are both quite bad. When compared to the extremely strong AL East and a far more competitive AL West, calling the league’s worst division ‘mediocre’ is quite fair. Fortunately there is a good deal of balance in the game at present so being the worst division is no longer akin to those years of the 79 win playoff Pads, etc.

      The author wasn’twrong here

      Reply
      • danumd87

        I’m sorry but which division is the central better than?

      • J J

        Joke! The Indians have the best young rotation in the American League. If Napoli can hit lefties like he has shown and Brantley gets healthy by May they are among the elite! Very strong up the middle and as good as there is 1-3 starters in the AL.

      • danumd87

        If we only talk about teams strengths,we can make anybody look great. Reality check time. The Indians have holes everywhere. Yes, the strong core of young starters is a great backbone and makes their problems easier to solve in the near future. But they’re still lacking in difference making talent at most positions. They’re upside is at best among the group chasing the second wild card. They are not remotely close to elite.

      • JJ

        Quality starting rotation, strong up the middle, established closer and proven manager that know how to handle the pen will put any team into divisional contention. No one division is dominant any longer in either league and Winter moves guarantee nothing.

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