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

Source: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images North America

Source: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images North America

American League Central

Detroit Tigers

Key Additions: RHP Jordan Zimmermann, IF Mike Aviles, LHP Justin Wilson, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Mark Lowe, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, C Jarrod Saltalamachia, OF Cameron Maybin

Key Departures: C Alex Avila, OF Rajai Davis, RHP Alfredo Simon

Grade: B+

With the trade deadline moves of David Price and Yoenis Cespedes, and the departure of Dave Dombrowski, it appeared the Tigers were finally headed toward the rebuilding period that many had foreseen. Just five months later, it appears that the Tigers are going down a different path entirely.

Not only did the Tigers sign two starting pitchers, including one of the better pitchers on the market in Jordan Zimmermann, but they have also done a lot to bolster their bullpen with the additions of Low, Wilson and Rodriguez. Add to that mix some veterans in the field who could make a significant impact, in Cameron Maybin and Jarrod Saltalamachia, and the Tigers may once again be able to compete in a mediocre AL Central in 2016. The Tigers saw their opportunity to pounce on a weak division while their window was closing, and they took it.

Minnesota Twins

Key Additions: 1B Byung Ho Park, C John Ryan Murphy

Key Departures: C Josmil Pinto, OF Aaron Hicks, LHP Neal Cotts, OF Torii Hunter, RHP Mike Pelfrey

One team in the AL Central that didn’t need any big moves this offseason is the Minnesota Twins. Coming off a season in which the team took another step forward, as more and more young players came into their own, the Twins window of contention is just starting to open.

The Twins lost a few minor parts this offseason, including OF Aaron Hicks, but also added a few pieces that clearly make the team better. In acquiring catcher John Ryan Murphy, the Twins got a clear upgrade at the catcher position for next year. Beyond that, the Twins also took a chance on Korean slugger Park, who could end up being a real steal given his contract. If both of these guys perform well, and the various prospects and young players continue their positive developments, the Twins could be a threatening team come the end of the year. The Twins still have their flaws, including their pitching staff, but they have quietly made some good moves this offseason.

Grade: B

Cleveland Indians

Key Additions: LHP Joe Thatcher, LHP Tom Gorzelanny, OF Rajai Davis, OF Colin Cowgill, 1B Mike Napoli

Key Departures: OF Ryan Raburn, IF Mike Alives

Grade: B-

Next on the list is the Cleveland Indians. The Indians had a strong young pitching staff and talented position players, but still found themselves on the outside looking in come October. The Indians had huge issues with defense and their bullpen last year, two issues that they have focused on addressing.

With the signings of Joe Thatcher and Tom Gorzelanny, the Indians have solidified their bullpen. Both Rajai Davis and Colin Cowgill give the team added depth in the outfield, and Mike Napoli good provide a decent middle of the order bat. None of the Indians moves have been flashy, and they still have some big concerns, but at this point it is so far so good on the Indians offseason.

Chicago White Sox

Key Additions: 3B Todd Frazier, C Dioner Navarro, C Alex Avila, IF Brett Lawrie

Key Departures: C Tyler Flowers, SS Alexei Ramirez, RHP Jeff Samardzija, 3B Gordon Beckham

Grade: C+

Similarly to the Detroit Tigers, the Chicago White Sox seem to be going all in while their window for contention is still open. The White Sox were just all around bad last year, needing upgrades at nearly every position around the diamond. While Tyler Flowers is a tough loss, the Sox added both Dioner Navarro and Alex Avila, who should both provide more consistency in a platoon set up. The real big additions for the White Sox were the moves to bring in Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie.

While there are plenty of question marks about Lawrie, Frazier is a clear upgrade over the White Sox third baseman carousel of recent years. The White Sox struggled immensely on offense last year, but have added three impact bats that should have a significant impact in 2016. With that being said, while these moves make sense, it is still hard to look at the White Sox as currently constituted, as a playoff team. The pitching is there, the offense has improved, but the defense is still atrocious and there is too much inconsistency around the diamond.

Kansas City Royals

Key Additions: RHP Dillon Gee, RHP Joakim Soria

Key Departures: OF Alex Gordon, IF Ben Zobrist, RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP Ryan Madson

Grade: D+

It is hard to feel bad about being a World Series Champion, but the Royals may be close. Despite being the reigning champs, the Royals stand to lose three of the most important cogs of that machine. Scratch that, they have already lost two of those cogs for certain, with the other one an increasing uncertainty.

No one doubts that Alex Gordon loves playing in Kansas City. However, the Royals are just unable to pay him the money that other teams are willing to. The Royals are a proud small market franchise that must not jeopardize it’s long term financial and baseball future for some present success or good feelings. The Royals have made a few additions, further strengthening an already elite bullpen, but these moves may not be enough.

Projections have not liked the Royals in either the last two years, and this year is no different. That obviously worked out well for the Royals, with back to back World Series appearances, however this year feels different. This team may just not be good enough to defend that crown.

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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