With the 2019 Major League Baseball regular season coming to a close, it’s evident which signings from last offseason have and haven’t panned out well. Here are the five best and worst signings of the MLB offseason. Midseason signings such as Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel don’t count.
The Five Best Signings of the Offseason:
Honorable Mentions: Charlie Morton, Patrick Corbin, Hunter Pence
5) Josh Donaldson – One-Year, $23 Million Deal With the Atlanta Braves
The Braves signing Donaldson was viewed as one of the more puzzling moves of the MLB offseason. While them wanting an infielder made sense, paying $23 million a season for a veteran coming off an injury-riddled season was odd. Well, Donaldson utterly dismissed the critics. Hitting .262, sporting a .917 OPS, and totaling 37 home runs and 88 RBIs, he has been an integral source of offense in the cleanup hole for the Braves this season. Meanwhile, he has been his Gold Glove-self at the hot corner. The Donaldson of old has made a return.
4) Nelson Cruz – Two-Year, $26 Million Deal With the Minnesota Twins
The Twins made a lot of savvy free-agent signings last offseason, none bigger than Cruz. The big right-handed hitter has been one of the most productive players in baseball since 2014, and he has continued the heroics this season. Hitting .298, sporting a .996 OPS, and totaling 37 home runs and 97 RBIs, he has been an intimidating force in the batter’s box. While the Twins have an array of big-impact bats, Cruz has been their most dangerous hitter and irreplaceable source of offense. All this production for just $14 million.
3) Wade Miley – One-Year, $4.5 Million Deal With the Houston Astros
With Lance McCullers suffering an elbow injury and Keuchel hitting free agency, the Astros were in the market for a starting pitcher last offseason. They chose to take a flier on Miley, and it became the best free-agent starting pitching signing of the offseason. The left-hander has put together one of the best seasons of his big-league career, pitching with efficiency for the bulk of the season and recording a 3.71 ERA in the 31 starts he has made. Miley’s success and reliability rounds out what’s going to be one of the best rotations in the 2019 postseason.
2) Michael Brantley – Two-Year, $32 Million Deal With the Houston Astros
Brantley entered the offseason as one of the best free agents on the open market and signed with the Astros on a team-friendly contract. Then he put the finishing touches on being one of the best signings of the offseason by producing at a Most Valuable Player Award-caliber level. Hitting .321, sporting an .896 OPS, and totaling 21 home runs, 86 RBIs, and 175 hits, Brantley has been one of the best hitters in baseball this season. The veteran outfielder made an already great Astros lineup formidable and put himself in the top-tier echelon of outfielders.
1) DJ LeMahieu – Two-Year, $24 Million Deal With the New York Yankees
The Yankees originally signed LeMahieu to be a utilityplayer, but when injuries drowned their depth chart, manager Aaron Boone was forced to play the 2016 batting champion every day; he answered the call. LeMahieu has been as difficult as any player in the sport to strikeout, as he has been able to smack pitches to all fields and hit for power. Hitting .328, sporting an .891 OPS, and totaling a career-high 24 home runs and 93 RBIs, he has made himself a surefire finalist for the American League MVP with his offense alone. Meanwhile, he has played at a high level at first, second, and third base.
The Five Worst Signings of the Offseason:
Honorable Mentions: Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, Kelvin Herrera
5) Matt Harvey – One-Year, $11 Million Deal with the Los Angeles Angels
Harvey’s career caught a virus in the 2016 offseason, and he hasn’t been able to turn a corner since. Nevertheless, the Angels gave him another chance — an expensive one, for that matter. But Harvey couldn’t get back on track. He struggled with his command, was hit hard, and, more often that not, was removed from the hill midway through games. Recording a 7.09 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 12 outings, he was an unreliable force, and the Angels designated him for assignment in early-July to get a look at other pitchers in their organization.
4) David Robertson – Two-Year, $23 Million Deal With the Philadelphia Phillies
Robertson was the Phillies’ most under-the-radar move in a robust offseason. He was previously a reliable backend reliever who found success in multiple situations and could escape trouble, and the Phillies felt he could improve their bullpen. Unfortunately for the Philly faithful, he struggled mightily. Recording a 5.40 ERA and 2.10 WHIP over his first seven appearances, he was having difficulty pitching to his strengths. He was later shut down for the season with an elbow injury in late-April.
3) Jed Lowrie – Two-Year, $20 Million Deal with the New York Mets
The good news for the Mets is that Lowrie has been on their 40-man roster the last week. The bad news is that he missed the five months beforehand due to recurring injuries. Coming off a season where he totaled a career-high 99 RBIs and was a steady force at the plate, the Mets felt Lowrie could be a versatile player in their infield. In his prolonged absence the Mets watched Jeff McNeil blossom into a star and Amed Rosario improve his offense. Perhaps he could be their starting third baseman next season, but Lowrie’s extensive injury and the uncertainty of what he’ll do in a full-time role at 35 is a bit unsettling.
2) Jeurys Familia – Three-Year, $30 Mllion Deal with the New York Mets
The Mets thought they were going to have a stout bullpen, adding the likes of Familia, Edwin Diaz, and Justin Wilson in the offseason. Then the regular season began. Familia has been one of many Mets relievers to struggle in a dramatic, up-and-down season. Sporting a 6.09 ERA and 1.79 WHIP, he has endured the worst season, from a production standpoint, of his big-league career. He has been hit hard, surrendered a career-high six home runs, and been unable to get into a groove. The Mets are tasked with righting the veteran reliever in the offseason.
1) J.A. Happ – Two-Year, $34 Million Deal with the New York Yankees
The Yankees opted to trade for James Paxton and re-sign J.A. Happ and C.C. Sabathia to address their starting rotation last offseason. Most of those moves haven’t panned out the way the Yankees intended, Happ in particular. The left-hander is having arguably the worst season of his MLB career, sporting a 5.07 ERA and 1.33 WHIP and surrendering a career-high 33 home runs. He has struggled to put away hitters, keep the ball on the ground, and garner consistency. It’s possible that Happ’s struggles lead the Yankees towards keeping him off their postseason roster.