Getty ImagesAndrew Friedman (Dodgers) and Theo Epstein (Cubs) were busy during the winter meetings.
With the (transaction-filled) winter meetings complete, it's time to check in on how teams have done so far this offseason. Below, each team received a letter grade, with explanation. There's plenty of action left to happen, of course, but with the number of moves already made, it's time for a "mid-offseason" progress report. AL East Baltimore Orioles -- Grade: D
The Orioles have made no signings or trades this offseason. They weren't willing to go four years on Nelson Cruz
and were concerned enough about Nick Markakis
' neck situation that they let both players go via free agency. The Orioles have been working hard to replace at least one of them -- they have been in contact with the Phillies on Marlon Byrd
and with free agent Michael Morse
-- but so far have fallen short. For a team that was just in the ALCS, it has been a disappointing offseason.
Boston Red Sox -- Grade: B
The Red Sox flubbed the Jon Lester
situation, losing him to the Cubs. However, they have solved third base with one of the game's best postseason performers inPablo Sandoval
and added an impact middle-of-the-order bat in Hanley Ramirez
.They are committed to improving their starting rotation, and the additions ofWade Miley
and Rick Porcello
will help, especially because both are proven 180- to 200-inning workhorses. They still need an ace, though, and it will be interesting to see if they can land a Cole Hamels
, Jordan Zimmermann
or Johnny Cueto
New York Yankees -- Grade: C+
The Yankees are having a solid yet under-the-radar offseason. They acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius
, an above-average defensive shortstop with good range to both sides. They also added an impact left-handed setup reliever in Andrew Miller
and another left-handed power bullpen arm in Justin Wilson
from the Pirates. They are still in the hunt for third baseman Chase Headley
, but the only way they get an A now is if they land Max Scherzer
Tampa Bay Rays -- Grade: D
The Rays lost general manager Andrew Friedman to the Dodgers and manager Joe Maddon to the Cubs and have reduced payroll by dealing veteran arbitration-eligible players. However, they've yet to improve their offense or reload the bullpen, making this a very disappointing offseason for a team that arguably still has the division's best starting rotation.
Toronto Blue Jays -- Grade: B
The Blue Jays have been extremely active, including the acquisition of one of the game's best third basemen, Josh Donaldson
, in a blockbuster trade with the A's, and the signing of the game's best free-agent catcher in Russell Martin
. They also think they've solved second base long term with their acquisition of prospect Devon Travis from the Tigers. The Jays made what I consider two questionable trades, giving upAdam Lind
and J.A. Happ
in separate deals that netted them Marco Estrada
and Michael Saunders
. They still have some work to do in the bullpen and need another proven bat to become a serious contender in 2015.
AL Central Chicago White Sox -- Grade: A
The White Sox have been huge winners this offseason, checking the box for almost every targeted need, including a right-handed starter, a closer, a lefty specialist and a middle-of-the order impact bat. Their biggest trade was with the Athletics, netting right-handed starter Jeff Samardzija
. They signed the best closer on the free-agent market, David Robertson
, brought in a good lefty specialist in Zach Duke
and signed slugger Adam LaRoche
to give them another 25-homer, 90-RBI bat and an upgrade defensively at first base.
Cleveland Indians -- Grade: B-
The Indians have built a young, affordable team, and they added a key piece when they traded for lefty slugger Brandon Moss
. That said, the Indians still need to add a veteran starter and a bullpen arm.
Detroit Tigers -- Grade: B
The Tigers have had a solid offseason, which started with the re-signing of DHVictor Martinez
and the trade for fleet center fielder Anthony Gose
. Then came two key under-the-radar additions when they added starters Shane Greene
, two pitchers without great track records but encouraging 2014 seasons. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes
, whom they acquired from the Red Sox, lengthens their lineup with power and five tools. Despite the denials, most believe Max Scherzer
will eventually return to the Tigers; if that's the case, their grade would improve to an A.
Kansas City Royals -- Grade: D
The Royals made the World Series for the first time in 29 years, and instead of adding to the roster and trying to win it next year, they've spent the offseason saying goodbye to top-of-rotation starter/leader James Shields
and DH Billy Butler
. They did bring back Jason Frasor
and took a flyer on DH Kendrys Morales
in an ill-advised move after a dismal 2014 season. Their trade of Aaron Crow
to the Marlins was based on a poor September, a deal they could regret in time.
Minnesota Twins -- Grade B-
The Twins brought back Torii Hunter
to finish his career as a Twin and be a positive influence on the team's top prospects. They also signed veteran free-agent starter Ervin Santana
, with hopes that he'll pitch more like Phil Hughes
in 2015 than Ricky Nolasco
, the two free-agent pitchers they signed last year. They've improved the team, though this is still a last-place club.
AL West Houston Astros -- Grade: B-
The Astros' goal this offseason was to improve their bullpen, and owner Jim Crane opened up his checkbook and brought in two solid setup relievers in side-armerPat Neshek
and Luke Gregerson
, who has a nasty slider. Even if the Astros don't contend this year, both of these pitchers will not only help them win more games, but also give them trade weapons for the July trade deadline if they decide to deal for more prospects. The Astros also picked up catching depth when they acquired Hank Conger
from the Angels. He'll get a chance to compete with Jason Castro
for playing time next spring.
Los Angeles Angels -- Grade: B-
The Angels' major league team took a step backward during the winter meetings when they dealt scrappy, clutch second baseman Howie Kendrick
to the Dodgers. However, they also picked up a former first-round pick in Andrew Heaney
, who the Angels will control for the next six years (Kendrick will be a free agent after this season). He has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter in time. The Angels added more starting pitching depth when they acquired Nick Tropeano
from the Astros.
Oakland Athletics -- Grade: D
A lot has happened in Oakland even since the end of the season, with Jon Lester, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Jeff Samardzija all leaving via free agency or trade. The A's concentrated on quantity over quality in their deals, and only time will tell how they did. Most opposing executives I talked to were not impressed with their trades. The A's also signed DH Billy Butler, which seemed to contradict everything else they did, unless their plan is to trade him in July for more prospects. On paper, it looks like the A's took a contender and made it a team that is now closer to last place than first. Of course, with GM Billy Beane's track record, we should give him the benefit of the doubt and let this play out.
Seattle Mariners -- Grade: B+
The Mariners have had a strong offseason with the highlight being the signing of OF/DH Nelson Cruz, which gives them the right-handed power hitter they so desperately needed to put between Robinson Cano
and Kyle Seager
in the middle of their lineup. They also did a good job of adding a back-of-a-rotation starter inJ.A. Happ
, who had a respectable 3.56 ERA after the All-Star break after adjusting his arm angle. They also tied up Seager, one of their best young players, to a seven-year deal. One more big hitter and they'll be the favorites to win the AL West, if they're not already.
Texas Rangers -- Grade: D+
The Rangers have been very quiet this offseason, as they're hoping that good health will be enough to make them contenders again in 2015; Prince Fielder
, Yu Darvish
and Shin-Soo Choo
are all hoping to be comeback candidates next year. They did make a solid under-the-radar trade when they picked up left-handed starter Ross Detwiler
from the Nationals.
NL East Atlanta Braves -- Grade: B
The Braves have new leadership in John Hart, and he is bringing high energy, strong leadership and a concise plan to build the Braves to be ready to win when they get to their new stadium in 2017. He made the uncomfortable decision to trade Jason Heyward
to the Cardinals, but getting four years of control of starterShelby Miller
for only one of Heyward made sense, especially since they didn't feel they could re-sign him. They replaced Heyward with Nick Markakis, which could prove to be a solid signing if Markakis' neck injury doesn't bother him. Most executives think either Justin Upton
or Evan Gattis
will be traded next, and there are several clubs trying to find ways to trade for them.
Miami Marlins -- Grade: A
The Marlins are having an impressive offseason, which started with the unprecedented 13-year extension of Giancarlo Stanton
and was followed by a flurry of trades. They landed a long-term solution at second base in Dee Gordon
and two veteran starters in Mat Latos
and Dan Haren
. And the Marlins aren't done; they're hoping to land a first base power bat. The Marlins have been wheeling and dealing themselves into legitimate wild-card contender status as they wait for the late-summer return of ace Jose Fernandez
New York Mets -- Grade: C
The Mets had three glaring needs heading into the offseason: corner outfielder, starting shortstop, veteran bullpen depth. So far they have accomplished just one of the three, landing right fielder Michael Cuddyer
as a free agent on a two-year deal. They tried to acquire Didi Gregorius from the Diamondbacks before he was dealt to the Yankees, but couldn't get it done. They still might sign a stopgap such as Stephen Drew
or Jed Lowrie
until they can trade for a longer-term solution. They also continue to try and shop Dillon Gee
for a bullpen arm, which will probably happen prior to spring training.
Philadelphia Phillies -- Grade: B-
The rebuilding of the Phillies has finally begun in earnest with the winter meetings trades of shortstop Jimmy Rollins
and lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo
. The Phillies actually did well, acquiring three quality arms, including Zach Eflin, a former first-round pick who scouts rave about. It's a painful but good start for GM Ruben Amaro Jr. A Marlon Byrd trade is expected next, along with an eventual Cole Hamels deal, which will be the key move for the Phillies' long-term hopes.
Washington Nationals -- Grade: N/A
The Nationals don't have to do anything and they could still be the favorites to win the World Series in 2015. However, in planning for the future, they'd like to extend both Jordan Zimmermann
and Ian Desmond
. If they fail to do so, they are open to dealing one or both of them to build for the team's future. There has been a lot of dialogue of a possible blockbuster that would send Ian Desmond
to Seattle, but the Mariners' reluctance to include Taijuan Walker
has made it difficult.
NL Central Chicago Cubs -- Grade: A+
The Cubs have had the best offseason of any club so far, starting with the hiring of manager Joe Maddon away from the Rays. They then re-signed pitcher Jason Hammel
after trading him in July and solved the catching position with the acquisition of Miguel Montero
from the Diamondbacks. However, their biggest acquisition, of course, was the signing of their new ace Jon Lester
, winning a bidding war over the Giants, Red Sox and Dodgers. The Cubs' timetable to contend was 2016, but with one or two moves they could be a surprise team by the second half of 2015 if the prospects were to develop ahead of schedule.
Cincinnati Reds -- Grade: C+
The Reds entered the offseason with four-fifths of their rotation headed for free agency following the 2015 season. GM Walt Jocketty made the decision to commit to Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey
and Mike Leake
and instead dealt Mat Latos to the Marlins and Alfredo Simon to the Tigers. In the Latos deal, the Reds acquired Anthony DeSclafani, who is expected to be in the rotation this year, but Jocketty thought the best player he acquired was right-handed pitcher Jonathon Crawford from the Tigers in the Simon trade. The Reds are still looking to improve left field and are continuing their pursuit of Nori Aoki and Michael Morse.
Milwaukee Brewers -- Grade: C
The Brewers led the NL Central for five of the six months in 2014, and because they were so competitive, they've been relatively inactive this offseason other than their shrewd deal to acquire Adam Lind
, who crushes right-handed pitching. The Brewers also benefited by third baseman Aramis Ramirez
exercising his player option. Comeback years from Ryan Braun
and Jean Segura
could be the key to the Brewers' chances this year if they continue to be quiet on the player movement front.
Pittsburgh Pirates -- Grade: B
The Pirates' offseason began with the loss of catcher Russell Martin to the Blue Jays via free agency. Not good. However, the team was able to retain starting pitcher Francisco Liriano
at a market-price three-year deal, and they persuadedA.J. Burnett
to return from the Phillies at a bargain rate. They were able to replace Martin by trading for Francisco Cervelli
. They were also able to clear up their first base situation by trading Ike Davis to the A's and dumping Gaby Sanchez
. That means Josh Harrison
will their full-time third baseman while Pedro Alvarez
moves to first. They replaced lefty reliever Justin Wilson by making a quality deal for Antonio Bastardo. So far they've done a solid job for a small-market team.
St. Louis Cardinals -- Grade: B+
The Cards have been able to fill all their offseason needs (right field, a right-handed-hitting first baseman, veteran bullpen help). First they dealt Shelby Miller, who was expendable because of their deep rotation, to the Braves for the game's best defensive right fielder, Jason Heyward. They added bullpen depth in Jordan Walden
in the process, and also brought in free-agent right-hander Matt Belisle
. They strengthened the bench from the right side with first baseman/third baseman Mark Reynolds
. The Cardinals remain the team to beat in the NL Central.
NL West Arizona Diamondbacks -- Grade: C+
Diamondbacks rookie GM Dave Stewart has been wheeling and dealing, landing power hitter Yasmany Tomas
as his signature signing with the hopes that he can play third base. In addition, Stewart has been targeting the team's biggest need, which is starting pitching, acquiring Jeremy Hellickson
, Robbie Ray
and Rubby De La Rosa
, along with three other minor league pitchers. However, the Diamondbacks also said goodbye to shortstop Didi Gregorius
, starting pitcher Wade Miley and catcher Miguel Montero
, who will all be missed.
Colorado Rockies -- Grade: D-
Rookie GM Jeff Bridich hasn't done anything except trade Juan Nicasio
to the Dodgers and Josh Rutledge
to the Angels. We need to give him more time to get acclimated, but this team needs to acquire some pitching.
Los Angeles Dodgers -- Grade: B+
The new front-office regime with a reputation for having some of the game's best (and most expensive) brainpower put its stamp on the Dodgers during this year's winter meetings. When it was all said and done, it appears they have turned a 94-win team into another 94-win team. Although this team will be much better defensively up the middle and perhaps more clubhouse-friendly, it also will miss two of its best hitters in Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp
. Brandon McCarthy
's four-year deal was two years too long, but why should the Dodgers care since he is an upgrade over Dan Haren. Now if they can just finish improving the bullpen, the Dodgers will be prepared to win the same number of games as last year, though they'll be better prepared for the postseason than they were this year.
San Diego Padres -- Grade: B
In desperate need of improving their offense, the Padres landed one of the best hitters in the National League when they acquired right fielder Matt Kemp in a blockbuster deal with the Dodgers. They were able to hold on to all of their starting and relief pitching, instead making the deal with their catching depth and dearth of pitching prospects. They paid a big price in terms of prospects but got a potential MVP-caliber player. Now they need to get another bat to protect Kemp in the lineup, and they are being aggressive trying to get that done next.
San Francisco Giants -- Grade: D
The Giants lost Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox via free agency and then lost out on free-agent starter Jon Lester. The Giants are also bracing for the possible losses of Jake Peavy
, Ryan Vogelsong
, Sergio Romo
and Michael Morse, who are also free agents. The Giants are now chasing James Shields, Melky Cabrera
and Chase Headley.