10 MLB Offseason Moves That Will Work Out Better Than Expected
Boston Red Sox Offseason Moves Led to 2013 World Championship
Every winter the MLB offseason is littered with free agent signings and trades. Some of these transactions are met with great applause around the league while others are much maligned and projected to be abject failures. No matter the reaction, general managers must make every attempt to maximize the future potential of their franchise. The job is not to let fan opinion sway the better judgement of the front office, but rather to do what is necessary to ensure success in the short-term and down the road. Granted, many moves never pan out and heads often roll as a result. However, sometimes things turn out better than anyone ever expected. Just ask the Boston Red Sox.
After their dismal 2012, the Red Sox went back to the drawing board in an effort to return the organization to the style that delivered World Series Titles in 2004 and 2007. Needless to say, they were unbelievably successful in that endeavor. In the face of a significant amount of criticism, GM Ben Cherington and company acquired a trio of players that, in spite of their detractors, set the team on a course that ultimately ended with their third championship in a decade.
The group of players brought to Boston in preparation for the 2013 season included the powerful Mike Napoli, sparkplug Shane Victorino and slick shortstop Stephen Drew. All came with their own respective issues, but delivered in huge ways for the Red Sox. With that in mind, let’s take some time to flash forward to the present and look at some moves from this offseason that definitely carry the possibility of turning out better than most are predicting.
Free Agent: RP Joba Chamberlain To Detroit Tigers
Back on Dec. 13, the Tigers signed Chamberlain to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million. The right-handed fireballer finally escapes the confines of Yankee Stadium where he has struggled to a career 5.23 ERA through 104 games. Still armed with a 95-mph heater and mid-80s slider, he could definitely be on the way to a bounce back season.
Trade: C/1B/OF Ryan Doumit To Braves - SP Sean Gilmartin To Twins
Doumit provides needed depth for the Braves. With the departure of All-Star catcher Brian McCann, it is possible that the switch-hitting veteran could form a solid platoon behind the plate with second-year power threat Evan Gattis.
The Twins get a 23-year-old lefty that could find his way to the big leagues as a back-end starter or middle reliever in 2014. Gilmartin has managed a 4.23 ERA and 1.27 WHIP across various levels of the minors over the last three season.
Trade: OF Drew Stubbs To Rockies - P Josh Outman To Indians
After finishing his one season in Cleveland with 10 homers and 17 stolen bases, Stubbs heads to Colorado’s Coors Field where he has a career .420 slugging percentage and three long balls over 14 games.
Perhaps the most aptly named pitcher in baseball, Outman had a fairly strong season for the Rockies bullpen in 2013. The 29-year-old southpaw appeared in 61 games, managing a 4.33 ERA while holding lefties to a .198 batting average. Those numbers should only improve in a much more pitcher-friendly Progressive Field.
Trade: RP Jerry Blevins To Nationals - OF Billy Burns To Athletics
Blevins fills the much needed role of lefty specialist for the Nationals’ bullpen. The veteran has posted a strong 26.3 percent K rate against left-handed hitters while holding them to a .224 batting average over the last seven seasons in Oakland.
Burns has yet to debut in the Majors, but has put up extremely impressive numbers in the Nationals’ farm system over the last three years. The switch-hitting outfielder has a .421 OBP and 125 stolen bases since 2011.
Free Agent: OF/DH Raul Ibanez To Los Angeles Angels
Ibanez managed to belt 29 home runs for the Mariners in 2013, which led the Angels to pull the trigger on a $2.75 million contract for 2014. Even at age 41, it seems that the 18-year veteran still has plenty of power at the plate.
Free Agent: RP Chad Qualls To Houston Astros
Qualls signed a two-year, $5.95 million contract with the Astros back on Dec. 7. The 35-year-old reliever returns to the place where his MLB career began. Following a bounce back campaign in Miami last season that saw the right-hander put up a 2.61 ERA over 62 innings, he will likely take over the closer role in Houston.
Trade: OF Norichika Aoki To Royals - P Will Smith To Brewers
In 2013, the Kansas City lineup sorely lacked an ideal leadoff hitter like Aoki. After the 32-year-old right fielder hit .287 with a .355 OBP and 50 steals over his two seasons in Milwaukee, the Royals were willing to give up a solid young arm in exchange for the Japanese native.
The Brewers could well have themselves a nice middle of the rotation starter in 24-year-old lefty Will Smith, who recorded a superb 11.6 K/9 through 19 games in the Majors last season.
Trade: 3B/DH Danny Valencia To Royals - OF David Lough To Orioles
Lough finished eighth in AL Rookie of the Year voting last season after putting together a .286/.311/.413 slash line with 26 extra-base hits for the Royals. He heads to Baltimore as the likely replacement for outfielder Nate McLouth.
With Valencia crushing southpaws to the tune of a 1.031 OPS last season, the Royals are likely gearing up for a platoon at third base between him and left-handed power bat Mike Moustakas.
Free Agent: 1B Justin Morneau To Colorado Rockies
The Rockies inked Morneau to a two-year deal worth $12.5 million to replace now retired legend Todd Helton. Though he is no longer at the level that earned him AL MVP honors in 2006, the four-time All-Star is definitely still a threat with the stick as he banged out 17 homers and 36 doubles in 2013.
Free Agent: SP Josh Johnson To San Diego Padres
Johnson spent one injury-filled, lackluster season north of the border in Toronto. Injuries have largely derailed the career of the two-time All-Star, but he will be looking for a healthy comeback in the pitcher’s paradise that is PETCO Park. His one-year, $8 million deal could become the bargain of the year if Johnson comes anywhere close to the form he displayed back in 2009-10 with the Marlins.