The MLB hot stove is heating up this offseason as some teams have signed or traded for some elite talent. We’ve seen players leave teams for divisional rivals as well as some very interesting trades. For the teams that have been less fortunate than other this offseason, don’t worry, there is still some quality talent out there.
Cubs land Heyward, Zobrist, and Lackey
The Chicago Cubs won 97 game last season and made a lot of progress heading forward. This offseason the Cubs are making the biggest splash, acquiring the likes of outfielder Jason Heyward, utility specialist Ben Zobrist and starting pitcher John Lackey. Heyward took less money from the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals to sign with the Cubs. Heyward played the 2015 campaign with the Cardinals and batted .293 with 13 home runs and 66 RBI, while saving a ton of runs in right field. The deal is worth $184 million over the course of eight years with opt-out clauses after the third and fourth season. Zobrist also turned down the Nationals by signing a four-year $56 million deal with the Cubs. Washington offered him $60 million. Zobrist and Heyward both bring to the table something the Cubs were missing last year; contact hitters. Both guys can get on base and Zobrist can play virtually anywhere on the diamond. Zobrist also brings with him a World Series ring, which he helped the Kansas City Royals win in 2015. Chicago was also able to sign Lackey away from the St. Louis where he pitched the last season and a half. His deal is a two-year deal with $32 million. Cubs’ president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer are doing a tremendous job of rebuilding this franchise into a legitimate contender for years to come. The NL Central appears to be going through the Windy City going forward when it has been accustomed to going through St. Louis for the past decade.
Diamondbacks bolster pitching staff
The Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t known for shelling out money for the sake of the franchise, but that changed this offseason. Minutes before he was about to re-sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Zack Greinke was informed the Diamondbacks were interested in him, heard their offer, then agreed to a six-year, $206.5 million deal. He pitched the last three seasons in Los Angeles and had a record of 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA in 2015, leading him to second place in the Cy Young voting. Joining Greinke in the rotation in Arizona is Shelby Miller who the D’backs acquired from the Atlanta Braves in a four-player deal that included Arizona’s number one overall draft pick Dansby Swanson and outfielder Ender Inciarte. Miller had a 6-17 record including 16 consecutive losses in decisions, but that’s not indicative to how he pitched. He pitched 205 2/3 innings with a 3.02 ERA and a .238 average. He was not helped in the run-scoring department, getting just 2.64 runs-per-start. That will change vastly with Arizona as they produced the second most runs in the NL last season, led by first baseman MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. The $1.5 billion television deal Arizona signed last season allows them to be more of spenders and the combination of GM Dave Stewart and chief baseball officer Tony La Russa are playing no games when building this franchise. The NL West has a new favorite heading into the 2016 season.
Red Sox add much-needed pitching help
Since the Boston Red Sox last won a World Series in 2013, the team has taken steps in the wrong direction. One of the key issues was pitching, both the starting and relieving. Well Boston went out and got two guys that will help both ends of the pitching staff. Boston won the bidding war on free agent ace David Price, giving him a seven-year deal that is worth $217 million with an opt-out clause after the 2018 season. Price led the AL in ERA last year at 2.45 and was the runner up in the Cy Young voting. Price, who used to be a thorn in the Sox side back when he played for the Tampa Bay Rays, is now an ally. He is used to pitching against the AL East, with a record of 49-21 and he is 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA at his new home, Fenway Park. Boston went out and got a starter and already had a new closer as they acquired Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres for four prospects. Since his first full season in 2011, Kimbrel leads the MLB with 224 saves and is second in ERA (1.70) and strikeouts (523). He also has a WHIP of 0.91 and he limits batters to a .160 average. He has converted 225 of a possible 248 (90.7%) career saves. The Red Sox have Kimbrel under contract for the next three season. Now Boston’s bullpen is very reliable and should prove to be such this upcoming season.
Other notable signings and acquisitions
– Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija signed a five-year deal with the San Francisco Giants
– Closer Ken Giles was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Houston Astros in an eight-player deal that included former number one overall pick Mark Appel
-Relief pitcher Joakim Soria signed a three-year deal with the Kansas City Royals
– Infielder Yunel Escobar was traded from the Washington Nationals to the Los Angeles Angels
– Second baseman Neil Walker was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the New York Mets for starting pitcher Jon Niese
– Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman signed a five-year deal with the Detroit Tigers
Notable free agents still out there
SP Johnny Cueto
OF Yoenis Cespedes
OF Justin Upton
OF Alex Gordon
1B Chris Davis
2B Daniel Murphy
SP Mike Leake