The delay in the MLB season due to COVID-19 and resulting 60-game season changes the impact of some offseason moves since they were initially made. Looking toward the shortened season, here's a look at the best, worst and most puzzling moves of the 2019-20 MLB offseason.
Toronto signed Shaw to an economical one-year, $4 million contract after a terrible 2019 season. He hit a combined 63 home runs in 2017-18 and spent the offseason revamping his swing, which paid off with two home runs in his first 32 plate appearances in spring training. With the abbreviated 2020 season, the Jays are hopeful Shaw can get on a hot streak as their first baseman and DH.
Ryu's four-year, $80 million contract was well earned after winning the NL ERA title last year and posting a 1.97 ERA in 15 starts the previous season. The problem for Ryu is staying healthy, so a four-year deal is a huge risk for a team with limited resources, like Toronto. Ryu goes into the 2020 season as Toronto's ace, and the team is hopeful he can have two months of health.
For a team struggling to find healthy starters, adding a highly durable pitcher like Teheran makes sense. The problem is Teheran's inconsistency and poor control, with 4.3 walks per nine innings in each of the last two seasons. That's a problem unlikely to improve with the move from Atlanta to the AL, but perhaps Teheran will show better control in shorter spurts as he ramps up his arm in the short season.
Ozuna was unable to find the multi-year contract he desired this offseason, settling for a one-year deal with the Braves. He could be quite a bargain with the team after hitting 29 home runs in St. Louis last year, and he potentially fits as Atlanta's DH now that the NL will employ the new rule over the 60-game season.
D'Arnaud is a quality player when he's healthy, but it's his health that has been the problem for much of his career. He's reached 100 games only three times during his career but did get on a hot streak last year in Tampa with a .782 OPS and 16 home runs in 92 games. Signing d'Arnaud to a two-year deal was a risk, though that risk is mitigated slightly now with a shorter season in Year 1.
The Astros still have a World Series-worthy roster, but it's clear they've downgraded offensively at catcher from Robinson Chirinos. Maldonado is set to be their starter, but his .644 career OPS is hardly worthy of that honor. He enters the first season of a two-year contract in 2020.
If the spring training results are any indication, the Cardinals found a huge bargain when they added Kim on a two-year contract. The former KBO star figures to be a member of the team's starting rotation after posting a 2.51 ERA in 31 appearances in Korea last year and could post dominant numbers as unfamiliar hitters try to figure out his stuff.
Bumgarner is a former World Series hero in San Francisco, coming off his seventh 200 inning season. Still, this clearly isn't the pitcher of a few years ago, as Bumgarner's velocity has declined, resulting in his 3.90 ERA last season. Given that decline, a five-year contract is a big risk for a pitcher who will turn 31 in August, but he does effectively replace Zack Greinke as Arizona's ace.
Milwaukee clearly paid for upside in signing Garcia to a two-year, $20 million deal. It's a risk for a small market team like the Brewers, and his poor defensive contribution isn't a great fit with the team also trying to get by with Ryan Braun in the outfield. The addition of the DH this year does certainly help Garcia's cause, and the Brewers are hopeful he can get on a hot streak.
2020 looked like the Dodgers' year when they added Betts and Price late in the offseason, giving one of the most talented teams in MLB even greater upside. Unfortunately, Betts is headed toward a 60-game sprint before entering free agency, but the move will still be worthwhile if the Dodgers can finally get over the hump and win the World Series. With one of the deepest farm systems in the league, it's less likely L.A. will regret trading youngsters Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.
Hudson was one of Washington's playoff heroes last year, serving as the team's closer. Washington extended him on a two-year deal, which is a risk given his age (33) and mediocre track record with a career 3.83 ERA and 2.76 K/BB ratio. The team will be relying on him heavily this season, especially with less time for the starting pitchers to ramp up.
The Cardinals go into the year thin in the outfield after trading Martinez and Arozarena in the offseason. The return in top pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore might have been too attractive to turn down, but it was an odd move for a team seemingly still in position to win now. With the late start to the season, it's more clear than ever that rookie Dylan Carlson will have a spot on the team.
Wood missed most of 2019 with a back injury, allowing the Dodgers to bring him back on a one-year contract. With a season that will require plenty of pitching depth, the move looks even better for the Dodgers, as the lefty has experience in a variety of roles and had a 3.46 ERA in four seasons with L.A. earlier in his career.
Strasburg hasn't been the most durable pitcher during his career, reaching 30 starts for only the third time in 10 seasons last year. As a result, his seven-year, $245 million contract looks even more risky, and most of the first season when Strasburg is at peak value has now been wiped out.
Villar is an exciting player, as evidenced by his 24 home runs and 40 stolen bases with Baltimore last season. However, he's shown inconsistency both offensively and defensively during most of his career and doesn't do much for a rebuilding Marlins team. Miami is likely regretting the one-year, $8.2 million contract already now that it is unlikely to recoup the investment by hosting fans at home games.
Gausman is coming off a terrible 2019 season between Atlanta and Cincinnati, causing him to settle for a one-year deal. However, San Francisco's roomy dimensions could allow Gausman to fix his home run issues, and he pitched well in a relief role for the Reds late in the year. With teams likely to use tandem starting pitchers and shorter starts, the momentum Gausman showed late last season makes this signing look even better in a hybrid role.
San Diego traded former top prospects in Eric Lauer and Luis Urias for Grisham and Davies during the offseason. Grisham does show enticing upside after hitting 32 home runs between the minors and Milwaukee last season, but his previous minor league performance was poor. Davies is a proven MLB arm who has posted a sub-4.00 ERA four times in his five seasons, but his career 6.4 K/9 and limited innings show a lot of risk. With the team breaking in other young pitchers, Davies isn't exactly the innings eater the team needs.
Castellanos carried the Cubs on his back when he was acquired last year, and his bat is worthy of the four-year, $64 million contract he received from Cincinnati. However, the signing looked odd at the time for a team that already had a full outfield after signing Shogo Akiyama. The addition of the DH in the abbreviated season really works in the Reds favor, as Castellanos can be shifted, opening up more playing time for Aristides Aquino.
Akiyama looked exactly as advertised early in spring training after signing with Cincinnati. He's expected to be the team's leadoff man after an accomplished career in Japan that saw him hit above .300 in four of the last five seasons, and he adds more athleticism to an outfield that needed it.
Boston desperately needed pitching depth for 2020, but the team's moves show more of a rebuild. One of the few signings was Perez, who will be a big part of the starting rotation after signing a one-year deal. He's posted an ERA above 5.00 in consecutive seasons, so it's unclear what the Red Sox are hoping for from him in 2020.
Miley has proved he can be effective over the last two seasons, but his 2019 season ended on a sour note. The lefty insists he was tipping his pitches after posting an ERA above 16.00 for Houston in September, and the Reds apparently believe the same after giving Miley a two-year contract. Such a commitment is still a risk after his late-season struggles, but Cincy does need all the arms it can get in the shortened season.
Maeda was moved to the bullpen at the end of the last two seasons with the Dodgers and pitched masterfully, but he wanted an opportunity to be a full-time starter. He gets that chance with Minnesota, though the relief work should come in handy with a ramp-up period for starters early in the season. Minnesota's strong pitching depth looks even more valuable now.
Adding a veteran starting pitcher made sense for the White Sox with an influx of young talent arriving, but it's unclear if Keuchel was the right signing. He got a hefty three-year, $55.5 million contract despite struggling to keep the ball in the park last season and posting a mediocre 2.33 K/BB ratio. The innings that Chicago was hoping to get from Keuchel might not come to fruition in the shortened season either.
Phillies fans were probably happy to see their former failed prospect go elsewhere during the offseason. Franco has frustrated fans with a career .249 batting average, .733 OPS and poor defense to this point. Signing for less than $3 million on a one-year deal shows limited risk from Kansas City, but Franco has barely been worthy of a starting job over the last three seasons.
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