We are a little over a month away from Opening Day 2021. This offseason, we've seen nearly all of our top 60 free agents sign deals and there were even a few major trades that went down. So while we continue to wait for meaningful baseball games to return, let's take a look at what each of the 30 teams have done during this rather busy winter to address roster needs and hand out grades for their offseason work.
We'll break this report card down division by division.
|Once again, there's not a whole lot to discuss about the Orioles' offseason. The rebuilding club's most notable offseason signing was 31-year-old infielder Freddy Galvis. They also gave Matt Harvey and Felix Hernandez minor-league contracts. After finishing 25-35 in last year's abbreviated season, Baltimore isn't expected to be competitive. Not for a while, at least. The good news is that they have at least amassed a nice collection of first-round picks at the top of their system, including catcher Adley Rutschman (No. 1 pick in 2019 Draft) and outfielder Heston Kjerstad (No. 2 pick in 2020 Draft). GRADE: N/A|
|Just two years removed from winning the World Series, Boston finished the 2020 season with the fourth-worst winning percentage (.400) in baseball, behind the Rangers, Tigers and Pirates. And despite the club's trade of Mookie Betts and David Price last offseason, the club is "not" rebuilding. I mean, sure okay, so what do you call trading your homegrown franchise superstar player away then? Oh, that's right, a move made solely to avoid the luxury tax. The Red Sox front office can continue to talk all they want about returning to contention, but actions speak louder than words. |
Anyways, this offseason for Boston included the signing of veteran utility player Marwin Gonzalez, outfielder Hunter Renfroe, right-hander Garrett Richards and utilityman Enrique Hernandez. The Red Sox also traded outfielder Andrew Benintendi, acquiring outfielder Franchy Cordero in return. In another trade -- a rare one with rival Yankees -- Boston acquired relief pitcher Adam Ottavino.
And as expected, the club did rehire Alex Cora as the manager after he served his one-year suspension for his involvement in the two sign-stealing scandals of last offseason where both the Red Sox and Astros were found guilty by the league after investigation. Cora was cited as one of the ringleaders behind the Houston Astros' 2017 sign-stealing scheme. Before Cora was hired as a first-year manager for the Red Sox in 2018, he was a bench coach for the 2017 Astros team. He was suspended for one year by the league for his part in Houston's scheme but did not receive additional punishment as part of MLB's investigation into the 2018 Red Sox. GRADE: D
|On paper, the New York Yankees did exactly what they needed to do to contend in 2021. They kept free-agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu on a six-year, $90 million deal, they signed starting pitcher Corey Kluber and traded for right-hander Jameson Taillon. Outside of Kluber and LeMahieu, the Yankees did not sign another top 60 free agent. |
They should be able to take back the AL East with a starting five of Gerrit Cole, Kluber, Taillon and then some combination of Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia and Domingo German, who is returning to the team after serving a domestic violence suspension in 2020. Then, there's Clarke Schmidt and Michael King for depth, and Luis Severino is expected to be back midseason after last winter's Tommy John surgery. The rotation is still pretty shaky after its top two, and the success of their No. 2 and 3 starters is heavily reliant on good health. Their minor tweaks might not be enough to win it all and they probably needed to show a greater sense of urgency after four straight disappointing postseason exits. GRADE: C
|The Rays -- runner-up to the Dodgers in the 2020 World Series -- didn't do much this offseason to help them return to the Fall Classic. They traded Blake Snell (got right-handers Luis Patino and Cole Wilcox, and catchers Blake Hunt and Francisco Mejia in return) and let Charlie Morton go to the Braves via free agency. When it comes to pitching, it's hard to doubt the Rays, so the additions of Michael Wacha, Chris Archer and Rich Hill could help out Tyler Glasnow and Ryan Yarbrough in the rotation. GRADE: C|
|The Blue Jays went after plenty of big names this offseason. Ultimately, the club's big get turned out to be the signing of outfielder George Springer to a six-year, $150 million deal. It's an automatic upgrade on both offense and defense for the Jays. They also acquired infielder Marcus Semien along with relievers Kirby Yates, Tyler Chatwood and David Phelps, which should help after losing closer Ken Giles via free agency. |
Toronto needed starting pitching, and without the addition of a frontline starter, that might become a weak spot in 2021. A lot is going to fall on the club's top starters Hyun-Jin Ryu and Nate Pearson. As far as starting pitching goes, the Jay's notable additions included lefties Robbie Ray and Steven Matz. GRADE: A-
|It was a weird one for the White Sox. There are a lot things to like -- getting their closer with Liam Hendriks, trading for Lance Lynn -- but at the same time, there are also some headscratchers -- like firing Rick Renteria, a 2020 AL Manager of the Year finalist and hiring 76-year-old Tony La Russa to take over. For that one, you can thank White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who made made that decision entirely on his own -- despite knowing that La Russa had again been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. |
Chicago also signed veteran outfielder Adam Eaton and brought back lefty Carlos Rondon. It wasn't the most of exciting offseasons for the White Sox, but they're built to be of the best teams in the American League and should return to the postseason this year. GRADE: B
|Well, we'll give some credit to the Cleveland baseball franchise for their official announcement of a planned name change. (Finally). However, the front office didn't say when they were going to go through with it (it won't happen until after 2021 though) and they still plan to continue selling Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo related apparel and merchandise in the meantime. So, maybe that means the credit we just gave gets annulled. |
Now, on to the nit and gritty of Cleveland's offseason moves. The biggest and most impactful being the club's trade of superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor. The Cleveland baseball team picked up shortstops Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario in the return, and they're fine, but they're not Lindor. Not even close. Cleveland also lost veteran starter Carlos Carrasco, who was also included in the Lindor-Mets trade.
Smaller moves of note include the one-year signing of left fielder Eddie Rosario, who was non-tendered by the Twins in December and the re-signing of second baseman Cesar Hernandez. In 2020, Cleveland hung around to make the expanded postseason before they were swept by the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Series. This season, Cleveland is going to struggle in a division where it won three straight titles from 2016 to 2018. GRADE: F
|Following Ron G's retirement, the Tigers named AJ Hinch as their new manager just days after his season-long suspension for the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal concluded. Detroit was not a factor this offseason in the free-agent market, but they did make a handful of moves this winter; signed outfielders Robbie Grossman and Nomar Mazara, brought back second baseman Jonathan Schoop and added veteran catcher Wilson Ramos on a one-year deal. Their rebuilding efforts will continue in 2021, with an emphasis on development for their top prospects. GRADE: N/A|
|Not sure I totally understand what the Royals are doing this winter, but they're doing something! The rebuilding Royals went out and made some moves. They made a trade for outfielder Andrew Benintendi, signed left-handed starter Mike Minor to a two-year deal, brought back DH Jorge Soler, signed first baseman Carlos Santana to a two-year, $17 million deal, kept now-third baseman Hunter Dozier and brought back reliever Greg Holland. Oh, and they signed 38-year-old right-hander Ervin Santana to a minor-league deal. It's unlikely that they'll be enough to get them out of a fourth-place finish in their division, but props for at least trying to make your team better. GRADE: C|
|The Twins stayed awfully quiet to start the offseason, but just in the last month, they've made their big moves. Minnesota signed veteran lefty J,.A. Happ, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, veteran closer Alex Colome, right-handed relievers Hansel Robles and Shaun Anderson, and they reunited with designated hitter Nelson Cruz on a one-year deal. |
All are reasonably solid moves, but the reigning AL Central champs could have acted more aggressively (especially on the pitching front), considering they will be trying to break their postseason losing streak of 18 games next year and make a deep run in October. GRADE: B-
|A lot less dramatic than last year's offseason, that's for sure. The Astros lost George Springer in free agency, but they did manage to keep Michael Brantley on a two-year deal, signed reliever Pedro Baez, picked up right-hander Ryne Stanek after he was non-tendered by the Marlins and agreed to a two-year deal with catcher Jason Castro. Justin Verlander, Carlos Correa, Zack Greinke, Yuli Gurriel, and Lance McCullers Jr. will all become free agents after next season, so it's likely that the entirety of the Astros core won't be together much longer. GRADE: C|
|Yikes. The Angels keep missing out on top free agent starting pitchers. Last year, they lost out in the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes, and this year, they couldn't get Trevor Bauer. This time around, they watched the best pitcher on the market sign with their crosstown rival. So, the next best thing? At least, in the eyes of Angels front office. No. 52 ranked free-agent starter Jose Quintana. It's a good move. But, the Angels pitching situation needed way more than just good right now. |
Quintana didn't pitch for half of 2020 due to a thumb injury, but he will (along with outfielder Dexter Fowler, acquire via trade) reunite with former Cubs manager, Joe Maddon in 2021. There are some question marks about Shohei Ohtani's ability to return as a two-way player next season, and aside from the trio of starters Andrew Heaney Dylan Bundy and Griffin Canning, there's almost zero to none reliability in the starting rotation.
Along with Quintana, the Angels added left-hander Alex Claudio, veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki and right-hander Alex Cobb. It's a semi-productive winter, but to be honest, with a new general manager brought it after five consecutive losing seasons, you would've thought the club was going to put the pedal to the metal this winter. The 2021 season could be another year where the Angels can't get superstar Mike Trout back to the postseason. They haven't reached the playoffs since 2014. GRADE: C-
|In a flurry of last-minute moves, the Oakland Athletics got their grade updated from failing to a little better than passing. There's not a whole lot to celebrate about the reigning AL West champions' offseason. It was mostly a lack of moves, and the moves they did make, they were good improvements, but might not be enough to help them defend their division title. The A's signed relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Sergio Romo while also re-signing right-hander Yusmeiro Petit to help shore up their bullpen. Starter Mike Fiers was brought back on a one-year deal, and Oakland also found a replacement for Marcus Semien in their trade with the Rangers for Elvis Andrus. GRADE: D+|
|The Mariners took a step forward last year with their young core's development, but their lack of big offseason moves mean they're still in the midst of their rebuild. Seattle did reunite with left-handed starter James Paxton on a one-year deal and picked up relievers Ken Giles and Keynan Middleton for one year. GRADE: D|
|The Rangers were expected to be somewhat competitive in 2020, and at the very least, they may nave been able to keep things interesting in the AL West. But, alas, Texas was terrible last season, finishing with an American League-worst 22-38 record. They're in rebuilding mode now, so this offseason didn't bring many positive moves. |
Corey Kluber departed via free agency for the Yankees, Lance Lynn was traded to the White Sox and longtime Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was sent to the A's for Khris Davis. The Rangers did end up signing Japanese right-hander Kohei Arihara to a two-year contract to help the rotation, added free-agent outfielder David Dahl on a one-year deal, acquired first baseman Nate Lowe in a trade with Tampa, signed right-hander Mike Foltynewicz to a one-year deal, and gave a handful of minor-league contracts, to Charlie Culberson, Brock Holt, Delino DeShields and others. GRADE: D
|The Braves brought back Marcell Ozuna on a four-year, $65 million deal. Ozuna remained unsigned until February, and for a minute, it looked like Atlanta was going to pass up on him due to the uncertainty of the future of the universal DH. But, they will keep the power hitter in their lineup. Other than Ozuna, the Braves also added starters Drew Smyly and Charlie Morton this offseason. GRADE: B|
|With a rebuilding team like the Marlins, it was another minor offseason with a few notable trades and signings. They signed outfielder Adam Duvall to a one-year contract, received minor leaguer Federico Polanco, right-hander Dylan Floro relief pitcher Adam Cimber in trades with the Mets, Cleveland and Dodgers. Jesus Aguilar and Garrett Cooper returned on one-year deals, and the Marlins also designated starting pitcher Jose Urena for assignment. |
The biggest move Miami made this winter came in the front office with the historic hiring of Kim Ng as the club's new general manager. Ng, 51, is the first female GM in baseball and has been working in MLB front offices for three-plus decades now. As four-time NBA champion LeBron James once said, it's about damn time. GRADE: C
|The New York Mets had one of the most eventful offseasons this winter. Their signings included: keeping starting pitcher Marcus Stroman on qualifying offer, adding reliever Trevor May on a two-year deal, signing catcher James McCann to a four-year deal, added lefty Aaron Loup to the bullpen on a one-year deal, signed right-handed starter Taijuan Walker to further bolster rotation, acquired lefty Joey Lucchesi, reliever Jordan Yamamoto and right-handed starter Sean Reid-Foley via trades, |
Oh, and they made a blockbuster trade for All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and veteran starter Carlos Carrasco. While Lindor and Carrasco were big gets, the Mets swung and missed on any of the top free agents this offseason. They didn't get George Springer, Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, or even DJ LeMahieu (which seemed like a possibility after Robinson Cano's suspension), though the latter was most unlikely. However, the small but sensible moves still managed to make the Mets the NL East favorite for the 2021 season.
But, the New York ballclub also made news when attention was called to the disturbing and troubling sexual harassment trend in the Mets front office. The Mets fired general manager Jared Porter for sending explicit, unsolicited text message images to female reporter during his time with the Cubs. That was followed with former Mets manager Mickey Callaway also accused of inappropriate behavior with at least five women who work in sports media and Mets major-league hitting coach Ryan Ellis' recent firing after three female employees made sexual harassment complaints. Under new owner Steve Cohen (who has issues of his own), the club will now begin to reckon for these failures and cultivate a safe and accepting workplace environment. GRADE: A-
|After seeming like they were going to let J.T. Realmuto walk, the Phillies finally got the deal done to keep their All-Star starting catcher. Along with Realmuto, shortstop Didi Gregorius will return to the club on a two-year deal. They made a few very necessary bullpen tweaks with Jose Alvarado, Sam Coonrod, Brandon Kintzler, Archie Bradley and Tony Watson, but nothing as eye-popping as their division rival Mets this winter. GRADE: B|
|The Nationals tried to fight off a World Series hangover in 2020, but they finished the season in fourth place in the NL East and missed the postseason. This offseason, Washington didn't get a Juan Soto or Trea Turner extension done, at least not yet. And, both should have been high priority on the Nationals to-do list this winter. The signings they did get done included relief pitcher Sam Clay, free-agent outfielder Kyle Schwarber, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, lefty reliever Brad Hand, veteran starter Jon Lester and a trade for first baseman Josh Bell. GRADE: C+|
|The Cubs did not trade Kris Bryant, as has been rumored they would for a while now. So, I guess for that, they get a D-minus versus the flat F grade. Either way, it was another bad offseason for the Cubs. Bryant and Wilson Contreras were frequents of trade rumors all winter-long, and ultimately, Chicago traded 2020's NL Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish. They also lost three starters to free agency; Tyler Chatwood, Jon Lester and Jose Quintana. Those losses, went along with the departures of longtime Cubs outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora. |
The additions of Pedro Strop and Jonathan Holder are meant to help the bullpen. There was also the starting pitching signings for Trevor Williams and Jake Arrieta. Free-agent outfielder Joc Pederson joined the club on a one-year deal and veteran catcher Austin Romine was brought on as a backup catcher for one year. GRADE: D-
|The Reds were another disappointing club in 2020. They underperformed and fell short of expectations. The NL Central is a wide open race, so Cincy had the chance to go out and get what they need for a rebound in 2021, but kept their offseason mostly just average. They obviously lost Trevor Bauer to free agency (along with Archie Bradley, Curt Casali, Brian Goodwin), but they did pick up free-agent relief pitcher Sean Doolittle and right-hander Brandon Bailey in a trade with the Astros. GRADE: C|
|Like the Reds, Milwaukee is hoping for a bounce-back season in 2021. But, you wouldn't think they were really trying to turn it around based on their average offseason activity. The Brewers didn't make any big moves to improve this offseason; they brought back third baseman Travis Shaw on a minor-league deal after he was non-tendered by the Blue Jays, signed veteran starter and Milwaukee native Jordan Zimmerman to a minor-league deal and added free-agent second baseman Kolten Wong on a two-year deal. GRADE: C|
|The teardown rebuild continued in Pittsburgh. There were the trades of three mainstays in Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon. Even with spring training underway, there could be more trades to come. GRADE: F|
|The Cardinals offseason was the best out of their division. But, that's not really saying a lot. The trade for Nolan Arenado was big, keeping Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright also good, but other than that ... crickets for the Cards. Longtime St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong departure for rival Brewers via free agency. GRADE: B+|
|The Diamondbacks were one of the biggest disappointments of the 2020 season. It didn't help that the first year of ace Madison Bumgarner's five-year contract did not go well. Arizona finished last year in last place in the National League West with a 25-35 record. Without much improvement this winter and facing powerhouses like the Dodgers and Padres, they probably won't be moving up from the basement of their division anytime soon. GRADE: F|
|The Rockies traded franchise star third baseman Nolan Arenado. Another truly shameful trade to go along with the Lindor and Betts trades. It's an awful trend. After the front office's complacency last offseason soured the relationship with Arenado, instead of going out and doing what they could to get back to contention, they shipped Arenado away. |
The return Colorado got in the trade was meager, at best. Certainly nothing that will help them compete with the likes of the Dodgers and Padres. And aside from the trade for Arenado, the club literally did not make a single impactful signing. After back-to-back postseason appearances in 2017 and 2018, it's looking like it'll be a long time before they get back there. Worst of all, Rockies owner Dick Monfort insists they're not rebuilding, proving a clear disconnect with GM Jeff Bridich and the rest of his club's management. GRADE: F
|It's another high mark. After what seemed like was going to turn out to be a very quiet offseason for the Dodgers, they went out and sealed the deal for top free-agent starter Trevor Bauer. That means another high-quality arm added to the already impressive World Series champion rotation. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner is coming back for at least another two years, Corey Knebel and Tommy Kahnle should help bolster the L.A. bullpen and reliever Blake Treinen re-signed with a two-year deal. Bauer was the big get, but the Dodgers did see some notable departures this winter in longtime Dodgers' Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez. GRADE: A+|
|I feel like I still have whiplash from the Padres frenzy of moves. San Diego GM AJ Preller got it done this winter. The Padres kicked off the winter by signing Mike Clevinger to a two-year deal then they traded for Blake Snell and Yu Darvish just 24 hours apart, picked up Joe Musgrove in another trade and then, signed superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to a massive, 14-year extension. San Diego made it clear that they're coming for the defending champion Dodgers. GRADE: A+|
|The rebuilding giants had another relatively quiet winter. They kept Kevin Gausman on qualifying offer, signed relief pitchers Jake McGee and Matt Wisler, added right-hander Anthony DeSclafani and left-hander Alex Wood to the rotation, signed free-agent infielder Tommy La Stella to a three-year deal and veteran catcher Curt Casali. Not much that will push them out of the rebuilding phase. GRADE: C-|