MLB spring training is underway and the 2015 season is right around the corner. It’s been a busy offseason and even the most faithful fans might not be caught up. Here’s Link’s take on the best moves and the biggest let downs.
San Diego Padres – New GM A.J. Preller made a huge mark signing free agent pitcher James Shields, and also scored big with Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks. A team that has for so long needed a boost of star power, the Padres should be a contender this season.
Chicago Cubs – They started with bringing in veteran manager Joe Maddon and got a huge boost in free agent pitcher Jon Lester. Newcomers Jason Hammel, David Ross, Chris Denorfia, Jason Motte and Dexter Fowler give the Cubs added depth and versatility. The Cubs didn’t have to move any of their top prospects either, who should play an increased role in their lineup this season.
Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox made two of the biggest free agent signings this offseason, locking up infielders Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Picking up starting pitchers Justin Masterson (free agency) and Rick Porcello and Wade Miley (trades) gives them a much more rounded pitching staff, which was in disarray for most of last season.
Biggest Winner: Max Scherzer – The former Detroit Tigers ace and 2013 Cy Young Winner picked up a seven-year, $210 million dollar contract with the Washington Nationals, who, by the way, are World Series favorites going into this season.
Philadelphia Phillies – Trade talk still surrounds their ace Cole Hamels, and they didn’t trade any of Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon or Chase Utley, who all have huge contracts and have made minimal impacts in recent years. While not adding any key players, the Phillies traded long-time leader Jimmy Rollins.
Kansas City Royals – After their surprise run to the World Series last fall, the Royals were unable to sign James Shields, Billy Butler, and Nori Aoki, who were all key players in their success.
Baltimore Orioles – Coming off a successful playoff season, the Orioles lost Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and Andrew Miller to free agency and made no moves to fill these glaring holes in their lineup.
Biggest Loser: Alex Rodriguez – The man in baseball who everyone loves to hate… After being suspended for the whole 2014 season, A-Rod is still under a greatly overpaid contract and doesn’t have a guaranteed job with the Yankees, which is likely to cause the team even more distractions.
In The Know:
Seattle Mariners – Our cross border neighbours locked up free agent Nelson Cruz and signed rising star Kyle Seager to a contract extension. Past that, Seattle didn’t really make any major moves, though they didn’t need to. Expectations are high for the Mariners this year, who are expected to be legitimate playoff contenders once again.
Toronto Blue Jays – Canada’s team made a couple significant moves, signing free agent Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. They dealt Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie and lost Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, Casey Janssen, and Brandon Morrow to free agency, so expect a much different look to the Jays this season. However, with a solid core intact and a string of young players who will likely have a big impact, they should be a competitive team once again this year.