After a free agent spending frenzy, baseball goes quiet — for now.
The last couple weeks have been amazing for baseball fans. Huge contracts have been handed out, many of which have come from teams that weren’t in contention in the last couple years.
The Texas Rangers now have a half-billion dollar middle infield. The Seattle Mariners added a Cy Young Award winning ace. And the Detroit Tigers added El Mago.
Meanwhile, the World Series champion Atlanta Braves still haven’t re-signed their leader, Freddie Freeman. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants haven’t done anything significant.
So how does all of the player movement — and those who are still waiting for a contract — impact the landscape of Major League Baseball?
As baseball goes dark for a lockout, let’s update our winter power rankings.
29. Pittsburgh Pirates — what are they doing? Trade a gold glove catcher and bring in… Jose Quintana?
28. Minnesota Twins — yes, they re-signed Byron Buxton. They have not replaced Jose Berrios. And their division is improving around them. Their young players need to grow up quickly (and stay healthy) for them to stay in the mix in the AL Central.
27. Washington Nationals — Juan Soto is their lone bright spot. They need to add around him before he starts thinking about his eventual $500 million contract.
26. Colorado Rockies — the Rockies have interest in Trevor Story and Kris Bryant? Why? They’re a nice team that refuses to go for it in a way that makes sense.
25. Cincinnati Reds — what do we make of the Reds? The For Sale sign is up and their lineup is older. Jonathan India and Joey Votto might be the only guys left watching in April.
24. Baltimore Orioles — Cedric Mullins is legit and there is more coming in Baltimore. They’re on their way up, but aren’t there yet.
23. Cleveland Guardians — they still have a stable of strong pitching and Jose Ramirez. Beyond that, the rebrand is all anyone has to talk about in Cleveland.
22. Chicago Cubs — the last-minute signing of Marcus Stroman on Tuesday night is a huge get for the Cubs, who had been surprisingly quiet thus far in free agency. Yan Gomes and Clint Frazier add some depth but this roster is still not competitive.
21. Oakland A’s — like the Reds, the A’s are apparently getting ready to sell. The good news is their great pieces could bring back strong value in a trade market. The bad news: they still need a new stadium.
20. Kansas City Royals — Bobby Witt, Jr. should arrive next year with a bang, and they have a collection of arms coming that most teams envy. But they aren’t there yet.
19. Texas Rangers — their middle infield is now historically well paid. But Corey Seager and Marcus Semien don’t pitch, and the rest of their lineup needs work still.
18. Miami Marlins — we like the direction the Marlins are heading. Adding Jacob Stallings behind the plate was genius. And their pitching is going to be really good. Derek Jeter might know what he’s doing.
17. Detroit Tigers — another team loaded with young pitching and an interesting lineup that made a couple smart moves. Javier Baez will make their infield defense and lineup better from Day one. Eduardo Rodriguez is a pro. And Spencer Torkelson is coming.
16. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — Shohei Ohtani was like nothing we’ve ever seen this year. If he can do that again, and they get a healthy Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon back to their career norms, the offense will play. Now about the rotation…
15. San Francisco Giants — Buster Posey retired and Kevin Gausman left in free agency. They’re lurking, but we’re struggling to see staying power in their performance last season.
14. Philadelphia Phillies — they have the NL MVP and a Cy Young contender in their rotation, but they still have needs. With the Mets improved and the Braves the reigning champs, Philly needs to do more.
13. Milwaukee Brewers — they ran away with a pathetic division last year but we wonder about them long term. They will return a strong rotation including the NL Cy Young winner, but their lineup still has question marks.
12. Toronto Blue Jays — we love the addition of Gausman and extension for Berrios, but who is going to replace Marcus Semien in the lineup? The Blue Jays are going to be in the mix for the AL East crown this year.
11. Seattle Mariners — we love what they’ve done so far, bringing in Robbie Ray to lead a young rotation. And the eventual promotion of Julio Rodriguez makes their young outfield lethal. They’re coming… and might not be done spending.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers
- Key Additions: Andrew Heaney, Daniel Hudson
- Key Outstanding FAs: Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly
- Key Departures: Max Scherzer, Corey Seager
Holy cow would you look at the departures and still pending free agents in LA?!? Heaney and Hudson are decent additions, and Trea Turner replacing Seager at short is a really good option to have. But the loss of Scherzer, potential loss of Kershaw and headache that awaits with Trevor Bauer cloud the immediate future for the Dodgers.
9. San Diego Padres
- Key Additions: Jorge Alfaro
- Key Outstanding FAs: Tommy Pham, Mark Melancon
- Key Departures: Adam Frazier
Last year was a disaster. So the Padres made arguably the biggest addition of the offseason, getting Bob Melvin to be their manager. If they’re healthy, the Padres’ rotation is still potentially elite. Their lineup, if healthy, is scary and deep. And the addition of Alfaro gives them a solid backup catcher. Don’t sleep on the Padres.
8. Boston Red Sox
- Key Additions: James Paxton, Michael Wacha
- Key Outstanding FAs: Kyle Schwarber, Adam Ottavino
- Key Departures: Eduardo Rodriguez
Boston lost Rodriguez to Detroit, but the low-cost additions of Paxton and Wacha to their pitching staff will help. They should also have Chris Sale for a full season next year. Again, the lack of a big-time deal here is a surprise.
7. New York Yankees
- Key Additions:
- Key Outstanding FAs: Anthony Rizzo, Brett Gardner
- Key Departures: Corey Kluber, Clint Frazier, Andrew Heaney, Rougned Odor
The lack of names in the Key Additions area is striking. The Yankees still have holes to fill and questions that need to be answered. But Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge make them a contender next year, even in an improved division.
6. St. Louis Cardinals
- Key Additions: Steven Matz
- Key Outstanding FAs: Matt Carpenter, Andrew Miller, Carlos Martinez, Jon Lester
- Key Departures:
The Cardinals are the best defensive team in the National League and finally get Carpenter’s awful contract off their books. The addition of Matz is a sneaky solid move to bolster their rotation. They’ll also get Jack Flaherty, a Cy Young-caliber ace, back next year.
5. Atlanta Braves
- Key Additions: Kirby Yates, Manny Pina
- Key Outstanding FAs: Freddie Freeman, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, Drew Smyly
- Key Departures:
What the hell are they doing with Freeman? Sign the man! The other potential losses — including the MVPs of the NLCS and World Series — will be offset by the return of Ronald Acuna, Jr. and the full-time promotion of Christian Pache. They’ll be fine… if they re-sign Freeman.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
- Key Additions: Corey Kluber
- Key Outstanding FAs: Nelson Cruz, Collin McHugh
- Key Departures: Joey Wendle, Mike Brosseau, Michael Wacha
The Rays “losing” Cruz isn’t a huge deal; they rented him at the deadline. Kluber is a classic Tampa move and they’ve added more young pieces in the trades of Wendle and Brosseau. Getting a long-term deal done with Wander Franco is the biggest win in franchise history.
3. New York Mets
- Key Additions: Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha
- Key Outstanding FAs: Michael Conforto
- Key Departures: Marcus Stroman, Javier Baez, Noah Syndergaard
The Mets are overwhelmingly better today than they were on the final day of the last season. Bringing back Stroman would have been awesome… but they already added an alpha at the top of their rotation. Marte is an enormous improvement in centerfield and Escobar is a terrific bat at third base.
2. Houston Astros
- Key Additions: Hector Neris
- Key Outstanding FAs: Carlos Correa, Zack Greinke
- Key Departures: Kendall Graveman, Yimi Garcia
They still need to figure out what’s going on with Carlos Correa, but the return of Justin Verlander will give their young rotation a swagger once again. They had the best offense and best defense in baseball last year. The Astros aren’t going anywhere, and have deep pockets to replace anyone who leaves.
1. Chicago White Sox
- Key Additions: Kendall Graveman
- Key Outstanding FAs: Carlos Rodon
- Key Departures: Cesar Hernandez
If the White Sox lose Carlos Rodon, they’ll be okay; they’re moving Michael Kopech’s electric arm into the rotation. We have to keep in mind that the White Sox are a) in a terrible division, and b) ran away with that division last year without Luis Robert or Eloy Jimenez for a significant part of the year. They’re young, loaded and ready to roll. They just need to figure out what they’re doing at second base. Trading Craig Kimbrel might fix that.