The 2019 baseball regular season is here, and that means it’s time to take a look back at the offseason moves to see which teams made the best improvements this winter. It was a slow free-agent market in terms of the two biggest guys on the market, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, who didn’t sign until spring training was underway. Let’s see if waiting on the big-name guys helped get the Padres or Phillies on this list.
The Twins didn’t make any splashy offseason moves, but they added some good players who could help them get past the .500 mark this season after going 78-84 in 2018. Minnesota focused on adding to the offense, and their two biggest additions there were DH Nelson Cruz and utility player Marwin Gonzalez.
Cruz is on the back end of his career as he will turn 39 in July, but he can still hit for power — he hit 37 home runs with the Mariners last year. Gonzalez is coming off a down year in which he hit just .247 with 16 home runs, but he can play at virtually any position other than pitcher and catcher. That versatility in the field is a benefit, and the Twins got him for a bargain, giving him $21 million over two years. The Twins also added 1B C.J. Cron and 2B Jonathan Schoop this winter. If the Indians falter this year, then the Twins could compete for the division title in a bad AL Central.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have been thin in the starting rotation in recent seasons, and that was where their focus was this offseason. They signed SPs Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill and added RP Cody Allen to the back of the bullpen to close out games. But the Angels’ most important offseason move came when they locked up OF Mike Trout — probably the best player in the majors — with a long-term extension that will pay him $430 million over the next 12 years. That contract ensures that Trout will be leading the Angels for the foreseeable future.
Phillies fans were hoping their team would sign at least one of Harper or Machado. Harper’s 13-year contract was obviously the Phillies’ biggest move of the winter, but they also added some other key pieces.
They traded for catcher J.T. Realmuto, and they signed SS Jean Segura and OF Andrew McCutchen to help boost the offense. They also shored up the bullpen by signing RP David Robertson, who had a 3.23 ERA with the Yankees a year ago. The slew of offseason move positioned Philadelphia as a favorite to win the NL East this season.
New York Mets
The Mets didn’t want the Phillies to get all of the headlines in the NL East with their offseason moves, so they made a major deal of their own. New York acquired 2B Robinson Cano and RP Edwin Diaz in a trade with the Mariners. Diaz recorded an MLB-best 57 saves in 2018 with a 1.96 ERA and 124 strikeouts. The Mets also signed veteran 3B Jed Lowrie and C Wilson Ramos as part of their infield makeover.
The Reds had a productive winter, with the bulk of their additions coming in a seven-player deal with the Dodgers in December. In that deal, the Reds acquired OFs Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, C Kyle Farmer and SP Alex Wood. They also traded for SP Sonny Gray, who struggled with the Yankees last season and is looking to bounce back in 2019. The Reds are in a tough NL Central and probably won’t contend this year, but the offseason moves indicate they’re trying to stay competitive.