The offseason has become a time when teams across the league revamp their rosters in hopes of increasing their World Series chances for the upcoming campaign. In accordance with that mindset, this has led to several marquee players being on the move through free agency and the trade market to teams looking to contend in 2016. With all that in mind, here are the three biggest transactions made in the MLB this offseason.
3. Giants add Johnny Cueto
The San Francisco Giants have been one of the most dominant teams over the past six seasons — winning three World Series titles over that span — but they experienced a disappointing 2015 season, failing to reach the postseason. This has heavily influenced the Giants to shake things up by becoming one of the most active teams in the offseason, making several notable free-agent signings, headlined by the addition of pitcher Johnny Cueto on a six-year, $130 million deal.
Although Cueto struggled a bit last season after being acquired by the Kansas City Royals, he’s only a year removed from finishing second for the NL Cy Young award while playing for the Cincinnati Reds. In that same breath, he was still a reliable pitcher in the postseason for the Royals, holding a 2-1 record including pitching a two-hitter that gave Kansas City a 2-0 World Series lead over the New York Mets.
His addition provides the Giants with one of the best top of the rotations in the league with two pitchers who could be the ace of almost every other pitching staff in the league. Madison Bumgarner has been one of the top pitchers in the game over the last three seasons, posting a sub 3.00 ERA in each campaign. He had a strong 2015 season with an 18-9 record with a 2.93 ERA.
Bumgarner is also not that far removed from his record-breaking 2014 postseason run when he did it all for San Francisco, holding a 4-1 record with an eye-popping 1.03 ERA, two complete game shutouts, and a save in seven games to help him claim both the NLCS MVP and World Series MVP. All in all, the acquisition of Cueto along with Jeff Samardzija could be the moves that help the Giants add another odd-year World Series title to their mantel.
2. Cubs sign Jason Heyward
It was quite clear that the marquee free agent from this offseason, outfielder Jason Heyward, has already established himself as one of the best leadoff hitters and defensive outfielders in the majors. What also made him such a hot commodity was the fact that he was entering the free agent market at 26 years old, which is a rarity in its own right to see a player of his talent available at that age.
Heyward is a three-time Gold Glove winner who hit a career-best .293 last season in his lone campaign with the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s just entering the prime of his career, which could equate to a significant rise in his offensive production. There is plenty of potential for Heyward to further expand his game at the plate and become a more complete offensive player, which only makes his addition to the Chicago Cubs; one of the best moves of the offseason on a reasonable seven-year, $184 million deal.
He is joining a team that is full of young, talented players — who have also added additional pieces in free agency in Ben Zobrist and John Lackey — that only strengthen the team’s World Series chances this upcoming season and beyond. All in all, the Cubs have only further solidified their core group of players by acquiring another young and established rising star that will extend the window of opportunity to capture their first World Series title in over a century.
1. Diamondbacks acquire Zack Greinke
Heading into the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers had the clear-cut top priority of retaining their star pitcher, Zack Greinke, who had helped form arguably the best 1-2 punch in the majors, pitching alongside three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. He also had the best campaign of his career in 2015, leading the league with a 1.66 ERA and a 19-3 record that helped him finish second the NL Cy Young award voting.
This unsurprisingly led to Greinke opting out of his contract that still had three years and $71 million remaining. The Dodgers’ unwillingness to match Greinke’s contract demands opened the door for the Arizona Diamondbacks to step in and add one of the best pitchers in the game by signing him to a six-year, $206 million contract. They may have overpaid to get the 32-year-old, but his addition immediately gives them an ace on the staff on a much-improved rotation that also includes Shelby Miller.
It could potentially be a game-changing move that helps put the Diamondbacks into contention for not only a playoff spot but also the NL West division title with the likes of the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. This could most impact Los Angeles in 2016 losing one of the huge reasons for their sustained success over the last three seasons. The Dodgers have recovered nicely by adding a couple of arms in Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda, but neither pitcher is the caliber of pitcher that Greinke has become. All in all, it’s a move that could shake the entire landscape of the NL West.