In most years, extrapolating off-season activity into on-field results is an exercise in futility. Divisions are won in August, not January; any number of things can and will happen between now and then that will render most offseason transactions insignificant. But hey, it’s a cold, hard five months from November to April, and fans gotta talk about something.
Now that we’re roughly halfway through the 2022-23 offseason — and nearly all of the high-profile free agents have made up their minds — it’s time we checked in on the biggest movers and shakers of the winter so far.
RISER: New York State Income Taxes
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the winter’s biggest spenders, hands-down, were the Yankees and Mets. Spotrac’s offseason spending data places the two New York clubs as the only franchises to commit north of $500 million to free-agent and arb-avoidance signings. The headliners heading for the Bronx include Aaron Judge (nine years, $360 million), Carlos Rodón (six years, $162m), and Anthony Rizzo (two years, $34m), while Steve Cohen shelled out a combined $450 million to bring Justin Verlander, Edwin Diaz, Brandon Nimmo, José Quintana, and Kodai Senga to Flushing. Suffice it to say, the rich are getting richer (even as they get poorer).
If you’re a Met or Yankee fan, this is tremendous. There’s nothing more encouraging than your favorite team investing in its own product. And the best part is, they’ll probably do it again next year — as each team’s active World Series drought increases (currently 36 and 13 years, respectively) their billionaire owners become more and more motivated to spend. If this trend continues, they may buy out the whole league by 2030!
FALLER: Carlos Correa‘s Fibula
“The one that got away” from Uncle Steve Cohen this year (or the bullet dodged, depending on your perspective) was free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa. We all know the tragic and bizarre saga that led Scott Boras’ keystone client from Minnesota to San Francisco to New York, and then back to Minnesota in the end. But the real loser in this situation was an innocent little ligament and the long-since-healed bone that it supports. Did anyone stop to consider the feelings of Correa’s right fibula when they were dragging its name through the mud? No, of course they didn’t. After all, a good fibula is like an umpire; nobody ever talks about them when they’re doing their job right.
RISER: Washington Then-ators
Of course, it was the Twins who came away with Correa’s services in the end — for a cool $150 million less than he was initially promised by the Giants. Minnesota followed that up with a trade for Marlins starter Pablo López, along with a previous signing of free-agent slugger Joey Gallo, which should put them in contention for the A.L. Central title once again. Not to mention they were the team that arguably gained the most from this year’s inaugural MLB Draft Lottery, where they turned the 13th-best odds into the fifth overall pick in the draft.
The team picking immediately before them in said draft is the Texas Rangers, who saw their own slot jump from seventh to fourth place in the lottery. The Rangers also spent a lot of money this offseason, filling their rotation with a $246 million investment in Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, and Andrew Heaney. And what else do the Twins and Rangers have in common? They both used to be known as the Washington Senators. Boom!
FALLER: Arte’s Angels
This one may be a little harsh, but what have the Angels done to earn the benefit of the doubt? L.A.’s biggest additions of the offseason are Tyler Anderson and Brandon Drury, both of whom are solid players signed for relatively cheap. But the most important move on their agenda — Arte Moreno selling the team — will remain undone. This bodes very poorly for the 2023 Angels’ vibes, and more importantly, for their chance of retaining the uber-generational talent that is currently carrying their franchise (Shohei Ohtani). Seems less than ideal.
RISER: Los Hermanos Contreras
The reunion of William and Willson Contreras in last year’s All-Star Game was a lovely story, but 2023 should be even better for the backstop brothers. Both players changed teams in the offseason, as Willson signed a five-year, $87 million free-agent contract with the Cardinals and William went to Milwaukee in a blockbuster trade. Each finished comfortably in the top five among all catchers in wRC+ last season, and now they’re both full-time starters; moreover, Willson traded his spot in the depleted Cubs lineup for a full season hitting behind Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Buy Contreras stock now.
FALLER: The Poor A’s
It feels like piling on at this point, but you can’t mention the William Contreras trade without acknowledging how the Oakland A’s fleeced themselves yet again. In exchange for Sean Murphy — the #3 catcher in baseball last year by fWAR — they received three mediocre pitching prospects, a 23-year-old utilityman, and Manny Piña. They also traded away Cole Irvin this week, and on top of it all, have to deal with this:
Going the other way in the Cole Irvin trade pic.twitter.com/vMw02LOxAh
— Razzball (@Razzball) January 26, 2023
Please, Elon. Haven’t the fans suffered enough?
RISER: The Marlins Batting Average (This is a Bad Thing)
The N.L. East is loading up once again, with the Braves, Mets, and Phillies stocking up on talent. Then there are the Marlins, who are doing this:
The 2021 AL batting average leader after getting the 2022 AL batting average leader
trade for DJ LeMahieu next, please https://t.co/zYxh9tEnTC
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) January 21, 2023
Of course, to get Luis Arraez (the 2022 A.L. batting average leader) they gave up Lopez, and arguably got worse. They also gave away Elieser Hernandez to the Mets, further depleting their starting pitching depth behind Sandy Alcantara… in favor of rostering 5+ second basemen. Do you see what I’m getting at, here?
FALLER: The White Sox’ Batting Average (This is a Good Thing)
The vibes haven’t exactly been great around the Chicago White Sox since they completed their hugely disappointing 2022 season, especially considering their biggest free agent signing has been… checks notes uh, Mike Clevinger. Whoops. Still, they’ve managed to rid themselves of Tony LaRussa, and that has to count for something. New manager Pedro Grifol comes highly recommended, and his staff’s new offensive philosophy is simple: stop hitting so many singles. That starts with new hitting coach José Castro, who comes from the XBH-mashing school of thought in Atlanta. Gotta start somewhere!
RISER: Philly Expectations
When Trea Turner agreed to spend the next 11 years of his life in Philadelphia last month, he knew what he was signing up for. Along with the $300 million entering his bank account, he’ll receive a lifetime commitment from the Philly faithful to care deeply about everything he does on the baseball diamond, for better or worse. It’s what makes Phillies fans so darn special. And with all the money Dave Dombrowski has committed to Turner, Bryce Harper, and others, they’re justified in expecting more from this year’s club.
The Phillies have had a good offseason. They brought in Taijuan Walker on a four-year contract, shored up their bullpen with Matt Strahm and Craig Kimbrel, and gave former-interim-manager Rob Thompson a much-deserved two-year leash on the official gig. Maybe if the Eagles win the Super Bowl, this year will just be chill for Phillies fans? Is that too much to ask?
FALLER: Tampa Bay Tomfoolery
Finally, this one hurts. We’ve always known the Rays to be a transient entity; an ever-changing organization that capitalizes on value then moves it when the time is right. It’s what they do. I just never thought I’d see the day when the Rays break camp without the very soul of their enterprise — that is, Brett Phillips and Ji-Man Choi. The former was released in August, and the latter was traded to Pittsburg in November. These decisions may have been smart from a business standpoint (most Rays decisions are), but they’re certain to result in a tragic downturn in slapstick comedy.
Ah, well. We’ll always have the memories.
Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)
This type of article: RISER 👏
Dude, You don’t think we’d prefer Elon over Fisher? I just want a heart beat that would focus on the team, could be literally anyone but who is there now