Technically, the offseason for baseball isn’t over. But with the Spring Training officially underway for the 2013 MLB season, we’re more than ready for the first pitch on March 31.
And while there could still be some moves made before Opening Night with the Rangers and Astros, there’s no better time than now to take a look at the six teams who had the best offseason.
6. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
For the second consecutive year the Angels went out and signed the top player on the free-agent market. While last season didn’t work out for the team, the Halos have to be extremely optimistic for 2013. Having Josh Hamilton hitting cleanup behind Albert Pujols is ridiculous. On paper, their lineup sounds like one of the best. Besides bringing in Hamilton, the club made some space by trading Kendrys Morales for the underrated Jason Vargas, a move that shifts Mark Trumbo to the DH position. They also acquired closer Ryan Madson and pitchers Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton for the bottom of their rotation.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
It’s easy to forget that the Dodgers made their biggest moves, the trades for Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett, during last summer. However, they were able to sign the best available pitcher on the market. The Dodgers may now have the most dominant starting pitcher duo in the game with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. And just to sure up their rotation, they won bidding for Korean starter Hyun-Jin Ryu.
4. Cleveland Indians
The Tribe were one of the busiest teams during the offseason, which all began by signing manager Terry Francona. They followed that up by signing Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds at reasonably priced one-year deals, which should upgrade their rotation and offense. Then there was acquiring pitcher Trevor Bauer in the Shin-Soo Choo trade, a move that could be a steal. Cleveland appeared to winding things down with the signing of Nick Swisher to a 4-year/$56 million contract. Swisher’s deal made a lot of sense, when compared to something like the Dodgers giving $85 million last summer to Andre Ethier. There’s no doubt that Swisher will provide solid offense in right field. And just to prove how serious the Tribe were about contending, they signed Michael Bourn.
3. Atlanta Braves
The Braves made plenty of moves to make them a younger and stronger team, while remaining at the same payroll level in 2012. They picked up B.J. Upton as free agent, dealt Martin Prado to Arizona for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson, ditched the disappointing Jair Jurrjens and sent Tommy Hanson to the Angels for potentially dominant Jordan Walden.
2. Washington Nationals
After a spectacular 2012 effort, Washington really didn’t have to do all that much. But the Nats showed everyone during the offseason that they’re for real. They acquired center fielder Denard Span from Minnesota, which shipped Michael Morse to Seattle and brought back prospect AJ Cole. They resigned first baseman Adam LaRoche. Replaced Edwin Jackson with Dan Haren. And closed things out by getting closer Rafael Soriano. In short. The Nats were filthy this offseason.
1. Toronto Blue Jays
No other team made a bigger splash this offseason than the Blue Jays. Toronto made headlines early in offseason in the blockbuster trade with Miami in which they acquired Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, and Emilio Bonifacio. They also signed Melky Cabrera to a two-year deal for $14 million. Finally, they traded for NL Cy Young winner RA Dickey from the Mets and gave him a two-year extension. While the Blue Jays are now favorites to win the World Series, it has to be within the next two seasons because after that contracts will be up. But for now, Toronto has a nasty team to compete against.
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