In what has been a somewhat slow offseason up to this point, the MLB transaction wire has had its highs and lows ever since the World Series ended. While big trades have dominated the ticker, signings have pushed certain teams to higher win totals than previously projected.
Here is the list of the ten best moves of the MLB offseason so far.
10. Paul Goldschmidt becomes a Cardinal
In an act to keep up with the arms race in the National League Central, the Redbirds went out and sought generational pieces, one that can turn into a franchise cornerstone for many years. With the Arizona Diamondbacks looking to cut salary and reset a bit, this was a perfect deal for both sides.
While Arizona did not get a huge prospect package for their first baseman, they did receive enough pieces to restock the cupboard for the future. Meanwhile, Goldschmidt has the fast-track to helping his new squad return to the playoffs, as the Cardinals are still trying to gain enough footing to compete with the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs for the divisional crown.
9. Jimmy Rollins rejoins the Phillies
In a non-player move, having Rollins join the Phillies front office is a big-time win for the team, as their roster overhaul will need to have some veteran feedback and input instilled into it in order to succeed early on. By adding the types of pieces that they did, and more on this later, Rollins will be able to help manager Gabe Kapler control all of the new pieces from the get-go, getting this team back on the winning track and justifying all of its offseason moves.
A player that is one of Philadelphia’s best players of all-time, Rollins comes back to the franchise where he made a name for himself. Being able to help out his former team will be a big first step if he wants to become a manager down the road.
8. James Paxton puts on pinstripes
The first domino that fell for the Seattle Mariners, shipping out Paxton to the Yankees was helpful for a team that was rebuilding and looking to cut costs while adding top-notch prospects. New York felt comfortable giving Justus Sheffield, among others, to the Mariners because their current rotation is in a solid-enough spot that he would not have a huge impact this year unless for injuries.
Paxton will slot into the Bronx’s rotation as its best lefty and will give C.C. Sabathia another southpaw to refine his game on, a true help in the big man’s final season in the league.
7. Whit Merrifield, Royals shut down trade rumors
A constant player included in trade rumors before last season’s trade deadline, Merrifield was seen as a young piece of the up-and-coming Kansas City Royals who have never been the same since 2015. Even with that potential, he was still rumored to be included in a plethora of rumors.
Much to the surprise of fans around the league, the two sides came to and agreed upon a four-year extension to keep Merrifield in town, a sign of respect from the franchise to the player for remaining strong through constant doubt about his job security.
6. Brewers add another piece to puzzle
In what may very well be the most surprising move of the offseason, Yasmani Grandal and the Milwaukee Brewers came together and agreed upon a one-year agreement with a mutual option to keep the backstop in Brewtown through 2020. A position that lacked the offensive firepower to make it successful, Grandal brings a great presence behind the plate.
Installing Grandal as the starter pushes incumbent Manny Pina, who is a defensive stalwart but is offensively challenged, to second string and will most likely leave postseason hero Erik Kratz out of a job unless an injury strikes. The Brewers were so close to making a World Series appearance, and Grandal pushes them even closer to making that prestigious next step.
5. Dodgers get their center fielder
In a surprise that no one saw coming, the Los Angeles Dodgers spent big-time money on a player.
Now for the real update.
By waiting out the market and letting A.J. Pollock garner offers and understand his true value, the Dodgers swooped in and signed the former Diamondbacks center fielder to a four-year deal that will help LA solidify their outfielder after shipping out both Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Cincinnati Reds in an earlier offseason deal. Pollock is a solid addition in the field and can handle the bat efficiently as well, helping boost the team’s chances of making another WS berth.
4. King Felix gets a running mate
In an act to try and get any final production out of Felix Hernandez, the Seattle Mariners went out and signed Yusei Kikuchi from Japan. He was one of the biggest arms out on the market, and in an act to try and replicate the success that the Angels had after signing rookie of the year phenom Shohei Ohtani, Kikuchi joins a staff that needs help.
Hernandez has been counted on for much too long to lead the staff by himself, and while there have been efforts to bring in other shutdown arms to help shoulder the load, Kikuchi is the first legitimate option for the Marines.
Kikuchi should have great success out in the Pacific Northwest, pitching for many years in the dampness that is Seattle and help Hernandez hopefully earn a playoff berth before he retires.
3. Manny Machado gets religious
As one of the biggest free agents looking for the biggest payday along with Bryce Harper, Machado went and followed the Brinks trucks to California, where he is joining the San Diego Padres and their young core. Couple that with their outstanding farm system, and they are a few moves or player developments away from really becoming big-time competitors in the NL West.
While not on the level of the Dodgers yet, at some point during his ten-year deal, this team will compete and probably pass up LA for the divisional crown. Just not yet.
2. Marquee free agents still unsigned
The lone non-move of the list, by having both Harper and Kimbrel still out in free agency with spring training starting, this shows the issues that teams are having with managing money while showing the issues that players are having with how much they are asking for in contracts.
While Machado’s deal has set the market for both of them, no other teams may want to make that same monumental agreement with a proven player. While both players will sign at some point, this could drag on for a while, as both will need to address their asking price versus what teams are willing to offer.
1. J.T. Realmuto finally escaped Miami
Finally getting out of whatever the hell is happening with the Marlins, Realmuto was moved to the Phillies in what seems to be the bow on their offseason, unless they decide to add Dallas Keuchel and Kimbrel like they have been rumored to be interested in.
Regardless, Realmuto goes from being on a team that will be lucky if they don’t lose 100 games to a team that has an outside chance of threatening to represent the NL in the WS. While the Phillies will need one season to get fully acclimated to its roster turnover, there is a good chance that this team can pull it together and make 2019 the first of many successful campaigns.