Off-Season Winners & Losers (So Far,) Part II

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Updated: January 30, 2017

We just posted the winners of this offseason so far; in an offseason highlighted by fiscal responsibility (for the most part,) there were more team winners making smart, short-term moves. The few teams that lost, though, potentially lost big. Here they are!

New York Yankees – The Yankees have been reloading, big time. Trading away all-stars like Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Brian McCann has allowed them to completely revamp their farm system, making it one of the best in the league. That’s why resigning Chapman to such a ludicrously massive contract makes no sense; the timeline just doesn’t add up.

True, the Yankees were competitive for much of last year, but you’d be hard-pressed to make the argument they’re better than the Red Sox, Blue Jays, or Orioles right now. Those premier prospects added last trade deadline are at least two to three years away from making an impact in the majors, and Chapman has an opt out after two years. It’s pretty obvious that if Chapman is still pitching at an elite level, he’ll opt out, forcing the Yankees to shell out even more money or lose him for nothing right when the team’s prospects are ready to vault them to contender status.

The Yankees also already boast one of the league’s most dominant relievers in Dellin Betances, and paying Chapman what he’ll be getting, (over $17 million a year, to be exact) is a luxury for a team that most likely won’t sniff the playoffs. Speaking of luxury, the Yankees have worked diligently over the past few years to purge themselves of massive contracts and avoid adding any new ones to get under the luxury tax threshold, and even though that cap is going up, the Yankees are spending what little room they have on a player they don’t really need.

Worse, if Chapman takes a dive, the Yankees will be forced to hold on to him for five years, which will affect their ability to add to their young core once they’re ready to contribute. On top of all that, Chapman has a limited no trade clause, which further puts a damper on the Yankees other option of potentially trading him. All in all, it’s hard to see what the Yankees were thinking here with this one.

Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays entered the offseason with some big-time free agents like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Cecil, and Michael Saunders, and some major holes to potentially fill. They Jays are firmly in win-now mode, and losing some or all of those players with no replacements was not an option. The Jays moved quickly to potentially fill a hole when Encarnacion inevitably priced himself out of their range, signing Kendrys Morales to a three year, $33 million dollar deal.

Well, that monster Encarnacion contract never materialized, and by the time he signed his bargain deal with the Cleveland Indians, the Blue Jays had no room for him because of Morales. Looking at the deals Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, and Bautista himself, (who did resign with the team on a one year, $18 million dollar deal,) it’s obvious the Jays completely misread the market for sluggers. Morales is a perfectly fine player, but he has zero versatility, as he’s nothing more than a designated hitter at this point, and isn’t nearly as valuable a hitter as Encarnacion or Trumbo. It appears as though the Blue Jays outsmarted themselves on this one, and should be considered losers because of it.

Minnesota Twins & Cincinnati Reds – Both of these teams entered the offseason as absolute bottom feeders; the Twins were the worst team in baseball last year and the Reds have been rebuilding for years with nothing to show for it. Neither team has done anything to move themselves forward at all this offseason.

While this might be by design for the Reds, the Twins were a surprise contender much of the year in 2015 and fancied themselves contenders heading into last season; adding Jason Castro at catcher is the only move of consequence and it hardly moves the needle, and the Reds have essentially done nothing. Fellow bottom feeders like the Atlanta Braves and even the Oakland A’s have made moves that appear to push them closer to respectability while the Twins and Reds seem content to tread water.

Sluggers – Encarnacion, Bautista, and Trumbo were all expected to land lucrative, multi-year deals, approaching or possibly even exceeding $100 million. None of those players signed for longer than three years or $60 million. Even players like Brandon Moss, Justin Turner, Michael Saunders, and Luis Valbuena accepted smaller deals, and players like Mike Napoli, Matt Wieters, and Chris Carter are still free agents at this late stage. I guess the old adage, ‘Chicks dig the long ball’ just doesn’t ring true anymore.

There you have it! The losers of this offseason. Teams seem to be entering free agency more cautiously than ever before, as it’s becoming more and more apparent that those massive free agent contracts just don’t work in the franchise’s favor. There is a much more importance being placed on draft picks and prospects than ever before. Teams are getting smarter when evaluating those long term, monster contracts as well as their own draft picks and prospects, and restraint is winning out. That is, until Manny Machado and Bryce Harper hit the market. Until then, enjoy the fact that your team didn’t hand out a contract your team will inevitably regret!

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