The offseason for MLB has been well under way for over a month now, but some of the biggest moves and signings have happened just recently during the Winter Meetings in San Diego. This is the first Winter Meetings that have occurred since 2019— before covid— and it did not disappoint, with teams spending well over $2 billion in free agency thus far with still plenty more free agents to be signed.
Jacob deGrom— Texas Rangers: five years $185 million
B+: The Rangers have managed to pull the top free agent starter off the market and bring him to the top of their rotation for the next five years. Despite the Rangers’ need to build a strong starting rotation, having deGrom at the top of it can be a risky move that they are hoping will pay off. deGrom has had a long injury history, and the now 33 year- old starter will look to bring a World Series trophy to Texas, but it doesn’t seem like Texas will stop at just deGrom.
Justin Verlander— New York Mets: two years, $86 million
C+: After losing out on deGrom, Steve Cohen didn’t waste any time doing what he does best: spend money. This time, it’s the reigning 2022 AL Cy Young, Justin Verlander who just came off his best season to date. The Mets’ rotation hasn’t gotten any better— with Verlander essentially replacing deGrom— but it hasn’t gotten worse. Now, the Mets have two near 40 year old starters atop their rotation, which I would say is a risk the Mets and Steve Cohen are willing to take.
Trea Turner— Philadelphia Phillies: 11 years, $300 million
A: The first of the four big free agent shortstops is heading to Philadelphia, home to the 2022 NL Champions. After a loss in the World Series to the Astros, Dave Dombrowski wasn’t going to hold any money back and signed one of the biggest free agents this winter in Trea Turner. Dombrowski and the Phillies certainly aren’t stopping at just a World Series appearance, and adding Turner to an already stacked lineup will hope to put the Phillies atop the NL East. But given Turner’s young age (29) and an 11 year deal, you may start to see some regression later on in the contract, but that hopefully shouldn’t be a concern as of now.
Josh Bell— Cleveland Guardians: two years, $33 million
A-: The Guardians’ offense consisted heavily of high contact players, and it took them to the top of the AL Central and the ALDS, but no further. The Guardians literally had the weakest production from DH in the league last season, adding in Bell, a power switch-hitting DH/1B will heavily increase their offensive production in their lineup. It’s a great fit for the Guardians, assuming they will bat Bell behind All-Star 3B Jose Ramirez, to give them some more power in their lineup.
Willson Contreras—St. Louis Cardinals: five years, $87.5 million
A: With the retirement of sure-to-be Hall of Famer Yadier Molina, the Cardinals have been without a primary catcher since 2003. Enter Willson Contreras. Contreras is a perfect fit for the Cardinals, and they made a big splash by snatching him from their division rival Cubs. Defensively, Contreras may be a liability and isn’t half the glove that Yadier provided for them. But offensively, Contreras is a large upgrade in the lineup over Molina. Overall, the Contreras will have big cleats to fill in the retirement of Yadier Molina.
Xander Bogaerts— San Diego Padres: 11 years, $280 million
B-: Considering GM AJ Preller lost out on both Trea Turner and Aaron Judge after giving out large offers to both of them, it isn’t surprising that Preller pivoted to another big free agent, this time in Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts has provided two World Series titles with the Red Sox, and over the course of 11 years, will look to bring the first title to San Diego. For most of his career, Bogaerts’ defense at short hasn’t been spectacular, but with that said, his presence will most likely slide Ha-Seong Kim over to second and bump Fernando Tatis—when he returns— to the outfield. The addition of Bogaerts to Xan Diego will consist of a lot of moving parts around the depth chart, but is certainly a fun move for the league.