Every team is trying to improve their chances at a World Series title over the offseason, but some have more work to do than others. The Red Sox and Cardinals needed to make moves to stay on top, but the core of talent that brought them head-to-head in late October will still be there on opening day.
Other teams aren’t as lucky. They don’t just need a new shortstop or a catcher to replace a departing free agent. They were far from the Promised Land as the final games of the season were being played and then they may have lost even more to the ravishes of free agency. For these teams, one or two moves isn’t enough. It is time to rebuild.
There is more than one way to turn a team around. This offseason, teams have adopted a range of strategies to re-up and reload.
Rome in Day
Strategy: Superstars and scrubs
Still Seeking: Masahiro Tanaka, starting pitching
Last season, the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and for just the second time since the 1994 strike and that basically guaranteed a reenactment of their 2009 spending spree. Sure enough, the Yankees have already grabbed three of the top free agents on the market and now that Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka is being posted, they could make it four. By adding McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran, they have re-energized a lineup that finished 10th in the American League in runs scored in 2013 despite playing in one of the most pro-hitter parks in the game, but they still have to address the rotation and the bullpen.
While the headlines understandably revolve around the multi-million dollar deals, the Yankees can’t simply fix every hole with the best player available. After landing their top targets, the Yankees switched to a strategy that is more often associated with their rivals in
Strategy: Sell the Farm
Key Losses: Tyler Skaggs, Adam Eaton, Mark Davidson, Heath
Can this really be called a rebuild?
So, can the slightly retooled Diamondbacks contend in 2014? Beating the Dodgers to take the NL West seems like a stretch, but with two wild card spots up for grabs,
Adding Tanaka would help change the story some and it wouldn’t be surprising if Towers the Trader has another big swap up his sleeve. If that is the case, maybe this
The Wait is Over
Strategy: Be the Yankees
Key Losses: Carter Capps,
Still Seeking: Starting pitching with Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana as possibilities
Mariner’s fans have had to endure four losing seasons and they have been deprived of a playoff berth since 2001, but with a crop of talented young players hitting the majors now, the team has channeled their inner Steinbrenner and they are finally adding top talent. Unfortunately, they are doing it at top prices, but that might be unavoidable. While the strategy might not be a solid one over the long haul, the Mariners needed a radical change from the previous course after years of failing at other, more moderate methods of team building.
The Mariners gave Robinson Cano the sixth $200 million-plus deal in the history of the game this winter, and they certainly didn’t do that to try to win in 2018 or 2019. This is the end of the
The Long and
The White Sox
Strategy: Buy Upside, sell security
Key Losses: Hector
Still Seeking: more young talent
Under former-GM Kenny Williams (now the team's Executive VP), the White Sox had their own unique way of doing things and that is still the case with Rick Hahn at the helm. The White Sox hold a number of interesting pieces to dangle out on the trade market, but they have gone about things quietly. They found their way into the Mark Trumbo trade talks and walked away with one of the best deals of the offseason. They surprised most of the baseball world by winning the bid for Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu and they have made a number of low-cost, high-upside signings that could help drag them out of the basement in 2014 or else help them trade for more talent at the deadline if things go well.
The White Sox are still not a great team and their farms system isn’t expected to be ranked as elite after all these deals either, but it is clear that Hahn has a plan. He isn’t calling much attention to his own work, but he is building up the team's talent base with under-the-radar moves. With the financial resources
Strategy: Tanking for talent
Still Seeking: better Nielsen ratings
The Astros have lost more than 100 games for three straight seasons and it is hard to imagine things looking more bleak than did at the end of 2013. All of that losing has cost the team fans, but it has netted them a wealth of top prospects. Most of those players are still a year or more off, but the tide is beginning to turn in
The deal with the Rockies that brought Dexter Fowler to