The 2013-2014 Major League Baseball offseason resulted in several high-profile moves. So far, some players like Robinson Cano have lived up to the hype and some, like Shin-Soo Choo, have not.
Looking back to lower-profile winter signings or trades, several have turned out very well. Here are five moves that were not on everyone's radar but turned out to benefit the acquiring team.
The Cardinals sign SS Jhonny Peralta
Before heading to free agency prior to this season, Peralta had played in two All-Star games and shown a solid offensive and defensive track record.
However, the shortstop's stock took a hit when he was suspended 50 games for being involved in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. After finishing the 2013 season, Peralta signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for a four-year, $53-million deal. Being handed a big free-agent contract after serving a drug-related suspension did not bode well for some.
In 2014, Peralta has quietly been one of the best players of the league. Showcasing an above-average glove and hitting for a 127 wRC+, he has accumulated a 5.1 fWAR this season, which would be the highest of his career and sixth-highest in the National League.
Next year will be his age-33 season and some will be wary of his skills declining. But given the caliber of performance he has shown and that the contract is front-loaded, the Cardinals will be paying him more when Peralta is projected to be his finest.
The Rays acquire RHP Brad Boxberger
On January 22, the Rays and Padres completed a seven-player deal that sent Logan Forsythe to the Rays and Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn to the Padres.
Brad Boxberger, a right-handed reliever out of the University of Southern California, was included as a part of the package from the Padres. The righty pitched 22.0 innings for the Padres in 2013 and posted 2.86 ERA but struggled with his command (5.31 BB/9) and keeping the ball in the park (1.23 HR/9).
Despite his 2013 struggles, Boxberger's minor-league numbers suggested that he can strike hitters out. In five seasons, he posted a 12.73 K/9 with 3.32 K/BB.
Boxberger kept striking people out in 2014 and his command improved a notch -- resulting in 14.19 K/9 and 2.78 BB/9 with 2.01 ERA and 2.61 FIP. If the righty continues his high-strikeout, low-walk, disarming-lefties ways, the Rays have found themselves an elite reliever for the next few years.
The White Sox trade for OF Adam Eaton
The Southsiders acquired the 25-year-old outfielder through a three-player deal that also sent Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks and Tyler Skaggs to the Angels. Eaton struggled through a down 2013 season that was marred by a left elbow UCL sprain.
However, prior to that season, Eaton had a solid track record. He stole bases, got on base and hit for average in the minor leagues. In the Major Leagues, when healthy, he showed potential in 2012 by hitting for 119 wRC+ in 103 plate appearances.
The promises that Eaton showed in minor leagues and for the Diamondbacks in 2012 came to fruition this season. The outfielder has hit .313/.378/.418 and stolen 14 bases in 101 games. Overall, he has been good for a 2.7 fWAR, good for 12th among all American League outfielders.
With Eaton's youth and his talent, the White Sox got themselves a possible long-term centerfielder for left-handed pitcher Hector Santiago (1.1 fWAR this season for the Angels) and a minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs (.210/.291/.410 in 347 plate appearances in High-A).
The Royals sign LHP Jason Vargas
Since 2010, Vargas has been an epitome of serviceable-yet-unspectacular finesse lefty starter.
After accumulating 4.9 fWAR for 2010 and 2011 seasons, Vargas worried some by accumulating less than half of that in the next two seasons (2.3 fWAR in 2012 and 2013 combined). Moreover, many pointed out that his numbers would have looked worse in those four years without the benefit of two pitching-friendly ballparks - Safeco Field and Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
When the Royals took a flier on him in the 2013-2014 offseason by giving out four-year, $32-million deal, many saw it as only a marginal improvement of the team's rotation. Some were not even that kind.
But the Royals counted on a $8 million-a-year investment to be an integral part of the rotation and so far, Vargas has not disappointed. The lefty has a 2.5 fWAR, which is the second-highest among the team's starters after James Shields (2.8 fWAR).
The Dodgers re-sign 3B Juan Uribe
Uribe is a curious case. Earlier in his career with the White Sox, the third baseman showed strong defense while his bat was middle-of-the-road, ranging between 75 to 110 wRC+ between 2004 and 2008. After two years with the Giants in 2009 and 2010, in which he accumulated a solid 5.8 fWAR, he signed a three-year deal with the Dodgers.
The first two years out of three in L.A. were disastrous: hitting for a low .552 OPS overall. Many took it as the downward spiral stage of Uribe's career.
In 2013, however, Uribe came back in a big way by performing to a 5.0 fWAR with 115 wRC+, both the highest of his career. Los Angeles brought him back in this past offseason on a two-year, $15-million deal, hoping to squeeze out two more years of solid performances for his age-35 and 36 seasons.
Uribe has not disappointed. He has posted 2.4 fWAR this season while hitting for a .297 average, which would be the highest of his career. Fangraphs still rates his defense highly with 9.8 defense rating, which is the highest among all NL third basemen. Consider that he put up those numbers while battling hamstring strains throughout the season.
If Uribe can be healthier for 2015 and not fall victim to a steep decline, the Dodgers can expect another productive year from the Dominican veteran.