With spring training quickly approaching, most teams have made their big decisions. While some enticing free agents are still on the board, for the most part, the heavy lifting of the offseason is over. As a result, barring any huge trade or massive roster overhaul, we can adequately assess who the losers of the 2015-2016 free agency period are.
Thus far, Minnesota's biggest moves have been to bring in Korean slugger Byung-ho Park, and sign Fernando Abad to a minor league deal. While Park could have success at the major league level, as he was one of the most prolific home run hitters in the KBO from 2012-2015, the Twins don't seem to have done enough to improve their team for 2016.
A full season of Miguel Sano, and improvements from Byron Buxton will undoubtedly boost their offensive prowess, however their pitching staff isn't good enough to compete for the playoffs. As of now, their rotation consists of Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson, Tyler Duffey, and Tommy Milone.
Together, they project for a combined fWAR of 7.7, or 0.3 points better than what Clayton Kershaw is expected to produce on his own. After a surprisingly successful year in which the Twins were in the race for the second wild card, it's been disappointing to see their lack of activity this offseason.
The Orioles brought back two marquee free agents in Chris Davis and Darren O'Day, but it doesn't seem like either move will get them closer to playing playoff baseball. While both players are elite in their own regards, the Orioles desperately needed to upgrade their starting rotation, and have yet to do so.
Wei-Yin Chen left on a five-year deal, which leaves the Orioles with a rotation of Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Gausman, and Mike Wright. Simply put, that starting staff cannot help carry a team to the playoffs. While bringing back Davis and O'Day helps the Orioles maintain production at those positions, Dan Duquette just didn't do enough to elevate Baltimore back to a playoff-contending team.
The Angels are one move away from being taken off this list; but barring a trade for Jay Bruce, or a signing of Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond, or Howie Kendrick, they should be considered a loser. If the season began today, their starting left fielder would be Daniel Nava, and their starting second baseman would be Johnny Giavotella.
For a team with hopes of making the playoffs, those are two giant holes in their lineup. They also might be without Albert Pujols for the start of 2016, which further complicates the issue. Their owner, Arte Moreno, appears unwilling to allow his team's payroll to break the luxury tax threshold, and it's greatly affected their ability to improve offensively. Yunel Escobar should help offset the loss of David Freese, and Andrelton Simmons is essentially the same hitter as Erick Aybar (with far superior defense).
FanGraphs has projected the Angels to win 81 games next year, which would put them right on the cusp of contention. While Fowler, Desmond, or Kendrick wouldn't guarantee them a spot in October, any one of those players would undoubtedly increase Anaheim's odds. Mike Trout is a free agent after the 2020 season, and it would be irresponsible to not do everything possible to put the best team around him.
The Nationals have been busy this offseason, and while they were able to sign Daniel Murphy, Oliver Perez, Yusmeiro Petit, Stephen Drew, and Bronson Arroyo, it's who they didn't get that landed them on this list. Washington was reportedly one of the finalists for Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, and Yoenis Cespedes, but for various reasons, all three decided to play elsewhere.
The Nationals also still have Jonathan Papelbon, which is unacceptable. While the chances of trading him were slim, it's unfathomable that Washington hasn't cut him. He's due $11 million for the 2016 season, but the moment that he choked a member of the Nationals, (it really doesn't matter that it happened to be Bryce Harper) that should have been the end of his tenure in D.C.
Unlike most of the teams on this list, Washington's failures this offseason won't cripple their chances of making the playoffs. They still have the NL's reigning MVP, a fantastic rotation, and a new manager that can hopefully turn their fortunes around. But that being said, it's impossible to ignore their inability to sign big ticket free agents this offseason.
The Reds weren't expected to sign any notable free agents this offseason (which they haven't), but they were expected to seriously start their rebuilding process (which they've tried to do). Unfortunately for Cincinnati, they've fired off two of their biggest trade bullets, and have relatively nothing to show for it.
In the package for Todd Frazier, the Reds acquired Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, and Brandon Dixon. Peraza is the "jewel" of the group, but his 2015 season was brutal. At three different stops last year, Peraza produced a wRC+ of 97 at AAA with Atlanta; a wRC+ of 79 at AAA with the Dodgers; and in a small sample size of 25 PA's with the Dodgers at the big league level, a wRC+ of 44.
As for the deal that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees, the Reds once again got swindled, albeit for a different reason. Chapman's value took an enormous dive after his domestic violence incident was made public, which caused a deal with the Dodgers to fall through. While Cincinnati could have chosen to hold onto Chapman for part of the 2016 season, and hoped for the dust to settle, instead they sent him off to New York for a package of Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, Tony Renda, and Caleb Cotham.
Davis could develop into a major league starter, as his minor league numbers have been good in his four year career, but he's the only one that seems to have a chance to make an impact for the Reds. While they still have Jay Bruce as trade bait, he won't be able to make up for Cincinnati's subpar moves thus far.
The Rockies are a hard team to watch. They never have a shot at bringing in big name free agents due to their inability to consistently win, and no pitcher wants to wind up in Colorado. Even super-ace Kershaw can't pitch well at Coors. In 17 career starts (103 innings), he owns an ERA of 4.62. With an inability to entice valuable players to come to the Rockies, their front office needs to do everything they can an to acquire controllable talent; which makes it all the more confusing as to why Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez are still on the team.
While the outfield market was saturated this offseason, it seems likely that Jeff Bridich still could have brought back top prospects in exchange for his outfielders. Yet for reasons unknown, Bridich not only held onto them, but he also added Gerardo Parra on a three year deal.
Colorado probably has a plan that they're trying to stick to, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to figure out what it is. For teams like the Cubs and Mets, it was easy to see what their ultimate goal was; but that's simply not the case with the Rockies. They traded their franchise cornerstone in Troy Tulowitzki last year, which seemingly signaled that their other valuable players were going to be moved; but that didn't happen.
More than any other team in baseball, the Rockies need to build a system from within, as they can't realistically expect to compete with teams that have larger pockets, and a stadium other than Coors Field. They already have an enviable farm system, but that shouldn't prevent them from loading up on even more talent.