The offseason is nearly over, and while the media loves to focus on the superstar players like Zack Greinke, David Price, and Jason Heyward, it's important to take a look at some of the less heralded signings. Last year, Kansas City received their fair share of ridicule for handing Kendrys Morales a $9 million contract with a mutual option for 2016, but he rewarded them with 22 home runs, a wOBA of .364, and a wRC+ of 131.
It's impossible to know how every move is going to play out, but below are five teams that made under-the-radar moves which could pay huge dividends in 2016.
If you happen to be my biggest fan, then you'll know the Twins made my list of losers for the 2015-2016 offseason. That being said, their signing of Byung-ho Park could prove to be an enormous steal for Minnesota. He hit 173 home runs over his final four seasons in the KBO, and the Twins were able to sign him to a four year deal valued at just $12 million.
This deal comes with zero risk attached, as $3 million a year really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of a baseball organization. After a successful 2015 season, the Twins didn't add nearly as much via free agency as their fans had hoped they would; and while their rotation has a significant number of question marks, Park could prove to be a huge offensive threat.
In his first offseason as GM of the Mariners, Jerry Dipoto has come out with flying colors. He was able to bring back Hisashi Iwakuma, and he made two key signings to help Seattle's outfield. Neither Nori Aoki nor Franklin Gutierrez are household names, but both should provide a good amount of value for Seattle.
In 392 plate appearances in 2015, Aoki hit .287/.353/.380, with a wOBA of .326, and a wRC+ of 112. Throughout his career, he's been able to get on base at an above average rate, and putting him at the top of Seattle's lineup should provide the team with more opportunities to score.
As for Gutierrez, he had hugely successful 2015 season. In 189 PA's, Gutierrez blasted 15 home runs, and posted a slash line of .292/.345/.620. Nobody is expecting him to replicate those numbers, but he unequivocally proved that he still belongs on a major league roster.
The Royals had a surprisingly active offseason, and while the signings of Alex Gordon and Ian Kennedy are Kansas City's most talked about transactions, Dayton Moore made three other moves that deserve praise. With Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar, and possibly Danny Duffy in the bullpen, Moore could have chosen to commit his resources elsewhere. However even with his vaunted relievers, the Royals signed Joakim Soria (their former closer) to a three-year deal.
Moore also brought back Chris Young, and added Dillon Gee on a minor league deal. Neither move will push the Royals over the edge, but both signings make sense for Kansas City. Young has proved to be healthy over the last two seasons, and while his role moving forward is unclear, he provides the Royals with depth for the rotation.
As for Gee, he hasn't been a valuable major league starter since the 2012-2013 seasons, but at just 29 years of age, there's no reason to think he can't turn his career around. He's never spent considerable time in the bullpen, but Kansas City could try to transition him into a reliever, much in the way that they helped reinvent Davis.
Washington missed out on several top free agents this offseason, but their GM Mike Rizzo was able to add significant pieces to his bullpen for the 2016 season. Drew Storen was shipped off to Toronto, but Rizzo brought in Oliver Perez, Yusmeiro Petit, Shawn Kelley, and Trevor Gott.
That gives the Nationals a long man in Petit, a lefty-specialist in Perez, and two set-up men in Kelley and Gott. Petit is the only one projected for an ERA and FIP above four (4.02 and 4.11, respectively), however his ERA over the last four seasons has been between 3.56 and 3.86.
The 2015-2016 offseason will forever be remembered by Mets' fans as the year they re-signed Yoenis Cespedes; however there are two other acquisitions that should be tremendously helpful as New York prepares to defend their NL crown.
Jerry Blevins only threw five innings last year, but he appears to be healthy, and he should be a tremendous asset for the Mets. In his career, Blevins has a K/9 of 8.44, a BB/9 of 3.22, and a HR/9 of 0.85. Over 329.1 innings, he's posted an ERA of 3.53, and an FIP of 3.65.
The Mets also signed Antonio Bastardo, who unlike Blevins, can be a set-up man rather than a situational reliever. Right-handers have hit Bastardo better than left-handers of the course of his career, but he's still posted above average figures against both groups.
New York also has Sean Gilmartin in the bullpen, which gives the Mets at least three left-handed relievers, with Josh Edgin potentially coming back at some point in 2016. Sandy Alderson took a lot of grief this offseason, but he's done a fantastic job providing the Mets with much needed depth.