By: Noah Wright
Some teams needed an extra boost to become a real contender. After a long off season, some of these teams have improved, very much. So much so they went from middle of the road teams to full on wild card or even division contenders in the MLB. (NOTE: This list is in no particular order)
- Philadelphia Phillies:
The Phillies made the most covered acquisition of the entire off-season, signing outfielder Bryce Harper to a mega deal. But that wasn’t the only deal they’ve made that’s garnered attention. Early into the off season, the Phils made a deal with the Mariners that sent them shortstop Jean Segura, LHP relief pitcher James Pazos, and RHP relief pitcher Juan Nicasio. After those 3 additions, the Phillies brought in another good lefty for the pen when they traded Luis Garcia to the Angels for Jose Alvarez. This is far from the last good move they made. After Alvarez, the Phillies went out and signed Andrew McCutchen to solidify a spot in the outfield. The Cutch signing was followed by the signing of David Robertson to add yet another late inning arm to this pen. The Phillies made another, very very significant move by trading top prospect Sixto Sanchez, former top prospect catcher Jorge Alfaro, and young minor league lefty Will Stewart for Marlins all-star, J.T. Realmuto.
- NY Mets:
A big rival of the Phils also got better in the form of the NY Mets. The Mets entered the off season with a lot of holes, but have filled all of them with good acquisitions. The pen was more than questionable, so the Mets went out, and traded for Edwin Diaz, a 2018 All-Star closer for the Mariners who’s still in his early to mid 20’s, Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ closer between 2015-2018, but was traded to the A’s during last year’s deadline, Justin Wilson, and Luis Avilan, which adds 2 solid left handed relief pitchers to a righty heavy pen. Add that with Seth Lugo, and youngster Drew Smith, this pen could be one of the most dangerous during 2019. The Mets’ also filled in their infield holes, namely 2B and catcher, by signing All-Star Wilson Ramos, and acquiring veteran Robinson Cano from the Mariners. They further added infield depth at third base and second base by signing Jed Lowrie.
- San Diego Padres:
The Padres didn’t really add a lot this off season, but it’s clear that they will show a lot of improvement this season. For one, they brought in one of the best third basemen in baseball, Manny Machado on a monster sized deal. The team only gets better with many of their young talents ready to take over everyday roles in the MLB. Middle infielder Luis Urias looks to receive a full year’s playing time during 2019. Hunter Renfroe showed a lot of improvement between 2017 and 2018. Francisco Mejia will eventually join a young and talented line-up, as will Fernando Tatis Jr. The team’s pitching has also improved with the arrival of young starters Joey Lucchesi, Jacob Nix, and the gold mine of pitching talent they have in the minors.
- Cincinnati Reds:
Even though the Reds have not yet reached a good enough line-up/roster that shouts “return to October”, the team definitely made strides to improve themselves. Cincinnati probably had the worst rotation in all of baseball last year, but they’ve made some decent attempts at fixing it. They’ve brought in Alex Wood, who’s been a solid pitcher throughout his career, along with potential inning eaters like Tanner Roark and Sonny Gray. Line-up wise, they’ve acquired outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig from the Dodgers in a deal that sent those two plus Wood to the Reds.
- Minnesota Twins:
The Twins will be looking to give Cleveland a run for their money in the AL Central. They added a lot of power between Nelson Cruz and C.J. Cron alone. But that wasn’t there only add on’s. The Twins then got second baseman Jonathan Schoop. While Schoop struggled last year, he’ll only be 27, and I feel like many others he can bounce back to be a solid .270/.330/.470 hitter with 20 home runs and plus defense. They’ll also benefit with Michael Pineda returning from Tommy John Surgery. Marwin Gonzalez’s positional versatility also adds another decent player to the Twins’ roster.
- NY Yankees:
The Yankees, while they entered the off season with a very good team, further added on to their loaded roster. The biggest name they’ve added is left handed starter James Paxton, who will be a very good #2 starter for the Yanks. Their other large get is right handed relief pitcher Adam Ottavino, who had a 2.43 ERA, 2.74 FIP, and just gave up 5 home runs in 77 and 2 thirds innings. It’s all the more impressive that he did that while playing with the Rockies, and played part of his games in one of the worst pitcher parks, Coors Field. They’ve also added D.J. Lemahieu, who while he might not be the same batter as he was in Coors, D.J. will definitely provide a very good glove at second, as well as the infield corners this year. Fill-in shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki could also prove to be an asset if he can even bounce back a little.
- Honorable mention: Chicago White Sox