The 2017 MLB offseason was definitely one of the craziest in recent memory. We saw relievers and closers earn a ton of money -- a new trend in today's world of baseball.
We saw some of the game's best hitters and pitchers get traded. And yes, some big-named players did change team in free agency, as is the case with every winter. But so far, the 2017 season has provided a great example that big trades and free agent signings don't always pay off. Blockbuster moves come with a blockbuster risk.
On the other hand, some major trades and signings have come as well as advertised. Actually, some of these transactions have been even better than advertised. As we head into the final months of the season, it's a good time to reflect on 15 of the biggest moves that took place in the offseason.
Here are eight that are succeeding, and seven that teams are regretting.
*Stats courtesy of MLB, ESPN and FanGraphs*
15 Paying Off: White Sox Restock the Farm
Up until this past winter, the Chicago White Sox didn't appear to be going anywhere. Star pitcher Chris Sale tore up some alternate jerseys the team was to wear in 2016. They decided it was time to move on from the southpaw, dealing him to the Boston Red Sox for a package of prospects that includes Yoan Moncada (Baseball America's No. 1 prospect), and flame-throwing pitcher Michael Kopech.
The White Sox weren't done there, trading away star outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for a trio of prospects, including the up-and-coming Lucas Giolito.
Chicago made more moves this July to add even more talent. But the bottom line is that their farm system is hands-down the best in baseball. It all came thanks to a couple of big trades that gave them a handful of future superstars.
14 Regretting: Blue Jays Sign Kendrys Morales
The Morales signing (three years, $33 million), isn't exactly a disaster. He's on his way to crushing 30 homers and finish with about 75-85 RBI. Morales has been a solid designated hitter, but home runs and RBI aren't the only story.
Morales has an alarming 21.9 percent strikeout rate, is batting a woeful .198 with runners in scoring position and is a huge reason why the Blue Jays ground into more double plays than any other team. In reality, the Blue Jays were better off keeping fan favourite Edwin Encarnacion, but thought it was safer to go with a cheaper Morales.
The Blue Jays have been one of baseball's worst hitting teams this year, and their lack of speed is a huge reason why. When you take a look at the detailed statistics, you do realize that Morales isn't doing much outside of hitting home runs.
13 Paying Off: Cubs Add Wade Davis
The Cubs took home the World Series in 2016, but lost rental closer Aroldis Chapman in free agency. Needing to replace him, Theo Epstein sent promising prospect Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals for another star closer, Wade Davis.
Up until mid-July, the Cubs were struggling and looked destined to miss the playoffs. But a recent surge has them in great position to successfully defend their World Series championship. Davis is a huge reason why they've stayed in the race all season long.
He's posted a 2.12 ERA and has struck out 48 batters in just 34 innings pitched, and has converted 20 saves. Davis is among the league's elite closers, and the Cubs (who have plenty of depth in their farm), only had to give up one piece to land him. This move is really paying huge dividends.
12 Regretting: Orioles Re-Sign Mark Trumbo
The Orioles qualified for the 2016 playoffs as the second wild card team in the American League. This was thanks in large part to a career season from outfielder Mark Trumbo, who clubbed 47 home runs and 108 RBI while posting a .256 batting average and .849 OPS.
Baltimore kept Trumbo, despite his awful defence and the basic knowledge that he wasn't going to repeat his 2016 success. He was given a three-year extension worth $37.5 million, and it's hurt the Orioles a ton.
Trumbo's on pace for 27 home runs and 80 RBI -- a far cry from what he posted last year. For all the Orioles have paid him, Trumbo has accounted for a very mere 0.3 WAR. Translation: He's being paid to do very little.
The Orioles would have been smarter to spend money to upgrade one of baseball's worst rotations in both 2016 and 2017.
11 Paying Off: Rockies Sign Greg Holland
It's been known for a few years now that the Colorado Rockies have had one of baseball's most potent lineups, thanks in large part to the air in the Mile High City. But figuratively, the Rockies have also had awful pitching.
So they went out and signed reliever Greg Holland on a modest one-year contract, and he's been one of the biggest impact signings in 2017. Holland has racked up 31 saves, 1.72 ERA and averages nearly 1.5 strikeouts per inning. He's helped the Rockies form one of baseball's top bullpens.
And oh, the move has REALLY helped out the Rockies. They are running away with one of the two NL wild card spots (the Arizona Diamondbacks being the other), which means playoff baseball will return to Colorado for the first time in eight years. So yeah, signing Holland was so worth it.
10 Regretting: Braves Attempt To Fix Rotation
Even though they're in the midst of a rebuild, the Atlanta Braves chose to sign a pair of pitchers in their 40s -- knuckle baller R.A. Dickey and the ageless Bartolo Colon. Both men are former Cy Young winners, but everyone knows they are well past their best-before dates.
Colon turned out to be a massive disappointment for the Braves, going 2-8 with an 8.14 ERA and 1.78 WHIP. If you're new to baseball and don't know these stats, they are very bad numbers. Colon was then traded to the Minnesota Twins.
Dickey hasn't been so bad, but not very good either. He's 6-7 with a 4.31 ERA, but hasn't really done a whole lot in helping Atlanta upgrade their rotation. There wasn't a reason for this young team to sign either guy. Unsurprisingly, neither moves really panned out.
9 Paying Off: Astros Add Josh Reddick
The Astros went all-in this past offseason, trading for veteran catcher Brian McCann signing veterans Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick. Though all three moves have helped the Astros, Reddick has easily had the biggest impact in making Houston the best team in the American League.
Reddick is currently batting .305 (the highest of his career thus far), with an .840 OPS and 2.3 WAR. He's provided plenty of speed and is one of baseball's toughest hitters to strike out, meaning he could be a huge weapon against Andrew Miller or Chris Sale in the playoffs.
The other good part? Houston got him on a relatively cheap four-year contract worth $52 million. For all he's provided to the Astros, Reddick's worth much more than that. He's going to be a huge part of this team's run to the World Series in October.
8 Regretting: Yankees Bring Back Aroldis Chapman
Okay, Chapman isn't exactly "failing" with the New York Yankees, but his mega contract is bound to come back and hurt them in multiple ways. Last year, the Yankees traded him at the trade deadline to the Chicago Cubs, getting prized prospect Gleyber Torres as part of the return.
Despite committing towards a rebuild, the Yankees brought back Chapman on a five-year deal worth $86 million. Considering how much heat he throws, along with his age (29), Chapman isn't going to be in his prime much longer. That arm will wear out over the next couple of years.
Chapman hasn't been that great, either. He's blown three saves and has a 3.38 ERA -- which isn't very good for a closer. Furthermore, the Yankees don't really need him. Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Adam Warren and Chad Green already form a great bullpen. The Yankees had no reason to bring back Chapman, and they're slowly learning that.
7 Paying Off: Indians Sign Edwin Encarnacion
The Cleveland Indians barely lost to the Chicago Cubs in seven games during the 2016 World Series. Being a small market team with a low budget, there wasn't much of a reason to make a big splash. But they thought -- what the heck -- and signed slugger Edwin Encarnacion to a bargain three-year deal worth $60 million.
As if Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez weren't scary enough, Encarnacion has made their potent offence that much scarier. He's on his way to hitting over 30 home runs and will come close to 90 RBI. Encarnacion started out slow, but has since re-emerged as one of baseball's hottest hitters.
This was a great pickup for the Indians. They were already good enough to win a World Series with their 2016 roster. But their chances are going to be that much better this fall.
6 Regretting: Cardinals Sign Brett Cecil
After missing the playoffs (something they're really not used to doing), the St. Louis Cardinals added reliever Brett Cecil on a four-year contract worth $30.5 million. Cecil -- who lost seven games for the Toronto Blue Jays last year -- got paid like he was an above-average reliever. He's fairly average at best.
Cecil's 3.57 ERA doesn't look so bad, but he has three losses and has blown six save opportunities. As such, the Cardinals have had one of baseball's worst bullpens and look prepared to miss the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
Last winter's free agent market had plenty of solid receivers that could have come much cheaper. Cecil's recent track record suggested he wasn't worth very much cash, but the Cardinals gave it to him. Now, they're learning the hard way.
5 Paying Off: Brewers Acquire Travis Shaw
Travis Shaw had a fairly successful 2016 season for the Boston Red Sox, hitting 16 homers, 71 RBI and accounting for a 2.3 WAR. But the Red Sox were convinced that Pablo Sandoval was capable of turning things around, so they kept him at third base and traded Shaw (along with two other players), for reliever Tyler Thornburg.
Thornburg suffered a shoulder injury as is done for the season. But Shaw has become a sensation in Milwaukee, and currently has them in a good position to make the playoffs. He's hit 23 homers, 73 RBI, is batting .297 and has a 3.6 WAR. He's come out nowhere to emerge as one of the best third basemen in the game.
Milwaukee is finally becoming a relevant franchise again, and they gave up very little to acquire the talented Shaw.
4 Regretting: Cardinals Steal Dexter Fowler from Cubs
Dexter Fowler was a key part of the Chicago Cubs World Series championship team in 2016, and set himself up nicely for a big pay day. A year after losing Jason Heyward and John Lackey to the Cubs in free agency, the Cardinals got back at their arch rivals and signed Fowler to a five-year deal worth $82.5 million.
Fowler, one of the game's best defensive outfielders and elite leadoff men, has been a major disappointment in St. Louis thus far. He's batting just .241 (a career .266 hitter, by the way), has a mere .785 OPS and is WAR is...0.0. That means the Cardinals are paying him all this money to make no positive nor negative impact.
St. Louis has a bad bullpen and a woeful lineup. They were better off using all this money elsewhere, as Fowler isn't doing his part. The Cardinals are about to miss the playoffs again, making this deal look worse.
3 Paying Off: Mariners Trade For Jean Segura
Looking to add more offence to a dangerous lineup that already featured Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager, the Seattle Mariners traded for leadoff man Jean Segura in a four-player deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It's worth noting the Mariners also landed pitcher Taijuan Walker in the deal, who has been a serviceable mid-rotation starter. Seattle recently signed the speedster to a five-year extension worth $70 million, and Segura's going to be well worth the money.
Segura is batting .326 and has stolen 12 bases while posting a 1.9 WAR. Segura is also among the best defensive shortstops in the game, and he's only 27 years of age. The Mariners haven't had a lot to celebrate over the years, but Segura promises to be a huge part of this team's future. He's been a major pickup.
2 Regretting: Giants Sign Mark Melancon
The San Francisco Giants had arguably baseball's worst bullpen last year, and it cost them big time in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs. Desperate to repair the damage, the Giants signed reliever Mark Melancon to a mega four-year contract worth $62 million, even though better closers/setup men were available.
Melancon had 47 saves for the Pittsburgh Pirates/Washington Nationals last season, racking up an insane 1.64 ERA. But Melancon has been a mess in San Fran, blowing four saves with an alarming 4.35 ERA.
To make matters worse, the Giants are in position to finish among the absolute worst teams in the majors this season. They were simply trying to break the trend of missing the playoffs in an odd year. That's simply not happening, and Melancon's struggles are a reason why.
1 Paying Off: Red Sox Get Chris Sale
Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski has always been about going all-in. He traded away baseball's top prospect in Yoan Moncada and another top-20 kid in Michael Kopech to land Chris Sale. It's saved Boston's season thus far.
Boston's lineup is a mediocre bunch. Defending Cy Young winner Rick Porcello has been atrocious, and $217 million man David Price is under-performing and continues to bash with the Red Sox media. Take those facts into account, and it would normally look like a sinking ship.
But Sale has, well, sailed the ship in the right way. He leads the American League in virtually every stat, including wins (13), strikeouts (211), and WAR (5.2). Oh, and he has a 2.37 ERA. Without Sale, Boston would be a middle-of-the-pack group. But because of Sale's Cy Young-caliber season, the Red Sox are in position to win the AL East and make another run at the playoffs. This may go down as the best move in Dombrowski's legendary career.
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