MLB Offseason: Newly Improved Teams
It has been just over three months since the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to capture the 2020 World Series title.
It has been just over three months since the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to capture the 2020 World Series title. Since then, there have been important trades and great free agent talents signing for new teams. Here are the teams that have been particularly busy this offseason:
New York Mets
The Mets acquired All-Star shortstop (SS) Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher (SP) Carlos Carrasco on January 7 in a trade with the Cleveland Indians. Lindor is undoubtedly a premier player in baseball, and his landing in New York gives them a superstar as the captain of the infield. Lindor will provide much more power and elite defense for the Mets at the shortstop position, both of which were previously lacking at the position The Mets also brought in catcher James McCann to replace Wilson Ramos, who signed with the Detroit Tigers in free agency. McCann is an upgrade over Ramos offensively, and McCann is also three years younger, so the Mets’ catching improves with this signing. To help with starting pitching, the Mets brought in former San Diego Padres starter Joey Lucchesi. The Mets have also retained starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman for another year, maintaining depth and quality in their rotation. With a five man rotation of 2018 and 2019 National League (NL) Cy Young winner Jacob Degrom in addition to the likes of Stroman, Syndergaard, Lucchesi, and Carrasco, the Mets may now have a better rotation than when players like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler were pitching for the Mets several years ago, both of whom they had lost in free agency. After adding Lindor and McCann, who will join an infield with rising stars Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil, 26 and 28 years old respectively, the Mets become a team to look out for in the NL East.
2021 Prediction: 2nd in NL East behind the Atlanta Braves
Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto has acquired two elite positional free agents this offseason in outfielder (OF) George Springer and infielder (INF) Marcus Semien. While Semien played shortstop for the Oakland A’s during his time there, the Blue Jays will likely move him to second base, and Bo Bichette will remain the starting shortstop for Toronto. Semien, who was third in American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) voting in 2019, will join Bichette in what should become one of the best two-way middle-infield tandems in baseball next year. The Blue Jays have Springer under contract for six years and Semien under contract for one. Springer will bring much more power at centerfield than Randal Grichuk, who played in centerfield for Toronto last year. Semien, Springer, and Bichette will join rising stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio on one of the most talented rosters in baseball next year. Along with the additions of Springer and Semien, the Blue Jays signed closer Kirby Yates in free agency, bolstering Toronto’s endgame pitching for the upcoming season. In just a few years, this team has become offensively loaded, and these signings would provide the Jays with an upgrade defensively. The New York Yankees, when healthy, have one of the most powerful lineups in baseball, and the Tampa Bay Rays will be defending their AL title this year, but Toronto may be able to compete with these two teams with this improved lineup.
2021 Prediction: 3rd in AL East behind the Yankees and Tampa, 5th seed wild card
San Diego Padres
The last team to have made some significant offseason moves is the San Diego Padres. The Padres already had an electric left side of the infield with sluggers Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop and Manny Machado at third base. The Padres’ pitching was not great last season, but they have added two exceptional starters in this offseason. First, they traded for 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell while sending four players to Tampa. Then, the following day, they sent four prospects and starter Zach Davies to the Chicago Cubs for 2020 NL Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish. In a final deal to bolster their pitching, the Padres traded away their starter Joey Lucchesi and more prospects in a three-team deal to acquire Pirates relief pitcher (RP) Joe Musgrove. The acquisitions of Snell and Darvish more than certainly make up for the loss of Lucchesi and Davies, but the Padres gave up a lot of their youth to put together this improved pitching staff. However, with Machado under contract for another eight years and Tatis Jr. possibly reaching an extension soon, the Padres have the talent to be contenders in the NL for the next three years until Snell and Darvish become free agents. The Padres have to share a division with the former champion Dodgers, but this team is now good enough to seriously contend with them.
2021 Prediction: 2nd in NL West behind the Dodgers, but still a serious threat in the NL playoffs.