Best MLB offseason moves, Part III
These four moves have set their clubs up for either immediate contention or long-term success.
But here’s our four favorite moves of the winter.
4. The Dodgers re-sign third baseman Justin Turner to a four-year, $64 million contract
Signed to a minor-league deal before the start of the 2014 season, Turner has become the heart and soul of the Dodgers lineup, ending last year with a .275 average, 27 home runs and 90 RBIs in 151 games. At 32 he wasn’t going to break $100 million, but this deal seems to hit the sweet spot for everyone involved.
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For comparison, the Royals owe Alex Gordon – who’s the same age – at least $60 million over the next three years. Who would you rather have?
3. The White Sox restock their farm system by trading Chris Sale and Adam Eaton
The ChiSox went all in on rebuilding this offseason and it paid off handsomely. They know have two of the top five prospects in all of baseball in second baseman Yoan Moncada and starter Lucas Giolito and a farm system that overall went from one of the worst to one of the best in baseball after just two deals.
Moncada, the Minor League Player of the Year last season. has been compared to Robinson Cano with more power. Giolito was considered the top pitching prospect in the minors. A quick look at FanGraphs has the White Sox’s four top prospects all players who came over in the Sale and Eaton deals.
For Royals fans, the Boys in Blue better take advantage of the Bad Guys’ rebuild now as it likely won’t last long. Moncada and Giolito could be with the big club by the All-Star break, if not sooner. Chicago’s prospects probably won’t start making a real impact until 2018 at the earliest. But all of a sudden the White Sox’s farm system looks a whole lot like the Royals six years ago.
2. Cleveland signs Edwin Encarnacion on a three-year, $60 million deal (with a club option for a fourth year)
The A.L. champs went out and turned a weakness into a very appropriately paid strength. Encarnacion, who hit .263 with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBIs last season for Toronto, will man first in place of Mike Napoli, who still remains unsigned. The 34-year-old native of the Dominican Republic has been one of baseball’s best sluggers the past five years, clubbing 193 home runs since 2012.
With outfielder Michael Brantley expected back from injury in 2017, the Indians’ offense should be even better this season.
1. The Royals sign pitcher Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million extension.
Are we a little biased? Sure, but that doesn’t make this any less of a stellar deal for Kansas City.
Unable to compete for high-end pitching on the free agent market and unwilling to give up the kind of prospects required to trade for it, the Royals did the best possible thing and locked up their home-grown ace through his age-32 season.
A darkhorse Cy Young candidate last year, Duffy went 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA and 188 strikeouts over 179 2/3 innings. From June to August he might have been the best pitcher in baseball, allowing just 37 earned runs over 113 innings while striking out 115.
Duffy’s deal calls for him to make $5 million in 2017, $14 million in 2018, $15.25 in 2019 and 2020, and $15.5 in 2021. At an average of $13 million a year, that’s a steal for a legit No. 1 in his prime. (By comparison, the Red Sox owe David Price $187 million over the next six years.)
The deal’s not without risk – Duffy had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and really only has a half season where he’s put it all together consistently – but it’s exactly the kind of move the Royals have to make. If he stays injury free, Duffy has a chance to be one of the top starters in the game.
Oh, and he’s funny as hell.
We’ll leave you with this: