MLB Free Agency: Biggest Winners of the Offseason So Far

Oct 24, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; A general view of a Major League baseball during work out day prior to the start of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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The MLB offseason rolls on, and it seems to have hit its peak. As we put the holiday season behind us, some MLB teams have already had their wishes granted.

The holidays are just about over, and the MLB offseason is rolling on. Over the past several weeks, the offseason has seemed to have reached a very high point. Free agent deals have been flying out of front offices. We’ve seen trades that have been beneficial, questionable and just flat-out terrible. With two and a half months remaining, most big free agents have already been signed, while a few remain on the market. Other big names that are already on a roster await their fates as their trade value rises. While the offseason has already been eventful, the remaining two and a half months leave a feeling of wonder and excitement for all MLB fans.

Now, we look back at what has transpired. Several teams struck gold so far in the offseason with free agent and trade acquisitions. Some of these moves will help these teams heading in 2017, while others will help these teams going beyond 2017. For some of these clubs, their already good rosters got even better. For rebuilding teams, their futures became futures to wait for. No matter what the case may be, these teams are in for a very successful future, whether near or distant.

Here are the three biggest winners of the MLB offseason so far.

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Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox were already a good team heading into 2016. The Sox had high expectations due to their youth, depth, and power lineup presence. Add a solid rotation featuring new Bostonian David Price to the equation, and the Red Sox were a team to watch in 2016. Their success led them to the postseason for the first time since their World Series victory in 2013.

Despite the hype, the Red Sox were blanked by the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. The Red Sox were overpowered both offensively and on the mound by the Indians. As a result, the Sox looked to improve their weaknesses in the offseason, and they did just that.

First, the Red Sox traded for bullpen help following the losses of Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa by acquiring Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers. On the same day, the Sox made one of the biggest trades of the offseason by acquiring White Sox ace Chris Sale in exchange for Yoan Moncada and other prospects. Two days later, Boston improved defensively by signing Gold Glove winner Mitch Moreland to a one-year deal.

In the span of three days, the Red Sox improved in three major areas. Now, the Red Sox have established one of the better pitching rotations in the American League. The signing of Moreland gives the Sox options for the infield going into the 2017 season. Finally, the acquisition of Thornburg gives the Sox a suitable setup man for Craig Kimbrel.

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Houston Astros

In 2015, the Houston Astros finally ended their rebuild by breaking out as a threat in the AL West. Their success that season led them to the playoffs as one of the AL Wild Card teams. After shutting out the Yankees in the Wild Card Game, the Astros fell to the Royals in the ALDS despite having a 2-1 series lead. In 2016, the Astros had another successful run, but failed to reach the postseason. The Astros needed to improve in the offseason to attempt to overtake the Rangers in 2017, and they have done just that.

First, Houston acquired catcher Brian McCann from the Yankees following the loss of Jason Castro to free agency. The Astros followed up a few short days later by signing outfielder Josh Reddick to a four-year deal. Finally, the Astros added some more veteran presence by signing former Astro Carlos Beltran to a one-year deal. These moves will definitely be able to help the young, up-and-coming Astros, while providing lineup depth and a power threat. If the Astros can get their pitching staff in order, these moves will balance the team out and make them one to watch in 2017.

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Chicago White Sox

Normally, a rebuilding team doesn’t win. That’s the point: they’re building for the future instead of focusing on the present. That’s normal. Well, the Chicago White Sox certainly struck gold so far in the offseason by completely revamping their farm system. In one of the more unexpected trades of the offseason, the Nationals acquired Adam Eaton from the Sox in exchange for pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning. Chicago also traded with Boston, acquiring Yoan Moncada and other prospects in exchange for Chris Sale.

In two big moves, the White Sox depleted a big portion their main roster going into 2017. However, they also set themselves up for a nice future. Acquiring Giolito and Lopez (who both have MLB experience already) adds rotation depth. If the Sox choose to keep Jose Quintana, a combination of Lopez, Giolito, Quintana, and James Shields would definitely be worth watching. The Sox still have a core group of young players and crafty veterans, and when Moncada is fully ready, he can fit well in their lineup. If the Sox choose to trade Quintana away, he can definitely bring a reasonable amount of prospects to Chicago.

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