Oct 2, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann (34) hits a home run in the bottom of the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. It was the 20th home run of the season for McCann. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
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The MLB hot stove is teasing us at this point, with some teams being very active (thanks Seattle!) and some teams not making any moves. Here is a look at how each team’s offseason is stacking up according to WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
The goal of any franchise during the offseason is to add some players that will help you win baseball games, either in the coming season or in the future. With that in mind, I calculated each team’s WAR heading into this offseason, accounting for free agents to-be and trades made throughout the regular season, and came up with a total. Every other week during the offseason we revisit that total and add (or subtract) newcomers to the roster or players that have been traded away.
Then we simply rank the teams according to the WAR total. It’s pretty basic, but it should give us an idea of how big some of the moves that are made this winter could be, and at the very least what the front offices are hoping will happen with each move.
Here are the moves that have happened since last time:
Sep 29, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Danny Valencia (26) hits a double against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Last week: 11.7 Last rank: 30th
The only team in the bottom five to make a move was Oakland, and their trading of Danny Valencia dropped them even further behind the rest of baseball. On the bright side, the A’s and Managing Partner Lew Wolff parted was this week, so there is a chance that Oakland could start spending a bit more each year and potentially even *gasp* re-sign a player or two. The main goal of the new suits will be to get the team a brand new ballpark in Oakland. 2017 will likely be on the shoulders of the A’s young talent.
Sep 27, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) looks on from the dugout during the sixth inning against Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Royals
Last week: 21.3 Last rank: 24th
Last week: 22.0 Last rank: 23rd
Last week: 23.2 Last rank: 21st
Last week: 23.5 Last rank: 19th
The Rangers claimed Tyler Wagner, who made a brief appearance in Arizona in 2016. He tossed ten innings and held a 1.80 ERA (2.35 FIP) and had a decent strikeout rate (6.30), but his walk rate of 1.80 is solid. He adds a 0.4 WAR to the Rangers and becomes a depth option for the rotation.
Last week: 20.7 Last rank: 26th
The Braves moves to sign Colon and Dickey didn’t gain a whole lot of attention, but they vaulted the Braves up five spots on this list and added a cumulative four wins to the team. They’re both getting up there in age, but between their experience and ability to eat innings, both should prove to be valuable additions both in the short and long term.
Oct 10, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen (74) pitches during the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals in game three of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Last week: 22.0 Last rank: 22nd
The Phillies added Kendrick, which is an odd move. They have plenty of outfield options vying for playing time as is, and they’re going to need playing time. While J.P. Crawford is set to start the season in Triple-A, he will be up at some point in 2017, so there won’t be room around the infield for Kendrick either. There is likely another trade coming in the next few weeks.
Last week: 27.9 Last rank: 17th
The big rumor out of Miami is that they have their sights set on Kenley Jansen, one of the big name relievers on the market. With a decent enough starting rotation, the addition of Jansen would certainly keep them around the playoff hunt well into the season.
Last week: 28.4 Last rank: 17th
If the Rockies were able to add a big bat to play first base, their offense could become literally unstoppable. The main focus this winter should be improving the bullpen, however.
Aug 7, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Jesse Chavez (58) in the fifth inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Angels
Last week: 29.3 Last rank: 15th
Jesse Chavez could prove to be a solid add to the rotation, if he can avoid his usual second-half dip.
Last week: 27.1 Last rank: 18th
It’s been a few hours since the Mariners have made a deal, so they’re due. So far their additions have been marginal upgrades, but that may be all that they need to reach the postseason.
New York Yankees
Last week: 30.2 Last rank: 13th
The Yankees’ trading of McCann took some WAR off the top, but not enough to take them out of the 13th spot on the list. The moves did drop them into a three-way tie in terms of WAR with the Mariners and Angels, however.
Chicago White Sox
Last week: 31.4 Last rank: 12th
The White Sox are a bit top heavy in terms of how they accumulate their WAR total, with the majority of the production coming from 3-4 players. Perhaps trading either Chris Sale of Jose Quintana could help spread some of that production out throughout the roster, making for a better team effort.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Last week: 35.0 Last rank: 7th
The Dodgers don’t figure to be down this low for very long. They are either going to re-sign Justin Turner or potentially trade for a third baseman like Evan Longoria. They’ll also need to figure out their bullpen situation, and all of these moves should bring a significant amount of WAR production back the Hollywood.
Apr 17, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Charlie Morton (47) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Blue Jays
Last week: 32.8 Last rank: 11th
Last week: 34.8 Last rank: 8th
The Tigers are an interesting case. Their main competition in the AL Central was the Cleveland Indians, and that doesn’t look like it will change moving forward. Cleveland is a young team while Detroit is aging, so despite the Tigers being close to a wild card spot in 2016, trading away some of their costly veteran talent may be their best shot at getting ahead of the curve.
Last week: 33.8 Last rank: 9th
The Astros made an offensive upgrade at catcher with the addition of McCann, and also brought on another McHugh-esque pitcher in Charlie Morton. Josh Reddick will provide solid defense in the outfield at the very least, but finding playing time for everyone in a Tal’s Hill-less outfield will be a tricky proposition. If Houston is really going all-in, they could make a play for one of the big names on the trade block in Sonny Gray, Chris Sale or Chris Archer.
New York Mets
Last week: 33.5 Last rank: 10th
The Mets have made one move this offseason, and that was extending Neil Walker a Qualifying Offer, which he accepted. Even without Yoenis Cespedes in the mix, the Mets are among the teams to beat on paper.
St. Louis Cardinals
Last week: 37.3 Last rank: 6th
Brett Cecil has some upside out of the bullpen, and now that he’s with St. Louis will undoubtedly be a Cy Young contender, because that’s what seems to happen, right?
Oct 1, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Mark Melancon (43) jogs onto the field from the bullpen against the Miami Marlins in the eighth inning at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco Giants
Last week: 41.3 Last rank: 5th
Once the Giants sign their big-name closer, they will be a serious threat to the rest of the league–Cubs included.
Last week: 42.5 Last rank: 4th
The one downfall of our WAR ranking system is that it doesn’t project for 2017, but instead goes on past production. It’s a fun exercise that we’re trying out to see if there is some merit. That said, if we were going to project a team, the Indians would be a fun one to try out with so much youth filling their roster. They’re bound to just keep getting better and better.
Last week: 44.3 Last rank: 3rd
Boston Red Sox
Last week: 47.1 Last rank: 2nd
The Red Sox have a Papi-sized hole in the middle of their lineup, but should be able to fill that void one way or another. They should be the favorites in the American League heading into 2017, especially if they add one of the aces on the trade block.
Last week: 48.4 Last rank: 1st
The Cubs are leading the way and that is without Kyle Schwarber being factored in heavily. They’re going to be scary once again, even if they don’t make any moves.