The 2018 MLB offseason has been unlike anything we’ve seen in a quite some time. As of February 2, just under two weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, household names such as Yu Darvish, Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez remain unsigned.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that, through MLB Players’ Association Director Tony Clark, the MLB Players’ Association’s full focus is on the “100+ free agents still available.”
There have been many notable moves to discuss, though, despite the overall slow nature of the free agent market. The Milwaukee Brewers made headlines with a blockbuster trade for Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich and gave free agent outfielder Lorenzo Cain the payday he was looking for, committing to pay him $80 million for the next five years.
Milwaukee’s outfield now ranks among the best in baseball, with Yelich and Cain joining veteran Brewers slugger Ryan Braun.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made a lot of noise early in the offseason, winning the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, signing free agents Justin Upton and Zack Cozart to five and three year deals, respectively, and landing Ian Kinsler from the Detroit Tigers.
The St. Louis Cardinals have also made strides to catch up to the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs, acquiring outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins. St. Louis also sent outfielder Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics for minor league shortstop Yairo Muñoz and minor league second baseman Max Schrock.
Muñoz will be looking to build off of a strong 2017 campaign in which he hit .300/.330/.464 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs. Schrock is not much of a power hitter, but does have a career .324/.372/.439 slash line.
The Colorado Rockies have been an interesting team, in that the team made flashy signings early in the offseason, inking deals with Wade Davis (three years/$52 million), Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee (both three years/$27 million), but taking a look at the bigger picture shows that the team hasn’t improved that much from the 2017 season.
Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez remains a free agent, and it is unlikely he will be find a home until some of the bigger dominoes fall. That leaves Colorado with an outfield consisting of 2017 NL Batting Champion Charlie Blackmon and any combination of Gerardo Parra, Ian Desmond, David Dahl and Raimel Tapia.
If the Rockies want to make another legitimate push for Rocktober, they will need to sign an impact bat to help an offense that finished the 2017 season with a park-adjusted OPS+ of 91, good for 25th in MLB. Uncertainty at first base, coupled with the fact that the club will likely have to rely on a multitude of young players next season, will make this team an interesting one to watch as it heads into its second year of expected contention.
Overall, the Brewers appear to be the most improved team of the offseason so far. The Angels certainly contend with Milwaukee for that title, but there are too many question marks in their pitching staff. Milwaukee missed the playoffs by one game last season, so look for the Brew Crew to make a strong push for October in 2018.