Grading the moves: AL East
Baltimore Orioles: Incomplete
It’s hard to give the Orioles a grade, when they haven’t done much. Their biggest moves to date were resigning Nate McLouth, who resurrected his career after signing with the Orioles last June, and letting Mark Reynolds become a free agent. They’ve also resigned a number of players from last year’s team to minor-league contracts. Whether a bigger move in the future will happen remains to be seen, but at the moment it looks like Dan Duquette and the Orioles are content with the squad that made a surprise postseason appearance in 2012. Capsules by Michael Huberman
Boston Red Sox: C+
I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. After shipping Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and their bloated salaries to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Red Sox looked to be moving away from their usual massive spending. However this offseason they’ve spent over $120 million on Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, and David Ross and also spent another $25 million to keep David Ortiz in Boston until 2014. These aren’t the 7-year, $150 million megadeals they gave out in the past, but tying up that much money in players whose combined age is 33.6 years old, seems risky. Considering the lineup the Red Sox were fielding at the end of the season, the additions they’ve made may have been worth all the money.
New York Yankees: C-
It’s hard to believe that of all the biggest contracts this offseason, none have been handed out by the Yankees. So far the Yankees have gone the route of signing older players to short-term contracts, giving them financial flexibility in the future. They’ve resigned Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, and Mariano Rivera to shore up their pitching staff. They also continued their run on ex-Red Sox, as they signed Kevin Youkilis to play third base while Alex Rodriguez is out with his hip injury. The Yankees also resigned 39-year-old outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, as they look to continue to field one of baseball’s oldest lineups.
Tampa Bay Rays: B+
True to form, the Rays let their star players seek big money elsewhere, in this case with BJ Upton signing with the Atlanta Braves. But they also made a shrewd deal with the Kansas City Royals, acquiring top prospect Wil Myers in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis. Myers projects as a corner outfielder with the potential to hit 40 homers a year. Losing Shields and Davis certainly hurts, but the Rays also picked up righty Jake Odorizzi, and lefthander Mike Montgomery in the deal. Montgomery has dealt with injuries in the past, but both figure to be part of the Rays rotation before long. The Rays have a strategy and they stick to it, with a new crop of talented young players under their control for the foreseeable future.
Toronto Blue Jays: A-
So far the Blue Jays have made the most noise this offseason, and they don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. The Jays have emerged as a leading contender to acquire reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey from the Mets, and a deal could be finalized before the weekend ends. Even if the Dickey deal falls through, the Jays have revamped their team. First they took advantage of another Marlins fire sale, acquiring Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio. They also took a gamble on Melky Cabrera, but at only two years for $16 million, it’s a great low-risk, high-reward move. The only questionable move the team made was rehiring manager John Gibbons, who went 305-305 with the club from 2004-2008. The offseason is far from over, but right now the Jays look like the team to beat in the loaded AL East.