Sports

Baseball Season Ever Closer with Spring Training in Motion

The AL, NL Players that will Call New Clubs Home

By Nick Ceraso

The American League

The Baltimore Orioles finished the 2014 season as the American League East division winners. In the offseason, they let two of their outfielders leave for free agency, including Nelson Cruz, who lead the majors in homeruns last year with 40.

Meanwhile, Boston and Toronto looked for offense. The Red Sox spent the most money this offseason, signing former shortstop Hanley Ramirez for four years, $88 million and the three time World Series champion third basemen Pablo Sandoval for five years, $95 million.

The Jays signed catcher Russell Martin to a five year, $82 million deal and traded for third basemen Josh Donaldson.

The New York Yankees kept most of their money in their pockets, as they re-signed Chase Headley for four years $52 million and signed lefty reliever Andrew Miller for four years $36 million. However, the biggest talk for the Yankees this offseason has been the health of starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and the return of Alex Rodriguez from his 2014 suspension due to steroid use.

The additions the Red Sox made to help the offense should be beneficial for them in the AL East division. Last year the Red Sox finished in the bottom five in the AL in runs scored with 634.

Baltimore did not look to add any players to the offense once Cruz left the team, while the Jays did not add any pitching to the staff that allowed the sixth most runs in the AL. Both these decisions should help the Red Sox in the end.

The American League Central division winning Detroit Tigers saw 2013 Cy Young winner Max Scherzer leave for free agency to sign with the Nationals. The Tigers traded away another starting pitcher, Rick Procello, for outfielder and two-time Homerun Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes, who will provide power in the Tigers lineup.

Coming off a World Series loss, the Royals watched as their starting pitcher James Shields signed with the Padres.

However, it is the Chicago White Sox who made the most moves in the Central, signing former Yankee closer, David Robertson, outfielder Melky Cebrera, and first basemen Adam LaRoche for a total of $113 million. They also traded for starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

These four additions could propel the team to the top of the division. As both the Tigers and Royals will be entering the 2015 season without an ace in their rotation.

The Texas Rangers offseason has not gone as planned. Coming off of last year’s record for the most injured players in a single season, the Rangers traded with the Milwaukee Brewers for starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, who will have to step in for the Rangers top spot.

Yu Darvish, their number one starter, will undergo Tommy John surgery and is done for the season, and second basemen Jurickson Profar, who missed all of last season, will again miss all of the 2015 season with a torn labrum.

The Seattle Mariners needed offense and someone to hit behind Robinson Cano and that’s exactly what they got when they signed Nelson Cruz to a four year $57 million deal. Seattle finished last season in the bottom five in runs scored with 634 in the AL. However, they allowed the least amount of runs scored against them at 554 in all of the majors.

The Oakland Athletics spent the offseason rebuilding, as they look to be big competitors this season. General Manager Billy Bean traded away three of his top players including Josh Donaldson, who had the third highest wins above replacement in 2014 at 7.4.

The A’s also watched as starting pitcher Jon Lester left for free agency to sign with the Cubs. With the Athletics looking like they are partaking in the rebuilding process, it could take them out of contention for the division.

The Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners are the clear favorites in the American League West. The Angels finished with 98 wins last year—the most in the majors—did not look to make any changes to the roster.

The biggest move was trading for former all-star outfielder Matt Joyce. Who at the moment looks to be the everyday leftfielder with a suspension looming over Josh Hamilton. The Angels and Mariners have the best chance to go to the World Series in the American League.

The National League

The 2014-15 offseason has drawn a lot of attention in the National League. Most of the biggest pitching names in free agency signed in the National League. Including some record- setting deals.

The Washington Nationals finished the 2014 season with 96 wins, winning the National League East and owning the best record in the league. At the end of the 2014 season they already were the favorite to win the division again due to having one of the best rotations in baseball.

Then the Nationals signed the biggest name in the free agent market, the 2013 Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer to a seven year $210 million deal, the largest ever for a right handed pitcher.

Last year, the Nationals allowed the second least amount of runs scored against in the majors and lowest in the National 555.

The Nationals lead the division by 17 games, even with improvements by the Marlins and Mets. that talent, especially the rotation, should lead them to the playoffs again.

The Miami Marlins biggest offseason move was resigning one of the top young hitters in the game. Giancarlo Stanton was resigned by the Marlins in a 13 year deal for $325 million—the largest contract in baseball history. In November, Marlins team owner Jeffrey Loria spoke about the record deal.

“It’s a landmark moment for the franchise and Giancarlo,” said Loria. “There will be no distraction about, will he be traded.”

The New York Mets offseason saw the signing of Michael Cuddyer to a two year deal for $21 million. However, the most important day of the offseason for the Mets came on March 6, when Matt Harvey had his first spring training outing after returning from Tommy John surgery.

The Chicago Cubs looked to make some big moves with the team having a lot of young and talented players hitting the majors. The Cubs signed Jon Lester for six years for $155 million and one of the best managers in the game, Joe Maddon, to a five year deal worth $25 million.

Maddon is known for teaching and developing young talented players during his time with the Rays.

The St. Louis Cardinals biggest offseason move was acquiring outfielder and defensive star Jason Heyward from the Atlanta Braves. With a 2.8 in defensive war or defensive wins above replacement, Heyward finished in the top five and second amongst outfielders, which will provide the Cardinals with better defense as they go after the division title for a third straight season.

The World Series Champion San Francisco Giants are coming off their third title in five years. However, the team will be without third basemen Pablo Sandoval, as he signed a deal with Boston. Pablo was on the team all three years the Giants won the World Series.

The San Diego Padres in August hired A.J Preller as the new general manager. From December 18 to the end of December, the Padres were involved in seven different trades. Preller quickly acquired an entire new outfield featuring Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers.

During the offseason the Padres also signed James Shields to a four year $75 million deal. These moves shifted the Padres from a projected .500 win team to a possible playoffs and World Series contender.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are coming off their second straight division title. They will be without their all-star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who signed with Boston. The Dodgers also traded Dee Gordon—who led the league with 64 stolen bases—to the Marlins. The Dodgers also acquired former allstar and all-time hit leader in Phillies history Jimmy Rollins.

Second basemen Howie Kendrick from the Los Angeles Angels also joined the roster, and this combination will improve the team’s defense.

The Dodgers have been one of the game’s best teams the last few years, lead by 2014 MVP and Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.

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