It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the (Baseball) Year!

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Tom Rodenburg, Staff Writer

With the World Series behind us, it’s now time to start looking towards the 2017 baseball season, and that means one thing: it’s the offseason. The offseason is one of the most interesting parts of the baseball year because every year we see the landscape of baseball change. There are big free agents like Edwin Encarnacion and Yoenis Cespedes, but not only that, there are also major surprise trade chips like Andrew McCutchen and Chris Sale. This offseason truly has the potential to be one that we remember for a while.

So far this offseason we’ve seen some big signings and trades:

  • Yoenis Cespedes is returning to the New York Mets with a 4 year $110 million contract. Cespedes was arguably the savior of the 2015 National League Championship run for the Mets that year and after his first full season, it looks that he will be a Met for years to come. Last season he had a .280 batting average while hitting 31 home runs and driving in 86 RBIs. Re-signing Cespedes was a necessity for the Mets and now that they’ve done it, it looks as if they can be a contender for years to come.
  • Mark Melancon is on his way out of Washington DC and is heading to the Bay Area as he signed a 4 year deal with the San Francisco Giants worth $62 million. Melancon is a former 3 time all star and National League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Melancon also lead the league in saves in 2015. Melancon recorded 47 saves with the Pirates and Nationals this season. Along with that, he posted a 1.64 ERA over 71.1 innings of work. Mark Melancon is an elite edition to an already elite team.
  • Kendrys Morales has played for 4 different teams throughout his career, and it’s time to add a fifth team to that list. Morales has signed a 3 year $33 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. The outfielder is a former Silver Slugger and was also a part in the 2015 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. This past season Kendrys Morales had a batting average of .263 while hitting 30 home runs and driving 96 runs in. Since the Blue Jays look to have given up  all-star Edwin Encarnacion at DH, Morales is destined to be their DH for the next 3 years. His big bat adds to a lineup that is already deadly in the AL East as the Blue Jays are looking to go back to the playoffs for the third straight year.
  • This past season we have started to see a youth movement in the Bronx as the Yankees traded Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Beltran for various top prospects. The Yankees have continued this youth movement by trading former 7 time all star Brian McCann to the Houston Astros for 2 prospects. McCann signed a 5 year deal with the Yankees in the 2013 offseason and since then has been a leader in the clubhouse. The Houston Astros mindset is that the time is now. They have added Brian McCann to an already talented team featuring Jose Altuve and George Springer. Truly, the Astros are a team to keep your eye on in the 2017 season.

 

  • Just one season after receiving him from the Milwaukee Brewers, The Arizona Diamondbacks have traded IF Jean Segura along with two prospects to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for SP Taijuan Walker and IF Kentel Marte. Segura was an all around great player as not only did he show some power by hitting 20 home runs, but he also showed that he is one of the quickest players in baseball by stealing 33 bases. Taijuan Walker on the other hand has had a mediocre year posting a 4.22 ERA but the sky is truly the limit for him as he is poised to be baseball’s next great pitcher.  This trade was a shocker but it made sense as Arizona is looking for the future while Seattle is looking to win.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers OF Josh Reddick has chosen to leave and sign with the Houston Astros. Reddick signed a 4 year contract worth $52 million. Reddick hit just 10 home runs this year, but his batting average was a solid .281 this season. The Astros have been busy this offseason by adding players like Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, and now that they’ve got Josh Reddick, it looks as if now could be the time we see a contender out of Houston.
  • For Mets fans, it was unwelcomed news. Worse than the 2015 World Series loss to the Royals. Worse than the Subway World Series. Thats right… Bartolo Colon has agreed to a 1 year deal with the Atlanta Braves. The deal is reportedly worth $12.5 million. The 43 year old freak of nature has spent the last 3 years in a Mets uniform as he also participated in an All Star game while in New York. The former Cy Young award winning pitcher had a record of 15-8 this season while putting up an ERA of 3.43. This loss is a tough one to swallow for Mets fan, but luckily I’m a Yankee fan so I really don’t care.
  • The Atlanta Braves and SP RA Dickey have agreed to a 1 year deal worth $8 million. Dickey is a former Cy Young Award winner and has pitched for 5 teams throughout his career. This past season Dickey had an ERA of 4.46 with the Toronto Blue Jays. After this signing, the Atlanta Braves have signed the two oldest players in baseball this offseason as RA Dickey is 42 years old and Bartolo Colon is 43. The Braves seem to be making a push this offseason as they add some talent to a team that is now looking to compete with the Mets and Nationals.
  • The New York Yankees and OF Matt Holliday have agreed to a 1 year contract worth $13 million. Holliday has spent the last 8 seasons in a St. Louis Cardinal uniform. The former NL Batting Champion is also a 7 time All Star and was played a key role in the Cardinal’s 2011 World Series victory. Included in his deal is a no trade clause to just one team, The Oakland Athletics. He spent half a season with Oakland before being traded to the Cardinals. Holliday hit just .246 but showed that the power is still there, as he hit 20 home runs in just 118 games played. Though they have started a youth movement in the Bronx, the Holliday signing shows that the Yankees are still looking to compete in the American League this year.
  • The Houston Astros have agreed to a 1 year contract with OF/DH Carlos Beltran worth $16 million. Also included in this deal is a full no trade clause. Beltran had previously played for the Astros in 2004 where he played a major role in them making the National League Championship Series. Last season he had a batting average of .293 while hitting 29 home runs and driving in 93 RBIs with both the Yankees and the Rangers. This offseason, the Astros have added Josh Reddick, Brian McCann, and now that they have Carlos Beltran, the time could be now for a winning team in Houston.
  • The Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox have officially agreed on a deal that will be sending SP Chris Sale to Boston in exchange for a package of prospects including OF Yoan Moncada. Chris Sale has spent his entire 7 year career with Chicago. In that time he has recorded an ERA of 3.00 and has finished in the top 6 of Cy Young voting each of the last 5 years. He has arguably been the American League’s best pitcher in that span. Chris Sale is a scary addition to an already scary team in the Boston Red Sox.
  • Rich Hill has been the feel good story of baseball this past season. He went from a forgotten man player for the Long Island Ducks, to an All Star pitcher for the Oakland Athletics. Halfway through the season he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and it looks like he will be there a lot longer as he has agreed to a 3 year deal worth $48 million. Hill spent a good portion of the year on the disabled list but when he was healthy, he posted an ERA of 2.12. Rich Hill’s career has been a shock to many, but this season is the time to show if it was a fluke, or if he really is the real deal.
  • The Colorado Rockies have agreed to a deal with all star OF Ian Desmond. Desmond completely rejuvenated his career this past season with the Texas Rangers as he made the difficult move of SS to CF. This year he was named an All Star for the first time since 2012. From 2015 to 2016 his batting average went up 50 points. Not only that, but he scored almost 40 more runs and drove in a full 20 more runs! The Slugger went from zero to hero as he also played a big piece in the Rangers winning the American League West. Now, this hero is heading to Colorado and will look to help the Rockies make the playoffs for the first time in 8 years.
  • It’s official, the Cuban Missile Crisis is back. All star CP Aroldis Chapman has agreed to a 5 year $86 million deal, including a full no trade clause for 3 years, with the New York Yankees. The Chapman played for the Yankees for part of last year until the trade deadline where he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for a package of their top prospects. While there he helped break the 108 year curse of the Billy Goat as the Cubs won the World Series while never letting anyone forget how he loved his short time in New York. Last season Chapman struck out 90 batters in just 58 innings. On top of that, he had an ERA of 1.55 and recorded 36 saves. With this signing, the Yankees and Chapman have proven that Aroldis will be the closer for years to come.
  • The Chicago White Sox may have won the offseason with this move. They have agreed to send OF Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals in exchange for a package of prospects, including baseball’s top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito. This was a baffling move for the Nationals as Giolito is poised to be the next great pitcher in baseball, while Eaton, while he is a great defensive outfielder, isn’t the greatest hitter. While his batting have was fairly good at .284, he hit just 14 home runs. The fact that the White Sox got this promising young pitcher for a guy like Adam Eaton could be regarded as one of the most lopsided trades in recent memory. For the White Sox, the future is bright. For the Nationals, it’s win or bust… again.
  • After winning the World Series with the Cubs, OF Dexter Fowler has decided to go to the Cubs arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. Fowler and the Cardinals agreed to a 5 year deal worth $82.5 million with a full no trade clause. This past season the all star had a batting average of .276 but his on base percentage was something to watch as he got base almost 40% of the time. Also this past year was the first time in his career where he made an all star team. Fowler also became the first man in MLB history to hit a leadoff home run in a game 7 of the World Series. This move was a shock considering the fact that he left the Cubs for their rivals, but now that Dexter Fowler is with the Cardinals, it sets them up for a possible return to the playoffs.
  • Its official, the greatest closer market in recent memory is officially closed now that Kenley Jansen has decided to resign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jansen has spent his entire career with the Dodgers and it looks like he will be there for years to come as he has signed a 4 year $80 million deal. The reigning NL Relief Pitcher of the Year has posted a 2.20 ERA in his 7 year career and has also recorded 189 saves in the process. 2016 though may have been Jansen’s most dominant year yet. His cut fastball has been highly regarded as the best in baseball by miles and has even been compared to Mariano Rivera. This year he used that cutter to strike out 104 batters while recording 47 saves. The Dodgers truly lucked out as Jansen was a huge part of them winning the National League West, now it looks that they can continue their dominance in that division.
  • Justin Turner was once a nobody. He played with the Mets for 4 seasons but just could never get his feet off the ground. Then going into the 2014 season he signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since then, he has been looked at as one of the top third basemen in baseball. Now it looks like he with be staying with the only team that would give him a chance as he has signed a 4 year contract worth $64 million. This past season, Turner had a batting average of .275 while hitting 27 home runs and driving in 90 runs for the NL West Champion Dodgers. Turner has been a great player for the Dodgers since 2014, and he will look to continue that throughout the next 4 years.

* References: mlb.com, Spotrac.com, Espn.com, Baseball-reference.com

* photo via Google Images/Flickr.com under the Creative Commons license