AL Central Offseason Update
by, 12-12-2013 at 09:55 PM (777 Views)
With the Winter Meetings coming to an end, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the offseason happenings in the AL Central. Included are the major moves each team has made, a recap of those moves and a grade on how each team has done up to this point.
Key Additions: Ian Kinsler, Joe Nathan, Rajai Davis, Joba Chamberlain, Steve Lombardozzi, and Ian Krol
Key Losses: Prince Fielder, Doug Fister, Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Veras
Recap: The Prince Fielder trade made a lot of sense for the Tigers. It gave them quite a bit of financial flexibility in the long term. However, it looks like it could hurt them in the short term. As of now, it looks like rookie Nick Castellanos will be their new third baseman, with Miguel Cabrera moving to first base. Although that should help their defense, they're swapping Fielder for Castellanos in the lineup.
Acquiring Ian Kinsler to replace Omar Infante looks to be a wash at best. Kinsler is only 6 months younger and will cost significantly more. In the last two years, Kinsler has been worth 5.5 WAR while Infante has been worth 6.0 WAR. Even though Kinsler has shown more upside in the past, he seems to be a declining player at this point.
Trading Doug Fister was baffling. Why would a championship caliber team trade one of the thirty best pitchers in baseball? To compound matters further, the return they received seemed very light. No matter how highly one thinks of Drew Smyly, Fister's production will be tough to replace.
Although signing Joe Nathan makes a lot of sense, the Tigers have likely made their bullpen worse. They've essentially swapped Joaquin Benoit, Jose Veras and Drew Smyly for Joe Nathan, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Krol.
The signing of Rajai Davis is a minor move, but it seems like a good one. He becomes a platoon partner for Andy Dirks in left field and adds quite a bit of speed to their team.
Maybe they're planning another big move, but at this point the Tigers have seemingly made themselves significantly worse.
Key Additions: David Murphy
Key Losses: Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Joe Smith, Chris Perez, and Matt Albers
Recap: This is an easy one to recap. They've added a platoon outfielder, while losing two quality starting pitchers and three guys from the back of their bullpen.
The Indians have some nice internal options with Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer for their rotation along with Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw in the back of their bullpen. However, they have lost quite a bit of pitching depth.
Kansas City Royals
Key Additions: Jason Vargas and Norichika Aoki
Key Losses: Ervin Santana, Bruce Chen and Will Smith
Recap: Ervin Santana will be a tough guy to replace. He was a bonafied front line starter in 2013 and it is extremely unlikely that Jason Vargas will be able to replace his production.
The acquisition of Aoki could be one of the most underrated moves of the offseason. Aoki brings a .355 career OBP, speed and defense. He's only owed $1.9M this year making him a bargain.
The Royals have a very deep bullpen so they can afford to lose Chen and Smith.
The Royals have some impressive young arms who may help cushion the blow of losing Santana. With James Shields under control for one more year, the Royals have been actively attempting to improve their team.
Key Additions: Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes
Key losses: None
Recap: The Twins needed pitching and they were aggressive in going for it. Spending $73 million on two pitchers who they feel will help stabilize their rotation.
They are said to be in the market for another starting pitcher and the offense needs some help as well. Terry Ryan was quoted in saying "we still have a lot of work to do" when asked if he'd be fine to open 2014 with the current roster. Although there is plenty of room for improvement, fans have to like how active they have been.
Chicago White Sox
Key Additions: Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Ronald Belisario and Felipe Paulino
Key Losses: Hector Santiago
Recap: Looking around the league six months ago, many would have said that the White Sox were in the worst shape of any organization in baseball. They had an aging team with one of the worst farm systems. It's been impressive how quickly they've started to turn things around. They're not in great shape, but they do look a lot better than they did halfway through the 2013 season.
After acquiring Avasail Garcia at the 2013 trade deadline, the White Sox recently added another young outfielder in Adam Eaton. Injuries wrecked Eaton's 2013 season, but he has the potential to be an absolute steal. Eaton gets on base, steals bases and is a good defensive centerfielder.
To acquire Eaton the Sox had to part with Hector Santiago. Santiago is a hard throwing lefty who has experience as a starter and a reliever. He will likely get a chance to start with the Angels.
Jose Abreu is a mystery, but many teams felt he was worth the gamble. The White Sox won the battle for his services by guaranteeing him $68 million over six years. That's quite a bit of money for a guy who hasn't played a game at the MLB level. If his game matches the hype, he could end up being a star.
Paulino and Belisario are both hard throwing righties. Paulino is a buy low starter coming off Tommy John Surgery. Belisario is a reliever with three years of team control.
The White Sox have gotten younger and added quite a bit of upside. They're definitely headed in the right direction.