Last year’s MLB offseason progressed at a snail’s pace, but there has already been a flurry of activity this year. With the Winter Meetings in the rear-view mirror, it’s a good time to review the five biggest offseason moves to date.
5. Indians deal Corey Kluber to Rangers
Corey Kluber had long been rumored to be on the trade block, and on Sunday, Cleveland finally offloaded the two-time Cy Young winner to the Rangers.
Just a reminder that Corey Kluber’s curveball – @CKluber – was maybe the most dominant pitch of 2018:
.144 wOBA (1st)
.104 BA (1st)
19.7 SwSt% (4th)
39.3 K% (10th) pic.twitter.com/Tmxrytsr7o
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) December 15, 2019
Texas wanted to make a splash this offseason, with its new ballpark set to open in 2020, but had been stymied at every turn, and even saw Anthony Rendon sign with the division-rival Angels. The Rangers’ price tag for acquiring Kluber—marginal outfielder Delino DeShields and reliever Emmanuel Chase—was modest.
4. Phillies add Girardi to bench, Wheeler to rotation
It seemed like a given that Joe Girardi would be back managing in a Mets uniform, but the Phillies grabbed him out from under their NL East rivals’ nose. Then they inked former Mets starter Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million deal, which gave them a bonafide arm to put behind Aaron Nola.
— Deep Phly ⚾️ (@DeepPhly) December 13, 2019
Philadelphia found out the hard way that winning the offseason doesn’t always translate to winning in the regular season when they signed Bryce Harper last year, but that hasn’t made them trigger shy this winter.
3. Nationals re-sign Stephen Strasburg to seven-year, $245 million deal
Washington has never hesitated to spend big on free agents, but even the Nationals couldn’t afford both Stephen Strasburg and Rendon. So they decided to back up the Brink’s truck for Strasburg, on the heels of his fantastic postseason performance (5-0, 1.98 ERA) in 2019.
2. Angels sign Anthony Rendon to seven-year, $245 million deal
Los Angeles needed to surround new manager Joe Maddon with some talent, so they decided to go big on Rendon (career slash line of .290/.369/.490). The Nationals mainstay recorded career highs in home runs (34) and RBIs (126) in 2019.
The Nationals say thank you to Anthony Rendon 👏
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) December 14, 2019
The Angels might not even be done yet, as they’ve been highly active in the starting-pitching market.
1. Yankees sign Gerrit Cole to nine-year, $324 million deal
The Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2009, and over the last decade, there’s been a glaring need to address their rotation. They finally landed the big fish in the starting-pitching market, Astros standout Gerrit Cole, who has led baseball in strikeouts per nine innings in two straight seasons.
Gerrit Cole had the second-highest four-seam fastball average velocity in 2019–at 97.2 mph—among starters.
Gerrit Cole is now a Yankee. pic.twitter.com/DnlfVL4RHy
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) December 16, 2019