MLB 2017-2018 Offseason Transactions

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Written by: Nathan Kernell, Staff writer

The 2017 – 2018 offseason for Major League Baseball has seen a fair share of “blockbuster trades” and teams attempting to rebuild teams. Both National League and American League teams have scored deals to improve their depth charts at each position and have introduced new names into their clubhouses.

The Miami Marlins are by far the most unrecognizable roster in Major League Baseball, after an abundance of trade activity. Following last season’s 77-85 finish, that was good enough for second in the NL East division, the Marlins missed out on a playoff spot for the 14 straight year. Marlins’ General Manager, Daniel Jennings, decided to enter a rebuilding phase this offseason and began trading off players with multiple all-star appearances under their belt. During the first week of December, two-time all-star infielder Dee Gordon was shipped off to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for pitching prospects Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger and minor league infielder Chris Torres. Four days later on December 11, the Marlins made the biggest deal seen in years by trading away the reigning National MVP and home run leader, Giancarlo Stanton, to the New York Yankees in exchange for infielders Starlin Castro and Jose Devers and pitcher Jorge Guzman. Before the end of January, Miami would see the loss of both remaining outfield starters, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Ozuna was shipped North to St. Louis in exchange for an array of players that included the lively arm of Sandy Alcantara, whose fastball seldom dips below 100 MPH. Yelich was the last of the outfield trio to leave Miami;  exchanged for four prospects from the Milwaukee Brewers organization, Yelich would be a member of the Milwaukee Brewers by the end of January. The strategy of rebuilding is well underway for the Miami Marlins and with the addition of several prospects and young players, the Marlins are beginning to look ahead of the 2018 season.

The Outfield Trio of Yelich, Ozuna, and Stanton run the field.

With the acquisition of Stanton from Miami, the Yankees are looking for another strong push towards a World Championship in the 2018 season. The Yankees possess one of the best depth charts in baseball, following the addition of Stanton to the roster and with Stanton now wearing pinstripes along with reigning AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, the Yankees now have both the American League and National League Home Run leaders. And after re-signing veteran right-hander CC Sabathia, New York is looking at a stable pitching rotation that closes out with flamethrower Aroldis Chapman.

The Toronto Blue Jays are one of the teams more under the radar in their trades. They acquired some solid names to add to their rosters without breaking the bank for any franchise players. Early in the offseason, outfielder Randal Grichuk was picked up from St. Louis in exchange for pitchers Dominic Leone and top prospect Connor Greene. On January 23, veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson signed to a 1-year, $5 million contract. The acquisition of Granderson improves the depth of the Blue Jays

The Toronto Jays acquire Randal Grichuk.

outfield, allowing Kevin Pillar to continue in center and the newly acquired Grichuk to take over in right. The closeout offseason trading for Toronto, all-star shortstop Aledmys Diaz, was picked up from the Cardinal in exchange for JB Woodman.

After a World Championship campaign last season, the Houston Astros did little to change the team that brought the city of Houston its first World Series title. On January 13, the team did make a solid pickup in the form of Gerrit Cole. A power pitcher known to reach the high 90s with his fastball, Cole was picked up from Pittsburgh shortly after the shipped off all-star outfield Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco. Cole will help deepen the dominant pitching rotation that already includes Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel. Cole asserted his dominance in 2015 when he went 19-8 with a 2.60 era. His performance was down last year when he posted a 12-12 record with a 4.26 era. The Astros dealt third baseman Colin Moran, outfielder Jason Martin and right-handers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz to Pittsburgh in the exchange.

The Los Angeles Angels are another organization that illustrated an array of trade activity this offseason. Former Reds third baseman Zack Cozart was signed from free agency, as well as former all-star second baseman Ian Kinsler coming to Los Angeles in a trade with Detroit that included the Angels shipping Troy Montgomery and Wilkel Hernandez out East. The talk of the offseason, however, was the Angels signing of Shohei Ohtani, the highly acclaimed Japanese pitcher and outfielder. Ohtani is regarded as the best player not yet to enter the major leagues. Last season, playing for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani posted a 3-2 record and a 3.20 era off the mound while .332 with 8 home runs and 31 RBI’s. Until December 8, a strong bidding war took place including the Giants, Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, Mariners and Padres. Ohtani had certain requirements for the team that he would sign with that went further than just allowing him to not pitch and hit. He required that the team he would eventually sign to must have a top of the line athletic training facility and a farm system that fosters player growth and advancement among other necessities. The Angels were able to win Ohtani for the price of just $2.315 million for 6 years. In addition to the contract, a $20 million posting fee was paid to Ohtani’s former club. This fee serves to compensate Japanese teams when a player makes a switch to the MLB. There were limitations surrounding how much Ohtani could make because of his age and amount of time spent in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league. It was predicted that, had Ohtani stayed an extra two years in Japan to eliminate these restrictions, he would have been a $100 million player. Ohtani strongly improves the Angels pitching staff, which finished 12 in the league era last season. With his hitting ability, the Angels now have the best all-around American player in the world in Mike Trout and the best non-American player in Shohei Ohtani.

The free agent market featured big names, as every offseason does. Jake Arrieta and Eric Hosmer were atop the list of notable free agents and remain unsigned as Spring Training begins. Reigning World Championship starting pitcher Yu Darvish spent the majority of the 2017-2018 offseason on this list until signing with the Chicago Cubs for $126 million over six years on February 13, the day pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training for Chicago. Slugger JD Martinez’s name was found on the list until signing with the Boston Red Sox as late as February 26. As teams have begun playing Spring Training games in the Grapefruit League in Florida and the Cactus League in Arizona as of February 25, Arrieta and Hosmer have yet to sign with a baseball club.

Nathan Kernell is a freshman majoring in Communications with a focus in Digital Media. He enjoys playing on the baseball team and also playing guitar. Nathan has always enjoyed writing so it only seemed fitting to pursue that path in college. He can often be found making the short trip over to Chattanooga any time he has a free day or playing guitar in his dorm.