The 2022 MLB Winter Meetings started off with a bang and never ceased to slow down. Nearly $2 billion in contracts were handed out in less than a week as the first in-person meeting in more than two years of general managers and front offices occurred. Most of the top free agents signed deals during this event, painting a new MLB landscape and setting the scene for the 2023 campaign. Now that the dust has settled, let’s see where each team stands after the flurry of moves in San Diego and the leftover transactions that trickled in as the week came to a close.
Outside of adding outfielder Nomar Mazara on a minor league deal and selecting reliever Andrew Politi in the Rule 5 Draft, the Orioles stood pat. It’s a somewhat disappointing turn of events for a team that showed plenty of promise in 2022, becoming the fun team that seems to be a year away from contending. It’s going to take a couple of additions to the starting rotation to make this team an outright contender and they’re running out of options quickly.
Following a disappointing 2022 campaign, the Red Sox needed desperately to light a fire within the organization. With many big-name departures from the team this off-season, GM Chaim Bloom was in a prime position to make his presence felt. Not only did he greatly improve a bullpen that has been a sore spot for the team for many years by signing one of the best closers of all time (Kenley Jansen), but he also brought aboard one of the most enticing Japanese exports (Masataka Yoshida). In what may be considered the most competitive division in baseball in 2023, the Red Sox may be more than a couple of moves away from being a frontrunner. Still, they moved in the right direction by improving their worst feature and adding a bat with a high upside.
The team had one job and they got it done. They re-signed AL MVP outfielder Aaron Judge via the largest free agent deal of all time, putting an end to the saga that stressed out millions of Yankee fans. In a minor move, they also brought back reliever Tommy Kahnle. There isn’t a lot to hate about the team’s Winter Meetings because they made the most important move of all. The next step will be shoring up the pitching staff to ensure the team makes another deep postseason run.
Not known for making significant additions and having already handed out the largest free-agent deal in franchise history, it was clear the Rays wouldn’t be busy. They did so by trading one of their best relievers (Brooks Raley) to the Mets for starter Keyshawn Askew before trading for a Rule 5 Draft pick (Kevin Kelly). It wasn’t exciting, but the team makes its biggest additions with its player development. By Rays’ standards, the team looks set, but they’re sure to make a few minor additions before the season begins.
Jays fans have got to be disappointed. The Toronto team has been mostly silent all winter outside of trading away one of its best middle-of-the-order hitters for a reliever. The theme continued in San Diego as they seemed to just be checking in with free agents and weighing their options. After a 2022 campaign that saw the Blue Jays exit in the Wild Card round, many would have expected another aggressive offseason. If they want to keep pace with the rest of their surging division, they’re going to have to start showing that aggression.
The South Siders did a whole lot of nothing at the Winter Meetings. Outfielder Victor Reyes was the only addition to the roster, and after missing out on the postseason in a season that began with such high expectations, that’s not going to be enough. The team is pretty loaded in both the lineup and the rotation, but a few depth players would be nice, because not only does this roster have a history of injury, but it also can’t expect a new manager to be the move that turns everything around in 2023.
If the Guardians added just one thing this offseason, it needed to be an offensive threat. They filled that hole with first baseman Josh Bell, solidifying the middle of their lineup with a switch-hitter that fits the offense’s mold (low strikeout rate). He’ll provide the power they’ve been sorely lacking and tie a bow on a light but successful Winter Meetings. As cheap as the Guardians are, they likely don’t make many more major additions, but they’ve done well to fill their most glaring need.
Trading away reliever Joe Jiménez and acquiring Mason Englert in the Rule 5 Draft was the entirety of the action produced by the Tigers. Expected to take a big leap in 2022, the team fell flat on its face because of a punchless offense. They’ve done nothing thus far to address their flimsy bats and seem destined for another season in the bottom half of the American League. Even if you consider this to be another rebuilding year for the team, they haven’t done much this offseason to improve a roster that includes playoff-ready veterans and up-and-coming stars.
Absolutely nothing has happened in Kansas City. Their offseason tracker over at Fangraphs is completely blank when it comes to additions. It turns out that the new GM in town is waiting for the right time to strike. He may run out of time, especially if the pitching market continues to move at the pace it’s been moving thus far. The rotation is the clearest problem spot on a team that should be exiting its rebuild in the next year or two. Royals fans definitely had their hopes up when ex-GM Dayton Moore left town, but those hopes have quickly faded back to rock bottom.
It must be an AL Central thing because the Twins also decided to stand pat. A second-half disaster saw them miss out on the expanded postseason and now they sit with utilityman Kyle Farmer as their “big” offseason addition. Banking on the return of starter Kenta Maeda and full seasons of deadline acquisitions (Jorge López, Tyler Mahle) is probably not the best course of action. With Carlos Correa likely out of the picture, the Twins are going to need to be creative to make up for his absence.
The reigning World Series champs have the right to have a quiet week at the Winter Meetings. Not only has their championship roster stayed mostly intact, but they already added former MVP, first baseman José Abreu, to one of the most deadly lineups in baseball. Could the team make a few more moves to solidify the roster and give confidence to the fans that would enjoy a repeat? Definitely. Will they likely be one of baseball’s juggernauts anyway? For sure.
In the final offseason with two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani on the squad, it’s make-or-break time for the Angels. They added to the offense and pitching staff before the front office headed to San Diego, and while they were there, picked up reliever Carlos Estévez to solidify the bullpen. It’s not the flashiest of moves, but we’ve seen plenty of arms have great amounts of success after leaving Coors. As the team has learned over the years, you can never have too much depth, so minor additions will be the key. Their performance in San Diego wasn’t mind-blowing, but it did continue a trend of the team making small additions on their way to a more complete-looking roster.
Woah! The A’s were big spenders at the Winter Meetings, adding utilitymen Aledmys Díaz and Jace Peterson via free agency, first baseman Ryan Noda via the Rule 5 Draft, and reliever Chad Smith via trade. They most definitely will not be competing in 2023, so these moves are very inconsequential, but it’s nice to see the lowest-spending team in baseball dole out some dough.
Jerry Dipoto never ceases to have a busy offseason. However, he took a break at the Winter Meetings to catch up with his fellow GMs, acquiring only reliever Chris Clarke in the Rule 5 Draft. He afforded himself that rest by being busy in the early weeks of the offseason. Mariners fans have got to be excited for the team to run it back with what could be considered an even better roster than the one that made it to the ALDS in 2022.
Following up on one of the most expensive pre-2022 offseasons, the Rangers have kept the cash flowing. They rounded out a rotation that recently added starter Jacob deGrom by inking starter Andrew Heaney. It’s a boom-or-bust roster but you can’t say the Rangers haven’t tried to get better. The Rangers could be a sneaky good team in 2023 if everyone stays healthy and plays to the level many expect them to, but they could also once again lose more than 90 games if everything doesn’t come together smoothly.
Considering how active the Braves have been (making blockbuster trades and extending every young star on the team), acquiring only reliever Joe Jiménez at the Winter Meetings seems awfully quiet. Adding a very solid pitcher to one of the best arm barns in baseball is nothing to scoff at. Are they loading up to make a bigger move or are they satisfied with their stacked roster? If they stick with the current look, they will rival everyone in their division. If they make another big move, they might be projected for the most wins in baseball.
It’s difficult to tell what the Marlins are waiting for. They obviously don’t need any more starters, but they could use a few bullpen upgrades and a couple of lineup additions. They made minor moves via trade and the Rule 5 Draft and as of now, don’t seem destined for a major transaction. If they were to receive a report card for their Winter Meetings performance, it would not be glowing. Maybe they’re aware of how tough their division is and are going to wait until there’s a clearer path. By then, though, they’ll have missed the prime of many of their best young stars.
No team has had a busier offseason than the team from Queens. They kicked off the Winter Meetings by inking Justin Verlander to the highest AAV contract, kept the party going by bringing José Quintana, Brooks Raley, and David Robertson aboard, and finished the week off by signing the top available pitcher out of Japan (Kodai Senga) and re-signing the best remaining outfielder (Brandon Nimmo). They even added reliever Zach Greene in the Rule 5 Draft. The aftermath of this frenzy was a sense of immense positivity. The expectations surrounding the Mets haven’t been this high in years, and they’re probably not done adding to the most expensive roster in baseball history.
While the Mets had the most in-your-face performance in San Diego, the Phillies might have actually improved the most. Adding the best free agent shortstop (Trea Turner) while improving the pitching staff with the likes of starter Taijuan Walker, reliever Matt Strahm, and sneaky good Rule 5 Draft pick, starter Noah Song, will go a long way in improving the odds that the Phillies repeat as National League champs. If there was any doubt that the Phillies weren’t all in after making it to the World Series, there isn’t any now. Dave Dombrowski is a win-now GM, and he proved that at the Winter Meetings by building on a threatening lineup and solidifying a more than serviceable pitching staff.
After finishing with the worst record in baseball in 2022, most baseball fans expected the Nationals to continue to subtract from the roster in order to kickstart a rebuild. Instead, they’ve made minor additions across the roster, culminating in the signing of starter Trevor Williams and the first selection in the Rule 5 Draft (Thad Ward). There is almost no chance the Nats have a shot at making noise in the playoff race, but they’re at least showing that they aren’t content with another last-place finish.
Ownership announced that the checkbooks were open and that the team would look to be competitive in 2023. The front office backed up that sentiment by bringing aboard the previously non-tendered outfielder Cody Bellinger who might have the highest upside among his cohort. They also added Jameson Taillon, supplying an additional veteran presence necessitated by the team’s burgeoning rotation. This won’t be enough to get them into the postseason, however. The roster is a couple of huge additions away from rivaling the Cardinals and Brewers, so the hardest portion of the offseason leg work has yet to be fulfilled.
Ever since beginning the sell-off of the entirety of the core across the past two seasons, the Reds might be the front office that is most obviously not attempting to put a winning product on the field. They continued that trend by only signing a couple of players to minor league contracts. It would be nice to see them at least pretend to not tank, but at this point, you can’t really expect them to do anything other than try to put themselves in a good position to lose as many games as possible in order to have a better shot at the number one pick in 2024.
It was an uneventful Winter Meetings for a Brew Crew that was active in the trade market prior to the event. Reliever Gus Varland, taken in the Rule 5 Draft, was the only supplement to the roster. Blowing a playoff entry that seemed like a lock at the midpoint of last season should have lit a fire beneath the front office, but so far, that hasn’t come to fruition. They could definitely run it back and hope for better luck or for a lack of a second-half collapse, but it’s going to take a few more moves for Milwaukee fans to feel confident that they won’t be outplayed by their rivals.
In the same vein as all of the other cheap rebuilding clubs, the Pirates held their dollar bills tight to their chest. Starter Vince Velasquez and relievers Jarlín García and Jose Hernandez joined the bullpen, so the Buccos can at least have more confidence that they’ll be able to lock down the few games they do win and will have some trade chips at the deadline. The playoffs are out of the picture, but the Pirates could at least take some flyers on young players with potential. The outlook here has not changed one bit.
One impactful signing and two minor additions defined the Cardinals’ trip to San Diego. Relievers Guillermo Zuniga and Wilking Rodriguez joined the fold, but the big fish they reeled in was catcher Willson Contreras. The three-time All-Star will be the immediate replacement for longtime backstop Yadier Molina and greatly improves the lineup of a 2022 division winner. Pitching supplements are likely on the docket moving forward, but inking one of the most coveted free agents proves that the Cardinals aren’t content with their early playoff exit last year.
Silence rang through the DBacks front office as they made no moves at the Winter Meetings. Did they even show up? The NL West is an extremely competitive division at the moment, and Arizona may be realizing that they’re going to have to wait for the right time to go all in. The roster is far from complete, and they likely make plenty of minor moves prior to Spring Training, but nobody was expecting a blockbuster move from the Snakes going into last week.
The Rockies never fail to entertain. It’s usually by making fools of themselves, but you can’t say they don’t give baseball fans stuff to talk about. Their Winter Meetings consisted of a minor trade with the A’s for starter Jeff Criswell and trading their Rule 5 Draft pick to the Rays for cash. They’ve got to find some way to pay Kris Bryant! The Rockies will be fun to watch this year, but it won’t be because of the games they’re winning. The aftermath of the past week continues to be utter goofiness.
Having lost many key pieces to free agency, baseball fans predicted the Dodgers to make a move that would shake up the offseason as they’ve done for the past few years. Instead, the only move they made was taking a flyer on outfielder Jason Heyward. I’m sure they’ll turn him back into an All-Star, but you have to wonder what the Dodgers are cooking. Considering how successful they’ve been in recent seasons, they could probably run away with the division with their current roster. It’s perplexing, though, that they haven’t been the bullies that go out and get the talent they want like we’ve come to expect.
Besides the Mets throwing around money as if it grows on trees, the Padres have earned a reputation for being the most aggressive front office in baseball. They grew that reputation by surprisingly inking shortstop Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year contract. They’ll have to rearrange their positioning to fit him, but the Padres aren’t backing down in their attempt to join baseball’s juggernauts by overtaking the mighty Dodgers. The Winter Meetings at their home base was the perfect setting for them to show they aren’t messing around.
It was a week full of highs and lows for the Giants and their fans. On the precipice of signing Arson Judge, they had the AL MVP disappear from their grasp and return to his original squad. That left the Giants picking up the pieces by signing what seemed to be a consolation prize in outfielder Mitch Haniger. The outfield needed some work, so they’re obviously addressing needs, but after the hype of a stunning move went by the wayside, anything but spending a huge sum of cash was going to be disappointing. You’d have to expect them to be all-in this year considering the market they’ve been fishing in, so they’re at least moving in the right direction. Baby steps.