The idea of “winning the offseason” doesn’t always play in baseball. We’ve seen too many teams in the past two decades go over the top with additions and trades, only to watch it all fall apart during the regular season.
It’s not the NBA, where you can quickly make over a team with a few key moves, or the NFL, where a few positions are so important that if you hit on them, your fortunes change quickly.
Winning the offseason in baseball is more about making the right move at the right time — the trade that brings the missing piece, signing the free agent with the potential that other teams don’t see. As smart as baseball is these days, getting everything to line up well enough to win a World Series is still quite hard.
Which brings us to the 2019 MLB season. With opening day now less than two weeks away, we’re continuing our series of season previews with a roundtable discussion about which teams had the best offseason.
Our crew of baseball watchers and writers each have a choice in the matter, and we’re all looking at the senior circuit.
You have to admire the Reds for going out and adding legitimate talent despite being in a tight division. The team took advantage of the Dodgers' desire to remain under the luxury cap and brought in Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood in one deal. It also worked to shore up the rotation by adding Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark, and picked up underrated vets like Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias. Aside from Puig, and maybe Wood, none of those players are stars. But at a time when every other non-contender is trying to bottom out, it was refreshing to see the Reds go from probable last place team to possible wild-card contender just because they were willing to try. - Chris Cwik
I’ll take the obvious choice here. The Phillies, after floundering down the stretch last year, went out and addressed their needs — and then some. Bryce Harper is in Philly now, as you know. But they also traded for J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura, signed David Robertson and Andrew McCutchen. The Phillies are certainly better than they were last year, but they’re still in a division that won’t be easy to win. So winning the offseason in this sense doesn’t guarantee the Phillies anything but huge expectations. - Mike Oz
New York Mets
It’s easy to miss the Mets with the Phillies adding four All-Stars to their roster, but their offseason moves made the team much better than the 2018 version. The blockbuster trade with the Mariners added offense in Robinson Cano, and much-needed bullpen help in Edwin Diaz. They signed veteran catcher Wilson Ramos and utility man Jed Lowrie to two-year contracts. They traded Jay Bruce (again) and Kevin Plawecki, which means Todd Frazier will be moving back to first base. The only black mark is not improving the rotation, which falls off steeply after Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. But they still have time to fix that — Dallas Keuchel still needs a team. Go and get him, Mets. - Liz Roscher
St. Louis Cardinals
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado weren't the only elite players to change uniforms this offseason. The Cardinals’ trade for Paul Goldschmidt has seemingly been forgotten, but will certainly help position them to contend in a tough NL Central. Making the situation even better, St. Louis didn't have to part with any current notable prospects to land the perennial MVP candidate. The Cardinals also added Andrew Miller, which will supplement the bullpen nicely. St. Louis didn't dominate the headlines like some teams, but it did very well. - Mark Townsend
New York Mets
The real answer is the Phillies, but in the interest of changing things up, I’ll give a vote for one of their division rivals. The Mets pulled off one of the biggest trades, adding Robinson Cano to the heart of their order and Edwin Diaz to their bullpen. That alone would’ve been a promising enough debut for new GM Brodie Van Wagenen, but he also added Jed Lowrie and Wilson Ramos to help the Mets with their depth up the middle. Wear and tear might be a concern for the team, but if they stay healthy they’ve got a chance in the NL East. - Kevin Kaduk
Next in this series: Our predictions for the biggest story in baseball ... Tim Tebow! Coming Wednesday.
2019 Team Previews from Yahoo Sports: Baltimore | Miami | Kansas City | Detroit | Texas | Toronto | San Diego | Chicago (AL) | Minnesota | San Francisco | Pittsburgh | Arizona | Seattle | Cincinnati | Los Angeles (AL) | Oakland | Tampa Bay | Colorado | Cleveland | New York (NL) | Atlanta
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