Aside from the MLB trade deadline, the MLB Winter Meetings are the most exciting time of the year for baseball rumor enthusiasts. As teams scramble to improve their rosters, the rumor mill runs wild, and several big deals go down. That was the case again this year as many teams made surprising moves to improve themselves in 2017 and beyond.
But who actually came out on top out of all the madness? It’s often hard to say but based upon a few moves made, there are a handful of teams that clearly made out better than the rest. Here are the five teams that did the best job at the Winter Meetings, whether they’re rebuilding or going for it all in 2017.
5. Colorado Rockies
They didn’t do anything gigantic, but the Rockies did add Ian Desmond to play first base for them after he had a monster bounce-back year with the Rangers in 2016. While Colorado still needs pitching (as always), he solidifies an already solid offensive lineup. His numbers should only improve at Coors Field.
This throws into question whether or not the Rockies will actually be sellers for the rest of the offseason. Outfielders Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez constantly come up in trade rumors, but the team might be thinking about a playoff push now.
It’s also worth noting this move might signal the Rockies’ front office has no idea what it’s doing. To some, it could look like a staff that’s confused about which direction it wants to go.
4. Washington Nationals
The Nationals lost out on Chris Sale, but they still made a trade that makes them significantly better in 2017 and beyond. They gave up a king’s ransom, though. Washington traded three of its top six prospects, including top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito to the White Sox for outfielder Adam Eaton, who is under team control for five years.
Since he will be with Washington for five seasons, the amount Washington gave up actually makes sense. Eaton turned his career around in his three seasons with the White Sox, hitting.284 or better in every season while getting on base at a.362 clip. He could be the perfect lead-off man for the Nationals, and at age 27, they now have him through his prime.
3. Chicago Cubs
Especially offensively, the Cubs are already set for next season. However, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer knew they needed to improve the bullpen in order to outpace the field again in 2017. They did exactly that by trading outfielder Jorge Soler to the Royals for closer Wade Davis.
Soler did not fit into the Cubs’ future plans with an already crowded outfield. Albert Almora Jr. and newly acquired speedster Jon Jay will split time in center field, Jason Heyward is a fixture in right field (except against left-handed pitching), and Kyle Schwarber and Ben Zobrist round out a great unit, which was strengthened by Javier Baez’s emergence at second base.
Essentially, the Cubs traded a piece they wouldn’t have used anyway in order to get one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, who has posted a 1.18 ERA in the last three seasons. As long as he stays healthy, he will help create a great back-end for Chicago, who can throw Carl Edwards Jr., Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, and Davis in the final couple innings of tight games. A relatively quiet, but very successful Winter Meetings for the defending World Series champs.
2. Boston Red Sox
Boston got their man in Chris Sale after several years of trying at this offseason’s Winter Meetings. While they had to give up Yoan Moncada, one of the top prospects in baseball, and others, it was worth it for a team with a win-now mentality. After all, a team like the Red Sox can rebuild through free agency and other means while lower market teams cannot.
Sale makes Boston’s rotation elite with a top three of him, David Price, and reigning AL Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello. In a conversation this writer had with ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian, he said the Sale move, “turned the Red Sox from the best team in the American League East to the best team in the American League, period.”
Anytime you can make a move like that to go with Tyler Thornburg, whom they also acquired to be their setup man, it’s been a successful Winter Meetings. As of right now, the Red Sox have to be looked at as the team to beat in the Junior Circuit.
1. Chicago White Sox
The White Sox won the MLB Winter Meetings, and it’s really not even close. An organization that has resisted rebuilding for years, when it was obvious they needed it, saw a market ripe for the picking, and they took advantage. With very few starting pitchers available in free agency, they capitalized on Chris Sale’s increased value and got Moncada along with others in return.
After that, they shipped out Eaton for three excellent prospects, including Giolito, who completely re-shape their farm system. Chicago likely isn’t done, as they still have starter Jose Quintana, a valuable trade chip. If he’s traded for a few promising prospects as well, the White Sox will have accelerated the rebuilding process and might only have to wait a couple years to be a competitive team again.
[Featured Image by Andrew A. Nelles/AP Images]