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2018 MLB offseason grades for every team

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2018 MLB offseason grades for every team

Spring is finally here, and with it comes MLB Opening Day.

Before the start of the 2018 MLB season take a quick stroll through the last four months with our winter report card for each franchise.

If you thought this was a dull and or bland offseason, you are correct.

The 2017-2018 MLB offseason was one of the coldest Hot Stoves in recent memory and the end result is a lot of bad grades.



Baltimore Orioles — D

Here’s the thing. If you believe the Orioles should put all their chips in for the 2018 season, knowing that the team is going to look vastly different in a year, then you could make the argument that they have done okay this winter.

Adding Andrew Cashner and Colby Rasmus are decent moves in a vacuum, considering their prices.

That said, everything we know about building baseball teams in 2018 tells us that the Orioles are the exact team that should commit to a rebuild. Losing their second-best trade chip and best pitcher in Zach Britton didn’t help, but barring an unlikely turnaround in (so far non-existent) contract negotiations with Manny Machado, not trading him will haunt this franchise for years to come.

A Wild Card appearance could be fun, and the Alex Cobb addition was a nice surprise, but this team made bad decisions for the long term, and didn’t do enough to compete in the short term. This is a tough time to be an O’s fan.

Boston Red Sox — B+

Adding J.D. Martinez is certainly a nice move for the Sox, and considering the contract he was looking for entering the offseason, the deal he signed looks completely reasonable for Boston.

Martinez is somehow still underrated as a hitter, but his swing isn’t ideally suited to Fenway Park. That’s not nearly as big a concern as the injury concerns, which should always worry teams when inking a guy to more than $100 million guaranteed.

New York Yankees - A

I mean, what other grade could it be? Just two seasons ago, New York embarked on a rebuild.

With their considerable resources and terrific farm system, we should have known it wouldn’t have taken long to get back on top.

Acquiring Giancarlo Stanton for pennies on the dollar, knowing they’ll always have the means to afford his monstrous contract, the Yankees have built the most fearsome middle of the order in baseball, combined with the deepest bullpen the sport has seen in years.

They’ve set themselves up to compete now and in the future, and for that they have to earn an A.

Tampa Bay Rays - B

Trading Evan Longoria certainly wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s tough to argue against it being the right decision. The Rays are in a perpetual state of looking up at the competition within their division, but the gap between New York/Boston and the rest of the AL East is especially wide this year.

Tampa saw what was happening, and decided to be proactive, unlike the other two have-nots in their division. We’ll see if they find themselves competing sooner rather than later, but at least they’re willing to make the tough moves.

Toronto Blue Jays - B

It’s a new era in Toronto, as Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have left the team in recent years. At the same time, it feels like we should expect more of the same from the Blue Jays this season. With Josh Donaldson on the team, you know they’ll hit for power, and the addition of Randal Grichuk helps in that area. Marcus Stroman should be healthy in April, and the rotation is talented to bounce back as a whole from last year. They didn’t add much in the way of true impact players, but don’t expect a step back quite yet.


Chicago White Sox — B

The White Sox didn’t do much, and that’s exactly what the front office wanted.

This team embarked on a major rebuild in obvious fashion, and in the last 18 months has completely revamped their farm system.

They are very happy to lose 100 games this season. The cheap additions of Welington Castillo and Joakim Soria, plus resigning Miguel Gonzalez, almost hurt this team more than it helps.

But it’s good to have a few quality regulars, even for teams not trying to compete, so this ends up a pretty good offseason for Chicago fans.

Cleveland Indians — C

Please note that this grade is representative of the Indians’ offseason only and not the state of their current roster.

Cleveland has one of the deepest, most talented rosters in baseball, and clearly ranks as one of the five-to-seven most likely teams to win the 2018 World Series. It’s a roster with few needs, and the front office recognized that.

Yonder Alonso was the biggest acquisition this winter, and that’s okay for a team already stacked with stars.

Detroit Tigers — C

Miguel Cabrera recently said he looked around at his teammates this spring and didn’t know many of their names. I can’t say I blame him, considering how few proven players are on the current roster, but that’s okay for Detroit as they embark on a long rebuild.

Ian Kinsler was traded to Los Angeles and Anibal Sanchez wasn’t retained, taking away even more familiar names in the Motor City. Francisco Liriano isn’t good enough at this stage in his career to help much, which is exactly what a rebuilding squad should want.

This team is bad, and boring. They almost got an F just for removing the classic Old English D from their home uniforms.

Kansas City Royals — B-

It’s been pretty tough assigning grades this offseason for a few reasons.

First off, it’s been a famously slow-developing winter for free agents. Perhaps more importantly, fewer teams than ever are looking to compete. In the era of superteams, it’s far easier for middling, average squads to decide not to waste money on an 85-ish win season, and instead save up for bigger free agents down the road.

So for a team like the Royals, in a vacuum, adding Lucas Duda and Jon Jay doesn’t look very exciting. But, for a team like the Royals, not spending money is exactly the right plan.

They get a B- for getting Moustakas back on an incredibly cheap deal, but this is yet another franchise on the cusp of a rebuild, and they spent accordingly this year.

Minnesota Twins — B

As solid of a B as any team on here. The Twins didn’t make that one big flashy move fans love so much, but there are nearly half a dozen transactions that could pay off for them in 2018. Lance Lynn, Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, Jake Odorizzi, and Logan Morrison were all acquired via trade/free agency on the cheap and could be contributors for a playoff team this season. In all likelihood, none will be All-Stars in Minnesota, but these are the types of regulars that good teams need. They still feel a piece or two away, but this was a good, active offseason.


Houston Astros — B+

The Astros didn’t have an outstanding offseason, but frankly, they didn’t need to. They’re the defending champions for a reason, and given their young talent core, it was an easy decision to put them at number one in our preseason power rankings. The biggest move they made this winter was bringing in Gerrit Cole, a former top overall pick. Houston should be a terrific fit for Cole, considering Minute Maid Park’s pitcher-friendly dimensions. Plus, one of Cole’s weaknesses in Pittsburgh was an over-reliance on his triple-digit fastball, but Houston’s organizational philosophy has always been to utilize breaking pitches, which should help maximize Cole’s potential. It was a nice move for a team that didn’t really need any nice moves to stay on top of the MLB landscape.

Los Angeles Angels — A

One of my favorite offseasons any team had this year. The headline is obviously winning the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, and he will form with Mike Trout to make the most intriguing 1-2 punch in Major League Baseball. But the additions of Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart turn this infield into maybe the best defensive unit in the sport, in addition to providing more bats for a top-heavy lineup.

Oakland Athletics — C+

I actually like the one-year contract for Jonathan Lucroy, a former top-three catcher in baseball who fell off a cliff last season. It’s a worthy gamble for a team without much buzz or opportunity within its own division and Stephen Piscotty has flashed some decent potential in previous seasons. They earned a passing grade because they didn’t do anything particularly poorly, but they didn’t do anything particularly inspiring either.

Seattle Mariners — B+

In one of his least active offseasons as general manager, Jerry Dipoto still managed to swing a major trade, acquiring speedster Dee Gordon for three minor leaguers. Gordon has primarily played second base in his career, but he’ll be manning center field for the Mariners, and his speed should play well at the top of the lineup. Seattle has been on the cusp of contention for nearly two decades, and their fans are hoping this is the move that finally gets them back in the playoffs.

Also, Ichiro is back! That’s enough for them to get the extra plus on their grade, despite Suzuki’s advanced age and obviously declining skills.

Texas Rangers — C

This season, Texas will be relying on the guys who have been there for years. Their biggest acquisitions in name are Bartolo Colon (on a minor league deal with a spring training invite) and Tim Lincecum. As a reminder, we’re currently in the year 2018, which means those additions don’t add much of anything to the outlook of this roster. They’ve still got plenty of talented position players, and have limited depth in the rotation. They probably should have done more, considering where they are in their contention window.


Atlanta Braves — B

Similarly to the White Sox, this season remains focused on player development for the Braves.

In that respect, jettisoning Matt Kemp to the Dodgers for a decent return (I’ve long loved the potential of a healthy Brandon McCarthy, and Charlie Culberson is a perfect fit for this Braves team) is a great move. The team is handing the reins to Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna (once service time permits), which is a smart move, even if it meant not making many major moves this winter.

Ridding themselves of Kemp in the manner they did is enough to bump them from a C to a B though.

Miami Marlins — F------

Honestly, six minuses isn’t enough.

This franchise is an embarrassment, and the fans of Miami and every other MLB team deserve better.

New York Mets — B+

Bringing in Todd Frazier is actually a nice move. The third baseman still provides good pop and is a respected clubhouse presence.

Really, though, the biggest move for New York was hiring Mickey Callaway as their new manager. Callaway is an up-and-coming star after finding much success as the pitching coach for the Indians the last few years. Given the immense talent in the Mets’ starting rotation, Callaway appears to be a perfect fit for the franchise and should be a move that pays off for years to come.

Philadelphia Phillies — B

The Phillies made some nice moves, but we still shouldn’t expect to see them anywhere close to the 2018 postseason.

The Jake Arrieta deal could end up looking like a steal, but it could also look like a massive overpay, depending on how real his decline was last season. Carlos Santana is a much safer quality addition, though one with less upside.

Either way, Philadelphia has put themselves in prime position to enter their contention window starting in 2019, assuming they’re able to make as big a splash next offseason as they’re likely hoping to.

Washington Nationals — B-

Like the other super teams who stayed relatively quiet this offseason, the Nationals are a roster with few holes, meaning the front office didn’t need to make a major splash in order to compete this year.

The reason their grade is a little worse is that it appeared Washington tried to make some impactful moves and simply couldn’t seal the deal.

At various points in time they were listed as having interest in Jonathan Lucroy, Wade Davis, Addison Reed, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer, and of course, Shohei Ohtani.

None of these potential deals panned out, so Nats fans may be feeling a little disappointed. This is still a really good team though, so a relatively lackluster offseason doesn’t mean much, and they’ve still got plenty of flexibility to make a deal in-season if they’d like to.



Chicago Cubs — B

This grade may look a little low, considering the Cubs are very much in their prime contention window and bolstered their rotation with an ace in Yu Darvish. I believe Darvish has bounceback potential after his brutal finish to the 2017 season, and the ace he’s replacing (Jake Arrieta) is likely on the decline as well.

However, at best it is likely a lateral move, and at worst, it’s a terrible contract to be saddled with for half a decade. It probably doesn’t matter too much though.

This team entered the offseason really good, and it’ll leave it really good too.

Cincinnati Reds — B

In a vacuum, the Reds’ offseason was just about as nondescript as it gets.

By far, the most noteworthy event was losing Zack Cozart to a 3-year contract with the Angels. If your team’s offseason is highlighted by the loss of a perfectly fine infielder, then it was probably pretty boring.

That said, this is totally okay for Cincinnati since they are firmly in the middle of rebuilding mode, and adding/retaining talents like Cozart are only going to hurt your draft position, without making your team a true contender (no offense to Cozart).

So, despite a lackluster list of moves, the Reds did good work this winter.

Milwaukee Brewers — A-

I’m not confident enough in Milwaukee’s ability to compete this year to remove the minus from their A, but frankly, this was never supposed to be their contention window anyways.

Their rebuilding process moved three stages beyond what was expected last season, and the Brewers capitalized on that momentum by adding outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich.

Both should enjoy tons of freedom on the basepaths this year, and their limited power numbers will be augmented by Miller Park, which is historically very friendly to left-handed hitters. This team is going to be relevant, and it’s going to be fun, it just may not be a World Series contender just yet.

They’re making smart moves though, and the excitement around the team is genuine.

Pittsburgh Pirates — B

The Pirates are in a very similar spot to the Rays.

It was just as difficult trading Andrew McCutchen as it was for Tampa to move Longoria, but given the state of their roster and the haves in their division, it was a move that needed to be made.

They won’t be expecting to compete this year, but committing to a rebuild is smart, hence the passing grade.

St. Louis Cardinals — B+

The Cardinals are in a tough spot. They’re the only team in their division that’s neither a serious World Series contender nor in the midst of a rebuild.

They certainly view themselves as closer to the Cubs than the Reds, but their roster just can’t match the likes of the Cubs, Dodgers, and Nationals. Still, they deserve credit for jumping on Marcell Ozuna during Miami’s garage sale, and that move alone is good enough for a quality grade.

Committing to Paul DeJong after just one decent season keeps them from an A, though.


Arizona Diamondbacks — C

The Diamondbacks technically look worse after the departure of slugger J.D. Martinez, but I’m still a believer in this roster.

The biggest change for the organization appears to be the installation of a humidor. Some scientists believe home runs at Chase Field could be cut by 25%, turning the team’s home park from a hitter’s haven to a pitcher’s dream. While this hurts the outlook for Paul Goldschmidt and company, the projections for Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, and Zack Greinke certainly took steps forward.

Either way, there wasn’t much here, so while I can’t give Arizona too high a grade I can’t knock them either.

Colorado Rockies — C-

Frankly, I don’t really get it. I like this Rockies team.

They’ve got big stars, quality regulars, and depth. The problem is all that depth is at 1B/OF. Gerardo Parra, Ryan McMahon, Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Ian Desmond, David Dahl, and Raimel Tapia all should be playing, but also all are fighting for the same four positions.

Unsurprisingly, Colorado is also lacking at pitcher and didn’t do much to address their rotation. I still think they’re set up to compete, so I can’t drop them below a C, but this team ideally would have tapped into that depth to add another pitcher or three.

Los Angeles Dodgers — C

This grade looks worse than it really is.

Yes, the Dodgers lost Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow (both to the Cubs), which will be a hit to their pitching depth. But frankly, a diminished Dodgers pitching staff is still deeper and more talented than at least 25 other organizations.

They didn’t add much unless you count Matt Kemp (editors note: don’t count Kemp), but this team is still great, losing a few pieces from last year’s NL pennant-winning squad doesn’t change that.

San Diego Padres — C+

When I first saw the eight-year contract Eric Hosmer signed to play in San Diego, I immediately chalked the Padres up for an F in this year’s grades. The more I think about the player, the terms, and the state of the roster, however, I think it’s a better fit than I thought.

Having to move Wil Myers (a talented player with a history of injuries) doesn’t bode well, but Hosmer is young enough and talented enough to still be a quality contributor by the time the Padres reach their window of contention. They’ve got some dynamic young players, and Hosmer’s experience and leadership should help, in addition to giving their lineup that much more thump.

It’s good enough for them to earn a C+, though still isn’t exactly what I’d call inspiring.

San Francisco Giants — D

Easy grade, for me, but I can see how this might come down to personal preference. Acquiring Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen seems strange, as those moves don’t help for the future and won’t be nearly enough to challenge the Dodgers within their division.

Giants fans may be happy to have some decent offensive players, unlike last season, and these moves do at least make them competitive on a nightly basis. Maybe they’re banking on some even-year magic?

Otherwise, I can’t see how these moves are particularly worthwhile.

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This time, closer Sean Doolittle costs the Nationals a game

This time, closer Sean Doolittle costs the Nationals a game

NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 6-1, Wednesday to drop their record to 19-30. Here are five observations from the game...

1.  What to say when the only person to trust can’t deliver?

That’s the status for these Washington Nationals, now 11 games under .500 after Sean Doolittle's worst outing since arriving in Washington, sliding further and further away, unable to stumble into wins and only capable of hunting down ways to lose.

A night after curious bullpen usage which delivered yet another wrenching loss, and was followed Wednesday afternoon by a pep-talk focused team meeting, manager Davey Martinez dispatched his knee-quaking posse of relievers in superior fashion.

Joe Ross opened the seventh with an out. Matt Grace followed with two. Six outs to go in a 1-0 game for the league’s worst bullpen.

Kyle Barraclough started the eighth. He struck out J.D. Davis. Adeiny Hechavarria doubled, though the ball should have been caught by Juan Soto. Pete Alonso grounded out. Todd Frazier came to the plate and options arrived. A mound visit was followed by a four-pitch walk to Frazier. Doolittle entered the game to face light-hitting veteran Carlos Gomez. Stomach-churning chaos followed.

Doolittle hit Gomez with his first pitch -- his first beaned batter of the year and first since May 29, 2018. Juan Lagares doubled two pitches later to clear the bases. Wilson Ramos was intentionally walked. Pinch-hitter Rajai Davis hit a three-run homer two pitches into his at-bat.

That was the end for Doolittle, who walked off the mound with a stunned look. The one reliable piece in the league’s worst bullpen had as disastrous a night as possible, flushing Max Scherzer’s start, throwing aside rare quality work from other relievers, sending the Nationals to their fourth consecutive loss in this can’t-get-right season.

What followed was a stupefied clubhouse beginning to process just how dire the situation is on May 22.

Adam Eaton wondered where answers are and said they need to come now.

“We need to do something different sooner rather than later,” Eaton said. “We've talked about this for weeks now. Just haven't been playing good baseball.”

Martinez said he was “shocked” by Doolittle’s off-kilter outing.

“I tell them all the time: This thing will turn around,” Martinez said. “It’s going to turn around. But we have to believe that it will. We have to will it. It’s time that we just believe that we’re good enough to play here, cause we are. And we’ve got to make it happen. We’ve got to make things happen. And stay strong. Stay together. Stay strong. Pull for your teammates. And this thing will turn around.”

Doolittle had a hard time wrapping his head around his rare 12-pitch crumbling.

“I don't know, it's tough and it's a tough spot to come in and the context of how our season's going it hurts you even more,” Doolittle said. “To have Max pitch so well tonight and the guys grind it out....shoot I don't know. I'm really frustrated. I'm disgusted with myself and I let the team down. And it hurts.”

Scherzer was stern in his comments about a spiraling season.

“When you face adversity, this is when you reveal yourself,” Scherzer said. “Whether you have the mental fortitude to come back and you can block out all the negativity that's probably going to surround us right now. You've got to come forward to the game with that positive attitude of knowing what you can control and that you have the right mindset that you're going to go out there and compete and compete at 100 percent. You have to think of all the little things you can do.”

There were those two words again: “little things.” They have conspired against the Nationals this year, undermining an-almost $200 million payroll, increasingly putting the manager’s future in jeopardy and ratcheting up calls for sweeping change. There’s been nothing little about them, and nothing the Nationals have figured out on the field or off to stop them from snuffing out the year before the season is even close to half done.

2. Scherzer needed 109 pitches to make it through six innings. The most important of those was his final one. The 11-pitch sixth gave the Nationals three fewer outs to pawn off on the bullpen. Scherzer opened the inning at 98 pitches before briskly working through Todd Frazier, Carlos Gomez and Juan Lagares.

He allowed four hits, struck out nine and walked two. The night drove Scherzer’s ERA down to 3.41. It all mattered little in the end.

“You just take it inning by inning, try to execute pitches,” Scherzer said. “I thought tonight I had a good inning out of the windup, had a good rocker step, and there were some pitches that I threw tonight that I executed well because I was nice and tall throughout my delivery. It kind of let me be able to pick up some consistency kind of early in the game and late in the game. When my delivery is right, and my slot is in the right spot, that’s when I execute all my pitches. So I felt like I was in better position tonight overall than I have been in the past.”

Why was Scherzer back to the mound after 98 pitches in five innings? Because of losses six weeks ago, three weeks ago, last week and this week. A team 10 games under .500 has to squeeze everything it can out of its ace on May 22. Time for a margin of error has eroded. What happened back then (losing series to Miami, for instance) piles up to have a grand influence on later.

3. Grace has been used as a matchup left-hander recently. He’s found that life more appealing.

Grace matched up with Cubs left-hander Anthony Rizzo and recorded an out Sunday. He faced Robinson Cano on Tuesday to pick up a ground out. Wednesday, Grace was brought in to face left-handed pinch-hitter Dominic Smith. Smith grounded out to first. Grace remained in to face Amed Rosario and recorded another ground ball out.

The Nationals are trying to put Grace in spots to get his feet back on the ground after a night as the punching bag at the end of a blowout loss against the Chicago Cubs last Friday (and a down season overall). So far, this role has been better.

4. Remember the extended minor-league assignments for after players were hurt? That’s gone. And the results are not great.

Matt Adams was activated Wednesday. Adrian Sanchez was sent to Double-A Harrisburg to make room on the 25-man roster.

Adams did all his rehabilitation work with the major-league team. He took batting practice on the field and in the batting cages before that. He also took ground balls and infield practice. What he didn’t do was go on a minor-league assignment despite not playing since May 3. The Nationals judged him ready to play because his swing looked in place against a pitching machine.

Wednesday, he made a crucial error in the first inning. Robinson Cano rolled a small ground ball to first, Adams fielded, pivoted and threw toward second base, where the runner on first was heading. The ball never came close to the bag. It went to the outfield instead, which presented the Mets with runners on second and third and one out instead of a runner on first and one out (or a chance at a longshot double play). It, most importantly, cost Scherzer more pitches.

Scherzer pitched his way out of it as he often has this season. He came into the game leading the league in FIP (fielding-independent pitching).

Trea Turner played just two games for Triple-A Potomac after missing seven weeks. Asked how many games he would have preferred to play there, Turner said one. He made two wayward throws his first game back with the Nationals.

So, instantly putting these guys back on the field -- which is every player’s preference and a spot the Nationals’ record has leveraged them into -- is not ideal.

5.  Kyle McGowin will start Friday. His visit to the rotation is expected to be temporary.

McGowin will pitch in Jeremy Hellickson’s spot. He was up to give length in the bullpen. Like Erick Fedde, he’ll be drawn away from the relievers to fill a rotation spot.

McGowin is a sinker-ball pitcher. He made one start at the end of last season. He also is currently suspended by the Pacific Coast League after a substance was found in his glove following an inspection by umpires during his last outing.



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In wake of the Eaton-Frazier dilemma, what are the biggest former teammate beefs in sports?

In wake of the Eaton-Frazier dilemma, what are the biggest former teammate beefs in sports?

Some sports beef just never go away.

On Monday, former Chicago White Sox teammates Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier had to be separated during the third inning of the New York Mets 5-3 victory over the Nationals. The two have never liked each other, and their beef with one another extends as far back as 2016. 

D.C. Sports Live's Julia Donaldson and Travis Thomas discuss what other teammate beefs in recent memory compare with the saga between Eaton and Frazier.

Donaldson initially brought up the beef between former Pittsburgh Steelers teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. The two were very critical of each other vocally to the media throughout their final season together in Pittsburgh. Their relationship reached a point of no repair, as the Steelers shipped their All-Pro receiver to the Oakland Raiders in March.

For Thomas, the first teammate beef that came to mind was the incident between former Nationals teammates Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon. It's hard to forget the image of Papelbon choking out Harper for not hustling and running out the bases.

Sticking with baseball, another teammate beef from recent memory is the everlasting dislike between Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. The two were teammates from 1997-2002, and their dislike for another was very much in the public eye. Their hatred for another reached a peak in June 2002, when the two of them had to be separated from another, and Kent publicly said he wanted to leave the team. He was then dealt to Houston in the offseason. 

Other former teammate sports beefs that come to mind are Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal when they were teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers. The two stars both wanted to be the clear main No. 1 option, which led the Lakers to trade Shaq to the Miami Heat. The trade ended up working out for both parties, as O'Neal won a championship in Miami, while Bryant led the Lakers to two more championships in 2009 and 2010.

What other teammate sports beefs come to mind?