The MLB off-Season is starting to come to an end and the start of baseball season is quickly approaching. The off-season in baseball, much like other sports, is long for their fans. What separates baseball from the rest, is the off-season is also spent in the cold winter months.
In almost every other sport, during the off-season, fans have the ability to enjoy the outside life. The months of waiting for football, basketball, or hockey season to return, are usually overshadowed by the enjoyment the summer months bring us. The MLB off-season is spent for most of the world, inside our homes, while the cold air outside let us dream of warm summer days with friends at the stadium.
So what do baseball fans do during the cold, long MLB off-season? Some turn to other sports, there are plenty to go around! NFL playoff races and basketball season kicking off in full swing, to name a few. Some take a break from sports. Let the cold winter months be a nice reset period before winter thaws in Florida and Arizona for Spring Training. Others keep tabs on the MLB off-season and the moves that happen during it. From Winter Meetings, arbitration hearings, and free agent deals all the way to non-roster invites and spring training roster reveals.
If you take part in the latter, then to some degree you keep track of who did well and who did not during the MLB off-season. This list is all about those teams who used the winter months to position themselves for the best success in 2023.
Winners of the Cold MLB Off-Season
4. Minnesota Twins
For Minnesota Twins fans, it must have felt like going through two or three off-seasons all in a few months. The main focal point of Minnesota’s off-season revolved around shortstop Carlos Correa. Heading into winter, Correa was the main target. Getting to keep Correa where he played well last year was a major success for Twins fans. Minnesota also made a significant upgrade behind the plate, replacing a declining Gary Sanchez with Christian Vázquez, who was a big part of the World Series title in Houston.
The Twins also took a flier on Joey Gallo, who they hope can return to somewhat of his old dominant self. The addition of starting pitching came with a price as they traded AL batting title winner Luis Arraez away in return for Pablo López. Minnesota was hampered last season by injuries in the rotation. The addition of Lopez along with a healthy lot of starters should help Minnesota in 2023 compete in the division.
3. Texas Rangers
Although the Texas Rangers still have holes in their outfield and didn’t do much to help their bullpen, there is no denying they went all in on their rotation. Texas spent the MLB off-season building off their previous off-season before 2022. Back then, Texas prioritized their offense, bringing in a brand new middle infield. This year, they transitioned to pitching. After seeing who they added, there’s no question this could be a top-10 rotation in baseball.
Jacob deGrom was the more surprising deal of the MLB off-season. Along with Aaron Judge, deGrom was the top target for many teams this winter. A former two-time Cy Young award winner, he brings the Rangers more value than they could have asked for. The big worry with deGrom will be health. Andrew Heaney comes over from the Los Angeles Dodgers after signing a deal this winter. Heaney comes off an average year in 2022 where he only threw in 72 innings for the Dodgers. In those innings, however, he was able to rank well in K% (97%) and chase rate (96%).
Nathan Eovaldi was another player that was a bit of a surprise to sign with Texas. Much like deGrom, Eovaldi comes with an injury history. Yet, he is still only two years removed from a 5.7 fWAR season with the Boston Red Sox in 2021. Texas shouldn’t expect Eovaldi to return to that form, but he can be a valuable top-of-the-rotation type guy in 2023.
2. New York Mets
The New York Mets season came to a crashing end in 2022. The team that sat atop the NL East majority of the year, couldn’t find a way to close it out down the stretch during an important series with the Atlanta Braves. The Mets did an impressive job of keeping their team in the NL pennant contention, however. Re-signing two of their top bullpen pieces from 2022, Edwin Díaz and Adam Ottavino, gives them a spark heading into the new year.
Even though they missed out on the MLB off-seasons’ wild Carlos Correa sweepstakes, the Mets still were able to make a splash signing when they locked up the reigning AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander for the next two seasons. Verlander had been the centerpiece of the Houston Astros pitching staff during their dominant run in the American League. He now joins Max Scherzer as one of, if not, the best one-two starting pitchers in baseball.
1. Philadelphia Phillies
The award for MLB off-season winner goes to the Philadelphia Phillies. The defending National League champions set out this winter to build on the success they found last year during a playoff run. The dangerous Phillies lineup gets a big bump in production with the addition of Trea Turner. Turner, who spent his last year and a half with the Dodgers, comes to Philadelphia as their marquee signing. Turner has a career slash line of .302/.355/.487 with a .359 wOBA. He now gets to spend the next 11 seasons in the City of Brotherly love.
The Phillies will also go into the 2023 season with a revamped bullpen. The team signed Matt Strahm to a deal as one of their LH relievers out of the bullpen. Strahm comes off a rebounding year in Boston last season. They also take a flier on an aging Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel isn’t the same fireball thrower he was in Atlanta years ago, in fact, he’s no longer a closer in the league.
Kimbrel should look to take on a bridge role with newly acquired Gregory Soto from the Detroit Tigers, as a path to the ninth inning man in Seranthony Domínguez. With the moves the Phillies made to fill gaps they needed to be filled, it’s easy to see why one would think they won the MLB off-season.