Earlier in the week, we released Part 1 of the Top 10 Biggest Offseason Stories (So Far) in the 2013-2014 MLB offseason. In this piece, RotoBaller Bill Dubiel follows up with the top 5 stories from the 2013-2014 MLB offseason.
5. Beltran Dons the Pinstripes
After several spectacular seasons in St. Louis, the Yankees signed veteran switch-hitting outfielder Carlos Beltran to a 3-year, $45 million deal. Beltran brings plenty to the table from an offensive perspective, as a switch-hitting slugger who will likely hit around .300. Beltran's lefty swing is perfectly tailored to pounding lasers over the short porch in right field, and his right-handed swing will find plenty of grass in the spacious Death Valley of left-center. Beltran will help fill the power void left by the departures of Cano and Granderson, and hitting behind the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and a hopefully healthy Derek Jeter makes him a candidate for another 100 RBI season.
4. Rangers Leading Off with Choo
Rumors milled for months about where Shin-Soo Choo would end up this winter, considering he was coming off a season where he cemented himself as one of the game's best all-around hitters and elite OBP guys. The Rangers finally locked him up for 7 years to the tune of $130 million, although super agent Scott Boras arguably messed an even bigger offer from the Yankees. Choo is going to play left field and hit leadoff every day. His high on-base percentage (OBP) means he will often be in scoring position ahead of Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre, which means runs, runs, runs, and more runs. The Rangers are perennially either in the playoffs or knocking on the door, and Choo should be a key piece of to their 2014 puzzle.
3. Tigers and Rangers Swap Studs
In the first major blockbuster of the season, the Tigers sent Prince Fielder and the remainder of his 9-year, $214 million deal to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler, the five-tool former face of the franchise. While Kinsler is a great return on Fielder, the secondary motive for the deal was to free up money for the Tigers to attempt to resign reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera when they become free agents (in 2014 and 2015, respectively).
Fielder will be inadvertently replaced by Miguel Cabrera, who will shift to first base in his absence as top Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos takes over 3B. Kinsler will occupy second base in Detroit as the Rangers essentially cleared the position for young blossoming stud Jurickson Profar. Kinsler brings a veteran presence to the Detroit infield and will supplement Miguel Cabrera in the lineup, while Fielder will serve as protection for Adrian Beltre, a tandem that baseballs are already having nightmares about.
2. Ellsbury Cleans Up
The latest player to trade his red stockings for pinstripes, Jacoby Ellsbury signed a healthy 7-year, $153 million deal in December. There have been murmurs that the deal was far too large and lengthy for a player who has fallen victim to multiple injuries in his young career…I may or may not have been among said murmurers.
Provided he does stay healthy, he will be one of the top five-tool players in the American League, and regardless of where he hits in the Yankee lineup (I personally think he's the best fit for the leadoff spot), he will provide a spark to a lineup that has been in dire need of a speedster who will actually get on base consistently (lookin at you, Brett Gardner). It is also my humble opinion that Ellsbury will fit better in the Yankees clubhouse; he doesn't really have the whole greasy, bearded, chowder-sucking hobo vibe about him.
Whoops! Did I say that out loud?
1. Cano Changes Coasts
As a Yankee fan, I will do my very best to remain objective about this, but no promises.
Robinson Cano decided to forego any allegiance to the pinstripes and went with the payday. The Yankees were not willing to meet Cano's ridiculous demands, and it turns out that the Empire State of Mind was not as important to Jay-Z as we previously thought — Cano and Jay-Z “settled” for 10 years and $240 million.
Cano will certainly bring a big bat to the anemic Mariners offense, but will he be the same potent force he was in New York? Cano has always hit with some protection around him…I want to say Kyle Seager will hit fourth? Yikes. More importantly, even with the fences being brought in and Safeco Field being much closer to neutral in 2013, it is NOT Yankee Stadium, not by a long shot. Lastly, Cano hasn't hasn't hit well in cold weather, and the more mild Seattle weather may hurt him a bit in the Spring and Summer.
I'm afraid that Cano will face a fate similar to that of King Felix--an absolute stud whose statistics will fall victim to a subpar supporting cast.