If hindsight is 20/20, the success rate of offseason transactions is far less spectacular. What looks great on paper in December can look terrible on the field in June. And we’re not just picking on front-office personnel; we also publish those offseason grades and rank the trades/signings, after all.
Generally, we aren’t going to criticize teams for moves that backfired because of injuries (Drew Smyly to Mariners) or focus on moves that teams failed to make (the Giants opting not to add a proven left fielder). But it’s worth noting the Nationals fell into both categories with the injured Adam Eaton and their closer void. And though they are underachieving thus far, guys like Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo signed below-market deals, so they can’t be considered complete busts.
The seven offseason deals that deserve a do-over:
Gary A. VasquezGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Red Sox trading Travis Shaw
This has been a disaster on so many levels. Not only is Shaw having an All-Star-caliber season (.296/.349/.538 with 13 homers and 48 RBI) for the Brewers, third-base has been a black hole for the Red Sox (.200/.253/.312 with seven homers and 28 RBI). Pablo Sandoval missed time with a knee injury and has been only a part-time player since returning because he has hit so poorly. Primary backup Brock Holt (vertigo) hasn’t played since April 20. And then there’s the fact that reliever Tyler Thornburg, whom the Red Sox acquired for Shaw (and two minor leaguers), had season-ending shoulder surgery last week without even throwing a pitch in 2017.
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Dodgers re-signing Rich Hill
For a franchise that reportedly was trying to rein in its spending, Los Angeles’ decision to sign Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal was puzzling. And it should come as no surprise that Hill, who was on the DL with a blister injury when the Dodgers acquired him last August, has battled blisters again this season. Through eight starts, he is 3-3 with a 5.14 ERA, 1.57 WHIP and a terrible 5.9 BB/9 ratio. Remember, Hill will be 39 in the final season of his contract, so it’s hard to see his durability improving.
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Nationals signing Joe Blanton
In Washington’s defense, Blanton was coming off a spectacular season in his first campaign as a full-time reliever and did sign a very team-friendly deal (one year, $4 million) in early March. However, Blanton sports a 9.19 ERA and 1.79 WHIP through 18 appearances, and has served up a whopping eight homers in 15.2 innings. Not to pile on, but he also missed nearly a month with a shoulder injury. It’s even easier to second-guess the deal when you consider the relievers the Nationals didn’t sign/acquire, but we won’t beat that dead horse.
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Cardinals signing Brett Cecil
St. Louis needed a lefty reliever, and Cecil was on the market after a solid four-season run (2.90 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 11.5 K/9 ratio) with the Blue Jays. Perfect fit, right? Perhaps, but the four-year, $30.5 million deal that the Cardinals awarded Cecil immediately sounded warning bells. And those bells haven’t stopped ringing since he was charged with four earned runs without recording an out in his second appearance for St. Louis. His 4.56 ERA, 3.5 BB/9 and 1.48 WHIP are eyesores.
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Royals acquiring only Jorge Soler for Wade Davis
Sure, Davis was entering his walk year, but so were Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar — all of whom remain on Kansas City’s roster. And Davis was among the majors’ most dominant relievers from 2014-16, ranking first in ERA (1.18) and opponents’ OPS (.456), and third in WHIP (0.89), while allowing a total of three homers. Although intriguing, Soler was a strikeout-prone prospect. Well, while Davis has been dominant for the Cubs, Soler — currently on the DL — has been ineffective in limited duty for the Royals. It just feels like KC should have had more leverage to land a better return.
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Braves signing Bartolo Colon
After seemingly finding the fountain of youth — he made at least 30 starts with double-digit win totals the previous four seasons — it looks like the 44-year-old Colon finally is losing the battle against Father Time (and against major-league hitters). After his ERA ballooned to 7.78 in a dreadful start on June 5, Colon conveniently was placed on the DL with an oblique strain. It’s at least delayed the need for the Braves to eat the remaining portion of his $12.5 million salary for the season.
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Phillies signing Michael Saunders
Although he was a first-time All-Star last season, Saunders’ production fell off a cliff in the second half of 2016, when he slashed .178/.282/.357 (following a .298/.372/.551 line in the first half). But along came the rebuilding Phillies with a one-year, $9 million offer. Huh? Any hope Philly had of ultimately using Saunders as a trade chip is gone, as he has been relegated to part-time status thanks to his continued struggles (.205/.257/.360, 51 Ks in 200 at-bats).