Last year, roughly one quarter of the teams in baseball won between 80 and 89 games and all of them missed the playoffs. This season, we saw the Tigers take the AL Central and the Cardinals grab the second NL Wild Card spot with 88 wins. Outside of that, you weren't invited to the party in 2012 if you had 80-something victories. What have those teams within striking distance done so far this winter to bulk up? As Ben Nicholson-Smith has done over the last two winters, I've broken those clubs in two groups with their 2012 win totals in parentheses and links that send you to the club's offseason transactions summary..
- Angels (89) – The Angels are one of two repeat customers this year, with the other being the Dodgers. After the Dodgers backed up a Brink's truck to sign Zack Greinke, the Halos went into best player available mode and inked Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125MM deal. The Angels then took care of their logjam by trading Kendrys Morales to the Mariners for left-hander Jason Vargas. Meanwhile, their signings of Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett will also help to solidify the bullpen.
- Dodgers (86) – We all knew the Dodgers were going to spend this winter, but it was still jarring to see how much they shelled out for Greinke. The six-year, $147MM deal landed them the top pitcher on the open market while plucking him away from their intra-market rival. They also added Hyun-Jin Ryu to the starting five and kept Brandon League in the pen with a three-year deal.
- Diamondbacks (81) – The Angels didn't need a boost in the outfield when they signed Hamilton and neither did the D'Backs when they landed Cody Ross on a three-year deal. Even after parting with Chris Young, the Diamondbacks still have Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, and Gerardo Parra in the fold with prospects Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock waiting in the wings. It sounds like Upton or Kubel will be moved, and they'll bring back a solid return for Arizona. GM Kevin Towers also shook things up when he acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius, left-handed pitcher Tony Sipp, and first baseman Lars Anderson in a three-team deal.
- Phillies (81) – The Phillies didn't make a major splash on the free agent market, but they did upgrade with a pair of significant trades early in December. The Phillies solved their third base vacancy when they got Michael Young from the Rangers. They were also in need of a center fielder and were heavily linked to Michael Bourn, but they instead went out and got Ben Revere from Minnesota for Vance Worley and Trevor May. They also picked up a pair of pitchers in the middle of the month in starter John Lannan and reliever Mike Adams.
- White Sox (85) – The White Sox finished three games behind the Tigers for the AL Central crown and they opted against an overhaul heading into 2013. They got the offseason started with a two-year contract extension for Jake Peavy and so far their biggest free agent pickup is Jeff Keppinger on a three-year, $12MM deal.
- Brewers (83) – Kyle Lohse remains unsigned, but don't expect the Brewers to make a play to keep him in the division. Milwaukee upgraded their pitching by signing Tom Gorzelanny last week and inking Mike Gonzalez to a one-year deal yesterday.