ESPN’s Jayson Stark polled a vast number of executives to get their take on the offseason’s dealings. Stark asked execs to name the most-improved and least-improved clubs from each league, the best and worst free-agent signings and trades as well as the most outrageous contract issued this winter (among other categories). The D-backs and Red Sox were runaway winners in the “most-improved” category in the NL and AL, and Stark notes that a common refrain was that this type of hyper-aggressive offseason for the Diamondbacks was “hard to fathom.” Zack Greinke and David Price top the list of best free-agent signings in Stark’s poll, which I find rather curious, as each was a record-setting agreement for players, with Price landing the biggest deal ever for a pitcher and Greinke setting his own record in terms of average annual value. (I’d have figured more execs would’ve been down on the overwhelming risk that accompanies each deal.) The next two names on the list — Ben Zobrist and especially Howie Kendrick — are more in the line with the type of “value” signings one would expect to draw praise from executives. Other categories from Stark include best one-year deal — where, interestingly, Yoenis Cespedes received four votes due to the fact that few believe there’s any realistic chance of him opting into the final two years of his deal — best signing for $3MM or less and best minor league signing. The whole piece is a fun read for those who track offseason dealings carefully.
A few miscellaneous notes from around the league…
- Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland revealed today that he played the final two months of the 2015 season with a stress fracture in his left foot, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Moreland believed the stress fracture stemmed from alterations he made to his foot positioning following 2014 ankle surgery, but he’s healed up now and ready to go for the 2016 campaign. The exact date that the injury crept up isn’t specified, but Moreland’s .269/.326/.425 batting line from the season’s second half, while solid in its own right, pales in comparison to the .286/.333/.532 line he posted prior to the All-Star break. Additionally, Moreland describes a spur-of-the-moment meeting that he initiated with assistant GM Thad Levine the night before his arbitration hearing was scheduled, during which the two talked for about 90 minutes and resolved the matter themselves.
- James Wagner of the Washington Post examines what might’ve been had Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister accepted extension offers from the Nationals when they were made. Desmond somewhat famously rejected a contract said to be seven years and $107MM, although as Wagner points out, that’s a bit misleading due to the fact that Desmond’s two-year, $17.5MM deal that covered the 2014-15 seasons was folded into that value, and the extension (unsurprisingly, in light of this offseason’s happenings) came with deferred money. Zimmermann received an extension offer of $105MM over five years and was narrowly able to top that in free agency, Wagner notes. (He doesn’t list specific numbers in reference to a Fister extension offer.) While the Nats hoped to extend all three players at one point, their absence now clears the way for players like Joe Ross, Tanner Roark and Trea Turner as well as offseason addition Daniel Murphy, in some regards.
- Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes is expected to be suspended under MLB’s domestic violence policy at some point before the season begins, and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets that manager Walt Weiss indicated that shifting DJ LeMahieu (who inked a two-year deal with Colorado earlier today) over to shortstop is not a consideration. LeMahieu was a shortstop for much of his minor league tenure but has developed into a very sound defender at second base, so it stands to reason that the Rockies don’t want to alter his routine with a temporary position change. Rather, Weiss said that well-regarded prospect Trevor Story is in the mix for playing time in the very likely event that the team is without Reyes. All of this, of course, could have some impact on the aforementioned Desmond, who just yesterday was linked to the Rockies by FOX’s Ken Rosenthal.