As we put a bow on the World Baseball Classic and prepare to embrace the 162-game marathon of the 2023 MLB season, what will teams likely regret doing (or not doing) this offseason?
For starters, both the Giants and the Orioles should have done more to improve upon .500-ish 2022 campaigns. Those teams were close to a playoff spot last season, but it doesn't look like either one is any closer to getting over that hump.
Both Cleveland and St. Louis made the playoffs in 2022 but didn't take the necessary offseason steps to make the leap from "won a bad division" to "top-five candidate to win the AL/NL."
While those teams did next to nothing, did the Rays, Phillies and Padres spend too much money (or give out too many years) amid the nearly $4 billion free-agency extravaganza?
And what of Minnesota trading the reigning AL batting champ? Or Milwaukee going out of its way to enrage its 2021 Cy Young winner?
We'll touch on all of that and more in summing up some of the offseason decisions likely to end in regret.
San Francisco Giants Not Making Big Enough Moves
The Giants tried to land a big fish.
Got to at least give them an "A" for effort.
They made a huge offer to Aaron Judge, but he opted to remain with the Bronx Bombers. They signed Carlos Correa to a massive deal but backed out of it because of medical concerns.
So while the Dodgers prepare to make Shohei Ohtani an offer he can't refuse next offseason, and while the Padres loaded up for the long haul by signing Xander Bogaerts and extending both Manny Machado and Yu Darvish, San Francisco's offseason moves left something to be desired.
Instead of a big splash or two, the Giants made a bunch of slight ripples, bringing in six new faces on two-year or three-year deals.
Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto should be nice additions to the outfield/DH slot, but it rings a bit hollow after whiffing on Judge. (Also, if Conforto shines after missing all of 2022, he can leave for a bigger contract elsewhere, as the second year of his deal is a player option.)
Ross Stripling and Sean Manaea might be useful starters, but the former has never logged 135 innings in a season, the latter had a 4.96 ERA last year and neither one is likely to make Giants fans forget about the ace they lost to the Yankees, Carlos Rodón.
Taylor Rogers could be a solid addition to the bullpen, though signing both Rogers and Luke Jackson (fresh off a season lost to Tommy John surgery) when they've got a fine closer in Camilo Doval was a strange pair of decisions.
In the end, they're back where they started, likely to have a second consecutive season around the .500 mark and miss the postseason by several games.
Baltimore Doing Next to Nothing
The Baltimore Orioles exceeded expectations in 2022, winning 83 games after being projected to have the worst record in all of MLB. After five consecutive seasons of coming nowhere close to contention, their long rebuild yielded some crops.
But instead of cultivating those plants with a noteworthy free agent or two in hopes of a big harvest in 2023, Baltimore's upper management opted to rest on its laurels and embrace another season as one of the stingiest franchises in professional sports.
O's fans recognize this as business as usual, but it's more frustrating than usual after general manager Mike Elias was talking a big game about offseason plans.
"We plan to explore free agency much more aggressively," Elias told MLB Network Radio last August. "We plan to maybe make some buy trades for some guys that are either on contracts or kind of in the tail end of their arbitration."
To their credit, the O's made one nice trade, turning middle-infield prospect Darell Hernaiz into former A's lefty Cole Irvin in January. Irvin will be a key cog in the starting rotation and has four seasons until he hits free agency. That was a nice long-term move.
They also got veteran catcher James McCann from the Mets and convinced Steve Cohen to pay most of McCann's salary for the remaining two years on his contract.
But that's basically it, and neither is a splashy, "look out, New York, Tampa Bay and Toronto, because we're coming for you" move.