The Athletic’s baseball staff was tasked with assigning a letter grade to each team’s offseason. The average mark was a B-minus, an indication that the staff isn’t necessarily populated with overly tough graders. That said, there were a few outliers, ranging from a trio of class standouts to one franchise that flunked out. Here’s how the 30 major-league teams graded out this winter, starting with the head of the class.
New York Mets
The Mets filled all the glaring needs — there were plenty of them — on their to-do list: They replaced Jacob deGrom with Justin Verlander, re-signed Edwin Díaz, Brandon Nimmo and Adam Ottavino, rebuilt their pitching staff and improved their catching situation. It required a ton of spending, but owner Steve Cohen has remained committed to making New York a winner. Not upgrading the lineup remains a criticism, but although the Mets’ offense fizzled late last season, it remains a strong group.
The Phillies identified Trea Turner as their priority target before the offseason began and they landed him with a $300 million contract. That alone should have made it a successful offseason. But the Phillies added to their pitching corps with Taijuan Walker, Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto and Matt Strahm. The pitching acquisitions have their warts, and the onus is on the club to repair those weaknesses. The under-the-radar wins of the offseason were incremental bullpen upgrades to the 40-man roster that will either serve as depth during the season or potential trade chips in the spring to upgrade a bench spot.
The Rangers completely overhauled their starting rotation, signing Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi (plus trading for Jake Odorizzi, for good measure). Those are major additions for a team whose rotation struggled in 2022. The reason it’s not a higher grade: their bullpen additions have thus far been NRIs, and they have yet to land the middle-of-the-order outfield bat they’ve openly said they want.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels addressed a lot of their obvious needs this offseason. Starting corner outfielder (Hunter Renfroe). Back-end reliever, another starting pitcher. And then help on the infield. Most importantly, they can credibly say they’re more prepared for an injury, which was a massive issue last season. If Anthony Rendon gets hurt, for example, then there’s Gio Urshela and/or Brandon Drury to pick them up. The Angels didn’t really address their needs at shortstop, at least not yet. And they also did give up some organizational pitching depth to acquire players — something they can’t afford to do. The Angels also signed another player with a qualifying offer (Tyler Anderson), which takes away a draft pick and money to sign international players. So it was overall a very solid offseason, but by no means perfect. It’s clear that Angels GM Perry Minasian was boxed into short-term and relatively cheap acquisitions with the team expected to sell throughout the offseason. Arte Moreno’s change of heart probably won’t change much with the start of spring training just a couple weeks out.
After trading for Gold Glove catcher Sean Murphy and signing him to a six-year, $73 million extension, the Braves have six position players on long, team-friendly deals, along with pitcher Spencer Strider, solidifying themselves as likely contenders for many years. The catching tandem of Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud could be MLB’s best. GM Alex Anthopoulos also strengthened the bullpen through trades and signings. However, Dansby Swanson left as a free agent and the Braves are gambling that Vaughn Grissom or Orlando Arcia can replace him and that others will assert themselves to replace Swanson’s leadership, like when Freddie Freeman left.
Despite some constraints, the Diamondbacks got better. They didn’t have much money to spend, settling mostly for around-the-edges improvements like a few big-armed relievers and bench pieces like Evan Longoria and Kyle Lewis. But they nailed their big offseason move, trading Daulton Varsho for catching prospect Gabriel Moreno and veteran outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., clearing up a lefty-batting outfield logjam and landing one of the game’s best prospects in Moreno, who just happens to address an organizational weakness. Why no A grade? Because while the Diamondbacks got better, it’s less certain to say they became good. One big, win-now move — akin to their reported flirtation with Xander Bogaerts — might have put them over the top.