As the calendar hits the mid-December mark, there are still plenty of big names left on the MLB free agent market and plenty of others who have trade winds swirling around them.
However, even though it’s been a relatively quiet start to the offseason, there are still some teams that have made moves to strengthen their roster and others that have taken a step back (at least for now) from where they were in 2023.
While this list will certainly change as the offseason goes along, here are four MLB teams that have won the offseason so far as well as three that have stumbled out of the gate this winter.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Come on, you didn’t think the Dodgers were going to be here? After landing the biggest free agent prize of all in Shohei Ohtani and then adding Tyler Glasnow and Manuel Margot in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles has already put together an eye-popping roster for next season and beyond.
However, it certainly doesn’t feel like the Dodgers are done either, especially with the way the Ohtani contract was structured, giving Los Angeles plenty of salary space to sign other players to shore up pitching (especially in the rotation) and hitting needs. That in and of itself makes the Dodgers a winner of the offseason, even if they miss out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
New York Yankees
When a team has already added a potential MVP candidate, it is fair to say they have been a winner so far in the offseason. While the New York Yankees did trade a lot of their pitching depth in order to acquire Juan Soto as a rental, there is no doubting how much this raises the ceiling of their team.
Soto and Aaron Judge are going to be an incredible duo in the heart of that Yankees lineup, which should make them a legitimate title contender this season. They also added Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham to shore up their outfield even further.
The Yankees are still aiming for more, in hot pursuit of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but even if they miss out there, it is looking like a win of an offseason for the Yankees.
Kansas City Royals
If I had looked into my crystal ball when the offseason began, I certainly would have been surprised to see Kansas City on this list. Still, the Royals have put together an impressive offseason, including inking free agents Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo and Hunter Renfroe.
Put some of these new names with the existing core in Kansas City and it’s easy to see how the Royals could potentially vie for the American League Central crown this season.
That may sound like a bold statement, but with the direction of some of the other squads in the division (more about that in a moment), Kansas City may not just be positioning itself to swap veterans at the trade deadline. The Royals could indeed be looking at making a major jump in the standings in 2024.
Trading for Jarred Kelenic could be one of the most underrated moves of the offseason so far, and the Braves have certainly been busy on the trade wires, mixing and matching with the Royals, Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox.
Those moves have given the Braves additional options in the outfield (Kelenic) and bullpen (Aaron Bummer). Add that with the signings of Pierce Johnson and Reynaldo Lopez and the Braves have made some necessary moves this offseason to put them back in contention for a deep postseason run (and perhaps even exorcize the ghosts from Philadelphia postseasons past).
There will likely still be more moves coming in Atlanta, but they have certainly laid a successful foundation early in the offseason.
San Diego Padres
It has been a tough offseason in San Diego, including the death of beloved owner Peter Seidler, who wanted so desperately to bring a World Series title to his city. However, in terms of the roster, the Padres seem to have taken a step backwards so far this offseason, sending Juan Soto to the New York Yankees in a trade and missing out on top free agent target Jung Hoo Lee, who the Padres envisioned taking over in center field after trading off Trent Grisham in the Soto deal.
The Padres have lost the bulk of their rotation, so there are still plenty of holes that need to be filled in the lineup and on the mound for A.J. Preller. There is certainly still time in the offseason to make that happen, but Padres fans are wondering what direction the franchise will head after a disappointing 2023 despite a star-studded roster and a frustrating start to the winter.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays missed out on both Ohtani and Soto, so two of the big names on the wish list have been removed, with Ohtani’s being crossed out in heartbreaking fashion after rumors had him signing with Toronto.
Will the Blue Jays land Cody Bellinger? What about Matt Chapman and replacing his production at third base? Can Alek Manoah really be a part of the rotation in 2024?
There are a lot of questions looming over Toronto right now, and the answers to them the rest of this offseason could well determine if the Blue Jays can compete for the top of the AL East in 2024.
It’s been an offseason of shedding salary in the Twin Cities, with the Twins saying goodbye to Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle after winning the AL Central last season. Rumors have the Twins perhaps looking to move Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler as the franchise looks for ways to cut payroll, so a shakeup certainly feels like it is underway inside Target Field.
Like many teams, the Twins are in a state of flux when it comes to their payroll and the corresponding television rights that will impact it. Those questions are likely pushing the Twins into an offseason where their chances of once again winning the division are lowered.