Yesterday, the last day of February, something beautiful happened. I turned on my radio and I heard Baseball happening. The first slate of games for the 2021 Spring Training schedule was played yesterday and like how changing from Winter to Spring heralds the new year, everything began to feel like it was going to be ok. Every offseason there are several changes to the landscape of the league and for some it can be understandably hard to keep track of. Never fear, here at The Buzz we’ve kept our eyes on things and have put together this little recap to prepare for the upcoming season. So here are the biggest moves from around the league:
10. Dustin Pedroia, and Others Retire
Every season is a beginning for many and the end for some. This year was no different as several recognizable impact players said goodbye. The 2008 MVP and 2-time World Champ Pedroia headlined the group that included Brian Dozier, Daniel Murphy, Kelvin Herrera, Alex Gordon, Hisashi Iwakuma, several other less notable players, and Tim Tebow.
9. Chris Archer Comes Home
The acquisition of Chris Archer by the Pittsburgh Pirates is simply one of the most disastrous trades in the past decade. Not only did Archer struggle while the Tampa side of the deal has been nothing but promise, but now Archer is back with the Rays! Archer and his trade price Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Baz are all poised to be contributors for the 2021 Rays. I’m sorry Pirates fans.
8. The Padres are All-In
The most shocking moves this offseason came from San Diego as GM AJ Preller pulled off two of the more daring trades in recent memory. The Padres have been rebuilding for a few years now and trying to move past some questionable decisions in their past. After completely flipping over their roster in a short time, they finally broke through and gave the Division Champ Dodgers all they could handle last year down the stretch and in the playoffs. Even after acquiring Mike Clevinger and seeing the promise in young starters Dinelson Lamet, MacKenzie Gore, and Chris Paddack they were not content to go into 2021 without making a splash. A tidal wave better describes the acquisitions of two former Cy Young winners in lefty Blake Snell from Tampa and righty Yu Darvish from the Cubs. The arms race in the NL West has been explosive and hopefully results in some great on-field rivalry this season as well.
7. Springer to the Jays
The first significant signing of the offseason was former Astros superstar George Springer taking his talents north of the border. The Jays already had an exciting young core with “new generation” stars Vlad Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr, and Cavan Biggio. Springer will fit right in on top of their lineup and as a leader in their clubhouse.
6. Tatis got Paid!!!
The young Padres SS is quite possibly the most exciting player in the league. He brings power, speed, athleticism, and swagger to a premier defensive position at the logic-defying age of 21-years old. Pundits will quibble over whether it’s a discount (at $14 AAV) or a huge risk (3rd highest total commitment in history) but the fact of the matter is, Fernando will be the face of Padres baseball and perhaps the league for the next decade.
5. Familiar Names in Familiar Places
Two of the biggest names on the market this offseason were Marcell Ozuna and DJ LeMahieu. Both have been seen their stock rise significantly in the middle-stages of their careers. For DJ, he made a name for himself at Coors for the Rockies but it wasn’t until he joined the Yankees that he truly broke out and became an MVP candidate. Ozuna had a massive offensive campaign during the shortened ’20 season but defensive questions and the uncertainty around the DH delayed his signing. With their returns, both teams have World Series ambitions yet again.
4. Arenado to St. Louis
The past few seasons the Rockies have been toying with tearing down and starting a rebuild. The core piece of the puzzle was All-World 3B Nolan Arenado. Both offensively and defensively, Arenado has been one of the most valuable players in the history of baseball at the hot corner. The Cardinals, always a popular destination for the big stars, put together a package headlined by lefty Austin Gomber and now have plundered the NL West for their potent right-handed bats on the corners with Arenado and former Diamondback Paul Goldschmidt.
3. AJ Hinch is Back…in Detroit
Any Baseball fans who have been paying attention know that AJ Hinch is a very successful manager. His tenure with the Houston Astros coincided with some of the most potent offenses in league history, several 95+ win seasons, and a World Series Title. Unfortunately, he was also embroiled in the “trashcan scandal” that rocked the league and for some put a giant asterisk next to the ’17 Championship. Hinch was suspended and stayed out of the limelight and the Tigers appear to feel he served his time and should be given a second chance. Can the Tigers build a roster like Houston did? There’s some really significant talent knocking on the door for the AL Central basement dwellers and I think Hinch is just the guy to navigate the Old English D back to competitiveness.
2. Francisco Lindor Traded
One of the most exciting storylines for NEXT offseason is the absolutely insane number of top-tier SS that will be on the market. One of the possible names changed jerseys early as the Cleveland “need a new name” Indians signaled their rebuild by sending perennial All-Star and absolute all-around stud Francisco Lindor to the Mets for a pair of interesting infielders, Andres Gimenez and Ahmed Rosario. Time will tell if the Mets can extend Lindor and if he’s the piece they needed to get over the Atlanta Braves-sized hump in the NL East.
1. Trevor Bauer Signs with the Dodgers
The seemingly endless drama this offseason centered around NL Cy Young winner and well-traveled Ace Trevor Bauer. Reportedly, Bauer has a childhood wager that dictates that he will only sign 1-year deals. In addition to this stipulation, his agent, Rachel Luba and he, are prototype millennials deftly utilizing social media to exponentially enlarge their brand. The result was a rumor circus of epic proportions. In the end, he brutally teased Mets fans, even securing a classic Bob Nightengale screw-up, before inking a ridiculous 3-year $104m deal with opt-outs after each season with the 2020 World Series Champion Dodgers. #RIPNLWest