Did the Rays Have the Best Offseason in the AL East?

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For the first time in a long while the major moves in baseball were not made in the American League East. Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson signed with the Angels, Jose Reyes with the Marlins, and Prince Fielder with the Tigers. Of course this doesn't mean that the teams in the AL East stood on the sidelines all winter the moves just didn't shake the baseball world like a Pujols, Reyes, or Fielder.

How do we determine which AL East team had the most successful offseason? Is it the team that did the most to improve its roster from 2011 to 2012? Is it the team that did the most to secure a playoff birth in 2012? Is there a difference between the two concepts?

The MBLTR Offseason Outlook for the Tampa Bay Rays identified the Rays primary concerns as:

The Rays will work within their budget in an attempt to boost their offense, but they don’t intend to sacrifice run prevention along the way.

One year ago the Rays watched a number of players depart via free agency and also traded Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett. The opening day payroll was cut from its 2010 level of $72,847,133 to $42,171,308 in 2011. The Rays weren't supposed to be playing post-season baseball but the team that was cobbled together by Andrew Friedman and the rest of the Rays front office did just that.

This offseason the Rays have subtracted both of their catchers, 1b, DH, and one member of the bullpen and have added 3 new relief pitchers (two of which should be in the bullpen come opening day), a new/old first baseman, a catcher, and a DH.

The Rays made the following moves this offseason:

October 31, 2011 - Exercised the options on relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth for $3.3 million and starting pitcher James Shields at $7.5 million.

November 18, 2011 - Signed catcher Jose Molina to a 1-year $1.5 million contract with a 2013 club option worth$1.8 million or a $0.3 million buyout.

November 27, 2011 - Traded catcher John Jaso to the Seattle Mariners for relief pitcher Josh Lueke and a player to be named later or cash considerations.

December 12, 2011 - Traded catcher Jake Jeffries to the Florida Marlins for relief pitcher Burke Badenhop.

January 4, 2012 - Signed relief pitcher Fernando Rodney to a 1-year $1.75 million contract with a 2013 club option worth $2.5 million or a $0.25 million buyout.

January 11, 2012 - Signed OF/1b/DH Luke Scott to a 1-year $5 million contract with a 2013 club option worth 5 million or a $1 million buyout.

January 20, 2012 - Signed 1b Carlos Pena to a 1-year $7.25 million contract.

January 25, 2012 - Signed infielder Jeff Keppinger to a 1-year $1.525 million contract.

Other signings of note: 1b/OF Juan Miranda, relief pitcher Johnny Nunez, and infielder Wil Rhymes,

Contract Extension: December 9, 2011 signed Matt Moore to a 5-year (2012-2016) $14 million contract. The extension includes club options in 2017, 2018, and 2019.


The MLBTR Offseason Outlook for the New York Yankees identified the Yankees primary concerns as:

The Yankees' offseason is all about their search for starting pitching, though they'll look to add bench help and a second left-handed reliever as well.

Up until Friday January 13th the Yankees hadn't addressed their starting rotation for 2012. Up until that evening the rotation still included CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes, and Freddy Garcia. But by Saturday, January 14th that Yankee rotation looked a lot better as the Yankees picked up Micheal Pineda in a trade with the Mariners and Hiroki Kuroda to a contract.

The Yankees made the following moves this offseason:

October 29, 2011 - Exercised the options on OF/1b Nick Swisher for $10.25 million and 2b Robinson Cano for $14 million.

October 31, 2011 - Restructured LHP C.C. Sabathia's contract to 5-years $122 million to avoid an opt-out clause. The contract includes a 6th year vesting option predicated on the health of Sabathia's left shoulder.

December 9, 2011 - Re-signed RHP Freddy Garcia to a 1-year $4 million contract plus performance bonuses based on games started over 25.

December 30, 2011 - Re-signed OF Andruw Jones to a 1-year $2 million contract plus performance bonuses for plate appearances starting at 175 PAs.

January 13, 2012 - Traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos.

January 13, 2012 - Singed Hiroki Kuroda to a 1-year $10 million contract.

Other signing of note: Relief Pitchers Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Adam Miller, Bill Hall, Russell Branyan, and infielder Jayson Nix.


The MLBTR Offseason Outlook for the Boston Red Sox identified the Red Sox primary concerns as:

Longtime GM Theo Epstein is gone and recently-appointed replacement Ben Cherington will try leading the Red Sox to their first playoff appearance since 2009 by improving the pitching staff and tinkering with the offense.

The Red Sox watched their post-season hopes dashed on a duck snort to LF that Carl Crawford was unable to snare. Ownership decided it was time for a change and removed both Terry Francona as Manager and Theo Epstein as GM. The Red Sox knew they needed starting pitching to fill out their 2012 rotation, especially after it was revealed that John Lackey required Tommy John surgery and would miss most, if not all, of the 2012 season. The Red Sox have been unable to land a competent starting pitcher and for now are sticking to the plan of moving Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves from the bullpen to the rotation. Additionally, GM Ben Cherington has assembled the island of misfit pitchers to bring to Fort Meyers.

The Red Sox made the following moves this offseason:

October 30, 2011 - Exercised the option on shortstop Marco Scutaro for $6 million.

December 13, 2011 - Signed Kelly Shoppach to a 1-year $1.35 million contract.

December 14, 2011 - Signed Nick Punto to a 2-year $3 million contract.

December 14, 2011 - Traded infielder Jed Lowrie and RHP Kyle Weiland to the Houston Astros for RH relief pitcher Mark Melancon.

December 28, 2011 - Traded OF Josh Reddick, 1b Miles Head, RHP Raul Alcantara to the Oakland A's for RH reliever Andrew Bailey and OF Ryan Sweeney.

January 23, 2012 - Signed OF Cody Ross to a 1-year $1 million contract.

January 21, 2012 - Traded infielder Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for RHP Clayton Mortenson.

Other signings of note:Tony Pena, Jesse Carlson, Rich Hill, Pedro Ciriaco, Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook, Vincent Padilla, and John Maine.


The MLBTR Offseason Outlook for the Toronto Blue Jays identified the Blue Jays primary concerns as:

The Blue Jays will look for a second baseman, relief pitching and rotation help this offseason. They might consider some of the top free agents available.

Kelly Johnson accepted arbitration and many expected the Blue Jays to be a landing spot for one of the top shelf free agents. We keep hearing that Alex Anthopoulos has the money to spend on payroll but the largest free agent contract that he has given out is $4.5 million.

The Blue Jays made the following moves this offseason:

October 31, 2011 - Exercised the option on Edwin Encarnacion for 1-year 3.5 million.

November 4, 2011 - Purchased LH reliever Trystan Magnuson from the Oakland A's (Magnuson was included in the deal that sent Rajai Davis to Toronto last offseason).

November 26, 2011 - Purchased infielder Luis Valbuena from the Cleveland Indians.

December 3, 2011 - Traded LHP Brad Mills to the Anaheim Angels for C Jeff Mathis.

December 6, 2011 - Traded Nestor Molina to the Chicago White Sox for RH relief pitcher Sergio Santos.

December 12, 2011 - Traded LH reliever Frank Gailey to the Philadelphia Phillies for OF Ben Francisco.

December 30, 2011 - Signed LH relief pitcher Darren Oliver to a 1-year 4.5 million contract.

January 1, 2012 - Traded RHP Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb to the Chicago White Sox for RH relief pitcher Jason Frasor.

Other signings of note: Omar Vizquel and Aaron Laffey.

Contract Extension: On January 23, 2012 signed Brandon Morrow to a 2-year (2012-2014) $20 million contract. The extension includes an option for $10 million in 2015 or a $1 million buyout.


The MLBTR Offseason Outlook for the Baltimore Orioles identified the Orioles primary concerns as:

Once the Orioles sort out the uncertainty in their front office, they'll have to improve a disappointing rotation and add balance to their promising lineup.

The Orioles GM search stopped at former Expos and Red Sox GM Dan Duquette. He has quite a job to do, as the Orioles 2011 season marked their 14th consecutive season under .500 and their 6th consecutive 90 loss season.

The Orioles made the following moves this offseason:

December 1, 2011 - Traded RH relief pitcher Randy Henry for catcher Taylor Teagarden.

December 8, 2011 - Traded LHP Jarret Martin and OF Tyler Henson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for P Dana Eveland.

December 13, 2011 - Signed International Free Agent LHP Tsuyoshi Wada to a 2-year 8.15 million contract which includes a 3rd year club option for $5 million.

December 18, 2011 - Signed OF Endy Chavez to a 1-year $1.5 million contract.

January 9, 2012 - Signed International Free Agent LHP Wei-Yin Chin to a 3-year $12 million contract.

January 23, 2012 - Signed infielder Wilson Betemit to a 2-year $3 million contract with a vesting option for 2014. The option is worth $3.2 million and vests if he has 700 PA between 2012 and 2013 combined.

February 6, 2012 - Traded RHP Jeremy Guthrie to the Colorado Rockies for RHP Jason Hamel and RH relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom.

February 10, 2012 - Signed RH reliever Luis Ayala to a 1-year deal which includes an option for a second year.

Other signings of note: Pat Neshek, Casey Fossum, Dennys Reyes, Nick Johnson, and Matt Antonelli.

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