Winter Report Cards: Grading every MLB team's off-season moves

Friday January 27th, 2017

Welcome to our Winter Report Card series, where's MLB experts run down the key additions and losses for all 30 teams, recap their moves, take note of whatever unfinished business remains and hand out a grade for the moves to date. Teams are presented in order of publication, which is in reverse order of 2016 regular-season finish. Check back every weekday for a new Winter Report Card.

Feb. 16: Chicago Cubs

Preliminary Grade: B+
What We Said: "The only real quibble with what the Cubs have done this winter is the extent to which they’ve taken on health risks in pitchers Brett Anderson, Wade Davis and Koji Uehara and outfielder Jon Jay. Still, they were smart to not overpay for a top-end closer, they are wise to give Almora a longer look in the outfield and they have enough depth to withstand those issues. They head into the 2017 season as favorites to repeat.​" Read more.

Feb. 15: Texas Rangers

Preliminary Grade: B
What We Said: "Keeping catcher Jonathan Lucroy was a no-brainer, and the low cost of bringing back players like Carlos Gomez, Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton justify those moves too. Losing Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland won't be easy but there is enough talent up and down the lineup to compensate." Read more.

Feb. 15: Kansas CIty Royals

Preliminary Grade: B-
What We Said: "The Royals have done a nice job given the circumstances, but they are undoubtedly a worse team this spring than last. Unless one of their acquisitions has a career-year, it will be hard for Kansas City to get back to the postseason." Read more.

Feb. 14: Washington Nationals

Preliminary Grade: C+
What We Said: "The Adam Eaton trade is easily defensible, but what’s not is bolstering a strength while letting a weakness get worse. The Nats lineup is better this spring than last, but the bullpen is much worse. Losing a rental like closer Mark Melancon is understandable and striking out on top free agents happens, but for a team that fashions itself as a contender, going into the season with a bullpen without experience or high-end talent is unwise." Read more.

Feb. 13: Cleveland Indians

Preliminary Grade: A+
What We Said: "The Indians made it to extra innings of the seventh game of the World Series missing their starting leftfielder and two-thirds of their starting rotation, then added the best bat on the market. A return to the postseason, at minimum, seems like a very real possibility." Read more.

Feb. 10: Boston Red Sox

Preliminary Grade: B
What We Said: "The Chris Sale trade, while costly, gives Boston arguably the best rotation in the AL . . . but the Red Sox could have and should have done more to replace David Ortiz's production at DH. . . . Going with Mitch Moreland instead of Edwin Encarnacion may come back to haunt Boston."  Read more.

Feb. 10: Los Angeles Dodgers

Preliminary Grade: A- 
What We Said: "The Dodgers have done a very good job of keeping their team in win-now mode while simultaneously maintaining an enviable stash of prospects. Perhaps they could have cleared more payroll by now or found a better righty setup man, but that's nitpicking given the moves they've made." Read more.

Feb. 8: Baltimore Orioles

Preliminary Grade: C 
What We Said: "None of Baltimore's moves are in and of themselves problematic. The issue is that a team that needed to make a bold decision instead treaded water." Read more.

Feb. 7: Toronto Blue Jays

Preliminary Grade: C+
What We Said: "If anything, the Blue Jays took a step back this off-season. Losing Edwin Encarnacion creates a hole in the middle of the lineup that Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce can only paper over. There are still quality hitters—Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki still form an imposing middle of the order—but there will be a decline from the smash-and-bash ways of the past few years. Whether the Jays can keep slugging their way to the playoffs is in serious doubt." Read more

Feb. 6: San Francisco Giants

Preliminary Grade: C+
What We Said: "Mark Melancon improves the bullpen significantly, and Jae-gyun Hwang is a worthwhile gamble on improving the third base situation, but skimping at catcher and leftfield could carry significant ramifications if Hunter Pence and Buster Posey can't remain productive and valuable." Read more.

Feb. 2: New York Mets

Preliminary Grade: C-
What We Said: "Losing [Bartolo] Colon will hurt, but not nearly as much as it would have to lose [Yoenis] Cespedes, and probably [Neil] Walker, too. Even with those two back, New York would have been well-served to add some better offensive options to a lineup that ranked 11th in OBP and 12th in runs scored." Read more.

Feb. 2: Seattle Mariners

Preliminary Grade: A-
What We Said: "If nothing else, give Seattle credit for effort. This is a team that knows its window is a year, maybe two, until [Felix] Hernandez drops off and designated hitter Nelson Cruz’s deal expires. The rest of the division is full of question marks, so the goal here is to add enough pieces around those two, second baseman Robinson Cano and third baseman Kyle Seager to give the Mariners a shot to stay in it until the deadline, when perhaps [general manager Jerry] Dipoto will consider making a trade." Read more.

Feb. 1: St. Louis Cardinals

Preliminary Grade: B+
What We Said: "It’s hard to quibble with any of St. Louis’ off-season decisions. [Dexter] Fowler was an expensive addition, but he was the best option on the market for the Cardinals, and he should be a valuable producer atop the lineup. St. Louis still might not have enough firepower to catch the Cubs atop the division, but the race should be closer this year if everything breaks right for the Cardinals." Read more.

Jan. 31: Detroit Tigers

Preliminary Grade: D
What We Said: "The inaction with regards to centerfield (now a gaping hole on the roster) and the lack of moves in general are confounding, and the return on a flawed yet still valuable and affordable player in [Cameron] Maybin was decidedly weak. In an off-season where the defending AL Central champion Indians improved their already impressive roster by signing Edwin Encarnacion, it's hard to understand why Detroit stood so pat and failed to upgrade a position that needed help." Read more.

Jan. 30: Houston Astros

Preliminary Grade: B
What We Said: "After years of paltry payrolls, the Astros are finally making a charge, and [Carlos] Beltran, [Brian] McCann and [Josh] Reddick should all be improvements over their 2016 counterparts. World Series hopes now rest on the young stars doing their part—though another arm for the starting rotation wouldn’t hurt Houston’s chances." Read more.

Jan. 30: New York Yankees

Preliminary Grade: C
What We Said: "The Yankees' current roster appears to be even further from title contention than the five games that separated them from the AL wild card last season would suggest. But further trades, especially if they are as smart as the ones from last year, could change that in a hurry and accelerate New York's return to the postseason." Read more.

Jan. 27: Pittsburgh Pirates

Preliminary Grade: C-
What We Said: "For Pittsburgh, this seems to have been an off-season of half-measures: sign a reclamation project and a reliever, but hang onto your best trade chip and also decline to part with prospects for an ace. We will have clarity eventually, though. If the Pirates are still a middling team at the deadline, it will be much harder to stand still." Read more.

Jan. 27: Miami Marlins

Preliminary Grade: C+
What We Said: "At best, the moves [the front office] made leave the Marlins back where they started. Miami has a tantalizing young offensive core that’s only getting better, but the starting pitching is not there." Read more.

Jan. 26: Chicago White Sox

Preliminary Grade: B+
What We Said: "While there’s still work to be done on the South Side, general manager Rick Hahn and company have taken a strong first step in their long-overdue rebuild. The 2017 White Sox will be hard to watch, but the seeds for future success have already been planted." Read more.

Jan. 25: Colorado Rockies

Preliminary Grade: D+
What We Said: "The Rockies remain far behind both the Dodgers and Giants in the division, but adding [Ian] Desmond and [Greg] Holland doesn't seem to be enough to make up last year’s 16-game deficit." Read more.

Jan. 24: Los Angeles Angels

Preliminary Grade: B+
What We Said: "This could be the beginning of a turnaround. This season’s team will have a slim margin for error, as any significant injuries could expose a lack of upper-minors depth, but [general manager Billy] Eppler is beginning to put the pieces in place to compete." Read more.

Jan. 20: Milwaukee Brewers

Preliminary Grade: B+
What We Said: "The Brewers were wise to make minor periphery moves—and will be even smarter if they decide to rid themselves of [Ryan] Braun’s contract." Read more.

Jan. 19: Philadelphia Phillies

Preliminary Grade: A-
What We Said: "General manager Matt Klentak kept his promise, staying away from big commitments in favor of small additions.... The Phillies are likely to field a 2017 Opening Day team that will make less than $100 million. Don’t get used to that." Read more.

Jan. 17: Arizona Diamondbacks

Preliminary Grade: B-
What We Said: "Given as difficult a task as any in the majors, Arizona’s new front office has done well with its first moves, but the current roster still has some notable holes and a worrying amount of risk.... This off-season was a positive (albeit small) step in the right direction. Just don’t expect much out of the Diamondbacks in 2017." Read more.

Jan. 16: Oakland Athletics

Preliminary Grade: C+
What We Said: "The A's haven't made any big moves this winter, roster-wise, but the ones they did make have some upside even if the team as a whole doesn't recover enough to contend. More importantly, the change in upper management means a new ballpark is finally in the franchise's grasp, which should provide an off-ramp from the treadmill that the team has occupied for so long." Read more.

Jan. 16: Atlanta Braves

Preliminary Grade: B
What We Said: "The Braves are still at least a year away from contention, but this winter’s additions should help pick up the pace toward that goal, and Atlanta didn’t sacrifice anything but cash and spare parts to get that much closer. This isn’t a playoff team, but with a bolstered rotation and still more prospects on the way to the majors via a loaded farm system, the Braves should be notably better than last year." Read more.

Jan. 13: San Diego Padres

Preliminary Grade: C+
What We Said: "Credit [general manager A.J.] Preller here: While the rebuild was overdue, he hasn't been shy about stripping this roster to the bone. He’s cleared space to give young and inexpensive players—plus a few reclamation projects—a long look, and while there haven’t been attention-grabbing moves, he hasn’t spent foolishly and has used the waiver wire and Rule 5 draft ... to add talent on the cheap. It’s not likely to pay off in a team that’s pretty to watch in 2017, but the long-term vision here is more clear than it was before, and that should hopefully keep the Padres off the 70-something-win treadmill of mediocrity that they've occupied for too long." Read more.

Jan. 13: Tampa Bay Rays

Preliminary Grade: B-
What We Said: "[Wilson] Ramos is as good a pickup as any team has made this off-season, but the disappointing return for [Drew] Smyly is unlikely to help Tampa get out of the AL East basement in 2017." Read more.

Jan. 12: Cincinnati Reds

Preliminary Grade: Incomplete
What We Said: "To be fair, passing judgment on a team’s off-season before the Ides of January is a bit hasty, but the Reds’ belated embrace of the rebuilding process is a multi-year issue." Read more.

Jan. 12: Minnesota Twins

Preliminary Grade: D
What We Said: "The Twins haven’t done much to the on-the-field product this winter, and the moves they have made have been low-impact." Read more.

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