This winter’s unusual free-agent market has left a number of big-name players unsigned, even in the last week of February. So there’s still time for teams to improve their standing. But as spring training heats up, here’s where each franchise grades out.
Boston Red Sox -- Grade: A+
Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski and general manager Mike Hazen had the best offseason of any front office in baseball, checking off every box they had set as a goal this winter. They wanted an ace and landed Price in a seven-year, $217 million dollar deal. They needed a closer, and they made a blockbuster deal with the Padres to land arguably the game’s best over the last several years in Kimbel. They wanted to acquire a fourth outfielder, so they signed Young. And while looking for another power arm in the bullpen, they were able to pick up Smith from the Mariners. They needed rotation depth, and they acquired Elias. Thanks to those major offseason wins, the Red Sox are serious contenders once again.
Chicago Cubs -- Grade: A+
The Cubs have had a dominant offseason, highlighted by the signing of star outfielder Heyward, the best defensive right fielder in the game. Even before that signing, things were looking pretty rosy in Chicago. The Cubs made one of the best-valued free-agent signings of a starting pitcher when they landed Lackey on a two-year deal. They really improved themselves with the acquisition of Zobrist, who will give them better balance in the lineup, as well as improved defense at second base and the corner outfield positions and important leadership for their young players. Fowler fell back in their lap this week, agreeing to a one-year deal that will allow Heyward to remain in right field and gives the Cubs the solid lead-off hitter they had last year. Warren, who will also compete for a spot in the starting rotation, should help shore up the bullpen, and Brothers might end up being one of the best under-the-radar signings of the offseason. I predict that the Cubs will be the only team to win 100 regular-season games in 2016. It’s only a matter of time before Cubs president Theo Epstein becomes the highest-paid baseball executive in baseball history. He’s on his way to a Hall of Fame career.