With the 2019 MLB Opening Day approaching, a handful of teams acquired players in the offseason in order to push for a World Series title this season.
Looking to add their 28th World Series Championship this season, the New York Yankees picked up multiple players via trades and free-agency.
In November, the Yankees received pitcher James Paxton in a three-player trade deal with the Seattle Mariners. Last season for the Mariners, Paxton went 11-6 with a 3.76 earned run average (ERA) in 28 starts. Paxton also struck out a career-high 208 batters. In his six years in Seattle, Paxton has a 41-26 record, a 3.42 ERA, and 617 strikeouts.
Paxton signed a one-year, $8.58 million contract in January to avoid arbitration.
The Yankees also re-signed J.A. Happ to a two-year contract worth $31 million in December. The contract also includes a vesting option in 2021.
After being acquired in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in July, Happ went 7-0 as a Yankee with a 2.69 ERA, and struck out 63 batters in 11 starts in pinstripes. The 36-year-old pitcher has gone 109-82 with a 3.90 ERA. Happ also has 1,357 career strikeouts, and he made his first All-Star appearance last year.
To add depth to their infield, the Yankees agreed to terms with D.J. LeMahieu on a two-year, $24 million deal in January.
In 2018, LeMahieu batted .276, hitting 15 homers and driving in 62 RBI’s. LeMahieu played the last six years with the Colorado Rockies, going to two All-Star Games. LeMahieu is also a three-time Gold Glove winner, and he also won a batting title in 2016, when he batted .348.
To possibly fill the shortstop spot as Didi Gregorious is recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees signed shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in January on a one-year deal worth $555,000, the league minimum. Tulowitzki missed the entire 2018 season due to bone spurs in his right ankle.
In his career, Tulowitzki has been to five All-Star Games, and has won two each of the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.
For the Yankees pitching staff, on Monday, they agreed to a minor-league deal with Gio Gonzalez. Should he crack the MLB roster, Gonzalez will receive a guaranteed $3 million. Gonzalez played for both the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers in 2018.
With hopes to end the longest current World Series drought, the Cleveland Indians continue their pursuit for their first World Series title since 1948.
Cleveland signed starting pitcher, Carlos Carrasco, to a four-year contract extension in December worth $47 million with a club-option in 2023.
Carrasco went 17-10 with a 3.38 ERA and a career-high 231 strikeouts last season for the Tribe.
In a three-team trade deal in December, Cleveland got back catcher/infielder combo Carlos Santana which included the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays. Santana was traded to Seattle in December, then was sent back to Cleveland in that same month. Santana played his first eight seasons with the Tribe and played last season with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have also been involved in getting players to make a push for their first playoff berth since 2015.
To avoid arbitration, Pittsburgh signed Corey Dickerson to a one-year, $8.5 million contract in January. In 2018, Dickerson batted .300 for the Pirates, hitting 13 homers and driving in 55 RBI’s. Dickerson also won his first career Gold Glove award last season, and was an All-Star in 2017 while with the Rays.
Another January signing Pittsburgh reeled in to avoid arbitration was relief pitcher Keone Kela. Acquired in a trade from the Texas Rangers in July, Kela was 0-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 16 appearances for the Pirates. Kela finished five of the games he appeared in, and struck out 22 batters vs. only five walks.
Another team who was active in picking up players were the New York Mets, who finished in fourth in the NL East last season.
The Mets signed starting pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, to a one-year, $6 million deal in January to avoid arbitration. Syndergaard went 13-4 on the rubber in 2018, with a 3.03 ERA and 155 strikeouts.
Another signing the Mets made to avoid arbitration was Jacob deGrom on a one-year, $17 million contract in January. Despite only achieving a 10-9 record last season, deGrom had a 1.70 ERA, the lowest in the majors, and struck out 269 batters, taking home both the ERA Title and the Cy Young Award in 2018.
In free-agency, the Mets brought back a familiar face in relief pitcher Jeurys Familia in December on a three-year contract worth $30 million.
Familia played his first six-plus years with the Mets as their closing pitcher before being traded to the Oakland A’s in July. In 2018 with the Mets and A’s, Familia went 8-6 with a 3.13 ERA in 70 games played. Familia saved 18 games and struck out 83 batters.
Another free agent the Mets picked up was third-baseman Jed Lowrie in January to a two-year, $20-million contract.
Lowrie went to his first career All-Star Game with the Oakland A’s in 2018, and finished the season batting .267, hitting a career-high 23 long-balls, and drove in a career-high 99 RBI’s.
The two other big-name players the Mets picked up in December were closing pitcher Edwin Diaz and second baseman, Robinson Cano, in a trade with the Mariners.
Cano batted .303 in 2018, hitting 10 home-runs and 50 RBI’s. Cano, however, was slapped with an 80-game suspension in May for violating the MLB’s PED Policy.
For Seattle’s bullpen last season, Diaz led the league with 57 saves in 73 games played. Diaz also had a 1.96 ERA, walked only 17 batters while striking out 124.
The MLB regular season will start on Mar. 28, except for the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners who open in Japan today.