The sweet smell of spring training is in the air, which means Opening Day is not far off. The whirlwind of the Major League Baseball offseason should be pretty much done, with several big names changing places.
Let’s look at the top five offseason moves that will impact the pennant races and baseball odds.
Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals
Odds to win World Series: 12-1
The Nationals picked up Fister for Robbie Ray, Steve Lombardozzi and Ian Krol, then signed him for $7.2 million over one year in a move that some are saying was one of the shrewdest this offseason. Fister has a 3.30 ERA over the last three years and now joins Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez to form one of the best rotations in all of baseball. Now can the Nats finally play to their level of talent and expectations?
Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers
Odds to win World Series: 9-1
Kinsler was traded to the Motor City from Texas for Prince Fielder and then promptly lost 10 pounds to get into prime shape. The Tigers, who are the American League favorite according to Bovada, are getting a five-tool second baseman who has a career .273 average, is far better in the field than Fielder ever was, and is a threat on the basepaths. Even though Kinsler’s power has declined, the Tigers don’t need him to be a bomber, as they still have Miguel Cabrera, who can now move back to first base. Watch out for Kinsler, as this could be the best move of the offseason when all is said and done.
Brian McCann to the New York Yankees
Odds to win World Series: 12-1
The Yankees signed McCann to an $85 million deal over five years, which seems to make sense. The Bronx Bombers obviously noticed that McCann hit 20 homers or more in seven of his eight full seasons in Atlanta. He also is a left-handed batter going to Yankee Stadium, which is known for its short right field fence, so he could be poised for a huge season. He has been an All-Star seven times, and not only is he strong offensively, but he also is very good at calling games.
Dan Haren to the Los Angeles Dodgers
Odds to win World Series: 13-2
The Dodgers, who are the World Series favorite, signed Haren for one year and $10 million. If nothing else, he will eat a lot of innings. He has seven seasons with 215 innings pitched or more and tossed 169 2/3 innings last year. He will be 34 in September, so don’t expect Haren to carry the rotation, but he won’t have to with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Josh Beckett around. He struggled in Washington, but the California-born Haren might simply be a West Coast guy — his best seasons have come with the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Nelson Cruz to the Baltimore Orioles
Odds to win World Series: 33-1
Cruz just signed with the Orioles for a year at $8 million, and they’ll be getting a guy who has something to prove. Cruz was suspended for 50 games last season. He’s heard the whispers that he was on something in Texas, when he averaged 27 homers over his last five seasons. The good news is he’s going to a park known for being nice to power hitters. Put him in a lineup with Chris Davis and Adam Jones, and he only has to be a designated hitter? Cruz should provide quite a spark for the O’s.