Throughout the offseason, CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable discussing just about everything. The latest news, historical questions, thoughts on the future of baseball and more. Last week we discussed our NL East favorites. This week we’ll be talking about the most improved teams.
Which team improved the most this offseason?
RJ Anderson: I think it depends on whether you define it relative to the beginning of the offseason or relative to the end of last season. If it’s the former — and that’s my preferred timeline for this kind of question — the Mets have to be considered, even if they don’t have a Carlos Correa deal. (Conversely, in another scenario, people would be hesitant to say that because they did lose some notable free agents.) If it’s the latter, then I’d probably pick either the Rangers or the Angels, one of the AL West teams. The team is trying to make the leap to relevance again.
Dane Perry: I like what the Rangers have done to address their rotation issues. While Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi certainly have the potential for injuries leading to crashes, there are plenty of upsides as well. That’s the kind of shift Texas needed to make with their previous investments in the roster. I also like adding Andrew Heaney on the back end. Rotation was the team’s biggest concern heading into the winter, and they attacked it.
Matt Snyder: If we’re just going from the offseason to now, you’d have to include the Yankees (signing Carlos Rodon while bringing back Anthony Rizzo and, of course, Aaron Judge), the Mets (signing Justin Verlander, Korda Senga, Jose Quintana, and Omar Narváez also bring back Brandon Nimmo) and the Padres (sign Xander Bogaerts, etc., and they’ll have Fernando Tatis Jr. back soon), but I feel like it must be a new addition. In that regard, I’d go with the Rangers. They finished fifth in the AL last season and 12th in ERA. So they went out and piled up the rotation.
DeGrom, Eovaldi and Heaney obviously have a lot of injury issues, but these could also be the three additions that push them into the playoffs and make them a dangerous playoff team in the short series. Let’s remember that deGrom made more than 30 starts in 2017-19, 12 starts in a 60-game season in 2020 and 15 starts in 2021. He has started every time since returning last season. Eovaldi made all 32 starts in 2021. That’s not to allay concerns, but to point out that they, too, have the ability to stay healthy throughout the season.
Mike Assisa: I think it’s the Cubs. Now, that doesn’t mean I think they’re going to win the NL Central, but in terms of the players they have now compared to what they had last year, yes, I think they’ve improved the most. Dansby Swanson is an important addition, but others like Jameson Tyrone and Trey Mancini will add some wins, and Cody Bellinger doesn’t need to return to his MVP status to upgrade. Chicago’s first basemen hit .223/.288/.339 with minus-0.6 WAR last year, while their center fielders hit .214/.293/.361 with 1.5 WAR. They’re not asking Mancini and Bellinger to clear high standards here. With all that added, hey, maybe the Cubs can expand their playoff berth. why not?
Other than the Cubs, I agree with the others, and besides the Rangers doing a great job this offseason, the Angels also deserve a mention. Tyler Anderson’s contract already looks like a good deal given the pitching deals later in the offseason, adding Brandon Drury, Carlos Estevez, Hunter Renfro and Giouu The depth of Erciela. The Angels didn’t win the doubts when expecting them to compete for a playoff spot, but I like their move. Incremental upgrades or upgrades. You don’t have to fanfare to have a good offseason.