This is the third installment of the 2021 MLB Offseason Recap. I will be going over each team’s additions and subtractions during the winter and determine if they’ve improved, declined, or stayed the same in terms of talent and competitiveness. At the time of writing this (Feb 11th), there are still some notable free agents that haven’t found a team yet (Justin Turner, Jackie Bradley Jr, Kevin Pillar, Trevor Rosenthal, James Paxton, Brett Gardner, etc.) so stick with me if this becomes immediately outdated. Enough wasting time, let’s dive in.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are the next up and coming team in the AL Central. They have a great mix of the young talent and seasoned vets that every team strives to have. Although they lost James McCann, Jarrod Dyson, and Alex Colome to free agency and released Nomar Mazara and Edwin Encarnacion, that have plenty of talent to fill the holes and compete for the AL Central title. They replaced McCann with Jonathan Lucroy via a minor-league deal. They replaced Alex Colome by signing arguably the best reliever in baseball, Liam Hendricks, to a 3-year deal. Finally, they replaced Jarrod Dyson by reuniting with Adam Eaton on a one-year deal. On top of all that, the White Sox also acquired Lance Lynn, who has revitalized his career, in a trade with the Rangers. All in all, I believe the White Sox will make a legitimate postseason run with the amount of talent they possess.
Indians Baseball Team
I wrote an another article recently on my frustrations with organizations like Cleveland that believe the only way to build a successful team in a smaller market is to tank and start over. The point of that article was to express that tanking is bad for baseball and that’s exactly what Cleveland did. For a bag of baseballs and some tickets to a Wednesday game against the Marlins, Cleveland traded way Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets. To sink the ship even more, they declined club options for Carlos Santana and Brad Hand. This brings Cleveland’s overall salary to an estimated $42,705,000. Pathetic. In order to soften the blow and hopefully all a couple of jerseys, Cleveland signed Eddie Rosario to a 1-year deal. Cleveland basically tanked their chances at winning the Central any time soon, even with all of the other talent they have on the team and in the farm system.
The Tigers are once again predicted to come in last place in the Central and compete for the worst record in baseball. 2021 will be yet another rebuilding year for them and they have lost some notable names to free agency such as Austin Romine, Ivan Nova, and Jordan Zimmerman. Those three were never going to be difference makers on a winning team but they were better than the options available to them in the minors. To help fill the holes, Detroit signed Renato Nunez, Derek Holland, and Erasmo Ramirez to minor league deals. They also signed Wilson Ramos, Robbie Grossman, and Jose Urena to major league deals. I would keep an eye on the young studs, Casey Miza and Tarik Skubal, 2021 as they seems to be the future of the Tigers’ rotation. Also, #3 overall prospect, Spencer Torkelson, could make an appearance if he flies through the minors, however, Detroit shouldn’t be in any rush.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals had a rather quiet, uneventful offseason until last night. Prior to then, they parted ways with Maikel Franco, Kevin McCarthy, Mike Montgomery. Ian Kennedy, and Matt Harvey. They also said goodbye to World Series champ, Alex Gordon, when he announced retirement. Good luck to him. The Royals picked up the following free agents: Hanser Alberto, Wade Davis, Ervin Santana, Carlos Santana, Michael A. Taylor, and Mike Minor. The headliner of the Royals offseason was acquiring Andrew Benintendi from the Red Sox. You know, looking at the whole picture, the Royals had a sneaky really good offseason. They are no where close to chasing after a pennant or a ring but they are trying to do more than a lot of other teams.
The Twins have been chomping at the bit for a few years now. They have some really good regular season runs lately but fail to find their footing in the playoffs. Their roster is definitely going to look different this year as their GM has been rather busy. The Twins lost Alex Avila, Marwin Gonzalez, Tyler Clippard, Trevor May, Zack Littell, Rick Hill, Homer Bailey, and Jake Odorizzi to free agency, declined Sergio Romo’s club option, and also released Eddie Rosario. This presents a lot of roster spots to fill and while most of them were filled by minor leaguers, the Twins did make their fair share of additions. They signed Alex Colome, Andrelton Simmons, JA Happ, and Hansel Robles to 1-year contracts. Although this is a big team shake-up, I don’t believe it really effects the Twins’ place in the AL. They have good talent on their team, however, I do not think it will be enough to make a substantial playoff run.
Verdict: Stayed the same.
The AL Central will, once again, be one of the weaker divisions in MLB. I don’t believe any team has the capability to make a deep playoff run with the way they are constructed at this moment in time. The only team that would have a chance would be the White Sox and I predict them to win the AL Central. Cleveland will make it tough with their pitching but will fall short due to no offensive production from anyone not named Jose Ramirez. The Detroit Tigers will be in the top 5 of this years Amateur Draft, but that’s about it. The Royals will be sneaky good but have no pitching to match up against tougher opponents. The Twins will play a decent regular season with their strong vets but lack the superstar power to truly compete.