These 5 under-the-radar teams had strong offseasons

January 10th, 2023

When assessing the biggest winners of the 2022-23 offseason, it’s easy to point to the big spenders as the teams that had the most productive winters.

The Yankees brought back Aaron Judge and signed Carlos Ródon. The Phillies added Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker, Gregory Soto and Craig Kimbrel. Then there were the Mets, whose offseason haul includes Justin Verlander, Brandon Nimmo, Edwin Díaz, Kodai Senga, David Robertson, José Quintana, Omar Narváez and Adam Ottavino.

But what about the clubs that improved their rosters with a number of moves that didn’t necessarily grab the major headlines? Here’s a look at five teams that were under-the-radar winners this offseason.

Superstars have never been the issue for the Angels, whose roster features Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, not to mention Anthony Rendon, who has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons. The biggest problem for the Angels has been the rest of the roster, but general manager Perry Minasian has done a superb job on the margins this offseason.

The Angels jumped right away to lock in Tyler Anderson to a three-year, $39 million deal, getting the southpaw signed before the market erupted. Carlos Estévez was signed to a two-year, $13.5 million deal to become the team’s new closer, and Brandon Drury inked a two-year, $17 million deal, giving the Angels a productive jack-of-all-trades. Add in trades for Hunter Renfroe and Gio Urshela -- each in his final year prior to free agency -- and the Angels enter 2023 with perhaps their deepest roster in years.

Blue Jays
Imagine trading away Teoscar Hernández and getting even better. Welcome to the Blue Jays’ offseason.

Toronto acquired a huge bullpen weapon in the Hernández trade, adding Erik Swanson to the late-inning mix. Swanson posted a 1.68 ERA with a 7-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 53 2/3 innings, handling both righties and lefties with the same effectiveness. The Blue Jays also dealt from an area of strength, sending catching prospect Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the D-backs for Daulton Varsho, adding a much-needed left-handed bat to the lineup.

But the trade market wasn’t the only avenue for the Blue Jays to improve their roster. Toronto signed Chris Bassitt to a three-year, $63 million contract, supplementing a rotation led by Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman. Kevin Kiermaier joined the Jays on a one-year, $9 million deal, giving Toronto the center fielder it had been seeking. The Blue Jays also added another left-handed bat by agreeing to a one-year, $9.3 million contract with first baseman Brandon Belt, a source told

It was no secret that Arizona wanted to use its surplus of left-handed-hitting outfielders to fill another hole via trade this offseason. Not only did GM Mike Hazen accomplish that goal, but he landed one of the top Major League-ready prospects in the game in the process.

The deal to acquire Moreno and Gurriel Jr. for Varsho gives the D-backs one of the best catching prospects in baseball, a building block Arizona hopes will help propel its return to the NL West race. But the D-backs made some other moves in an effort to return to the postseason for the first time since 2017.

Evan Longoria will provide veteran leadership for the young club, while 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis will hope for a bounce-back year after injuries limited him to 54 games from 2021-22. Miguel Castro should offer the bullpen some much-needed help, and Zach Davies was re-signed to help stabilize the rotation. Arizona isn’t in the same class as the Dodgers or Padres yet, but its offseason moves have made it a better team, bringing some hope to the desert.

Seattle lost a number of talented players from its 2022 roster, including Mitch Haniger, Swanson, Lewis, Jesse Winker, Adam Frazier and Carlos Santana. Yet a look at the Mariners one month before Spring Training shows a club that might actually be better than it was last season.

The trade for Hernández is the primary reason for that belief. Seattle acquired the slugger to add an impact bat to a lineup that features Julio Rodriguez, Eugenio Suárez, Cal Raleigh and Ty France. Despite starting the 2021 All-Star Game, Hernández might be the best player most fans don’t know about. He has 73 home runs and 227 RBIs in 324 games since the start of 2020.

The Mariners also traded Winker and Abraham Toro to the Brewers for Kolten Wong to bolster the infield, then reached an agreement with lefty-killer AJ Pollock to add to the outfield mix. With a deep starting rotation, a budding superstar and back-to-back 90-win seasons, Seattle is looking to take the next step and win its first AL West title since 2001.

I know what you’re thinking: How under the radar could Texas’ offseason be when the Rangers signed Jacob deGrom to a five-year, $185 million contract?

Yes, the deGrom signing was well above the radar, but Texas’ other moves have put the Rangers in position to contend for a postseason spot. They traded for Jake Odorizzi on Nov. 9, then learned that Martín Pérez accepted their $19.65 million qualifying offer, keeping the club’s best pitcher in 2022 in Texas. Then, after signing deGrom, the Rangers added Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi via free-agent deals, giving them arguably their deepest and best rotation in years.

A year ago, the Rangers spent more than a half-billion dollars in free agency to add Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Jon Gray and Kole Calhoun, who's currently a free agent. Having addressed the rotation this offseason -- and not just the No. 1 spot -- Texas hopes to thrust itself into the mix in the AL West.