With less than 12 weeks until Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, most of the heavy lifting has been done for teams around the league this offseason. Still, while the countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting may have already started, general managers are still looking at ways to improve their club.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest deals and other news from around the league this past week.
Phillies Strengthen Bullpen
Even though the Phillies are the reigning NLCS champions, they know they play in arguably the toughest division in baseball and are continuing to find ways to improve their club.
On Saturday, they helped fortify their bullpen even further by trading for left-handed reliever Gregory Soto from the Detroit Tigers.
For Soto, the 27-year-old reliever went 2-11 on a bad Tigers team last year, but he had 30 saves, a 3.28 ERA, 1.376 WHIP, and struck out 60 in 60.1 innings of work.
Last year, Philadelphia’s bullpen ranked just 23rd in the majors during the regular season with a 4.27 ERA. The trade for Soto adds to a bullpen that has already had lefty Matt Strahm and righty Craig Kimbrel added to it. They have also brought in starting pitcher Taijuan Walker and shortstop Trea Turner to add to an already solid ballclub.
The full trade with the Tigers was actually a five-player swap. Philadelphia also received utilityman Kody Clemens in the trade, while the Tigers received utilityman Nick Maton, catcher Donny Sands, and outfielder Matt Vierling.
Even with the improvements this season, the Phillies have just the third-best odds of winning the NL East at +350, trailing both the New York Mets (+110) and Atlanta Braves (+150). In terms of the World Series, they have the seventh-best odds of winning it all at +1400.
Mariners Bring In Veteran Outfielder
On Saturday, the Seattle Mariners continued gearing up for a run at the AL West crown as they brought in veteran outfielder A.J. Pollock on a one-year deal worth $7 million. The deal also includes another $3 million in potential bonuses based on performance.
The 35-year-old Pollock played for the Chicago White Sox last season, where he hit .245/.292/.389 with 14 home runs, 56 runs batted in, and 61 runs scored in 489 at bats for the Southsiders.
Pollock was much better against lefties (.286/.316/.619, 11 HR) than he was against righties (.231/.284/.309, 3 HR), so it will be interesting to see if the Mariners choose to use him in more of a platoon role. It is likely that Julio Rodriguez and Teoscar Hernandez will have two of the outfield positions, so Pollock could platoon with Jarred Kelenic in the final spot.
After making the playoffs via the Wild Card, the Mariners are looking to challenge the Astros for the AL West crown this year. Seattle has the second-best odds of winning the division at +300, trailing just the Astros at -200.
Seattle has the ninth-best odds of winning the World Series at +1600.
Dodgers Cut $22 Million Pitcher
In a mostly unsurprising move, the Los Angeles Dodgers have decided to part ways with controversial starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. The team announced on Friday that they were releasing the 31-year-old pitcher.
Bauer has not pitched since 2021 as he served a suspension for violating the MLB and MLBPA joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy. Through appeal, the suspension was reduced to 194 games, meaning that Bauer could immediately be reinstated.
Rather than reinstating him, though, the Dodgers have chosen to just eat the remaining $22.5 million on his contract as they part ways.
For Bauer, it remains to be seen if any team will be willing to take on the potential backlash of signing him. In 17 starts in 2021, Bauer went 8-5, with a 2.59 ERA, 1.003 WHIP, and he struck out 137 in just 107.2 innings of work.