Monday, the Philadelphia Phillies introduced RHP Zack Wheeler and shortstop Didi Gregorius, their two major offseason signings.
Wheeler - who has a 3.77 ERA and 3.71 FIP in 749.1 career innings - will certainly improve a starting rotation that had next-to-no stability behind ace Aaron Nola in 2019. If we assume Gregorius bounces back to his 2015-2018 form, he'll improve a Phillies lineup that also is set to include Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen and Rhys Hoskins.
But, when the Phillies introduced Wheeler and Gregorius, they did so with their new manager, Joe Girardi, on stage. Girardi's predecessor, Gabe Kapler, was fired because the Phillies went 81-81 and finished in fourth place in the National League East after one of the most productive on-paper offseasons in baseball history.
Are the additions of Wheeler and Gregorius enough for the Phillies to win a crowded National League East in 2020? General manager Matt Klentak seemed to think so, but that would require the Phillies leapfrogging the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and New York Mets.
Certainly, the Phillies have improved with the additions of Wheeler and Gregorius. But, as long as you could still make the case that they're only the third or fourth best team in their own division, it's hard to call them winners of the offseason thus far. Obviously, they aren't losers either.
With that in mind, here's a look at some of the offseason's most successful teams so far, along with some others, who, unlike the Phillies, have done little or nothing at all to improve their teams:
Winner: New York Yankees
The Yankees will enter 2020 as the prohibited World Series favorites after signing RHP Gerrit Cole to a nine-year/$324 million contract.
Cole will headline what's probably going to be baseball's deepest rotation. James Paxton went 10-2 with a 3.63 ERA after the All-Star Break in 2019. Masahiro Tanaka posted a 4.27 FIP and 3.3 fWAR in 182.0 innings in 2019. Luis Severino missed much of the 2019 season, but FanGraphs says that between 2017 and 2018, the 25-year-old was the fifth most valuable pitcher in baseball.
In signing Cole, the Yankees also weakened their biggest competition in the American League, the Houston Astros. Cole spent the past two seasons at the top of the Astros rotation with Justin Verlander, going 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA and 2.67 FIP.
On top of adding Cole, the Yankees were able to retain Aroldis Chapman to anchor their elite bullpen, and Brett Gardner, who will likely see a lot of at-bats in center field in 2020 with Aaron Hicks undergoing Tommy John surgery in October.
After the Yankees were eliminated by the Astros in the 2019 ALCS, much was made of the fact that the 2010s were the first decade since the 1910s that the Yankees didn't appear in the World Series. You get the feeling, though, that the 2020s are going to be a different story.
Loser: New York Mets
The Mets won 86 games in 2019, and their season still felt like a disaster.
It became clear that the since-dismissed Mickey Callaway wasn't a fit for New York. Former Mets superstar Carlos Beltran will take over the reigns, and assuming he doesn't have any notable repercussions coming his way as part of the Astros sign-stealing scandal, he should be an improvement as Mets' manager.
The Mets did lose the aforementioned Wheeler to the division-rival Phillies, but with two-time defending National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard at the top of their rotation, they should be able to overcome that loss. They've also added Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello to what should remain a deep rotation.
The biggest issue that the Mets had in 2019 was their bullpen, though. At least so far, they've done nothing to address that issue.
Edwin Diaz, last offseason's big pickup, had a putrid first season with the Mets, as he blew seven saves and posted a 5.59 ERA. He's just two seasons removed from closing a league-leading 57 games for the Seattle Mariners, but general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and company are putting a lot of trust in his ability to bounce back in 2020.
If Diaz and Jeurys Familia - who posted an unsightly 5.70 ERA in 66 games in 2019 - don't rebound in 2020, the Mets could be buried in one of the league's most competitive divisions.
Winner: Atlanta Braves
It's easy to forget since the Washington Nationals ultimately won the World Series, but the Braves won 97 games in 2019, allowing them to win their second consecutive National League East title.
Should the Braves re-sign Josh Donaldson, they may become the favorites to win the National League pennant. Either way, they have one of baseball's best rosters.
The Braves added former World Series MVP Cole Hamels to a starting rotation that already included Mike Soroka, bounce-back candidate Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried and Sean Newcomb. When you factor in the slew of other young arms that the Braves have at or near the major league level - Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson and Kyle Muller - they have a chance to have one of baseball's best starting rotations in 2020.
One of their biggest issues in 2019 was their bullpen, which they addressed in season by acquiring Mark Melancon, Shane Greene and Chris Martin. Martin, who was a free agent, returned to the Braves on a two-year/$14 million deal. Additionally, the Braves inked lefty Will Smith, the top free-agent reliever available, to a three-year/$39 million deal. All of a sudden their bullpen might be a strength.
With Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies, the Braves' lineup has been a strength. Retaining Donaldson would be icing on the cake, but the Braves also have two top 25 prospects that could debut in 2020 - outfielders Christian Pache and Drew Waters. One could also be used as part of a package to obtain another star.
As things stand now, the 2020 World Series looks as though it could have a very 1990s feel to it, with the Braves among the best bets to take on the New York Yankees in the fall classic.
Loser: Cleveland Indians
The Indians didn't appear in the postseason last year for the first time since 2015, but they still won 93 games. If there was ever a case for running things back, the 2019 Indians were that.
Instead, much of the offseason has focused on whether the Indians will trade superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor. RADIO.COM MLB Insider Jon Heyman says that the Indians would prefer to hold onto Lindor for now and trade him next offseason instead. A trade is coming, though, as Lindor can become a free agent after the 2021 season. Indians CEO Paul Dolan suggested in March that the Indians won't be able to retain Lindor once he becomes eligible to become a free agent.
Whether the Indians could actually financially afford to re-sign Lindor is another debate for another time. But, if the plan was to attempt to make one more World Series push with him in 2020 - rather than maximizing his trade value now - the team's trade of two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber this past weekend feels even more puzzling.
The Indians' return of Delino DeShields Jr. and reliever Emmanuel Clase was pretty universally seen as underwhelming for a pitcher with Kluber's resume. Never mind the merits of holding onto Kluber to compete in 2020, trading an ace following a season where he made just seven starts is the definition of selling low. At the very least, it would have been worth the Indians holding onto Kluber until the July 31 trade deadline and seeing if he could rebuild his value. Instead, as Chris D. Davies of Let's Go Tribe wrote, they seemed more interested in moving his $17.5 million salary for 2020, an amount that will seem like a bargain if the three-time All-Star stays healthy.
With Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber at the top of their rotation, the Indians could still compete with the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox for the American League Central crown in 2020. Make no mistake, though, they've made their team worse by trading Kluber ahead of what will likely be Lindor's final season in Cleveland.
Winner: Los Angeles Angels
The Angels entered the offseason as one of the favorites to land superstar right-hander Gerrit Cole. That didn't happen, but the Angels pivoted pretty well, landing 29-year-old third baseman Anthony Rendon on a seven-year/$245 million deal.
Rendon, who finished third in National League MVP voting in 2019, led the Washington Nationals to their first World Series title this past season. Since the start of the 2016 season, FanGraphs says that Rendon has been the most valuable offensive third baseman in baseball. He immediately will strengthen an Angels' lineup that also includes three-time American League MVP Mike Trout and two-way star Shohei Ohtani.
Speaking of Ohtani, he'll attempt to pitch again in 2020, after only DHing in 2019 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. To seriously be competitive in a division that sent two teams (the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics) to the postseason in 2019, the Angels need Ohtani to have a remarkable season on the mound. The guess here is they aren't finished adding to their rotation - they can't be.
Rotation concerns aside, though, the Angels haven't posted a winning record since 2015. With the addition of Rendon, the Angels have a chance to do that in Joe Maddon's first year as skipper.