Compared to last offseason, the hot stove has been pretty warm for the AL Central this year. As the Winter Meetings wrap up, some teams have been busier than others. The results of the moves we’re seeing, though, suggest that some of the Tigers’ division rivals took note of how weak the AL Central was last season and hope to take advantage of that opportunity, while another team might be ready to take a step back.
Let’s see what the AL Central teams have been up to so far this offseason.
The White Sox are up to something interesting, but it remains to be seen if the moves they’re making will pay dividends. Right now they’re an unexpected favorite to sign free agent darling Bryce Harper, which would be quite the coup for the Chicago club. They’ve also shown interest in Adam Ottavino, but no signings have been made as of yet.
An acquisition the White Sox have made is that of RHP Ivan Nova from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for young pitching prospect Yordi Rosario. Nova will be 32 next season, and has been... okay.
They also signed former Blue Jay Ryan Goins to a minor league deal in early December.
Probably one of their more interesting offseason acquisitions was the trade of Omar Navarez to the Seattle Mariners for reliever Alex Colome.
Rule 5 Draft selections: RHP Jordan Romano (Blue Jays); 1B Jordan George (Pirates)**
** indicates Triple-A phase selection
It’s hard to figure out what the Indians are doing this offseason. They are listening to offers on all their major starters, including Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, with the exception of Carlos Carrasco, who they have signed to an extension. No one seems to be safe from potential trade, suggesting that the Indians might view their window of contention as closed, and are working to refresh the team as quickly as possible.
During the Rule 5 draft, they traded Edwin Encarnacion to the Mariners for Carlos Santana. Then sent Yandy Diaz to the Rays for young first baseman Jake Bauers.
In a big late-November move they traded catcher Yan Gomes to the Nationals in return for outfielder Daniel Johnson and RHP Jefry Rodriguez, as well as a player to be named later.
Earlier in the December they signed former Tigers outfielder Anthony Gose, who will be used as a two-way player by the team. They also made some minor league acquisitions with OF Trayce Thompson, LHP Josh Smith, and RHP James Hoyt.
Rule 5 Draft selections: LHP Yapson Gomez (Cubs)**
This being a Tigers site, we’ve already covered the Tigers moves in depth.
The team non-tendered both catcher James McCann and reliever Alex Wilson, one of those moves proving more surprising than the other. It also leaves the Tigers without a typical starting catcher, a role which may fall to young Grayson Greiner.
In new pick-ups, the Tigers have signed one-year deals with pitchers Matt Moore and Tyson Ross, providing a little added depth to their starting rotation or bullpen, depending how the starters get used. The team also filled a much-needed infield role by signing shortstop Jordy Mercer to a one-year deal.
Rule 5 Draft selections: RHP Reed Garrett (Rangers); CF Tyler Hill (Red Sox) subsequently traded to Yankees**
The Royals have made some interesting signings so far this offseason, but none seem likely to really bolster their chances at a 2019 championship.
Billy Hamilton, inexplicably released by the Cardinals, was quickly scooped up by the Royals for a one-year $4.25 million salary with a $1 million dollar buyout on a $7.5 million mutual option. Additional incentives could net him an extra $550,000.
In early December they signed utility player Chris Owings to a one-year deal worth $3 million, with $500,000 in potential incentives.
On November 26, the team claimed RHP Conner Greene from the Cardinals, and DFA’d Burch Smith to make room for Greene.
Not a player pick-up, but the Royals also hired former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny as a special advisor. Lots of Cardinals cast-offs in this 2019 Royals clubhouse.
Rule 5 Draft selections: RHP Sam McWilliams (Rays); C Chris Rabago (Yankees)**;
The Twins are making moves to suggest they intend to make a run for winning the division this season, and with the strange moves made by the Indians, there’s a chance Minnesota could really do it.
Currently they’re one of two teams deep in talks with free agent slugger Nelson Cruz, and have also been circling around relievers like Cody Allen and Andrew Miller.
They’ve already made some interesting acquisitions including second baseman Jonathan Schoop, former Rays heavy-hitter C.J. Cron, and young infielder Ronald Torreyes. That’s a lot of infield coverage for one team.
These are pretty interesting choices for the club, and with the short terms on some of these deals it seems evident they are hoping 2019 is their year.
Rule 5 Draft selections: RHP Dusten Knight (Giants)**