Boston Red Sox Attorney Denies Sign-Stealing

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Not so long ago, the sign-stealing scandals in Houston and Boston were dominating the conversation surrounding MLB. That’s changed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but MLB has yet to announce any sanctions for the Red Sox, who are alleged to have used the video replay room to steal signs during the 2018 season.

MLB first announced its investigation into the Red Sox back in early January, but recent comments by one of the attorneys for the club suggest that the league has already concluded its probe. During Friday’s oral arguments over whether a lawsuit filed by a group of daily fantasy players over the sign-stealing scandals should be dismissed, the attorney denied that the Red Sox stole signs in violation of the rules. Here’s what Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic writes:

“We do not admit that,” Lauren Moskowitz of Cravath, Swaine & Moore told the judge when he asked her, “Do you admit or not that the Red Sox violated the rules?”

Kaplan also reports on these remarks from Moskowitz during the proceedings:

“Your Honor, I think that there are distinctions between what the Red Sox believe occurred and what the commissioner found. And I think that certainly they’re entitled to disagree that that activity happened at the club level. Certainly, we did find on certain occasions in 2017, that this electronic device was used to communicate sign information.”

Kaplan’s story has more, including comments from MLB’s attorney.

In saying “what the commissioner found” the Red Sox’s attorney seems to suggest that MLB has already concluded its investigation into the matter. MLB back in January handed down punishments for the Astros, and Alex Cora, who was then Houston’s bench coach. Cora was fired as Red Sox manager earlier this offseason because of his involvement in the Astros scandal. That could be what Moskowitz is referring to with her comments about 2017. As noted, the Red Sox investigation was at least initially with regard to their actions during 2018, when they eventually prevailed over the Dodgers in the World Series.

Because MLB is currently in shutdown mode and the coronavirus crisis is growing domestically, commissioner Rob Manfred could be waiting to issue his Red Sox ruling until a more appropriate time. Whatever the specifics, the Red Sox seem to know what’s coming and don’t entirely agree with it, at least if Moskowitz’s comments are an accurate guide.

They’re likely in for stiff penalties. They were previously disciplined for electronic sign-stealing during the 2017 season, and this second alleged offense would likely result in additional sanctions. Also, the consensus public reaction to the Astros’ penalties was that not enough was done, and that could play into Manfred’s ruling, unconsciously or otherwise.

Big Ben ‘Throwing Without Pain’ For First Time In Years

Big Ben Roethlisberger

Some good news for Pittsburgh Steelers fans as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who missed all but two games in 2019 due to an elbow injury that required surgery, is feeling as good as he has in years.

“I have no doubts I’m going to be able to come back and play well — none,” Roethlisberger told Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“I have complete confidence in that. I’m throwing without pain for the first time in years. Some games, I would have a little pain. Some games, I would have a lot of pain. But in the New England game and the Seattle game [last season], it got to be too much. To be able to throw without pain now? That feels nice. That’s a nice feeling. I know I’m not getting any younger, but I feel younger because I don’t have any pain.”

Roethlisberger gained clearance to throw in February.

“I had thrown a Nerf ball a little bit before that to my kids in the living room and my arm felt pretty good. I knew it was going to be OK,” he said.

“But still, it felt so neat to throw a football. It had been a long time. I guess it was like riding a bike a little bit. You get back on and go. It’s not like it had been a year. It has been months. I never throw much in the offseason, anyway, so I looked at the time I had off like it was my offseason.”

Big Ben said he’s throwing about 40 passes a day about 20 yards.

“I’ll gradually ramp up the number of days and the throws and the distance and the velocity,” he noted.

“I really feel like I could let it rip right now if I had to, but what’s the point? There’s no need for me to rush it. Our goal was for me to be 80, 90, 100% by OTAs and minicamp. Now that it looks like those things are going to be canceled [because of the COVID-19 pandemic], I can take my time a little more.”

The Steelers, lost at sea without Big Ben last season, were sunk by inept play from their backup quarterbacks. Getting Roethlisberger good to go by the start of the 2020 season is priority No. 1 in Pittsburgh. It sounds as if that’s on track.

Real Madrid Assure Zidedine Zidane That His Job Is Safe

Zidane Real Madrid

The coronavirus crisis has forced the Real Madrid hierarchy to make early decisions in its planning for next season – the most important of which affects the dugout.

AS has learned that, whatever happens between now and the summer, whether or not the rest of LaLiga and the Champions League is played, Zinedine Zidane will be Madrid head coach next term.

The Frenchman has a contract at the Bernabeu until 2022 but Real’s hierarchy intended to assess his position in the summer, with former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino considered to be a potential replacement.

However, according to AS, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted the Spanish side to make an early decision on the managerial situation, meaning Zidane’s future is assured.

Real were two points behind leaders Barcelona after 27 games played when the Spanish league was suspended because of the outbreak of Covid-19.

While wining the title remained a realistic prospect, Madrid faced an uphill challenge to secure European glory after losing 2-1 at home to Manchester City in the first leg of the Champions League last 16.

Failure to win either of those competitions would normally have spelled the end for Zidane, who returned to the Spanish capital last March having won three successive Champions League titles during his first spell in charge.

However, these are not normal times, and nobody knows if Madrid would have gone to the Etihad and beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester side in the Champions League or overtaken a poor Barcelona side in the league.

The test for whether Zidane still has power at Real Madrid will come this summer, if he is able to persuade Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to sign Manchester star Paul Pogba this summer. Zidane wanted to sign Pogba in 2019 but Perez said no. If the French international ends up in Madrid this summer, that will be the clearest indication that Zidane has been able to maintain his power, despite a poor season on the pitch.

Atlanta Falcons Set To Sign Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley Falcons

Todd Gurley is headed back to Georgia. Less than a day after being cut by the Los Angeles Rams, the star running back is signing a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons.

The deal is ppending a physical, which could be difficult due to the current restrictions on player medical checks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Gurley is slated to make $6 million on Atlanta’s one-year deal. Including the $7.5 million bonus owed to him by the Rams, with $2.5 million offset, Gurley will make $11 million in 2020, a source told Rapoport.

The Rams cut Gurley, who played for the University of Georgia, Thursday before an additional $10.5 million on his contract was set to become guaranteed.

After winning the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year Award, which helped earn him a big extension, it’s been a precipitous fall for Gurley due to lingering knee issues. The injury curtailed his play during the Rams run to the Super Bowl in 2018, and he lacked his normal explosion again in 2019.

The questions about his knee led the Rams to move on, eating more than $20 million in dead money. L.A. still owes Gurley a $7.55 million roster bonus for this season. A shade over $2.5 million of that deal is subject to offsets, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

The Falcons had talks with the Rams about a potential trade for Gurley before he was released, per Rapoport. Instead, they get him without giving up any draft considerations or taking on the rest of his bulky contract.

A one-year deal for Gurley makes sense, given the questions about his knee.

The Falcons were in the market for running back help after cutting Devonta Freeman. Pairing Gurley with Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and Calvin Ridley could be a major coup for Atlanta. If all stay healthy.

It all depends on how Gurley looks in 2020. When right, the 25-year-old has power and vision to blast through holes and take it the distance. He’s an upgrade in passing situations out of the backfield. Last year, however, Gurley never looked right, earning just 3.8 yards per carry on 223 totes.

Given the knee issues, Gurley no longer projects as a 25-carry workhorse moving forward but could be a difference-maker in key situations. He’ll pair with Ito Smith and Brian Hill in Atlanta’s backfield.

Tom Brady Officially Signs With Buccaneers

Tom Brady SuperBowl Rings

Tom Brady is officially a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The former New England Patriots GOAT announced Friday he’s signed his contract. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports it is a two-year deal worth $50 million fully guaranteed with up to $4.5 million each year in incentives and includes no-trade and no-tag clauses.

The signing has been expected for days, after Brady said goodbye Tuesday to the New England Patriots, the team he won six Super Bowls with over 20 years.

The confirmation comes after a lengthy process, which included a two-day physical, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, due to the NFL’s current restriction on medical checkups due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

It will be bizarre to see TB12 in anything but a Patriots jersey after he led the greatest dynasty in modern sports.

Switching from the AFC to the NFC, Brady joins a Bucs roster ready to compete for a Lombardi Trophy right away. His weapons in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, provide the quarterback the best receiver duo the signal-caller has had in years.

Going from coach Bill Belichick to Bruce Arians will be a whole new world for Brady. Arians, who previously coached the likes of Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer, knows Brady will get the most out of the offense.

“Tom is the most successful quarterback in the history of our league, but what makes him so special is his ability to make those around him better,” Arians said.

“I have had the privilege to work with some of the best passers in our game, and the characteristics they all possessed were the ability to lead and get the best out of their teammates. Tom is no different. He is a proven winner who will provide the leadership, accountability and work ethic necessary to lead us to our goal of winning another championship.”

Entering his age-43 season, Brady brings a fresh beginning to the Bucs, who employed turnover-prone Jameis Winston the past five years. Brady is the opposite of Winston, abhorring turnovers at all costs. While his play might have dropped off, he can still deftly maneuver the pocket, win before the snap and hit targets with pinpoint accuracy. Much of the Patriots’ offensive struggles last season were in part due to the lack of weaponry. Brady should find no such problems with the Buccaneers.

To say the hype in Tampa is already off the chain would be an understatement.

The headline on the team’s official website announcing the signing read:

“All in! Tom Brady, Bucs team up to pursue championships.”

Championships. Plural.

Rams Cut Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley Cut By Rams

The Los Angeles Rams decided to move on from Todd Gurley. Faced with having to pay the injured running back with an additional $10.5 million payment at 4 p.m. ET Thursday., the Rams cut the running back and finding nobody willing to make trade the Rams cut the former Offensive Player of the Year.

When Todd Gurley came out of college the worry about him was his knee. The injury reports scared many teams away, but not the Rams who picked Gurley with the tenth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

That pick seems to be a stroke of genius whenGurley rushed for 1,106 yards in his rookie season and was voted Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press. He was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press following the 2017 season after scoring 19 offensive touchdowns.

It was after that OPOY season that the Rams made the mistake signed Gurley to a four-year, $57.5 million extension in 2018, two years before his previous deal was set to expire. L.A. still owes Gurley a $7.55 million roster bonus for this season and leaves a dead-money hit of $20.15 million on the salary cap.

After signing the extension coming off winning Offensive Player of the Year, Gurley rushed for 1,251 yards with 17 TDs in 2018, but knee troubles were already beginning. The running back missed the final two games of that season and saw his play heavily curtailed as the Rams ran to the Super Bowl.

Questions swirled regarding Gurley’s knee issue last offseason and were not quieted during the 2019 campaign. Despite insistence by coach Sean McVay that the Rams weren’t concerned about the knee issue, the running back’s snaps were slashed for stretches and he was much less effective. Not being able to practice on Wednesday and Thursday did not help.

“I would like to thank Todd for his many contributions to the Rams, on and off the field, since I have been here,” Rams coach Sean McVay said in a statement.

“He has meant a lot to my growth as a coach and leader and he will always be remembered as one of the all-time great Rams. I wish him nothing but the best.”

The current restrictions on medical checks was likely one reason the Rams couldn’t trade Gurley. With questions about his knee unanswered, it will be interesting to see what type of market materializes for the former Pro Bowl running back.

NFL Combine Winners and Losers -Defense

NFL Combine

There are many football fans who wonder just how much stock to place in the NFL Combine. Some will say it doesn’t change what they saw on tape, while others will say that your eyes can sometimes lie to you, so the Combine can confirm/deny your assumptions. I’m somewhere in the middle. While I don’t think it matters all that much to me, it does matter to NFL teams, which will impact my mock drafts significantly.

Here is a look at the winners and losers on the defensive side of the ball from the recently completed NFL Combine.

Defensive Linemen
Winners

Justin Madubuike (Texas A&M)
Not only did he show off his strength when he threw up 31 reps on the bench press (4th among linemen), but he also flashed great athleticism when he made it through the 40-yard dash in just 4.83 seconds at 293 pounds.

Jonathan Garvin (Miami)
I’ll admit that I didn’t pay very much attention to Garvin prior to the Combine, but after his performance this weekend, I’ll be going back to take a second look. Among the defensive linemen working out, he finished No. 1 with a 36-inch vertical, No. 2 with a 125-inch broad jump, and No. 9 with a 4.82-second 40-yard dash. It’s clear that he’s among the best athletes entering the draft.

Losers

A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)
The strength of his game is supposed to be… his strength. After putting up just 17 reps on the bench press, which was the lowest among defensive linemen, his best attribute will be questioned. By comparison, 5-foot-11 wide receiver Jalen Reagor hit 17 reps on the bench press. There were 10 tight ends who topped 17 reps.

Trevon Hill (Miami)
He’s not someone who was fighting his way into the first-round conversation but had an outside chance at getting into the Day 2 conversation. After weighing in at just 248 pounds, Hill needed to show some athleticism to make up for his lack of size, but he failed to do so. His 4.89-second 40-yard dash, 28-inch vertical, and 113-inch broad jump were all far below what was expected.

Linebackers
Winners

Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
Remember when everyone talked about Jonathan Taylor running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash on Friday night at 226 pounds? Yeah, well, Simmons one-upped him on Saturday when he ran the same exact time at 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds. He can play any position on the field and his speed score proved that. It also didn’t hurt that he jumped 39 inches and had a 132-inch broad jump. His stock is surely top-10 and he may have moved into the top-three conversation.

Davion Taylor (Colorado)
I was someone who didn’t think Taylor was getting enough love coming into the Combine, but that shouldn’t be the case anymore. Not only did he notch a 4.50-second 40-yard dash, highlighting his ability to easily hang with tight ends and most running backs, but he also showed his burst when he hit 127 inches in the broad jump (4th among linebackers), and finished the 3-cone drill in 6.96 seconds (4th among linebackers). He surely moved up draft boards this weekend.

Losers

Michael Divinity (LSU)
There’s been a lot of question marks surrounding Divinity and his suspension(s) last year, so he needed to detract the attention to what he can do on the field. He failed to do that, and in fact, he hurt his draft stock while running a 4.85-second 40-yard dash at 242 pounds and putting up just 14 reps on the bench press. His draft stock continues to tumble.

Defensive Backs
Winners

Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois)
He simply broke the Combine for defensive backs. His 4.45-second 40-yard dash was among the tops at his position, while his 41-inch vertical and 131-inch broad jump (third all-time among safeties) were both top-two among all defensive backs. Chinn may not have played at a high-profile school, but after the Combine, he’s a high-profile prospect.

Javelin Guidry (Utah)
There have been 14 prospects who’ve run a sub-4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Not only did Guidry hit 4.29, but he was the first one to hit 21 reps on the bench press, too. That shows he’s got strength to match his speed, and that should force scouts/evaluators back to the film room to take another look at his on-field performance.

Losers

Xavier McKinney (Alabama)
Sure, McKinney was dealing with cramps, which makes it difficult to say he hurt his stock too much, but knowing what was at stake, he was one of the biggest movers in the wrong direction. There is a close race for the top safety in this year’s class, and McKinney is one of them. His first run at the 40-yard dash netted a less-than-stellar 4.63 seconds, which surely didn’t help his stock. His 122-inch broad jump was the eighth-lowest mark among defensive backs, while his 36-inch vertical was very middle-of-the-pack. His stock took a hit on Sunday.

NFL Combine Winners and Losers -Offense

NFL Combine

There are many football fans who wonder just how much stock to place in the NFL Combine. Some will say it doesn’t change what they saw on tape, while others will say that your eyes can sometimes lie to you, so the Combine can confirm/deny your assumptions. I’m somewhere in the middle. While I don’t think it matters all that much to me, it does matter to NFL teams, which will impact my mock drafts significantly.

Here is a look at the winners and losers on the offensive side of the ball from the recently completed NFL Combine.

Quarterback
Winners

Justin Herbert (Oregon)
After his first pass of the day hit the ground on a simple slant route, Herbert settled in and looked mighty comfortable in the Combine setting. He threw the deep ball seemingly five yards further than every other quarterback, while hitting the receivers in stride. Accuracy is something that’s been hit-or-miss for him, particularly when he starts aiming the ball, but he looked great during the on-field drills.

Jordan Love (Utah State)
As expected, Love looked very good going through the on-field drills in Indianapolis. He was able to show off his big arm and solid athleticism, though they were never in question to begin with. The biggest question with Love has been his mental processing and proneness to make mistakes, and that’s something that wasn’t going to be an issue in this setting.

Losers

Jake Fromm (Georgia)
There were concerns about Fromm’s arm strength coming into the Combine and he did nothing to silence them. His deep balls lacked any sort of juice, while surprisingly, his accuracy wasn’t great while throwing the curl routes. Even Kurt Warner mentioned on the broadcast that Fromm’s lack of arm strength can hold him back.

Running Back
Winners

A.J. Dillon (Boston College)
Some wondered if Dillon should be a fullback at the next level but seeing him run a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at 247 pounds may change some minds. Not just that, but he showed off his strength when he pushed out 23 reps on the bench, hit 41 inches in the vertical jump (best at the position), and flew 131 inches in the broad jump (best at the position by a full three inches). Dillon surely turned some heads at the Combine.

Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin)
You simply don’t see 226-pound running backs post 4.39-second 40-yard dash times, which is why Taylor was receiving the most buzz among running backs at the Combine. He may not have posted the best burst numbers in the broad jump or vertical jump, but at his size (with his speed), he’s going to be difficult to tackle.

Losers

Salvon Ahmed (Washington)
He was perceived as someone who’d be a solid change-of-pace running back, though he’d seemingly slow down the pace of the offense after seeing him post a 16th percentile speed score. At just 197 pounds, Ahmed should’ve run sub-4.5 to help his draft stock, but instead, his 4.62 and 4.67 times dragged it down.

Zack Moss (Utah)
There are others who hurt their stock more than Moss at the running back position, though they were never likely going to make it into the Day 2 conversation. Moss is someone who likely could’ve made it there with an impressive Combine performance, but he just didn’t do it. His first 40 time of 4.72 seconds was rather alarming, even though he does weigh 223 pounds. Whether we like it or not, there are NFL teams who value 40 times more than they likely should, which will drag Moss’ stock down.

Wide Receivers
Winners

Justin Jefferson (LSU)
I’d already been extremely high on Jefferson prior to the Combine (was my WR4), but many questioned his overall speed. When he churned out a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, everyone’s fear slowly faded into oblivion. The truth is that Jefferson’s best attribute is his route-running, and that was on full display during the drills. He’s now in the first-round conversation, and rightfully so.

Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan)
He didn’t have the opportunity at massive production while at Michigan, but when Peoples-Jones got a chance to shine among his peers, he did. At 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, he had a ridiculously-high 44.5-inch vertical, a quick 4.48-second 40-yard dash, and an explosive 11-foot-7-inch broad jump. It’s a deep wide receiver class, but Peoples-Jones certainly helped his draft stock at the Combine.

Denzel Mims (Baylor)
When it comes to those who value measurements, Mims knocked them out of the park. He measured in at 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds, which is solid, but then went on to post the third-fastest 40-time (4.38) among receivers, the eighth-highest vertical jump (38.5 inches), fourth-longest broad jump (131 inches), and the fastest 3-cone drill (6.66 seconds) by far. Athletically, there are no questions about Mims.

Losers

Quintez Cephus (Wisconsin)
While he did post the most bench press reps (23) among wide receivers, the number that hurt Cephus’ stock was his lackluster 4.73-second 40-yard dash time. While he wasn’t expected to be a burner, getting into the 4.7s is sure to drop your draft stock, which in turn will drop your immediate opportunity. I still think Cephus is a rock-solid football player, but opportunity is everything.

Jalen Reagor (TCU)
When Reagor showed up to the Combine at 206 pounds, there were many who were surprised at how much he’d bulked up. Unfortunately, it affected his speed quite a bit. There were many (including Reagor) who thought he could get into the low 4.3s or even dip into the high 4.2s, so when you saw 4.47 seconds pop-up on the broadcast, you knew it wasn’t good. Add in a very underwhelming 7.31-second 3-cone drill, and you have someone who hurt his stock at the Combine.

Tight Ends
Winners

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)
I’ve been on a campaign telling everyone that I loved Okwuegbunam last year, as I did his scouting profile thinking he’d enter the draft. Then I watched his 2019 game film and he didn’t appear to have any juice in his game. Well, he proved that there’s still juice in his body when he ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-6 and 252 pounds. By comparison, Jalen Reagor ran times of 4.47 and 4.50 seconds. He’s the tight end everyone was talking about at the Combine.

Cole Kmet (Notre Dame)
When Kmet weighed in at 262, it wasn’t shocking considering no one believed his listed weight of 250 pounds was correct. What was shocking, though, was his 4.70-second 40-yard dash at that weight. Only Albert Okwuegbunam, Brycen Hopkins, and Stephen Sullivan ran faster times among tight ends, and all of them weigh at least 10 pounds less than him.

Losers

Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)
While speed can be overrated for tight ends, you never want to see them wind-up in the 5.00-second range of the 40-yard dash. Pinkney hit precisely 5.00 on his first run and though he was able to knock it down to 4.96 on his second run, he was the slowest tight end in the competition. While no one expected Pinkney to be fast, the Combine definitely hurt his value.

Offensive Linemen
Winners

Mekhi Becton (Louisville)
We all knew Becton was big, but after measuring in at 6-foot-7 and 364 pounds, and then running a 5.10-second 40-yard dash, he’s getting high first-round buzz. His 40 time was a full 0.08 faster than any other player who’s ever weighed in at 350 or more pounds. There was also word that he checked in with just 17 percent body fat. If that’s true, there’s a whole lot of muscle built on his body.

Netane Muti (Fresno State)
After racking up 44 reps on the bench press, Muti should find himself in the second-round conversation. He didn’t run the 40-yard dash, but that’s an overrated trait for offensive linemen. What Muti did was show his incredible strength, as no other lineman posted more than 37 reps on the bench.

Ezra Cleveland (Boise State)
When you get an offensive lineman who’s 311 pounds and runs a 40-yard dash in 4.93 seconds, it’s going to turn some heads. That time was faster than Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney. His speed score for a guy his size was among the most impressive at the 2020 NFL Combine, which will raise his draft stock. He also hit 30 reps on the bench press, which was the fifth-highest mark among offensive linemen.

Tristan Wirfs (Iowa)
Let’s be clear: When you’re 320 pounds, you’re not supposed to be able to run a sub-five-second 40-yard dash. Not only did Wirfs cross that threshold; he crushed it with a 4.86-second time, the fastest among all offensive linemen. He wasn’t done there, either. He also posted a 36.5-inch vertical, which was two inches better than any other lineman, and a 121-inch broad jump, which was five inches better than any other lineman. He likely solidified a top-10 selection in the draft.

Losers

Trey Adams (Washington)
While the 40 times may be overrated for offensive linemen, Adams’ 5.60-second 40-yard dash was among the worst at his position. You don’t ever want a prospect to be the worst at anything, especially when he’s fighting with others into the Day 2 conversation. Not just that, but Adams continually looked gassed throughout the on-field drills. His stock went down at the Combine.

MLB Offseason Grades – National League Version

MLB Logo

e are less than a month away from Opening Day 2020. This offseason, we’ve seen nearly all of our top 50 free agents sign deals and there were even a few major trades that went down. So while we continue to wait for meaningful baseball games to return, let’s take a look at what each of the 30 teams have done during this rather busy winter to address roster needs and hand out grades for their offseason work.

We’ll break this report card down division by division, focusing on the National League.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: B
Signing Marcell Ozuna on a one-year deal to replace Josh Donaldson was probably the best option Atlanta had after letting Donaldson walk in free agency this winter. The Braves also added lefty Cole Hamels, left-handed reliever Will Smith, first baseman Yonder Alonso, and catcher Travis d’Arnaud. As far as re-signings go, Atlanta will be bringing back catcher Tyler Flowers, Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Darren O’Day and right-hander Josh Tomlin. The Braves also picked up veteran starter Felix Hernandez on a low-risk, high-reward signing. King Felix has looked good so far in spring training.

New York Mets C
Not terrible, but not fantastic either. The Mets lost Zack Wheeler to a division rival, but picked up right-handers Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha to help ease the loss and fill out their rotation. New York also grabbed relief pitcher Dellin Betances and picked up outfielder Jake Marisnick in a trade with the Astros. But otherwise, there weren’t any other standout roster moves.

Washington Nationals: B
The reigning champion Nationals managed to get done the most important task atop of their winter to-do list: re-signing right-hander and 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg. The club signed him to a seven-year, $245 million deal. Getting a deal done was all the more important considering the Nats let third baseman Anthony Rendon walk in free agency. Some of the other offseason moves included Washington agreeing on deals with right-hander Will Harris, catcher Yan Gomes, right-hander Daniel Hudson and infielders Howie Kendrick, Eric Thames, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ryan Zimmerman and Starlin Castro. It’s a veteran group in D.C., much like the one that one the 2019 World Series.

Miami Marlins: C-
With a rebuilding team like the Marlins, who made fairly minimal and minor moves this offseason, normally we’d go with N/A for their grade. But for this winter, we’re going to hand out a grade of a C-. Not great, but at least they tried something. The acquisition of Jonathan Villar from the Orioles could end up being a nice boost to the offense in 2020. On the free agent market, Miami picked up outfielder Corey Dickerson, catcher Francisco Cervelli, right-hander Brandon Kintzler and right-hander Yimi Garcia. The club also picked up former Rays first baseman Jesus Aguilar on waivers.

Philadelphia Phillies: B
The Phillies’ new addition of Zack Wheeler should fare well at the top of the Phillies rotation after Aaron Nola this season. Philadelphia’s other big addition was shortstop Didi Gregorius, who will bump Jean Segura to second base. The team also acquired plenty of veterans who will try to earn roster spots, including left-hander Francisco Liriano, right-hander Anthony Swarzak and infielders Ronald Torreyes, Josh Harrison and Neil Walker. The Phillies be led by manager Joe Girardi, who will return to managing MLB after two years removed from the game. The Phillies made all-around improvements to their club and should be competing with the Braves, Nats and Mets for the NL East title.

NL Central

Pittsburgh Pirates: N/A
Aside from the Pirates’ Starling Marte trade with the Diamondbacks, the club didn’t make any significant signings. In exchange for Marte, Pittsburgh received right-hander Brennan Malone and shortstop Liover Peguero along with $250,000 international money.

Cincinnati Reds: A-
The Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas signings are two huge offensive improvements for the Reds, and they might be a serious contender in 2020. Castellanos and Moustakas both head to Cincy on four-year, $64 million deals. The Reds also signed outfielder Shogo Akiyama out of Japan, left-hander Wade Miley and acquired right-hander Justin Shafer in a trade with the Blue Jays.

Chicago Cubs: F
The Cubs’ offseason included little to no signs of improvement, or even a willingness to improve. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant led the offseason discussion with trade talks, and his arbitration case outcome means that his trade value has only increased. Overall, Chicago only made minor tweaks to its roster, and the team could very well miss the playoffs for the second straight season in 2020. The Cubs signed outfielder Steven Souza Jr., right-hander Jeremy Jeffress and left-hander Tyler Olson. Two of Chicago’s biggest losses this winter included outfielder Nick Castellanos and lefty Cole Hamels.

Milwaukee Brewers: C
Milwaukee made a few solid trades this winter, but the Brewers are still going to be without sluggers Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas next season. In a trade with the Padres, Milwaukee picked up infielder Luis Urias and lefty Eric Lauer. The Brewers also added first baseman Chad Spanberger in a trade with the Blue Jays and catcher Omar Narvaez in a trade with the Mariners. The club signed outfielder Avisail Garcia, first baseman Justin Smoak and left-hander Brett Anderson and will try to reach the playoffs for the third year in a row this season.

St. Louis Cardinals: D
The Cardinals had a pretty disappointing offseason. Losing Marcell Ozuna and Jose Martinez this winter without adding an impact bat to replace them is going to hurt the club. St. Louis did add a lefty in Kwang-Hyun Kim, which the team desperately needed, but overall, it was underwhelming for the reigning NL Central champs.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: B+
The Diamondbacks made their most notable signing after this year’s Winter Meetings with the get of Madison Bumgarner, who agreed to a five-year, $85 million deal. Bumgarner’s going to be the club’s front-end starter, and the 30-year-old should be able to give the club a solid 200 innings (as long as he doesn’t encounter any rodeo-related injuries). The D-Backs’ moves didn’t stop after the Bumgarner signing; they inked outfielder Kole Calhoun to a two-year deal, added veteran right-hander Junior Guerra and right-hander Hector Rondon to their bullpen and acquired outfielder Starling Marte from the Pirates via trade. The moves are solid, and could very well help get Arizona to be a contender for a playoff spot in the NL.

Los Angeles Dodgers: A+
Just when you thought the Dodgers power-packed lineup couldn’t get any stronger, they added former AL MVP Mookie Betts. Los Angeles traded for Betts, along with left-hander David Price, in the winter’s biggest blockbuster. After a dull outing from the Dodgers at the Winter Meetings where they missed out on Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg, the club rebounded their entire offseason with the Betts trade. They were able to acquire one of the game’s best players to add to their already potent roster and a solid veteran starting pitcher to help fill in the rotation gaps.

The Dodgers also successfully made the trade without letting go of either of their top two prospects: Gavin Lux and Dustin May. They’re heading into the 2020 season as the overwhelming favorites to win the National League. It’s World Series or bust in L.A.

Colorado Rockies: F
The Rockies did not actively pursue top free agents, or any other additions for that matter, this winter. It’s not a good look for a club that’s seemingly falling more and more behind the rest of the division. But, even worse than that, Colorado angered its franchise player, star third baseman Nolan Arenado, with the front office’s complacency. The Rockies gave shortstop Trevor Story a two-year extension but there wasn’t much else that can count as a significant move this winter.

San Francisco Giants: C-
The rebuilding giants had a relatively quiet winter. San Francisco acquired infielders Zack Cozart and Will Wilson from the Angels and also signed right-hander Kevin Gausman to a one-year deal worth $9 million. But the team lost franchise icon Madison Bumgarner to the division rival Diamondbacks.

San Diego Padres: B
The up-and-coming Padres are receiving a solid B for their efforts. It likely won’t be enough to push the club to the playoffs, but they should see improvement from their 70-win 2019. Under rookie manager Jayce Tingler, San Diego will welcome the additions of left-hander Drew Pomeranz, outfielders Tommy Pham and Trent Grisham, right-hander Zach Davies and infielder Jurickson Profar. Plus, there’s the fact that the Padres still have a high-quality farm system with many of their top prospects close to getting their promotion to the big leagues.

MLB Offseason Grades – American League Version

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We are less than a month away from Opening Day 2020. This offseason, we’ve seen nearly all of our top 50 free agents sign deals and there were even a few major trades that went down. So while we continue to wait for meaningful baseball games to return, let’s take a look at what each of the 30 teams have done during this rather busy winter to address roster needs and hand out grades for their offseason work.

We’ll break this report card down division by division, starting with the American League.

AL East

Boston Red Sox: F
It has been a steady decline for the Red Sox since their 2018 championship season. After the club missed the postseason last year, Boston has been the subject of a league investigation into its illegal use of technology to steal signs. The Astros sign-stealing scandal cost manager Alex Cora his job and the team has yet to name a permanent replacement, with bench coach Ron Roenicke designated as the Red Sox’s interim manager. On top of the scandal, the Red Sox sent their franchise player, Mookie Betts, to the Dodgers (David Price also headed west in the deal). They received outfielder Alex Verdugo (plus Jeter Downs, Connor Wong and avoided luxury tax penalties), in the return from the trade, but it’s not even close to replacing what they lost on the field. Some of their other moves this winter included adding infielder Jose Peraza, trading catcher Sandy Leon to the Indians for right-hander Adenys Bautista and re-signing first baseman Mitch Moreland and left-hander Martin Perez.

While we wait for the final conclusion and/or punishment from the league for Boston’s alleged 2018 sign-stealing scheme, the club has achieved its goal of staying under the luxury tax. Although, hitting that goal is certainly not a mark worth earning a passing grade in this post, let alone one that’s going to help them win games in 2020.

New York Yankees: A+
The Yankees are leaving this winter with the biggest signing of the offseason — both literally and figuratively — as they signed top free agent Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking $324 million deal. Cole, the Yankees’ “white whale,” should become a permanent fixture as the team’s ace, and the right-hander is going to be an immediate boost to their rotation as the club hopes to return to the World Series for the first time since 2009.

Aside from the Cole signing, the Yankees also brought back outfielder and the longest tenured Yankee, Brett Gardner on a one-year deal. Despite losing shortstop Didi Gregorius to the Phillies via free agency, the Yankees will bring back most of their core in 2020.

Baltimore Orioles: D-
There’s not a whole lot to discuss about the Orioles’ offseason. The rebuilding club made their biggest trade of the winter when they sent Jonathan Villar to the Miami Marlins and got left-hander Easton Lucas in return. Their most notable free agent signing was inking shortstop Jose Iglesias to a one-year, $3 million deal. Other than that, the club made a few other minor trades and Rule 5 gets, but Baltimore will likely be in the same spot as last season: stuck in last place with 100 or more losses.

Toronto Blue Jays: B+
The Blue Jays are really working on setting themselves up for future success. The Jays revamped their rotation to pair with their young core group of position players. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chase Anderson, Tanner Roark and Shun Yamaguchi will all be pitching in Toronto in 2020. There was also the low-risk Travis Shaw signing, who they’ll hope to get a bounce-back season from.

Tampa Bay Rays: C
The Rays didn’t make any huge moves, but they got a few well-balanced trades and signings done this winter to improve. They’ll likely be successful again next season, falling somewhere in the near 90 wins once again, but it’s going to be tough for the club to get far in the postseason. A quick round up of Tampa Bay’s moves: signed free agent Yoshitomo Tsutsugo from Japan on a two-year, $12 million deal, traded outfielder Tommy Pham to the Padres for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and top prospect shortstop Xavier Edwards, acquired Jose Martinez from the Cardinals, and traded for outfielder Manuel Margot from the Padres in exchange for reliever Emilio Pagan.

AL Central

Cleveland Indians: D
The Indians sent longtime ace Corey Kluber to the Rangers, and barely made any significant additions this winter. All the while, star shortstop Francisco Lindor was mentioned in trade rumors but appears set to open another season in Cleveland. The Indians signed both second baseman Cesar Hernandez and outfielder Domingo Santana to one-year deals. In return for Kluber, the Indians received right-hander Emmanuel Clase and outfielder Delino DeShields. While the White Sox and Twins improved for the 2020 season, Cleveland is going to struggle in a division where it won three straight titles from 2016 to 2018.

Chicago White Sox: A
There’s a lot to like from the White Sox’s moves this offseason. They signed top free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal, left-hander Dallas Keuchel, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, left-hander Gio Gonzalez and right-hander Steve Cishek. The club also acquired outfielder Nomar Mazara via trade with the Rangers. Their 2019-20 winter moves might just be enough for them to dethrone the Twins in the AL Central — or at least get to the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Kansas City Royals: N/A
Not much to discuss regarding the rebuilding Royals. They signed reliever Trevor Rosenthal to a minor league deal, signed third baseman Maikel Franco to a one-year deal and brought back Alex Gordon on a one-year deal.

Minnesota Twins: A
The Twins may very well win the AL Central once again. They re-tooled their rotation (re-signed Michael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi; signed Rich Hill and Homer Bailey, traded for Kenta Maeda) this offseason. Their strategy in 2020, however, might just be to out-slug opponents. The Josh Donaldson signing certainly helps in that department. He’ll join a lineup that includes five players with at least 30+ home runs: designated hitter Nelson Cruz (41), right fielder Max Kepler (36), third baseman Miguel Sano (34), left fielder Eddie Rosario (32) and catcher Mitch Garver (31). Donaldson, 34, himself hit .259/.379/.521 with 37 homers in 2019 with the Braves.

Detroit Tigers: N/A
It was a quiet winter in Detroit, one so dormant it doesn’t warrant a grade. The Tigers signed first baseman C.J. Cron, right-hander Ivan Nova and catcher Austin Romine. It will probably be another long summer in Motown.

AL West

Texas Rangers: B
The Rangers’ moves should be enough to keep them competitive in 2020, and at the very least, they’ll keep things interesting in the AL West. Texas will enter the season with a rotation that includes the new additions of Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. Plus, they signed left-hander Joely Rodriguez, catcher Robinson Chirinos and third baseman Todd Frazier. Those moves could be enough to end the club’s streak of three straight sub-.500 seasons.

Seattle Mariners: N/A
Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto didn’t continue his 2018-19 offseason trend of nonstop trades, therefore there’s not a whole lot to talk about. Seattle did trade catcher Omar Narvaez to Brewers for right-hander Adam Hill and a draft pick and they acquired left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. from the Yankees in exchange for international signing bonus pool money, but that’s about it.

Los Angeles Angels: B
After losing out in the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes, the Angels managed to sign the best position player on the market in Anthony Rendon. He’ll be a huge upgrade for the Angels lineup, one that already includes Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. The Angels might not have fully addressed their lack of pitching depth, but when you combine the Rendon signing with the less splashy Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy signings, it’s still a productive offseason for the Angels.

Houston Astros: F
Where to start? The sign-stealing scandal? The lack of remorse for aforementioned sign-scandal? It was a mess and a half of an offseason for the Astros, and based on opponents’ reactions, their role of baseball’s villains will likely continue through the 2020 season. On the front office side of things, the Astros lost their GM and manager in the fallout of the sscandal. Dusty Baker and James Click were chosen to take the available jobs

In terms of their roster, there’s the obvious loss of Gerrit Cole as well as right-hander Will Harris, outfielder Jake Marisnick, right-hander Collin McHugh, right-hander Wade Miley and right-hander Aaron Sanchez. Houston did re-sign catcher Martin Maldonado after losing catcher Robinson Chirinos to the Rangers and added a trio of right-handers in Jared Hughes, Austin Pruitt and Joe Smith.

Oakland Athletics: C
Per usual, the A’s were not involved in any talks for the big free agents this winter. While the spending stayed sparse, Oakland managed to pick up outfielder Buddy Reed and catcher Austin Allen in the Jurickson Profar trade with the Padres and traded for Tony Kemp from the Cubs. Oakland also signed left-hander Jake Diekman to a two-year, $7.5 million deal. It’s decent, but probably not enough to hang with the Angels and Rangers in 2020.

What do you think of the grades? Do you agree or disagree?