How Have Off-Season Transactions Influenced MLB Futures?
The first MLB Spring Training games start next week after an incredibly busy off-season that was filled with player movement. According to ESPN’s free agent tracker, the four best available players all signed with new teams. Jason Heyward left St. Louis for Chicago, Zach Greinke left Los Angeles for Arizona, David Price left Toronto for Boston and Justin Upton left San Diego for Detroit.
All four of these players received new deals that exceeded six-years and $130 million, but those weren’t the only landscape-changing transactions. The Diamondbacks bolstered their rotation by trading away their top prospect for Shelby Miller. The White Sox sent the Reds three highly-touted prospects for Todd Frazier. Three of the games top closers were also dealt with the Red Sox acquisition of Craig Kimbrel, the Yankees acquisition of Aroldis Chapman and the Astros acquisition of Ken Giles.
These moves have had tremendous impact on the World Series Futures at 5Dimes. The Cubs, Giants, Red Sox and Diamondbacks have been among the biggest risers while the Angels, Marlins and Padres were among the biggest fallers.
Bettors can view the future movement for their favorite team by searching the table below.
|Team||Feb 23 (5Dimes)||Jan 14 (5Dimes)||Nov 9 (5Dimes)||2015 Record|
With the baseball season right around the corner, we wanted to know what type of impact these moves made on the futures market. The list below examines the five most interesting moves, and analyzes the key off-season additions and subtractions.
Chicago Cubs (+1,050 to +650)
- Additions: RF Jason Heyward (eight years, $184 million), SP John Lackey (two years, $32 million), 2B/OF Ben Zobrist (four years, $56 million)
- Subtractions: RP Jason Motte (Rockies), CF Austin Jackson (Unsigned), CF Dexter Fowler (Unsigned), SP Dan Haren (Retired)
When MLB futures were first posted in early November, the Cubs were listed with the second best odds of winning the World Series (trailing only the Toronto Blue Jays). However, the team shelled out a historic deal for Jason Heyward who was the number one ranked free agent according to ESPN. Their addition of Ben Zobrist gives the team much needed versatility and their signing of John Lackey beefs up an already impressive rotation.
San Francisco Giants (+2,300 to +910)
- Additions: SP Johnny Cueto (six years, $130 million), SP Jeff Samardzija (five years, $90 million), CF Denard Span (three years, $31 million)
- Subtractions: SP Mike Leake (Cardinals), LF Alejandro De Aza (Mets), LF Nori Aoki (Mariners)
The Giants entered the off-season with the 14th best odds of winning the World Series, putting them firmly in the middle of the pack. Although their loss of Mike Leake hurts, they were still able to improve their rotation with the additions of Cueto and Samardzija — particularly if “Shark” can bounce back after struggling in the American League. The addition of Span is the quintessential Giants move — an undervalued player who should provide stability at the top of the lineup.
Arizona Diamondbacks (+7,500 to +2,600)
- Additions: SP Zack Greinke (six years, $206.5 million), SP Shelby Miller (via trade), Tyler Clippard (two years, $12.25 million)
- Subtractions: C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Tigers)
The Diamondbacks arguably overpaid for both Greinke and Miller, but it’s tough to argue against their remarkable improvement for the upcoming season. Their acquisition of Clippard should help stabilize the bullpen, but there are still question marks offensively.
Paul Goldschmidt is one the league’s top three hitters and AJ Pollock emerged as an elite player last season, but there are still significant question marks on the left side of the infield. It’s also interesting to see that oddsmakers initially overvalued the D’Backs by moving them to +1500 before settling in at +2600.
Boston Red Sox (+1,800 to +1,015)
- Additions: SP David Price (seven years, $217 million), RP Craig Kimbrel (via trade), OF Chris Young (two years, $13 million)
- Subtractions: SP Rich Hill (Athletics)
Last season the Red Sox finished the season with the league’s third-highest payroll and the sixth-worst team ERA. Their solution? More spending. Boston gave free agent David Price the largest contract for any pitcher in MLB history — $2 million more than the deal signed by Clayton Kershaw in 2014. They also dealt four prospects (included two of their premier prospects) to the San Diego Padres for Craig Kimbrel. Those additions (along with the Chris Young signing) bring the Red Sox 2016 total payroll to a whopping $192 million.
It’s interesting to note that they didn’t just strengthen their roster by adding Price; they also weakened their main rival in the AL East — the Toronto Blue Jays. After losing their ace, the Jays dropped from +1000 to +1550 — the seventh best odds in baseball.
Los Angeles Angels (+2,000 to +4,000)
- Additions: C Geovany Soto (one year, $2.8 million), SS Andrelton Simmons (via trade)
- Subtractions: SP Mat Latos (one year, $3 million), C Chris Iannetta (Mariners), 3B David Freese (Unsigned), SS Erick Aybar (Braves)
The Angels were expected to be one of the most active teams this off-season, but they failed to make any significant moves. After doling out a combined $442.5 million to free agents Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, owner Arte Moreno opted to tighten his spending.
At various points during the winter, the Angels were linked to Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes. There were also rumblings that Orioles 1B Chris Davis would be the perfect left-handed complement to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, but alas, the team was unable to make a splash.
Oddsmakers were clearly assuming the Los Angeles would be one of the big spenders this off-season, so their inactivity is responsible for the massive slide from +2000 to +4000. Adding Simmons was a nice under-the-radar move, but this team needed to make moves to surround Trout with move talent.
There are legitimate question marks surrounding this pitching rotation and has an obvious hole in left field. Barring a major trade, it’s tough to see this team competing for the World Series this season.
Spring Training starts next Tuesday, so make sure to bookmark our free MLB odds page for the latest odds, trends, injuries and futures. We also encourage readers to sign up for Bet Labs to start creating their betting systems before the start of the season.
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David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com