Which MLB player – or team – will take full advantage of the most expensive off-season in history?
An excess of $3 billion in contracts was handed out to players by Major League Baseball teams this off-season.
A number of marquee names found new homes since the Houston Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series last November to cap off the 2022 MLB season, but which player – or team – will take full advantage of the most expensive off-season in MLB history?
The player to receive the biggest contract with a new team in the 2022-23 MLB off-season was shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who signed an 11-year deal worth $280 million with the San Diego Padres after spending his first 10 seasons in Boston.
The 30-year-old joins a star-studded and expensive infield and forms likely the best left-side infield pairing in the major leagues with Manny Machado at third – who also received an 11-year, $350 million contract extension this off-season.
The Padres also acquired pitchers Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo from Boston and the New York Mets, respectively, as well as third baseman / utilityman Matt Carpenter, who played with the New York Yankees last year.
San Diego earned a wild-card berth last year with an 89-73 record, but fell to the Phillies in the NL Championship Series.
Meanwhile, the story of the off-season was the Mets, whose total active payroll at the beginning of the 2023 season is over $345 million, which is far beyond the Competitive Balance Tax threshhold of $233 million.
They gave mega-deals to pitcher Justin Verlander (2 years, $86.66 million) and Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga (5 years, $75 million), as well as big extensions to closer Edwin Diaz (5 years, $102 million) and outfielder Brandon Nimmo (8 years, $162 million).
The Mets earned a wild-card berth last year with a 101-61 record, and proceeded to lose their wild-card series against the Padres.
Despite losing pitchers Jacob deGrom (who signed with the Texas Rangers) and Lugo, they figure to improve upon their earned runs allowed average of 3.57 from last season, which was seventh in the majors, and make another run at a World Series pennant.
The Phillies surprised a lot of people when they reached the World Series after qualifying for the third wild-card spot with just 87 wins last season, but they made some big moves in the off-season to try to repeat that trip in 2023.
Philadelphia's biggest acquisition of the off-season was shortstop Trea Turner, who has finished in the top 11 in NL MVP voting three straight seasons, who signed an 11-year, $300 million contract.
He shores up a major weakness in the Phillies lineup, as time was split at shortstop between rookie Bryson Stott (.653 OPS last year, where the league average was .706), veteran Didi Gregorius (.567 OPS) and Johan Camargo (.613 OPS) in 2022.
They also acquired a lot of bullpen arms, signing Craig Kimbrel and Matt Strahm and trading for Gregory Soto from the Detroit Tigers, as well as Taijuan Walker for the starting rotation.
The Toronto Blue Jays entered the off-season with seemingly three major goals: upgrade the outfield defence, improve the bullpen and find more left-handed bats for the lineup.
In signing Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Belt, as well as trading to acquire Daulton Varsho, they were able to add three left-handed bats with a lot of Major League experience.
They also acquired pitchers Erik Swanson and Chad Green for bullpen support. Additionally, they signed pitcher Chris Bassitt to a three-year, $63 million deal to bolster the rotation.
With the trades of both Teoscar Hernandez (to the Seattle Mariners) and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (to the Arizona Diamondbacks), the outfield defence should look a lot stronger with Kiermaier (3x Gold Glove winner) and Varsho in their spots.
Toronto finished their season with a 92-70 record to earn an AL wild-card spot, and they were bounced from the playoffs by the Seattle Mariners in two games.
Other notable moves include former Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson joining the Chicago Cubs, and Carlos Rodon joining the New York Yankees.