Spring training: Offseason deals bring teams a new look

2013-02-10T00:00:00Z Spring training: Offseason deals bring teams a new lookThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Before heading to Florida for his 50th season in professional baseball, Jim Leyland thought about all the deals that were made since he walked off the field as the World Series ended last October.

"Toronto probably was the big boy in the offseason as far as the moves they made," the Detroit Tigers manager said. "That's going to be just one heck of a division, obviously."

In Florida and Arizona, bats and balls will be broken out this week when teams report for spring training - extra early because of the third World Baseball Classic.

A whole lot of movement took place in the offseason free-agent market.

While the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels flashed their cash, putting Zack Greinke in Dodger blue and Josh Hamilton in Orange County red, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos flipped players in the trade market as if they were baseball cards.

NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey was acquired from the Mets, and 2011 NL batting champion Jose Reyes arrived with pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson from Miami.

The Atlanta Braves were busy this winter bringing in brothers B.J. and Justin Upton to play alongside each other in a stacked outfield.

The Washington Nationals, who brought postseason baseball to the nation's capital last year for the first time since 1933, look primed for a run at the World Series. They re-signed Adam LaRoche and added Dan Haren, Denard Span and Rafael Soriano to a deep and talented roster highlighted by young phenoms Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

At the other end of the spectrum, Houston, which hosts Texas in the March 31 major league opener, stripped down as it moved into the American League and left itself with just five players on the big league roster who have three seasons or more in the majors.

The San Francisco Giants had the most convivial offseason after sweeping Detroit to win their second World Series title in three seasons following a 56-year drought. San Francisco kept its core together, re-signing outfielder Angel Pagan, infielder Marco Scutaro and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt for a combined $78 million.

Six new managers will be in the dugouts: Toronto's John Gibbons, Boston's John Farrell, Cleveland's Terry Francona, Colorado's Walt Weiss, Houston's Bo Porter and Miami's Mike Redmond.

Entering his third season as Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly will be expected to at least lead Los Angeles to its first postseason appearance since 2009. The Dodgers have boosted their payroll to $215 million-plus.

Down Interstate-5, the Angels gave Hamilton the biggest free-agent deal of the offseason for a position player, a $125 million, five-year contract that puts him in a batting order that already included Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.

Oakland won the division despite baseball's lowest payroll at $59.5 million and came within a victory of reaching the AL championship series.

The Yankees, wanting to get under the $189 million tax threshold in 2014, allowed Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez, Russell Martin and Eric Chavez to leave as free agents - they totaled 80 of New York's team-record 245 home runs.

The Red Sox obtained closer Joel Hanrahan from Pittsburgh and signed Ryan Dempster, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew.

"Coming off a 93-loss season," general manager Ben Cherington said, "we've got a lot to prove."

Key dates

• Tuesday: Pitchers and catchers report

• Friday: Position players report

• March 17: D'backs vs. Padres at Kino Stadium, 1:05 p.m.

• March 21: Cubs. vs. Dodgers at Kino Stadium, 1:05 p.m.

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