Last season the Washington Nationals surprised the baseball world by finishing with 98 wins and the best record in the league.
The season ended in disappointment, however, as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Nationals in five games in the National League Division Series.
Washington should be a force again this season after having the best offseason in all of baseball.
It started with the re-signing of first baseman Adam LaRoche. The veteran infielder hit a team high 33 home runs and 100 RBI in 2012.
The Nationals also went out and made a big splash with additions to its already stacked roster.
In November, Washington acquired Denard Span from the Twins, who will start in centerfield and bring speed to the top of the lineup.
A month later the team signed veteran right-hander Dan Haren. Haren will bolster the Nationals’ already great pitching staff and should be a good mentor for Washington’s young pitchers.
Finally, the team concluded its offseason by agreeing to a monster deal with former New York Yankees closer Rafael Soriano. The deal was worth $28 million over two seasons.
Soriano should pair well with Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen to give the Nationals the best bullpen on paper in all of baseball.
There is little doubt Washington had the best offseason in baseball and should be the favorites in the National League this season.
If a team has a really strong offseason, they should have significantly upgraded their chances of contending for a championship.
That’s exactly what the Toronto Blue Jays did. They’re a team that hasn’t won their division since 1993, and just went from fighting for third place in the American League East to World Series contenders.
The Blue Jays added National League Cy Young winner and 20-game winner R.A. Dickey, not to mention both Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to their pitching rotation. All three have previously been All-Stars, and Toronto turned one of their weaknesses into one of the best in baseball.
On offense, Toronto gets one of the most exciting players in all of baseball with Jose Reyes and would be NL batting champion Melky Cabrera, if he didn’t get caught taking performance-enhancing drugs.
The Blue Jays were already building a strong team in the past with young stars, like Brett Lawrie, mixed with great players like outfielder Jose Bautista, who led all of MLB in home runs during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
I don’t understand how any other team can make an argument that they had a better offseason than the Blue Jays. In the toughest division in baseball, the Blue Jays likely moved this offseason from chumps to champs.