It might've been easy to miss given the flurry of moves the Red Sox and Dave Dombrowski made this past offseason, but some of the other teams in the American League East have been pretty active themselves, shoring up their own weaknesses and, in some cases, building on strengths as well. And as with any offseason, these moves often come in flurries, one move leading to another, and making them all that much easier to miss.
But as spring training nears, the offseason really starts to slow down as players get ready to report to Florida or Arizona. Several new arrivals will be reporting to camp for divisional rivals, and even when you look past David Price and Craig Kimbrel, some pretty notable names will be putting on new uniforms this year.
Among all of the players coming into the AL East this year, here are the ones who are projected to put up at least 0.5 fWAR in 2016 according to Steamer.
Brad Miller: 2.0
J.A. Happ: 1.7
Jesse Chavez: 1.6
Aroldis Chapman: 1.4
Starlin Castro: 1.3
Aaron Hicks: 0.9
Drew Storen: 0.6
Mark Trumbo 0.6
Hank Conger: 0.5
Among the players setting up shop in the division, here are the guys that figure to make a major impact on their teams in some form or another:
The Rays always seem to find a way to revive the careers of players who have fallen off in performance over the past few seasons. Since debuting with the Mariners in 2013 and posting just under 2 fWAR in just half a season, Miller's performance has fallen off while playing in a larger sample size of games. After playing in the spacious Safeco Field in his entire career, the move to Tropicana figures to help out Miller's offensive numbers. While playing shortstop, Miller was inconsistent in both the field and at the plate and was relegated to a backup role after Ketel Marte emerged as the starting shortstop for the Mariners. He figures to be a good bounceback candidate with a change of scenery.
With the departure of David Price, the Blue Jays brought back J.A. Happ, who had a strong overall season in 2015, on a three-year, $36 million contract. Happ spent 2012-14 in Toronto and was traded to the Mariners for Michael Saunders before being dealt to the Pirates at the trade deadline. With the Pirates, Happ posted a 1.85 ERA and played a pivotal role in the team making the playoffs. Happ could help stabilize the rotation even if he returns closer to career norms.
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Another returning player, Chavez has made his way back to Toronto after spending some time with the Oakland Athletics. Chavez is a middle-of-the-road pitcher who will try to help fill the void left by Price and Mark Buehrle. He's not going to be a star, by any measure or stretch of the imagination, but Chavez will eat up innings and be a relatively stable force, at best in the rotation, and at worst in the bullpen. Chavez posted his best fWAR last season, but expecting anything more than about one-and-a-half would really be a stretch.
Aroldis Chapman, of course, is not the sort of player you want to speak well of. It feels bad, and not in the way it feels when you begrudgingly give respect to any talented Yankee. But it's hard to deny the impact the 27-year-old hurler makes at the end of games. Chapman throws baseballs really hard, and hitters have a really hard time hitting those baseballs. Combined with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, the trio figures to be one of the best bullpens in baseball history on paper. Over the past four seasons, Champan has averaged over 2.5 fWAR. It would be surprising to see him come in too far off that mark next season, even if the projections have him pegged quite a bit lower.
Castro is still just 25 years old and has at times in his short career looked like one of the better shortstops in baseball. By any measure, Castro will be an improvement over old Red Sox friend Stephen Drew, who never managed to produce for the Yankees like he did in his one season in Boston. Castro, who struggled at shortstop last year, moved to second base, which coincided with a bump in offensive production, when he hit .353 with six home runs with a .961 OPS. It was only four years ago that Castro posted an fWAR over 3 and was considered one of the most promising rising young stars in baseball.
Simply put, among the top acquisitions in the division, Chapman is not only the biggest name, but figures to be the safest bet to put up numbers similar to the rest of his career. While Miller, Happ, Chavez and Castro have all been, at the very least, decent players at the major league level, Chapman is the only one who's been able to consistently put up big numbers in his role. Chapman's acquisition will not only affect how the Yankees manage the end of games, but it will also play a major role in how teams attack starting pitchers to avoid seeing the three-headed beast of Chapman - Miller - Betances.