The 2016 season should be an exciting one for the Chicago Cubs, and the team has transacted accordingly. The Cubs have committed the most dollars to free agents this offseason – $276 million for four guys – and they’ve made one significant trade – Starlin Castro to the New York Yankees for Adam Warren – already.
With the Brewers and Reds clearly rebuilding, the Pirates’ small market tendencies, and the Cardinals relatively subdued offseason, though, the NL Central has been suspiciously quiet this winter. Still, every team has made moves to improve, and each of those moves will create an impact.
In order to identify which teams’ move was the most impactful, Cassavell took each team’s projected win total and subtracted the projected production of their biggest acquisition. The result in the NL Central should come to no surprise: Jason Heyward to the Chicago Cubs was the most impactful move of the division.
Each division has their own most impactful move, and some are actually quite surprising, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, I’d like to bring up a very interesting hypothetical that Cassavell calls to our attention.
In 2016, the Cubs are projected for 94 wins, the Cardinals for 84 and Jason Heyward is projected to be worth precisely 5.1 WAR. Meaning that, had Heyward resigned with the Cardinals, and had each team’s alternative been a replacement-level player, both teams would have been projected to finish with 89 wins, exactly. Of course, this is all projections and hypotheticals, but it serves to remind you how important of an addition Heyward has actually been. We know his final decision didn’t come down to just two teams (and the Cubs could have made other moves, as well), but the Cardinals were heavily involved in bidding. Thinking about it as a 10-game swing is pretty interesting.For more on Heyward to the Cubs and the other most impactful division additions, check out the article here at MLB.com. One of the oddest decisions comes from the AL East, where Cassavell identifies Aroldis Chapman as the biggest impact move. Of course, David Price is a bigger overall increase (by WAR, especially), but even without Price, the Red Sox would remain the favorites for the division. So, the addition of Chapman, according to Cassavell, takes the cake.
It’s an imprecise, but interesting read, so I encourage you to give it a shot. And hey, anything that has the Cubs on top is worth your time, right?