Major League Baseball Spring Training has kicked off, meaning that real baseball games are just around the corner. The teams have more than a month of practices and exhibition games to go before the regular season gets going, but the excitement for a new season is palpable already.
This offseason was full of significant transactions that have changed the baseball landscape, bringing new faces to new teams. Let’s take a look at the three free agents who joined new teams that are set to have the biggest impacts on their new squads.
Anthony Rendon: Los Angeles Angels
The Angels signed arguably the biggest free agent of the winter, locking up third baseman Anthony Rendon for the next seven years at a cost of $245 million.
The Orange County club has underachieved since Mike Trout, the best baseball player in the world, debuted as a full-time player in 2012, making the playoffs once since then. Rendon should help them get closer to that goal and provide Trout with much-needed lineup support.
Rendon has hit at least 25 home runs and batted .300 for the last three seasons. At age 29, he is at his peak and should help the Angels become a playoff threat.
Gerrit Cole: New York Yankees
Gerrit Cole escaped the mess that is the Houston Astros organization this offseason for the Bronx, inking the richest contract in the history of baseball for a pitcher.
Cole turned the Yankees from merely one of the best teams in the league into a World Series favorite. The 2019 AL Cy Young Award winner turned into one of the premier pitchers in the game while in Houston, recording a sub-2.90 ERA and 275 or more strikeouts the past two seasons.
If Cole can successfully navigate the hitter-friendly combines of Yankee Stadium, he could be the missing piece that leads the Yankees to their first World Series title since 2009.
Marcell Ozuna: Atlanta Braves
Marcell Ozuna was an underrated name on this offseason’s list of free agents. Why? The Dominican-born outfielder had a slightly down 2019 season, batting .240 and 29 home runs while struggling with bad luck with a .257 BABIP.
Ozuna did, however, show plate discipline improvement that should make him one of the premier power hitters in baseball in 2020 if he continues to mash home runs. His signing represents a huge upgrade for the Braves, who have had Nick Markakis entrenched in the left-field position that their new signing is expected to occupy.
Adding Ozuna to a lineup that already has Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, and MVP candidate Ronald Acuña Jr. turns the Braves into World Series contenders if their young pitching staff can continue to make strides forward.