Baseball is Back: The Offseason Recap

Sean Wu // The Watchdog

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting longer, the smell of spring optimism is in the air, and baseball season is just around the corner. With the calendar flipped to March, there are less than three weeks until the first “Play Ball!” of 2024 ushers in a new MLB season and fans get to see the fruits of a very consequential off-season.

Coincidence or not, it seems only fitting that the first two teams to play, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, were involved in some of the biggest moves made this off-season. First and foremost, the Dodgers signed two way star Shohei Ohtani to the largest contract by total value in North American sports history (10 years, $700 million). They followed this up by inking Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the most lucrative deal ever given to a pitcher (12 years, $325 million). This amount of spending, which dwarfed efforts by every other team in the MLB, signified a direction opposite to that of one pursued by San Diego. The Padres, who were looking to clear some financial flexibility, made a splash of their own by trading all-star outfielder Juan Soto to the New York Yankees.

Looking more locally, the Seattle Mariners decided to pursue an off-season strategy in the same vein as San Diego’s. General manager Justin Hollander and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto made a series of trades that would increase payroll flexibility in the immediate and near future: Outfielder Jarred Kelenic, starting pitcher Marco Gonzales and first baseman Evan White were traded for pitchers Jackson Kowar and Cole Phillips, third baseman Eugenio Suarez was traded for catcher Seby Savala and pitcher Carlos Vargas, and pitcher Robbie Ray was traded for outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitcher Anthony DeSclafani.

So far the new-look Mariners haven’t fared too well, as shown by their 2-9 record in Spring Training Games, though it’s worth noting that the World Series winning Texas Rangers went 13-15 in Spring Training games last year. Fans looking forward to watching games with real implications will get their chance on March 28, when the Mariners take on the Boston Red Sox at home.