NL grades: Which team had the best offseason?

With baseball’s offseason dealings all but complete, USA TODAY Sports examines the moves of all 30 teams. The grades for the National League:

A

Los Angeles Dodgers: They largely treaded water, yet retaining Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner and Rich Hill patched holes before they could form. Logan Forsythe rounds out an outstanding infield, and the depth in the outfield and rotation is bordering on absurd.

A-

St. Louis Cardinals: They extended a bit for Dexter Fowler, guaranteeing the 30-year-old $82.5 million, but he will galvanize the lineup and defense. Much more low key but almost as crucial: landing lefty Brett Cecil, whose versatility will be welcomed in the bullpen.

B+

Colorado Rockies: So what if Ian Desmond is an odd fit at first base? The Rockies brought in a great bat, a great athlete and a great dude to an emerging squad. Greg Holland and Mike Dunn should shore up the bullpen nicely.

San Francisco Giants: There were abundant opportunities to upgrade in left field and at second base. But when you urgently need a closer and land Mark Melancon — for $18 million less than your rival spent for Jansen — you’ve largely achieved your offseason objectives.

B

Philadelphia Phillies: Solid work augmenting a slowly forming core with a handful of short-term veterans who will head off soul-crushing losses and help the club chart a course toward .500. Starter Jeremy Hellickson accepted the $17.2 million qualifying offer, which was a mild surprise, but he also can be flipped at the trade deadline if he’s healthy. Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick are steady, low-risk investments.

Cincinnati Reds: Finally persuading Brandon Phillips to depart was a significant win, as it advanced opportunities for a trove of young infielders, most notably Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera. Drew Storen is not a bad buy-low relief option, particularly if Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen can hold down the late-inning, high-leverage roles.

New York Mets: Yoenis Cespedes loves New York. This offseason, that was enough.

Washington Nationals: All’s well that ends well. The last-minute signing of Joe Blanton boosts a bullpen that now should have enough to cover the late innings. Derek Norris and Matt Wieters are an intriguing catching duo. And Adam Eaton lengthens the lineup and improves the outfield defense.

B-

Miami Marlins: Edinson Volquez and Dan Straily were summoned to help fill the on-field void created by Jose Fernandez’s death. Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa join the bullpen. Otherwise, a fairly solid lineup returns intact.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Bonus points for not selling low on Andrew McCutchen and deftly — or so it seems — handling the difficult task of moving him to right field. Otherwise, reliever Daniel Hudson is the most notable addition to a team that slid below .500.

C+

Atlanta Braves: It’s time to inhabit a new stadium, so that means it’s time to trot out some recognizable names. Yet R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon and Phillips might not tangibly improve a 68-win club that much.

Chicago Cubs: Quibbling with the Cubs roster is like saying the Ferrari could have a more aesthetically pleasing air freshener. Still, you wonder if the back end of the rotation will stay strong with Brett Anderson following John Lackey and Mike Montgomery lurking in the swing role. Jon Jay will make a fine center-field platoon with Albert Almora, but he won’t replace all that Dexter Fowler brought to Wrigley Field.

C

Arizona Diamondbacks: OK, so they didn’t match the disaster of last winter. But their centerpiece deal imported starter Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners, which means they’re merely inheriting a ceiling he has yet to reach. Fernando Rodney will anchor what should be an improved bullpen.

Milwaukee Brewers: Kudos to GM David Stearns if the relatively low-risk signing of Eric Thames out of South Korea pans out over the next three years, particularly since it saves a few bucks this year after they non-tendered 40-homer first baseman Chris Carter. For now, they remain a 73-win team that didn’t do much to improve.

C-

San Diego Padres: Tasked with essentially building a rotation from scratch, the Padres rolled the dice with Jered Weaver, Jhoulys Chacin and Trevor Cahill, who moves back to a starting role after reviving his career as a reliever.

source:usatoday.com

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