Barring any additional moves over the next couple weeks, the Washington Nationals appear to be done building the 2016 roster for now, so looking back, what was the best move Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nats' front office made this winter?
The Nationals started the offseason determined to rebuild the bullpen and get a little more left-handed in the lineup, which they accomplished. Was it enough?
Let's take a look back at the signings and trades and vote on which one will have the most impact going forward?
Replacing Matt Williams on the bench with Dusty Baker:
One year you're the NL Manager of the Year. One disappointing postseason and one drama-filled disappointment of a 2015 campaign later, you're being replaced on the bench by your former manager and mentor. Matt Williams' two-year tenure in D.C. ended this winter and the Nationals made the decision to hire Dusty Baker.
"This is my fourth and final team and beyond compare, this is the best talent," Baker told reporters at his introductory press conference.
"That's why I was excited about coming here and most of the other teams that I had were either on the bottom or near the bottom and had to rebuild from the bottom.
"I asked a friend of mine," Baker said, "'How come I always get teams and have to build them up?' And he said, 'Dusty, you do more with less,' and I told him that I was ready to do more with more. So, I'd like to try that. They've got some great talent here. They have young talent here. It's a mixture of youth and experience at the same time and I've always liked that formula."
"I loved the way he handled his players," Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo explained.
"He's very close with several people I'm very close with, so I kind of knew him indirectly and he was a guy that would really be a benefit to a veteran baseball club that we believe is ready to win. So it was kind of a very comfortable match."
Trade: Yunel Escobar to the LAA for Trevor Gott and Michael Brady
The first big trade of the offseason was the deal that sent one year of team control of Yunel Escobar to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in return for relievers Trevor Gott and Michael Brady.
Trading Escobar, Rizzo told reporters, was a tough decision, but one that made sense.
Escobar looked like a potential sell-high candidate after the 33-year-old infielder put up a .314/.375/.415 line with 25 doubles and nine home runs in 139 games and 591 plate appearances in a 2.1 fWAR campaign. He was under contract for $7M in 2016 with a club option for 2017 at $7M or a $1M buyout.
"Yuni was a great teammate for us," Rizzo said after the trade.
"He had a terrific year and with the shifting around of Anthony Rendon back to third base, we figured if we could get a good return for Yuni this year that we would go ahead and make a trade and we thought that we did very well in the swap for two very good right-handed relief pitchers."
Gott, 23, debuted in the majors last season in LA, putting up a 3.02 ERA, a 3.74 FIP, 16 walks (3.02 BB/9) and 27 Ks (5.10 K/9) in 47 ⅔ innings.
"Gott is a very aggressive, young, controllable right-handed pitcher," Rizzo said after the deal. "He's got mid-to-upper 90s velocity. He's got good movement on his fastball. We took a good look at his delivery and the way he attacks hitters and it was something that we really liked and we think that he's going to be a major factor for us, not only this year, but down the road too."
Brady, 28, pitched at Double-A in the Angels' system in 2015, going (7-7) with a 3.77 ERA, a 2.87 FIP, 12 walks (0.91 BB/9) and 113 Ks (8.52 K/9) in 119 ⅓ IP.
Free Agent Signing: Nationals sign Shawn Kelley to a 3-year/$15M deal
Coming off a 2015 campaign with the San Diego Padres in which he was (2-2) with a 2.45 ERA, a 2.57 FIP, 15 walks (2.63 BB/9) and 63 Ks (11.05 K/9) in 51 ⅓ IP, Shawn Kelley signed a 3-year/$15M deal with the Nats on December 11th.
Kelley, 31, said he wanted to pitch for a team he knew was going to compete, "...and not just trying to get into the playoffs, not just hoping, I wanted to go somewhere where they're talking about possibly contending for a World Series. Probably don't have that many years left to pitch, I've already pitched seven, I'm 31, and I want to go somewhere for a few years where I've got a chance maybe to get a ring and that's really all I have left to do that I really want to do."
"Kelley is another aggressive right-handed pitcher that attacks hitters," Rizzo told reporters.
"He's got a really good sinking fastball and a wipeout slider and a guy that's pitched leverage innings for different teams, proved that he could do it in big markets like New York City and was great with the Padres.
"So we liked what we saw when he pitched against us at times and scouts really liked his demeanor and his aggressive nature on the mound."
Is Kelley the set-up man the Nationals were looking for but failed to find after trading Tyler Clippard to get Escobar last winter?
Free Agent Signing: Nationals sign Oliver Perez to a 2-year/$7M deal
Oliver Perez turned his career around after a season in the Nationals' minor league system in 2011 when he made the transition to full-time relief work and he rejoined the organization this winter on a 2-year/$7M deal.
"He's a veteran presence," Rizzo said. "A guy that's had two really, really good seasons. A person that knows several of the players, that will fit into the clubhouse and give you a really good left-on-left guy, and if he falls back to where he was two years ago, he was good against both sides of the plate. He gives a good veteran arm to go with some of our young electric arms and we feel that he'll be a good fit for us."
Perez told reporters at Nationals WinterFest that he adjusted well to the late-inning lefty role and liked the challenge of getting big outs.
"I think the way I pitch right now is trying to change delivery, like arm slot, because I'm going to face a guy only one time," he explained.
"When you're a starter, you might face him three times and in that time they can figure out where's your arm slot and what pitch you have better.
"In the bullpen, they have to figure it out in probably one pitch. So that's why a reliever might have an advantage in the at bat so that's why you have to be positive and throw strikes and try to get out of the situation in probably less than three pitches."
Free Agent Signing: Nationals sign Yusmeiro Petit to a 1-year/$3M deal
Yusmeiro Petit's fourth season with the San Francisco Giants in 2015 ended with the veteran right-hander (1-1) in 42 games with a 3.67 ERA, a 4.09 FIP, 15 walks (1.78 BB/9) and 59 Ks (6.99 K/9) in 76 innings.
Petit, 31, signed a one-year free agent deal with the Nationals on December 14th.
Rizzo told reporters the veteran right-hander made sense as a middle relief option after the Nationals non-tendered Craig Stammen, who missed most of the 2015 campaign after surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon.
"He's a terrific major league pitcher," Rizzo said of Petit. "He's a good swing guy, started games for a World Championship team, pitched leverage innings in the playoffs and he's battle-tested and really gives the manager a lot of freedom and diversity. He can start, he can relieve, he can pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen, he can spot start for you and he can be in the rotation for you."
Free Agent Signing: Stephen Drew signs a 1-year/$3M deal
Stephen Drew signed a 1-year/$3M deal with the Nationals in mid-December, reuniting with Mike Rizzo, who oversaw the infielder's selection in the 2004 Draft when he was the Director of Scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Drew, who hit 17 home runs in 131 games and 428 plate appearances for the New York Yankees in 2015, gives the Nationals some infield depth at the major league level that was lacking after they traded Yunel Escobar to the LAA.
"He’s a great, veteran player that’s very versatile," Rizzo told reporters, including Washington Post writer James Wagner.
"Swings the bat from the left side. I’ve got a track record, history with him. He’s a great kid, loved by his teammates, that should get a lot of at bats for us at multiple array of positions."
Drew's addition potentially allows the Nationals to take their time with Trea Turner's development and gives the Nats a backup infielder assuming that Danny Espinosa (or Turner) and Daniel Murphy are starting the season as the middle infielders.
Free Agent Signing: Nationals sign Daniel Murphy to a 3-year/$37.5M deal
Daniel Murphy set himself up nicely for free agency with a big season for the New York Mets in 2015, putting up a .281/.322/.449 line with 38 doubles and 14 home runs in 130 games and 538 regular season PAs, then went on a postseason tear which saw the 30-year-old infielder put up a .328/.391/.724 line with two doubles and seven home runs in 14 games and 64 PAs.
It wasn't just the postseason run that caught Nats' GM Mike Rizzo's attention, of course.
"I've seen plenty of Daniel Murphy in my career, believe me," Rizzo told reporters at Murphy's introductory press conference.
"Often from the other side of the field. He's a player that plays the game the right way. We love his attitude, his grit, and when the bright lights of not only New York City, but the major league playoffs come, he shines the brightest."
Murphy too is familiar with the Nationals after playing in the same division his entire major league career.
"I think with what Mr. Rizzo and Mr. Lerner have already done, they've laid the foundation of a really, really competitive team here," he explained.
"I've gotten to experience that competitiveness over the last six or seven years being in New York. It's always a tough place to come in here to play. I think the rotation itself, starting with the pitching rotation is deep and it is talented and then when you start talking about position player-wise, you've got the best player in the National League -- possibly on Earth -- hitting third for you every night is nice. Competing against Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, Michael Taylor, it's just a good group. Hopefully I can come in and just help to add to the foundation that's already been laid around here."
Trade: Nationals trade Drew Storen and cash to the Toronto Blue Jays for Ben Revere and a PTBNL
What seemed inevitable finally transpired on January 8th when the Nationals dealt '09 1st Round pick Drew Storen to the Toronto Blue Jays along with cash in return for left-handed hitting outfielder Ben Revere and a PTBNL.
Storen, who was twice supplanted as the Nationals' closer, got a new start in Toronto and the Nationals got a left-hand hitting outfielder who doesn't strike out much, can potentially lead off and can play center and left field.
"He’s played all three positions," Rizzo told reporters after the trade. "He’s played center field extremely well. We know he can hit at the top of the lineup. We got ourselves five really good outfielders, I think, on the roster right now that are gonna compete for playing time.
"Jayson Werth and [Bryce Harper], obviously, they're gonna get their at-bats whenever they’re able to do so. You got Michael Taylor, a special prospect and a really good player that emerged on the big league level last year. You got yourself [Matt] den Dekker, who can really do a lot of things for us off the bench. And Ben. So we like where we’re at right now depth-wise in the outfield."
Revere, who is under team control for two seasons, avoided arbitration when he signed a 1-year/$6.25M with the Nats coming off a .306/.342/.377 season with Philadelphia and Toronto.
Trading one year of control of Storen for two of Revere is something Rizzo said he was comfortable doing.
"It’s something that we’ve done the last two years with Escobar and now Drew for Ben," he explained.
"I like that fact. To acquire players and give up money to make deals, I think that’s something that the Lerner family has always allowed us to do.
"It’s something that really can impact your depth, as you’re not only getting Ben Revere for Drew Storen, you’re also getting another player that can help your minor league depth and then possibly in the big leagues some time."
• So which deal was the Nationals' best of the offseason? Should the minor league deal with veteran starter Bronson Arroyo be on the list or one of the other minor league deals? Do you still think there is a move to come this winter or are the Nationals done building the roster for the start of the 2016 campaign? Vote on the top move of the offseason below...