The big names and high-dollar contracts will always grab attention during the MLB offseason. However, those smaller moves sometimes have the biggest impacts.
Whether it is a minor league signing, a potential rebound candidate or an overlooked part of a trade, those players can make a difference both this year and into the future. Let’s take a look at the five best under-the-radar moves this offseason.
Red Sox acquire Vaughn Grissom
Yes, this trade received plenty of attention, but it was primarily because Chris Sale was sent to Atlanta. Grissom was viewed as part of the salary dump but he is far more.
Capable of playing either second or short, he was a well-regarded prospect in the Braves system without a path to a starting role. He has displayed his potential during his brief time in the majors, posting a .287/.339/.407 batting line with five homers, nine doubles and five steals in his 236 plate appearances. With six years of team control, Grissom could be the dynamic piece the Red Sox need.
Detroit Tigers acquire Mark Canha
While the Tigers showed signs that they could contend soon, their lineup needed help. Detroit scored just 661 runs (13th in the AL) and had a .305 on-base percentage (11th) in 2023.
Enter Canha. He has proven to be adept at getting on base since establishing himself as a regular in 2018. That continued in 2023 as he posted a .262/.355/.400 batting line in his 507 plate appearances between the Mets and Brewers, hitting 11 homers and 25 doubles with 11 steals.
Canha has the bonus of being a veteran leader, someone who can impact the Tigers for years to come as he mentors the younger players.
Cincinnati Reds sign Frankie Montas
The Reds’ decision to sign Montas was noted for the dollar amount as he is guaranteed $16 million for 2024. That was viewed as a drastic overpayment given his shoulder issues and that he pitched all of one game last season.
However, Montas was a potential All-Star as recently as 2021 when he posted a 3.37 ERA and a 1.182 WHIP over his 187 innings, striking out 207 batters with 57 walks. If he can be that pitcher again, the Reds have the missing piece for their rotation.
San Diego Padres sign Woo-Suk Go
The Padres signed a pair of foreign relievers to bolster their bullpen in Yuki Matsui and Woo-Suk Go. While Matsui received the larger of the two contracts, Go is currently penciled in as the closer.
He took a bit of a step back with his production in 2023, posting a 3.68 ERA and a 1.364 WHIP in his 44 innings, striking out 59 batters with 22 walks.
However, he has a fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 mph, an excellent cutter and an impressive, if rarely used, curveball. That arsenal should make him a weapon in the ninth inning in San Diego.
Kansas City Royals sign Sandy Leon
Sometimes, the impact of a signing cannot be felt until years later. Such is the case with the Royals’ addition of Leon on a minor league deal.
He is a depth piece, likely to spend the year at Triple-A if he lasts through spring training. However, Leon is also highly regarded for his defense and ability to work with a pitching staff.
The Royals did add several pitchers, but they need more from younger arms such as Brady Singer, Kris Bubic and Daniel Lynch. His presence should help their pitching prospects as well. Leon may not help the 2024 roster, but his signing could be felt well into the future.