In this day and age, baseball players are constantly changing teams through free agency or trades. Players today rarely play out their whole career with one team. In the NL Central, each team has seen at least one player leave through trade or free agency. Here is a look at each team’s biggest subtraction.
Last season Shin-Shoo Choo made a giant impact at the top of the Reds lineup. He was a league leader in walks and hit by pitches, and found any way to get on base. His numbers also put him among the league’s best leadoff hitters. His departure to Texas has created a hole at the top of the order.
In his place will be the speedy, Billy Hamilton. His world class speed makes him a dynamic player, but his struggle to get on base in triple A has cast doubt. In time he should be able to soften the blow, but the presence of Choo will surely be missed this season.
While he played only part time last season, Dioner Navarro provided some unexpected offense. He hit a career high 13 homeruns and was a pleasant surprise with the club. With the team’s influx of young players, Navarro found a two year home in Toronto.
The Cubs will fill the backup catching position with the slugging, George Kottaras. Kottaras has shown power and was often able to come through in the clutch in Milwaukee.
Corey Hart was sorely missed in the Brewers lineup last season as their first basemen hit a league worst .207 and slugged a punch-less .370. It appeared the club had the inside track at re-signing Hart, but Seattle gave him an offer he could not refuse. In his time with the Brewers, Hart hit 154 homeruns and when healthy was a giant bat in their lineup.
To replace Hart the team signed Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay. They will be counted on to produce much more offense than the team produced last year at the position.
When the Pirates acquired A.J. Burnett from the Yankees he was putting up brutal numbers. However in his two seasons with Pittsburgh, Burnett shined and pitched like an ace. During last season, Burnett even started on opening day. During his time in Pittsburgh he won 26 games and had two seasons with ERAs in the low to mid threes. He consistently put his team in position to win.
To replace Burnett, Gerrit Cole should play a much bigger role in the rotation. Edison Volquez was also brought in as a possible plus arm to help the backend of the rotation.
St. Louis Cardinals
Carlos Beltran brings a great veteran presence with him wherever he goes. Although Beltran is 36 years old, he still is able to get the job done. In his two seasons with the Cardinals, Beltran has smashed 56 homeruns and posted a .282 batting average. The former centerfielder still can cover a lot of ground in the field, too.
The club already has plenty of viable options who should produce offensively. Allen Craig will move from first to right field to allow Matt Adams to start every day. The club also has superstar prospect Oscar Taveras waiting in AAA getting closer to big league ready.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference