It's been another unpredictable offseason in Major League Baseball.
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are without work and involved in a stalemate to see who will sign first. Craig Kimbrel can't find a job despite being one of baseball's best closers. And the largest contract handed out was the six-year, $140-million deal the Washington Nationals gave Patrick Corbin.
That Harper, Machado, and Kimbrel are all unemployed heading into spring training is something no one saw coming. But some other moves this offseason were arguably more surprising.
On the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, here are five of the most head-scratching moves of MLB's offseason:
Indians trade star slugger Encarnacion
In one of the offseason's most puzzling trades, the Indians, who combined to finish fourth in OPS last season, traded away Edwin Encarnacion - one of their best offensive players - in a three-team deal involving the Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays.
Cleveland saved some money, reunited with Carlos Santana, and acquired youngster Jake Bauers in the swap but it's unlikely the move helped their case for the AL Central crown. The division should be tougher in 2019 and the improving Minnesota Twins are expected to give the Indians a run for their money.
Encarnacion, who has hit 32-plus homers in seven straight seasons, was responsible for driving in 13.6 percent of the Indians' runs last season.
Rangers ink Lynn to 3-year deal
Following a 67-win campaign and Adrian Beltre's retirement announcement, a further tear-down seemed inevitable for the Rangers. So when Texas announced the signing of veteran starter Lance Lynn to a three-year agreement in December, it was a surprise.
Why would the Rangers give that much term to a pitcher who posted the highest ERA of his career last season? Based on comments from general manager Jon Daniels and manager Chris Woodward earlier this offseason, the Rangers intend to be competitive in 2019.
If Lynn is going to have success in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park, he's going to have to continue to keep the ball on the ground. His 49.7 percent ground-ball rate in 2018 was his highest since 2011, while his fly-ball rate of 27.1 percent was a career low.
Mariners land Japanese lefty Kikuchi
After an offseason overhaul of the big-league roster appeared to signal a rebuild, Jerry Dipoto shocked baseball in January by welcoming Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi to Seattle with a four-year, $56-million contract.
The Mariners have had past success signing Japanese players like Ichiro Suzuki, Hisashi Iwakuma, Kenji Johjima, and Kazuhiro Sasaki, but Kikuchi comes with some risk after shoulder issues appeared to diminish his stuff last year. If the 27-year-old can pitch as he did for the Seibu Lions over the past eight seasons, the Mariners may have found themselves an affordable gem and potential future ace to replace the floundering Felix Hernandez.
Yankees add LeMahieu to infield mix
Despite rumors regarding the Yankees' interest in Machado, Brian Cashman opted to sign 2016 NL batting champ DJ LeMahieu to a two-year deal. After inking veteran shortstop Troy Tulowitzki 10 days prior, the addition of LeMahieu - who is coming off a down year offensively - crowded the infield and appeared to take the Yankees out of the running for Machado.
Cashman was evidently satisfied with his team's new investment, explaining he was more interested in collecting "as much talent as I possibly can in a very cost-effective manner."
Red Sox sign previously banned Mejia
In possibly the most head-scratching moment of the offseason, the World Series champion Boston Red Sox signed 29-year-old reliever Jenrry Mejia to a minor-league contract.
The former New York Mets closer hasn't pitched in a big-league game since 2015. He was permanently banned from baseball following a third positive drug test in 2016 but was reinstated in July. The signing received criticism from players around the league, with some expressing concern over a formerly banned player getting a job before they did.
Copyright © 2019 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.