Four MLB contenders that made huge under-the-radar upgrades

AP Photo/John Raoux

TAMPA, Fla. -- At first, the baseball skipped into the glove of Josh Donaldson, but when it spilled out onto the ground to his right, he loudly formed a familiar four-letter word. Donaldson then returned to the deep crouch on a back practice field at the New York Yankees' spring training complex, his body language imploring guest instructor Willie Randolph to hit him another ground ball.

The Yankees need Donaldson to get it right in his glovework this year, just as they need all members of their madeover defense to be productive. The Yankees' fan base has been screaming for upgrades to match those affected by division rivals, big moves with big names. What the front office has bet on, instead -- and bet on heavily -- is that the team could be significantly improved through wide augmentation of its defense.

The post-lockout headlines have been dominated by stars like Freddie Freeman and Carlos Correa finally landing in new homes, and Oakland's blockbuster deals. Within the fine print of transactions, however, some clubs have seemingly improved crucial elements of their respective teams.