MLB Offseason Preview Part 2- Free MLB Picks
The Holidays have come and gone and MLB spring training is only a few weeks away! Although the top two free agents in Manny Machado and Bryce Harper still haven’t decided where they will play, the next few weeks should be crunch time for teams to put a final bid in for the two MVP caliber players. Let’s take a look how each team has fared so far during the off-season:
Boston Red Sox
Although the Red Sox are the defending champs, they will have a target on their backs all season long. Even though they didn’t sign their best power hitter J.D. Martinez until February 19, 2018, this was the acquisition that clearly put them over the top this past season. Former closer RHP Craig Kimbrel is still unsigned as of January 30, and it doesn’t look like the Red Sox want to bring him back after his shaky performance last post-season.
New York Yankees
We all know the Yankees can easily pull the trigger on either Harper or Machado, however, they don’t appear to be eager to sign another huge contract since they acquired Giancarlo Stanton, who still owns the largest contract in MLB history, totaling $325 million.
After acquiring former All-Star SS Troy Tulowitzki, they recently picked up 2B DJ LeMahieu to help sure up the infield. Everyone knows the Yankees pitching has been the issue for a long time now. Although they recently signed free agent RHP Paxton Lynch, he does have an injury prone past. I believe they made a huge mistake when they anointed Luis Severino as the ace way too soon in his development. In addition, closer Aroldis Chapman seemed to lose his confidence in big moments last season.
The Yanks may want to consider Dallas Keuchel as a backup option for their starting rotation and perhaps another closer with experience like Kimbrel. That would make the rivalry with the Red Sox even more of a must watch!
Tamp Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays seem to always stick around during the season. Their biggest acquisition this off-season so far, was the signing of RHP Charlie Morton to a two-year $30M deal. Morton and Blake Snell should be able to carry the load for the rotation, however, they may still need to depend on their bullpen which was overused last season. It would be nice to see the Rays pick up another power hitter like Evan Gattis to help them contend with the Yanks and Red Sox.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have the number one prospect in baseball in Vladimir Guerrero Jr.. If he inherits 75% of his Dad’s playing ability, then he should be an All-Star caliber player in his first season. They recently signed INF Freddy Galvis to compete for an infield position, however, the Jays need their ace SP Marcus Strohman and SP Aaron Sanchez to stay healthy this year for them to compete. They may want to take a look at veteran lefty Gio Gonzalez to eat up some innings in what should be a tough division to compete in.
The past few seasons the Cleveland Indians have been a player or two away from really making some noise in the playoffs. Rumor has it that they are still interested in trading their ace SP Corey Kluber, however, teams may be hesitant to pickup the $52M left on his contract over the next three seasons. Although they traded DH Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle, they ended up getting DH Carlos Santana back after he spent one year in Philly. The Indians still have some extremely talented hitters in 3B Jose Ramirez and SS Francisco Lindor, so they may want to look at picking up some veteran talent like Marwin Gonzalez to help improve the outfield.
The Minnesota Twins made an aggressive move in picking up slugger DH Nelson Cruz. He can easily add 35 homers and 100 RBI for an already decent offense, which ended up in second place in the Central division last season. The Twins are hoping CF Byron Buxton can have a bounce back season after hitting just .156 in 28 games played last season.
The Detroit Tigers seem to be in a rebuild mode with no major transactions as of yet this off-season. Nicholas Castellanos has had two productive seasons, however, he will be a free agent next season so the Tigers may want to make a move before the trade deadline to pick up a few future prospects.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox have been one of the few teams rumored to be all-in for Bryce Harper. They appear to have a need in the outfield and Harper could be protected in the lineup surrounded by Jose Abreu and Yonder Alonso. The White Sox are counting on SS Tim Anderson to add to his productive season last year. He became the first shortstop in franchise history to record a 20/20 season with 20 homers and 26 stolen bases. The Sox also have several prospects expected to contribute this season.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals picked up stolen base expert Billy Hamilton but they still have a long way to go before they can climb out of the cellar. Although he only had 34 stolen bases last season, he previously had four straight seasons with over 50 stolen bases. The Royals appear to be weak at the corner infield positions so maybe they should give Mike Moustakas a call back so he can help reinvigorate the offense.
The Houston Astros seem to have an All-Star caliber player at almost every position. They parted ways with Evan Gattis so they lost a significant power threat. They signed free agent catcher Robinson Chirinos who hit 18 homers last season and 17 homers the year before for the Texas Rangers, however, rumor has it that they may be working on a trade for Miami’s J.T. Realmuto.
Moneyball almost worked again last season as the Oakland A’s came within one game of winning the ALDS. They signed righty starter Mike Fiers to be their new ace and RHP Joakim Soria to help fortify the bullpen. Although the A’s hardly let their starters go more than 5 innings, they could sure use some more help in the rotation come playoff time.
Los Angeles Angels
The L.A. Angels are hoping that DH Shohei Ohtani can come back from Tommy John surgery and lead this team along with Mike Trout. Since Ohtani won’t pitch in 2019, they will need their starting rotation to stay healthy this season. The Angels signed RHP Matt Harvey but they may want to have a backup plan in place. They seem to have a competitive lineup but they will need their pitching to step it up.
After a pretty decent 2018, the Mariners appear to be in a bit of a rebuild mode after trading 2B Robinson Cano to the Mets along with their dynamic young closer RHP Edwin Diaz. They did gain a valuable prospect in Justus Sheffield (nephew of Gary Sheffield) when they traded RHP James Paxton to the Yankees. The Mariners did lose significant power with the loss of Cano and former DH Nelson Cruz, but they did add some significant power by trading for Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce (if healthy).
Although the Texas Rangers appear to have a solid offense, they were near the bottom of the league with a starter’s ERA of 5.37 last season. They were able to add RHP Lance Lynn in the off season but they may need to add more to compete with the Astros and A’s.
New York Mets
2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz, C Wilson Ramos, and INF Jed Lowrie are among the top new acquisitions by the new GM Brodie Van Wagenen and the New York Mets. I would give Brodie a B+ so far, however, if all goes well this season and the Mets make the playoffs, it could easily turn into an A+ offseason for the rookie GM. Look for Jeff McNeil and Peter Alonso to contribute as potential future stars for this team. CF Adam Jones would be a good fit for a team that is claiming on trying to win now!
The Atlanta Braves have clearly succeeded in rebuilding their team last year and appeared to be a player or two away from seriously competing for a World Series. They made a decent attempt at filling this void by welcoming back Brian McCann and adding former All-Star Josh Donaldson. They may want to look into adding some more bullpen help since they were 17th in the majors with a 4.15 ERA last season.
The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the few teams left who are claiming to still have an interest in both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. If they were able to sign both players, look for them to be in contention for a division title. Even though they traded for the solid hitting SS Jean Segura, he’s no Machado when it comes to the power numbers.
It will take a while for the Washington Nationals to overcome the loss of Bryce Harper, however, they may not have to go through much of an overhaul. They still have some good young talent in their lineup and they added RHP Patrick Corbin to the starting rotation. The Nationals recently added 2B Brian Dozier who put up some really good power numbers while playing for the Twins.
It appears Derek Jeter really wanted to build this team from scratch after trading away former MVP Giancarlo Stanton in the 2017 season and later trading future MVP in Christian Yelich in 2018. It also looks like he’s waiting for a team to get desperate before he trades away his last valuable piece in J.T. Realmuto. Unless the Marlins get two or three MLB ready stars, don’t look for them to escape last place any time soon.
The Milwaukee Brewers feature one of the best outfields in baseball with Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, and Lorenzo Cain. They also added catcher Yasmani Grandal, who has some pretty good power numbers for a catcher, and don’t forget, he did help the Dodgers get to back-to-back World Series appearances. Brandon Phillips might be a good addition for a team that’s ready to win now.
The Chicago Cubs appear to still have one of the best infields in the game along with some solid starting pitching, however, I’m not sure what they see in their outfielders. Bryce Harper would be a good fit, but they may want to look at getting two outfielders. OF Carlos Gonzalez might be a good fit if he can benefit from the change of scenery and return to his old self and OF Marwin Gonzalez should also have a bounce back season, and both players are still available.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals made one of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason when they landed 1B Paul Goldschmidt in a trade with the Diamondbacks. The Cardinals also signed one of the more sought after closers in RHP Andrew Miller, however, they may still need more bullpen help to compete with the Brewers and Cubs this season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a pretty good nucleus but they appear to be in need of a new team leader. Ever since the days of Andrew McCutcheon in his prime, they don’t seem to have an identity. Although they traded for RHP Chris Archer last season, they could still use some more pitching help. Look for INF Jung Ho Kang to make a comeback after suffering injuries the past two seasons.
After losing in back-to-back World Series in the last two seasons, the Dodgers have made some significant changes that may ultimately put them over the top. They looked good all season long, until they showed up in Boston, where they looked old, cold and over-matched. The Dodgers don’t look like they’re interested in re-signing Manny Machado, however, they did sign one of the top free agents available in CF A.J. Pollock. They also fortified their bullpen by adding one of the top relievers available in RHP Joe Kelly. The Dodgers also got younger by shipping Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and LHP Alex Wood to the Cincinnati Reds for RHP Homer Bailey and some prospects.
The Colorado Rockies lost some pretty good talent to free agency this off-season and they signed Dan Murphy to play first base most likely. They still have one of the best players in 3B Nolan Arenado and some really good hitters in Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story. Although the Rockies were impressive last season before losing game 163 to the Dodgers, they will need to improve the bullpen after losing their best reliever in RHP Adam Ottavino to the Yankees.
After losing their best offensive talent in 1B Paul Goldschmidt, the Arizona Diamondbacks still have a pretty good starting rotation and one of the best bullpens in baseball. They will need to make another offensive acquisition or two to compete with the Dodgers and Rockies this season.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have a solid starting rotation led by Madison Bumgarner and a solid veteran infield all around. They may want to look at improving their outfield if they want to get back to the World Series.