The biggest question facing every MLB team in 2024

Major League Baseball's 2024 spring training is underway, with opening day about a month away.

Players are fighting for jobs in Florida and Arizona, with some of baseball's top prospects looking to impress the big-league coaches alongside veterans jockeying for playing time.

As the regular season gets closer, here's a look at the biggest question facing every MLB team in 2024:

Baltimore Orioles

How will AL East champs handle Jackson Holliday?

The consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball and USA TODAY Sports' 2023 Minor League Player of the Year, Holliday hit .323 with a .442 OPS across four levels last year, his first full season as a pro after going No. 1 overall in the 2022 draft. The 20-year-old has a real chance to break spring training as an everyday player.

“We’re going to give him every chance to win a major league job," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said at camp in Sarasota.

The shortstop's presence raises some questions for Baltimore's infield. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson split time evenly between shortstop and third base last season and the club will have to decide how to piece the puzzle together with Holliday having some experience at second and third as well.

Boston Red Sox

Is the rotation good enough?

Boston's starting pitchers ranked 22nd in baseball with a 4.68 ERA in 2023 and their big offseason addition was Lucas Giolito, who posted a 4.89 mark over the last two years.

Admittedly, the 29-year-old right-hander had been one of the game's most consistent pitchers the three seasons prior, earning Cy Young votes every year from 2019-2021. The Red Sox committed $38.5 million to Giolito hoping he can recapture some of that form but even if he does, the rest of the rotation – Nick Pivetta, Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford and Tanner Houck – don't inspire much confidence in baseball's deepest division.

New York Yankees

What will they get from Carlos Rodon?

The Yankees gave the left-hander $162 million last winter but only got 14 starts and a 6.85 ERA from Rodon, who was hampered by injuries in his first season with the club.

“I just feel like I got some stuff to prove and I want to stay on the field a lot longer than I did last year,” Rodon said as the Yankees gathered for spring training.

Rodon showed up to camp in better shape and New York really needs him and the newly-signed Marcus Stroman to be consistent behind AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole in order to return to the postseason after missing out in 2023.

Tampa Bay Rays

Which starting pitcher will step up?

The Rays have made five consecutive postseason appearances but with Shane McClanahan sidelined (Tommy John surgery) and Tyler Glasnow gone, the rotation could be what holds the team back from a sixth.

Aaron Civale is penciled in behind Zach Eflin, having struggled in 10 starts with Tampa Bay (5.36 ERA) after a midseason trade from Cleveland and the Rays will need him to step up. Top prospect Taj Bradley looked good in his first 10 big-league starts, posting a 2.66 FIP and 71 strikeouts in 49 innings – but then the wheels fell off.

Ryan Pepiot, acquired from the Dodgers in the Glasnow trade, is really the X-factor for Tampa Bay's rotation. If the organization can work its usual coaching magic, the 26-year-old right-hander could really develop into a frontline starter after impressing in 78 ⅓ innings over the past two seasons with Los Angeles.

Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.
Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.

How will the offense perform?

Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are constants, but George Springer is coming off the worst season of his career (.732 OPS) and new designated hitter Justin Turner is 39 years old.

Toronto obviously wanted to sign Shohei Ohtani and Turner was a nice addition, but catcher Alejandro Kirk and left fielder Daulton Varsho each had a sub-.700 OPS in 2023. The Blue Jays brought back Kevin Kiemaier, but Cavan Biggio (second base) and new signing Isiah Kiner-Falefa (third) are probably not who a team with playoff aspirations wants as primary starters – especially in baseball's toughest division.

Late additions Daniel Vogelbach and Eduardo Escobar (minor-league deal) could provide some depth and pop, but Toronto failed to add a difference-maker this winter with Matt Chapman still unsigned.

Chicago White Sox

Where is Dylan Cease going to land?

Despite a shaky 2023, Chicago's ace is among the most sought-after players on the trade market as the season gets underway. Management has made it clear that they plan to trade the 2022 Cy Young runner-up, putting Cease in a very strange situation.

“There’s not a better guy than the way he’s handled this," said White Sox manager Pedro Grifol, “and how he understands the business and how he understands the position he’s in."

The 28-year-old is under team control through 2025, increasing Chicago's asking price. The White Sox could hold on to him until the summer or even just wait until next winter.

“I can’t think of a situation too similar to this," White Sox GM Getz said. “But the unique thing about Dylan is just the makeup of the player. He’s very professional.

Cleveland Guardians

Will Shane Bieber be dealt?

Bieber, the 2020 Cy Young winner, has been limited by injuries in two of the last three seasons and is a free agent after the 2024 season. His name has been floated as a potential trade candidate under the assumption the Guardians would want to get something for him, but it's worth remembering Cleveland has given out nine-figure extensions to Jose Ramirez and Andres Gimenez over the last few years.

The AL Central looks very winnable for Cleveland, particularly if Bieber stays healthy and proves to be the best starting pitcher in the division. If they're in contention as expected come July, the Guardians will probably hang on to their homegrown ace who turns 29 in May.

Detroit Tigers

Will Tigers be play meaningful games in September?

A trendy pick to take the AL Central last season, Detroit struggled in the first half (39-50) but turned things around with a winning mark after the break, finishing in second place with 78 wins. It's pretty easy to see a scenario in which the Tigers win it this year, having brought in veterans Kenta Maeda and Jack Flaherty to solidify a young rotation.

"The eyes are set on the division," lefty starter Tarik Skubal said. "Win the division, you get in the playoffs and anything can happen. We've got to be a little bit better early in the year.

"I thought we played our division really, really well last year, so do that again and play maybe the AL East a little better this year, and we'll be in a really good spot."

Kansas City Royals

Will the money they spent yield results?

The Royals deserve a ton of credit for investing in free agents this winter, signing veterans Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo, Hunter Renfroe and Will Smith, among others after a 106-loss season. Not to mention the franchise committing $288 million to 23-year-old star shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.

What will the return on that investment be? The AL Central is baseball's worst division and the champion will probably finish with around 85 wins, but such a turnaround in one year doesn't seem particularly plausible for Kansas City. It's not like there's promising help on the way either, with just one player in's Top 100 prospects for 2024.

Another last-place finish looks likely. But seriously – kudos to Kansas City for making an effort!

Minnesota Twins

Royce Lewis was the No. 1 overall pick in 2017.
Royce Lewis was the No. 1 overall pick in 2017.

Can Royce Lewis stay healthy?

The No. 1 overall pick in 2017, Lewis suffered season-ending ACL injuries in 2021 and 2022 and had his breakout 2023 slowed by oblique and hamstring problems. The 24-year-old was a beast when healthy, hitting .309 with 15 homers, 52 RBI and a .921 OPS in 58 games last season. He hit two homers in his first career postseason game as well.

"When you have a season like he had — or a partial season — I think everyone's eyes get real big, and everyone gets not just excited, but people start going nuts," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, per the Star Tribune. "And rightfully so. I understand it."

The third baseman will break camp with the team for the first time in his career, but the Twins will need him – and Byron Buxton – on the field as much as possible in order to repeat in the AL Central.

Houston Astros

Alex Bregman's last ride?

Bregman's first full season was the year Houston won its first World Series title and the third baseman is set to become a free agent next winter at the age of 30. The Astros already extended Jose Altuve but come the 2024-25 offseason, could hesitate to bring back Bregman who will likely be seeking a 10-year deal.

Houston has to also consider 2026 – with Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez set for free agency.

Bregman's agent Scott Boras has hinted that extension looks unlikely, with the two-time All-Star trying to maximize his worth after signing a team-friendly six-year, $100 million extension before the 2019 season.

Los Angeles Angels

Can somebody please liberate Mike Trout?

Shohei Ohtani left after six straight losing seasons, which brings us to the team's other multi-MVP winner.

Trout has been hampered by injuries the past few years, averaging just 79 games over the past three seasons – still hitting 40 homers in 118 contests in 2022. But now 10 years removed from his only career postseason appearance, it may be time for Trout to finally push for greener pastures.

Rumors will swirl if (when) this middling Angels team falls out of contention and the 32-year-old will say all the right things, but he deserves better than what he's been subjected to in Anaheim all these years.

The major holdup on a potential deal is that Trout is due $248 million over the next seven seasons. The Angels would probably have to eat a large chunk of that to move him, but maybe they could use a Trout trade to also dump Anthony Rendon?

Oakland Athletics

Where are the A's going to play next year?

This team is destined for last place in 2024, but all anybody is going to be talking about where the Athletics next season.

It's going to be an interesting year at the Coliseum, with fans torn on whether or not to see the franchise off in what could be their final season playing in Oakland. The team is slated for a 2028 move to a new ballpark on the Las Vegas Strip, but where they'll call home in the interim is undecided. A new lease in Oakland? Sacramento? Salt Lake City?

The decision needs to be made soon as MLB puts together its 2025 schedule.

“We need to know before then exactly where it will be,” commissioner Rob Manfred said. “Because it will impact travel issues if they’re not settled.”

Seattle Mariners

Can Mitch Haniger make another comeback?

After hitting 39 home runs for the Mariners in 2021, Haniger has only managed 118 games over the past two seasons and returns to Seattle via trade after spending last year with the Giants. Haniger was an All-Star in 2018 but missed most of 2019 and all of 2020, having his career season after nearly two years on the shelf.

The Mariners are hoping the 33-year-old can stay healthy in 2024, coming back to Seattle in the deal that sent Robbie Ray to San Francisco.

"I think if I would've had a really good year last year, I probably would've never gotten traded,” Haniger said, per “I think just having another kind of fluke injury and missing a bunch of time and having a terrible year kind of opened the doors for a trade, and to get traded back to this place, where I've always loved playing.”

Texas Rangers

What about a World Series hangover?

The defending champions will be among the favorites entering 2024 with the same squad largely intac and the offense should be even better, with the club expecting big things out of rookie Evan Carter. Josh Jung could push 30 homers and 100 RBI if he can stay healthy after finishing fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

Max Scherzer (herniated disk) will miss most of the first half and Jacob deGrom (elbow) is expected back some time after the All-Star break, so their rotation should get stronger as the season goes on – but that's a lot riding on the two right-handers with five combined Cy Young awards.

Atlanta Braves

What even matters until the playoffs?

Atlanta is expected to run away with the division again having won the NL East the last six seasons. They won 101 games in 2022 and 104 games last year, only to get bounced by the rival Phillies in the NLDS each time.

They're not yet halfway to the 1991-2005 run of 14 consecutive division championships, but should it be a concern that they've only reached the World Series once – particularly with the dominance of the last two regular seasons?

“There should be no acceptance of anything less than winning a World Series in this organization,” starter Spencer Strider said, per “I’m biased, but this is the most talented team in baseball. We need to set our bar as high as possible. Anything less than that is an underachievement for us.”

Miami Marlins

Can rotation stay together without Sandy Alcantara?

The 2022 Cy Young winner will miss the entire 2024 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, leaving a huge hole in the Marlins rotation. Alcantara had thrown the second-most innings in baseball since 2019 and twice as many complete games (12) as any pitcher in that span.

“Obviously, it's a big void to fill when you lose a Cy Young winner, and he's just such a leader in the clubhouse,” said Jesús Luzardo, per

Alcantara plans to travel with the team throughout the season.

“Obviously he is there giving us his input, his advice all the time. So it's nice to still have him around," Luzardo said. "But ... I think guys are going to need to pick up a lot of innings.

“As a whole, I think we've got a lot of young guys on the staff. A lot of guys that again, are going to have to reach new [career-highs] in innings. So it's something that I think everyone takes it real serious – that we've got to come out here and work real hard to stay healthy throughout the whole year.”

New York Mets

Kodai Senga throws during a spring training workout.
Kodai Senga throws during a spring training workout.

Is there enough pitching for a wild-card run?

Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are gone, leaving Kodai Senga (2.98 ERA as a rookie) and a bunch of other guys in the rotation. Jose Quintana missed the first half of 2023 due to injury and a full season of the lefty should be a big boost, while the staff will be rounded out by new additions Luis Severino (6.65 ERA), Sean Manaea and Adrian Houser.

There's some definite upside with the new guys, particularly Severino who quietly had a strong 2022 season (3.18 ERA, 1.000 WHIP) in 19 starts – but can he stay on the mound and regain that kind of form after a disastrous 2023? The rotation's depth is pretty decent with veterans Tylor Megill and Joey Lucchesi also in the mix, but there's really not much room for error or injuries with the Mets' staff.

Philadelphia Phillies

Was doing nothing the right move?

The Phillies brought Aaron Nola back on a seven-year, $172 million deal, but their only new real major-league roster addition is Whit Merrifield. Could they have improved elsewhere?

Merrifield provides cover at second and the outfield and that may really be enough for a team that blew a 3-1 NLCS lead last season. Zack Wheeler (free agent after 2024), Nola and Ranger Suarez make a formidable front three, but Taijuan Walker is coming off a miserable season, which puts a lot of pressure on presumed No. 5 Cristopher Sánchez.

They'll make moves before the July 30 trade deadline, but will they regret not spending on another starter this offseason?

Washington Nationals

Will CJ Abrams make The Leap in 2024?

The key guy in the Juan Soto trade, Abrams had a terrific first full season in 2023, hitting 18 home runs with 47 stolen bases, starting 148 games at shortstop for the last-place Nationals. The 23-year-old has all the makings of a star, but needs to become more disciplined at the plate and improve defensively.

His negative-8 outs above average ranked 32nd of 35 qualified shortstops and he only drew 32 walks in 614 plate appearances.

Top prospect Dylan Crews is on the way and the organization would love to see their young shortstop take a big step forward with the rebuild seemingly on the upswing.

Chicago Cubs

Is NL Central the Cubs' to lose?

Even if the Cubs don't bring back Cody Bellinger, they may enter 2024 as the division favorites. If they do make a move to bolster the lineup in the weeks to come, this becomes a team with serious playoff expectations.

New lefty Shoto Imanaga had a 3.18 ERA in eight season in Japan and solidifies a Chicago rotation led by Justin Steele, who finished fifth in Cy Young voting with a 3.06 ERA in 30 starts last year.

And new manager Craig Counsell has already imparted some life advice on Steele.

“I got married and had to clean everything up a little bit ... and [Counsell] was like, 'I don’t think I like the clean look. I think you need to look a little rough," Steele said.

“So, I told him that’s no problem. I don’t like haircuts and I don’t like shaving."

Cincinnati Reds

How good will youngsters Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marté be?

The 22-year-olds should make up the left side of Cincinnati's infield on opening day, and expectations are high for both.

De La Cruz tailed off after a red-hot start as a rookie in 2023, while Marté hit .316 in 114 at-bats and enters the season as an NL Rookie of the Year favorite.

“We all get really excited about Elly’s tools, but we forget sometimes that he’s 22 years old,” Reds president Nick Krall said. “These guys are still young players that are learning not just how to be big leaguers, but how to even get to the big leagues and sustain in the big leagues."

De La Cruz struck out 144 times in 98 games last season, about one-third of his at-bats. But he's been working on a new-look swing over the winter.

“Our goal is for him to be a complete hitter,” hitting coach Joel McKeithan said. “Someone who controls the strike zone and hits the ball on a line to all parts of the field. He has the skills to do that."

Milwaukee Brewers

Will young hitters deliver?

Milwaukee signed Jackson Chourio to the biggest contract ever prior to a prospect's MLB – $82 million – and are expecting big things from the center fielder who turns 20 in March. Sal Frelick (23), Garrett Mitchell (25) and Joey Weimer (26) will all fight for at-bats in the outfield as well.

They have a first-year manager in Pat Murphy, who had spent the last eight seasons as Craig Counsell's bench coach in Milwaukee.

“It’s certainly exciting,” Murphy said at Brewers camp. “I’ve had my eyes wide open for the last eight years. ... The difference between a bench coach and a manager is a huge jump, Triple-A to the big leagues.”

Pittsburgh Pirates

When will Paul Skenes arrive in Pittsburgh?

Last year's No. 1 overall pick is's top pitching prospect and could be in the majors sooner rather than later. He would give the Pirates a genuinely strong rotation with incoming veterans Marco Gonzales and Martin Perez also behind top starter Mitch Keller.

Skenes only made five professional starts last season after his selection out of LSU and isn't the only former top pick hoping to have a breakout year. Henry Davis, the No. 1 overall selection in 2021, is battling for the club's starting catcher job after making his big-league debut last season.

“I’m ready to not have No. 1 picks,” manager Derek Shelton said, per “I think we’ve transitioned away, but I’m really excited about the two guys we have taken in that spot and what their future is going to hold and the fact that they are Pirates.”

St. Louis Cardinals

Will rotation overhaul get Cardinals back in NL Central race?

After suffering their first 90-loss since 1990, the Cardinals went out and signed three new starting pitchers in Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson. St. Louis starters had a 5.07 ERA in 2023 and the team needs the veterans to eat innings and be consistent as they try to get out of the NL Central basement.

“These guys understand what it’s like to go pole to pole and take the ball for 30 starts,” Cardinals president John Mozeliak said of the three new starters, per

They join holdovers Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz in the St. Louis rotation.

“Even though these guys are in their 30s, each guy is different and brings something different to the table,” manager Oliver Marmol said. “So, am I concerned with the age of our rotation? No, not necessarily because they’re not all one in the same.”

Arizona Diamondbacks

Why didn't NL champs upgrade the bullpen?

Closer Paul Sewald was acquired at the trade deadline and anchored the Arizona bullpen en route to the World Series. The late innings will be done by committee with Kevin Ginkel (0 ER in 10 postseason games) expected to serve as the primary setup man.

Arizona was confident enough in its group that the team didn't sign any new relievers to a big-league contract.

“We still have guys, in our eyes, that could have a chance to come in and take some opportunities," GM Mike Hazen said. He stressed the importance of letting relievers earn themselves a bigger role.

“You've gotta give some of those opportunities sometimes to see what they can actually do. If we close the door on Kevin Ginkel, if we close the door on Andrew Saalfrank, we never would've seen what we saw in the playoffs last year.”

Colorado Rockies

Can Nolan Jones build on breakout rookie campaign?

Acquired last winter, the former Cleveland prospect had a huge 2023 for Colorado, posting a .931 OPS with 20 home runs and 20 steals to finish fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting. Jones led the majors with 19 outfield assists despite playing just 106 games.

“I could never have dreamed of last year going the way it went for me,” Jones said in the weeks leading up to spring training, per

The left fielder hopes to improve even further in the field, admittedly having a tough time playing half his games at Coors Field.

“I would go on the road, come back home and miss fly balls that first day,” Jones said. “The line drive stays up. It does not come down. I dove for line drives last year that hit me on the wrist. It’s learning those small things."

Los Angeles Dodgers

What will the rotation look like for the NLDS?

The postseason pitching staff is always a spring training question for the Dodgers, who have reached the playoffs 11 years in a row – and whose only World Series title came in the 2020 COVID-shortened season.

$300 million man Yoshinobu Yamamoto is the Dodgers' presumed new ace, with fellow offseason addition Tyler Glasnow adding additional firepower to a staff that should welcome back Walker Buehler at some point in 2024 after Tommy John surgery.

But Glasnow has never pitched more than 120 innings in a season and James Paxton, another winter signing, has only made 25 starts over the past four seasons.

If they can all get to October healthy, Yamamoto-Glasnow-Buehler is quite a different NLDS rotation than Clayton Kershaw, Lance Lynn and Bobby Miller, who started the three games in the sweep at the hands of the Diamondbacks.

San Diego Padres

Can San Diego overcome its losses?

The Padres finished strong in 2023, winning 20 of their last 27 to finish 82-80, but are now without Juan Soto (traded to Yankees) and Cy Young winner Blake Snell (free agent). They're also moving $280 million shortstop Xander Bogaerts to second base after one year with the club.

Injuries to starters Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish held the team back last season, and the addition of Michael King (Soto trade) gives the Padres a pretty strong front of the rotation if they can stay healthy. San Diego is also counting on bounce-back seasons from Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., but the lineup is full of holes around the two sluggers.

There's no reason the Padres can't compete for a wild-card spot but now preaching financial restraint, will the front office be willing to improve the team in-season?

San Francisco Giants

Logan Webb – and then what?

Webb has blossomed into one of the game's best starters, finishing runner-up in NL Cy Young voting with a big-league best 216 innings pitched in 2023. Behind him, the Giants' rotation is a big question mark entering the season.

Top prospect Kyle Harrison held his own in seven starts down the stretch (4.15 ERA), but the 22-year-old only has 314 professional innings under his belt. The Giants should get some reinforcements sometime in the summer with Alex Cobb (hip surgery) and former Cy Young winner Robbie Ray (Tommy John) expected back at some point.

San Francisco signed flamethrower Jordan Hicks for four years and $44 million to join the rotation, but he's a something of a wild card with only eight big-league starts since making his debut in 2018.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB 2024 preview: Biggest question facing every team in baseball