San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria, center, holds a jersey next to team CEO Larry Baer, left, and general manager Bobby Evans during an announcement on his recent trade to the team Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Evan Longoria considers speeding up games a tricky issue
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria, center, holds a jersey next to team CEO Larry Baer, left, and general manager Bobby Evans during an announcement on his recent trade to the team Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria smiles during an introductory press conference Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Evan Longoria considers speeding up games a tricky issue
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria smiles during an introductory press conference Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria, center, puts on a team jersey next to team CEO Larry Baer, left, and general manager Bobby Evans during an announcement on his recent trade to the team Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Evan Longoria considers speeding up games a tricky issue
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria, center, puts on a team jersey next to team CEO Larry Baer, left, and general manager Bobby Evans during an announcement on his recent trade to the team Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria answers questions during an introductory press conference Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Evan Longoria considers speeding up games a tricky issue
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria answers questions during an introductory press conference Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria puts on a team hat and jersey during a press conference announcing his recent trade to the team Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Evan Longoria considers speeding up games a tricky issue
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria puts on a team hat and jersey during a press conference announcing his recent trade to the team Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri discusses the expectations for the San Francisco Giants in the upcoming 2018 season.
Expectations for San Francisco Giants for 2018
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri discusses the expectations for the San Francisco Giants in the upcoming 2018 season.
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri discusses the expectations for the San Francisco Giants in the upcoming 2018 season.
Expectations for San Francisco Giants for 2018
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri discusses the expectations for the San Francisco Giants in the upcoming 2018 season.
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri discusses the expectations for the San Francisco Giants in the upcoming 2018 season.
Expectations for San Francisco Giants for 2018
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri discusses the expectations for the San Francisco Giants in the upcoming 2018 season.
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri discusses the expectations for the San Francisco Giants in the upcoming 2018 season.
Expectations for San Francisco Giants for 2018
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri discusses the expectations for the San Francisco Giants in the upcoming 2018 season.
Pittsburgh Pirates team president Frank Coonelly and owner Bob Nutting listen as general manager Neal Huntington speaks to the media concerning the trade of outfielder Andrew McCutchen at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. The San Francisco Giants Giants found the outfielder they were looking for this winter, acquiring McCutchen from Pittsburgh on Monday to fill a key void. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
Pirates fans urge MLB to force owner Nutting to sell
Pittsburgh Pirates team president Frank Coonelly and owner Bob Nutting listen as general manager Neal Huntington speaks to the media concerning the trade of outfielder Andrew McCutchen at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. The San Francisco Giants Giants found the outfielder they were looking for this winter, acquiring McCutchen from Pittsburgh on Monday to fill a key void. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri talks about the impact Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria will have with the San Francisco Giants.
How will Longoria and McCutchen impact the Giants
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri talks about the impact Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria will have with the San Francisco Giants.
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri talks about the impact Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria will have with the San Francisco Giants.
How will Longoria and McCutchen impact the Giants
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri talks about the impact Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria will have with the San Francisco Giants.
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri talks about the impact Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria will have with the San Francisco Giants.
How will Longoria and McCutchen impact the Giants
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri talks about the impact Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria will have with the San Francisco Giants.
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri talks about the impact Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria will have with the San Francisco Giants.
How will Longoria and McCutchen impact the Giants
CBS Sports senior MLB writer Jonah Keri talks about the impact Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria will have with the San Francisco Giants.
<p>The high-water mark of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 21st century came on the night of Oct. 1, 2013, as 40,487 fans clad in black and gold rang PNC Park with chants of “CUE-TO, CUE-TO.” On the mound stood Reds ace Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati’s choice to start the NL wild-card game against a Pirates team that was making its first postseason appearance in 21 years. But in the second inning, he’d run into trouble, surrendering a solo home run to Marlon Byrd that brought out the chants. A few minutes later, Cueto, while facing Russell Martin, dropped the ball while transferring it from glove to hand. The chants grew louder. On the very next pitch, Martin rocketed a ball out over the left-center wall for a home run. The chants became deafening.</p><p>It had been two decades since Pirates fans had anything at all to cheer about, much less a playoff team. Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati that night to advance to the Division Series, then took a 2–1 lead on the Cardinals. The Pirates’ first trip to a pennant series since 1992 was one win away. But then the wave broke as the Cardinals rallied to win the series and move on to the NLCS. The Pirates made the playoffs the next two years but ran into Madison Bumgarner in the former and Jake Arrieta in the latter and lost in the wild-card game both times. Pittsburgh slumped from 98 wins in 2015 to 78 in ’16 to 75 last year. That wild October night receded further and further into the distance.</p><p>Now the hope of ever getting back to those heights seems to be a lifetime away. Over the course of 48 hours from Saturday through Monday, the Pirates didn’t just punt their 2018 chances by trading Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen; they also announced that sustained contention in Pittsburgh is a pipe dream. In trading both players—<a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2018/01/13/gerrit-cole-trade-astros-pirates-hot-stove" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cole to Houston" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cole to Houston</a>, <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2018/01/15/pittsburgh-pirates-trade-andrew-mccutchen-san-francisco-giants" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:McCutchen to San Francisco" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">McCutchen to San Francisco</a>—ownership declared the current team’s window of opportunity shut and moved on to sowing the seeds for the future. But it’s hard not to feel like, even as the team was coming off that magical 2013 run, the Pirates didn’t do enough to keep that window open as long as they could.</p><p>Few teams could boast as impressive a young core as the 2013 Pirates. McCutchen, Cole, Starling Marte, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Josh Harrison were all homegrown stars under 30, with top prospect Gregory Polanco joining them in 2014. The pieces were in place to build something special and sustainable. But winter after winter, the small-market Pirates refused to spend or sacrifice prospects. The winter after the wild-card win over the Reds, Pittsburgh’s only addition of note was journeyman starter Edinson Volquez. A year later, it was the low-cost veteran combo of A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano. And the year after that, coming off 98 wins and a second-place finish in the NL Central, the offseason consisted of letting Alvarez walk and trading Walker to the Mets while signing bargain-bin options like John Jaso, Ryan Vogelsong, and David Freese.</p><p>To do so little when given McCutchen, Cole and more is a baseball crime. The next step was within reach, but every time, the Pirates pulled up short, choosing instead to spend little or stick to the status quo. Contrast that to their fellow small-market also-rans, the Royals, who similarly turned a fecund farm system into surprise contention but also chose to go for it when they had the chance, landing Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto at the 2015 trade deadline, cost be damned. The result: the first World Series title in Kansas City in 30 years. Pittsburgh, sitting on its hands year after year, will enter 2018 on a 39-year title drought.</p><p>And you can expect that streak to go on indefinitely, because Pirates ownership has made it clear that spending what it takes to make the team a contender isn’t ever going to be in the cards. Here’s what Pittsburgh principal owner Bob Nutting told reporters on Monday night after trading McCutchen:</p><p>Reading that response, keep in mind that Nutting is a billionaire who owns a newspaper conglomerate and is the chairman of a ski resort in Pennsylvania. Keep in mind that, before the 2017 season, Forbes <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/pirates/2017/04/11/MLB-pirates-value-forbes-estimate-steelers-penguins/stories/201704110164" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:valued the Pirates" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">valued the Pirates</a> as being worth $1.25 billion. Keep in mind that the Pirates are revenue sharing recipients, and that their $109 million payroll in 2017 was 25th in the league, some $50 million below the MLB average. Keep in mind that, in 2010, <a href="http://www.espn.com/mlb/news/story?id=5484947" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the AP reported" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the AP reported</a> that Pittsburgh—which opened that season with the lowest payroll in baseball at just $39.4 million—made $29.4 million in ’07 and ’08. And keep in mind that, at some point this year, every MLB owner, including Nutting, will receive $50 million from the league, no strings attached, <a href="http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2017/12/27/top-25-baseball-stories-of-2017-24-disney-purchases-majority-stake-in-bamtech/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:as part of its sale of a majority stake in BAMTech to Disney" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">as part of its sale of a majority stake in BAMTech to Disney</a> (on top of the $33 million each already received in 2016 for a minority stake sale).</p><p>Does that sound like a team that needs to be counting every penny, or that can’t find a way to put the pieces around McCutchen and Cole to compete for a World Series? Those two players will make just under $22 million combined in 2018, a pittance in today’s market, yet Pittsburgh decided that was a financial bridge too far. And from the way Nutting makes it sound, nothing would have changed that. A team worth a billion dollars and with nearly $300 million in revenue last year chooses to hide behind cries of poverty. A billionaire complains about how the game is rigged against him and chooses to cut payroll, deal away stars, and play next season on the cheap (the Pirates have a mere $70 million on the books for 2018). In the battle between the fans and the bottom line, the money won.</p><p>Therein lies the real tragedy of the Pirates dealing away Cole and McCutchen. After two decades of irrelevance and stupidity and stinginess and losing, after watching top-10 draft picks get wasted on Bryan Bullington and J.J. Davis and Bobby Bradley, the Pirates had finally unearthed true franchise stars. Here was a gift beyond belief—and the Pirates wasted it. They had the chance to break through, to build teams around McCutchen and Cole that would contend for years. But instead, they’ve torn it all down because it would’ve cost too much.</p><p>All across Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, kids and adults alike are taking down McCutchen posters or bundling up jerseys and trying to talk themselves into believing that the next Cole and McCutchen are just around the corner. But there are plenty more who recognize this as the usual song and dance from a team that refuses to try, that just gave away the face of the franchise to save a few million dollars and will be nigh unwatchable for who knows how long, and that the next McCutchen will be shipped out, too, the moment his price gets too high.</p><p>McCutchen <a href="https://www.theplayerstribune.com/andrew-mccutchen-pirates-dear-pittsburgh/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:loved the city of Pittsburgh" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">loved the city of Pittsburgh</a>, and they <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/pirates/2018/01/15/Fans-thank-Andrew-McCutchen-question-Pirates-motives-on-Twitter-following-trade-to-Giants/stories/201801150140" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:loved him back" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">loved him back</a>. He was their superstar, the one who was going to carry them back to glory. Instead, they’ll watch from afar as he toils for another team, thousands of miles away from the home that should have been his forever. They deserved a better ending than this—and a better future than the one Pirates ownership has condemned them to.</p>
The Pirates Could Have Been Contenders, but Ownership Cried Poverty and Betrayed Their Fans

The high-water mark of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 21st century came on the night of Oct. 1, 2013, as 40,487 fans clad in black and gold rang PNC Park with chants of “CUE-TO, CUE-TO.” On the mound stood Reds ace Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati’s choice to start the NL wild-card game against a Pirates team that was making its first postseason appearance in 21 years. But in the second inning, he’d run into trouble, surrendering a solo home run to Marlon Byrd that brought out the chants. A few minutes later, Cueto, while facing Russell Martin, dropped the ball while transferring it from glove to hand. The chants grew louder. On the very next pitch, Martin rocketed a ball out over the left-center wall for a home run. The chants became deafening.

It had been two decades since Pirates fans had anything at all to cheer about, much less a playoff team. Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati that night to advance to the Division Series, then took a 2–1 lead on the Cardinals. The Pirates’ first trip to a pennant series since 1992 was one win away. But then the wave broke as the Cardinals rallied to win the series and move on to the NLCS. The Pirates made the playoffs the next two years but ran into Madison Bumgarner in the former and Jake Arrieta in the latter and lost in the wild-card game both times. Pittsburgh slumped from 98 wins in 2015 to 78 in ’16 to 75 last year. That wild October night receded further and further into the distance.

Now the hope of ever getting back to those heights seems to be a lifetime away. Over the course of 48 hours from Saturday through Monday, the Pirates didn’t just punt their 2018 chances by trading Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen; they also announced that sustained contention in Pittsburgh is a pipe dream. In trading both players—Cole to Houston, McCutchen to San Francisco—ownership declared the current team’s window of opportunity shut and moved on to sowing the seeds for the future. But it’s hard not to feel like, even as the team was coming off that magical 2013 run, the Pirates didn’t do enough to keep that window open as long as they could.

Few teams could boast as impressive a young core as the 2013 Pirates. McCutchen, Cole, Starling Marte, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Josh Harrison were all homegrown stars under 30, with top prospect Gregory Polanco joining them in 2014. The pieces were in place to build something special and sustainable. But winter after winter, the small-market Pirates refused to spend or sacrifice prospects. The winter after the wild-card win over the Reds, Pittsburgh’s only addition of note was journeyman starter Edinson Volquez. A year later, it was the low-cost veteran combo of A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano. And the year after that, coming off 98 wins and a second-place finish in the NL Central, the offseason consisted of letting Alvarez walk and trading Walker to the Mets while signing bargain-bin options like John Jaso, Ryan Vogelsong, and David Freese.

To do so little when given McCutchen, Cole and more is a baseball crime. The next step was within reach, but every time, the Pirates pulled up short, choosing instead to spend little or stick to the status quo. Contrast that to their fellow small-market also-rans, the Royals, who similarly turned a fecund farm system into surprise contention but also chose to go for it when they had the chance, landing Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto at the 2015 trade deadline, cost be damned. The result: the first World Series title in Kansas City in 30 years. Pittsburgh, sitting on its hands year after year, will enter 2018 on a 39-year title drought.

And you can expect that streak to go on indefinitely, because Pirates ownership has made it clear that spending what it takes to make the team a contender isn’t ever going to be in the cards. Here’s what Pittsburgh principal owner Bob Nutting told reporters on Monday night after trading McCutchen:

Reading that response, keep in mind that Nutting is a billionaire who owns a newspaper conglomerate and is the chairman of a ski resort in Pennsylvania. Keep in mind that, before the 2017 season, Forbes valued the Pirates as being worth $1.25 billion. Keep in mind that the Pirates are revenue sharing recipients, and that their $109 million payroll in 2017 was 25th in the league, some $50 million below the MLB average. Keep in mind that, in 2010, the AP reported that Pittsburgh—which opened that season with the lowest payroll in baseball at just $39.4 million—made $29.4 million in ’07 and ’08. And keep in mind that, at some point this year, every MLB owner, including Nutting, will receive $50 million from the league, no strings attached, as part of its sale of a majority stake in BAMTech to Disney (on top of the $33 million each already received in 2016 for a minority stake sale).

Does that sound like a team that needs to be counting every penny, or that can’t find a way to put the pieces around McCutchen and Cole to compete for a World Series? Those two players will make just under $22 million combined in 2018, a pittance in today’s market, yet Pittsburgh decided that was a financial bridge too far. And from the way Nutting makes it sound, nothing would have changed that. A team worth a billion dollars and with nearly $300 million in revenue last year chooses to hide behind cries of poverty. A billionaire complains about how the game is rigged against him and chooses to cut payroll, deal away stars, and play next season on the cheap (the Pirates have a mere $70 million on the books for 2018). In the battle between the fans and the bottom line, the money won.

Therein lies the real tragedy of the Pirates dealing away Cole and McCutchen. After two decades of irrelevance and stupidity and stinginess and losing, after watching top-10 draft picks get wasted on Bryan Bullington and J.J. Davis and Bobby Bradley, the Pirates had finally unearthed true franchise stars. Here was a gift beyond belief—and the Pirates wasted it. They had the chance to break through, to build teams around McCutchen and Cole that would contend for years. But instead, they’ve torn it all down because it would’ve cost too much.

All across Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, kids and adults alike are taking down McCutchen posters or bundling up jerseys and trying to talk themselves into believing that the next Cole and McCutchen are just around the corner. But there are plenty more who recognize this as the usual song and dance from a team that refuses to try, that just gave away the face of the franchise to save a few million dollars and will be nigh unwatchable for who knows how long, and that the next McCutchen will be shipped out, too, the moment his price gets too high.

McCutchen loved the city of Pittsburgh, and they loved him back. He was their superstar, the one who was going to carry them back to glory. Instead, they’ll watch from afar as he toils for another team, thousands of miles away from the home that should have been his forever. They deserved a better ending than this—and a better future than the one Pirates ownership has condemned them to.

<p>The high-water mark of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 21st century came on the night of Oct. 1, 2013, as 40,487 fans clad in black and gold rang PNC Park with chants of “CUE-TO, CUE-TO.” On the mound stood Reds ace Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati’s choice to start the NL wild-card game against a Pirates team that was making its first postseason appearance in 21 years. But in the second inning, he’d run into trouble, surrendering a solo home run to Marlon Byrd that brought out the chants. A few minutes later, Cueto, while facing Russell Martin, dropped the ball while transferring it from glove to hand. The chants grew louder. On the very next pitch, Martin rocketed a ball out over the left-center wall for a home run. The chants became deafening.</p><p>It had been two decades since Pirates fans had anything at all to cheer about, much less a playoff team. Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati that night to advance to the Division Series, then took a 2–1 lead on the Cardinals. The Pirates’ first trip to a pennant series since 1992 was one win away. But then the wave broke as the Cardinals rallied to win the series and move on to the NLCS. The Pirates made the playoffs the next two years but ran into Madison Bumgarner in the former and Jake Arrieta in the latter and lost in the wild-card game both times. Pittsburgh slumped from 98 wins in 2015 to 78 in ’16 to 75 last year. That wild October night receded further and further into the distance.</p><p>Now the hope of ever getting back to those heights seems to be a lifetime away. Over the course of 48 hours from Saturday through Monday, the Pirates didn’t just punt their 2018 chances by trading Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen; they also announced that sustained contention in Pittsburgh is a pipe dream. In trading both players—<a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2018/01/13/gerrit-cole-trade-astros-pirates-hot-stove" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cole to Houston" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cole to Houston</a>, <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2018/01/15/pittsburgh-pirates-trade-andrew-mccutchen-san-francisco-giants" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:McCutchen to San Francisco" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">McCutchen to San Francisco</a>—ownership declared the current team’s window of opportunity shut and moved on to sowing the seeds for the future. But it’s hard not to feel like, even as the team was coming off that magical 2013 run, the Pirates didn’t do enough to keep that window open as long as they could.</p><p>Few teams could boast as impressive a young core as the 2013 Pirates. McCutchen, Cole, Starling Marte, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Josh Harrison were all homegrown stars under 30, with top prospect Gregory Polanco joining them in 2014. The pieces were in place to build something special and sustainable. But winter after winter, the small-market Pirates refused to spend or sacrifice prospects. The winter after the wild-card win over the Reds, Pittsburgh’s only addition of note was journeyman starter Edinson Volquez. A year later, it was the low-cost veteran combo of A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano. And the year after that, coming off 98 wins and a second-place finish in the NL Central, the offseason consisted of letting Alvarez walk and trading Walker to the Mets while signing bargain-bin options like John Jaso, Ryan Vogelsong, and David Freese.</p><p>To do so little when given McCutchen, Cole and more is a baseball crime. The next step was within reach, but every time, the Pirates pulled up short, choosing instead to spend little or stick to the status quo. Contrast that to their fellow small-market also-rans, the Royals, who similarly turned a fecund farm system into surprise contention but also chose to go for it when they had the chance, landing Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto at the 2015 trade deadline, cost be damned. The result: the first World Series title in Kansas City in 30 years. Pittsburgh, sitting on its hands year after year, will enter 2018 on a 39-year title drought.</p><p>And you can expect that streak to go on indefinitely, because Pirates ownership has made it clear that spending what it takes to make the team a contender isn’t ever going to be in the cards. Here’s what Pittsburgh principal owner Bob Nutting told reporters on Monday night after trading McCutchen:</p><p>Reading that response, keep in mind that Nutting is a billionaire who owns a newspaper conglomerate and is the chairman of a ski resort in Pennsylvania. Keep in mind that, before the 2017 season, Forbes <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/pirates/2017/04/11/MLB-pirates-value-forbes-estimate-steelers-penguins/stories/201704110164" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:valued the Pirates" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">valued the Pirates</a> as being worth $1.25 billion. Keep in mind that the Pirates are revenue sharing recipients, and that their $109 million payroll in 2017 was 25th in the league, some $50 million below the MLB average. Keep in mind that, in 2010, <a href="http://www.espn.com/mlb/news/story?id=5484947" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the AP reported" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the AP reported</a> that Pittsburgh—which opened that season with the lowest payroll in baseball at just $39.4 million—made $29.4 million in ’07 and ’08. And keep in mind that, at some point this year, every MLB owner, including Nutting, will receive $50 million from the league, no strings attached, <a href="http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2017/12/27/top-25-baseball-stories-of-2017-24-disney-purchases-majority-stake-in-bamtech/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:as part of its sale of a majority stake in BAMTech to Disney" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">as part of its sale of a majority stake in BAMTech to Disney</a> (on top of the $33 million each already received in 2016 for a minority stake sale).</p><p>Does that sound like a team that needs to be counting every penny, or that can’t find a way to put the pieces around McCutchen and Cole to compete for a World Series? Those two players will make just under $22 million combined in 2018, a pittance in today’s market, yet Pittsburgh decided that was a financial bridge too far. And from the way Nutting makes it sound, nothing would have changed that. A team worth a billion dollars and with nearly $300 million in revenue last year chooses to hide behind cries of poverty. A billionaire complains about how the game is rigged against him and chooses to cut payroll, deal away stars, and play next season on the cheap (the Pirates have a mere $70 million on the books for 2018). In the battle between the fans and the bottom line, the money won.</p><p>Therein lies the real tragedy of the Pirates dealing away Cole and McCutchen. After two decades of irrelevance and stupidity and stinginess and losing, after watching top-10 draft picks get wasted on Bryan Bullington and J.J. Davis and Bobby Bradley, the Pirates had finally unearthed true franchise stars. Here was a gift beyond belief—and the Pirates wasted it. They had the chance to break through, to build teams around McCutchen and Cole that would contend for years. But instead, they’ve torn it all down because it would’ve cost too much.</p><p>All across Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, kids and adults alike are taking down McCutchen posters or bundling up jerseys and trying to talk themselves into believing that the next Cole and McCutchen are just around the corner. But there are plenty more who recognize this as the usual song and dance from a team that refuses to try, that just gave away the face of the franchise to save a few million dollars and will be nigh unwatchable for who knows how long, and that the next McCutchen will be shipped out, too, the moment his price gets too high.</p><p>McCutchen <a href="https://www.theplayerstribune.com/andrew-mccutchen-pirates-dear-pittsburgh/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:loved the city of Pittsburgh" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">loved the city of Pittsburgh</a>, and they <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/pirates/2018/01/15/Fans-thank-Andrew-McCutchen-question-Pirates-motives-on-Twitter-following-trade-to-Giants/stories/201801150140" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:loved him back" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">loved him back</a>. He was their superstar, the one who was going to carry them back to glory. Instead, they’ll watch from afar as he toils for another team, thousands of miles away from the home that should have been his forever. They deserved a better ending than this—and a better future than the one Pirates ownership has condemned them to.</p>
The Pirates Could Have Been Contenders, but Ownership Cried Poverty and Betrayed Their Fans

The high-water mark of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 21st century came on the night of Oct. 1, 2013, as 40,487 fans clad in black and gold rang PNC Park with chants of “CUE-TO, CUE-TO.” On the mound stood Reds ace Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati’s choice to start the NL wild-card game against a Pirates team that was making its first postseason appearance in 21 years. But in the second inning, he’d run into trouble, surrendering a solo home run to Marlon Byrd that brought out the chants. A few minutes later, Cueto, while facing Russell Martin, dropped the ball while transferring it from glove to hand. The chants grew louder. On the very next pitch, Martin rocketed a ball out over the left-center wall for a home run. The chants became deafening.

It had been two decades since Pirates fans had anything at all to cheer about, much less a playoff team. Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati that night to advance to the Division Series, then took a 2–1 lead on the Cardinals. The Pirates’ first trip to a pennant series since 1992 was one win away. But then the wave broke as the Cardinals rallied to win the series and move on to the NLCS. The Pirates made the playoffs the next two years but ran into Madison Bumgarner in the former and Jake Arrieta in the latter and lost in the wild-card game both times. Pittsburgh slumped from 98 wins in 2015 to 78 in ’16 to 75 last year. That wild October night receded further and further into the distance.

Now the hope of ever getting back to those heights seems to be a lifetime away. Over the course of 48 hours from Saturday through Monday, the Pirates didn’t just punt their 2018 chances by trading Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen; they also announced that sustained contention in Pittsburgh is a pipe dream. In trading both players—Cole to Houston, McCutchen to San Francisco—ownership declared the current team’s window of opportunity shut and moved on to sowing the seeds for the future. But it’s hard not to feel like, even as the team was coming off that magical 2013 run, the Pirates didn’t do enough to keep that window open as long as they could.

Few teams could boast as impressive a young core as the 2013 Pirates. McCutchen, Cole, Starling Marte, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Josh Harrison were all homegrown stars under 30, with top prospect Gregory Polanco joining them in 2014. The pieces were in place to build something special and sustainable. But winter after winter, the small-market Pirates refused to spend or sacrifice prospects. The winter after the wild-card win over the Reds, Pittsburgh’s only addition of note was journeyman starter Edinson Volquez. A year later, it was the low-cost veteran combo of A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano. And the year after that, coming off 98 wins and a second-place finish in the NL Central, the offseason consisted of letting Alvarez walk and trading Walker to the Mets while signing bargain-bin options like John Jaso, Ryan Vogelsong, and David Freese.

To do so little when given McCutchen, Cole and more is a baseball crime. The next step was within reach, but every time, the Pirates pulled up short, choosing instead to spend little or stick to the status quo. Contrast that to their fellow small-market also-rans, the Royals, who similarly turned a fecund farm system into surprise contention but also chose to go for it when they had the chance, landing Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto at the 2015 trade deadline, cost be damned. The result: the first World Series title in Kansas City in 30 years. Pittsburgh, sitting on its hands year after year, will enter 2018 on a 39-year title drought.

And you can expect that streak to go on indefinitely, because Pirates ownership has made it clear that spending what it takes to make the team a contender isn’t ever going to be in the cards. Here’s what Pittsburgh principal owner Bob Nutting told reporters on Monday night after trading McCutchen:

Reading that response, keep in mind that Nutting is a billionaire who owns a newspaper conglomerate and is the chairman of a ski resort in Pennsylvania. Keep in mind that, before the 2017 season, Forbes valued the Pirates as being worth $1.25 billion. Keep in mind that the Pirates are revenue sharing recipients, and that their $109 million payroll in 2017 was 25th in the league, some $50 million below the MLB average. Keep in mind that, in 2010, the AP reported that Pittsburgh—which opened that season with the lowest payroll in baseball at just $39.4 million—made $29.4 million in ’07 and ’08. And keep in mind that, at some point this year, every MLB owner, including Nutting, will receive $50 million from the league, no strings attached, as part of its sale of a majority stake in BAMTech to Disney (on top of the $33 million each already received in 2016 for a minority stake sale).

Does that sound like a team that needs to be counting every penny, or that can’t find a way to put the pieces around McCutchen and Cole to compete for a World Series? Those two players will make just under $22 million combined in 2018, a pittance in today’s market, yet Pittsburgh decided that was a financial bridge too far. And from the way Nutting makes it sound, nothing would have changed that. A team worth a billion dollars and with nearly $300 million in revenue last year chooses to hide behind cries of poverty. A billionaire complains about how the game is rigged against him and chooses to cut payroll, deal away stars, and play next season on the cheap (the Pirates have a mere $70 million on the books for 2018). In the battle between the fans and the bottom line, the money won.

Therein lies the real tragedy of the Pirates dealing away Cole and McCutchen. After two decades of irrelevance and stupidity and stinginess and losing, after watching top-10 draft picks get wasted on Bryan Bullington and J.J. Davis and Bobby Bradley, the Pirates had finally unearthed true franchise stars. Here was a gift beyond belief—and the Pirates wasted it. They had the chance to break through, to build teams around McCutchen and Cole that would contend for years. But instead, they’ve torn it all down because it would’ve cost too much.

All across Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, kids and adults alike are taking down McCutchen posters or bundling up jerseys and trying to talk themselves into believing that the next Cole and McCutchen are just around the corner. But there are plenty more who recognize this as the usual song and dance from a team that refuses to try, that just gave away the face of the franchise to save a few million dollars and will be nigh unwatchable for who knows how long, and that the next McCutchen will be shipped out, too, the moment his price gets too high.

McCutchen loved the city of Pittsburgh, and they loved him back. He was their superstar, the one who was going to carry them back to glory. Instead, they’ll watch from afar as he toils for another team, thousands of miles away from the home that should have been his forever. They deserved a better ending than this—and a better future than the one Pirates ownership has condemned them to.

The San Francisco Giants landed Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Pirates send McCutchen to Giants
The San Francisco Giants landed Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded star outfielder Andrew McCutchen; KDKA&#39;s Bob Pompeani reports.
Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen Traded To San Francisco Giants
The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded star outfielder Andrew McCutchen; KDKA's Bob Pompeani reports.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded star outfielder Andrew McCutchen; KDKA&#39;s Bob Pompeani reports.
Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen Traded To San Francisco Giants
The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded star outfielder Andrew McCutchen; KDKA's Bob Pompeani reports.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded star outfielder Andrew McCutchen; KDKA's Bob Pompeani reports.
Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen Traded To San Francisco Giants
The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded star outfielder Andrew McCutchen; KDKA's Bob Pompeani reports.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded star outfielder Andrew McCutchen; KDKA&#39;s Bob Pompeani reports.
Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen Traded To San Francisco Giants
The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded star outfielder Andrew McCutchen; KDKA's Bob Pompeani reports.
FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2017 file photo, Washington Nationals&#39; Howie Kendrick throws off his batting helmet as he celebrates his walkoff grand slam in the 11th inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants in Washington. The Nationals have agreed to terms on a $7 million, two-year contract with veteran outfielder Howie Kendrick. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Howie Kendrick and Nationals agree to $7M, 2-year contract
FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2017 file photo, Washington Nationals' Howie Kendrick throws off his batting helmet as he celebrates his walkoff grand slam in the 11th inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants in Washington. The Nationals have agreed to terms on a $7 million, two-year contract with veteran outfielder Howie Kendrick. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
FILE - In this April 21, 2017, file photo, Colorado Rockies&#39; Charlie Blackmon follows through with his swing after connecting for a two-run inside-the-park home run off San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto in the fourth inning of a baseball game, in Denver. NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon and the Colorado Rockies avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a $14 million, one-year contract, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Blackmon, Rockies reach $14M, 1-year deal, avoid arbitration
FILE - In this April 21, 2017, file photo, Colorado Rockies' Charlie Blackmon follows through with his swing after connecting for a two-run inside-the-park home run off San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto in the fourth inning of a baseball game, in Denver. NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon and the Colorado Rockies avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a $14 million, one-year contract, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - In this July 19, 2017, file photo, Cleveland Indians pitcher Boone Logan throws against the San Francisco Giants during a baseball game in San Francisco. Reliever Boone Logan and the Milwaukee Brewers have finalized a $2.5 million, one-year contract. The 33-year-old left-hander was 1-0 with a 4.71 ERA in 38 games for Cleveland last year, striking out 28 in 21 innings. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
Boone Logan, Brewers finalize $2.5 million, 1-year contract
FILE - In this July 19, 2017, file photo, Cleveland Indians pitcher Boone Logan throws against the San Francisco Giants during a baseball game in San Francisco. Reliever Boone Logan and the Milwaukee Brewers have finalized a $2.5 million, one-year contract. The 33-year-old left-hander was 1-0 with a 4.71 ERA in 38 games for Cleveland last year, striking out 28 in 21 innings. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
<p>The freezing cold winter has left us with a frozen free agent market. Players will have to start signing soon (right?), so we’ll review what each National League team should do with so many players left on the board.</p><p><strong>Arizona Diamondbacks: Sign Lorenzo Cain</strong></p><p>Unfortunately, J.D. Martinez—who hit 29 homers for the D-backs in 62 games—is probably too expensive for Arizona, but the Diamondbacks can more likely afford Cain. The catch will be if Cain is willing to surrender centerfield and move to left so A.J. Pollock can hold down center. The Yasmany Tomas experiment appears to be a bust—he’s worth -2.2 WAR since joining the team in 2015 despite a decent 2016 season—and the lineup will need stability once Martinez departs. To best protect Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and a glut of other promising young hitters, Arizona should sign a trusty veteran like Cain to solidify its lineup.</p><p><strong>Atlanta Braves: Start printing Ronald Acuna posters</strong></p><p>By shedding Matt Kemp’s onerous contract from their books, the Braves created a lane for baseball’s top prospect in outfielder Ronald Acuna. The 20-year-old won Arizona Fall League MVP honors after slashing .325/.414/.639 with seven homers in just 23 games. He might not be on the opening day roster, but he’ll be one of the most exciting player to arrive in Atlanta in years once he gets the call.</p><p><strong>Cincinnati Reds</strong>: <strong>Stockpile low-budget starting pitching</strong></p><p>This team is nowhere close to competing for the NL Central crown in 2018, but they do have a handful of promising young players (Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, Amir Garrett) who might be one season away from being strong everyday contributors. The best thing they can do now is to sign affordable veteran starting pitching who can take some pressure off of their younger arms and eat innings in what will be a difficult year. There won’t be huge markets for players like Ricky Nolasco and Wade Miley, so the Reds may as well float offers to them to try and stabilize a rotation that was horrendous in 2016.</p><p><strong>Chicago Cubs: Sign Yu Darvish</strong></p><p>There’s almost no chance that Chicago will bring back Jake Arrieta, so Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would be wise to invest in Darvish, whose price may not be quite as high after two horrific World Series starts. The word on Darvish is the same as it has always been: he might have the best raw stuff of any pitcher in the big leagues, but he’s never been able to put it all together to become a true ace. The Cubs don’t need that with Jon Lester anchoring the rotation, so Darvish would slot nicely as their second starter. Epstein may be loath to sign another unpredictable veteran to a long-term contract (remember Jason Heyward is owed $134 million over the next six years), but Darvish is too good a pitcher to ignore for a team looking to return to the World Series.</p><p><strong>Colorado Rockies: Sign Charlie Blackmon to a long-term deal</strong></p><p>The Rockies should prioritize signing Nolan Arenado (who is arbitration-eligible in 2019 and a free agent the season after that), but Blackmon is a free agent next year and the marriage between the two is strong. Blackmon is entering his age-31 season and finished fifth in MVP voting last year, but the home/road splits are worth noting. Blackmon finished with a .391/.466/.793 slash line with 24 homers at Coors Field and a .276/.337/.447 line with 13 homers on the road.</p><p>Given how tough of a time power-hitting free agents are having securing contracts in this offseason, Blackmon likely won’t secure an enormous deal with players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper on the market. He and the Rockies would be smart to pair up now and sign a deal until his age-36 or -37 season.</p><p><strong>Los Angeles Dodgers: Find the new Brandon Morrow or Joe Blanton</strong></p><p>In 2016, Joe Blanton re-emerged from general obscurity to become a central cog of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Brandon Morrow went from a forgotten big league starter into one of the big leagues’ most dominant relievers at age 33. Blanton signed with the Nationals last year (and had an awful season). This year, Morrow signed with the Cubs presumably to become their closer.</p><p>The Dodgers signed Tom Koehler to a one-year deal either to provide rotation stability or to be the next starter converted into a reliever. L.A. has succeeded finding lottery-ticket relievers in the past, and it’ll need to find another to perfect the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.</p><p><strong>Miami Marlins: Free Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto</strong></p><p>Do these promising young players a favor and don’t subject them to the horrendous teardown taking place in Miami.</p><p><strong>Milwaukee Brewers: Sign Jake Arrieta</strong></p><p>The Brewers are legitimate contenders in the NL Central but they won’t compete for a pennant with Zach Davies, Yovani Gallardo, Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson headlining the rotation. Arrieta’s form has declined since his 2015 Cy Young campaign, but he’s still a legitimate top-tier arm who can front a postseason rotation. Adding a significant second starter (Alex Cobb? Jason Vargas?) would put Milwaukee in an even better position.</p><p><strong>New York Mets: Spend as much as the Wilpons will allow</strong></p><p>It’s a shame that the Mets will have to penny-pinch their way through another offseason. If Michael Conforto returns from injury, Yoenis Cespedes produces the way he’s capable and the pitching staff stays healthy, New York can compete in the NL East. The way they can do this is to approach this offseason the way the Angels have—be aggressive and sign trusty veteran bats. Sign Adrian Gonzalez to play first base and keep a lane open for Dom Smith. Determine David Wright’s health and consider signing Mike Moustakas. Interview Lorenzo Cain. The Mets probably won’t do any of these things until the Wilpons sell the team, but the fans can dream.</p><p><strong>Philadelphia Phillies: Sign Alex Cobb</strong></p><p>The Phillies have enough money to sign a frontline starter (Darvish, Arrieta) to improve an awful pitching staff (think the way the Cubs signed Jon Lester), but perhaps they’re better off saving some of their money for the next offseason to pursue Manny Machado. By signing Carlos Santana to play first base and moving rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins to the outfield, the Phillies starting lineup is set for the conceivable future. What the team needs is stable starting pitching. If he’s healthy, Cobb is one of the trustiest finds in baseball.</p><p><strong>Pittsburgh Pirates</strong>: <strong>Trust Ray Searage</strong></p><p>A lot of folks think that the Pirates’ window has closed and that they should sell off their best assets (Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen). There is enough evidence, however, that the Pirates can make one more run at the postseason. McCutchen looked done in the beginning of last season, but surged to compile a .279/.336/.467 slash line with 28 homers. The team stumbled to a 75–87 finish, but that was after losing star outfielder Starling Marte for 80 games to a PED suspension. Former top prospect Gregory Polanco may be closer to a bust than a star, but he’s still a decent everyday outfielder.</p><p>Now, the Pirates need rotation depth and the wizardry of pitching coach Ray Searage to help them avoid any major pitching struggles in 2018. Whether that’s by signing Andrew Cashner or Jaime Garcia, the Pirates can compete from the outside if they get strong production from a veteran starter.</p><p><strong>San Diego Padres</strong>: <strong>Sign Eric Hosmer</strong></p><p>Hosmer is the player the Padres want. Between him, Wil Myers and a core of young talent headlined by Manny Margot and Hunter Renfroe, the Padres can lure fans to the ballpark for the first time in years, even if they won’t win too much in 2018.</p><p><strong>San Francisco Giants: Find a centerfielder</strong></p><p>The Giants managed to unload the struggling Denard Span to the Rays, and now they need to fill centerfield with a plus defender and a bat to energize one of baseball’s weakest lineups. The Giants have made one of the offseason’s biggest moves by acquiring Evan Longoria from the Rays, and are rumored to be talking to the Reds about acquiring Billy Hamilton. San Francisco probably isn’t going to unseat the Dodgers at the top of the NL West, but it can compete for a Wild Card spot if it fields a decent outfield and receives comeback performances from Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner.</p><p><strong>St. Louis Cardinals</strong>: <strong>Keep trying to acquire Manny Machado</strong></p><p>The Cardinals made one of the best moves of the offseason by acquiring Marcell Ozuna. To make a bigger run at unseating the Cubs at the top of the division, GM John Mozeliak should keep floating Luke Weaver and other prospects at the Orioles for Machado. The Cardinals are almost there, but they’re one power bat away from reaching the top tier of the National League.</p><p><strong>Washington Nationals: Trade for J.T. Realmuto</strong></p><p>The Nationals are set everywhere except for catcher. The Marlins may ask for top prospect Victor Robles, but the Nationals can say no and ask for lesser prospects. They received subpar packages for Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon … so why would the Nats have to deal their top prospect?</p>
What Every National League Team Should Do in This Painfully Slow Offseason

The freezing cold winter has left us with a frozen free agent market. Players will have to start signing soon (right?), so we’ll review what each National League team should do with so many players left on the board.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Sign Lorenzo Cain

Unfortunately, J.D. Martinez—who hit 29 homers for the D-backs in 62 games—is probably too expensive for Arizona, but the Diamondbacks can more likely afford Cain. The catch will be if Cain is willing to surrender centerfield and move to left so A.J. Pollock can hold down center. The Yasmany Tomas experiment appears to be a bust—he’s worth -2.2 WAR since joining the team in 2015 despite a decent 2016 season—and the lineup will need stability once Martinez departs. To best protect Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and a glut of other promising young hitters, Arizona should sign a trusty veteran like Cain to solidify its lineup.

Atlanta Braves: Start printing Ronald Acuna posters

By shedding Matt Kemp’s onerous contract from their books, the Braves created a lane for baseball’s top prospect in outfielder Ronald Acuna. The 20-year-old won Arizona Fall League MVP honors after slashing .325/.414/.639 with seven homers in just 23 games. He might not be on the opening day roster, but he’ll be one of the most exciting player to arrive in Atlanta in years once he gets the call.

Cincinnati Reds: Stockpile low-budget starting pitching

This team is nowhere close to competing for the NL Central crown in 2018, but they do have a handful of promising young players (Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, Amir Garrett) who might be one season away from being strong everyday contributors. The best thing they can do now is to sign affordable veteran starting pitching who can take some pressure off of their younger arms and eat innings in what will be a difficult year. There won’t be huge markets for players like Ricky Nolasco and Wade Miley, so the Reds may as well float offers to them to try and stabilize a rotation that was horrendous in 2016.

Chicago Cubs: Sign Yu Darvish

There’s almost no chance that Chicago will bring back Jake Arrieta, so Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would be wise to invest in Darvish, whose price may not be quite as high after two horrific World Series starts. The word on Darvish is the same as it has always been: he might have the best raw stuff of any pitcher in the big leagues, but he’s never been able to put it all together to become a true ace. The Cubs don’t need that with Jon Lester anchoring the rotation, so Darvish would slot nicely as their second starter. Epstein may be loath to sign another unpredictable veteran to a long-term contract (remember Jason Heyward is owed $134 million over the next six years), but Darvish is too good a pitcher to ignore for a team looking to return to the World Series.

Colorado Rockies: Sign Charlie Blackmon to a long-term deal

The Rockies should prioritize signing Nolan Arenado (who is arbitration-eligible in 2019 and a free agent the season after that), but Blackmon is a free agent next year and the marriage between the two is strong. Blackmon is entering his age-31 season and finished fifth in MVP voting last year, but the home/road splits are worth noting. Blackmon finished with a .391/.466/.793 slash line with 24 homers at Coors Field and a .276/.337/.447 line with 13 homers on the road.

Given how tough of a time power-hitting free agents are having securing contracts in this offseason, Blackmon likely won’t secure an enormous deal with players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper on the market. He and the Rockies would be smart to pair up now and sign a deal until his age-36 or -37 season.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Find the new Brandon Morrow or Joe Blanton

In 2016, Joe Blanton re-emerged from general obscurity to become a central cog of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Brandon Morrow went from a forgotten big league starter into one of the big leagues’ most dominant relievers at age 33. Blanton signed with the Nationals last year (and had an awful season). This year, Morrow signed with the Cubs presumably to become their closer.

The Dodgers signed Tom Koehler to a one-year deal either to provide rotation stability or to be the next starter converted into a reliever. L.A. has succeeded finding lottery-ticket relievers in the past, and it’ll need to find another to perfect the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.

Miami Marlins: Free Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto

Do these promising young players a favor and don’t subject them to the horrendous teardown taking place in Miami.

Milwaukee Brewers: Sign Jake Arrieta

The Brewers are legitimate contenders in the NL Central but they won’t compete for a pennant with Zach Davies, Yovani Gallardo, Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson headlining the rotation. Arrieta’s form has declined since his 2015 Cy Young campaign, but he’s still a legitimate top-tier arm who can front a postseason rotation. Adding a significant second starter (Alex Cobb? Jason Vargas?) would put Milwaukee in an even better position.

New York Mets: Spend as much as the Wilpons will allow

It’s a shame that the Mets will have to penny-pinch their way through another offseason. If Michael Conforto returns from injury, Yoenis Cespedes produces the way he’s capable and the pitching staff stays healthy, New York can compete in the NL East. The way they can do this is to approach this offseason the way the Angels have—be aggressive and sign trusty veteran bats. Sign Adrian Gonzalez to play first base and keep a lane open for Dom Smith. Determine David Wright’s health and consider signing Mike Moustakas. Interview Lorenzo Cain. The Mets probably won’t do any of these things until the Wilpons sell the team, but the fans can dream.

Philadelphia Phillies: Sign Alex Cobb

The Phillies have enough money to sign a frontline starter (Darvish, Arrieta) to improve an awful pitching staff (think the way the Cubs signed Jon Lester), but perhaps they’re better off saving some of their money for the next offseason to pursue Manny Machado. By signing Carlos Santana to play first base and moving rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins to the outfield, the Phillies starting lineup is set for the conceivable future. What the team needs is stable starting pitching. If he’s healthy, Cobb is one of the trustiest finds in baseball.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Trust Ray Searage

A lot of folks think that the Pirates’ window has closed and that they should sell off their best assets (Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen). There is enough evidence, however, that the Pirates can make one more run at the postseason. McCutchen looked done in the beginning of last season, but surged to compile a .279/.336/.467 slash line with 28 homers. The team stumbled to a 75–87 finish, but that was after losing star outfielder Starling Marte for 80 games to a PED suspension. Former top prospect Gregory Polanco may be closer to a bust than a star, but he’s still a decent everyday outfielder.

Now, the Pirates need rotation depth and the wizardry of pitching coach Ray Searage to help them avoid any major pitching struggles in 2018. Whether that’s by signing Andrew Cashner or Jaime Garcia, the Pirates can compete from the outside if they get strong production from a veteran starter.

San Diego Padres: Sign Eric Hosmer

Hosmer is the player the Padres want. Between him, Wil Myers and a core of young talent headlined by Manny Margot and Hunter Renfroe, the Padres can lure fans to the ballpark for the first time in years, even if they won’t win too much in 2018.

San Francisco Giants: Find a centerfielder

The Giants managed to unload the struggling Denard Span to the Rays, and now they need to fill centerfield with a plus defender and a bat to energize one of baseball’s weakest lineups. The Giants have made one of the offseason’s biggest moves by acquiring Evan Longoria from the Rays, and are rumored to be talking to the Reds about acquiring Billy Hamilton. San Francisco probably isn’t going to unseat the Dodgers at the top of the NL West, but it can compete for a Wild Card spot if it fields a decent outfield and receives comeback performances from Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner.

St. Louis Cardinals: Keep trying to acquire Manny Machado

The Cardinals made one of the best moves of the offseason by acquiring Marcell Ozuna. To make a bigger run at unseating the Cubs at the top of the division, GM John Mozeliak should keep floating Luke Weaver and other prospects at the Orioles for Machado. The Cardinals are almost there, but they’re one power bat away from reaching the top tier of the National League.

Washington Nationals: Trade for J.T. Realmuto

The Nationals are set everywhere except for catcher. The Marlins may ask for top prospect Victor Robles, but the Nationals can say no and ask for lesser prospects. They received subpar packages for Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon … so why would the Nats have to deal their top prospect?

<p>The freezing cold winter has left us with a frozen free agent market. Players will have to start signing soon (right?), so we’ll review what each National League team should do with so many players left on the board.</p><p><strong>Arizona Diamondbacks: Sign Lorenzo Cain</strong></p><p>Unfortunately, J.D. Martinez—who hit 29 homers for the D-backs in 62 games—is probably too expensive for Arizona, but the Diamondbacks can more likely afford Cain. The catch will be if Cain is willing to surrender centerfield and move to left so A.J. Pollock can hold down center. The Yasmany Tomas experiment appears to be a bust—he’s worth -2.2 WAR since joining the team in 2015 despite a decent 2016 season—and the lineup will need stability once Martinez departs. To best protect Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and a glut of other promising young hitters, Arizona should sign a trusty veteran like Cain to solidify its lineup.</p><p><strong>Atlanta Braves: Start printing Ronald Acuna posters</strong></p><p>By shedding Matt Kemp’s onerous contract from their books, the Braves created a lane for baseball’s top prospect in outfielder Ronald Acuna. The 20-year-old won Arizona Fall League MVP honors after slashing .325/.414/.639 with seven homers in just 23 games. He might not be on the opening day roster, but he’ll be one of the most exciting player to arrive in Atlanta in years once he gets the call.</p><p><strong>Cincinnati Reds</strong>: <strong>Stockpile low-budget starting pitching</strong></p><p>This team is nowhere close to competing for the NL Central crown in 2018, but they do have a handful of promising young players (Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, Amir Garrett) who might be one season away from being strong everyday contributors. The best thing they can do now is to sign affordable veteran starting pitching who can take some pressure off of their younger arms and eat innings in what will be a difficult year. There won’t be huge markets for players like Ricky Nolasco and Wade Miley, so the Reds may as well float offers to them to try and stabilize a rotation that was horrendous in 2016.</p><p><strong>Chicago Cubs: Sign Yu Darvish</strong></p><p>There’s almost no chance that Chicago will bring back Jake Arrieta, so Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would be wise to invest in Darvish, whose price may not be quite as high after two horrific World Series starts. The word on Darvish is the same as it has always been: he might have the best raw stuff of any pitcher in the big leagues, but he’s never been able to put it all together to become a true ace. The Cubs don’t need that with Jon Lester anchoring the rotation, so Darvish would slot nicely as their second starter. Epstein may be loath to sign another unpredictable veteran to a long-term contract (remember Jason Heyward is owed $134 million over the next six years), but Darvish is too good a pitcher to ignore for a team looking to return to the World Series.</p><p><strong>Colorado Rockies: Sign Charlie Blackmon to a long-term deal</strong></p><p>The Rockies should prioritize signing Nolan Arenado (who is arbitration-eligible in 2019 and a free agent the season after that), but Blackmon is a free agent next year and the marriage between the two is strong. Blackmon is entering his age-31 season and finished fifth in MVP voting last year, but the home/road splits are worth noting. Blackmon finished with a .391/.466/.793 slash line with 24 homers at Coors Field and a .276/.337/.447 line with 13 homers on the road.</p><p>Given how tough of a time power-hitting free agents are having securing contracts in this offseason, Blackmon likely won’t secure an enormous deal with players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper on the market. He and the Rockies would be smart to pair up now and sign a deal until his age-36 or -37 season.</p><p><strong>Los Angeles Dodgers: Find the new Brandon Morrow or Joe Blanton</strong></p><p>In 2016, Joe Blanton re-emerged from general obscurity to become a central cog of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Brandon Morrow went from a forgotten big league starter into one of the big leagues’ most dominant relievers at age 33. Blanton signed with the Nationals last year (and had an awful season). This year, Morrow signed with the Cubs presumably to become their closer.</p><p>The Dodgers signed Tom Koehler to a one-year deal either to provide rotation stability or to be the next starter converted into a reliever. L.A. has succeeded finding lottery-ticket relievers in the past, and it’ll need to find another to perfect the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.</p><p><strong>Miami Marlins: Free Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto</strong></p><p>Do these promising young players a favor and don’t subject them to the horrendous teardown taking place in Miami.</p><p><strong>Milwaukee Brewers: Sign Jake Arrieta</strong></p><p>The Brewers are legitimate contenders in the NL Central but they won’t compete for a pennant with Zach Davies, Yovani Gallardo, Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson headlining the rotation. Arrieta’s form has declined since his 2015 Cy Young campaign, but he’s still a legitimate top-tier arm who can front a postseason rotation. Adding a significant second starter (Alex Cobb? Jason Vargas?) would put Milwaukee in an even better position.</p><p><strong>New York Mets: Spend as much as the Wilpons will allow</strong></p><p>It’s a shame that the Mets will have to penny-pinch their way through another offseason. If Michael Conforto returns from injury, Yoenis Cespedes produces the way he’s capable and the pitching staff stays healthy, New York can compete in the NL East. The way they can do this is to approach this offseason the way the Angels have—be aggressive and sign trusty veteran bats. Sign Adrian Gonzalez to play first base and keep a lane open for Dom Smith. Determine David Wright’s health and consider signing Mike Moustakas. Interview Lorenzo Cain. The Mets probably won’t do any of these things until the Wilpons sell the team, but the fans can dream.</p><p><strong>Philadelphia Phillies: Sign Alex Cobb</strong></p><p>The Phillies have enough money to sign a frontline starter (Darvish, Arrieta) to improve an awful pitching staff (think the way the Cubs signed Jon Lester), but perhaps they’re better off saving some of their money for the next offseason to pursue Manny Machado. By signing Carlos Santana to play first base and moving rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins to the outfield, the Phillies starting lineup is set for the conceivable future. What the team needs is stable starting pitching. If he’s healthy, Cobb is one of the trustiest finds in baseball.</p><p><strong>Pittsburgh Pirates</strong>: <strong>Trust Ray Searage</strong></p><p>A lot of folks think that the Pirates’ window has closed and that they should sell off their best assets (Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen). There is enough evidence, however, that the Pirates can make one more run at the postseason. McCutchen looked done in the beginning of last season, but surged to compile a .279/.336/.467 slash line with 28 homers. The team stumbled to a 75–87 finish, but that was after losing star outfielder Starling Marte for 80 games to a PED suspension. Former top prospect Gregory Polanco may be closer to a bust than a star, but he’s still a decent everyday outfielder.</p><p>Now, the Pirates need rotation depth and the wizardry of pitching coach Ray Searage to help them avoid any major pitching struggles in 2018. Whether that’s by signing Andrew Cashner or Jaime Garcia, the Pirates can compete from the outside if they get strong production from a veteran starter.</p><p><strong>San Diego Padres</strong>: <strong>Sign Eric Hosmer</strong></p><p>Hosmer is the player the Padres want. Between him, Wil Myers and a core of young talent headlined by Manny Margot and Hunter Renfroe, the Padres can lure fans to the ballpark for the first time in years, even if they won’t win too much in 2018.</p><p><strong>San Francisco Giants: Find a centerfielder</strong></p><p>The Giants managed to unload the struggling Denard Span to the Rays, and now they need to fill centerfield with a plus defender and a bat to energize one of baseball’s weakest lineups. The Giants have made one of the offseason’s biggest moves by acquiring Evan Longoria from the Rays, and are rumored to be talking to the Reds about acquiring Billy Hamilton. San Francisco probably isn’t going to unseat the Dodgers at the top of the NL West, but it can compete for a Wild Card spot if it fields a decent outfield and receives comeback performances from Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner.</p><p><strong>St. Louis Cardinals</strong>: <strong>Keep trying to acquire Manny Machado</strong></p><p>The Cardinals made one of the best moves of the offseason by acquiring Marcell Ozuna. To make a bigger run at unseating the Cubs at the top of the division, GM John Mozeliak should keep floating Luke Weaver and other prospects at the Orioles for Machado. The Cardinals are almost there, but they’re one power bat away from reaching the top tier of the National League.</p><p><strong>Washington Nationals: Trade for J.T. Realmuto</strong></p><p>The Nationals are set everywhere except for catcher. The Marlins may ask for top prospect Victor Robles, but the Nationals can say no and ask for lesser prospects. They received subpar packages for Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon … so why would the Nats have to deal their top prospect?</p>
What Every National League Team Should Do in This Painfully Slow Offseason

The freezing cold winter has left us with a frozen free agent market. Players will have to start signing soon (right?), so we’ll review what each National League team should do with so many players left on the board.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Sign Lorenzo Cain

Unfortunately, J.D. Martinez—who hit 29 homers for the D-backs in 62 games—is probably too expensive for Arizona, but the Diamondbacks can more likely afford Cain. The catch will be if Cain is willing to surrender centerfield and move to left so A.J. Pollock can hold down center. The Yasmany Tomas experiment appears to be a bust—he’s worth -2.2 WAR since joining the team in 2015 despite a decent 2016 season—and the lineup will need stability once Martinez departs. To best protect Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and a glut of other promising young hitters, Arizona should sign a trusty veteran like Cain to solidify its lineup.

Atlanta Braves: Start printing Ronald Acuna posters

By shedding Matt Kemp’s onerous contract from their books, the Braves created a lane for baseball’s top prospect in outfielder Ronald Acuna. The 20-year-old won Arizona Fall League MVP honors after slashing .325/.414/.639 with seven homers in just 23 games. He might not be on the opening day roster, but he’ll be one of the most exciting player to arrive in Atlanta in years once he gets the call.

Cincinnati Reds: Stockpile low-budget starting pitching

This team is nowhere close to competing for the NL Central crown in 2018, but they do have a handful of promising young players (Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, Amir Garrett) who might be one season away from being strong everyday contributors. The best thing they can do now is to sign affordable veteran starting pitching who can take some pressure off of their younger arms and eat innings in what will be a difficult year. There won’t be huge markets for players like Ricky Nolasco and Wade Miley, so the Reds may as well float offers to them to try and stabilize a rotation that was horrendous in 2016.

Chicago Cubs: Sign Yu Darvish

There’s almost no chance that Chicago will bring back Jake Arrieta, so Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would be wise to invest in Darvish, whose price may not be quite as high after two horrific World Series starts. The word on Darvish is the same as it has always been: he might have the best raw stuff of any pitcher in the big leagues, but he’s never been able to put it all together to become a true ace. The Cubs don’t need that with Jon Lester anchoring the rotation, so Darvish would slot nicely as their second starter. Epstein may be loath to sign another unpredictable veteran to a long-term contract (remember Jason Heyward is owed $134 million over the next six years), but Darvish is too good a pitcher to ignore for a team looking to return to the World Series.

Colorado Rockies: Sign Charlie Blackmon to a long-term deal

The Rockies should prioritize signing Nolan Arenado (who is arbitration-eligible in 2019 and a free agent the season after that), but Blackmon is a free agent next year and the marriage between the two is strong. Blackmon is entering his age-31 season and finished fifth in MVP voting last year, but the home/road splits are worth noting. Blackmon finished with a .391/.466/.793 slash line with 24 homers at Coors Field and a .276/.337/.447 line with 13 homers on the road.

Given how tough of a time power-hitting free agents are having securing contracts in this offseason, Blackmon likely won’t secure an enormous deal with players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper on the market. He and the Rockies would be smart to pair up now and sign a deal until his age-36 or -37 season.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Find the new Brandon Morrow or Joe Blanton

In 2016, Joe Blanton re-emerged from general obscurity to become a central cog of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Brandon Morrow went from a forgotten big league starter into one of the big leagues’ most dominant relievers at age 33. Blanton signed with the Nationals last year (and had an awful season). This year, Morrow signed with the Cubs presumably to become their closer.

The Dodgers signed Tom Koehler to a one-year deal either to provide rotation stability or to be the next starter converted into a reliever. L.A. has succeeded finding lottery-ticket relievers in the past, and it’ll need to find another to perfect the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.

Miami Marlins: Free Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto

Do these promising young players a favor and don’t subject them to the horrendous teardown taking place in Miami.

Milwaukee Brewers: Sign Jake Arrieta

The Brewers are legitimate contenders in the NL Central but they won’t compete for a pennant with Zach Davies, Yovani Gallardo, Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson headlining the rotation. Arrieta’s form has declined since his 2015 Cy Young campaign, but he’s still a legitimate top-tier arm who can front a postseason rotation. Adding a significant second starter (Alex Cobb? Jason Vargas?) would put Milwaukee in an even better position.

New York Mets: Spend as much as the Wilpons will allow

It’s a shame that the Mets will have to penny-pinch their way through another offseason. If Michael Conforto returns from injury, Yoenis Cespedes produces the way he’s capable and the pitching staff stays healthy, New York can compete in the NL East. The way they can do this is to approach this offseason the way the Angels have—be aggressive and sign trusty veteran bats. Sign Adrian Gonzalez to play first base and keep a lane open for Dom Smith. Determine David Wright’s health and consider signing Mike Moustakas. Interview Lorenzo Cain. The Mets probably won’t do any of these things until the Wilpons sell the team, but the fans can dream.

Philadelphia Phillies: Sign Alex Cobb

The Phillies have enough money to sign a frontline starter (Darvish, Arrieta) to improve an awful pitching staff (think the way the Cubs signed Jon Lester), but perhaps they’re better off saving some of their money for the next offseason to pursue Manny Machado. By signing Carlos Santana to play first base and moving rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins to the outfield, the Phillies starting lineup is set for the conceivable future. What the team needs is stable starting pitching. If he’s healthy, Cobb is one of the trustiest finds in baseball.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Trust Ray Searage

A lot of folks think that the Pirates’ window has closed and that they should sell off their best assets (Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen). There is enough evidence, however, that the Pirates can make one more run at the postseason. McCutchen looked done in the beginning of last season, but surged to compile a .279/.336/.467 slash line with 28 homers. The team stumbled to a 75–87 finish, but that was after losing star outfielder Starling Marte for 80 games to a PED suspension. Former top prospect Gregory Polanco may be closer to a bust than a star, but he’s still a decent everyday outfielder.

Now, the Pirates need rotation depth and the wizardry of pitching coach Ray Searage to help them avoid any major pitching struggles in 2018. Whether that’s by signing Andrew Cashner or Jaime Garcia, the Pirates can compete from the outside if they get strong production from a veteran starter.

San Diego Padres: Sign Eric Hosmer

Hosmer is the player the Padres want. Between him, Wil Myers and a core of young talent headlined by Manny Margot and Hunter Renfroe, the Padres can lure fans to the ballpark for the first time in years, even if they won’t win too much in 2018.

San Francisco Giants: Find a centerfielder

The Giants managed to unload the struggling Denard Span to the Rays, and now they need to fill centerfield with a plus defender and a bat to energize one of baseball’s weakest lineups. The Giants have made one of the offseason’s biggest moves by acquiring Evan Longoria from the Rays, and are rumored to be talking to the Reds about acquiring Billy Hamilton. San Francisco probably isn’t going to unseat the Dodgers at the top of the NL West, but it can compete for a Wild Card spot if it fields a decent outfield and receives comeback performances from Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner.

St. Louis Cardinals: Keep trying to acquire Manny Machado

The Cardinals made one of the best moves of the offseason by acquiring Marcell Ozuna. To make a bigger run at unseating the Cubs at the top of the division, GM John Mozeliak should keep floating Luke Weaver and other prospects at the Orioles for Machado. The Cardinals are almost there, but they’re one power bat away from reaching the top tier of the National League.

Washington Nationals: Trade for J.T. Realmuto

The Nationals are set everywhere except for catcher. The Marlins may ask for top prospect Victor Robles, but the Nationals can say no and ask for lesser prospects. They received subpar packages for Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon … so why would the Nats have to deal their top prospect?

<p>The freezing cold winter has left us with a frozen free agent market. Players will have to start signing soon (right?), so we’ll review what each National League team should do with so many players left on the board.</p><p><strong>Arizona Diamondbacks: Sign Lorenzo Cain</strong></p><p>Unfortunately, J.D. Martinez—who hit 29 homers for the D-backs in 62 games—is probably too expensive for Arizona, but the Diamondbacks can more likely afford Cain. The catch will be if Cain is willing to surrender centerfield and move to left so A.J. Pollock can hold down center. The Yasmany Tomas experiment appears to be a bust—he’s worth -2.2 WAR since joining the team in 2015 despite a decent 2016 season—and the lineup will need stability once Martinez departs. To best protect Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and a glut of other promising young hitters, Arizona should sign a trusty veteran like Cain to solidify its lineup.</p><p><strong>Atlanta Braves: Start printing Ronald Acuna posters</strong></p><p>By shedding Matt Kemp’s onerous contract from their books, the Braves created a lane for baseball’s top prospect in outfielder Ronald Acuna. The 20-year-old won Arizona Fall League MVP honors after slashing .325/.414/.639 with seven homers in just 23 games. He might not be on the opening day roster, but he’ll be one of the most exciting player to arrive in Atlanta in years once he gets the call.</p><p><strong>Cincinnati Reds</strong>: <strong>Stockpile low-budget starting pitching</strong></p><p>This team is nowhere close to competing for the NL Central crown in 2018, but they do have a handful of promising young players (Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, Amir Garrett) who might be one season away from being strong everyday contributors. The best thing they can do now is to sign affordable veteran starting pitching who can take some pressure off of their younger arms and eat innings in what will be a difficult year. There won’t be huge markets for players like Ricky Nolasco and Wade Miley, so the Reds may as well float offers to them to try and stabilize a rotation that was horrendous in 2016.</p><p><strong>Chicago Cubs: Sign Yu Darvish</strong></p><p>There’s almost no chance that Chicago will bring back Jake Arrieta, so Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would be wise to invest in Darvish, whose price may not be quite as high after two horrific World Series starts. The word on Darvish is the same as it has always been: he might have the best raw stuff of any pitcher in the big leagues, but he’s never been able to put it all together to become a true ace. The Cubs don’t need that with Jon Lester anchoring the rotation, so Darvish would slot nicely as their second starter. Epstein may be loath to sign another unpredictable veteran to a long-term contract (remember Jason Heyward is owed $134 million over the next six years), but Darvish is too good a pitcher to ignore for a team looking to return to the World Series.</p><p><strong>Colorado Rockies: Sign Charlie Blackmon to a long-term deal</strong></p><p>The Rockies should prioritize signing Nolan Arenado (who is arbitration-eligible in 2019 and a free agent the season after that), but Blackmon is a free agent next year and the marriage between the two is strong. Blackmon is entering his age-31 season and finished fifth in MVP voting last year, but the home/road splits are worth noting. Blackmon finished with a .391/.466/.793 slash line with 24 homers at Coors Field and a .276/.337/.447 line with 13 homers on the road.</p><p>Given how tough of a time power-hitting free agents are having securing contracts in this offseason, Blackmon likely won’t secure an enormous deal with players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper on the market. He and the Rockies would be smart to pair up now and sign a deal until his age-36 or -37 season.</p><p><strong>Los Angeles Dodgers: Find the new Brandon Morrow or Joe Blanton</strong></p><p>In 2016, Joe Blanton re-emerged from general obscurity to become a central cog of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Brandon Morrow went from a forgotten big league starter into one of the big leagues’ most dominant relievers at age 33. Blanton signed with the Nationals last year (and had an awful season). This year, Morrow signed with the Cubs presumably to become their closer.</p><p>The Dodgers signed Tom Koehler to a one-year deal either to provide rotation stability or to be the next starter converted into a reliever. L.A. has succeeded finding lottery-ticket relievers in the past, and it’ll need to find another to perfect the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.</p><p><strong>Miami Marlins: Free Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto</strong></p><p>Do these promising young players a favor and don’t subject them to the horrendous teardown taking place in Miami.</p><p><strong>Milwaukee Brewers: Sign Jake Arrieta</strong></p><p>The Brewers are legitimate contenders in the NL Central but they won’t compete for a pennant with Zach Davies, Yovani Gallardo, Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson headlining the rotation. Arrieta’s form has declined since his 2015 Cy Young campaign, but he’s still a legitimate top-tier arm who can front a postseason rotation. Adding a significant second starter (Alex Cobb? Jason Vargas?) would put Milwaukee in an even better position.</p><p><strong>New York Mets: Spend as much as the Wilpons will allow</strong></p><p>It’s a shame that the Mets will have to penny-pinch their way through another offseason. If Michael Conforto returns from injury, Yoenis Cespedes produces the way he’s capable and the pitching staff stays healthy, New York can compete in the NL East. The way they can do this is to approach this offseason the way the Angels have—be aggressive and sign trusty veteran bats. Sign Adrian Gonzalez to play first base and keep a lane open for Dom Smith. Determine David Wright’s health and consider signing Mike Moustakas. Interview Lorenzo Cain. The Mets probably won’t do any of these things until the Wilpons sell the team, but the fans can dream.</p><p><strong>Philadelphia Phillies: Sign Alex Cobb</strong></p><p>The Phillies have enough money to sign a frontline starter (Darvish, Arrieta) to improve an awful pitching staff (think the way the Cubs signed Jon Lester), but perhaps they’re better off saving some of their money for the next offseason to pursue Manny Machado. By signing Carlos Santana to play first base and moving rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins to the outfield, the Phillies starting lineup is set for the conceivable future. What the team needs is stable starting pitching. If he’s healthy, Cobb is one of the trustiest finds in baseball.</p><p><strong>Pittsburgh Pirates</strong>: <strong>Trust Ray Searage</strong></p><p>A lot of folks think that the Pirates’ window has closed and that they should sell off their best assets (Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen). There is enough evidence, however, that the Pirates can make one more run at the postseason. McCutchen looked done in the beginning of last season, but surged to compile a .279/.336/.467 slash line with 28 homers. The team stumbled to a 75–87 finish, but that was after losing star outfielder Starling Marte for 80 games to a PED suspension. Former top prospect Gregory Polanco may be closer to a bust than a star, but he’s still a decent everyday outfielder.</p><p>Now, the Pirates need rotation depth and the wizardry of pitching coach Ray Searage to help them avoid any major pitching struggles in 2018. Whether that’s by signing Andrew Cashner or Jaime Garcia, the Pirates can compete from the outside if they get strong production from a veteran starter.</p><p><strong>San Diego Padres</strong>: <strong>Sign Eric Hosmer</strong></p><p>Hosmer is the player the Padres want. Between him, Wil Myers and a core of young talent headlined by Manny Margot and Hunter Renfroe, the Padres can lure fans to the ballpark for the first time in years, even if they won’t win too much in 2018.</p><p><strong>San Francisco Giants: Find a centerfielder</strong></p><p>The Giants managed to unload the struggling Denard Span to the Rays, and now they need to fill centerfield with a plus defender and a bat to energize one of baseball’s weakest lineups. The Giants have made one of the offseason’s biggest moves by acquiring Evan Longoria from the Rays, and are rumored to be talking to the Reds about acquiring Billy Hamilton. San Francisco probably isn’t going to unseat the Dodgers at the top of the NL West, but it can compete for a Wild Card spot if it fields a decent outfield and receives comeback performances from Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner.</p><p><strong>St. Louis Cardinals</strong>: <strong>Keep trying to acquire Manny Machado</strong></p><p>The Cardinals made one of the best moves of the offseason by acquiring Marcell Ozuna. To make a bigger run at unseating the Cubs at the top of the division, GM John Mozeliak should keep floating Luke Weaver and other prospects at the Orioles for Machado. The Cardinals are almost there, but they’re one power bat away from reaching the top tier of the National League.</p><p><strong>Washington Nationals: Trade for J.T. Realmuto</strong></p><p>The Nationals are set everywhere except for catcher. The Marlins may ask for top prospect Victor Robles, but the Nationals can say no and ask for lesser prospects. They received subpar packages for Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon … so why would the Nats have to deal their top prospect?</p>
What Every National League Team Should Do in This Painfully Slow Offseason

The freezing cold winter has left us with a frozen free agent market. Players will have to start signing soon (right?), so we’ll review what each National League team should do with so many players left on the board.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Sign Lorenzo Cain

Unfortunately, J.D. Martinez—who hit 29 homers for the D-backs in 62 games—is probably too expensive for Arizona, but the Diamondbacks can more likely afford Cain. The catch will be if Cain is willing to surrender centerfield and move to left so A.J. Pollock can hold down center. The Yasmany Tomas experiment appears to be a bust—he’s worth -2.2 WAR since joining the team in 2015 despite a decent 2016 season—and the lineup will need stability once Martinez departs. To best protect Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and a glut of other promising young hitters, Arizona should sign a trusty veteran like Cain to solidify its lineup.

Atlanta Braves: Start printing Ronald Acuna posters

By shedding Matt Kemp’s onerous contract from their books, the Braves created a lane for baseball’s top prospect in outfielder Ronald Acuna. The 20-year-old won Arizona Fall League MVP honors after slashing .325/.414/.639 with seven homers in just 23 games. He might not be on the opening day roster, but he’ll be one of the most exciting player to arrive in Atlanta in years once he gets the call.

Cincinnati Reds: Stockpile low-budget starting pitching

This team is nowhere close to competing for the NL Central crown in 2018, but they do have a handful of promising young players (Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, Amir Garrett) who might be one season away from being strong everyday contributors. The best thing they can do now is to sign affordable veteran starting pitching who can take some pressure off of their younger arms and eat innings in what will be a difficult year. There won’t be huge markets for players like Ricky Nolasco and Wade Miley, so the Reds may as well float offers to them to try and stabilize a rotation that was horrendous in 2016.

Chicago Cubs: Sign Yu Darvish

There’s almost no chance that Chicago will bring back Jake Arrieta, so Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would be wise to invest in Darvish, whose price may not be quite as high after two horrific World Series starts. The word on Darvish is the same as it has always been: he might have the best raw stuff of any pitcher in the big leagues, but he’s never been able to put it all together to become a true ace. The Cubs don’t need that with Jon Lester anchoring the rotation, so Darvish would slot nicely as their second starter. Epstein may be loath to sign another unpredictable veteran to a long-term contract (remember Jason Heyward is owed $134 million over the next six years), but Darvish is too good a pitcher to ignore for a team looking to return to the World Series.

Colorado Rockies: Sign Charlie Blackmon to a long-term deal

The Rockies should prioritize signing Nolan Arenado (who is arbitration-eligible in 2019 and a free agent the season after that), but Blackmon is a free agent next year and the marriage between the two is strong. Blackmon is entering his age-31 season and finished fifth in MVP voting last year, but the home/road splits are worth noting. Blackmon finished with a .391/.466/.793 slash line with 24 homers at Coors Field and a .276/.337/.447 line with 13 homers on the road.

Given how tough of a time power-hitting free agents are having securing contracts in this offseason, Blackmon likely won’t secure an enormous deal with players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper on the market. He and the Rockies would be smart to pair up now and sign a deal until his age-36 or -37 season.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Find the new Brandon Morrow or Joe Blanton

In 2016, Joe Blanton re-emerged from general obscurity to become a central cog of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Brandon Morrow went from a forgotten big league starter into one of the big leagues’ most dominant relievers at age 33. Blanton signed with the Nationals last year (and had an awful season). This year, Morrow signed with the Cubs presumably to become their closer.

The Dodgers signed Tom Koehler to a one-year deal either to provide rotation stability or to be the next starter converted into a reliever. L.A. has succeeded finding lottery-ticket relievers in the past, and it’ll need to find another to perfect the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.

Miami Marlins: Free Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto

Do these promising young players a favor and don’t subject them to the horrendous teardown taking place in Miami.

Milwaukee Brewers: Sign Jake Arrieta

The Brewers are legitimate contenders in the NL Central but they won’t compete for a pennant with Zach Davies, Yovani Gallardo, Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson headlining the rotation. Arrieta’s form has declined since his 2015 Cy Young campaign, but he’s still a legitimate top-tier arm who can front a postseason rotation. Adding a significant second starter (Alex Cobb? Jason Vargas?) would put Milwaukee in an even better position.

New York Mets: Spend as much as the Wilpons will allow

It’s a shame that the Mets will have to penny-pinch their way through another offseason. If Michael Conforto returns from injury, Yoenis Cespedes produces the way he’s capable and the pitching staff stays healthy, New York can compete in the NL East. The way they can do this is to approach this offseason the way the Angels have—be aggressive and sign trusty veteran bats. Sign Adrian Gonzalez to play first base and keep a lane open for Dom Smith. Determine David Wright’s health and consider signing Mike Moustakas. Interview Lorenzo Cain. The Mets probably won’t do any of these things until the Wilpons sell the team, but the fans can dream.

Philadelphia Phillies: Sign Alex Cobb

The Phillies have enough money to sign a frontline starter (Darvish, Arrieta) to improve an awful pitching staff (think the way the Cubs signed Jon Lester), but perhaps they’re better off saving some of their money for the next offseason to pursue Manny Machado. By signing Carlos Santana to play first base and moving rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins to the outfield, the Phillies starting lineup is set for the conceivable future. What the team needs is stable starting pitching. If he’s healthy, Cobb is one of the trustiest finds in baseball.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Trust Ray Searage

A lot of folks think that the Pirates’ window has closed and that they should sell off their best assets (Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen). There is enough evidence, however, that the Pirates can make one more run at the postseason. McCutchen looked done in the beginning of last season, but surged to compile a .279/.336/.467 slash line with 28 homers. The team stumbled to a 75–87 finish, but that was after losing star outfielder Starling Marte for 80 games to a PED suspension. Former top prospect Gregory Polanco may be closer to a bust than a star, but he’s still a decent everyday outfielder.

Now, the Pirates need rotation depth and the wizardry of pitching coach Ray Searage to help them avoid any major pitching struggles in 2018. Whether that’s by signing Andrew Cashner or Jaime Garcia, the Pirates can compete from the outside if they get strong production from a veteran starter.

San Diego Padres: Sign Eric Hosmer

Hosmer is the player the Padres want. Between him, Wil Myers and a core of young talent headlined by Manny Margot and Hunter Renfroe, the Padres can lure fans to the ballpark for the first time in years, even if they won’t win too much in 2018.

San Francisco Giants: Find a centerfielder

The Giants managed to unload the struggling Denard Span to the Rays, and now they need to fill centerfield with a plus defender and a bat to energize one of baseball’s weakest lineups. The Giants have made one of the offseason’s biggest moves by acquiring Evan Longoria from the Rays, and are rumored to be talking to the Reds about acquiring Billy Hamilton. San Francisco probably isn’t going to unseat the Dodgers at the top of the NL West, but it can compete for a Wild Card spot if it fields a decent outfield and receives comeback performances from Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner.

St. Louis Cardinals: Keep trying to acquire Manny Machado

The Cardinals made one of the best moves of the offseason by acquiring Marcell Ozuna. To make a bigger run at unseating the Cubs at the top of the division, GM John Mozeliak should keep floating Luke Weaver and other prospects at the Orioles for Machado. The Cardinals are almost there, but they’re one power bat away from reaching the top tier of the National League.

Washington Nationals: Trade for J.T. Realmuto

The Nationals are set everywhere except for catcher. The Marlins may ask for top prospect Victor Robles, but the Nationals can say no and ask for lesser prospects. They received subpar packages for Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon … so why would the Nats have to deal their top prospect?

CBS Sports baseball writer Matt Snyder gives his take on the recent trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants and what it means for Evan Longoria moving forward.
Evan Longoria traded to the Giants
CBS Sports baseball writer Matt Snyder gives his take on the recent trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants and what it means for Evan Longoria moving forward.
CBS Sports baseball writer Matt Snyder gives his take on the recent trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants and what it means for Evan Longoria moving forward.
Evan Longoria traded to the Giants
CBS Sports baseball writer Matt Snyder gives his take on the recent trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants and what it means for Evan Longoria moving forward.
CBS Sports baseball writer Matt Snyder gives his take on the recent trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants and what it means for Evan Longoria moving forward.
Evan Longoria traded to the Giants
CBS Sports baseball writer Matt Snyder gives his take on the recent trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants and what it means for Evan Longoria moving forward.
CBS Sports baseball writer Matt Snyder gives his take on the recent trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants and what it means for Evan Longoria moving forward.
Evan Longoria traded to the Giants
CBS Sports baseball writer Matt Snyder gives his take on the recent trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants and what it means for Evan Longoria moving forward.
FILE - In this May 3, 2017, file photo, San Francisco Giants&#39; Christian Arroyo reacts after striking out during the tenth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in Los Angeles. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Giants acquire Evan Longoria from Rays for 4 players
FILE - In this May 3, 2017, file photo, San Francisco Giants' Christian Arroyo reacts after striking out during the tenth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in Los Angeles. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2008, file photo,Tampa Bay Rays&#39; Evan Longoria makes a curtain call in the seventh inning as fans applaud his third home run of the baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson, File)
Giants acquire Evan Longoria from Rays for 4 players
FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2008, file photo,Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria makes a curtain call in the seventh inning as fans applaud his third home run of the baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson, File)
FILE - In this May 20, 2017, file photo, San Francisco Giants&#39; Christian Arroyo drives in two runs with a double in the 13th inning during a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, in St. Louis. At right are Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and home plate umpire Vic Carapazza. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)
Giants acquire Evan Longoria from Rays for 4 players
FILE - In this May 20, 2017, file photo, San Francisco Giants' Christian Arroyo drives in two runs with a double in the 13th inning during a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, in St. Louis. At right are Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and home plate umpire Vic Carapazza. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2017, file photo, San Francisco Giants&#39; Denard Span watches his RBI double during the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, in San Diego. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlando Ramirez, File)
Giants acquire Evan Longoria from Rays for 4 players
FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2017, file photo, San Francisco Giants' Denard Span watches his RBI double during the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, in San Diego. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlando Ramirez, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2011, file photo, Tampa Bay Rays&#39; Evan Longoria, center, celebrates with teammates Sean Rodriguez, left, and Elliot Johnson after his home run that defeated the New York Yankees 8-7 and clinched the AL wild card for the Rays, after a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris O&#39;Meara, File)
Giants acquire Evan Longoria from Rays for 4 players
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2011, file photo, Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria, center, celebrates with teammates Sean Rodriguez, left, and Elliot Johnson after his home run that defeated the New York Yankees 8-7 and clinched the AL wild card for the Rays, after a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
FILE- In this July 7, 2017 file photo, San Francisco Giants&#39; Denard Span celebrates after hitting a home run against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
Giants acquire Evan Longoria from Rays for 4 players
FILE- In this July 7, 2017 file photo, San Francisco Giants' Denard Span celebrates after hitting a home run against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2017, file photo, Tampa Bay Rays&#39; Evan Longoria follows through on a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning of a baseball game, in Baltimore. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)
Giants acquire Evan Longoria from Rays for 4 players
FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2017, file photo, Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria follows through on a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning of a baseball game, in Baltimore. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)
FILe - This is a June 7, 2006, file photo showing Tampa Bay Devil Rays&#39; third pick overall in the 2006, Evan Longoria, taking a look around Tropicana Field for the first time in a Devil Rays uniform, St. Petersburg, Fla. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Scott Audette, File)
Giants acquire Evan Longoria from Rays for 4 players
FILe - This is a June 7, 2006, file photo showing Tampa Bay Devil Rays' third pick overall in the 2006, Evan Longoria, taking a look around Tropicana Field for the first time in a Devil Rays uniform, St. Petersburg, Fla. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Scott Audette, File)
FILE - This is a 2017 photo showing Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Giants acquire Evan Longoria from Rays for 4 players
FILE - This is a 2017 photo showing Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. The San Francisco Giants have acquired infielder Evan Longoria and cash from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. The teams announced the moves Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

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