Outside of the Yankees' acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton and the Angels' signing of Shohei Ohtani, it's been a pretty slow start to the baseball offseason. With a few moves made and many more to come, let's reset and take a look at where all 30 teams stand with plenty of signings awaiting.
30. Miami Marlins
2017 Record: 77–85
Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna combined for 96 homers, 13.4 WAR and a median OPS+ of 155 in 2017. The Marlins traded them for one big league regular (infielder Starlin Castro) and zero top-100 prospects. Selling was necessary, but the Marlins deal two of the game’s best players in their primes for Castro, somebody they’ll probably move before the 2018 season, and a host of lottery tickets.
The new ownership group can redeem itself by securing a large package of young talent for outfielder Christian Yelich (who is under team control for the next five years), but he is young, talented and relatively cheap. Targeted rebuilds are understandable; the new Miami ownership group is not doing that. It’s an insult to the fans who are surviving their third teardown since 2003.
29. Detroit Tigers
2017 Record: 64–98
By trading Ian Kinsler to the Angels, the Tigers have almost shed all of their veteran talent. They won’t be able to rid themselves of Miguel Cabrera’s behemoth contract (he’s owed $184 million through 2024), but they will float 2016 Rookie of the Year winner Michael Fulmer in trade talks if GM Al Avila can secure a significant package in return. The Tigers are going to be bad next season, but they’re carefully navigating a full teardown, unlike the Marlins.
28. Cincinnati Reds
2017 Record: 68–94
The Reds are trapped, and it’s unclear how they’ll improve in 2018. The prospects they acquired for long-term stability (Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler) are talented but underwhelming. Their starting pitching is awful (only one starter with more than 14 starts, Luis Castillo, finished with an ERA under 4.45). They tried to make a pitch to Shohei Ohtani, who quickly rebuffed them. They could secure a strong package of prospects by trading closer Raisel Iglesias, but reports are that he’ll remain in Cincinnati.
General Manager Dick Williams will try to ship speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton before the season is over, but his low on-base percentage hardly makes him an attractive candidate. The best move the Reds can make right now is to float Adam Duvall, who has 64 homers over the last two seasons, in trade negotiations. Like Hamilton, however, Duvall has issues getting on base, and power is not coveted like it once was thanks to the juiced ball.
27. San Diego Padres
2017 Record: 71–91
The Padres’ failure to acquire Ohtani will haunt them all offseason long; reports surfaced that GM A.J. Preller even learned conversational Japanese to try to impress Ohtani, who signed with the Angels. Instead, the Padres acquired Chase Headley and hard-throwing reliever Bryan Mitchell from the Yankees (and are reportedly shopping Headley). With Wil Myers protecting first base and young outfielders Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe returning, the Padres have some promise, but it’ll probably be another long season.
26. San Francisco Giants
2017 Record: 64–98
It’s been a disappointing offseason for the Giants. They had a trade in place to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, but he vetoed it on the grounds that they weren’t close enough to competing for another title. Marcell Ozuna would have offered the power the team needs and been a perfect defensive fit in AT&T Park’s spacious outfield, but he was dealt to the Cardinals. Their big move came on Wednesday, acquiring Evan Longoria from the Rays in exchange for one of their top prospects (Christian Arroyo) along with Denard Span and two lesser prospects. Longoria remains one of the game’s most consistent players, but is coming off of a career-worst season at age 32. The upside to the trade is Longoria remains a defensive stud and has played at least 156 games in each of the last five seasons.
Now, GM Bobby Evans will reportedly look to payroll-conscious options like Jay Bruce to try to bolster a lineup that finished last in home runs (128) and OPS+ (83). In the meantime, perhaps they should look to Ripped Tim Lincecum to stabilize their pitching staff or bullpen.
25. Tampa Bay Rays
2017 Record: 80–82
The Rays have started the rebuild by trading Evan Longoria. The next move is to ship Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome and (maybe) Chris Archer. They’ve gotten Christian Arroyo, one of the Giants’ top prospects, in exchange for Longoria. They can compile a host of young talent by continuing to sell, and they should.
24. Chicago White Sox
2017 Record: 67–95
The White Sox are happy to remain quiet this offseason after their enormous sale during last year’s Winter Meetings. General manager Rick Hahn has an enviable collection of young talent with little reason to move any of it. As Tom Verducci noted in his Winter Meetings Notebook, the Red Sox would be wise to try to acquire first baseman Jose Abreu, and there are rumors that Hahn envies Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. They may not win much in 2018, but the White Sox will trip up plenty of teams next season.
23. Oakland A's
2017 Record: 75–87
It’s the A’s. Who knows?
Stephen Piscotty is a nice addition who could enjoy a turnaround season in new surroundings. Matt Olson and Matt Chapman are breakout players who can anchor the middle of the order. Khris Davis is one of the game’s most reliable power hitters. Jharel Cotton is a potential front-line starter, but he lacked consistency in 2017. Perhaps Kendall Graveman and Franklin Barreto will have big seasons to finally redeem the Josh Donaldson trade.
Maybe they’ll surprise people. Maybe they won’t. Predicting this team has long been a fool’s errand, but they’ll be intriguing as always.?
22. Philadelphia Phillies
2017 Record: 66–96
The Phillies haven’t made any significant moves yet, but they have a chunk of money and a host of promising young players for 2018. General manager Matt Klentak shipped shortstop Freddy Galvis to the Padres, which allows J.P. Crawford to inherit the starting shortstop position, and then signed Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60 million deal. Santana might be the most consistent bat in the entire free agent class, but it blocks either Rhys Hoskins or Aaron Altherr, both of whom enjoyed great second halves in 2017.
Klentak is also reportedly shopping infielder Cesar Hernandez (the Mets would be a good fit), but he's seeking a healthy package in return for a player who finished 2017 with a strong .293/.373/.421 slash line. Hernandez may start the season at second; if he doesn’t, it will be touted minor-league infielder Scott Kingery.
Expect the Phillies to engage the Orioles on Manny Machado, who is the perfect candidate to replace the underwhelming Maikel Franco at third base. Otherwise, they're a prime candidate to spend on a front-line starter (Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish) to bolster an otherwise bad starting rotation.
21. Baltimore Orioles
2017 Record: 75–87
Like the Reds, the Orioles don’t have the assets to compete in 2018. As Tom Verducci noted, GM Dan Duquette would be wise to ship Manny Machado before he hits free agency after the season, but there’s fear that any team that acquires him could flip him to the prospect-rich Yankees.
Even with the 2017 emergence of starting pitcher Dylan Bundy and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles don’t have the starting rotation to compete in the AL East and probably don’t have the money to sign Machado to a long-term deal. Life has never been easy as an Orioles fan, and it appears that they missed their window to compete for a title with Machado anchoring third base. With closer Zach Britton rupturing his Achilles and due to miss six months, the hope for any success in 2018 got even dimmer.
20. Toronto Blue Jays
2017 Record: 76–86
Like the Orioles, the Blue Jays must decide if they want to make one more run at the playoffs with a star player who will probably skip town during next winter’s free-agent period. Josh Donaldson is at the back end of his prime, but the 2015 AL MVP is still one of the most reliable power bats in baseball; he’s exceeded a 144 OPS+ in four of the last five seasons. The question is whether his presence is enough to lift the struggling Blue Jays, who crashed from the 2016 ALCS to just 76 wins in '17, back into the postseason. The Cardinals have long been enamored with Donaldson and will keep calling the Jays if they’re unable to land Machado from Baltimore.
Toronto started seven regulars over 30 years old last year and will need another huge season from the unlikely Justin Smoak if it expects to keep pace in the AL East. If GM Ross Atkins pursued a rebuild, he’d be smart to float Marcus Stroman, who has four more years of team control, to a prospect-rich team like the Yankees or Dodgers.
19. Atlanta Braves
2017 Record: 72–90
By removing the onerous Matt Kemp contract from the books in a trade with the Dodgers, the Braves created a lane to promote top prospect Ronald Acuña, the MVP of the Arizona Fall League and one of the game's top prospects. The 19-year-old became the youngest player to win top AFL honors after slashing .325/.414/.639 with seven home runs in 23 games.
By adding Brandon McCarthy to the rotation and taking a flyer on the oft-injured Scott Kazmir, Atlanta might be able to stabilize its creaky rotation. With an intriguing blend of youth and veteran leadership, the Braves aren’t far from competing for a playoff spot.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates
2017 Record: 75–87
Like the Orioles, the Pirates feel like a team that missed their window. Their future hinges on whether they trade Andrew McCutchen, who saved his 2017 season with a .305/.391/.533 and 19 home runs over his final 102 games, and Gerrit Cole, the staff ace who stumbled to a 4.26 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 2017. The Giants could use a player of McCutchen’s dynamism, but may not have an attractive enough trade package. The Yankees want Cole, but Pirates GM Neal Huntington is rumored to be targeting top prospect Gleyber Torres, which might be too tall an ask for Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
They have a promising young first baseman in Josh Bell, a struggling 25-year-old outfielder in Gregory Polanco and the talented Starling Marte, who served an 80-game suspension in 2017. Outside of that, it’s an unreliable rotation (even if it’s mastered by the game’s best pitching coach in Ray Searage) and a lineup that finished 28th in total offense.
17. Kansas City Royals
2017 Record: 80–82
The theme of rebuild or compete is a constant in this piece. The Royals are most likely losing the former centerpieces to their 2015 World Series team in Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. Starting pitcher Danny Duffy is gauging interest on the trade market, and could deliver a sizable haul of prospects. It’s probably time to start building a new future in Kansas City, but it’s hard to see what it will look like until this offseason ends.
16. New York Mets
2017 Record: 70–92
With a new manager (Mickey Callaway) and a pitching staff that needs an offseason’s worth of rest, the Mets will return a rotation that most teams still fear, but the usual financial limits will prevent them from acquiring the offense they need (Carlos Santana, who signed with rival Philadelphia, would have been a nice option). Perhaps they can trade for a second baseman like Jason Kipnis or bring outfielder Jay Bruce back on a bargain contract.
Adrian Gonzalez, who is being paid by the Braves this season, would work as a short-term addition, though it would block prospect Dom Smith. Gonzalez still has a couple of decent seasons left in him if he’s healthy, and the Mets don’t have to pay him. GM Sandy Alderson could also surprise his fans by springing for a player like Cain or Moustakas, who could provide Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto (once he's back from a serious shoulder injury) with the protection they desperately need.
The Mets can still compete, but they’ll need to inject some power into their lineup if they want to keep pace with the Nationals.
15. Seattle Mariners
2017 Record: 78–84
General manager Jerry Dipoto missed out on the prize acquisition of Ohtani, and now he’ll try to wheel and deal his way to improving one of the biggest disappointments of 2017. “Trader Jerry” retains the strong core of Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Felix Hernandez, but Hernandez is regressing and Cruz is aging. Rightfielder Mitch Haniger provided a boost in 96 games last year and Mike Zunino offered a strong season with a 123 OPS+.
Seattle won’t compete for a playoff spot if Ariel Miranda leads the team in innings again, but Dipoto has stitched together a nice bullpen anchored by closer Edwin Diaz. If Dipoto can find reliable starting pitching either by free agency or trade (and keep James Paxton healthy), the Mariners can compete for an open wild-card spot. More likely, the Mariners are bound for another 78-to-84-win season.
14. Texas Rangers
2017 Record: 78–84
The Rangers acquired lefty starter Matt Moore from the Giants and signed Mike Minor away from the Royals to try to boost one of the AL’s worst rotations. The problem is that the West’s best bats (Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Cruz) are mostly righthanded.
Rougned Odor needs to learn how to take a pitch—he’s the rare player who could amass 30-plus homers and a 65 OPS+—if he wants to stabilize the Rangers’ lineup. Adrian Beltre is aging, so manager Jeff Banister will need big contributions from Odor and Joey Gallo to turn the Rangers back into the kind of team that won the division in 2016.
13. Minnesota Twins
2017 Record: 85–77, lost in AL Wild Card Game
The young core is there; the Twins just need a starting pitcher. Unless they are outbid by a richer team like the Cubs or Astros, the Twins should do everything within their power to sign Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta as well as a secondary starter (Alex Cobb, Jaime Garcia) to bolster their playoff chances. With the Tigers, White Sox and Royals all headed toward rebuilds, it’s imperative that the Twins spend now and try to compete.
12. Los Angeles Angels
2017 Record: 80–82
They’re the most interesting team of the offseason. General manager Billy Eppler has secured the services of Ohtani, Justin Upton, Zack Cozart and Kinsler to provide the kind of reliable support that Mike Trout hasn’t had during his time in the big leagues. It’s a boom-or-bust proposition (and the Angels could use some help on the back end of their rotation), but they’ve gone from one of the league’s least interesting teams to a genuinely intriguing one.
11. Milwaukee Brewers
2017 Record: 86–76
This is a team that can contend, but signing players like Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo isn’t going to help them achieve that goal. The Brewers have an excellent young core anchored by Orlando Arcia, Manny Pina and Domingo Santana, but they need starting pitching to help front-liners Zach Davies and Chase Anderson.
One of 2017’s most pleasant surprises is one or two pieces away, but the beginning of the offseason hasn’t been thrilling. The best move they can make? Offer Lewis Brinson and other top prospects to the Rays for Chris Archer.
10. Colorado Rockies
2017 Record: 87–75, lost in NL Wild Card Game
Unfortunately the Rockies did not add Giancarlo Stanton—what a dream that would have been—but they did sign Bryan Shaw and re-sign Jake McGee to bolster a bullpen that was a strength in 2017. Shaw is one of the game’s best against righthanded hitters and specializes in getting ground balls (he had a career high 55% ground-ball rate in 79 appearances last year). The Rockies will bank on their young starters (Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, German Marquez) to anchor the rotation. They’ll hit like they always do, but they’ll need standout years from a host of young starters if they want to make a run in 2018.
9. Boston Red Sox
2017 Record: 93–69, lost in NLDS
General manager Dave Dombrowski has remained quiet except for re-signing Mitch Moreland to a two-year deal. Boston should remain the eventual landing spot for J.D. Martinez, but agent Scott Boras is seeking a long-term contract for the 30-year-old power hitter.
Martinez’s free agency may play out like Prince Fielder’s six years ago, when the slugging first baseman waited until January to sign a nine-year, $214 million contract. The GM who signed Fielder? Dave Dombrowski.
8. St. Louis Cardinals
2017 Record: 83–79
The Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton will dominate every offseason headline, but St. Louis’s fleecing of the Marlins for Marcell Ozuna may be an even better deal. Ozuna compiled triple-crown worthy numbers last year (.312/.376/.548, 37 HR, 124 RBIs) and slides seamlessly into a Cardinals lineup that missed a reliable power bat last year. General manager John Mozeliak admitted in an interview that a trade for Manny Machado is unlikely, but St. Louis barely missed the playoffs last season without a player of Ozuna’s caliber. It’s a perfect addition, and one that could vault the Cardinals into NL pennant contention.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
2017 Record: 93–69, lost in NLDS
To trade or not to trade? The Diamondbacks owe Zack Greinke an astonishing $138.5 million over the next four seasons, and he’s hamstringing the payroll of a team that isn’t far from competing for a pennant. The pitching-needy Rangers would be an ideal landing spot for Greinke, who had a strong 2017, but fell apart in his last four starts of the season (11.25 ERA, .417 batting average against in his last two regular-season starts; 7.27 ERA, six walks and 8 2/3 IP in his two postseason starts). Robbie Ray proved he’s a legitimate staff ace in 2017, and Patrick Corbin, Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley nicely fill out a rotation that exceeded expectations in 2017.
If the Diamondbacks can offset a chunk of salary by trading Greinke and use that money to try and bring back J.D. Martinez or acquire one more outfielder, Arizona will compete for the NL West crown in 2018.
6. Washington Nationals
2017 Record: 97–65, lost in NLDS
Bryce Harper is in the final year of his contract, and he’s playing for his fourth manager in seven years. The goal is for the Nationals to re-sign Harper, but Washington likely needs to make a splash signing to convince Harper to stay and try to bring a title to D.C. Signing Jake Arrieta to complement Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer is the best way to do that. Otherwise, Harper may have one foot out the door even if he loves new manager Dave Martinez.
5. Cleveland Indians
2017 Record: 102–60, lost in ALDS
Losing Carlos Santana to the Phillies is tough for a team that quietly relied on his offensive contributions for the last eight seasons. There’s no obvious replacement for Santana at first base—it might be Lonnie Chisenhall or occasionally Edwin Encarnacion—but it creates a problem in the lineup that lacks an immediate solution.
The Indians will enter 2018 as one of baseball’s most complete teams, but they’ll need a power surge from a player like Yandy Diaz or Abraham Almonte to help offset the loss of Santana’s consistency.
4. Chicago Cubs
2017 Record: 92–70, lost in NLCS
The lingering question for the Cubs will be whether they’ll trade Kyle Schwarber. The once-beefy outfielder has reportedly lost 17–20 pounds this offseason and arrived looking svelte at the Winter Meetings. The Cubs adore Schwarber and probably won’t ship him, but his horrendous outfield defense was on display again in the NLCS against the Dodgers, and he never remedied the offensive woes that plagued him throughout 2017.
It makes little sense to trade Schwarber when his value is at its lowest, but perhaps the Red Sox would consider parting with whatever top prospects remain in their system to acquire a reliable DH. Otherwise, the addition of Brandon Morrow from the Dodgers will help shore up a creaky bullpen, and the Cubs are the likely favorite to add Yu Darvish to patch up a rotation that is destined to lose 2015 Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
2017 record: 104–58, lost in World Series
The Dodgers’ biggest move of the 2017 offseason was getting under the luxury tax, which they were in peril of violating for the fifth consecutive season. By unloading Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir, they freed $51 million from their 2018 payroll in exchange for Matt Kemp, who is owed $43 million over the next two years. Most importantly, as our own Jon Tayler noted, it allows the Dodgers significant flexibility for next year’s loaded free agent class.
It’s unlikely that Kemp ever suits up for his former team, but Los Angeles will face a difficult time trading a 32-year-old outfielder who is one of the game’s worst defenders and most egregious hackers. If the Dodgers can’t find a landing spot for Kemp (it’s hard to envision they do), they’ll likely designate him for assignment and eat the remainder of his salary.
The Dodgers will need to restock their bullpen after losing Brandon Morrow to the Cubs, but they’re otherwise set to enter 2018.
2. New York Yankees
2017 Record: 91–71, lost in ALCS
By acquiring Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees possess the game’s two most fearsome power hitters. Stanton and Aaron Judge are under the age of 30. They’ve won the 2017 offseason; everybody else is just looking to be the runner-up.
1. Houston Astros
2017 Record: 101–61, won World Series
The champions get the top spot, even if they’ve been quiet up to this point in the offseason. The Astros might get in on the Darvish sweepstakes to bolster their strong but tenuous rotation. Perhaps they’ll pursue J.D. Martinez to become their designated hitter and re-invest in a player they once cut. It’s unclear, but the Astros will return with one of the game’s most stable nuclei and an offense that can out-slug pretty much anybody.