San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants

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)
<p>Outside of the Yankees&#39; acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton and the Angels&#39; signing of Shohei Ohtani, it&#39;s been a pretty slow start to the baseball offseason. With a few moves made and many more to come, let&#39;s reset and take a look at where all 30 teams stand with plenty of signings awaiting.</p><p><strong>30. Miami Marlins</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record</strong>: <strong>77–85</strong></p><p>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. </p><p>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. </p><p><strong>29. Detroit Tigers</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 64–98</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>28. Cincinnati Reds</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 68–94</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>27. San Diego Padres</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 71–91</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>26. San Francisco Giants</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 64–98</strong></p><p>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&#38;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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>25. Tampa Bay Rays</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 80–82</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>24. Chicago White Sox</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 67–95</strong></p><p>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,<a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/12/12/winter-meetings-notebook-boston-red-sox-jose-abreu" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the Red Sox would be wise to try to acquire first baseman Jose Abreu" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> the Red Sox would be wise to try to acquire first baseman Jose Abreu</a>, 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.</p><p><strong>23. Oakland A&#39;s</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 75–87</strong></p><p>It’s the A’s. Who knows?</p><p>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.</p><p>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.?</p><p><strong>22. Philadelphia Phillies</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 66–96</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>Klentak is also reportedly shopping infielder Cesar Hernandez (the Mets would be a good fit), but he&#39;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.</p><p>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&#39;re a prime candidate to spend on a front-line starter (Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish) to bolster an otherwise bad starting rotation.</p><p><strong>21. Baltimore Orioles</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 75–87</strong></p><p>Like the Reds, the Orioles don’t have the assets to compete in 2018. As Tom Verducci noted, <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/12/14/baltimore-orioles-manny-machado-trade-rumors-winter-meetings" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:GM Dan Duquette would be wise to ship Manny Machado" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">GM Dan Duquette would be wise to ship Manny Machado</a> 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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>20. Toronto Blue Jays</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 76–86</strong></p><p>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 &#39;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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>19. Atlanta Braves</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 72–90</strong></p><p>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&#39;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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>18. Pittsburgh Pirates</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 75–87</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>17. Kansas City Royals</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 80–82</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>16. New York Mets</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 70–92</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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&#39;s back from a serious shoulder injury) with the protection they desperately need.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>15. Seattle Mariners</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 78–84</strong></p><p>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+.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>14. Texas Rangers</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 78–84</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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. </p><p><strong>13. Minnesota Twins</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 85–77, lost in AL Wild Card Game</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>12. Los Angeles Angels</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 80–82</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>11. Milwaukee Brewers</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 86–76</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>10. Colorado Rockies</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 87–75, lost in NL Wild Card Game</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>9. Boston Red Sox</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 93–69, lost in NLDS</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>8. St. Louis Cardinals</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 83–79</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>7. Arizona Diamondbacks</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 93–69, lost in NLDS</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>6. Washington Nationals</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 97–65, lost in NLDS</strong></p><p>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. </p><p><strong>5. Cleveland Indians</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 102–60, lost in ALDS</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>4. Chicago Cubs</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 92–70, lost in NLCS</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>3. Los Angeles Dodgers</strong></p><p><strong>2017 record: 104–58, lost in World Series</strong></p><p>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, <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/12/16/matt-kemp-dodgers-trade-adrian-gonzalez-braves-bryce-harper" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:as our own Jon Tayler noted" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">as our own Jon Tayler noted</a>, it allows the Dodgers significant flexibility for next year’s loaded free agent class.</p><p>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.</p><p>The Dodgers will need to restock their bullpen after losing Brandon Morrow to the Cubs, but they’re otherwise set to enter 2018.</p><p><strong>2. New York Yankees</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 91–71, lost in ALCS</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Astros</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 101–61, won World Series</strong></p><p>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.</p>
MLB Power Rankings: Yankees, Cardinals Are Big Winners of Early Offseason

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.

<p>Outside of the Yankees&#39; acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton and the Angels&#39; signing of Shohei Ohtani, it&#39;s been a pretty slow start to the baseball offseason. With a few moves made and many more to come, let&#39;s reset and take a look at where all 30 teams stand with plenty of signings awaiting.</p><p><strong>30. Miami Marlins</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record</strong>: <strong>77–85</strong></p><p>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. </p><p>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. </p><p><strong>29. Detroit Tigers</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 64–98</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>28. Cincinnati Reds</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 68–94</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>27. San Diego Padres</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 71–91</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>26. San Francisco Giants</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 64–98</strong></p><p>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&#38;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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>25. Tampa Bay Rays</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 80–82</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>24. Chicago White Sox</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 67–95</strong></p><p>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,<a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/12/12/winter-meetings-notebook-boston-red-sox-jose-abreu" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the Red Sox would be wise to try to acquire first baseman Jose Abreu" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> the Red Sox would be wise to try to acquire first baseman Jose Abreu</a>, 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.</p><p><strong>23. Oakland A&#39;s</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 75–87</strong></p><p>It’s the A’s. Who knows?</p><p>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.</p><p>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.?</p><p><strong>22. Philadelphia Phillies</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 66–96</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>Klentak is also reportedly shopping infielder Cesar Hernandez (the Mets would be a good fit), but he&#39;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.</p><p>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&#39;re a prime candidate to spend on a front-line starter (Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish) to bolster an otherwise bad starting rotation.</p><p><strong>21. Baltimore Orioles</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 75–87</strong></p><p>Like the Reds, the Orioles don’t have the assets to compete in 2018. As Tom Verducci noted, <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/12/14/baltimore-orioles-manny-machado-trade-rumors-winter-meetings" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:GM Dan Duquette would be wise to ship Manny Machado" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">GM Dan Duquette would be wise to ship Manny Machado</a> 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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>20. Toronto Blue Jays</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 76–86</strong></p><p>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 &#39;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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>19. Atlanta Braves</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 72–90</strong></p><p>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&#39;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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>18. Pittsburgh Pirates</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 75–87</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>17. Kansas City Royals</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 80–82</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>16. New York Mets</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 70–92</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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&#39;s back from a serious shoulder injury) with the protection they desperately need.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>15. Seattle Mariners</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 78–84</strong></p><p>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+.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>14. Texas Rangers</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 78–84</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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. </p><p><strong>13. Minnesota Twins</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 85–77, lost in AL Wild Card Game</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>12. Los Angeles Angels</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 80–82</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>11. Milwaukee Brewers</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 86–76</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>10. Colorado Rockies</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 87–75, lost in NL Wild Card Game</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>9. Boston Red Sox</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 93–69, lost in NLDS</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>8. St. Louis Cardinals</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 83–79</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>7. Arizona Diamondbacks</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 93–69, lost in NLDS</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>6. Washington Nationals</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 97–65, lost in NLDS</strong></p><p>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. </p><p><strong>5. Cleveland Indians</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 102–60, lost in ALDS</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>4. Chicago Cubs</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 92–70, lost in NLCS</strong></p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p><strong>3. Los Angeles Dodgers</strong></p><p><strong>2017 record: 104–58, lost in World Series</strong></p><p>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, <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/12/16/matt-kemp-dodgers-trade-adrian-gonzalez-braves-bryce-harper" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:as our own Jon Tayler noted" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">as our own Jon Tayler noted</a>, it allows the Dodgers significant flexibility for next year’s loaded free agent class.</p><p>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.</p><p>The Dodgers will need to restock their bullpen after losing Brandon Morrow to the Cubs, but they’re otherwise set to enter 2018.</p><p><strong>2. New York Yankees</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 91–71, lost in ALCS</strong></p><p>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.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Astros</strong></p><p><strong>2017 Record: 101–61, won World Series</strong></p><p>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.</p>
MLB Power Rankings: Yankees, Cardinals Are Big Winners of Early Offseason

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.

After 10 years with the Tampa Bay Rays, Evan Longoria has moved to San Francisco Giants for the 2018 season.
San Francisco Giants acquire Evan Longoria from Rays
After 10 years with the Tampa Bay Rays, Evan Longoria has moved to San Francisco Giants for the 2018 season.
San Francisco Giants&#39; Nick Hundley, right, hits a two-run home run in front of Colorado Rockies catcher Tom Murphy during the fourth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Nick Hundley, Giants agree to a $2.5 million, 1-year deal
San Francisco Giants' Nick Hundley, right, hits a two-run home run in front of Colorado Rockies catcher Tom Murphy during the fourth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Miami Marlins&#39; A.J. Ellis, right, celebrates with J.T. Realmuto (11) after hitting a two run home run off San Francisco Giants&#39; George Kontos in the eleventh inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 9, 2017, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP source: Marlins catcher JT Realmuto requests trade
Miami Marlins' A.J. Ellis, right, celebrates with J.T. Realmuto (11) after hitting a two run home run off San Francisco Giants' George Kontos in the eleventh inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 9, 2017, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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