Every MLB Team’s Biggest Question That Must Be Answered This Offseason
Every MLB Team’s Biggest Question That Must Be Answered This Offseason
From the excitement of Opening Day to the unmatchable drama of the World Series, each Major League Baseball season is stocked full of questions that need to be answered. Most of the questions that exist in April are well answered by October but one thing is certain for all teams. They will all have a new set of unanswered questions by the time the seasonal questions are answered and behind them.
The offseason of unanswered questions is usually a much bigger deal for the team General Managers but they affect the teams more probably than those answered during the season. Whether it is the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox or the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins, everyone has questions and usually one or two big ones this time of the offseason. Generally roster moves, at least the majority of them wait until after the World Series and into the early winter.
Occasionally they flow well into the spring and sometimes they overflow into the season. Usually when that happens it is a problem. So, this list is going to look at one big question each MLB team needs to answer this offseason so that it does not adversely affect their 2014 season. They will be listed and organized by division with the American League East coming first and the National League West last. Feel free to leave any and all comments below.
Boston Red Sox – Who Stays and Who Goes?
As fun as it has been to watch the Boston Red Sox tear their way through the playoffs with grit and beards, the offseason will come for them as well. When it does it will bring with it questions of who will stay and who will go. Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are both free agents that will likely get a handsome payday. The bigger question perhaps is which starting pitcher will go as rumors persist that someone will likely leave. Will it be John Lackey or Jake Peavy or perhaps a surprise? This definitely will be a big question until it is answered and perhaps lead to more questions afterwards.
Tampa Bay Rays – Is it Goodbye Time for David Price?
David Price has a couple of years left on his contract; exactly the way James Shields did when the Rays got the greatest value out of him by trading him to the Kansas City Royals for Wil Myers and others. This season that could happen to Price who would bring a very nice return package from anyone that traded for him. Price himself has already resigned himself to the idea that he will be traded while the Rays seem to be willing to try and work something out long-term. Either way it is a big decision for this organization.
Baltimore Orioles – Can we Have Pitching Please?
The Orioles have already come out suggesting that they are looking for a power bat this offseason. I cannot imagine why as they had one of the more explosive offenses in the game in 2013 including a possible MVP in Chris Davis. What they need is the reason they didn’t go further and into the postseason; starting pitching. Some young guys are coming along and they are deciding what to do with Jason Hamell and Scott Feldman. The big question they have to answer is whether or not they can bring in pitching help and improve in that area of need. The fact that they are looking for even more offense might be the answer to the pitching question.
New York Yankees – What to do with the Left Side?
Hopefully Derek Jeter will return healthy for at least another year or two but especially with the way the season ended for him there is no guarantee. Speaking of no guarantees there is no less stable player in baseball for the 2014 than Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees are in a bit of a pickle here as they need to possibly make moves to sure up those spots on the left side of the infield but are not sure what they have. At least they know as we all do that Jeter will give 100 percent of whatever he has to give. That is at least comforting.
Toronto Blue Jays – Who is Catching and Who is on Second?
J.P. Arencibia might be retained but rumor says that he will not be the starting catcher for the Blue Jays in 2014. That means that they have two holes including the second base slot vacated by Emilio Bonifacio at the end of the 2013 season. They are said to have their eyes on Los Angeles Angels’ Hank Conger and they have just enough good prospects in their depleted system to make a deal for him and Howie Kendrick if they could convince the Angels to listen on Conger. If such a deal is a no-go, they still have to decide what to do in those spots. After last season I would think they would be shy about big free agent signings and trades though.
Detroit Tigers – Who Can Fill Jim Leyland’s Cleats?
The throwback managerial style of Leyland has been proven successful for a long time now even down to wearing cleats as long as he possibly could. The switch from him to anyone else in the game is going to be very drastic. Even if another sort of throwback like Dusty Baker took the helm, it would be so different that it will take all of spring training just for the guys to get accustomed to. Whoever the Tigers chose to be their new manager had better be ready for quite the challenge even though he will be taking over one of the more successful teams in MLB.
Cleveland Indians – To Ubaldo Jimenez or Not to Ubaldo?
Like many teams the Indians have a few free agents to chose between and that is never an easy process for a team that was successful. One of the bigger questions is whether or not they are able to re-sign the emerging star Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez along with a possibly extended Justin Masterson and the rest of their crew of starters could begin to establish a solid pitching staff if they stick together. Part of that will depend on bringing back Jimenez even if that means losing another starter.
Kansas City Royals – Can they Bring Back Ervin Santana?
Ervin Santana is going to be one of the more sought after starting pitchers on the market because of his age and his career performance thus far. The Royals want him back but they know better than to pay too much to one pitcher. What will they be able to do and can they convince him to return to them for less than he could make elsewhere? It could be a huge difference in the makeup of their pitching staff.
Chicago White Sox – What Will Jose Dariel Abreu Do?
The White Sox have paid possibly too much and possibly gotten a great deal in Abrue signing. He could be worth a lot more than $68MM but then again he could bust relative to that amount of money. Surely it can’t be ignored that the impact of Yasiel Puig on the Dodgers impacted the money thrown towards Abreu but that doesn’t mean he won’t be worth it. Will he be and what will his performance mean for the first base and DH situation in Chicago?
Minnesota Twins – Can they Keep Joe Mauer Healthy at Catcher?
Joe Mauer and the Twins both say that he is going to be the team’s catcher in 2014 no matter what the rest of us think. He has always been their catcher and he will be next year as well. Mauer is still having one great season after another having finished in the top five again in batting average this season. With the emergence of promising Josmil Pinto at catcher, how healthy will Mauer have to be to stay in his position and will Pinto be shuffled out because of it?
Oakland Athletics – Go for Grant Balfour or Not?
Balfour is without a doubt one of the better closers in the game going into the offseason and will be highly sought after on the open market. It is extremely likely that he will come in way over what the A’s are willing to pay. Will they throw the bank at Balfour? If not what options will baseball genius Billy Beane put together for his closer spot as they try to pull off another upsetting division title win?
Texas Rangers – Will they Chase Joe Nathan or Replace Him?
Joe Nathan is one of the best closers of the last decade and yet the Rangers have already publicly said that they do not plan to spend money on their bullpen. With Nathan going into free agency it seems fairly clear that they will need to do something different at that position if they chose not to pay for their closer to stay. They could be taking for granted just how special a solid closer is though and it might leave them disappointed at the end of a second straight season.
Los Angeles Angels – Will Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols Show Up?
With the disappointing 2013 season still fresh the Angels have hired a new hitting coach in the proven and successful Don Baylor. This could be the biggest strike towards improving their offense and in particular these two guys Hamilton and Pujols. The question for Hamilton is if he can hit the way he did at the end of his Rangers career again. Admittedly the question for Pujols is completely health related. Can he play on his chronically injured foot as he ages or will it shorten his career greatly? These questions as well as what they plan to do if neither shows up the way they need will be key to the Angels season.
Seattle Mariners – Who Wants to Manage This Team?
I really think the GM might have made a mistake in firing Eric Wedge. Considering the older guys are another year older and the newer players don’t seem to be ready to break out anytime soon, who would want to take over this sinking ship and likely go down with the current GM after 2014? Whoever gets the call better have a rabbit to pull out of a hat or it will be a one year gig.
Houston Astros – Which Prospects are Ready for MLB?
Obviously the Astros need help going into next season if they plan to lose less than 100 games. That is one of their goals so to do that they need to show some of what they have working for them. First things first and most importantly will be which prospects are ready for MLB action. There are bound to be a few good ones that get a chance. Those positions in need where no prospect is ready to make the MLB leap will need to be areas they try to fill in some way over free agency. How well those decisions are made now will affect their chance at winning more than 62 games next season.
Atlanta Braves – What to Do With Dan Uggla?
Uggla and B.J. Upton had terrible troubles offensively for the 2013 Braves and surely affected their postseason run because of them. Upton is going to have to either ride the bench or be the comeback player of the year. Uggla has got to leave somehow and some way. How the GM chooses to and is able to do this could be a very large pivot point in the Braves offseason success or failure.
Washington Nationals – How Successful will Matt Williams Be?
The managerial vacancy for the Nats is certainly to be filled with former third baseman Matt Williams. For a team that seemed to under-perform for most of the season moving to a rookie manager, what will the result be? There will be a lot of pressure on Williams for this being his rookie managerial season as he is well respected and is taking over a very talented team. Hopefully any struggles he faces will be met with a little bit of patience for the first half at least.
New York Mets – How Will Their Money be Spent?
The Mets have only $25MM committed to players right now along with however much they will owe their numerous arbitration eligible players. What they will definitely have is money to spend. The question is where to spend it? Will they solidify the offense with a first baseman or even outfielder Shin-Soo Choo? Will they sign a veteran arm to offset the injury and surgery to Matt Harvey? How they spend their money could put them in another rebuild year or a competing year. The pressure is definitely on.
Philadelphia Phillies – Can They Afford Any Moves At All?
The Phillies are at the mercy of the bad decisions of Ruben Amaro Jr. He has $112.5MM already spent on only 8 players next year which leaves them very little wiggle room. This includes the recently boosted $15MM to aging second baseman Chase Utley. All of these decisions seem to predispose the Phillies to struggles as they will have to deal with bargain players at every other position besides those 8 on their 40-man roster. Compare the freedom of the Mets situation to the clinching situation the Phills are in. This could be a bad offseason with little activity and I fear another bad season.
Miami Marlins – How Good will Young Pitchers Be?
We all saw the brilliance with which Jose Fernandez made his year-long stake on the rookie of the year award. Also another fairly young arm threw a no-hitter as the Marlins swept the playoff bound Tigers. How good can this group of young pitchers be? Will there be a sophomore slump for Fernandez? These are huge questions for this team who will probably do very little in the way of outside moves this offseason.
St. Louis Cardinals – Keep Carlos Beltran or Not?
The Cardinals are not surprisingly in a very good position. Most of their core talent is either under long-term contract or too young for them to have to worry about anything but arbitration. They will likely be able to do whatever they want this offseason which begs the question of whether or not they will try to re-sign free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. Clearly he has a lot of worth but he might not be someone the very talented Cardinals really need for the next season or two. It honestly isn’t a swing decision except for their outfield production but still it is one of the largest choices they face.
Pittsburgh Pirates – How Many Free Agents to Keep?
The Pirates had a great season but next season’s success could hinge on what they chose to do about a few key free agents. A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau, John Buck and Clint Barmes are all on that list. Obviously they could likely do without at least a couple of them but these will be big choices going into the season as well as the pending free agency of a couple of key guys at the end of 2014 and what to do about that. Russell Martin is on that list.
Cincinnati Reds – Is Bryan Price Ready to Manage?
The trend of pitching coaches becoming mangers is fully in swing right now and none will have a heavier load than Price. He inherits a good team with lots of changes looming that has a few questions. None of the questions will be as important as whether or not Price is ready to take over for Dusty Baker. The rest will follow that question.
Milwaukee Brewers – Can They Still Get Return for Yovani Gallardo?
For all the trade rumors during the 2013 season, the Brewers still hold on to a pitcher that hasn’t been great but yet garners a lot of attention from other teams willing to trade for him. He can still get some return for the Brewers but they need to trade him sooner rather than later if they want max return.
Chicago Cubs – Will Next Manager Take the Next Step?
Currently the most talked about candidate for the vacant Cubs’ manager spot is Torey Lovullo, the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox. Since he is worried about other things at the moment, the interviews with the Cubs and other teams will have to wait. For the Cubs, whether it is Lovullo or another candidate, Dale Sveum was supposed to be there for a short time by design. He was but the question now is whether or not they will be able to find the right man to take the Cubs over the next hurdle as they attempt to be a winning franchise. Needless to say that has proven a difficult task in the past.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Will Don Mattingly and Free Agents Return?
The Dodgers appeared pleased with Mattingly for a while but there has been uncertainty around of late. If they are not going to keep him and trust him with the team then he will likely go elsewhere in one way or another. In addition to that uncertainty the Dodgers have a long list of free agents including Juan Uribe, Brian Wilson, J.P. Howell, Nick Punto and Ricky Nolasco among others. Of all of them, Punto and Howell are the only two currently expected to return. Needless to say both of these issues combine into a giant question of what the leadership and roster will look like next season.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Can Kevin Towers Right the Ship?
With a payroll expected to already come in around $93M there is some question as to what GM Kevin Towers will be able to do on the free agent market to boost his power in the outfield corners. Of course it is also strange that he traded away power outfielders a year ago and now is craving them once again. Whatever the situation with Towers, it is his job to get this team back to winning form in the best way he can personnel wise. Whether or not he can do his job good enough is a big question right now.
San Diego Padres – What to do with Chase Headley?
Headley was an MVP candidate in 2012 and a hot trade item talked about in 2013 because of it. The Padres failed to pull the trigger on a trade however and Headley had a season much like all the other average ones in his career instead of the one MVP caliber year. With that being the situation, the Padres have to choose whether or not they want to give one last ditch effort to trade him or just buckle down for the long haul.
Colorado Rockies – Can They Stay Healthy?
Recently the Rockies GM said clearly that his superstars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez were going to stick around in Colorado for a long time. That might not matter however if they have yet another season where they both are injured for some time. Each of them as well as the core of young players that are improving quickly need to remain healthy to give the Rockies and Walt Weiss a chance to see how good they can be.
San Francisco Giants – Will the Pitching Staff and Posey Return to Form?
Not only were most of the Giants starting pitchers off of their game in 2013 but their all-star MVP catcher Buster Posey was as well. The result was a terrible season for a World Series champion. Now they need the returning Tim Lincecum and his cohorts to be as good as they were in 2012 and boy do they ever need the MVP type Posey if they are going to even come close to competing with the Dodgers.