How Each MLB Team Can Win the 2014 Offseason
How Each MLB Team Can Win the 2014 Offseason
With the MLB Winter Meetings comes all manner of hoopla and drama to the world of baseball. Every single agent, General Manager, Manager and major scout will all be in one place for every single team in the game. They are all there for one reason and one reason only; they want to fill out their teams in the best way possible. Sometimes that is doable in that week alone and sometimes it’s not but the offseason hinges on the meetings.
So what is the big deal? Everything is up for grabs during this period of time. The World Series and regular season are both won on the field of play but the players who decide the wins and losses during the games are all placed in action by the steps taken during these few months called the MLB offseason. Every team could win their own race during the offseason. Each team wants to reach the goal of giving their team the best chance to win under the circumstances they are given.
What does it take to win the offseason? That differs for each team actually which brings us to the subject of this slideshow. We will visit each teams needs in quick assessment of what they can do between now and the beginning of the season to consider their offseason a winning success story. It doesn’t guarantee a single thing during the regular season as the game is still played on the field but it most certainly matters. Feel free to comment below with any additional thoughts on this subject as the 2014 offseason develops.
The main things the Braves need to worry about during this offseason are their pitching staff and Dan Uggla. Especially with the Nationals gaining the services of Doug Fister, the Braves need at least one reliable veteran arm to add to the starting rotation. As far as Uggla goes, no matter what else happens, the offseason cannot be a complete victory for the Braves if he is still the second baseman when Spring Training breaks.
Doug Fister is a great addition to the starting staff of the Nationals. They now have one of the most promising staffs in all of MLB; just like they did last year. Of course last year their good starting pitching wasn’t good enough to make up for a weak offense and a struggling bullpen. Those are still areas that the Nats have to upgrade substantially if they want the offseason to be victorious for them.
The Phillies can’t do as much as they need to do because they have too much money tied up in veteran players. They have gotten a few pieces to their puzzle however. If they really want to consider the offseason a win, they should try and pull off a trade or two for a solid arm and probably one more impact bat.
As surprising as it might seem, the Marlins are well on their way to a very successful offseason. Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn’t the greatest catcher on Earth but he is just about perfect for them. Their recent signing of a first baseman also helps their cause and sets up other things they can do to win the offseason for real. They need to make sure to hold on to Giancarlo Stanton as they said they were going to and trade Logan Morrison. The LoMo trade needs to be a substantial one that brings max return.
New York Mets
The signing of Chris Young and Curtis Granderson has the potential to greatly upgrade the outfield and offense of this team. For a complete offseason victory, they need to hand the starting catching job to Travis d’Arnaud and focus on bringing in a little pitching help. Without Matt Harvey this year they could go out and sign a veteran starter to a short term deal. Mainly they need to make absolutely certain that they hang on to their top prospect Noah Syndergaard. No one on the trading block is worth giving up him.
St. Louis Cardinals
Most of the work for this offseason was done by the Cardinals in past offseasons. Their big loss was Carlos Beltran which was offset by gaining Peter Bourjos. Everyone of need is still under contract and every position is pretty solidly filled by someone in place or can be filled by a youngster coming through the system. That could even be true of the shortstop position though filling that spot with a proven veteran would be a good move as well.
The Pirates have a lot to live up to after finally getting back to the postseason in 2013. They didn’t re-sign Marlon Byrd or Justin Morneau which leaves sizeable holes at first base and right field. As some have pointed out, right field isn’t a huge deal because their top outfield prospect Gregory Polanco is just about ready to go and they have in-house options. First base would look great as a spot to upgrade. James Loney would be a great signing who would likely give way more than Morneau did in his short time with the bucs. Another need to make sure they win the offseason is to either get A.J. Burnett back or sufficiently replace him if he retires.
Shin-Soo Choo is as good as gone which puts more pressure on the Reds offseason. They have to decide whether or not suspected rookie Billy Hamilton is good enough to provide a replacement or if they need to make a smart trade to bring in another outfield possibility. They still have the option of trading disgruntled second baseman Brandon Phillips which could bring another bat to offset the loss of Choo.
It appears the Brewers are bound to do very little this offseason which will make it difficult to consider it possible to win the offseason in any way. One big thing they can do to maximize a trade of Kyle Lohse. That could bring back a prospect starter and maybe a decent minor league bat as well. Along with that they need to clear a bath for their looming rookie first baseman to start 2014 as the man over at first.
There should be one main area of focus for the Cubs offseason this year. It all should come down to what they do with Jeff Samardzija. They need to keep him ideally but they are about to have to accept that they are not going to be able to. Given that, the main focus has to be getting a great return for him on the free agent market. There should be plenty of interest and the Cubs have shown themselves very good at trades like this in years past.
Los Angeles Dodgers
For the Dodgers they have a pretty clear situation. They have too many starting outfielders and not enough third basemen. Their pitching is better than solid but they need to do something to pick up their overall offensive attack just a little bit more. The answer should be trading one of their outfielders, Matt Kemp would be the best option but as long as they keep Yasiel Puig it really doesn’t matter.
San Diego Padres
The Padres people claim that they are pretty happy with their club before the Winter Meetings but many fans disagree. I kind of lean towards siding with the disgruntled ones on this one as they definitely could use a big upswing in at least one spot in the outfield. Chase Headley is still a hot commodity even after a down season because the third base market is so low. If he had a bounce back season then it would be beneficial to trade him during the season but that is a big risk since his only really good season was in 2012. The answer for this offseason is likely to try and trade Headley now and bring in another impact bat in his place.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants have been busy working on this offseason since before it even started. They re-signed Hunter Pence for too much money and then threw too much at Tim Lincecum and a tad too much at Tim Hudson. Still, if they have the money to spend who says that hurts their chance to call the offseason a winning one? They have substantially upgraded the pitching staff and the clubhouse with the addition of Hudson. Pence is solid in the outfield. It is possible that they could give in to the temptation to move Pablo Sandoval this offseason. If they were able to get a good bat or two in return that would certainly make the offseason a good one.
GM Kevin Towers still is suggesting that he wants a top starting pitcher and a power-hitting outfielder this offseason. I don’t always agree with GMs but Towers is right on the mark on this one. He should be careful not to mortgage his team’s future for a guy like David Price who could move elsewhere in a couple of years anyway though. There are good, top-level starters available for trade that wouldn’t cost him too much. Anything he could do to bring in a power bat would certainly be a huge win for the offseason.
Signing Justin Morneau was a good move for first base for the Rockies. They still need a little bit more upgrade in the relief staff and probably one more starting pitcher as well. If they could add two more solid relievers, one of which a proven late-game veteran, a veteran starting pitcher and one more impact bat, they could certainly call this offseason a big win.
Boston Red Sox
On the surface the Red Sox offseason looks unwinnable. They lost Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to begin their championship defense in what could easily be called a bad way. Things aren’t nearly that bad however. Chances are the catcher position will be manned quite well even if David Ross takes over half of the games by himself. A.J. Pierzynski will win over Red Sox fans soon as well. To make the thing a big win for them and really turn a losing offseason around the Sox could move one of their starting pitchers as they have been rumored to want to do. Trading Jake Peavy for example would definitely bring a solid bat in return if it is done correctly.
One big hole for the Orioles will be what to do about a closer in place of the recently traded Jim Johnson. Just about the time I was thinking how thankful the Orioles should be to still have him for another year, he’s gone. That means not only do the O’s need a starter to upgrade their pitching staff but also a closer. There are a ton of closers on the market. Even if they wait it out until the market thins out and the price drops, they still should be able to land a decent and proven closer. A starter should be fairly easy to land as well but it needs to make an impact. Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana would be awesome to slot in the rotation towards the top.
New York Yankees
The best thing the Yankees can do to win this offseason is to review what they have done over the past couple of weeks and smile. The list of players they have added have been huge and they have the added bonus of not being saddled with a huge salary towards Robinson Cano. Basically all they need to do is look at pitching upgrades. A starter would be nice. Ervin Santana would probably be simple enough for them to sign. Relief help would always be helpful as well but the Yankees are just about at a win right now.
Toronto Blue Jays
The main need facing the Blue Jays seems to be starting pitching. They need to finish out their rotation even if it means trading their closer who has garnered attention from other teams. Offensively they also have needs. Basically the GM needs to focus on signing a pitcher, maybe trading for another while not giving up any more top pitching prospects, then build a little more offense. That would give the Jays a decent chance to call this offseason a success.
Tampa Bay Rays
There is plenty of doubt surrounding whether the Rays will be champions of the regular season year in and year out but the same is not true of the offseason. Much like the Oakland A’s, the Rays just know how to win in the offseason. The baseball world is waiting to see if the Rays want to trade David Price. Assuming they do decide to trade him, that should be more than enough for them to solidify their offense and build another pitching prospect in as well. They’ll win the offseason just like they always do.
The Tigers have been dramatic in their moves so far but they have been successful as well. They won’t miss the offensive contributions of Prince Fielder with the addition of Ian Kinsler and with the shifting around they are doing with Miguel Cabrera. They can use another outfielder if the situation arises but what they need to do in order to call this a win is to solidify the bullpen. One clear picture from the ALCS was that the Tigers needed bullpen help. This is the right time to add it in any way they can.
It is very likely that the Indians will not be able to re-sign Ubaldo Jimenez. If that is true then they need to focus on completing their starting rotation through other channels. The offense will hold its own but they have serious and deep needs in the rotation as well as the relief corps. They will likely hold at least one spot for a young prospect making his full season debut but other than that they have a ton of pitchers to sign before spring training begins.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals have already signed Jason Vargas to help the starting pitching and traded for a right fielder that will look good in the leadoff spot. They had their hearts broken when Carlos Beltran signed with the Yankees but they still are left in need of an impact bat. It wouldn’t hurt to grab another starter and a few relievers as well. The best things that can happen for the Royals would be to get great seasons out of the players they already have.
The Twins made a big splash by getting Joe Mauer to move to first base and by signing two good starting pitchers to solidify their starting staff. There are still needs on offense for this team that won’t quite be helped by their top prospects for another year or so. Having said that, with their current upgrades they could make a quiet signing or trade here or there to sure of the bullpen and maybe add a bat and could really be able to call this a big winning offseason.
Chicago White Sox
The 2013 season was even worse than the record suggested for the White Sox because they had some fair expectations for success. This offseason they have gotten the veteran Paul Konerko to re-sign and won the Jose Dariel Abreu lottery. That leaves a clear trade candidate in Adam Dunn. The Sox won’t shy away from a trade as we all know. There are other issues similar to other teams like pitching but a successful trade of Dunn, especially if they can get a decent return on him, would be a nice boost to the offseason.
Billy Beane continues to show his mastery over the world of baseball. This offseason like most others he has found a way to provide his team with premium talent on the dollar. Going into the Winter Meetings he really has most of his work already done in order to consider this a winning offseason. It was a win before it started with this guy as GM though. The one thing they can do is deepen their farm system and bring in more talent thanks to a deep starting staff. Currently they own contracts on seven starting pitchers which clearly makes them a target of teams wanting to add a starter.
Unlike the Tigers side of the Prince Fielder deal, the Rangers were left with question marks with the loaded contract of Fielder being added just after his mediocre playoff performance. They added a decent catcher and let their closer go. Basically there are a lot of questions about this team. The good news is that they are still good and loaded with talent. It wouldn’t hurt to add a good starting pitcher but they don’t need it really. The biggest need is to solidify the offense a little bit more even if it means simply re-signing Nelson Cruz.
The Astros are on a completely different level this offseason. A winning offseason for them wouldn’t necessarily mean what it means for other clubs. They don’t have to get the best overall names and biggest contracts. All they really need to gain are players that are decently proven veterans who they can sign for a decent dollar amount. That will allow them to be more successful this season while not clogging up the path of their countless star prospects that are climbing quickly towards the major leagues.
For now the best thing the Mariners could do to call their offseason a success is to reverse time and be patient before signing the huge contract for Robinson Cano. They should look at what the Yankees did and fill five needs instead of just the one. Now they have a huge contract at second base and an offense that still has tons of weaknesses. Ted Williams couldn’t make the Mariners a winner by himself and Cano won’t do it either. They need more offense and the only way I can think of them being able to do it is to significantly raise their payroll. This offseason is going to be terribly difficult to win.
Los Angeles Angels
The best thing that the Angels are doing this offseason is being patient. Instead of going after the biggest name and signing the biggest contracts, they are waiting their turn and making smart deals with good players. They allowed Jason Vargas to leave which is okay. They would have had a starting rotation need anyway and now it’s just one more they need. Matt Garza is one they have mentioned but there are countless others available via trade and free agency. How well the Angels fill the starting rotation needs will determine how much of a win this offseason is.
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