The offseason has begun. Congrats to the Dodgers on beating the Tampa Bay Rays to win the Pandemic World Series. All you needed was to try for a third time in the last four seasons and beat a team with triple the payroll. Anyway, there will be a lot of questions regarding whether or not teams will be willing to spend money this year after the loss of ticket sales. I’m not here to answer those questions. I’m here to point out the biggest needs for each team heading into this offseason because, for now, there will still be baseball played in 2021 and teams need to make moves.
Pittsburgh Pirates (19-41)
The Pirates have had the pleasure of watching some of their former players become successful on the best teams in MLB. Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Gerrit Cole are names that could have definitely helped the Pirates avoid being the worst team in baseball. The goal for the club moving forward should be to reevaluate the talent in the minor leagues to avoid another dismal trade that screws the team’s future. With the second lowest payroll, the Pirates should scour the bargain bin and sign names that might bring people to the ballpark. Bleacher Report ranks their farm system at 13th with a healthy mix of position players and pitchers in their Top 10 prospect list. So for Pirates fans, there might be light at the end of the tunnel but it’s still a ways away.
Needs: Everything (including a new front office)
Texas Rangers (22-38)
The Rangers had a rather disappointing season after injuries hit their clubhouse and the guys that were left underperformed with the exception of Lance Lynn who was outstanding. Their best player was absolutely lost at the plate. Joey Gallo had an OPS of .679 and only hit 10 homeruns. Elvis Andrus missed some games but when he did play, he was basically useless. After trading Mike Minor in the middle of the season, the Rangers have to either be looking to sell and revamp their farm system (which is ranked at 21) and throw up 2020 as a wash and see what next year brings. I would begin by trading Lance Lynn at his peak value who only has 1 year left on his contract and is only owed $8mil.
Needs: Mainly pitching but could use more bats as well.
Detroit Tigers (23-35)
The Tigers need hitting, plain and simple. Miguel Cabrera is nowhere close to his Triple Crown level of production and has become more and more injury-prone as time goes on. The really bad part about this is that he’s owed $30-$32mil per year until after the 2025 season where he will be 42 years old. I’m willing to bet that he doesn’t make it that far and the Tigers are going to have to eat every dollar of that contract because he is practically untradeable. Luckily, help is on the way. The Tigers have the 6th best farm system headlined by Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Spencer Torkelson. Even with the addition of these 2 arms and a bat, the Tigers still have a long way to go before they can really be competitive.
Needs: A lot of bats and some bullpen arms.
Boston Red Sox (24-36)
The Red Sox went from winning it all in 2018, to the AL East’s worst team in 2020. With the former Rays GM now in charge, the whole mentality has shifted and it resulted in Mookie Betts and David Price being shipped to the Dodgers. With Chris Sale getting Tommy John surgery and the Red Sox trading away the rest of the decent arms, the team was a shell of itself in 2020. They can still hit with Devers, Bogaerts, Verdugo, and Martinez in the lineup but the pitching staff is really, really bad. The Red Sox also have the one of the worst ranked farm systems ranked at 25 and headlined by SS Jeter Downs. Unfortunately for the Sox, there are no notable arms in the minors that could come up and help right away. We might see a complete gutting of the lineup mentioned above if the Red Sox aren’t doing too well at the 2021 trade deadline.
Needs: Revamp the pitching staff from top to bottom.
Baltimore Orioles (25-25)
It’s safe to say that the Orioles are still in rebuilding mode while the Yankees and Rays are in the middle of their World Series windows. Surprisingly, the Orioles have thrown together a nice little farm system (ranked 11th) and have already seen success from one of their top prospects, Ryan Mountcastle, who had a solid .878 OPS in 2020. Orioles fans are also hoping that their 2019 #1 overall pick, Adley Rutschman, makes his debut in 2021 even though he’s only played in A ball. I predict that he makes his debut in the 2022 since he missed a year of development. For the Orioles, it’s just a waiting game at this point.
Needs: Mainly pitching but they could improve on both sides of the ball.
Arizona Diamondbacks (25-35)
After successfully offloading Zack Grienke and his contract, the D-backs made some additions prior to the 2020 season. Adding Madison Bumgarner and Kole Calhoun was supposed to help ensure that they would finish above .500. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as MadBum was hurt for most of the year and then got roughed up on his return and former MVP-candidate, Ketel Marte only posted a .732 OPS. There are bright spots for the Dbacks in the near future, though. Zac Gallen proved to be really good by posting a sub-3.00 ERA in 2020 and they also have the 8th best farm system with plenty of position players set to make an impact for them in the next few years or so. My suggestion would be to stock up on solid arms to welcome the influx of position players. With the Dodgers seemingly not slowing down anytime soon, now is not the time to spend big money.
Needs: Arms. Both starters and relievers.
Washington Nationals (26-34)
The Nationals have probably become one of the most disappointing teams after a World Series win. Their pitching staff is still top notch although Max Scherzer is getting older, Patrick Corbin had a down year, and Strasburg is hurt once again. What the Nats really need are more power bats to surround the phenom, Juan Soto. Don’t get me wrong, Trea Turner, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Adam Eaton can be great hitters, however, it’s easy to pitch around those guys to get to the bottom of lineup. With the worst farm system in baseball, the Nationals are only looking at SS Carter Kieboom to come in and hopefully slide to 3B and fill some of the talent lost in letting Anthony Rendon go to the Angels. If they can’t produce results in 2021, it may be time for them to rebuild.
Needs: Bats that can provide Soto with some support.
New York Mets (26-34)
Everyone come meet the Mets. The Nationals and the Mets ended up being tied for last in the NL East and for good reason. The Mets stink. They thought they could make a ‘splash’ by stealing Dellin Betances from the Yankees only for him to post a 7.71 ERA in 15 appearances. They still can’t win games behind a dominant Jacob deGrom when he’s their only good starting pitcher. Pete Alonso fell into a sophomore slump, they traded for Todd Frazier for some reason, Wilson Ramos has 0 speed on the MLB The Show, Noah Syndergaard got hurt again, and Rick Porcello is one of the worst pitchers I’ve ever seen. I have to give credit where credit is due, Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto had great years. With a new ownership, will the Mets be buyers or sellers this offseason? I honestly don’t know how the front office can better their team.
Needs: They can improve in all aspects.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (26-34)
Another baseball season, another postseason without Mike Trout. Pitching. The Angels need pitching. With a weak farm system (ranked 24th), Mike Trout looks to be sitting on the couch in October for the foreseeable future. Did Mike Trout deserve every dollar of his new contract? Absolutely. Should it have been the Angels to give it to him? NO. Now with Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, injury-prone Justin Upton, and old Albert Pujols locked up on huge deals, that leaves little to be spent anywhere else. I still firmly believe the Angels should’ve traded Trout in a 3-4 team trade that would’ve provided both Major League ready talent and bodies to replenish the farm. I understand that it would’ve really hurt the image of the Angels’ front office but it would’ve been the right move for the organization in the long run. For perspective, the Angels have the 9th highest payroll but the only players that are not on rookie contracts are the 4 guys mentioned above.
Needs: Pitchers. As many as they can get.
Kansas City Royals (26-34)
The Royals are still a team that is trying to rebuild and it’s safe to say it’s been a little more difficult than expected. They have some pretty solid talent on the offensive side and in their bullpen but it’s their starting pitching that is the by far their biggest weakness. Their first order of business this offseason would be to resign Ian Kennedy and Greg Holland, who both should be relatively cheap. They do have the 10th best farm system with Bobby Witt Jr. leading the class. It will be another couple of years before we see Witt Jr. crack the roster but when he does, the Royals should have a plan in place to surround him with talent. That plan should start now if it already hasn’t started yet.
Needs: Starting pitching.
Colorado Rockies (26-34)
The Rockies need to start a rebuild. They have completely missed their window of opportunity and failed to complement the bats of Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story with some decent pitching. Yes, pitching at Coors Field is a nightmare, however, this should be a motivating factor for the Rockies’ front office to get arms that could limit the amount of fly balls hit. The first move should be be to trade Arenado and do it ASAP. Arenado will be 30 in 2021 and it will just become harder and harder to trade him as time goes on. There is still some great opportunity to get a giant return from a team that is desperate for a big bat. I would also be looking to trade Trevor Story as well. He his going into his last year of arbitration and if you have no intention of signing him when he becomes a free agent, there is no reason to keep him. The Rockies currently have the second worst farm system in baseball and I believe trading Arenado and Story would instantly propel the farm to top 10 in baseball.
Needs: Starting pitching. Especially guys that can limit fly balls.
Seattle Mariners (27-33)
Where to start with this team? Everywhere you look, it’s not good. The only bright spots currently are Mitch Haniger and Kyle Lewis. Luckily for Mariners fan, the club has the second best farm system and plenty of money to spend (especially for a guy like Jerry Dipoto). Top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez are still a couple years away from being ready but they should provide all the incentive needed for the front office to make some moves in the near future. For 2021, I suggest the Mariners search for some bargains to help bolster their pitching staff.
Needs: Mostly pitching but they also have several holes in their lineup.
Philadelphia Phillies (28-32)
I think most people can agree that the Phillies played well below what their potential is. With that said, their biggest weakness by far is their bullpen which screwed them over more times than Nationals fans would rather recall. If anything is addressed, it should be that especially with the lack of starting pitchers in the 2021 free agent class. They are also losing two bats to free agency, Didi Gregorious and JT Realmuto. Along with bolstering the bullpen, if the Phillies want to be competitive at all next year, they need to bring those guys back and not exercise the club options of Jake Arrieta and David Robertson. With Alec Bohm expected to get a full year at 3B in 2021, the Phillies should be all in on pitching.
Needs: Bullpen arms and an ace for the rotation.
San Francisco Giants (29-31)
The Giants are in tough spot for the 2021 season. They don’t have the best farm system with their former #1 prospect, Joey Bart, making his debut this year and being below average, at best. They also don’t have any star players to trade away in hopes of rebuilding the farm and they are committed to paying Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Johnny Cueto until after the 2021 season so don’t expect any significant moves by the Giants until prior to the 2022 season. Regardless of their financial restrictions, the Giants need help in every facet of the game, however, there’s no way to put a team together in 2021 and compete with the Dodgers.
Needs: Any addition to the roster would help.
Milwaukee Brewers (29-31) – Made it to NL Wild Card Series
The Brewers’ starting rotation is pretty much nonexistent. It doesn’t help that their best starter, Brett Anderson, is now a free agent and someone will be willing to out pay the Brewers just to stick him in the back of their rotation. With Christian Yelich locked up on a huge deal with a full no-trade clause and the Brewers having a barren farm system (ranked 28th), there is no help coming in the form of young talent. They are going to have to ride out the Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun contracts and then go from there.
Needs: Starting pitching first and foremost. Can improve everywhere else too.
Houston Astros (29-31) – Made it to ALCS
Astros Cheaters were able to squeeze past the two of the most notorious postseason chokers, the Twins and Athletics, and forced a Game 7 with the Rays. I saw a lot of people on social media say that they actually wanted the Astros to go to the World Series so that the Dodgers could have their revenge but I just want the Astros to lose every single game as long as Altuve, Correa, Springer, and Gurriel are part of that team. The Astros struggled offensively in the regular season (I wonder why) and they lost Verlander to Tommy John so there are definitely spots that they could improve. Also, George Springer is now a free agent that will probably have a lot of bidders and I can only assume that he wants to get out of Houston to separate himself from the scandal.
Needs: Both, offense and pitching, can improve.
Miami Marlins (31-29) – Made it to NLDS
The Marlins shocked everyone when they were able to make the playoffs even though there were 16 teams allowed in in 2020. Better yet, they were able to sweep the Cubs in a 3-game Wild Card set to advance to the NLDS. They got swept by the Braves but, hey, they were very impressive. I think the Marlins should stick to their plan and be patient. Sixto Sanchez has made his debut and there is only more help on the way. When those prospects finally come up, that’s when the Marlins should spend big money and make a serious multi-year run. I can’t wait to see all of the bandwagon Marlins fans when they are running the NL East in a couple of years.
Needs: They can improve everywhere.
Cincinnati Reds (31-29) – Made it to NL Wild Card Series
Cincinnati’s main core will still be intact in 2021 except for Trevor Bauer. Like many teams, the Reds’ biggest weakness is the pitching staff and with the departure of Bauer, they are going to have to rely more heavily on Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo to carry the rotation. Nick Castellanos is also going to be a big question mark since he has a player option for 2021 at $14mil. Most people expect him to decline the option even though only posted a .784 OPS in 2020. If that happens, then the Reds could really be in trouble as their offense would be compromised and lead by only Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, Eugenio Saurez, and Jesse Winker. They either need to get better via free agents or sell to replenish the farm that currently sits at 19th in the game.
Needs: Bats that are not boom or bust.
St. Louis Cardinals (30-28) – Made it to NL Wild Card Series
The Cardinals need to do the same as what the Pirates should do and reevaluate the young guys that they have. The fact that they gave away Luke Voit and Randy Arozarena for basically nothing shows that there’s obvious disconnect between the front office and the on-field scouts and management. Other than that, the Cards still have great talent on their team with Paul Goldschmidt, Jack Flaherty, and Jordan Hicks as headliners. Dylan Carlson is also expected to make more of an impact than he did in 35 games in 2020 where he had an OPS of .616. They are in the middle of the pack when it comes to their payroll so they should have plenty of money to spend on whatever they need and compete with the White Sox.
Needs: They can improve in most areas but they first need to take a look at their GM.
Toronto Blue Jays (32-28) – Made it to AL Wild Card Series
The Blue Jays still have plenty of time to build a juggernaut of a team with Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. only entering their pre-arbitration stages. With those 3 guys and a handful of other contributors, the Jays have a great offensive lineup and it will only become better. The Jays’ main focus should be pitching. With Hyun-Jin Ryu locked up until 2024 and 3 SPs leaving for free agency, he needs other people around him to help take some of the workload. The bullpen also needs work with the departure of Ken Giles, there’s just no one to go to. The Blue Jays only have about $65mil in guaranteed money to hand out in 2021 so there should be almost no constraints there. They also have the 5th best farm system in baseball with one prospect, Nate Pearson, making his debut in 2020 and Austin Martin (Jays’ first round pick in 2020) is expected to fly through the minors. We could easily see the Blue Jays become the best team in baseball within the next few years.
Needs: They need to snag some young pitching now to complement their future monster lineup.
New York Yankees (33-27) – Made it to ALDS
The Yankees fell short of their expectations for the third year in a row. Each year is the same story, they have no starting pitching and the bats went quiet at the wrong time. Every year, they are hailed as the best team in baseball purely because of the talent that they have. Well, I’ll tell you that talent doesn’t mean anything if they can’t stay on the field. Judge, Stanton, Torres, LeMahieu, and Urshela all had to miss time with injury and it deeply affected their record as the ‘Next Man Up’ magic did not repeat itself from 2019. The first order of business for the Yankees is to resign DJ LeMahieu as he has easily been the Yankees’ best all-round hitter and always gets the job done when no one else could. Second, they need to let Masahiro Tanaka and JA Happ walk. Tanaka no longer has any value and JA Happ is a whiny bitch. Third, the Yankees should be all in on Trevor Bauer. There are going to be a lot of teams bidding for him, for sure, but the Yankees desperately need a #2 so that Gerrit Cole doesn’t have to carry the rotation on his back. With Clarke Schimdt and Deivi Garcia now part of the major league club, the Yankees farm is depleted with the exception of Jasson Dominguez who has yet to play in a professional baseball game.
Needs: Starting pitching first and foremost. Bullpen arms can be added too.
Chicago Cubs (34-26) – Made it to NL Wild Card Series
I believe the window for the Cubs to win another championship since 2016 is coming to a close if it isn’t closed already. They are expected to pick up Anthony Rizzo’s $16.5mil option and decline Jon Lester’s $25mil option. With Jose Quintana entering free agency, the only established staring pitchers are Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. The Cubs are hoping that Kris Bryant and Javier Baez can return to form but if they can’t, they have to seriously consider selling since their farm system has no notable prospects after Nico Hoerner made his debut in 2020. The Cubs will also be looking for cash relief as they are still paying Jason Heyward a ridiculous $21mil a year and have 8 arbitration cases to settle.
Needs: Replenish the farm.
Cleveland Indians (35-25) – Made it to AL Wild Card Series
The Indians are one of the few teams that don’t desperately need pitching as they continuously find ways to produce great arms. What they do need are bats, and a lot of them. The bottom half in their lineup can be one of the weakest in baseball at times and their top hitting prospects, Nolan Jones and Tyler Freeman, are still a couple years away from cracking the 40-man roster and even when they do, they might be blocked by Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor. I expect Cleveland to push hard for George Springer, Marcell Ozuna, Michael Brantley, and even DJ LeMahieu. They typically don’t spend a lot of money but if they only pick up Carlos Santana’s and Brad Hand’s team options, they will have some wiggle room to snag a great, if not elite, bat.
Needs: They desperately need bats to provide run support.
Chicago White Sox – Made it to AL Wild Card Series
The White Sox have become a very exciting team to watch over the last couple of years and are really close to becoming the team to beat. They have had multiple, highly-touted prospects such as Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, and Yoan Moncada come up and make instant impacts with future top prospects Michael Kopech, Andrew Vaughn, and Nick Madrigal expected to join the club in 2021/2022. The White Sox should waste no time and resign Alex Colome who has been nothing short of dominant for them and also be on the hunt to sign one more starting pitcher and some bullpen arms. If they can pull that off, the White Sox will be a very dangerous team for years to come.
Needs: Mostly bullpen arms to take the load off of the starting pitchers.
Atlanta Braves (35-25) – Made it to NLCS
The Braves are slowly becoming more and more competitive for the NL Pennant taking the Dodgers to Game 7 before getting knocked out. The Braves have their hands full with decisions this offseason including their large free agent departures. Marcell Ozuna, Mark Melancon, Nick Markakis, and Cole Hamels are all free agents who have impacted the Braves in a positive way over the last few years and will create holes on the Braves roster. The Braves are more than capable of bringing those guys back and then some as they are only locked in to pay around $92 mil to their players. Acuna, Duvall, and Albies have arbitration hearings coming up and should push that overall payroll number well past $100m. The Braves have the third best farm system in MLB with Christian Pache and Drew Waters about 1 or 2 years away from hopefully making their debuts and patrolling the outfield with Acuna for the next decade. As far as needs go te Braves need to focus on the backend of their rotation and their bullpen. I would start with resigning Melancon.
Needs: Pitching especially in the bullpen.
Oakland Athletics (36-24) – Made it to ALDS
Billy Beane really thinks that he can just keep on rolling the same team out there year after year and expect different results. The A’s always seem to fall short by maybe one or two impactful players but somehow manage to keep producing young talent. With Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk, and Sean Murphy all making their debuts in 2020, the A’s farm system seems to finally be depleted with the exception of Robert Pauson and (maybe) Nick Allen. Infamously known for keeping the payroll to a minimum, the A’s have 10 arbitration cases to settle that include some of their best players like Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha, Matt Chapman, Frankie Montas, and Matt Olson. They also may lose Marcus Semien and Liam Hendricks to free agency as they both should attract a couple of nice offers. Knowing the A’s, they probably won’t do anything and just roll with what they’ve got.
Needs: Main focus should be on their pitching staff, especially their bullpen.
Minnesota Twins (36-24) – Made it to Wild Card Series
The Twins look to be a threat in the postseason before they surprisingly got knocked out by the cheating Astros. The Twins have a lot of work to do as they are losing Rich Hill, Tyler Clippard, Alex Avila, Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Jake Odorizzi, and Trevor May to free agency. In the meantime, they have to pay Josh Donaldson $21mil and he didn’t even make the 2020 playoff roster, ouch. The Twins’ farm system is currently ranked right in the middle at 15th with Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff likely making their debuts in 2022. The Twins need help on both sides of the ball and they very well could just pack it in for 2021 and let the White Sox have the AL Central.
Needs: Address the holes left by those who became free agents
San Diego Padres (37-23) – Made it to NLDS
Slam Diego is doing all of the right things. Young guys are making immediate impacts, front office is trading for controllable talent, and vets are earning their money. They are poised to contend for the NL Pennant for years to come with the 4th best farm system with potential ace, MacKenzie Gore, leading the way. They are locked into a few big contracts (Machado, Myers, and Hosmer) however, they may still have some wiggle room to sign some guys. Kirby Yates and Trevor Rosenthal are free agents but should be no-doubters for the Padres to resign. Other than that, the Padres should be sitting pretty and will most likely scour the bargain-bin to help round off their 40-man roster.
Needs: Resign Yates and Rosenthal. Watch the trading block.
Tampa Bay Rays (40-20) – Made it to the World Series
The Rays blew everyone’s expectations by have the best record in the AL and proving that they belong by making it to the World Series. However, by the time they made it there, it was clear that their pitching was finally being pushed to the brink and their offense was carried by Randy Arozerena who had the best postseason of anyone ever. This will definitely not be the last we see of the Rays, however. They are only losing reliever, Aaron Loup, to free agency and have the #1 prospect in baseball, Wander Franco, set to debut in 2021. Other top prospects such as Vidal Brujan, Xavier Edwards, and Shane McClanahan give the Rays the best farm system in baseball. I always say that if the Rays just spent a little more money than they usually do, they could be at least somewhat competitive every year. If they are looking to spend, then they will need some bats that can raise the team OPS.
Needs: Bats that can hit over .200.
Los Angeles Dodgers (43-17) – Won the World Series
The Dodgers have never been more of a complete team than they are now. It took them several years to get to this point but here they are and their window for another title is far from closing. The Dodgers have a whopping $114mil coming off of the payroll heading into 2021 as they have made some changes to the roster recently. Notable free agents include Kike Hernandez, Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, Alex Wood, and Blake Treinen. This gives the Dodgers ample room to either resign some of them or replace whatever holes are left. Especially after signing Mookie Betts long term, don’t expect the Dodgers to go away anytime soon. It’s hard to find an area on where the Dodgers could improve, but if I had to pick, I would say their infield needs attention. With the potential loss of Justin Turner and Kike Hernandez in 2020 and Corey Seager becoming a free agent in 2021, now would be the time to stock up.
And that’s it folks. 2020 was a weird season but all in all, I’m just glad that we were able to enjoy baseball this year. Happy offseason.