All 30 MLB Teams' Blueprint for a Successful Offseason
For any team in sports to be successful, a detailed plan must be in place. That plan likely includes a drafting philosophy, a complete process of development, a spending plan for free agents and an extensive scouting process.
Those are just a few of the necessary components to any good organization.
In baseball, free agency and trades often can and will make or break a team. The San Francisco Giants saw a need earlier this season and traded for infielder Marco Scutaro. Scutaro has been the sparkplug behind the offense for the Giants ever since.
Within a week, the baseball season will be completely finished, and some teams have already started implementing their offseason plans.
We will attempt to put together our own blueprint of what each MLB team should be doing this offseason. The blueprint will include suggestions as to what each MLB team should do in order to successfully compete next season.
1. Trade Jason Kubel
Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has already been active, participating in a three-way deal with the Oakland Athletics and Miami Marlins. Towers shipped out disappointing center fielder Chris Young to the A's, receiving infielder Cliff Pennington from the A's and reliever Heath Bell from the Marlins.
The move somewhat alleviated the glut of outfielders in Phoenix. Left behind is Jason Kubel, Justin Upton, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton. Towers also has a young and developing A.J. Pollock waiting in the wings as well.
Kubel should be the next player dealt. Towers is desperate for a quality shortstop. Pennington gives him depth but is not the everyday answer. Neither are internal candidates Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald.
Kubel offers versatility in that he can man either corner outfield spot or serve as a designated hitter. I'm just not sold on giving up Upton at just 25 years of age.
2. Acquire a Quality Shortstop—Maybe Elvis Andrus?
This is obviously where a trade involving Kubel could come into play. As mentioned above, the current internal candidates just aren't an option.
Even a package involving Kubel and McDonald could be enticing for some teams. McDonald offers tremendous upside as a utility guy who can man three positions with a decent bat.
Towers would no doubt love to entice the Texas Rangers to deal Elvis Andrus. Whether or not a package including Kubel and McDonald is up for debate, but Towers does have prospects he could dangle as well.
1. Lock Brian McCann Up Long-Term
Good offensive catchers are a rare commodity in Major League Baseball, and there haven't been many better than Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann in recent years.
McCann did suffer this year, hitting just .230 with 20 HR and 67 RBI. However, he played hurt for much of the season, dealing with a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder and tendinitis in his knee.
The Braves have a decision to make regarding McCann's 2013 option, but honestly, they should be thinking about a more long-term solution. A healthy McCann is a dangerous force in the lineup.
2. Pick Up Options on Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm
This should be a no-brainer. Picking up the options on both Hudson and Maholm will only cost the Braves $15.5 million. Two quality arms in the rotation while youngsters on the farm (Julio Teheran, Sean Gilmartin) continue to develop is the right plan here.
3. Sign Center Fielder Michael Bourn
Unless Bourn is asking for $100 million, the Braves should seriously consider a long-term deal. A guy with great speed who is solid defensively and a force at the top of the lineup does not grow on trees.
4. Move Martin Prado to Third and Acquire a Left Fielder
It's been said that Prado's best position defensively is third base, so it makes sense to shift him there after the retirement of Chipper Jones.
Don't expect the Braves to go after Josh Hamilton, but a guy like Cody Ross could be a nice fit.
1. Re-Sign Starting Pitcher Joe Saunders
After his trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Joe Saunders was a force for the Baltimore Orioles. Following seven starts with a 3.63 ERA during the regular season, Saunders pitched the O's into the ALDS with a terrific outing against the Texas Rangers in the AL Wild Card Round.
Saunders followed up with a nice effort in a no-decision against the New York Yankees in the ALDS as well, allowing just one run on three hits in 5.2 innings.
Saunders gives the O's a solid veteran presence in a rotation loaded with youngsters.
2. Keep Left Side of Infield Intact with Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy
Machado certainly didn't present himself as a wide-eyed 20-year-old rookie when the cards were on the table for the Orioles. Machado will continue to grow and develop, and his postseason experience will prove to be invaluable later down the road.
Hardy is under contract for two more seasons and still has a solid power bat. If I'm the general manager of the Orioles, I let Machado continue at third next season. If the O's somehow find themselves out of contention come the trade deadline, then it makes sense to make Hardy available.
3. Leave the Pitching Staff Alone
I absolutely love what the Orioles got this season from their pitching staff, and there's no reason that can't continue. Down the stretch, Miguel Gonzalez, Steve Johnson and Chris Tillman were all terrific. Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel and Saunders are solid as well. If I were Duquette, I wouldn't mess with what he has right now.
Same with the bullpen. Yes, closer Jim Johnson imploded in the ALDS, but it doesn't take away from what he accomplished during the season. A solid support bullpen as well with Luis Ayala, Pedro Strop, Darren O'Day and Troy Patton and Brian Matsusz seems to have found his niche back there as well.
4. Acquire a Second Baseman
Brian Roberts has one year remaining on his contract with the Orioles. However, considering he's only played 115 games since the start of the 2010 season and will be coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, it would be a major stretch to think he can contribute in 2013.
Internal candidates Robert Andino and Ryan Flaherty hit a combined .212. Duquette should be looking at acquiring a reliable bat. Maicer Izturis would be my suggestion.
Boston Red Sox
1. Seriously Make a Play for Elvis Andrus
With the departure of Mike Aviles to the Toronto Blue Jays as compensation for the Boston Red Sox stealing away manager John Farrell, they are now left with a major hole on the left side of the infield. Jose Iglesias is gifted defensively but has yet to demonstrate he's anywhere close to handling major league pitching.
GM Ben Cherington should think seriously about making a play for Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. With prospect Jurickson Profar seemingly ready for the big time, Andrus could be made available if GM Jon Daniels gets a return package to his liking.
2. Acquire an Impact Outfielder
The Red Sox have a major hole to fill in right field and could have to fill both corner spots if Cody Ross decides to sign elsewhere.
Nick Swisher could possibly be in play for the Red Sox, as could Torii Hunter if he doesn't re-sign with the Los Angeles Angels.
3. Re-Vamp Bullpen
Plenty of question marks surrounding the Red Sox bullpen. Presuming that Andrew Bailey doesn't get injured in spring training again, he would appear to be the closer. Beyond that, everything is up in the air.
Plenty of quality arms are available, such as Mike Adams, Jeremy Affeldt, Luis Ayala, Shawn Camp, Jason Grilli, Brandon League and a host of others. Cherington should be focusing on shoring up his bullpen with some of those quality arms.
4. Acquire Another Quality Starter
In his introductory press conference, new manager Farrell stated that pitching is absolutely a priority in his first season. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz enjoyed their greatest successes while Farrell was their pitching coach, and Farrell also worked with youngster Felix Doubront.
John Lackey will be returning from Tommy John surgery, hopefully back to his mid-to-late 2000s form. Beyond that, the Sox clearly need another impact starter.
My suggestion is Kyle Lohse. Lohse almost definitely won't be back in St. Louis and has been terrific over the past two seasons. A three-year, $30 million deal could do the trick.
5. Acquire First Baseman
I don't see any scenario in which the Red Sox re-sign first baseman James Loney. If there is one area of need the Sox will have, it's in adding another power bat—Loney isn't that guy.
Beyond Adam LaRoche, who could have his 2013 option picked up by the Washington Nationals, the pickings are slim. Cherington may have to use some creativity to acquire his man. Maybe a deal for Justin Morneau would make sense. Morneau seemed to show he was over concussion symptoms with a solid second half in 2012.
1. Be Aggressive in Going After Starting Pitching
In making an assessment of his team's needs for the 2013 season, Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer made no bones about his team's biggest weakness.
“We certainly have to be aggressive with starting pitching over the winter,” Hoyer said. “I think that hardly makes us unique among major league teams. We will certainly have competition to find starting pitching but we certainly will need to bolster our rotation.”
The Cubs do have some financial flexibility, and Hoyer went on to say the purse strings won't necessarily be tight.
“We will have financial flexibility, certainly,” Hoyer said. “We have been diligent to make sure we have flexibility and are diligent moving forward. We’ll obviously be active on the free-agent market. I don’t think there is any question about that. That’s a big part of our research and a big part of our work is to evaluate the guys who are going to be free agents."
Three starting spots are likely locked down with Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Travis Wood. Garza could again be a trade candidate at the deadline if his arm proves to be healthy.
2. Shore Up a Weak Bullpen
Beyond a solid second half by closer Carlos Marmol and a steady performance from Shawn Camp, the Cubs' bullpen posted 21 blown saves and a 4.49 ERA.
James Russell was solid in relief as well, and Camp is a free agent, so Cherington will need to use some of that financial flexibility on bolstering his bullpen.
The problem that Hoyer might have is the fact that many of those relievers will be reticent about joining a team whose good fortunes are likely to come later rather than sooner.
3. Figure Out Third Base Problem
The combination of Ian Stewart and Luis Valbuena at the hot corner for the Cubs didn't work out quite so well. Neither did Josh Vitters in his brief time. However, first baseman Anthony Rizzo's first experience in the majors wasn't so memorable—he certainly seemed to put it behind him last season.
The Cubs either need to commit to Vitters as their third baseman now, or figure out a temporary solutions for when and if Vitters is ready.
Chicago White Sox
1. Re-Sign A.J. Pierzynski
After the career year put forth by Pierzynski, the first thing new GM Rick Hahn should do if he wants to build up some solid support among the South Side faithful is to lock up Pierzynski. An absolute no-brainer at this point.
2. Find Back of Rotation Starters
The top three in the White Sox rotation—Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks—are locks for next season. Beyond that it's a big question mark.
Jake Peavy almost certainly won't return, and it's no guarantee Gavin Floyd will be back, either. The Sox need to decide on Floyd's $9.5 million option, and it's a lot for a .500 picture with an ERA well north of 4.00.
Hahn and Kenny Williams will no doubt be out there with other teams looking at improving the back end of their rotation.
3. Shore Up Shaky Bullpen
The bullpen on paper looks good with closer Addison Reed and setup men Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain at the top. But a 65-percent save percentage? That is not acceptable.
Nate Jones and Donnie Veal should both be back as well, but the White Sox absolutely need to improve that save percentage. Just a few more saves and the Sox would have been playoff-bound.
1. Find a Leadoff Hitter
Center fielder Drew Stubbs continue to confound Red management. A .213 and a third straight season with at least 160 strikeouts may now give the Reds a reason to go shopping for a new center fielder, and one who is preferably a leadoff hitter.
Reds leadoff hitters batted just .208 with a .254 on-base percentage. Michael Bourn could certainly fill that role quite well for the Reds.
1. Pitching, Pitching, Pitching
New Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona must have cringed when he saw the current starting rotation he has to contend with. Hopefully, GM Chris Antonetti will do something this winter so that Francona won't be chewing on antacid pills.
With the exception of possibly Zach McAllister, it's honestly hard to say that anyone is a lock for the rotation. It's certainly no guarantee that the 2013 option for Ubaldo Jimenez would be picked up at this point.
Anibal Sanchez could be a nice get for Antonetti and would be a nice start towards rebuilding a shattered rotation.
2. Sign a Quality Utility Infielder
The Indians will likely have Lonnie Chisenhall and Asbrubal Cabrera on the left side of the infield, but it would be nice to have a quality utility guy giving them blows from time to time.
Maicer Izturis could easily fill this role. A solid hitter and excellent defender at three infield positions, Izturis would give Francona great flexibility.
3. Take a Chance on Melky Cabrera
The Indians definitely need help in the outfield, especially in left field. My suggestion would be to give Melky Cabrera a low-risk, high-reward contract. At this point, the Indians have nothing to lose, and if Cabrera can show he can continue producing without the juice, it's a risk worth taking.
4. Put a Muzzle on Chris Perez
Closer Chris Perez clearly has the potential to be a shutdown closer—he's shown that in the past two seasons. But that mouth of his doesn't do him any favors.
Francona should have a sit-down with Perez as soon as possible, get his head back in the game and let him know his words will run him out of town quickly if he continues running off at the mouth, so to speak.
5. Acquire a First Baseman
With few options out there for quality first baseman on the open market, Antonetti will likely have to flex some creative muscles to get this goal accomplished. But it's clear that Casey Kotchman wasn't the answer.
1. Go After Starting Pitching
With the absolute mess the Rockies call a starting rotation, this is the obvious need for the team. The problem is in enticing any free agent to even want to pitch in Denver.
Joe Blanton is a guy who might make sense. Blanton is a solid innings-eater who fares when he keeps the ball down in the zone. Considering Blanton's poor showing in Los Angeles, he may not be an expensive proposition, either. It's going to be a tall task for Rockies management to get any available starter to want to pitch in Denver at this point.
2. Give Their New Manager Complete Autonomy
What is it about front office guys that makes them think they have all the right answers?
Manager Jim Tracy abruptly resigned earlier this month because he didn't relish the thought of someone looking over his shoulder day in and day out. Why would any manager operate under those circumstances?
It wasn't Tracy who came up with the cockamamie idea of a four-man rotation with a piggy-back bullpen. Yet he played the part of the good soldier until he finally took stock of his future and decided it wasn't worth it.
The Rockies need to bring in a manager who is adept at evaluating players and capable of making roster decisions that makes his club better. In other words, hire the manager and give him autonomy. It's okay to have discussions about roster decisions, but why even have a manager if all the decisions are being made in the front office in the first place?
1. Re-Sign Anibal Sanchez
In Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister, the Detroit Tigers have a top three in their starting rotation that can obviously compete with any in the American League.
With Anibal Sanchez, it's a quartet that would be lethal.
Sanchez has certainly proved his worth over the past two months, starting with a terrific last month of the regular season (2.43 ERA in six starts) and on through the postseason (1.35 ERA in two starts before Saturday night).
Keeping Sanchez on board is a much better option that relying on Rick Porcello as the No. 4 man.
2. Go After Brandon League or Jonathan Broxton
It's clear now that closer Jose Valverde has likely pitched his last game in Detroit, evidenced by his awful confidence-boosting appearance in Game 1 of the World Series. Manager Jim Leyland tried in vain to get Valverde back on track after his showing in both the ALDS and ALCS.
Brandon League and Jonathan Broxton both showed during the 2012 season that they're both ready once again to be handed the ball in the ninth inning.
3. Go After Setup Man Mike Adams
Another nice add this winter would be free agent reliever Mike Adams. Joaquin Benoit wasn't nearly as effective in that role this past season for the Tigers. Benoit has another year on his contract, but adding Adams would clearly help fortify the back end.
1. Identify Players for Final Two Spots in Starting Rotation
Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has already stated that Lucas Harrell, Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles would be locks for the starting rotation. Beyond that is anyone's guess.
Don't expect these Astros to be major players this offseason, as they are clearly rebuilding from within. New manager Bo Porter will be tasked with helping to develop the bevy of young prospects in the system, and that includes pitchers. Moves will be made, but not at the expense of stunting prospects currently in the system
2. Acquire a Designated Hitter
With their move to the AL West Division next year, the Astros really don't have anyone on the current roster who could be identified as a frontrunner for the designated hitter role.
Why not bring Lance Berkman back home? Yes, Berkman was on the disabled list for much of this season, but moving him to DH would clearly be a savior for his aging legs, the man can still hit, and he can retire where he began.
3. Acquire at Least One Outfielder
The Astros have a couple of solid prospects in Justin Maxwell and J.D. Rodriguez who will help man the outfield next season, but another quality bat would certainly help.
Delmon Young will most likely be available, although he is somewhat of a liability in the outfield. The Astros won't be looking to significantly increase payroll, so names like Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn won't be in play for Houston.
Kansas City Royals
1. Guess What? Find Starting Pitching
What a shock—another team that needs pitchers who can actually prevent runs from scoring.
It would help if Royals pitchers didn't need Tommy John surgery as well.
With Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino both out until at least June or so, the Royals will need to pony up some cash this winter to bring in some quality rotation mates.
Jeremy Guthrie looked great once he put on a Royals uniform, but he's a free agent. He'll likely command at least what he made this season ($8.2 million). Considering how he looked in the second half, it could be a wise investment for owner David Glass.
Glass has indicated that the team will spend in order to upgrade the rotation—we'll reserve judgement until we actually see Glass reaching for his wallet.
2. Decline 2013 Option for Joakim Soria
Closer Joakim Soria missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Royals now have a decision to make regarding Soria's 2013 option for $8 million.
With the way Greg Holland stepped in the role in the second half, my suggestion would be to decline Soria's option and use the money in other areas (cough cough starting pitching cough cough).
Los Angeles Angels
1. Re-Sign Torii Hunter
Los Angeles Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto has said that he would love to bring Torii Hunter back for next season and beyond, if it fits into the Angels' scheme financially.
Considering the way Hunter finished the season and his positive influence in the clubhouse, this should be a no-brainer. In addition, Hunter has stated he won't let money be an issue in deciding whether or not to come back, if in fact the Angels are serious in bringing him back.
2. Re-Vamp Bullpen
One of the biggest concerns for the Los Angeles Angels all season long was a shaky bullpen. LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen are both free agents and likely not to return. Ernesto Frieri was solid in his first full season with the Angels, and Scott Downs is back for another season as well.
DiPoto will no doubt be looking to bring in quality arms to support both Frieri and Downs. Mike Adams, Jonathan, Brandon League, Luis Ayala, Jason Grilli and Brandon Lyon could all be good options here.
3. Re-Sign Zack Greinke
This should be a no-brainer. The Angels traded away three of their top-25 prospects in order to acquire Greinke in late July. It would be a travesty if Greinke signed elsewhere.
4. Decline Options on Ervin Santana and Dan Haren
This pretty much goes with No. 3 on this list. Declining options on both Haren and Santana saves the Angels $24 million (including cost of buyouts). A top-three rotation with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Greinke locked in for several years is an enticing thought.
5. Acquire Lower-Tier Back-End Rotation Help
Current Angels candidates for the back end of the rotation are Garret Richards and Jerome Williams. Both at times show glimpses of excellence, but both can also be maddeningly inconsistent.
If DiPoto declines the options on both Haren and Santana and re-signs Greinke, he's going to need the explore the market for at least one lower-tier free agent starter. Possibly Joe Blanton?
Los Angeles Dodgers
1. Re-Sign Shane Victorino
As it stands right now, left fielder Carl Crawford will almost certainly not be ready for the start of the 2013 season. That certainly leaves a void in left field. Re-signing Shane Victorino would fill that void. An outfield with a healthy Crawford, Victorino, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier works for me.
2. Re-Sign Brandon League
When Kenley Jansen was shelved with an irregular heartbeat, League stepped into the fold in September and put up terrific numbers, including a 0.55 ERA and six saves in 15 appearances.
While Jansen underwent successful surgery to fix his irregular heartbeat, it wouldn't hurt to have a backup plan in place.
3. Leave Rest of Team Alone, Let Them Gel
I am of the belief that the Dodgers can absolutely contend next season with the current roster. Give this roster a full season together and see what they can do before passing judgement. Six weeks this past season simply wasn't enough time.
In addition, both Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly should be back to full health next spring, giving the Dodgers six veteran starting pitchers (Lilly, Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Chris Capuano, Josh Beckett, Aaron Harang). All of them are capable of quality innings, giving the Dodgers a rotation that should be one of the best in the National League.
1. Do NOT Trade Josh Johnson
I have never understood all the trade speculation concerning Josh Johnson. Yes, he's had a history of shoulder issues, but he's absolutely nasty when healthy. Johnson to me is a keeper—with a healthy 2012 season at only 28 years of age, there's still plenty of upside.
2. Make Bullpen Additions
Now that Heath Bell has been dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks, it appears that Steve Cishek will be the closer for 2013. However, the Marlins also dealt both Randy Choate and Edward Mujica last year so there are holes to fill.
3. Upgrade Infield
The Marlins took the field with an infield consisting of Carlos Lee, Gil Valezquez, Jose Reyes and Donovan Solano on the final day of the season. Not exactly an infield that gives fans confidence for next season.
Lee has expressed a desire to return, but the Marlins should politely say no thank you to that offer. Solano showed promise, but Valasquez is not an option for everyday time at third. The Marlins should absolutely be looking at upgrades for both corners.
1. Upgrade Bullpen
This should be the top priority for general manager Doug Melvin. No bullpen was worse than Milwaukee's in the 2012 season (4.66 ERA). Melvin should absolutely pony up for at least some of the relievers previously mentioned in this presentation.
2. Acquire One Veteran Starter
The Brewers will have Yovani Gallardo as their ace next season and several youngsters who certainly stepped up in the second half. Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta will all play a role in the 2013 season. Chris Narveson will return from shoulder surgery season.
It might benefit the Brewers to bring another available veteran arm to the mix. They're not going to spend big dollars in that department, but a little veteran depth couldn't hurt.
1. Um, Take a Wild Guess
Yes, Johnny, you're right! Starting pitching is exactly what the Minnesota Twins need! For that correct answer, we'll ship you a box of Rice-A-Roni, that San Francisco treat. And we'll include a box of Cracker Jacks, where there's a new prize in every box!
Thank you for that right answer, Captain Obvious. Aside from Scott Diamond, the Twins rotation was an abomination in 2012. Cole De Vries and Sam Deduno at times looked solid, but neither showed any consistency. GM Terry Ryan has his hands full in figuring out this bunch.
2. Upgrade Infield
The Twins used a combination of Jamey Carroll, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe and Pedro Florimon over the latter part of the 2012 season between second, third and short. Plouffe and Dozier could develop into solid everyday contributors, but Ryan should also be focusing on this area of need.
Eric Chavez, Jeff Keppinger and Ryan Theroit are available, but their ages make them just stop-gap options. Ryan will need to get creative here considering the dearth of infielders among the crop of free agents.
New York Mets
1. Extend R.A. Dickey
Yes, he'll be 38 years old on Monday. But R.A. Dickey has clearly shown with his dominance and a 20-win season that he's worthy of more than just another year.
2. Finalize Deal for David Wright
The Mets have had a history of not having players spend their entire careers with the franchise. Third baseman David Wright has earned that right.
3. Re-Vamp Bullpen—Again
General manager Sandy Alderson spent last offseason rebuilding his bullpen. We all know how that worked out.
Now, Alderson has to do the same all over again. He's stuck with Frank Francisco for another year, but maybe Alderson can bury him among his new acquisitions.
New York Yankees
1. Lock up Robinson Cano Long-Term
Second baseman Robinson Cano is likely still stinging from a terribly disappointing postseason during which he hit just .075. But there is no questioning his value to these New York Yankees.
Cano has a $15 million option for next season, but it's time for the Yankees to lock him in for the duration. He's quite simply the best hitting second baseman of this generation and the heart and soul of the Yankees offense. This should be a no-brainer.
2. Pick Up Option on Curtis Granderson
Granderson is another who suffered through a miserable postseason, but center fielders who hit 40-plus home runs simply don't grow on trees.
3. Do Not Consider Bringing Back Aging Utility Guys
Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez are all free agents, and none of them should be heading back to the Bronx.
This is a team that clearly needs to get younger. The Yankees' infield alone is well beyond 30-plus—Cano just joined the club last week. It's time for Cashman to start thinking more about the future and not just the here and now.
4. Convince Rafael Soriano to Stay in the Bronx
Even if Mariano Rivera decides to come back for one more season, Rafael Soriano should stay.
Rivera will not be around longer than a year, and Soriano has clearly shown the bright lights and big city aren't issues for him. The Yankees would do well to convince Soriano to stay right where he is.
5. Sign Ichiro Suzuki
Considering how well Suzuki played in the final weeks of the season for the Yankees, combined with the fact Suzuki would love to stay and will sign for less money, this is a deal I would go after.
Suzuki still has enough left in the tank to be a force in the lineup for the Yankees, and his defense is still top-notch. A one-year deal for $7-8 million plus an option for 2014 just might get it done.
1. Re-Sign Brandon McCarthy
With the terrific season put forth by the Oakland Athletics and the surprise performance from their starting rotation, general manager Billy Beane will be looking at retaining rather than letting go.
He should start with McCarthy. Yes, injuries are a concern. But it's clear that McCarthy has thrived in Oakland. When McCarthy was felled by a line drive to the head that required season-ending emergency surgery, it was evident that the A's and their fans saw McCarthy as one of their own.
McCarthy saw it too, stating he would love to find a way to stay right where he is.
2. Re-Sign Jonny Gomes
Gomes should also be retained. He provided 18 HR in just 262 at-bats and provided a great veteran clubhouse presence.
3. Re-Sign Stephen Drew
It's clear the A's will decline the $10 million on shortstop Stephen Drew's contract for the 2013 season, but it's also clear the A's should pursue a new deal.
Drew could certainly check out the free-agent market, considering the lack of quality shortstops available, but the A's are better off with him manning the position than they are any other internal candidates.
1. Go after B.J. Upton
With the departures of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, an obvious area of need for the Phillies is in the outfield. They closed the regular season with Juan Pierre, John Mayberry and Domonic Brown. I'm thinking that's not how they want to start the 2013 season.
At just 28 years of age, Upton still has upside, and put together a nice power surge this season in the second half.
2. Bulk Up Bullpen
Closer Jonathan Papelbon needs some help behind him. The Phillies' bullpen ranked just 10th in the National League. Southpaw Jeremy Horst stepped up big in the second half, but Antonio Bastardo, Michael Schwimer and the rest of the bunch weren't exactly stellar.
GM Ruben Amaro needs to get back to work in constructing a bullpen that can capably back up a solid starting rotation.
3. Find a Third Baseman
Placido Polanco and Ty Wigginton both have club options for the 2013—neither of them will be back. The Phillies could go with a combination of Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen at the hot corner, but that may not be a preferable option, either.
This could be a short-term need for the Phillies—they're very high on prospect Cody Asche, who is performing well in the Arizona Fall League.
Eric Chavez could make sense as a short-term option, as would Jeff Keppinger. Chavez certainly has some pop left but likely can't play every day. I like the idea of a platoon with Chavez and Galvis a lot more than Frandsen and Galvis.
1. Figure Out First Base Solution
The Pirates will need to make a decision at first base for the 2013. Will they consider Gaby Sanchez as their full-time solution, or will Garrett Jones be the answer?
If Jones is the answer, the Pirates will have another need.
2. Acquire a Right Fielder
If Jones indeed moves to first base full time, the Pirates will have a need in right field. Andrew McCutchen could certainly use a bit more offensive help as well.
Nick Swisher would seem like a solid choice here, but the cost-conscious Pirates might be out of his price range. Cody Ross could be a fit here as well.
3. Acquire Another Impact Starter
A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez are the obvious top two in the Pirates rotation, andand should be in the rotation to start the season. Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson could be competing for the fifth slot, and Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon likely aren't far away, either.
Still, another arm would be a nice get. Joe Saunders might be a nice fit if he's not signed by the Baltimore Orioles.
San Diego Padres
1. Acquire One Impact Starter
The San Diego Padres don't really have a standout ace. There is one on the market who the Padres are very familiar with.
Jake Peavy could work once again in San Diego. Peavy returned to his normal durable self, posting his most innings pitched since 2007. With new ownership in place and willing to turn the Padres into contenders once again, they could pony up to bring Peavy back home.
Health is the biggest issue for the Padres rotation. Manager Buddy Black was forced to use 15 pitchers over the course of the season. Injuries to Dustin Moseley, Tim Stauffer, Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland all added to the Padres' woes in 2012.
Luebke and Wieland likely won't be ready until midseason due to Tommy John surgery, and Stauffer and Moseley both recently cleared waivers and were declared free agents.
San Francisco Giants
1. Re-Sign Angel Pagan
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Center fielder Angel Pagan was terrific in his first season in San Francisco, leading the majors in triples and adding 29 stolen bases. The Giants should absolutely bring Pagan back.
2. Re-Sign Marco Scutaro
Ditto with Scutaro. He was the sparkplug for the Giants in the second half and in a magical NLCS. With few second base options available on the market, this should be a no-brainer for San Francisco.
3. Acquire Left Fielder
I'm a fan of Josh Hamilton heading to the Bay Area.
Call me crazy, but I think Hamilton would thrive in San Francisco. It's fairly obvious that Melky Cabrera, and while Gregor Blanco has been a nice story this postseason, he would be better served as a fourth outfielder.
4. Re-Sign Jeremy Affeldt
The Giants bullpen has shown its ability to shine once again this postseason, providing stellar relief in support of the tremendous effort put forth by the starting rotation.
Jeremy Affeldt has been a huge part of the Giants bullpen for the past four seasons. The Giants should absolutely retain his services.
1. Find Protection/Upgrade for First Base
The Seattle Mariners seem intent on seeing first baseman Justin Smoak succeed. Smoak will likely be given the everyday job to begin the 2013 season. But getting some protection might not be a bad idea.
That protection could come in the form of Nick Swisher. If Smoak indeed finally matures, then Swisher is the plan for right field. If Smoak continues to struggle, Swisher can take over first base duties full-time. Either way, a productive bat has been added.
2. Find Upgrade for Center Field
B.J. Upton could be an option here for the Mariners, moving Michael Saunders to left field. I'm not a fan of giving another shot to Franklin Gutierrez at this point.
3. Acquire Solid No. 3 Starter
The Mariners have a solid top two with Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas. Blake Beavan and Erasmo Ramirez will be in the mix, and the Mariners have decisions to make regarding extensions for Hisashi Iwakuma and Kevin Millwood as well.
My suggestion is Ryan Dempster. Dempster gives the Mariners depth along with a more short-term option as they wait for the development of Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.
St. Louis Cardinals
1. Use Prospect Matt Adams as Trade Fodder
Cardinals first-base prospect Matt Adams appears to be the real deal. While bone spurs in his right elbow shortened his season, it seems clear he's the real deal. Unfortunately, he has nowhere to go with Allen Craig standing in his way.
Adams could be used as trade bait by John Mozeliak. Might a deal with the Texas Rangers involving shortstop Elvis Andrus make sense here?
2. Acquire a Left-Handed Reliever
Marc Rzepczynski did not quite have the magic in his left arm during the 2012 than he did the previous season.
Another quality southpaw certainly can't hurt.
Randy Choate could be that option. Choate held lefties to a .158 average and .461 OPS. That's the definition of a situational lefty in my book.
3. Make sure Matt Carpenter Works Out at Second Base this Offseason
Matt Carpenter has shown he can give manager Mike Matheny plenty of flexibility. But Matheny no doubt wants a more concrete look to his starting lineup, including at second base.
Carpenter has been given the edict from management to work out at second this offseason and could be working with coach Jose Oquendo at some point as well. Carpenter's bat is a plus, and Matheny clearly wants that bat in the lineup on an everyday basis.
Tampa Bay Rays
1. Find Upgrade at Shortstop
It should be clear by now that a platoon involving Sean Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson just isn't answer at shortstop for the Tampa Bay Rays.
One option could be moving Ben Zobrist to shortstop full-time. But range would be an issue, and Zobrist's durability could take a hit as well. While he's logged over 150 games the past four seasons, the demands of the shortstop position could take its toll.
A better option is leaving Zobrist at second and looking at external options. While no one on the free-agent market screams upgrade, Houston Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie might be a viable option if the Rays and Astros can work out a deal.
2. Move Wade Davis for Outfield Upgrade
Wade Davis did an outstanding job out of the bullpen for manager Joe Maddon in 2012, but it's clear that Davis wants to start. That won't happen in Tampa Bay, not with the options currently in place there.
It might make sense to move Davis for an outfielder. With B.J. Upton likely gone, Desmond Jennings will shift from left to center, creating a void.
1. Re-Sign Mike Adams
With a bullpen that was the sixth-best in the American League in 2012, Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels doesn't have many worries there, other than one important thing—re-signing Mike Adams.
Adams has been without a doubt one of the most consistent and reliable relievers in the majors over the past five seasons. Cheaper options will likely be available, but none of them hold a candle to Adams in terms of performance and durability.
2. Re-Sign Josh Hamilton
I wrote earlier in this presentation that Josh Hamilton would be a great fit in San Francisco, but he's still a fit where he is right now.
The Rangers have said they'll let Hamilton test the waters in free agency and will not make a qualifying offer, but it's a marriage that works.
3. Re-Sign Mike Napoli
Yes, Mike Napoli's offense suffered in the 2012 season. But a lingering sprained ankle in the spring combined with knee and quad injuries during the season were the likely culprits. A healthy Napoli showed what he could do in 2011. The Rangers don't have other options available, unless you consider Geovany Soto an upgrade over Napoli.
Toronto Blue Jays
1. Go After Zack Greinke
If there's any area of need for the Toronto Blue Jays that's obvious, it's the starting rotation. General manager Alex Anthopoulos has said the team will spend in free agency to make upgrades—a definite change in strategy.
Zack Greinke should be No. 1 on Anthopoulos' list. A smaller market is what Greinke prefers, and with the struggles of Ricky Romero in 2012, Greinke would be the immediate go-to guy at the top of the rotation.
2. Go After Dan Haren
With the likelihood that the Los Angeles Angels will decline the 2013 on Dan Haren's contract, he should be on the Blue Jays' radar as well. If the Jays are unable to sign Greinke, Haren wouldn't be a bad fallback option.
3. Acquire Quality Second Baseman
The Blue Jays suffered at second base this season with Kelly Johnson. Johnson's inability to show consistency at the plate finally wore at the patience of the Arizona Diamondbacks last season, and now it's Toronto's turn.
Anthopoulos will have to get creative here, as there are few options available on the free-agent market.
1. Acquire Starter for Back End of Rotation
With Edwin Jackson hitting free agency, the Nationals could use another arm.
Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann form arguably the best top three in the National League. Ross Detwiler will definitely get a shot again in 2013, and John Lannan is still in the mix as well.
Joe Saunders could be a viable option, and cheaper options such as Jason Marquis and Kevin Milwood might work as well.
2. Exercise Option for Adam LaRoche
The Washington Nationals and first baseman Adam LaRoche are reportedly working out a new contract to keep him in the nation's capital, and it makes sense.
LaRoche finished second in the Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year Award for the National League, and for good reason. After missing the vast majority of the 2011 season following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder, LaRoche was one of the most consistent bats in the Nationals' lineup all season with 33 HR and 100 RBI.
Keeping LaRoche allows the Nationals to continue with an outfield of Michael Morse, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth.
Doesn't sound like a bad idea to me at all.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
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