2013 MLB Free Agency: Looking at Every Team's Offseason Shopping List
MLB free agency is just around the corner, and already teams have been making trades. The Oakland Athletics in particular have been dealing, and once team options are decided on, it will be time to look at each team's shopping list.
Some teams need too much for free agency to help them, but others know exactly what they need and have to hope that free agency is strong in that area. Those who need outfield help will be much happier than those who need a shortstop.
Here is the shopping list for each team this offseason.
Baltimore shocked the baseball world with its dream run into the postseason this year that no one saw coming. Now that the Orioles know they can play, this is the time for them to buy.
The big thing they need is a frontline starting pitcher. It doesn't have to be Zack Greinke necessarily, but they need someone that can be a No. 1, especially if Wei-Yin Chen or Jason Hammel has a setback.
Of course, there's also the question of whether they should keep Brian Roberts around and hope he can flesh out the team's infield, though it remains to be seen if he can still play.
Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox have already wrapped up the biggest part of their offseason shopping by signing Blue Jays manager John Farrell after firing Bobby Valentine.
The trick for the roster is that the team isn't sure whether it will be a contender next year. It's much harder to tackle free agency that way, and as a result I see the Red Sox being rather quiet after they finish hiring a few more coaches.
New York Yankees
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The Yankees have two main question marks heading into 2013. The first is free agent Nick Swisher. It doesn't seem like they will re-sign him. If they re-sign Ichiro instead, then they have their three everyday outfielders anyway with Brett Gardner's return, so they are set.
Still, management will at least try to trade him, but much like Alfonso Soriano, his contract is too expensive and too long for anyone to want to pick up, even if the Yankees eat much of it.
There's also the question of whether Mariano Rivera will return, which will impact possible contract extension talks with Rafael Soriano, whose deal is up next year.
Tampa Bay Rays
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The Tampa Bay Rays are not a team that loads up on free-agent talent, but while they may be quiet on that front, there could be trades in the works.
The big question on the team is B.J. Upton. It looks like they will extend him a qualifying offer, but the free agent doesn't seem likely to stay. They also have to decide whether to pick up the option on James Shields.
The Rays are lucky in that they wouldn't take a big hit if both were gone, since they have five major league starters and three starting outfielders on the roster already, so the offseason could be about adding depth over anything.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays suddenly have a huge piece to shop for this offseason now that John Farrell is the manager of the Boston Red Sox. Finding the right manager to bring together a team that does have some talent is of utmost importance.
One recent possibility for the position is Matt Williams, to go with Sandy Alomar and others.
Aside from that change, the Blue Jays are looking for a new shortstop. They are shopping Yunel Escobar, and with a weak shortstop class in free agency this year, that means there could be a buyer for him.
Chicago White Sox
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The biggest decisions for the White Sox come this week when they decide on team options. Whether they pick up the options on Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, Kevin Youkilis and Brett Myers will go a long way in determining their shopping list.
It's possible that they let one of the starters go and make Myers a starter again, but it's always difficult to peg what Chicago will do. Given the heavy options, I'd be surprised if it didn't try something this offseason.
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With a new manager, a young core and a few players nearing free agency, the Indians will have to determine quickly whether they are buyers or sellers this offseason.
Shin-Soo Choo is almost a certainty to be traded, and Chris Perez may be as well, given his outspokenness and Vinnie Pestano's ability to enter the closing role.
Aside from that, the next question is whether they pick up Ubaldo Jimenez's option or start browsing the market for starting pitching, which they badly need.
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The Detroit Tigers made it to the World Series before collapsing, and after making all their moves last year, it doesn't seem like they need to do much.
Delmon Young will likely be gone, but Victor Martinez is returning. The only question mark may be the closer spot since there's no chance that Jose Valverde returns.
That's somewhere they could improve, since the new hire can't do much worse in the postseason than Valverde.
Kansas City Royals
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Here's my strategy for the Royals heading into 2013: get starting pitchers. It's really that simple, yet they haven't been able to do that despite having so much farm talent and some good hitters.
Zack Greinke isn't going to return, but either Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse—the top options on the Royals' list—would be a nice choice to lead the rotation.
As long as they add a second starter as well and get rid of big-time bust Luke Hochevar, they could actually win next year.
The Minnesota Twins proved in 2012 that they need to rebuild from scratch, and the offseason may be the time to start doing that. To start, the rotation needs to be redone.
They declined Scott Baker's contract option for 2013, as he missed the entire 2012 season after Tommy John surgery. Seeing as he was previously one of their most dependable starters, they'll need to bring him back, add another veteran to the line and get rid of Nick Blackburn, who should not be on an MLB roster.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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The Angels did not do as well as expected this past season, and while many are under contract, there will be changes made, most likely on the pitching end since Zack Greinke is a free agent and Dan Haren has an option that likely will not be picked up.
They have Jered Weaver as an ace, as well as C.J. Wilson. They don't need superstars behind them—just quality pitchers. If they can find them without spending too much, then they should be fine for next year.
Of course, there's always the strong possibility they keep Greinke around.
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I can never figure out the Oakland Athletics. I was one who bashed their trades of Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, and their starting rotation was somehow top-notch last year.
If they are going to add talent, it has to be in the anemic hitting lineup. Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes can't do it all.
They already made one solid move by bringing Chris Young in, so there's always the possibility that they made their offseason moves already.
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The Seattle Mariners don't have any hitting. If they do feel they have some solid young talent that's good enough where they can make a move, then the lineup is the first thing to tackle.
One long shot is Justin Upton, who was a possibility at the deadline this past season, and if the Mariners asked about him, I'm sure the Diamondbacks would listen.
One thing I can guarantee? Felix Hernandez is not going to be traded despite all the rumors.
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The Rangers are the team losing perhaps the most in free agency. Josh Hamilton is gone, and Mike Napoli could be heading out as well.
That doesn't mean that they're selling. They are looking for catchers and have inquired about J.P. Arencibia.
They are reportedly looking at Shin-Soo Choo to add to the outfield as well, so the Rangers may not be out despite losing Hamilton and others.
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Despite a starting pitching staff that was shaky at times, the offseason plans for the Atlanta Braves are actually very clear. They need to find Chipper Jones's replacement and re-sign or replace Michael Bourn.
Bourn had a career year and may have played himself out of the Braves' price range, but they could always sign him to a big deal.
As for third base, they could always put Martin Prado there and just sign a free-agent outfielder instead, which may be the better move since Prado can fit in anywhere.
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After going crazy with the free-agent market in 2012 and paying everything to Jose Reyes and others, the Marlins are dialing it down in 2013, though they couldn't have dialed it up much more anyway.
The top priority is third base, since there is a void there with Hanley Ramirez gone. The Marlins could certainly spend beyond that, but they are going the smart route this year, looking for fits rather than buying all the best players since that clearly did not work.
New York Mets
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With the Mets playing decently for most of the year before a late collapse, they seem ready to spend big money this offseason. The biggest targets would have to be their own guys, David Wright and R.A. Dickey.
Dickey should get a nice deal, especially if he wins the Cy Young, and combined with a Wright deal that would easily surpass $150 million, the Mets have to decide whether they are going the route of paying their guys or picking up free agents.
If they sign free agents, they would most likely grab a catcher, but their payroll likely won't explode beyond that.
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To say the Phillies were a disappointment this past season would be an understatement. The pitching and hitting both failed to impress, and as a result, they are definitely going to make moves.
Placido Polanco's option was declined, and to add some hitting prowess the Phillies are considering adding Melky Cabrera despite the baggage that comes with him. He would be a nice fit to fill the void left behind by Shane Victorino as well.
The key for next year may be the starting rotation returning to elite form rather than spending money on any big targets.
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The Nationals looked poised to go all the way this year, but after sitting Stephen Strasburg and without much pop in the lineup, they stumbled in the NLDS. Despite that, they have clearly made strides.
Edwin Jackson is a free agent, though all they need is to find a No. 5 starter in free agency, which is easy enough. Re-signing Adam LaRoche may be a bigger priority given the power he provides at first base.
LaRoche does have an option for 2013, but there's always the chance that they hammer out a long-term deal.
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The Cubs have enough players under contract and enough quality young guys that they don't need to go on a spending frenzy. That isn't the plan of Theo Epstein and company, and that's why the only big deal left is Alfonso Soriano.
A trade seems likely to happen, primarily because this is the highest his trade value will ever be given his age and production. Once Soriano is out, then the Cubs can dive completely into their plan, which may not involve much else this year despite a lot of payroll flexibility.
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The Reds came close to making a dream run, and after winning so many games and signing players long-term, they should feel pretty good about their team.
The biggest thing they need is a leadoff man, ideally in the outfield. Ironically, they have precisely that in Billy Hamilton, but he has yet to play above the Double-A level.
He certainly couldn't hurt, though, especially since there's not much speed outside of high-tier players like Michael Bourn in the free-agent pool.
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Now that they are moving into the American League, perhaps the team with the worst record in baseball will develop a new identity through free agency.
The Astros have so many needs that free agency this year would be for plugging holes more than anything. Giving players like Jose Altuve and Jed Lowrie playing time is top priority, not signing the hot free agent.
They'll certainly make a few moves this offseason; they will just be ones that most won't bat an eyelash over.
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The Milwaukee Brewers are a confusing team. They let Prince Fielder and Zack Greinke go since they certainly could not afford them, yet they may be the front-runners to pick up Josh Hamilton.
Aside from that, they will need to add some pitching to the rotation now that Greinke and Shaun Marcum will be gone. A veteran reliever to work alongside Yovani Gallardo would be the best move, and that's the route they seem to be going.
Adding some starting pitching with Hamilton could be just what the Brewers need to bounce back in 2013.
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Somehow, the Pirates had a great pitching staff, but no hitting. They can't seem to get both to gel at the same time, especially with a low payroll and no one to help Andrew McCutchen.
Joel Hanrahan has been a trade possibility, but nothing's near set in stone. They acquired Gaby Sanchez and others at the deadline, but they need more hitting if they want to compete in the NL Central, especially in the infield.
St. Louis Cardinals
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The St. Louis Cardinals somehow won the World Series in 2011 and somehow made it back to the NLCS this year despite losing Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter. With Carpenter coming back this year, what will they have to do in free agency?
Lance Berkman and Kyle Lohse are free agents, and while both are great, both are aging. The Cardinals don't need any top-tier free agents, but some depth would certainly be helpful, especially after all the injuries they dealt with this past year.
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The Arizona Diamondbacks have already been shopping players after a disappointing 2012 season, and it looks like they will continue to reinvent themselves moving forward.
With both Ryan Roberts and Stephen Drew traded last summer, they're going to need a new left side of the infield, especially since there's a weak class of shortstops this offseason.
There's always the possibility of Justin Upton being traded as well since he always seems to be the subject of rumors.
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The Colorado Rockies seem to be similar every year; they have some talent in the lineup that ends up offset by a bad pitching rotation, which looked worse than usual this year.
That being said, there's not much for them to find in free agency. Finding a replacement for Todd Helton at first base and finding starting pitching need to be done, but unless the pitcher can be guaranteed not to stumble at Coors Field, then it's not worth it to sign that player.
Los Angeles Dodgers
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If there's any team out there that has the look of a big-time buyer, it's the Los Angeles Dodgers and their new ownership. They have a nice-sized payroll already but have no trouble adding to it.
They are considered a possibility for Zack Greinke, and while they have the feel of a team ready to spend, they have so many contracts to deal with after all the trades they have made that the goal of this offseason may simply be to grab a couple of complementary pieces instead of going big.
Alex Rodriguez to the Dodgers is a possibility, but they've already picked up Hanley Ramirez at the deadline for that gap, and A-Rod is clearly past his prime, so the odds of this happening are just about zero.
San Diego Padres
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The Padres have a slew of farm talent that has been getting major league experience, and ownership looks like it wants to actually spend some money.
If the Padres do, instead of venturing into free agency, they'll get a contract extension going for Chase Headley.
He had a career year last year, and combined with playing at third base, he is in line for a massive extension. Then again, he's the best offensive bat the Padres have by a mile.
San Francisco Giants
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What do you fix on a team that just won the World Series for the second time in three years? To start, they have to look at re-signing or replacing three free agents in particular.
Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro all had solid years with San Francisco, but the Giants would probably have to overpay for Pagan in particular. Even so, they need the bats to remain solid to go with the excellent pitching staff.
As for Melky Cabrera, well, they won the World Series without him, didn't they?