1 Important Need Still Left Unfulfilled for Each MLB Team
As we draw ever closer to the start of spring training and the calendar turns over to 2013, the bulk of the offseason action is behind us.
While most teams have a basic idea of what their Opening Day roster will look like at this point, most also still have at least one glaring area of need before the season starts.
What follows is a look at the one important need still left unfulfilled for each MLB team, as there are still plenty of viable options on the free-agent market who have yet to find a home.
Baltimore Orioles: Veteran Starting Pitcher
The Baltimore Orioles finally found a rotation combination that worked at the end of last season, and they have depth with Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter not slated to open the year in the rotation.
That said, they could still look to add a solid veteran for depth, and bringing back Joe Saunders remains an option (h/t MASNSports.com).
Boston Red Sox: First Base?
Since Mike Napoli failed his physical with the Boston Red Sox, the two sides have yet to agree to terms as Napoli could now wind up elsewhere. If that's the case, the team will need to figure out another plan of action at first base, and Adam LaRoche has been tabbed as a fallback option (h/t Jen Royle via Twitter).
New York Yankees: Right-Handed Hitting Outfielder
The New York Yankees' entire starting outfield hits left-handed with Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki slated to start from left to right.
Matt Diaz was signed to a minor league contract and has a good shot at making the club, but the team remains interested in Scott Hairston as a left-handed platoon option (h/t Kevin Kernan of the New York Post).
Tampa Bay Rays: Another Bat
The Tampa Bay Rays have bolstered their offense already this season in signing James Loney and trading for Yunel Escobar and Wil Myers. However, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the team is still searching for a bat. Lance Berkman is one name being kicked around.
Toronto Blue Jays: Left-Handed Setup Man?
The Toronto Blue Jays have had a busy offseason to put it mildly, and on the surface they really don't have any clear-cut needs remaining. One need that could pop up is for a lefty at the back of the bullpen, as 42-year-old Darren Oliver is reportedly leaning toward retirement (h/t Gregor Chisolm of MLB.com).
Chicago White Sox: Left-Handed Hitting Bench Player
The Chicago White Sox biggest focus right now may be shopping right-hander Gavin Floyd, but as far as remaining needs, the team is reportedly looking for a left-handed hitter (h/t Danny Knobler via Twitter).
Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn are the only left-handed hitting starters, while Dewayne Wise and Jordan Danks are options off the bench.
Cleveland Indians: Trade Partners for Justin Masterson and Chris Perez
The Cleveland Indians have had a strange offseason, as they've actively shopped Justin Masterson and Chris Perez and traded Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds. They have also signed Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds among others.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the team is looking for short-term success while building long term, and with Masterson and Perez set to hit free agency at the end of 2014, moving them now could maximize their value.
Detroit Tigers: Closer?
Until the season starts, I still think the Detroit Tigers will be open to the idea of adding a proven arm to fill their vacant closer's role if the price is right.
The team has internal options, with flame-throwing prospect Bruce Rondon the front-runner for a job, but for a team looking to win a title they'd no doubt feel more comfortable with a lockdown veteran like Chris Perez or Rafael Soriano taking the ball in the ninth.
Kansas City Royals: Right Field
The Kansas City Royals had their right fielder of the future in Wil Myers, but he was dealt to the Rays in the move that landed them James Shields.
Incumbent Jeff Francoeur (.235 BA, .665 OPS) struggled through last season, and is a free agent at season's end, so the team could look to add another option to the mix in right field this offseason.
Minnesota Twins: More Starting Pitching Depth
The Minnesota Twins got the worst ERA in the American League out of their starting rotation last season at 5.40, and they've already added Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden this offseason in an attempt to rectify the situation.
That said, they may not be done adding pitching depth, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Brett Myers, Joe Saunders and Shaun Marcum remain as potential targets.
Houston Astros: Starting Pitching
The Houston Astros have taken steps to bolster their pitching depth already this offseason, adding Phil Humber, Alex White and John Ely to a the mix as they'll compete for rotation spots behind Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris.
Even with those additions, they could still look shop the bargain bin in an attempt to add more depth to the starting pitching pool.
Los Angeles Angels: Nothing
A look up and down the Los Angeles Angels' roster reveals no clear-cut holes entering the 2013 season, as the trade of Kendrys Morales landed the team the fifth starter it needed in Jason Vargas. The additions of Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson shored up the bullpen, and Peter Bourjos will step into an everyday role with Torii Hunter gone to Detroit.
Top to bottom, the Angels seem as complete as any team in baseball.
Oakland Athletics: A taker for Coco Crisp
The Oakland A's filled their biggest need in signing Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, and they will return essentially the same team that led them to an unexpected AL West title last season.
One move they could look to make is dealing center fielder Crisp, who is set to make $7 million this coming season. He could be replaced by Chris Young, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks at the beginning of the offseason.
Seattle Mariners: A Leadoff Hitter
The Seattle Mariners have taken steps to improve their MLB-worst offense this offseason, signing Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay and trading for Kendrys Morales.
However, they could still look to do more. Finding a legitimate leadoff hitter should be near the top of their list of needs with the still unsigned Michael Bourn an intriguing option to say the least.
Texas Rangers: A Power-Hitting Outfielder
With Josh Hamilton gone, there is a clear hole in the Texas Rangers' once-potent lineup, and while they still have Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre, finding another power hitter to replace Hamilton would be big. A trade with the Diamondbacks remains a viable option, as Justin Upton or Jason Kubel would be welcome additions to the Texas lineup.
Atlanta Braves: Left Field
As the Atlanta Braves continue to search for a left fielder that would allow them to shift Martin Prado in to fill the vacancy at third base, the list of viable options continues to shrink.
Jason Kubel could be an option on the trade market, and Scott Hairston could be a fit as well, according to a tweet from Jon Heyman.
Miami Marlins: A Reason for Fans to Come Out
The Miami Marlins' struggles last season kept them from enjoying the spike in attendance they expected to see with the opening of a new stadium, as they finished 18th in the league with 27,400 fans per game.
After gutting the team this offseason, there's even less reason for a disheartened fanbase to pay for tickets, and the team has to come up with a way to get the fanbase back on its side.
New York Mets: Relief Pitching
The New York Mets ranked second-to-last in the major last season with a 4.65 ERA from their bullpen, and they have yet to make any significant additions this offseason outside of signing Aaron Laffey to a minor league deal.
In a tweet, Jon Heyman pointed to Jose Valverde, Matt Capps and Francisco Rodriguez as options who could help with closing experience.
Philadelphia Phillies: Outfielder
The Philadelphia Phillies traded to acquire Ben Revere from the Twins already this offseason, but the rest of the outfield remains a question mark. They could look to add another player to a mix that includes Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and John Mayberry.
However, according to Jon Heyman, the asking price of guys like Michael Bourn is more than they are willing to spend.
Washington Nationals: A Decision on Adam LaRoche
The Washington Nationals remain in a holding pattern with first baseman Adam LaRoche, who declined his end of a $10 million mutual option but remains on the Nationals' radar.
Re-signing him would likely trigger a trade of Michael Morse, and the sooner the team can sort out the LaRoche situation, the better as far as future moves are concerned.
Chicago Cubs: Third Base
The duo of Ian Stewart and Luis Valbuena doesn't bring about much excitement, but it appears to be how the Chicago Cubs plan to man third base for the 2013 season as of now.
With Kevin Youkilis and Jeff Keppinger signed, the free-agent market is dry at the position, so this is a problem not likely to be solved unless prospect Josh Vitters can take several steps forward after hitting .121 in a 99 at-bat audition last season.
Cincinnati Reds: Nothing
The Cincinnati Reds got the leadoff hitter they've needed in trading for Shin-Soo Choo, and re-signed Ryan Ludwick and Jonathan Broxton to fill their other remaining needs.
The biggest question is how Aroldis Chapman will perform in his move to the rotation, but if he struggles, the team has Mike Leake capable of stepping back into a starting role.
Milwaukee Brewers: Veteran Starting Pitcher
The Milwaukee Brewers have added Tom Gorzelanny, Mike Gonzalez and Burke Badenhop to shore up what was one of the worst bullpens in baseball last season, and they could now turn their attention to adding some starting pitching depth.
According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Yovani Gallardo is the only pitcher with a lock on a rotation spot for next season, and the team could look for a veteran option to add to the pool of youngsters.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Relief Pitcher
With their trade of closer Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox, the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen will have a new look as setup man Jason Grilli will shift to the closer's role and newly-acquired Mark Melancon will slide into the eighth-inning role.
The team has already improved their rotation with the signing of Francisco Liriano, but they could still look to add another bullpen arm to join the aforementioned duo, Tony Watson and Jared Hughes, as reliable arms.
St. Louis Cardinals: Nothing
The St. Louis Cardinals' only real need heading into the offseason was finding a second left-handed reliever to join Marc Rzepczynski in the bullpen. That was addressed with the signing of Randy Choate to a three-year deal.
Aside from deciding on a fifth starter between Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller, the team is set heading into the season.
Arizona Diamondbacks: A Resolution to the Justin Upton Saga
The face of the Arizona Diamondbacks franchise, Upton has been on and off of the trade block a number of times over the past two years, and this offseason has been no exception. Still just 25 years old, it would be best for everyone involved if the team made a decision one way or another, either by moving him or by giving him a vote of confidence and removing him from the block once and for all.
Colorado Rockies: Starting Pitching
The Colorado Rockies have done nothing to improve the league's worst starting rotation this offseason outside of re-signing Jeff Francis. Healthy seasons from Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio will certainly give them a boost, but adding another arm or two to the mix would be a wise move for the Rockies.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Nothing
The Los Angeles Dodgers signed the prize of the free-agent pitching market in Zack Greinke and added Korean import Hyun-Jin Ryu as their rotation is set for the start of the season.
Left field is a question mark until Carl Crawford returns, but Jerry Hairston should be able to hold down the fort until he returns. For the big-spending Dodgers, team chemistry is the biggest thing they need to find at this point.
San Diego Padres: Starting Pitching
The San Diego Padres have added Jason Marquis and Tyson Ross to the starting pitching mix this offseason, but the rotation remains a question mark behind the duo of Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard.
Signing a third reliable starter ranks as the team's top need at this point as it continues to rebuild.
San Francisco Giants: Nothing
With their re-signing of Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt, as well as the signing of Andres Torres to platoon with Gregor Blanco in left field, the San Francisco Giants appear set to start the season.
A full season of Scutaro and Hunter Pence and the continued development of Brandon Belt should be enough for the offense to improve on its 2012 numbers.