MLB Power Rankings: Buying or Selling Each Team's Playoff Chances

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2013

MLB Power Rankings: Buying or Selling Each Team's Playoff Chances

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    Each MLB team's playoff chances for the 2013 season aren't completely based on moves made during the offseason, but in some cases, buying or selling those playoff chances were affected in some way.

    Thus far, a bevy of transactions have either bolstered or hindered several teams in their efforts to field a squad capable of competing for the postseason.

    Based on each MLB team's current roster and changes made to that roster, here is a look into whether each team's playoff chances for next season are legitimate.

    For the purposes of clarification, three distinctions will be used: selling, holding and buying.

    Selling and buying should be obvious. Holding means there is slight hope depending on what transpires over the rest of the offseason for that particular team.

30. Miami Marlins: Selling

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    At this point, the Miami Marlins are clearly playing for the future, and that future will definitely not include a postseason appearance next season.

    Giancarlo Stanton represents the future and, by default, the face of the franchise. However, in Miami's case, the face is oftentimes interchangeable.

    Stanton is no lock to remain in Miami. In fact, assistant GM Dan Jennings told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that no one is untouchable, not even Stanton.

    "We've never not listened to a deal on any player," Jennings said. "Sometimes I chuckle when I hear people say, 'This guy's untouchable,' and 'That guy's untouchable.' You know what? They may be untouchable, until someone either overwhelms you or you get a package back that makes such a significant improvement on your club going forward. So we've always been willing to listen."

    Jennings brought up a key phrase in his comment: going forward.

    Most fans would argue that point in terms of the Marlins' direction.

29. Houston Astros: Selling

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    The Houston Astros are another team clearly playing for the future, and that will likely involve more pain in 2013.

    After suffering through 213 losses in the past two years, the Astros could very well be adding one more 100-loss season in 2013.

    The Astros added Philip Humber and Alex White to the starting rotation, and newly signed reliever Jose Veras could emerge as the team's closer. Carlos Pena was added as well to become the team's first full-time DH.

    None of those moves did anything to make anyone believe that the Astros have any shot at all of sniffing a postseason berth in 2013.

28. Colorado Rockies: Selling

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    The Colorado Rockies had the worst pitching staff in baseball to end the 2012 season.

    They'll begin the 2013 season with the worst staff as well.

    The Rockies added Wilton Lopez to the bullpen and re-signed starting pitcher Jeff Francis. Neither move screams upgrade, although Lopez was impressive as a closer last season for the last-place Houston Astros.

    Still, a pitching staff that hovered around a 6.00 ERA for much of the season without any major upgrades does not bode well for Rockies' playoff chances in 2013, no matter how much potential their offense has.

27. Minnesota Twins: Selling

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    The Minnesota Twins featured the second-worst pitching staff in the American League last season. Thus far, it's hard to say whether the moves made this offseason actually constitute an upgrade.

    The Twins added Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey to their starting rotation.

    Worley wasn't nearly as sharp in his second full season after a stellar rookie campaign. Correia has had one season with an ERA under 4.00 since transitioning to a starting role full-time in 2008. And Pelfrey is returning from Tommy John surgery after making only three starts last season.

    In addition, the Twins traded away two key offensive contributors in Denard Span and Ben Revere. Darin Mastroianni and Chris Parmelee will be counted on to replace that offense.

    If Parmelee and third baseman Trevor Plouffe can take the next step in their development, the offense has the ability to score some runs.

    The pitching staff, however, still remains a work in progress.

26. New York Mets: Selling

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    The New York Mets took a major step backward for the short term with the trade that sent Cy Young Award-winning pitcher R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Catcher Travis d'Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard have the potential to be key contributors in the future for sure, but taking 20 wins away from a starting rotation that wasn't considered extremely gifted without Dickey certainly created a huge hole.

    Not to mention the fact that the Mets bullpen—ranked second-to-last in the National League last season with a 4.65 ERA—has yet to see any upgrades either.

    An outfield consisting of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill and Mike Baxter doesn't exactly inspire confidence in next year's playoff chances.

    Without any further upgrades, about the only berth this team will be sniffing is a berth at or near the NL East Division cellar.

25. Chicago Cubs: Selling

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    The rebuild continues on the North Side.

    Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer continue to march—or crawl—toward their goal of building a team capable of competing year after year.

    It's safe to say that the 2013 season isn't included.

    The Cubs have added Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva to the starting rotation. Nate Schierholtz appears to be their new right fielder, with David DeJesus moving to center fielder while prospect Brett Jackson continues to develop.

    The Cubs do appear to be moving in the right direction, and they could see progress next season. But that progress certainly won't come in the form of a postseason berth.

24. San Diego Padres: Selling

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    With new ownership in place and new money, the San Diego Padres' inactivity this offseason has been perplexing.

    Granted, general manager Josh Byrnes has said he won't get into bidding wars in what has become a pricey pitcher's market, but a complete lack of transactions—save for signing Jason Marquis and trading for Tyson Ross—is much less than what was expected.

    The Padres can't be completely ruled out—they did compile a 55-45 record in their final 100 games—but standing pat in an offseason when their competitors have spent lavishly on upgrades doesn't bode well for the team's chances next season.

23. Cleveland Indians: Selling

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    The Cleveland Indians appear to be heading in the right direction after several moves this offseason. The acquisition of Nick Swisher was certainly a plus for the offense. The additions of Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs could pan out for them as well.

    Newcomer Trevor Bauer will vie for a starting spot in spring training, and Brett Myers was just brought on board for one year and $7 million. It's widely presumed that Myers will make a return to the starting rotation.

    Still, question marks persist. Reynolds and Stubbs could combine for 400 strikeouts, Bauer is certainly no lock at this point and they still have the underperforming Ubaldo Jimenez and Jeanmar Gomez as options in the rotation every fifth day.

    Progress was made, but enough to catapult them into playoff contenders? Doubtful.

22. Milwaukee Brewers: Selling

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    The Milwaukee Brewers sputtered to a 40-45 record in the first half last season, hurt by season-ending injuries to Mat Gamel and Alex Gonzalez.

    They pulled themselves up and finished with a 43-34 second-half record, remaining in the playoff hunt until the final weeks.

    However, inactivity has ruled the offseason for the Brewers.

    Owner Mark Attanasio has dropped payroll due to one of the poorest TV contracts in MLB and declining attendance at Miller Park. As such, the ability to significantly upgrade the roster is virtually an impossible task.

    Mike Gonzalez, Burke Badenhop and Tom Gorzelanny have been added to bolster the bullpen, but beyond that, the Brewers will likely have to work with the current cast of characters on the roster to compete in 2013.

    The Brewers will have to rely on youngsters Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers to step up their game in the starting rotation. Position players like Rickie Weeks, Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura will need to deliver as well.

    Otherwise, don't expect the Brewers to compete with the likes of the Cardinals, Reds or even the Pirates in the NL Central Division.

21. Seattle Mariners: Selling

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    The Seattle Mariners have attempted to bolster an offense that produced the least amount of runs in the American League for the past four seasons.

    They added Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez and traded for designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales. They gave up their No. 2 starter—Jason Vargas—in return for Morales, however.

    Bay is a complete enigma following three miserable seasons with the New York Mets.

    Raul Ibanez showed some life with the New York Yankees last season. However, expecting him to produce consistently every day at the age of 40 is a bit of a stretch.

    Morales should help, but will it be enough for the Mariners to compete in the vastly improved AL West Division?

    The short answer is no. The addition of the above three players will help, but not even close enough to match up with the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers or Oakland A's.

20. Chicago White Sox: Selling

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    The offseason for the Chicago White Sox has been very quiet thus far.

    That in itself is worrisome.

    They started off by re-signing starting pitcher Jake Peavy to a two-year, $29 million contract. However, it was a hefty price to pay. As a result of that contract, the White Sox were forced to say goodbye to catcher A.J. Pierzynksi.

    White Sox general manager Rick Hahn referenced “more pressing needs that needed to be addressed.” Peavy was clearly one of those pressing needs.

    The Sox will now move forward with Tyler Flowers behind the plate. Flowers has hit just .205 in 273 at-bats over parts of four seasons.

    The Sox also added third baseman Jeff Keppinger, inking him to a three-year, $12 million deal. Keppinger hit .325 with nine homers and 40 RBI last season for the Tampa Bay Rays.

    I'm not convinced the Sox did anywhere near enough to keep pace with the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central Division. In fact, they may not have done enough to stay ahead of the Kansas City Royals, either.

19. Arizona Diamondbacks: Holding

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks have made a lot of noise this offseason.

    But is that noise enough to put them in contention in 2013?

    They added reliever Heath Bell to start their offseason. They signed Brandon McCarthy to bolster their starting rotation. They traded for shortstop Didi Gregorius, believing he could be their long-term answer at shortstop.

    The Diamondbacks also signed Cody Ross to add to an already packed outfield, leading to speculation that either Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra or Justin Upton could be traded to add upgrades to other parts of the roster.

    Eric Chavez and Eric Hinske were added to provide bench depth as well.

    It's certainly a lot of noise created by the Diamondbacks.

    But noise doesn't always lead to success.

18. Pittsburgh Pirates: Holding

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    The financially challenged Pittsburgh Pirates weren't afraid to dive into the free-agent market this offseason.

    They signed catcher Russell Martin for two years and $17 million and agreed to a deal with starting pitcher Francisco Liriano for two years and $14 million.

    They also gave reliever Jason Grilli a new two-year, $6.75 million deal. Grilli is now the new closer following the trade of Joel Hanrahan to the Boston Red Sox.

    For a team looking to end a 20-year losing streak, those are pretty significant deals.

    However, much will depend on the efforts of players already on the roster—specifically, players like Starling Marte, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez and Gaby Sanchez.

    If the Pirates' younger stars can step up and help complement superstar center fielder Andrew McCutchen in the lineup, then Pittsburgh has a chance to make things interesting in the NL Central Division.

17. Kansas City Royals: Holding

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    Kansas City Royals owner David Glass stated before the end of the 2012 season that he would be more than willing to spend money to upgrade his starting rotation.

    He certainly backed up his words.

    First, the Royals traded for starting pitcher Ervin Santana. They then brought back starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie on a three-year, $25 million contract.

    In December, the Royals traded top hitting prospect Wil Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays in return for starters James Shields and Wade Davis.

    The Royals also feature a talented young group of position players in Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain. And Billy Butler has established himself as one of the top designated hitters in the American League.

    This is a team that is certainly vastly improved and could give the Detroit Tigers a run for their money in the AL Central Division.

16. Texas Rangers: Holding

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    The Texas Rangers have lost a significant portion of their offense and were unable to land the pitcher they desperately wanted this offseason.

    The departures of Michael Young, Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton certainly sting, and adding to that hurt was the Rangers' failure to land free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke.

    The 2013 Rangers will be a vastly different team. David Murphy will now take an everyday role in the outfield, Leonys Martin will likely be patrolling center, and prospects Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar will be tasked with maturing quickly and making an impact.

    Without the addition of Greinke, Martin Perez will now be tasked with maturing as well, with Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis not due back until later in the season.

    It's an awful lot to ask of three youngsters who have less than a full season of experience combined. But that's the state of things in Arlington these days.

    If there are no additional transactions, this group could be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

15. Boston Red Sox: Holding

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    The Boston Red Sox are trying to erase the memory of their worst regular-season record since 1965. General manager Ben Cherington is at least trying, anyway.

    He started the process last August with the mega-trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Freeing up considerable payroll, Cherington then went to work this offseason. He signed backup catcher David Ross, outfielders Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino, starting pitcher Ryan Dempster and relief pitcher Koji Uehara.

    Cherington came to an agreement with free-agent catcher Mike Napoli, originally for three years and $39 million. However, a preexisting hip condition has that deal currently on hold.

    In addition, Cherington traded for closer Joel Hanrahan, giving the Sox a definite upgrade in the back end of the bullpen, with Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey and Uehara as the trio for the late innings.

    Questions still remain concerning the starting rotation. Can Jon Lester bounce back from a subpar season? Can John Lackey come back strong after Tommy John surgery? Can Felix Doubront mature after an up-and-down rookie campaign?

    In addition, with Napoli's status still up in the air, there is no clear answer at first base. Jacoby Ellsbury will be counted on to stay off the disabled list and return to 2011 form.

    If those concerns can be answered with positive results, the current "hold" would become a "buy" in terms of playoff contention.

14. Philadelphia Phillies: Holding

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    The Philadelphia Phillies have been another team very active this offseason, with a shopping wish list full of items.

    They filled quite a few of them, adding center fielder Ben Revere, third baseman Michael Young, relief pitcher Mike Adams and starting pitcher John Lannan.

    However, can the offense provide enough support for the starting rotation?

    Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will be called upon to stay healthy and help provide that better run support. Meanwhile, Young will be looking to bounce back from a subpar 2011 season. The Phillies certainly hope that he isn't experiencing regression related to age.

    Adams helps a bullpen that struggled last season, but the remainder of the bullpen will need to improve upon their 2011 performance as well.

    The Phillies have their hands full in keeping up with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals in the NL East Division.

13. Baltimore Orioles: Holding

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    After making their first appearance in the postseason in 15 years in 2012, the Baltimore Orioles have been strangely quiet this offseason.

    Nate McLouth was re-signed to help provide support in left field, and that's been their biggest move yet.

    With the loss of Mark Reynolds, a big question remains at first base. Chris Davis could potentially move there full-time. Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold will be returning from injury as well.

    The Orioles seem dedicated to a process of building from within, and players like Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy are prime examples. Both could be key contributors in the 2013 season.

    Whether or not the relative inactivity adversely affects the O's remains to be seen. But it's clear that they believe in the current players on the roster.

12. Tampa Bay Rays: Holding

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    One thing that's become clear with the Tampa Bay Rays in recent years: They can never be fully counted out.

    The loss of James Shields and Wade Davis certainly takes a bite out of their pitching staff, but general manager Andrew Friedman has done an outstanding job of developing homegrown talent. Players like Chris Archer, Alex Cobb and newcomer Jake Odorizzi appear ready to make a positive impact next season.

    Questions, however, still remain with the offense. James Loney replaces Carlos Pena at first base, and Loney's .630 OPS last season doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

    Top hitting prospect Wil Myers was picked up in the deal that sent Shields and Davis to the Kansas City Royals. Whether Myers is ready to contribute next season remains to be seen.

    One thing that will impact the Rays offense is a healthy Evan Longoria. The Rays were 47-27 with Longoria in the lineup last season and 43-45 without him. His health will be a huge key for the Rays offense.

11. New York Yankees: Buying

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    The New York Yankees will defend their AL East Division title in 2013 with a roster that's loaded with question marks.

    Can 38-year-old shortstop Derek Jeter bounce back quickly from a fractured ankle and perform at 2012 levels?

    Can Kevin Youkilis step in and provide the type of production seen from him in the mid- to late-2000s?

    Can Mariano Rivera deliver his magic for one more season following his return from a torn ACL?

    Will CC Sabathia return to form after offseason elbow surgery?

    Can Brett Gardner stay healthy and be the pesky-type player he was in the 2011 season?

    Can Ichiro Suzuki duplicate what he did in the second half of last season for a full year?

    As defending AL East champs, it's up to other teams to knock the Yankees off their perch. However, if some of the above questions don't come with positive answers, the Yankees could knock themselves off that perch just as easily.

    I'm still not fully prepared to bet against them. Yet.

10. Oakland Athletics: Buying

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    As defending AL West Division champs, the Oakland A's didn't feel compelled to make major changes to their roster this offseason.

    They signed Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima to replace Stephen Drew, they re-signed Bartolo Colon for one more season and added outfielder Chris Young to provide depth and power.

    Considering their surprising and magical season, and the relative youth of the team, it well could be enough to compete once again next year.

9. Atlanta Braves: Buying

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    The Atlanta Braves are still trying to figure out what they're going to do in left field next season, but they otherwise look ready to compete once again.

    The addition of B.J. Upton gives the Braves another solid right-handed hitting option along with Dan Uggla to complement lefties Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann.

    Third baseman Juan Francisco has looked terrific in winter league ball—if he can translate that success to the majors, it would keep Martin Prado where he is and alleviate the worries in left field.

    A strong starting rotation with an even stronger bullpen will help keep Atlanta in contention in the NL East Division.

8. St. Louis Cardinals: Buying

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    The St. Louis Cardinals didn't feel the need to make many moves this offseason. Fact is, they didn't have to.

    They added lefty specialist Randy Choate to complement Marc Rzepczynski in the bullpen. Utility man Ty Wigginton replaces Skip Schumaker as a key contributor off the bench.

    Adam Wainwright will be another year removed from Tommy John surgery, and Chris Carpenter will return for a full season after making just three starts at the end of last season.

    With the return of the second-ranked offense in the National League, combined with a solid rotation and bullpen, the Cardinals certainly figure to be competing for a playoff spot once again next season.

7. Cincinnati Reds: Buying

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    After a 97-win season in 2012, it wasn't necessary for the Cincinnati Reds to make major changes this offseason.

    But subtle changes have been made.

    Shin-Soo Choo was added to give the Reds a solid leadoff presence—something that was seriously lacking in 2012.

    Reliever Jonathan Broxton was re-signed, paving the way for closer Aroldis Chapman to transition to the starting rotation.

    Todd Frazier will likely take over at third base for Scott Rolen, who is contemplating retirement.

    Re-signing Ryan Ludwick certainly didn't hurt the offense either.

    All in all, general manager Walt Jocketty did well to make the necessary changes without disturbing the chemistry of a team that clearly gelled in 2012.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers: Buying

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers have spent over a half-billion dollars in player acquisitions since last July.

    They're certainly hoping that's an investment that pays off quickly.

    The additions of Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Brandon League, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke certainly give Dodgers fans a lot more than just hope.

    In addition, a healthy Matt Kemp gives more than just hope—he's the catalyst for a Dodgers offense that now offers him a whole lot more protection than he's ever had in his career.

    It's certainly going to make the celebrated Dodgers-Giants rivalry a lot more interesting to watch.

5. Los Angeles Angels: Buying

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    With just one signing, the Los Angeles Angels catapulted themselves into the conversation regarding pennant contenders.

    The addition of Josh Hamilton gives the Angels a lineup that will strike fear in the hearts of opponents. With Mike Trout leading off, Albert Pujols hitting third and Hamilton hitting behind Pujols, offense will not be an issue in Anaheim.

    General manager Jerry Dipoto beefed up his bullpen as well, adding relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett to help support Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen.

    The biggest question for the Angels is their starting rotation. In failing to re-sign Zack Greinke, the Angels added Joe Blanton and traded for Tommy Hanson. They also added left-hander Jason Vargas.

    Not too many questions are being asked about the offense for the Angels. In fact, it could just be good enough to support the rotation itself.

4. Toronto Blue Jays: Buying

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    The Toronto Blue Jays—rather, the new-look Toronto Blue Jays—have clearly positioned themselves to win.

    Not just win. But win now.

    The additions of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera give the Blue Jays a revamped look at the top of their lineup. Reyes and Cabrera will also help provide more run-scoring opportunities for sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista.

    R.A. Dickey, Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson will team with Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero, giving the Jays a rotation capable of competing with any in the American League.

    The Blue Jays aren't just set up to win the AL East Division title—they're clearly looking at a higher goal.

3. Washington Nationals: Buying

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    The Washington Nationals added two important pieces to a team fresh off an NL East Division title.

    They're still waiting to add one more.

    Denard Span will patrol center field for the Nationals in 2013, moving Bryce Harper to left field.

    Meanwhile, Dan Haren replaces the departed Edwin Jackson in the starting rotation. If Haren's health holds up, he'll support a terrific rotation already featuring Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

    The big question for the Nationals is whether or not they can sign Adam LaRoche. Thus far, talks have stalled, as the issue of a third year on LaRoche's contract remains a sticking point.

    If the Nats are unable to sign LaRoche, Michael Morse will move from left field to first base full-time. Youngster Tyler Moore will be in the mix as well.

    With or without LaRoche, this is a team very capable of repeating in the NL East Division, and it figures to be a strong contender for the National League pennant.

2. Detroit Tigers: Buying

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    The Detroit Tigers spent some money this offseason to bolster their roster and keep their hopes of winning a World Series title very much alive.

    Torii Hunter was signed to a two-year, $26 million contract, and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez was brought back with a five-year, $80 million deal.

    In addition, designated hitter Victor Martinez will return after missing the entire 2012 season with a knee injury.

    Hard to count out the Tigers at this point. It will be even harder if they decide to pull the strings on a deal involving closer Rafael Soriano, though that appears to be unlikely.

    But one never knows.

1. San Francisco Giants: Buying

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    The World Series champion San Francisco Giants return with a team largely intact next season.

    Given what transpired last year, they're still the prohibitive favorites.

    The Giants accomplished everything they set out to do, including bringing back Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro.

    They also brought back former outfielder Andres Torres on a one-year deal to platoon in left field with Gregor Blanco.

    There's no reason to think at this point that the Giants wouldn't be able to successfully defend their World Series title.

    Until the 2013 season starts, that is.


    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.