MLB Trade Speculation: How Each Team Could Bolster Its Current Roster
Now that the NFL season is behind us, fans will have just a week more to wait before MLB teams all over the league head to Arizona and Florida for spring training.
We'll see many faces in new uniforms and twice as many unheralded prospects doing anything they can to gain the attention of their organization.
Most teams are likely done making moves this offseason, but as spring training and the early parts of the season unfold, here are some areas that each team may look to improve in an effort to help its chances during the 2013 season.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Starting Pitching
The Arizona Diamondbacks' biggest move this offseason may have been the one that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta, but they also brought in a starting pitcher that should help fortify their rotation in signing Brandon McCarthy to a two-year deal.
He's missed some time over the past couple of seasons, and while McCarthy is solid while on the mound, the Diamondbacks could still use some help in the rotation.
They're not in the market for starters like Kyle Lohse, but as teams begin to assess their situations in spring training, an appealing option could arise.
Atlanta Braves: Chemistry
No matter what ends up happening to the Atlanta Braves in the NL East in 2013, we can't say they didn't give it their best effort this winter.
Bringing in the Upton brothers will give the Braves one of the best outfields in the league and an offense that has great potential to score runs.
As we saw in Los Angeles last summer, however, bringing in top talent doesn't guarantee you a postseason run, so they'll want to make sure they get everyone on the same page in spring training heading into the season.
Baltimore Orioles: Starting Pitching
As one of the biggest surprises in baseball last season, the Baltimore Orioles have plenty of confidence heading into the 2013 season.
They weren't all that active this offseason, however, and with a rotation that could benefit from another front-end starter, they may end up assessing their options into the season.
Signing Jair Jurrjens could be a good move in the long term, but after a down 2012, he's likely not ready to contribute in a meaningful way to the rotation.
Boston Red Sox: Starting Pitching
After seeing Josh Beckett traded last summer and Daisuke Matsuzaka out of the picture in Boston, the Red Sox looked to veteran starter Ryan Dempster to fill the void.
He'll no doubt help fortify their rotation, but with a massive amount of offense on all teams in the AL East, it will take more to get the team to where it'd like to get back to in the standings.
Chicago Cubs: Trade Alfonso Soriano
Once considered one of the worst signings in baseball, Alfonso Soriano's 2012 campaign went a long way toward pushing those memories to the background as he solidified his standing as one of the game's star veterans.
At one point last season, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman brought up the possibility of the San Francisco Giants bringing in Soriano. Though obviously nothing came to fruition, the discussion itself lent some value to the Cubs outfielder.
As the Cubs find themselves making final plans, general manager Theo Epstein has already noted (via Doug Padilla, ESPN Chicago) that Soriano is available, so talks could very well heat up into the season if he's playing well.
Chicago White Sox: Bench Bats
The Chicago White Sox were a surprising team in some respects last season as they found themselves atop the AL Central for much of the season, only to ultimately fall to the Detroit Tigers in September.
With a solid starting rotation on board for the season and Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios providing power, the team could still use bench bats to contribute and hopefully pick up some of the production lost when A.J. Pierzynski signed with Texas.
Cincinnati Reds: Nothing
Heading into last season as a favorite in the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds worked their way effortlessly through the division only to find themselves quickly ousted in the postseason.
They've done a good job of keeping their biggest talent around and have on paper one of the best rosters in baseball, but they'll need to get the best out of all these players if they hope to contend once October rolls around.
Cleveland Indians: Starting Pitching
The Cleveland Indians took a strong angle at making a postseason push a couple of seasons ago when they traded for ace Ubaldo Jimenez. While it didn't end up yielding a postseason berth, the team does have the foundation of a team that could take advantage of a weak division.
Signing Nick Swisher will no doubt help their offense, and bringing Brett Myers in could end up benefiting the starting rotation, though his best work in 2012 came in the bullpen and a transition back into a starting role may not be enough to sustain a strong five-man arsenal.
Colorado Rockies: Trade Cuddyer, Not Fowler
After giving Michael Cuddyer a big payday last offseason, the Colorado Rockies expected that he might be the answer to the team's problems and lead them back to the postseason.
The team still struggled, however, and while the Rockies could make a run at things in 2013, they might also be able to pull in prospects in exchange for Cuddyer this offseason.
A number of teams showed interest last offseason when Cuddyer was a free agent, and as Troy Renck of the Denver Post pointed out, the Rockies will likely make him and other players available as they look to add depth in the pitching staff.
Detroit Tigers: Relief Pitching
The Detroit Tigers struggled early on last season after making one of the biggest splashes of the winter in bringing Prince Fielder in to add to the already-dangerous offense.
They did make their way to the final stages of the season, facing off against the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, though they were quickly shown the door as the Giants hoisted the hardware once again.
Jose Valverde has been a solid option for the Tigers over the past couple of seasons, though it doesn't look like he'll be in the picture in 2013. And while Al Alburquerque should be a solid late-inning option for Detroit, adding another arm in the bullpen can't hurt.
Houston Astros: Nothing
The Houston Astros were set to enter the 2013 season with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball as it is, but that took another change this week when the team traded Jed Lowrie to Oakland.
Houston is in the midst of a full-blown rebuild as it transitions to play in the AL West. With the team relying on the development of prospects to make up its core, it likely won't be looking to make any trades to immediately improve the roster.
Kansas City Royals: Outfield Depth
Kansas City made a big splash in improving the Royals' starting rotation this offseason when it pulled off a blockbuster trade that brought in James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay.
In doing so, the Royals ended up getting rid of one of the top prospects in all of baseball in outfielder Wil Myers.
He was set to become a huge part of the Royals offense in a matter of time, and while Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur will be roaming the outfield, their chances of making it in the AL Central would improve with some additional offense.
Los Angeles Angels: Trade Vernon Wells
With lofty expectations accompanying them into the 2012 season after a very active winter, the Los Angeles Angels have failed to produce to the extent expected of them and went back to the drawing board in some respects this offseason.
Vernon Wells has been the target of criticism since joining the Halos, and with just 12 home runs and a .232 batting average last season, he continues to be a question mark.
Adding Josh Hamilton to the Angels outfield won't help Wells' chances of making a meaningful contribution, and the team could very well move him to find some depth in other areas.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Chemistry
Much like other big spending teams this offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers have come a long way to make their roster the envy of fanbases all over the league.
They've got the offseason's biggest pitching target in Zack Greinke and also signed one of the biggest question marks in Hyun-Jin Ryu.
The team doesn't need help in many areas, but getting all of the players added over the past six months to work together fluidly will be a big focal point this spring.
Miami Marlins: Nothing
Believe it or not, it was just a year ago that we were witnessing the resurgence of Marlins baseball, with top free agents Buehrle, Heath Bell and Reyes all signing with Miami.
As we sit here a year later, all of those players have made their way out of South Beach, with Bell heading to Arizona and the others finding a home north of the border in Toronto.
The team won't be contending any time soon, and while it could trade Giancarlo Stanton for a very high price, it'd be better suited to let him be the focal point of a rebuilding process.
Milwaukee Brewers: Starting Pitching
After realizing that a long-term contract extension wouldn't be in the cards for Zack Greinke, the Milwaukee Brewers made the right move in trading him to Los Angeles.
With Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf also gone since last season, the Brewers have some holes in the starting rotation that may need to be addressed before the team can contend again in the NL Central.
Minnesota Twins: Starting Pitching
Starting pitching was ultimately one of the downfalls of the Minnesota Twins in 2012, as the team's staff posted the worst ERA in the league.
They've added a number of arms this offseason—including Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Rich Harden and Mike Pelfrey.
While they may have changed up the rotation that hurt them last season, it's debatable as to whether or not they got any better, so adding additional help could be necessary if the season starts off the wrong way.
New York Mets: Starting Pitching
With one of the best individual stories in baseball last season, the New York Mets were helped throughout the 2012 season with R.A. Dickey's improbable Cy Young run.
Dickey wasn't part of the team's long-term plans, however, as he was traded to Toronto after the team couldn't agree on a contract.
The Mets did sign Shaun Marcum to fill a spot in the rotation, but nobody expects him to bring anything like what Dickey did.
New York Yankees: Starting Pitching
Hiroki Kuroda's decision to stay in New York, instead of heading back to Japan, should give the Yankees the force they need in the rotation to go along with a returning Pettitte.
If they both play like they did last season, they could be in good shape, but putting two rotation spots in the hands of pitchers hovering around 40 years old always bears some risks and could mean the team will be looking for more help in the rotation if their age begins to show.
Oakland Athletics: Starting Pitching
Seeing the Oakland Athletics make another postseason appearance last season further proved that you don't need to be the biggest spenders in the league to make an impact.
They'll continue to follow their game plan in 2013 and trading for Jed Lowrie this week will solidify the infield, but with players like Brandon McCarthy no longer in the A's rotation, they could be looking for some additional help in that department.
Philadelphia Phillies: Outfield Insurance
With players like Juan Pierre and Shane Victorino no longer in the picture in Philadelphia, the Phillies had plenty of work cut out for them as they planned their 2013 roster.
Trading for Ben Revere will give them a speedy option in center field, though he's somewhat untested as a major leaguer and boasts literally no power.
Delmon Young does have some pop in his bat, but with concerns about his ability to stay conditioned, two-thirds of the outfield could go either way in 2013.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Bullpen
With a roster poised to make waves in the NL Central once again in 2013, the Pittsburgh Pirates have shored up some areas of need this winter, not the least of which was adding Russell Martin to the lineup.
They've still got strong starting pitching on their side, but there's a hole in the bullpen with Joel Hanrahan now a member of the Boston Red Sox.
San Diego Padres: Front-End Starter
The Padres' place in the NL West doesn't entirely look positive in 2013 as the team faces a plethora of talented rosters in the standings.
They do have some talented pitchers on their hands, though none of them are true front-end starters.
Re-signing Jason Marquis will add a body to the rotation, but the signing won't make much of an impact, possibly making for a long season in Petco Park.
San Francisco Giants: Bench Bats
As the defending World champions the San Francisco Giants will have a target on their backs heading into the 2013 season as teams look to unseat them.
They've got a roster that should be just as good this time around as they re-signed key figures like Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro.
Adding depth on the bench would be about the only place the Giants could really improve, though they may not even need to do that if they hope to keep their hands on the title.
Seattle Mariners: Starting Pitching
As one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, lefty Danny Hultzen showed exactly what he was made of in Double-A last season, posting a 1.19 ERA in 13 starts before getting promoted to Triple-A.
He'll enter spring training knowing that he's just one strong month away from earning a promotion at some point in 2013, though the team could pursue other options in the starting rotation as it looks to provide Felix Hernandez with some backup.
St. Louis Cardinals: Bullpen
The St. Louis Cardinals may have lost Lance Berkman to free agency this offseason, but they'll still have plenty of pop in the lineup heading into the 2013 season.
With a starting rotation minus Kyle Lohse, the team could pursue help in the rotation, though it may benefit from late-inning arms as well.
Tampa Bay Rays: Outfield
The Tampa Bay Rays lost a longtime fixture in the outfield this winter when B.J. Upton signed a long-term contract with the Atlanta Braves.
That move could have depleted their outfield to a great extent if it weren't for the trade that brought the highly touted Wil Myers into the organization.
Nevertheless, depth in the outfield could still be a concern, and if Myers starts slow in 2013, the team may need to find help elsewhere.
Texas Rangers: Power Bats
With Josh Hamilton departing from Texas this offseason, the Rangers had a big move to replace his productivity.
They signed Lance Berkman to a one-year deal, and while he should be able to produce significant offense it may not be enough as he continues to age.
A.J. Pierzynski should also help bring some pop in the lineup, but he may not even offset Mike Napoli on his own, leaving the Rangers with more runs to find.
Toronto Blue Jays: Chemistry
As we've discussed surrounding other teams that made big overhauls to their rosters this offseason, chemistry is a key part of any team's success throughout a long season.
The Toronto Blue Jays had a bigger offseason than any other team. On paper they have one of the best rosters in baseball, so they'll need to do plenty of work this spring to ensure all of their weapons are in sync once Opening Day rolls around.
Washington Nationals: Nothing
The Washington Nationals made their fair share of moves this offseason, addressing key needs in center field and in the bullpen by trading for Denard Span and signing Rafael Soriano to a two-year deal.
They've got a great chance at once again winning an NL East crown, and with some tweaks at the trade deadline, they could be in position to advance further in the postseason.