Identifying Each MLB Team's Most Desperate Needs Beyond the 2013 Season

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2013

Identifying Each MLB Team's Most Desperate Needs Beyond the 2013 Season

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    The 2013 MLB season is about to begin, and while each team will be focused on the year at hand, you can bet that general managers began the process of looking beyond the end of this season long ago.

    Decisions need to be made concerning players in the final years of their contracts. Option years will need to be exercised or declined. Figuring out whether prospects are ready to be promoted will be a factor in deciding the future as well.

    For GMs and their staffs, it's never too early to look beyond the coming year. Some of them have much more planning than others.

    Here is an early look at each MLB team's most desperate needs they'll need to fill beyond the 2013 season. Looks at free agents and top 10 prospects for each team will be included.


    *Note: Free agent information courtesy of Top 10 prospects courtesy of

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    2014 Free Agents

    INF Willie Bloomquist    
    3B Eric Chavez            
    UTIL Eric Hinske             
    C Wil Nieves        

    The Diamondbacks won't have many worries in retaining their own players. Hinkse and Chavez were both brought in on one-year deals, while Bloomquist and Nieves won't be breaking the bank with new deals.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    LHP Tyler Skaggs
    LHP David Holmberg
    RHP Zeke Spruill
    SS Didi Gregorius
    SS Chris Owings
    SS Nick Ahmed
    3B Matt Davidson

    The Diamondbacks have a wealth of prospects in their top 10 who could all be prepared for life in the majors beginning next season. Losing players through attrition may not hurt them much at all.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    With a healthy supply of shortstops who are near ready, Arizona could well be in a position of strength to deal in order to fill needs for next season.

    Gregorius, Owings and Ahmed all bring varying skillsets to the table. Depending on their development in the coming months, the Diamondbacks could be in a great position to get some complementary pieces back for just one of the above trio and not hurt their talent pool too deeply.

Atlanta Braves

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Tim Hudson    
    LHP Paul Maholm    
    C Brian McCann    
    LHP Eric O'Flaherty

    Both Hudson and McCann are entering their ninth seasons in Atlanta, and it's not a stretch to say it could be the last for both of them. Maholm is only 30 and making $6.5 million this year—his future in Atlanta could be decided by his performance.

    O'Flaherty would certainly be a keeper as well, but at just 28 years of age and already making $4.3 million as a non-closer, he might be difficult for the cost-conscious Braves to hold onto.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    C Christian Bethancourt
    RHP J.R. Graham
    LHP Sean Gilmartin
    LHP Alex Wood
    OF Todd Cunningham
    RHP Juan Jaime

    The Braves could be in a great position to deal with life after McCann behind the plate. Evan Gattis has impressed all spring and will break camp with the team. Bethancourt could be ready to go by next year as well.

    Gilmartin gives promise for the future in the rotation, and Graham could impact the team sometime this year.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    With the acquisition of both the Upton brothers along with contracts that will likely escalate for Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, among others, the Braves could be quiet on the free-agent front this coming offseaon. 

    That doesn't mean that GM Frank Wren won't work to improve his team, he just doesn't have to do it with wads of cash. With several top 10 prospects near ready and a farm system that continues to stockpile good talent, the Braves will be well-positioned to make necessary deals to fill in the blanks next winter.

Baltimore Orioles

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Luis Ayala    
    RHP Jason Hammel
    RHP Jim Johnson
    LHP Tsuyoshi Wada
    1B Conor Jackson
    2B Brian Roberts        
    OF Nate McLouth

    The Baltimore Orioles will have a decision to make regarding Johnson. He obviously came into his own last year as a closer and will be making $6.5 million this season.

    Hammel comes at close to the same price tag ($6.75 million), and his future could be decided by his performance and by his health.

    Roberts is almost certainly gone unless he agrees to a sizable decrease in pay. Wada signed a two-year, $8.15 million deal and has yet to throw a major league pitch. Unless he comes back later this season with a miraculous year following Tommy John surgery, he'll be looking for employment elsewhere.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    RHP Dylan Bundy
    RHP Kevin Gausman
    RHP Mike Wright
    2B Jonathan Schoop
    OF L.J. Hoes
    OF Xavier Avery

    Bundy and Gausman could actually contribute this year, but there's no doubt both will be ready next season in case the O's decide not to re-sign Hammel or Wada.

    Ditto with Hoes and Avery—with the injury histories of Reimold and Markakis, combined with just a one-year deal for McLouth, the Orioles have options in the outfield.

    Schoop certainly appears to have all the tools to be a long-time force at second base as well, so Roberts' absence next season may not be a big deal.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Considering how GM Dan Duquette has proceed in his 15 months on the job thus far, free agency is not the first priority, it's more a means of filling in the blanks. It's clear that Duquette is intent on building his team through its homegrown talent and by making prudent free-agent acquisitions.

    Pitching would likely be the area that Duquette would go after. John Lannan could be an attractive option. Making just $2.5 million with the Washington Nationals this year, Lannan would fit nicely into the O's rotation with a strong year in Philadelphia.

Boston Red Sox

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Koji Uehara    
    RHP Joel Hanrahan    
    C/1B Mike Napoli        
    C Jarrod Saltalamacchia    
    SS Stephen Drew        
    CF Jacoby Ellsbury

    If Napoli's hips hold up, he could parlay his one-year deal into something longer, but the Sox simply won't go crazy with his contract because of the hip condition.

    Ellsbury is almost certainly gone with Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the wings. Hanrahan could earn himself a two or three-year deal. Drew is likely gone after a year as well with both Xander Bogaerts and Jose Iglesias waiting for their chance.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    SS Xander Bogaerts
    OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
    RHP Matt Barnes
    RHP Allen Webster
    OF Bryce Brentz

    Five of the Red Sox top 10 prospects could be ready to go next season. Webster and Barnes are two bright young arms that could have GM Ben Cherington making decisions about veterans in terms of flipping them to make room for his youngsters.

    The Red Sox clearly saw this spring that Bradley is their future in center field, and Bogaerts may not be far away from contributing up the middle as well.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    It certainly appears as if the Red Sox aren't willing to go beyond three years with free-agent deals based on their offseason transactions. A long-term answer at first base and right field could be the areas of concern—might Corey Hart be a possible answer for them at either position?

    Hart is in the final season of a three-year, $26.5 million deal, and the right-handed bat would certainly be a plus at Fenway.

Chicago Cubs

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Scott Baker    
    RHP Shawn Camp    
    RHP Scott Feldman    
    RHP Matt Garza    
    RHP Carlos Marmol    
    C Dioner Navarro

    Just about every pitcher on this list could be trade deadline candidates if things go south quickly for the Cubs this season.

    It's a reasonable assumption to think that none of them fit into their plans for the future.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    SS Javier Baez
    OF Brett Jackson
    RHP Arodys Vizcaino
    IF Junior Lake
    OF Matt Szczur

    If Vizcaino can fully recover from Tommy John surgery, he's the Cubs best pitching prospect and could provide impact for the 2014 season. The Cubs are in a good position with middle infielders in Baez and Lake. Baez raked in spring training before being sent down, and Lake looked solid as well before a rib injury cut short his spring.

    The obvious omission of top pitching prospects is definitely a concern.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Pitching will again be the priority for the Cubs, especially with so few prospects anywhere close to major league-ready.

    The 2014 free agent class of pitchers is not exactly stellar. The Cubs might look at players like Jon Garland, Mike Pelfrey and Roberto Hernandez to help fill the void for now.

    There are few pitchers on the market they'd be enticed to make a lucrative offer similar to the one made for Anibal Sanchez this past winter.

    It's more likely the Cubs will use their current crop of one-year pitchers in order to stock their farm system with good young arms.

Chicago White Sox

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Gavin Floyd
    RHP Jesse Crain
    1B Paul Konerko    
    OF DeWayne Wise

    It seems sacrilegious to think the White Sox wouldn't bring Konerko back. But at 37 years of age and with a $13 million salary attached, it's entirely possible.

    It seems that Floyd has been mentioned in various trade rumors for years, his time on the South Side is likely also drawing to a close.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    OF Trayce Thompson
    RHP Erik Johnson
    2B/SS Carlos Sanchez
    OF Jared Mitchell
    LHP Scott Snodgress
    RHP Nestor Molina
    RHP Jhan Marinez

    The White Sox are much like the Chicago Cubs in terms of the readiness of their prospects. There's definitely more promise with their position players than with arms. Marinez may be the closest one ready, and he's not even a top 10 prospect.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    The Sox appear to be set in the outfield with Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo, and Thompson and Mitchell aren't far off from helping, either.

    It's going to be pitching that the Sox might be targeting at the end of the year. Josh Johnson could be an attractive option for them as a free agent. Clayton Richard of the San Diego Padres could be worth a look as well—he's under team control for one more year.

Cincinnati Reds

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Bronson Arroyo
    RHP Nick Masset    
    OF Shin-Soo Choo    
    SS Cesar Izturis

    The Reds aren't in bad shape at all in terms of retaining free agents at the end of this season. Arroyo will present an interesting decision. With the team for seven seasons, Arroyo bounced back nicely last year after a sub-par 2011 season. However, he'll be 37 before the beginning of next season and making over $10 million. His time in Cincinnati could be drawing to a close.

    Choo will also make for a tough call, especially if Billy Hamilton can develop his hitting skills further in the minors this year.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    OF Billy Hamilton
    LHP Tony Cingrani
    RHP Daniel Corcino
    RHP Kyle Lotzkar
    2B Henry Rodriguez  

    Hamilton disappointed this spring with a high strikeout rate, a trait not fitting for a potential leadoff hitter with tremendous speed. The Reds will hope that Hamilton can develop better plate discipline this season before they have to make a decision on Choo.

    Cingrani and Corcino could both be ready next year, helping to absorb the possible loss of Arroyo.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    There simply aren't many holes on the Reds roster that smack of desperation at the end of the 2013 season. With the vast majority of players under team control or under contract, GM Walt Jocketty won't have much to do.

    With prospects ready to go next season, Jocketty will need to just tweak as long as devastating injuries and massively disappointing performance don't occur.

Cleveland Indians

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
    RHP Matt Albers   
    RHP Joe Smith  
    LHP Rich Hill   
    LHP Scott Kazmir   
    2B Ryan Raburn   
    1B/DH Mark Reynolds
    DH Jason Giambi

    The biggest decisions for Indians GM Chris Antonetti will come with his pitching staff. The Indians hold a $8 million option on Jimenez for next season. Considering his sub-par 2011 and 2012 seasons, Jimenez will have to come up with a gem in 2013 in order to stick around a while longer.

    Reynolds could also earn a longer term deal if he proves his worth in Cleveland as well.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    RHP Trevor Bauer
    RHP Danny Salazar  

    Bauer could well end up impacting the rotation this year, and Salazar shows promise for next season as well.

    The rest of the Indians' top prospects are ticketed for 2015 or farther into the future, although Francisco Lindor might have a chance to impact the roster in 2014.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    It should be no secret that pitching is the stronger need moving forward. The problem is, with the salaries being paid out to Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, along with escalating salaries for Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Drew Stubbs and others, Cleveland's resources will be limited.

    Antonetti did well to construct his roster for this season, but it has consequences in the future. Ervin Santana and Shaun Marcum could be intriguing possibilities, but neither will come cheap next season.

Colorado Rockies

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Manny Corpas    
    LHP Jeff Francis    
    RHP Jon Garland    
    C Ramon Hernandez    
    C Yorvit Torrealba
    1B Todd Helton

    There's a better than even chance this could be Helton's 17th and final season. It's also possible that Hernandez could be out as soon as this week, as good friend Torrealba appears to have landed the backup role behind the plate.

    Francis and Garland are merely fillers in the rotation until the Rockies' gaggle of pitching prospects ever decide to develop.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    3B Nolan Arenado
    RHP Chad Bettis
    OF Tim Wheeler
    LHP Edwar Cabrera

    Arenado was sent to Triple A on Thursday after a fierce battle with Chris Nelson for the job at third base. There's no question that Arenado is ticketed for the majors at some point this season.

    Pitching continues to be the issue in Colorado. Bettis is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. Cabrera got a quick look last year, but without dominating stuff, will have to rely on sharp command and keeping the ball down in the zone if he wants to find success at Coors Field.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Pitching and first base/outfield help could be the priorities for the Rockies at the end of the season. With Helton possibly nearing the end of his career, Michael Cuddyer could, in theory, be moved to first base, opening a position in right field.

    It's unlikely the Rockies can lure top tier free-agent pitching, so GM Bill Geivett—assuming of course he is the GM—could look to the trade market to find some help.

    Kendrys Morales or Mark Reynolds could be fits in Colorado if the Rockies opt to keep Cuddyer in right.

Detroit Tigers

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Joaquin Benoit    
    RHP Octavio Dotel    
    2B Omar Infante    
    C Brayan Pena    
    SS Jhonny Peralta    
    2B Ramon Santiago

    ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted on Tuesday that the Tigers were making Santiago available for trade, with Danny Worth taking over as the utility infielder.

    Given the expense involved in keeping both Benoit and Dotel next season, it's a safe bet that one or both won't be retained. Peralta could also be looking at his last year in Detroit given trade speculation that swirled this winter.

    Infante could be kept if the price was right—he's due to make $4 million this season.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    OF Nick Castellanos
    RHP Bruce Rondon
    OF Avisail Garcia
    LHP Casey Crosby
    OF Tyler Collins

    Both Castellanos and Collins impressed before being reassigned this spring; both of them give the Tigers much hope for the future in the outfield. Crosby looked sharp as well—he'll continue his development as a starter for Triple-A Toledo and could factor into the rotation later this season if needed.

    Rondon was sent to Toledo on Wednesday where the Tigers hope he can master his command. He too could be back in Detroit later this season.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    The Tigers keep adding significant chunks of payroll—Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez this offseason. They'll also have to consider an extension for Justin Verlander to add to that as well. Their resources as a result could be limited as they consider options for next year.

    Here's an intriguing thought—is it possible the Tigers could consider bringing Fernando Rodney back if he excels once again in Tampa Bay this season? His age could be a factor in that decision—he'll be 37 years old at the start of next season.

    That's a decision that will be decided by Rondon's ability to develop plate command during his stay in Toledo.

    The biggest need could be at shortstop if the Tigers decide to pass on bringing back Peralta. It might be worth it for GM Dave Dombrowski to give the Arizona Diamondbacks a call to inquire about prospects Nick Ahmed and/or Chris Owings.

Houston Astros

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    2014 Free Agents

    LHP Erik Bedard
    OF Rick Ankiel    
    SS Ronny Cedeno    
    1B/DH Carlos Pena

    Thanks to the Houston Astros unloading nearly all of their veterans over the past two years, they'll have little to worry about in terms of retaining their own next winter. In fact, all four future free agents are likely in Houston just for this year.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    1B Jonathan Singleton
    OF George Springer
    RHP Jarred Cosart
    RHP Nick Tropeano
    RHP Brad Peacock

    Forget next season, Peacock is ready now. He won the audition for the final spot in the Astros rotation to begin this season.

    Cosart is near ready as well—he'll start the season in Triple-A in their rotation.

    Springer showed that he may not be far away from being ready as well, hitting .267 with two home runs and seven RBI before his reassignment. Springer hit .302 with 24 home runs and 87 RBI across two minor league levels last season.

    Singleton will be sitting for the first 50 games this season via a suspension handed down this winter. If he can keep clean and keep in game shape while he's away, he could be a factor next season as well.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    I wouldn't rely too much on the Astros spending much on the free agent market next offseason. They are clearly committed to building through their revamped farm system. Trades are certainly possible, however, especially if Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell get off to solid starts. They could actually be trade deadline targets as well.

Kansas City Royals

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP James Shields
    RHP Ervin Santana
    RHP Dan Wheeler    
    LHP Bruce Chen    
    RF Jeff Francoeur    
    SS Miguel Tejada

    If Shields pitches like an ace, do the Royals pick up his $12 million for the 2014 season? I say yes, but that could also largely depend on where the Royals sit in the standings in mid-to-late July. Both he and Santana could be trade targets if Kansas City finds themselves out of contention.

    Chen and Francoeur are all but gone—they too could be unloaded at the trade deadline.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    RHP Kyle Zimmer
    RHP Yordano Ventura
    LHP John Lamb
    LHP Donnie Joseph
    2B/SS Christian Colon

    All five of these prospects could easily find themselves on the Royals roster in 2014. Ventura definitely impressed as a starter before his reassignment, and Zimmer is considered a rising star as he prepares to start at Double-A ball.

    Joseph could be back in Kansas City later this season in the bullpen after putting up terrific numbers this spring. Joseph struck out 14 batters in 10 innings while holding them to a .083 average.

    Colon hit just .222 before his reassignment, but he's clearly looked upon as a middle infielder option in the very near future. Colon's plate discipline is what's most impressive—he struck out just 28 times in 363 plate appearances last season.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    With Irving Falu and Christian Colon in the middle, the Royals are set in the infield for some time to come. Right field will be an area of concern with Francoeur possibly gone and Wil Myers no longer in the picture. Tigers right fielder Avisail Garcia might be a possible fit but unlikely given the two teams involved playing in the same division.

    Oakland A's outfield Chris Young could be an option as well, but with an $11 million option on his contract for next season, Young would have to be willing to negotiate with Kansas City to make it worth their while.

Los Angeles Angels

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Ryan Madson
    LHP Jason Vargas    
    LHP Scott Downs    
    RHP Mark Lowe    
    SS Luis Rodriguez    
    C Chris Snyder

    Madson's return depends on whether he can bounce back from Tommy John surgery. Starting off the season on the disabled list isn't a good start. Downs is almost certainly gone; the Angels won't re-offer at $5 million a year. Lowe was signed on Wednesday as insurance for a bullpen that looked horrible for much of the spring.

    Vargas could pitch his way into a new contract if he can came close to repeating last year's numbers in Seattle.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    3B Kaleb Cowart
    LHP Nick Maronde
    OF Kole Calhoun
    IF Luis Jimenez
    OF Travis Witherspoon

    It's hard to say if any of the above five will have impact for the Angels anytime soon—all five are more fringe-type prospects with the possible exception of Maronde, who was largely unimpressive this spring. Calhoun could be the fourth outfielder this season despite hitting just .178 in Cactus League play. Jimenez is still in the mix for the final roster spot as of Thursday.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Every single position player is under team control at least through next season, and Vargas is the only starter without a deal beyond next season.

    Pitching, pitching and more pitching is the focus for general manager Jerry Dipoto. Aside from possibly Maronde, no one in the depleted Angels farm system is anywhere near ready. It'll be all about arms for Dipoto next offseason. He'll have to be creative, given an escalating payroll.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Kevin Gregg    
    RHP Matt Guerrier
    RHP Peter Moylan        
    LHP J.P. Howell    
    LHP Ted Lilly    
    UTIL Jerry Hairston Jr.
    UTIL Nick Punto    
    UTIL Skip Schumaker
    3B Juan Uribe
    CF Alfredo Amezaga

    At least the Dodgers will have some money coming off the books at the end of the season. Lilly, Uribe, Moylan, Gregg and Punto are almost certainly gone. Schumaker could prove to be a valued utility piece.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    OF Yasiel Puig
    RHP Zach Lee
    LHP Chris Reed
    RHP Matt Magill
    C Tim Federowicz

    If Lee, Reed or Magill need to be used by the Dodgers any earlier than September of this year, you know that things are looking dismal.

    That's not to say the trio aren't solid prospects—they would be much better served with another solid year in the minors before being thrown into the fire.

    Federowicz will be backing up A.J. Ellis this year, and he has a very bright future in LA.

    Puig simply shined all spring—there should be no doubt about his readiness for next season. 


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Considering what the Dodgers have done over the past seven months, no options can be left off the table. If Puig is indeed considered ready for 2014, expect the Dodgers to dangle Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford out there for the taking.

Miami Marlins

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Chad Qualls    
    RHP Jon Rauch    
    RHP Kevin Slowey
    RHP Ricky Nolasco
    C Koyie Hill
    1B Casey Kotchman    
    INF Greg Dobbs
    3B Placido Polanco    
    OF Austin Kearns
    LF Juan Pierre

    I wouldn't be at all shocked to see all of the above players gone from the Marlins at the end of the season. In fact, nothing about the Marlins shocks me anymore.

    If the Marlins are out of contention by the trade deadline—considering the prognosis, that's almost a slam-dunk—expect many of these names to be dangled as pieces for more prospects. The Marlins could turn into a rebuilding team every single year at this point.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    RHP Jose Fernandez
    OF Christian Yelich
    OF Jake Marisnick
    LHP Justin Nicolino
    SS Adeiny Hechavarria
    OF Marcell Ozuna
    IF Derek Dietrich
    3B Zack Cox

    The Marlins have certainly accumulated some talent as the result of the complete dismantling of their team. Quite a few of them could actually be ready to contribute as early as next season. Yelich has superstar potential, and Hechavarria will start out as the Marlins everyday shortstop this year. They have no choice—they have no one else.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Much of the continued rebuild for the Marlins may actually happen more at the trade deadline than during next offseason. They'll use the veteran pieces who are on one-year deals to continue restocking their farm system. The Marlins at this point are looking beyond 2014, so don't expect anything on the free-agent front in terms of help for the 2014 season.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    2014 Free Agents

    LHP Mike Gonzalez    
    IF Yuniesky Betancourt    
    SS/1B Alex Gonzalez    
    1B/RF Corey Hart

    The Milwaukee Brewers won't have many decisions to make on the free-agent front, but they are important ones.

    Hart's absence would leave an obvious need at first base, and Alex Gonzalez's newfound utility status would leave a hole as well. Mike Gonzalez could stay beyond a year with a standout performance.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    RHP Wily Peralta
    RHP Tyler Thornburg
    RHP Taylor Jungmann
    RHP Johnny Hellweg
    1B Hunter Morris
    2B Scooter Gennett
    RHP Jimmy Nelson

    The future rotation certainly looks bright in Milwaukee with Peralta, Thornburg and Jungmann. Hellweg could certainly be a factor as well.

    Morris may not have excelled this spring with Milwaukee (.115 average), but the 28 home runs and 113 RBI he put up at Double-A Huntsville last year is certainly a positive sign.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    If Morris isn't ready for next season, an obvious need will be at first base if Hart isn't retained. GM Bob Melvin could look for a temporary fix for Morris. Mat Gamel could once again be a possibility as well if he doesn't tear his ACL for a third straight season.

Minnesota Twins

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Mike Pelfrey
    RHP Rich Harden    
    1B Justin Morneau
    1B Jeff Clement

    Without question the biggest decision for the Minnesota Twins will be what to do with Justin Morneau. Returning to the form that led to him becoming one of the elite first basemen in the American League will help, but it will still be costly.

    Harden and Pelfrey's future will depend upon their health, their performance and where the Twins stand in late July. It's entirely possible that Morneau, Pelfrey and Harden could all be considered trade candidates by mid-July if Minnesota stumbles out of the gates.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014 

    RHP Kyle Gibson
    OF Oswaldo Arcia
    OF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Trevor May

    Hicks has already won the starting center field job, so his future starts now. Arcia only hit .188 this spring, but he's hit above .300 at every level of the minors. If he can do the same at Triple-A Rochester, he could be looking at a future that starts next season.

    May will start in Double-A New Britain, but he's expected to be a contender for the Twins rotation next year as well.

    Gibson will look to continue his recovery from Tommy John in the minors as well. He was an early favorite to land a rotation spot until command issues ended that bid.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Since Terry Ryan took over once again as Twins GM, his focus has been on rebuilding the pitching staff. That will likely continue next offseason as well. The Twins will never be huge players in the free agent market, but expect Ryan to continue acquiring pitching help, both for 2014 and beyond.

New York Mets

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Shaun Marcum
    RHP Tim Byrdak    
    RHP Frank Francisco    
    RHP LaTroy Hawkins    
    RHP Brandon Lyon    
    C John Buck
    OF Corey Patterson
    OF Marlon Byrd

    Byrak is out until at least midseason and likely isn't a factor beyond this season. The same for Francisco, also starting the season on the DL. Hawkins made the bullpen, but he and Brandon Lyon could also be one-year fillers.

    Buck is holding down the fort until Travis d'Arnaud emerges, and Byrd will be a factor in the outfield after a nice spring. However, at 35 years of age he's likely just holding down a spot for now.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    C Travis d'Arnaud
    RHP Zack Wheeler
    RHP Jeurys Familia

    D'Arnaud and Wheeler are both starting at Triple-A Las Vegas, but that may not be for long. Both are, without question, cornerstones of the future for the Mets. Familia is still in the hunt for the final bullpen spot.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    With Johan Santana and Jason Bay off the books next season, the Mets will have some cash to spend. Without question the outfield should be targeted.

    The Mets were reportedly interested in Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury back in 2010. Could they again have interest at the end of the season?

    Shin-Soo Choo could be appealing to the Mets if the Reds fail to hang on to him as well.

New York Yankees

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Mariano Rivera
    RHP Chien-Ming Wang
    RHP Joba Chamberlain
    RHP Phil Hughes    
    RHP David Aardsma
    RHP Hiroki Kuroda
    LHP Andy Pettitte    
    LHP Boone Logan
    1B Lyle Overbay
    1B/3B Kevin Youkilis
    2B Robinson Cano
    CF Curtis Granderson
    DH Travis Hafner   

    The above list represents approximately $102 million—you can bet the Yankees are thinking seriously about who to re-sign.

    Jeter could potentially be a free agent as well, but his option for next season is a player option—don't see him turning it down to play for another team. Cano is the most important name here, and the two sides have negotiated but nothing concrete as of yet.

    Granderson and Youkilis could be major decisions as well, more so for Youkilis because of the Rodriguez injury.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    OF Tyler Austin
    RHP Mark Montgomery
    OF Zoilo Almonte

    The Yankees are building a good young core of talent, but many of them won't be ready until 2015 at the earliest. Austin is quickly showing he could be a keeper after impressing this spring with a .571 average and hitting .322 across four minor league levels last year.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Considering the potential amount of money the Yankees could have freed up, it will likely be a busy offseason for GM Brian Cashman.

    The possibilities could be endless. Jacoby Ellsbury could be targeted if Granderson leaves town. Josh Johnson will almost certainly be in play if Kuroda and Pettitte are both gone—James Shields could have interest as well.

    Mark Reynolds and Kendrys Morales could also be targeted for possible help at the DH position. Everything depends on who the Yankees elect to keep and how serious owner Hal Steinbrenner is about getting underneath the luxury tax threshold next season.

Oakland Athletics

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Grant Balfour   
    RHP Bartolo Colon   
    1B Brandon Moss
    CF Coco Crisp

    Colon is likely just a one-year fix, but Balfour could draw another contract with a solid season. So too could Moss after his surprise 21-home run effort last year in just half a season.

    The A's hold a team option on Crisp, but he could be gone if Chris Young steps up and Michael Choice shows that he's ready.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    RHP Dan Straily
    OF Michael Choice
    2B/OF Grant Green
    RHP Sonny Gray
    3B Miles Head

    All five could be ready to lend a helping hand in the 2014 season, although Gray needs to sharpen his plate command considerably before then.

    Straily is already in the rotation for now. That could change when Colon returns from serving the remaining five games of his suspension.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    GM Billy Beane has clearly shown the ability over the past two offseasons to make sufficient upgrades without blowing up payroll. As long as the team remains in Oakland, he'll continue to try and find diamonds in the rough that can help his ballclub.

    Free agent acquisitions are possible, but not likely, not unless he convinces free agents like Shawn Camp, Jesse Crain and Chad Gaudin to come have fun in Oakland on one-year deals.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Roy Halladay
    2B Chase Utley    
    OF Delmon Young    
    UTIL Laynce Nix    
    C Humberto Quintero    
    C Carlos Ruiz    
    3B Michael Young

    The Philadelphia Phillies will have some expensive decisions to make at the end of the season. Halladay has a vesting option, but with his injury last year it's almost impossible for him to achieve the 415 innings required between 2012 and this season. Unless he agrees to a vastly reduced rate, his time in Philly will be over.

    Utley too, for that matter. With arthritic knees and 35 years of age at the beginning of next season, Utley could be facing his final season as well. Young and Ruiz present difficult choices while Young could easily play his way into a longer and more lucrative deal.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    RHP Ethan Martin
    C Tommy Joseph
    RHP Jonathan Pettibone
    LHP Adam Morgan
    C Sebastian Valle
    3B Cody Asche
    LHP Austin Wright

    The Phillies might not have to worry about Ruiz if Joseph can make the leap next season. Ditto with Young if Asche continues raking in the minors.

    Pettibone will be anchoring the rotation for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and he could be called up if any of the Phillies' current starting five goes down.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    The status of Utley and Young will determine what general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. does this offseason. If Freddy Galvis and Asche aren't the answers at second and third, Amaro could do some creative bargaining once again. There won't be much help on the free agent market unless Amaro makes a run at Robinson Cano.

    Pitching depth is a concern as well. Pettibone and Martin could potentially be ready for next season, but expect Amaro to go after some depth.

Pittsburgh Pirates

22 of 30

    2014 Free Agents

    RHP A.J. Burnett    
    RHP Jose Contreras    
    LHP Jonathan Sanchez
    3B Brandon Inge
    SS Clint Barmes    
    SS John McDonald

    The Pirates will need to figure out what to do with Burnett, who has become their ace since his trade from the New York Yankees. The Pirates have had the luxury of the Yankees picking up a significant portion of his salary—that won't happen after this year.

    Sanchez could be a nice find if he can he can show consistency and control—he might not be an expensive re-sign. Barmes and McDonald are likely gone at the end of the year.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    RHP Gerrit Cole
    RHP Jameson Taillon
    RHP Kyle McPherson
    LHP Justin Wilson

    Wilson will be with the Pirates this year in the bullpen, and the other three could all be in the mix for the rotation for next season. The Pirates are certainly well-positioned with young arms.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    The Pirates will likely be on the lookout for a shortstop with Barmes likely not back next season. They could look to Arizona and inquire about their trio of young shortstops—Didi Gregorious, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed.

San Diego Padres

23 of 30

    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Edinson Volquez    
    RHP Jason Marquis
    3B Chase Headley    
    OF Mark Kotsay

    Headley presents the biggest question mark for the Padres. Do they risk alienating their fanbase by letting Headley walk, or trading him midseason knowing they might not re-sign him?

    Considering their inactivity this offseason following the transfer of team ownership, management won't be looked upon kindly if another potential star walks because of money.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    IF Jedd Gyorko
    OF Rymer Liriano
    RHP Casey Kelly
    RHP Joe Wieland
    LHP Robbie Erlin
    2B Cory Spangenberg

    About the only way management could soften the blow of Headley's possible departure is if Gyorko puts up a Rookie of the Year-type season and moves to third base next year. It would help if Spangenberg were ready to move into second base as well.

    Kelly's Tommy John surgery likely means he won't be ready at the start of next season. Wieland had elbow reconstructive surgery last year—he won't be back pitching until at least midseason. Erlin could be ready to help the Padres later this year.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    There's a lot to like about the Padres' future, with Gyorko and a farm system still considered plentiful. But San Diego definitely took a step back with their inactivity this offseason while the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks took steps to move forward in a very competitive NL West. Outfield power would be a nice little thing to be looking at this coming offseason, not to mention an ace for the rotation.

San Francisco Giants

24 of 30

    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Tim Lincecum    
    RHP Chad Gaudin    
    LHP Javier Lopez    
    RF Hunter Pence

    Ah, what to do with Lincecum?

    Due to make $22 million this season, the two-time Cy Young Award winner could be facing life outside of the Bay Area if he can't manage to turn things around as a starter.

    Pence may simply be too expensive for the Giants—unless he hits .300 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI. At $4.25 million this year, Lopez could be gone next season as well.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    OF Gary Brown
    SS Joe Panik
    RHP Heath Hembree
    OF Francisco Peguero
    RHP Chris Heston
    LHP Eric Surkamp

    Hembree and Heston could be available to help out this year, but Surkamp is out until at least midseason while he recovers from elbow surgery.

    Rotation depth is clearly an issue right now for the Giants, and there isn't any immediate help.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Depth at the higher minor league levels is somewhat of an issue for the Giants, so GM Brian Sabean will have some work to do, especially if Lincecum and/or Pence aren't brought back.

    Matt Garza could be a fit if he's not snatched by the trade deadline. Pelfrey might be a less expensive option if his season in Minnesota turns out to be fruitful. Sabean may not have to do anything to replace Pence if Brown is ready next season.

Seattle Mariners

25 of 30

    2014 Free Agents

    LF Jason Bay    
    LHP Joe Saunders    
    LHP Oliver Perez
    OF Endy Chavez    
    LF/DH Raul Ibanez    
    1B/DH Kendry Morales    
    1B/LF Mike Morse     
    SS Brendan Ryan    
    C Kelly Shoppach

    Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik will have his biggest decisions to make with Saunders, Morales, Morse and Ryan.

    If his core trio of pitching prospects of Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are ready, then the decision regarding Saunders will take care of itself. Zduriencik could use Ibanez, Morales, Bay and/or Ryan during the season as trade bait if Seattle is out of it by July.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    RHP Taijuan Walker
    LHP Danny Hultzen
    C Mike Zunino
    SS Nick Franklin
    RHP James Paxton
    RHP Stephen Pryor
    RHP Carter Capps
    SS Brad Miller
    RHP Brandon Maurer

    Mauer, Capps and Pryor are already helping out, and six of the other top 10 prospects could be helping out next year as well. Zduriencik has done an outstanding job of developing his troops and promising a bright future in Seattle.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Honestly, the Mariners don't necessarily need to do much this offseason if their prospects are indeed ready to roll by next year.

St. Louis Cardinals

26 of 30

    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Chris Carpenter
    RHP Edward Mujica   
    SS Rafael Furcal
    RF Carlos Beltran

    Carpenter is likely done, but with Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly in place the Cardinals are well covered.

    Pete Kozma will try to make Furcal's absence less conspicuous, and Beltran could simply be too old and too expensive to bring back.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    OF Oscar Taveras
    RHP Shelby Miller
    RHP Carlos Martinez
    RHP Trevor Rosenthal
    2B Kolten Wong
    RHP Michael Wacha
    1B Matt Adams
    LHP John Gast

    Eight of the Cardinals top 10 prospects could be ready to roll next season—in fact, Miller, Rosenthal and Adams are already there.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Bullpen help and possibly a spare utility outfielder may be all the shopping that GM John Mozeliak may need to do next offseason. His top prospects could potentially help to fill in the blanks.

Tampa Bay Rays

27 of 30

    2014 Free Agents

    2B Kelly Johnson    
    RHP Kyle Farnsworth        
    RHP Roberto Hernandez    
    1B James Loney    
    C Jose Molina    
    RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo    
    RHP Fernando Rodney    
    DH Luke Scott    
    RHP Jamey Wright

    Rays GM Andrew Friedman will have his hands full next offseason contemplating who to keep and who to say goodbye to.

    Loney is likely one-and-done, Scott could be as well. Oviedo is out for the year with Tommy John surgery. Molina is probably gone, and Hernandez could earn a bigger paycheck with a solid season—it just might not be with the Rays.

    As much as Rodney has been a great story, another season like 2012 prices him out of Tampa Bay.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    OF Wil Myers
    RHP Jake Odorizzi
    RHP Chris Archer
    SS Hak-Ju Lee
    LHP Mike Montgomery

    All five of the above could have impact on the Rays roster next season, although the Rays will work to figure out issues with Montgomery's mechanics. As much as Tampa Bay would like to save an extra year of service time with Myers, their offensive output and his performance in Triple-A could dictate that plan.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Catcher, designated hitter and the outfield could well be areas of concern next season for vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

    Candidates could be Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Murphy, Jeff Francoeur and Kendrys Morales. All of them are younger and won't command money that keeps them out of Tampa Bay's range.

Texas Rangers

28 of 30

    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Jason Frasor   
    RHP Colby Lewis   
    RHP Derek Lowe
    RHP Joe Nathan
    C A.J. Pierzynski
    C Geovany Soto
    IF Jeff Baker   
    OF David Murphy   
    RF Nelson Cruz
    DH Lance Berkman

    Definitely some decisions for Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. Berkman's 2014 option could be picked up with a productive season. Soto and Pierzynski could both be one-year pieces, especially if Pierzynski can't repeat last year's production.

    Lowe is on his last legs, while Lewis will try to come back from injury woes to entice the Rangers to give him one more year.

    The biggest decision could come with Cruz and Murphy. Both have been excellent contributors in their time with the Rangers, but Cruz's expected $10 million-plus price tag may be too much for Texas to bear.

    The Rangers hold a team option on Nathan as well—his performance this year will be a factor.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    SS Jurickson Profar
    3B/OF Mike Olt
    RHP Cody Buckel
    LHP Martin Perez
    RHP Wilmer Font
    RHP Justin Grimm

    There's no question both Olt and Profar are in the plans next season for the Rangers, they could become factors later this season as well. Perez's broken forearm delays his debut, and Grimm could be a factor later this year as well.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Pitching will be the focus for Daniels this offseason. Josh Johnson, Matt Garza, Paul Maholm, Mike Pelfrey and James Shields could all be targets. If Cruz and Murphy are both gone, Jacoby Ellsbury could be an option.

Toronto Blue Jays

29 of 30

    2014 Free Agents

    C Henry Blanco    
    OF Rajai Davis    
    UTIL Mark DeRosa    
    RHP Josh Johnson    
    OF Ryan Langerhans    
    LHP Darren Oliver

    Johnson presents the biggest decision for Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos. If he pitches like an ace, Anthopoulos will have to pay him like one.

    Oliver could be in his final year—he'll be 43 next season. DeRosa could be looking at his final year as well.


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    RHP Marcus Stroman
    LHP Sean Nolin
    RHP John Stilson

    Stroman is serving a 50-game suspension to start the season, but there's no denying his talent. He could be ready next year. Nolin possesses high upside and could be used in a pinch this year if necessary.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    Anthopoulos' offseason will be largely dictated by the performance of his revamped roster this year. The bullpen presents the biggest area of concern, and there will be shortage of arms for AA to choose from.


    Henry Blanco C UFA Blue Jays TBD

    Rajai Davis LF, CF UFA Blue Jays TBD

    Mark DeRosa 3B, LF UFA Blue Jays TBD

    Josh Johnson SP UFA Blue Jays TBD

    Ryan Langerhans LF UFA Blue Jays TBD

    Darren Oliver

Washington Nationals

30 of 30

    2014 Free Agents

    RHP Dan Haren    
    LHP Zach Duke    
    LHP J.C. Romero    
    UTIL Chad Tracy

    Duke could earn another year with a solid season as the Nats' lefty specialist. Romero was just recently signed for depth, and he's not a factor for the 2014 season.

    Haren presents an interesting argument. Is he worth giving a two or three-year contract to if he returns to form, despite his hip condition?


    Prospects Who Could Be Ready in 2014

    3B Anthony Rendon
    OF Brian Goodwin
    RHP Nathan Karns
    OF Eury Perez

    Without question Rendon is going to be a factor soon—he was more than impressive in spring training. The question is where he'll play. A position change is in his near future.

    Perez showed a lot of maturity with his play in the WBC.


    Possible Free Agent/Trade Acquisitions

    The Nationals are well-positioned—both now and for the future. Pitching depth would be a priority for general manager Mike Rizzo next winter as he waits for his young charges in the farm system to develop.


    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.