MLB Power Rankings: Where Does Your Favorite Team Stand Entering 2014?

Karl BuscheckContributor IIIDecember 30, 2013

MLB Power Rankings: Where Does Your Favorite Team Stand Entering 2014?

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    No team can win the World Series in December, but it can claim the top spot in the MLB power rankings.

    While a select few teams have been sitting idly by during the hot stove season, plenty of other clubs have been busy spending over the past couple of months. Of course, not every team has used its cash on its top needs. In particular, a wide array of teams appear to be neglecting the fact that their respective rotations remain in shambles. As a result, certain teams languish much lower in the rankings than they might like.

    Fortunately, there's still a wide selection of front-line starters to choose from, including Masahiro Tanaka, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza. 

    With spring training rapidly approaching, here's a breakdown of where your favorite team stands entering 2014. 

     

    Note: Stats via Baseball-Reference.com. All salary information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts on BaseballProspectus.com. 

30. Houston Astros

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Key Departures

    • OF Brandon Barnes
    • SP Jordan Lyles

     

    Key Additions

    • SP Scott Feldman
    • CF Dexter Fowler (trade)
    • RP Chad Qualls
    • RP Matt Albers
    • 1B/OF Jesus Guzman (trade)
    • Anthony Bass (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Houston Astros are likely headed to another last-place finish in the AL West, but it won't be for lack of effort.

    This offseason, the club has acquired a number of quality contributors, with Dexter Fowler and Scott Feldman being the most notable additions. Fowler, who owns a career .365 OBP, will provide the team with a legitimate presence in the leadoff spot. Feldman, meanwhile, will lead an otherwise youthful rotation. 

    Speaking of young players, top prospect George Springer is on the verge of a big league promotion. The outfielder hit 37 home runs and posted a 1.010 OPS in the minors last season.

    The club is clearly putting all the pieces in place. Even with the infusion of talent, though, the Astros are still a year or two from becoming serious contenders in the AL West. 

29. Chicago Cubs

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    Key Departures

    • OF Brian Bogusevic

     

    Key Additions

    • RP Jose Veras
    • OF Justin Ruggiano (trade)
    • C George Kottaras (trade)
    • RP Wesley Wright

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Chicago Cubs haven't done much this offseason for a team coming off a 96-loss campaign in 2013. 

    Much of the focus during the hot stove season has been on the unresolved future of Jeff Samardzija. Earlier in the offseason, it appeared inevitable that the right-hander's time was up in Chicago, as the two sides had been unable to come to terms on a contract extension. Now, though, it appears increasingly likely that Samardzija will stay with the Cubs after all. 

    If the team is going to rebound in 2014 under new manager Rick Renteria, then the Cubs will need to get far more production out of some of their highest paid players. Starlin Castro and Edwin Jackson, in particular, stand out as two big earners who underachieved badly last season. 

28. Chicago White Sox

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    Key Departures

    • RP Addison Reed
    • SP Hector Santiago

     

    Key Additions

    • 1B Jose Abreu
    • CF Adam Eaton (trade)
    • 3B Matt Davidson (trade)
    • RP Scott Downs
    • RP Ronald Belisario
    • SP Felipe Paulino

     

    2014 Outlook

    After dropping 99 contests last season, the Chicago White Sox will be better in 2014. However, it remains to be seen just how substantial that improvement will be. 

    General manager Rick Hahn took a bold step in signing Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal. If the highly touted Abreu lives up to the hype, that could prove to be a bargain—especially considering the fact that signing him didn't cost the team a draft pick. Then again, handing such a lucrative contract to a player who has never played in the big leagues is a major risk.

    The amount of success that Abreu enjoys in his first season in MLB could go a long way in determining just how competitive the White Sox will be in 2014. By extension, it could also determine the fate of manager Robin Ventura, who enters the season going into the final year of his contract. 

27. Miami Marlins

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    Key Departures

    • 1B/OF Logan Morrison
    • OF Justin Ruggiano

     

    Key Additions

    • C Jarrod Saltalamacchia 
    • SS Rafael Furcal
    • 1B/OF Garrett Jones
    • 3B Casey McGehee
    • RP Carter Capps (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Miami Marlins pulled off one of the best moves of the entire winter by signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year $21 million deal. Last season, the catcher actually posted a higher OPS (.804) than Brian McCann (.796) did.

    The team also made some strong buy-low signings in Rafael Furcal and Casey McGehee. Furcal will play second base for the Marlins, while McGehee will take over at third. Last season while playing in Japan, McGehee totaled 27 home runs. 

    The low-profile additions won't catapult the team into contention in 2014, but they should definitely allow the club to avoid another 100-loss season. 

26. Minnesota Twins

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    Key Departures

    • C/OF Ryan Doumit

     

    Key Additions

    • SP Ricky Nolasco
    • SP Phil Hughes
    • SP Mike Pelfrey (re-signed)
    • C Kurt Suzuki 
    • DH Jason Kubel

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Minnesota Twins have done an excellent job of upgrading a rotation that was arguably the worst in all of baseball in 2013. Last season, Twins starters posted a collective 5.26 ERA, which was by far the highest mark in baseball. 

    To fix that issue, Minnesota has added Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes and re-signed Mike Pelfrey. Those additions will help to shore up the rotation, but the Twins still have a long way to go before climbing back into contention. Fortunately, there' s plenty of talent on the way. According to Matt Eddy of Baseball America, the Twins have the seventh-best farm system in MLB. 

25. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Key Departures

    • N/A

     

    Key Additions

    • OF Marlon Byrd
    • C Carlos Ruiz (re-signed)
    • RP Brad Lincoln (trade)
    • SP Roberto Hernandez 

     

    2014 Outlook

    It's been an odd offseason for the Philadelphia Phillies.

    The club has signed veterans Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd to multi-year deals. On the other hand, it is also reportedly open to shopping Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Jimmy Rollins. However, it appears unlikely that any of those highly paid veterans will be headed out of town as the Phillies have expressed an unwillingness to take on any money in a potential deal.

    There is still clearly a large collection of talent on the Phillies' roster. However, at this point a third-place finish appears to be the ceiling for this team as currently constructed. 

24. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Key Departures

    • 1B Corey Hart
    • RP Burke Badenhop
    • OF Norichika Aoki

     

    Key Additions

    • RP Will Smith

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Milwaukee Brewers are once again likely staring at a fourth-place finish in the NL Central.

    None of the three teams that finished ahead of them last year have gotten substantially worse, and the Brewers haven't done much of anything at all. The biggest move of the offseason was a swap that sent Will Smith to the Brewers and Norichika Aoki to the Kansas City Royals.

    A return to form for Ryan Braun would be a major help to the team. Last year, Braun made it into just 61 games due to injuries and a 50-game ban for PED use. The club would also benefit from having a healthy Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup. If the team gets off to a slow start, though, Ramirez and second baseman Rickie Weeks could quickly become trade bait. 

23. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Key Departures

    • SP Josh Johnson

     

    Key Additions

    • C Dioner Navarro

     

    2014 Outlook

    Heading into the 2013 season, the Toronto Blue Jays were supposed to be one of the best teams in the American League. Instead, the team finished last in the AL East. 

    The Blue Jays already possess all the offensive talent necessary to live up to the expectations. However, serious concerns remain about the starting rotation. R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow occupy the top three spots, but after that there are holes to fill.  

    The best way for the Blue Jays to improve the rotation and jump back into contention in the AL East would be to snag a front-line starter on the trade market. 

22. Colorado Rockies

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    Key Departures

    • CF Dexter Fowler
    • INF Jonathan Herrera
    • RP Josh Outman
    • 1B Todd Helton (retired)

     

    Key Additions

    • SP Brett Anderson (trade)
    • 1B Justin Morneau
    • RP Boone Logan
    • RP Franklin Morales (trade)
    • OF Drew Stubbs (trade)
    • OF Brandon Barnes (trade)
    • SP Jordan Lyles (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Colorado Rockies have finished in the cellar in back-to-back seasons in the NL West. However, the team has been busy this offseason trying to reverse that trend.

    None of the moves have been for big-name stars, but they could still pay dividends nonetheless. Brett Anderson represents an intriguing addition to the starting rotation, assuming he stays healthy. Justin Morneau should be an excellent replacement for Todd Helton, and the move to Coors Field makes him a strong candidate to turn in a huge 2014.

    Despite the flurry of activity, though, the Rockies simply have too much ground to cover as they chase the top teams in the NL West.  

21. New York Mets

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    Key Departures

    • N/A

     

    Key Additions

    • SP Bartolo Colon
    • OF Curtis Granderson
    • OF Chris Young 

     

    2014 Outlook

    The New York Mets have already revamped their roster this offseason, but there's still business left to be completed.

    The addition of Bartolo Colon should help plug the gap in a rotation that will be without Matt Harvey in 2014 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. The club is also hoping that Zach Wheeler will step up in his second season with the team to help offset the loss of Harvey. Plus, the Mets have reinforcements down on the farm. Noah Snydergaard went 9-4 with a 3.04 ERA last season in the minors and could crack the big league rotation by the middle of the season.

    On the offensive side, Curtis Granderson provides a drastic upgrade in the outfield. In the infield, the team is still looking find a trade partner for first baseman Ike Davis, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Of course, such a swap is unlikely to bring back a major league-ready piece.

    For now, the Mets are likely headed to a third-place finish, but the team can definitely improve on its 74-game win total from a season ago. 

20. San Diego Padres

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    Key Departures

    • RP Luke Gregerson

     

    Key Additions

    • SP Josh Johnson
    • RP Joaquin Benoit
    • OF Seth Smith

     

    2014 Outlook

    The San Diego Padres' one-year, $8 million deal with Josh Johnson could prove to be one of the biggest steals of the entire offseason. 

    The right-hander endured a miserable 2013 season with the Blue Jays, as he was slowed by elbow problems. Now healthy, though, Petco Park represents an ideal environment for him to rediscover the form that made him a two-time All-Star. 

    The offense will also improve substantially if Chase Headley can return to his 2012 level of play. Back in 2012, Headley hit 31 home runs, but last season he managed just 13. 

19. Seattle Mariners

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    Key Departures

    • N/A

     

    Key Additions

    • 2B Robinson Cano
    • 1B/OF Corey Hart
    • 1B Logan Morrison
    • INF Willie Bloomquist
    • OF Franklin Gutierrez (re-signed)

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Seattle Mariners made a huge splash by signing Robinson Cano away from the New York Yankees.

    So far, however, the follow-up moves have been less than inspiring. The club added a pair of intriguing hitters in Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, but the lineup still lacks another impact bat. 

    The starting staff has the potential to become a strong point for the Mariners. With Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma already in place, the acquisition of one more ace could provide Seattle with one of the most formidable trios in all of MLB. 

    Unless the club adds at least one more major piece, though, the Mariners will face a fight just to finish third in the AL West. 

18. Baltimore Orioles

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    Key Departures

    • RP Jim Johnson
    • OF Nate McLouth
    • SP Scott Feldman

     

    Key Additions

    • RP Ryan Webb
    • 2B Jemile Weeks (trade)
    • OF Francisco Peguero

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Baltimore Orioles are running out of time to rebuild their roster for 2014.

    So far this offseason, the most notable losses have been Nate McLouth, Scott Feldman and Jim Johnson. The team appeared to have found a replacement for Johnson before an agreement with Grant Balfour fell through due to concerns over his shoulder.  

    However, the team can still salvage the offseason by signing one of the big-name starters remaining on the market. Last season, Baltimore's starters let in the third-most runs in all of baseball. 

17. Los Angeles Angels

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    Key Departures

    • OF/1B Mark Trumbo
    • CF Peter Bourjos

     

    Key Additions

    • SP Tyler Skaggs (trade)
    • SP Hector Santiago (trade)
    • 3B David Freese (trade)
    • DH Raul Ibanez

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Los Angeles Angels lost a lot of power when they shipped Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, there's reason to believe that Josh Hamilton and the newly singed Raul Ibanez can fill the void. Last season, Hamilton batted .217 in his first 106 games before hitting .345 in his final 45 contests, as Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com notes. Ibanez owns a career average of .349 at Angel Stadium. 

    Ultimately, whether or not the the Angles compete for the AL West title will come down to pitching. In particular, the Angels will hope that Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs prove to be worth the price of Trumbo.

16. San Francisco Giants

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    Key Departures

    • N/A

     

    Key Additions

    • SP Tim Hudson
    • OF Mike Morse
    • RP Javier Lopez (re-signed)
    • SP Ryan Vogelsong

     

    2014 Outlook

    The San Francisco Giants appear to be banking on their veteran core returning to form in 2014.

    Following a hugely disappointing 2013 season, the Giants only have added two new names in Tim Hudson and Mike Morse. Assuming Hudson fully recovers from his ankle injury, he should prove to be an excellent addition to a rotation with plenty of potential.

    Morse has struggled to stay on the field, but it will be hard for him to perform worse than the team's left fielders did a season ago. In 2013, San Francisco left fielders finished last in homers, runs, OBP and slugging percentage, according to Chris Haft of MLB.com.

    Still, if the Giants plan to advance beyond the conversation for a wild-card spot and into the discussion for the NL West, the team still needs to add one major contributor. 

15. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Key Departures

    • SP Tyler Skaggs
    • CF Adam Eaton
    • 3B Matt Davidson

     

    Key Additions

    • 1B/OF Mark Trumbo (trade)
    • RP Addison Reed (trade)
    • 3B Eric Chavez

     

    2014 Outlook

    With just one year remaining on his contract, GM Kevin Towers isn't wasting any time this offseason.

    With the addition of Trumbo, the Diamondback have an extremely powerful middle of the lineup. Plus, the acquisition of Addison Reed replenishes the bullpen. The team now has a pair of closing options in Reed and Brad Ziegler. 

    To truly enter the race for the NL West, though, the Diamondbacks need to bolster the rotation. According to Nick Piecoro of the AZCentral.com, the team is in on Masahiro Tanaka. Of course, landing the Japanese superstar would be quite the coup since Tanaka is expected to command a contract in the neighborhood of $100 million, per Bill Shaikin and Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. As Piecoro notes, the organizations record contract was a $52.4 million deal given to Randy Johnson. 

14. Cleveland Indians

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    Key Departures

    • SP Scott Kazmir

     

    Key Additions

    • RP John Axford
    • OF David Murphy
    • RP Josh Outman (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    It appears as though the Cleveland Indians will lose a substantial amount of pitching talent this offseason. Scott Kazmir has already departed via free agency, and Ubaldo Jimenez is not expected to re-sign with the club, per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer

    Last September, the pair of starters went 7-2 with a 1.69 ERA, as noted by Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Danny Salazar will help make up for part of the loss, but still, that's a lot of quality innings to lose from the rotation.

    Then again, it's hard to bet against any team led by 2013 AL Manager of the Year Terry Francona. Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn are both also due for bounce-back seasons after the outfielders endured frustrating campaigns in 2013. 

13. Kansas City Royals

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    Key Departures

    • RP Will Smith

     

    Key Additions

    • 2B Omar Infante
    • SP Jason Vargas
    • OF Norichika Aoki (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    Coming off an unexpectedly strong 2013 campaign, the Kansas City Royals have been spending aggressively this offseason. But it's fair to ask if the money has been well spent.

    The team shelled out a combined $62 million on Jason Vargas and Omar Infante. Both players can be quality contributors for the Royals, no doubt, but neither will ever be confused for a superstar.

    It will be a huge challenge to overtake the Detroit Tigers for the division, but a wild-card spot remains an obtainable goal. Therefore, it's hard to fault the Royals for taking risks this offseason.

12. New York Yankees

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    Key Departures

    • 2B Robinson Cano
    • RP Mariano Rivera (retired)

     

    Key Additions

    • C Brian McCann
    • OF Carlos Beltran
    • CF Jacoby Ellsbury
    • 2B Brian Roberts
    • SP Hiroki Kuroda (re-signed)
    • 2B Kelly Johnson
    • RP Matt Thornton
    • SS Brendan Ryan

     

    2014 Outlook

    The New York Yankees have done a remarkable job of stockpiling offensive talent this offseason. Even with the additions of stars like McCann, Beltran and Ellsbury, though, there's still plenty of work to be done.

    Back in November, GM Brian Cashman told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that the team needed to "import 400 innings" to the rotation. That goal has yet to be achieved, but securing the services of Tanaka would be an excellent start.

    Until the Yankees bolster the rotation, there's no way the club will compete for the top spot in the AL East. 

11. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Key Departures

    • N/A

     

    Key Additions

    • SP Edinson Volquez
    • SS Clint Barmes
    • C Chris Stewart (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    With each day that passes, it appears increasingly likely that the Pittsburgh Pirates will have to go without A.J. Burnett in 2014. Originally, the right-hander was choosing between a return to Pittsburgh and retirement, but now the Orioles are rumored to be in on the veteran, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. 

    While the loss would hurt, Burnett's spot could potentially be filled by reclamation project Edinson Volquez. The club will hope that the right-hander becomes this year's version of Francisco Liriano.

    Heading into Opening Day, one of the team's chief objectives will be to find a platoon partner for first baseman Gabby Sanchez. Last season, Sanchez hit .333 off left-handers but just .204 against right-handers. 

10. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Key Departures

    • N/A

     

    Key Additions

    • 1B James Loney (re-signed)
    • CF David DeJesus (re-signed)
    • RP Heath Bell (trade)
    • RP Juan Oviedo
    • C Jose Molina (re-signed)
    • C Ryan Hanigan (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Tampa Bay Rays will tumble in the rankings if David Price is eventually shipped out, but for now, the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner remains with the team. 

    At the end of the 2013 season, it seemed only a matter of time before Price would be headed on his way out of town. However, as the hot stove season wears on, there's been next to zero activity surrounding the ace. Price remains under team control for two more seasons, and the Rays seem to be in no rush to part with the left-hander.

    At the same time, rival GMs appear to be in no rush to become duped into giving away the next Wil Myers. 

9. Cincinnati Reds

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    Key Departures

    • Shin-Soo Choo 

     

    Key Additions

    • INF/OF Skip Schumaker
    • C Brayan Pena
    • RP Manny Parra
    • SP David Holmberg (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Cincinnati Reds have some questions to answer as they look to pursue another playoff berth in 2014. 

    The first question is how the team will account for the loss of Shin-Soo Choo. Last season, Choo stole 21 bases and hit 20 home runs while setting the table for the Reds. Cincinnati's new center fielder Billy Hamilton should have no problem matching Choo's speed, but his offensive skills remain in doubt. In 2013, Hamilton hit just .256 with a .653 OPS in Triple-A. 

    The expected loss of Bronson Arroyo can't be understated either. The workhorse right-hander has pitched at least 200 innings in eight of the last nine seasons. Even if Tony Cingrani continues his impressive form from 2013, that's still a lot of innings to ask for from the young left-hander. 

8. Atlanta Braves

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    Key Departures

    • SP Tim Hudson
    • C Brian McCann

     

    Key Additions

    • OF/C Ryan Doumit (trade)
    • SP Gavin Floyd

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Atlanta Braves will certainly miss Hudson and McCann. 

    While it will be hard to replace Hudson's leadership skills, the team possess the pitching depth to absorb the loss with young pitchers like Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor on the roster. The team also has a reliable in-house replacement for McCann in Evan Gattis. Last season, the rookie catcher clubbed 21 home runs, which was actually more than McCann hit (20). 

    The Braves will face a tough task in claiming consecutive NL East titles. Bounce-back seasons from the underperforming B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla would be a major boost. 

7. Oakland A's

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    Key Departures

    • SP Bartolo Colon
    • RP Jerry Blevins
    • SP Brett Anderson
    • 2B Jemile Weeks
    • OF Michael Choice
    • OF Seth Smith
    • OF Chris Young
    • C Kurt Suzuki

     

    Key Additions

    • SP Scott Kazmir
    • RP Jim Johnson (trade)
    • OF Craig Gentry (trade)
    • RP Luke Gregerson (trade)
    • C Chris Gimenez

     

    2014 Outlook

    In what has been a characteristically busy offseason for the Oakland A's, the club has quietly assembled one of the deepest bullpens in baseball. Oakland landed right-handed setup man Luke Gregerson in exchange for Seth Smith. Gregerson joins a group of relievers that includes Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and the newly acquired Johnson. 

    However, the starting rotation did take a hit with the loss of Colon. Last year, the veteran right-hander posted an 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA in an All-Star campaign. The A's will look to Kazmir to fill that spot. The left-hander finished with an underwhelming 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 2013, but he did go 5-5 with a 3.38 ERA during the second half of the season. 

    It won't be easy for the A's to lock down a third straight AL West title based on the impressive offseason of the Texas Rangers. Adding one more impact bat would go a long way in making sure the club maintains its advantage over the Rangers. 

6. Texas Rangers

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    Key Departures

    • RP Joe Nathan
    • 2B Ian Kinsler
    • OF Craig Gentry
    • OF David Murphy

     

    Key Additions

    • OF Shin-Soo Choo
    • 1B Prince Fielder (trade)
    • C Geovany Soto
    • C J.P. Arencibia
    • OF Michael Choice (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Texas Rangers have been one of the busiest and arguably most successful teams this offseason.

    While Prince Fielder and Choo have grabbed all the headlines, concerns do remain about the Rangers' pitching staff. The team has a strong front end of the rotation in Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. But Martin Perez has never pitched an entire big league season, and Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando missed extensive time in 2013 due to injury. 

    Texas will also need to replace Joe Nathan at the back end of the bullpen. Neftali Feliz will be the leading candidate, but Tanner Scheppers and Joakim Soria also represent viable alternatives. 

    There's no doubt that the Rangers have built one of the most impressive lineups in baseball. Still, that's no guarantee they'll overhaul the A's in a fiercely competitive AL West, where the Angels and Mariners could enter the race as well. 

5. Washington Nationals

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    Key Departures

     

    • SP Dan Haren
    • RP Ian Krol
    • UT Steve Lombardozzi

     

    Key Additions

    • SP Doug Fister (trade)
    • RP Jerry Blevins (trade)
    • OF Nate McLouth

     

    2014 Outlook

    The acquisition of Doug Fister is by far the most crucial move that the Washington Nationals have made this offseason. The right-hander slots into an already loaded rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and possibly Ross Detwiler.

    As Richard Justice of MLB.com remarks, that's a staff "capable of matching up with any in the game." 

    Last year, Fister went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA and a 4.1 WAR in what was the best season of his career. 

    For the Nationals to reclaim the NL East in manager Matt Williams first season, though, the offense will also need to step up. The key to a rebound will be healthy campaigns for Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, who both missed considerable time last season. 

4. Detroit Tigers

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    Key Departures

    • SP Doug Fister
    • 1B Prince Fielder 
    • 2B Omar Infante
    • SS Jhonny Peralta

     

    Key Additions

    • 2B Ian Kinsler (trade)
    • RP Joe Nathan 
    • OF Rajai Davis
    • RP Ian Krol
    • RP Joba Chamberlain
    • UT Steve Lombardozzi

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Tigers will need to somehow account for the loss of Prince Fielder.

    In the long run, they will be glad to not be on the hook for Fielder's mega-deal. In 2014, though, Detroit definitely miss will the slugger's power and consistency. In two seasons with Detroit, Fielder swatted 55 home runs and never once missed a game. 

    Still, it's hard to pick against a club with as dominant a starting staff as that of the Tigers. Detroit has three legitimate No. 1 starters in Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez. And the signing of six-time All-Star closer Nathan shores up a bullpen that was one of the club's only weaknesses in 2013.

    Though question marks remain regarding the lineup, the rock-solid pitching staff once again makes the Tigers the team to beat in the AL Central. 

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Key Departures

    • SP Ricky Nolasco
    • RP Ronald Belisario
    • 2B Mark Ellis

     

    Key Additions

    • 2B Alex Guerrero
    • SP Dan Haren
    • RP Brian Wilson 0re-signed)
    • RP J.P. Howell
    • RP Chris Perez
    • RP Jamey Wright

     

    2014 Outlook

    The Los Angeles Dodgers haven't made a lot of big moves this offseason. Then again, a major splash wasn't necessary in light of the considerable talent already on the roster.

    This winter, GM Ned Coletti has been busy revamping the Dodgers bullpen and starting staff. The signing of Dan Haren to a one-year, $10 million deal appears to be a particularly inspired move. The tall right-hander is coming off a lackluster season with the Washington Nationals in which he went 10-14 with a 4.67 ERA. However, he really took off in the second half of the season, posting a 6-4 record with a 3.52 ERA.

    If Haren can maintain that form, he will make an excellent addition to an already strong rotation. And if the Dodgers manage to land Masahiro Tanaka, a top three of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Tanaka would be downright scary.

    Even if the club is done making moves, the Dodgers are still the team to beat in the NL West. 

2. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Key Departures

    • OF Carlos Beltran
    • 3B David Freese

     

    Key Additions

    • SS Jhonny Peralta
    • 2B Mark Ellis
    • CF Peter Bourjos (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    The St. Louis Cardinals plugged the biggest hole in their lineup by signing shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53 million contract. Peralta, who posted a .815 OPS in 2013, provides a substantial offensive upgrade over Pete Kozma. Plus, the Cardinals upgraded their infield defense by signing veteran Mark Ellis.

    Playoff hero and right-fielder Carlos Beltran is gone, but the team has added Peter Bourjos to the outfield mix via trade. Top prospect Oscar Taveras, who owns a .320 average in five minor league seasons, is also on the verge of breaking into the outfield rotation. 

    Most crucially, the Cardinals still boast one of the most talented pitching staffs in all of baseball. Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha anchor an impressive starting staff that should once again make the Cardinals the team to beat in the National League. 

1. Boston Red Sox

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Key Departures

    • CF Jacoby Ellsbury
    • C Jarrod Saltalamacchia 
    • RP Franklin Morales

     

    Key Additions

    • 1B Mike Napoli (re-signed)
    • C A.J. Pierzynski 
    • RP Edward Mujica
    • RP Burke Badenhop (trade)
    • SS Jonathan Herrera (trade)

     

    2014 Outlook

    The defending World Series champions have done nothing to surrender the title of top team in MLB.

    Sure, the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury will hurt, but the club has Jackie Bradley Jr. to step in. MLB.com's Jim Callis told WEEI that he not only thinks that Bradley is "better defender' than Ellsbury, but also that "he can be a better player than Jacoby Ellsbury in the long run."

    GM Ben Cherington pulled off a shrewd move in re-signing Mike Napoli to a two-year, $32 million deal. By pursuing short-term deals like that, the club has provided itself with the payroll flexibility to add one more impact bat either in the closing months of the hot stove season or before next summer's trade deadline. 

     

     

    If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.