It's only been about two months since Koji Uehara recorded the final out of the 2013 season at Fenway Park, giving the Boston Red Sox their third World Series title in 10 seasons. But that means that spring training is around the corner, with pitchers and catchers set to report to Arizona and Florida in about six weeks.
The landscape of the league has changed drastically with an offseason that's featured a spending spree that's on pace to surpass $2 billion, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. More big bucks are certainly in store for the remaining crop of free agents, which includes pitchers like recently posted Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana.
Trades have also reshaped MLB, with deals like Prince Fielder going to the Texas Rangers, Jim Johnson going to the Oakland A's and Doug Fister going to the Washington Nationals highlighting the offseason action. There's still plenty of work to be done between now and Opening Day, but here's an updated look at each team's World Series odds entering 2014.
Analysis: Despite their exit from last year's NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Los Angeles Dodgers still boast arguably the most talented roster in baseball.
In fact, the Dodgers might even have a surplus of good players, as four solid outfielders—Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier—are shouldering for starting time. There is still time to deal one of those big names and make a big run at recently posted Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who would come with a big price tag.
So far, the team has made a few smart short-term deals, like signing starer Dan Haren and bringing back setup man Brian Wilson and third baseman Juan Uribe. With a nucleus that also includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers are looking stacked in 2014.
Analysis: The St. Louis Cardinals have been the winners of the offseason so far.
The reigning NL champs addressed their biggest need at shortstop by signing free agent Jhonny Peralta to a front-loaded four-year, $53 million contract. It was the only glaring hole in an otherwise solid roster put together by general manager John Mozeliak.
The team also acquired outfielder Peter Bourjos from the Los Angeles Angels for third baseman David Freese, a move that will put top prospect Kolten Wong at second base and shift Matt Carpenter to third. The Cardinals have been wise to hold on to their top-notch crop of young pitching as well, setting them up nicely for the new season.
Analysis: The Boston Red Sox put together a magical run in 2013 to win their third World Series in a decade, following an 86-year gap without a championship.
The good vibes are back in Beantown, but the team lost a couple of key contributors from last year's squad in catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury. Still, general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell have a good thing going, with a tight veteran group led by Boston mainstays Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, along with key 2013 additions Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino.
No MLB team has pulled off a championship repeat since the New York Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000, but the Red Sox have a good chance to do it in 2014.
Analysis: The Washington Nationals were disappointed with their 86-76 finish last year that kept them out of the playoffs.
The well-rounded team hired Matt Williams to manage the club after Davey Johnson retired at the end of the season. Williams, a 17-year MLB veteran, doesn't have any managerial experience, but he immediately inherits a contender that improved this offseason.
The Nationals already had an impressive rotation last year with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez, but they bolstered it by acquiring quality right-hander Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers for two role players and a prospect. Add that pitching with a lineup that features Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond, and you should have one of the best teams in baseball.
Analysis: The Texas Rangers have made some bold moves that bode well for their future in 2014.
General manager Jon Daniels triggered the start of the MLB hot stove when he traded for slugging first baseman Prince Fielder, sending second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers and opening up a spot for top prospect Jurickson Profar to play in the infield. And while the seven-year, $130 million contract Texas negotiated with Shin-Soo Choo might look bad in the long term, he and Fielder should make the lineup one of the most formidable in baseball.
The team did lose some pop with the departure of A.J. Pierzynski and with Nelson Cruz testing the market. But the staff still features an impressive trio of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Martin Perez at the front of the rotation that should lead to many victories.
Analysis: As long as you have Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander on your team, you're going to win a lot of ballgames. Not to mention solid third starter Anibal Sanchez, who helps give the Detroit Tigers one of the best starting three pieces in the game.
The Tigers won't be the same without Prince Fielder, Doug Fister, Jhonny Peralta and Omar Infante in 2014, but they still have two-time reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera in the middle of the lineup. Adding the reliable Joe Nathan to close out games instead of the shaky Joaquin Benoit should also give the team a sense of comfort heading into the new year.
Analysis: They might not have the marquee names of their AL West counterparts, but the Oakland A's are two-time reigning division champs for a reason.
Solid pitching has been the backbone of this organization, and the team appears to have improved in that area this winter. The A's acquired elite closer Jim Johnson and solid setup man Luke Gregerson via trade this offseason, and they also inked Scott Kazmir to a high-risk, high-reward contract at two years, $22 million.
General manager Billy Beane didn't make any major changes to last year's lineup, which was one of the most powerful in baseball, meaning the low-budget A's are at it again and should be able to compete just fine against their high-profile division mates.
Analysis: The Atlanta Braves quietly put together one of the best teams in baseball last year with a robust lineup and stellar pitching staff. Things will be different without Brian McCann, who traded his tomohawk for pinstripes to sign with the New York Yankees, but Atlanta still has a very promising offensive core.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more well-rounded lineup than Atlanta's, which received major 2013 contributions from players like Chris Johnson, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons and Evan Gattis. Sans McCann, all of the major players from the lineup are coming back to support a staff that features the solid trio of Mike Minor, Kris Medlen and Julio Teheran.
Analysis: The Cincinnati Reds lost their top-notch table-setter when Shin-Soo Choo left for the Texas Rangers via free agency, but the team still has plenty of pop in the lineup.
First baseman Joey Votto remains one of the elite sluggers in baseball, and the team also has other run producers like Brandon Philips, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier. With a rotation fronted by Homer Bailey, Mat Latos and Mike Leake and a bullpen that features Aroldis Chapman, pitching coach-turned-manager Bryan Price has talent to work with.
Analysis: The New York Yankees maintained their identity as big spenders in free agency this winter by negotiating some of the biggest deals of the offseason.
Jacoby Ellsbury's seven year, $153 million contract highlighted the signings, which also included Brian McCann's five-year, $85 million deal, Carlos Beltran's three-year, $45 million pact and a one-year, $16 million agreement with Hiroki Kuroda.
While those signings will likely handcuff the the Yankees down the road, the team is set up for improvement from last year's 85-win squad.
Analysis: The Tampa Bay Rays always find a way to compete against the bigger budget teams in the AL East. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that David Price would be dealt this offseason, but we've yet to see them pull the trigger in a high-profile trade.
The team also raised some eyebrows by signing first baseman James Loney to a three-year, $21 million deal. But together with franchise player Evan Longoria, reigning AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers and versatile Ben Zobrist, Loney keeps Tampa Bay competitive on offense in 2014.
Analysis: Andrew McCutchen put the Pittsburgh Pirates on his back on 2013, guiding them to their first winning season (94-88) and playoff appearance since 1992. For his efforts, McCutchen was named National League MVP.
While McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez provide the offensive fireworks, starters Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke and Gerrit Cole pace the pitching staff.
Last year's ace A.J. Burnett is still weighing retirement, and he would be a huge loss for the Pirates if he doesn't return.
Analysis: The talent is there, but manager Mike Scioscia hasn't been able to guide a team to the playoffs since 2009.
Albert Pujols only played in 99 games due to injury in a wasted 2013 campaign, but he is a candidate to bounce back in 2014. Putting him alongside Josh Hamilton and MLB's best all-around player, Mike Trout, in the lineup hasn't paid dividends for the Angels so far.
The team is in need of some pitching depth behind C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver after Jason Vargas left for the Kansas City Royals, but it hasn't done much to address that so far this offseason. But there is still more time to sign a starter like Matt Garza, who is available and has been linked to the team this winter.
Analysis: The San Francisco Giants entered the 2013 season as reigning World Series Champs but stumbled to a 76-86 mark by the end of the year. The team was largely the same as its championship squad of 2012, but injuries and inconsistency on offense derailed the season.
In response, the Giants were proactive, re-signing Hunter Pence (five years, $90 million) and Tim Lincecum (two years, $35 million) to big deals while bringing in Tim Hudson for two years and $23 million. Those were three risky moves, but Brian Sabean sees value in continuity, and you can't expect the lineup to struggle so badly again in 2014.
Analysis: The Baltimore Orioles look like they're saving up to sign Chris Davis before he hits free agency in 2015. Davis is part of a talented core of Orioles that also includes Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy.
Owner Peter Angelos has drawn some criticism this winter, as the team dealt away expensive, elite closer Jim Johnson for cheap second baseman in Jemile Weeks and then broke off negotiations with free-agent closer Grant Balfour at the 11th hour. While posturing for Davis makes sense, the team can't fail to lose sight of the short-term goals in 2014 with this window to compete.
Analysis: The Kansas City Royals still haven't made the playoffs since 1985, but at least they're not the doormat of the American League anymore.
The Royals boasted the American League's best team ERA in 2013 (3.45) after acquiring James Shields via trade and signing Ervin Santana, who was a consistent force on the mound. Though Santana's asking price is likely too high to bring back, the team has exercised a $13.5 million option on James Shields for 2014 and added Jason Vargas to fill the void left by Santana, meaning it should have another solid pitching staff again this season.
Analysis: The Cleveland Indians made a surprise run to the postseason in 2013, with fans and players calling it "Believeland" by the end of the year. But with Ubaldo Jimenez still testing free agency and Scott Kazmir signing with the Oakland A's, there are two big holes in the rotation for 2014.
Cleveland has plenty of work to do to prove that last year's 92-win campaign wasn't a fluke. However, it appears reigning American League Coach of the Year Terry Francona knows how to push the right buttons with this squad, so it should be competitive in 2014.
Analysis: The Seattle Mariners made the biggest splash of the offseason this winter when they lured Robinson Cano from the Bronx with a 10-year, $240 million contract.
Cano improves this team's odds of winning the World Series, but not by much because he doesn't have a lot of help around him in the lineup. The starting duo of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma is first-rate, but Seattle needs more pop in the order to compete against talented AL West pitching staffs like those of the Oakland A's and Texas Rangers, and I don't think the additions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison will cut it.
Analysis: Paul Goldschmidt finished second in the MVP balloting for the National League after putting up some big numbers (.302/.401/.551 with 36 homers, 125 RBI), and he also won a Gold Glove at first base.
In 2014, he will be joined by another slugger, Mark Trumbo, who cost the team two top prospects in pitcher Tyler Skaggs and outfielder Adam Eaton. The Trumbo trade will boost the power-starved lineup and perhaps help the team's chances in 2014, but the deal will likely be a bad one in the long run. Arizona could use the rotation help, and it would be tough to see Skaggs blossom in 2014.
Analysis: The Chicago White Sox have been aggressive in reshaping their lineup in the past year to complement a pitching staff anchored by Chris Sale, one of the best young southpaws in the game.
General manager Kenny Williams has beamed about the team's signing of Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal. He's also acquired a new center fielder in Adam Eaton at the palatable cost of Hector Santiago and a new slugging third baseman prospect in Matt Davidson.
Things are looking up for the White Sox after they finished with a dismal 63-99 record.
Analysis: Offense wasn't an issue for this Colorado Rockies club in 2013, but pitching was. The team wisely invested in its bullpen with the signings of lefty Boone Logan and right LaTroy Hawkins and the trade for oft-injured but talented Brett Anderson.
Anderson's signing might not be enough to shore up the shaky rotation, but there could be help on the way with top prospects like Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler climbing the ladder in the minor leagues. Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Wilin Rosario form a desirable nucleus for the Rockies, who could be sneaky good in 2014.
Analysis: The Toronto Blue Jays have plenty of big names in the batting order, like Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion, but the lack of pitching really hurts this club. The Blue Jays finished 25th in MLB with a 4.25 team ERA, thanks in large part to a starting rotation that was too easy to hit.
Toronto has glaring needs in the pitching staff behind R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, two veteran pitchers who are already failing to live up to their big annual salaries. Until they address their rotation, it will be hard to survive in the rough-and-tumble AL East.
Analysis: The San Diego Padres held their own in the NL West in 2013, but they don't have much in terms of top-level talent in the lineup or in the starting rotation. Chase Headley is the most recognizable name in the lineup, and he was overshadowed by the production of others like Jedd Gyorko, one of a few players that had breakout campaigns for the Padres.
The bullpen is a strength of this time and other improved young pitchers like Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross also gives promise to this team, but there doesn't seem to be enough in the lineup to compete with the likes of the Dodgers or San Francisco Giants on a consistent basis.
Analysis: The New York Mets finished 2013 with a disappointing 74-88 record and news that ace Matt Harvey needed Tommy John surgery. While he's no Harvey, the signing of Bartolo Colon for two years, $20 million provides the team with a solid innings-eater.
The team also made big additions to the outfield, signing Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million deal that gave it the best pure left-handed power bat on the market and giving a one-year, $7.25 million deal to Chris Young. Don't expect much from Young, but Granderson and David Wright can do a lot of damage together in the middle of the Mets lineup.
Analysis: There are plenty of marquee names on the Philadelphia Phillies, but most of them are past their prime and almost all of them are overpaid.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has handcuffed the team with a bunch of big contracts on players over 34. And he added to that total by bringing back Carlos Ruiz (three years, $26 million) and signing outfielder Marlon Byrd (two years, $16 million) to deals. It's simply not a formula that breeds success, as the team has been slowly regressing since its World Series win in 2008.
Analysis: Joe Mauer won't be as valuable now that he's turned into a first baseman full-time, but he still remains one of the best pure hitters in baseball.
Heading into 2014, he'll hand off catcher duties to young Josmil Pinto, who will be tasked with handling a revamped pitching staff that includes new additions Ricky Nolasco (four years, $49 million) and Phil Hughes (three years, $24 million). The team also brought back Mike Pelfrey on a two-year, $11 million deal.
The efforts to shore up the miserable starting rotation help improve this team's odds of winning, but the Minnesota Twins are no World Series threat at this point.
Analysis: The Chicago Cubs certainly have players with promise, but the team stumbled in 2013, as did young first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, who each dealt with individual struggles throughout the season.
This winter, Chicago's biggest addition has been signing new closer Jose Veras, and the team still has starter Jeff Samardzija, despite rampant trade rumors surrounding the right-hander. With new manager Rick Renteria taking over for the fired Dale Sveum, his first task of business will be to develop the young core of Cubs talent.
Analysis: Milwaukee Brewers franchise player Ryan Braun had a swift and stunning fall from grace this year, as he was suspended 65 games for his connection to the Biogenesis scandal. While a black cloud will likely hover over Braun for the rest of his career, his natural ability is unquestioned and he should provide a big boost to the Brew Crew in 2014.
Milwaukee was decimated by injuries to regular contributors like Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez and could never recover from a dismal 6-22 showing in May. So far this offseason, the team has done little to improve last year's club that went 74-88, and it lost first baseman Corey Hart via free agency.
Analysis: The Miami Marlins finished last in the National League in 2013 with a 62-100 record, marking the third straight season in which they lost at least 90 games. Owner Jeffrey Loria has become an unpopular man among Marlins fans after getting the public to help finance a new stadium and then gutting the team of all its star power.
Loria and the Marlins did shell out some cash this offseason with the signing of free-agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (three years, $21 million). Still, Saltalamacchia will do little to reverse the fortunes of this fledgling franchise.
Analysis: The Houston Astros are playing in a stacked and star-studded American League West that makes it virtually impossible for them to make the playoffs, let alone win the World Series. First-year manager Bo Porter watched over the struggling team in 2013 as it went 51-111, the worst MLB record by 11 games.
The Astros didn't sit idly this winter, as they signed veteran right-hander Scott Feldman to a three-year, $30 million deal, inked reliever Jesse Crain and acquired outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Colorado Rockies via trade. But it will take nothing short of a miracle to turn this cellar-dwelling club into a contender.