MLB

MLB Power Rankings: How Masahiro Tanaka to the Yankees Shakes Up the League

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2014

MLB Power Rankings: How Masahiro Tanaka to the Yankees Shakes Up the League

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    After an offseason filled with rumors, the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes has finally come to an end, as the Japanese right-hander agreed to a seven-year, $155 million deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:

    BREAKING: Tanaka to #Yankees, seven years, $155M, opt-out after fourth year.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 22, 2014

    With that signing completed, a domino effect of sorts should take place in the days ahead as teams that had been waiting on Tanaka turn their attention to the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo.

    Still, this move certainly will have a ripple effect throughout the league, and it pushes the New York Yankees that much closer to the top spot in these rankings.

    Here is an updated look at where all 30 teams stand following the signing of Tanaka. Each team's offseason activity and how it profiles for the year ahead were taken into account, though there will no doubt be more change between now and the start of spring training.

30. Houston Astros (2013: 51-111, Fifth in AL West)

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    CF Dexter Fowler
    CF Dexter FowlerGarrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • CF Dexter Fowler
    • SP Scott Feldman
    • RP Jesse Crain
    • RP Chad Qualls
    • RP Matt Albers
    • OF Jesus Guzman
    • IF Cesar Izturis

     

    Key Subtractions

    • OF Brandon Barnes
    • SP Jordan Lyles
    • SP Erik Bedard (unsigned)

     

    Team Outlook

    It's been a relatively busy offseason for the Houston Astros as they look to avoid a fourth consecutive losing season and take a step forward in their rebuilding efforts. Another last-place finish in the AL West seems like a safe bet this coming season, but they should be a better team across the board.

    Dexter Fowler was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rockies, and he joins Jose Altuve and Jason Castro as big league pieces to build around. Scott Feldman was signed to bring a veteran presence to a promising young rotation, while the trio of veteran arms that were signed should make the bullpen more reliable.

29. Chicago Cubs (2013: 66-96, Fifth in NL Central)

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    RP Jose Veras
    RP Jose VerasMatt Slocum/Associated Press

    Key Additions

    • RP Jose Veras
    • RP Wesley Wright
    • OF Justin Ruggiano
    • IF Ryan Roberts

     

    Key Subtractions

    • C Dioner Navarro
    • RP Kevin Gregg (unsigned)
    • OF Brian Bogusevic

     

    Team Outlook

    It's been a relatively quiet offseason for the Chicago Cubs as they enter year three of the rebuilding process under Theo Epstein and Co. The team was viewed as one of the favorites to land Tanaka, and seeing as starting pitching remains the team's biggest need, he would have been a huge addition.

    In the end, though, the Cubs lost out, and it appears they will enter the season with a rotation once again anchored by Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood. Signing Jose Veras and Wesley Wright should improve the bullpen, but aside from that, the Cubs roster is essentially the same.

28. Miami Marlins (2013: 62-100, Fifth in NL East)

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    C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    C Jarrod SaltalamacchiaJohn Raoux/Associated Press

    Key Additions

    • C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    • 1B Garrett Jones
    • 2B Rafael Furcal
    • RP Carter Capps
    • 3B Casey McGehee
    • OF Brian Bogusevic

     

    Key Subtractions

    • 1B Logan Morrison
    • RP Chad Qualls
    • OF Justin Ruggiano
    • OF Juan Pierre (unsigned)
    • 3B Placido Polanco (unsigned)

     

    Team Outlook

    After a disappointing first season in their new stadium in 2012, the Miami Marlins sold aggressively last offseason and suffered through an expectedly rough season as a result. That said, they did a nice job stocking up on young talent in the process, and the future looks bright.

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia was signed to a three-year deal to lead one of the best young pitching staffs in baseball, as Jose Fernandez is far from the only promising young arm in Miami. The offense is still a work in process, but signing three-fourths of an infield in free agency should bring more production in the short term.

    The Marlins are still at least a couple of years from legitimate contention, though, and another last-place finish in the NL East seems likely.

27. Minnesota Twins (2013: 66-96, Fourth in AL Central)

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    SP Ricky Nolasco
    SP Ricky NolascoJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Additions

    • SP Ricky Nolasco
    • SP Phil Hughes
    • C Kurt Suzuki
    • OF Jason Kubel

     

    Key Subtractions

    • C Ryan Doumit

     

    Team Outlook

    It comes as no surprise that the Minnesota Twins have focused heavily on the pitching staff this offseason, as their rotation posted an MLB-worst 5.26 ERA last year. Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes were inked to the two largest free-agent deals in team history, and Mike Pelfrey was re-signed, so the staff should be improved.

    The big news on the position-player side of things is Joe Mauer making the full-time move from catcher to first base as the team looks to prolong its superstar's career. Kurt Suzuki was signed to bridge the gap to prospect Josmil Pinto at catcher. Expect the main focus to be on when uber-prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton arrive in Minnesota, as both could debut at some point in 2014.

26. Chicago White Sox (2013: 63-99, Fifth in AL Central)

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    1B Jose Abreu
    1B Jose AbreuCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Key Additions

    • 1B Jose Abreu
    • CF Adam Eaton
    • 3B Matt Davidson
    • SP Felipe Paulino
    • RP Scott Downs
    • RP Ronald Belisario
    • C Adrian Nieto

     

    Key Subtractions

    • RP Addison Reed
    • SP Hector Santiago
    • SP Gavin Floyd

     

    Team Outlook

    It may not be enough to make them contenders in 2014, but the Chicago White Sox have had as successful an offseason as anyone. They set out looking to add young talent to a rebuilding roster, and they did just that by signing Cuban slugger Jose Abreu and acquiring a pair of promising young bats from the Arizona Diamondbacks in Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson.

    Eaton profiles as a legitimate leadoff hitter, while Davidson has 30-home run potential at the hot corner. The pitching staff could be an issue after trading Jake Peavy last August and then dealing Hector Santiago at the winter meetings. That should give a handful of young guys a chance to emerge, though, as the team continues to focus on the future.

25. Milwaukee Brewers (2013: 74-88, Fourth in NL Central)

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    1B Mark Reynolds
    1B Mark ReynoldsKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Additions

    • 1B Mark Reynolds
    • RP Will Smith

     

    Key Subtractions

    • 1B Corey Hart
    • OF Norichika Aoki
    • RP Burke Badenhop
    • RP Mike Gonzalez (unsigned)
    • IF Yuniesky Betancourt (unsigned)

     

    Team Outlook

    The Milwaukee Brewers didn't do much last offseason prior to signing Kyle Lohse just before the start of the regular season, and they have been quiet once again this winter despite a disappointing 2013. A healthy season from Aramis Ramirez and the return of Ryan Braun could go a long way in turning the offense around.

    On the pitching side of things, the rotation is essentially set with Tyler Thornburg expected to earn the final spot behind Yovani Gallardo, Lohse, Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta. If they can stay healthy and produce to their abilities, that's a group that has the potential to surprise some people in 2014. The bullpen will lean heavily on Brandon Kintzler and Jim Henderson at the back end and could again emerge as a problem area.

24. San Diego Padres (2013: 76-86, Tied for Third in NL West)

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    RF Seth Smith
    RF Seth SmithRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Additions

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

     

    Key Subtractions

    • RP Luke Gregerson
    • SP Jason Marquis (unsigned)
    • SS Ronny Cedeno

     

    Team Outlook

    The San Diego Padres lack a true superstar as the face of their franchise, but they have quietly assembled a solid roster top to bottom, and they have the potential to surprise some people this coming year. A run at the postseason may not be in the cards, but a winning season could be within reach.

    The offense should benefit from another year of development out of Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko, and Chase Headley remains a solid bounce-back candidate. The starting rotation will be the key to the Padres' season, though, as Andrew Cashner joins bounce-back candidates Ian Kennedy and Josh Johnson atop a staff with the potential to be really good or really subpar once again.

23. Philadelphia Phillies (2013: 73-89, Fourth in NL East)

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    RF Marlon Byrd
    RF Marlon ByrdCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Additions

    • RF Marlon Byrd
    • SP Roberto Hernandez
    • RP Brad Lincoln
    • C Wil Nieves
    • RP Kevin Munson

     

    Key Subtractions

    • SP Roy Halladay (retired)

     

    Team Outlook

    The Philadelphia Phillies have decided against rebuilding this offseason, instead plugging a pair of major holes by signing Marlon Byrd to man right field and Roberto Hernandez to fill out the starting rotation. Those moves should help out, but they are far from enough to put the team in a position to make a run at the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals in the NL East.

    Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels will give the Phillies one of the best one-two punches in the game atop their rotation once again, but the rest of the staff is average at best. The offense is another year older, and unless Domonic Brown can build off his breakout season, it lacks a true impact bat at this point. It's time to blow it up in Philadelphia in my opinion, but that's easier said than done given the money the team has tied into aging stars.

22. New York Mets (2013: 74-88, Third in NL East)

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    LF Curtis Granderson
    LF Curtis GrandersonDavid Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Additions

    • LF Curtis Granderson
    • SP Bartolo Colon
    • RF Chris Young

     

    Key Subtractions

    • RP LaTroy Hawkins
    • RP Frank Francisco (unsigned)
    • RP Tim Byrdak (unsigned)
    • SP Aaron Harang (unsigned)
    • SP Johan Santana (unsigned)

     

    Team Outlook

    The New York Mets are a team on the rise, with money to spend and a good deal of young talent at the big league level and on the cusp of contributing. That said, they still look to be at least a year away from legitimate contention, as there are still a number of holes in the roster.

    Curtis Granderson gives them the impact bat they needed to improve the outfield production and protect David Wright in the lineup. Bartolo Colon was signed to help ease the loss of Matt Harvey, who will miss 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

    There is still a major hole at shortstop, though, and the bullpen looks to be a weakness as well.

21. Colorado Rockies (2013: 74-88, Fifth in NL West)

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    SP Brett Anderson
    SP Brett AndersonPat Sullivan/Associated Press

    Key Additions

    • SP Brett Anderson
    • RP LaTroy Hawkins
    • RP Boone Logan
    • 1B Justin Morneau
    • OF Drew Stubbs
    • OF Brandon Barnes
    • SP Franklin Morales

     

    Key Subtractions

    • CF Dexter Fowler
    • 1B Todd Helton (retired)
    • RP Josh Outman
    • RP Rafael Betancourt (unsigned)
    • SP Drew Pomeranz
    • SP Jeff Francis
    • IF Jonathan Herrera

     

    Team Outlook

    Healthy seasons from Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa gave the Colorado Rockies a significantly improved rotation last season. If Brett Anderson can stay healthy, he should make for another plus arm. In the bullpen, LaTroy Hawkins and Boone Logan join Rex Brothers to form what should be a plus late-inning trio.

    Not seeing Todd Helton penciled into the lineup at first base for the first time since 1997 will be strange, and the team will be relying even more on Carlos Gonzalez to stay healthy as he moves to center field following the trade of Dexter Fowler. If Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki can stay healthy, the Rockies should have a plus offense, though.

20. Seattle Mariners (2013: 71-91, Fourth in AL West)

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    2B Robinson Cano
    2B Robinson CanoOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • 2B Robinson Cano
    • DH Corey Hart
    • LF Logan Morrison
    • C John Buck
    • IF Willie Bloomquist

     

    Key Subtractions

    • 1B Kendrys Morales (unsigned)
    • SP Joe Saunders (unsigned)
    • RP Oliver Perez (unsigned)
    • OF Raul Ibanez
    • RP Carter Capps

     

    Team Outlook

    The Seattle Mariners signing Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million deal has been the biggest splash of the offseason to this point. Signing him, along with the acquisitions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison at the winter meetings, should give the team an improved offensive attack for the season ahead.

    The development of Taijuan Walker and James Paxton in the starting rotation alongside Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma will go a long way in determining how quickly the team can make a run at the playoffs. If nothing else, the Mariners should have a chance at their first winning season since 2009.

19. Baltimore Orioles (2013: 85-77, Tied for Third in AL East)

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    LF David Lough
    LF David LoughCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Key Additions

    • LF David Lough
    • RP Ryan Webb
    • 2B Jemile Weeks
    • RP Edgmer Escalona
    • RP Brad Brach
    • OF Delmon Young

     

    Key Subtractions

    • SP Scott Feldman
    • RP Jim Johnson
    • SP Jason Hammel (unsigned)
    • OF Nate McLouth
    • RP Francisco Rodriguez (unsigned)
    • 3B Danny Valencia
    • 2B Brian Roberts
    • OF Michael Morse

     

    Team Outlook

    After a surprise run to the postseason in 2012, the Baltimore Orioles remained in the contention for most of 2013 before falling off in the second half. They have failed to make an impact move this offseason, and in a tough AL East, they seem to be falling back from the rest of the pack.

    It looks as though they will count on David Lough as their starting left fielder and Jemile Weeks as their everyday second baseman, two positions that could emerge as weaknesses. No significant additions have been made to a starting rotation that was a weakness last year, and the bullpen is sans Jim Johnson and will be turning to Tommy Hunter as closer.

18. Toronto Blue Jays (2013: 74-88, Fifth in AL East)

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    C Dioner Navarro
    C Dioner NavarroJamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • C Dioner Navarro

     

    Key Subtractions

    • SP Josh Johnson
    • OF Rajai Davis
    • RP Darren Oliver (retired)
    • RP Brad Lincoln

     

    Team Outlook

    There may have been no bigger disappointment than the Toronto Blue Jays last season. A busy offseason made them a popular pick to make a run at the postseason, but they instead wound up improving by just one win while finishing last in the AL East.

    Things have been much quieter in Toronto this winter, with the only major addition being the signing of Dioner Navarro to replace J.P. Arencibia at the catcher position. If the offense can stay healthy, and the likes of Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek can help shore up the rotation, the team could yet live up to the hype it entered last season with.

17. Cleveland Indians (2013: 92-70, Second in AL Central)

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    RP John Axford
    RP John AxfordRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • RP John Axford
    • OF David Murphy
    • RP Josh Outman
    • 1B David Cooper
    • 3B David Adams

     

    Key Subtractions

    • SP Ubaldo Jimenez (unsigned)
    • SP Scott Kazmir
    • RP Chris Perez
    • RP Joe Smith
    • RP Matt Albers
    • OF Drew Stubbs
    • RP Rich Hill (unsigned)
    • DH Jason Kubel

     

    Team Outlook

    The surprise playoff team of 2013, it was an improved starting rotation that helped the Cleveland Indians exceed expectations last season. The team could yet re-sign Ubaldo Jimenez, but for now, it is without him and bounce-back left-hander Scott Kazmir, as it will likely need to add at least one starter.

    The bullpen has swapped out Chris Perez, Joe Smith and Matt Albers for John Axford and Josh Outman this offseason, and that aspect of the team still looks to be a weakness. The offense returns intact, though, with David Murphy replacing Drew Stubbs in right field in what looks to be an upgrade.

    Still, the Indians will have their work cut out for them if they hope to return to the postseason.

16. Los Angeles Angels (2013: 78-84, Third in AL West)

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    SP Hector Santiago
    SP Hector SantiagoJason Miller/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • SP Hector Santiago
    • 3B David Freese
    • RP Joe Smith
    • SP Tyler Skaggs
    • DH Raul Ibanez
    • RP Brian Moran

     

    Key Subtractions

    • LF Mark Trumbo
    • SP Jason Vargas

     

    Team Outlook

    Looking to shore up what was a rough starting rotation last season, the Los Angeles Angels shipped slugger Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal at the winter meetings for left-handers Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs. Adding Joe Smith to the bullpen mix should help improve the staff as well.

    If Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols can live up to expectations, the offense has the potential to be great, even without Trumbo. David Freese should be an upgrade at third base, and Raul Ibanez is a nice low-cost addition to replace some of the power lost by Trumbo being dealt.

15. Tampa Bay Rays (2013: 92-71, Second in AL East)

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    C Ryan Hanigan
    C Ryan HaniganAl Behrman/Associated Press

    Key Additions

    • C Ryan Hanigan
    • RP Heath Bell

     

    Key Subtractions

    • RP Fernando Rodney (unsigned)
    • SP Roberto Hernandez
    • UT Kelly Johnson
    • RP Jamey Wright
    • RP Jesse Crain
    • OF Delmon Young

     

    Team Outlook

    The biggest news of the offseason for the Tampa Bay Rays has been that ace David Price has not been traded to this point. Despite their low payroll, the Rays have made the postseason four times in the past six years, and they have taken to bargain hunting again this offseason.

    Ryan Hanigan was acquired to upgrade the catcher position, while James Loney was re-signed after an impressive 2013 season. The bullpen looks like it could be a weakness at this point, but the team has done a great job piecing things together the past few seasons, and Heath Bell is its latest low-cost closer candidate.

    The Price situation will be one to watch, but for now, the Rays look to have a legitimate shot at returning to the playoffs.

14. San Francisco Giants (2013: 76-86, Tied for Third in NL West)

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    SP Tim Hudson
    SP Tim HudsonFrank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Key Additions

    • SP Tim Hudson
    • LF Michael Morse

     

    Key Subtractions

    • SP Barry Zito (unsigned)
    • SP Chad Gaudin
    • OF Andres Torres (unsigned)

     

    Team Outlook

    Expected to be in a good position to defend their title with essentially the same roster returning, the San Francisco Giants instead took a big step backward in 2013 and needed a late-season run to avoid a last-place finish.

    Tim Hudson was signed to replace Barry Zito in the rotation, and he should give the staff a boost provided he is fully recovered from a broken ankle. Getting Matt Cain back to ace-like form would go a long way in improving the rotation as well. As for the offense, it remains average at best, though Michael Morse has a chance to be a nice low-cost source of some much-needed power in left field.

13. Arizona Diamondbacks (2013: 81-81, Second in NL West)

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    LF Mark Trumbo
    LF Mark TrumboTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Key Additions

    • LF Mark Trumbo
    • RP Addison Reed
    • C Henry Blanco
    • OF Matt Tuiasosopo

     

    Key Subtractions

    • SP Tyler Skaggs
    • CF Adam Eaton
    • 3B Matt Davidson
    • RP Heath Bell
    • C Wil Nieves
    • IF Willie Bloomquist

     

    Team Outlook

    The Arizona Diamondbacks were among the teams that made a serious push for Tanaka. They have a solid rotation that includes Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill but lack a legitimate staff ace. Now, they will likely turn their attention to the remaining free-agent market as they look to upgrade the staff.

    Even without landing Tanaka, it's been a busy offseason for the Diamondbacks. They traded a trio of talented young players in Tyler Skaggs, Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson in two separate deals to acquire Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed, filling a pair of glaring needs. They may not be able to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, but they could contend for a wild-card spot.

12. Kansas City Royals (2013: 86-76, Third in AL Central)

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    SP Jason Vargas
    SP Jason VargasJeff Gross/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • SP Jason Vargas
    • 2B Omar Infante
    • RF Norichika Aoki
    • 3B Danny Valencia

     

    Key Losses

    • SP Ervin Santana (unsigned)
    • SP Bruce Chen (unsigned)
    • LF David Lough
    • RP Will Smith
    • IF Miguel Tejada (unsigned)
    • C George Kottaras

     

    Team Outlook

    There were three clear needs for the Kansas City Royals entering the offseason, and they have made solid additions to meet all three of them. Jason Vargas was signed to replace Ervin Santana in the rotation, while Omar Infante and Norichika Aoki were acquired to upgrade second base and right field, respectively.

    Aoki and Infante will front a lineup that needs to avoid the slow start that plagued it last season, but the pieces are there for it to be a plus. How quickly prospects Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura can help out in the rotation could be a key to the season ahead as the team looks to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985.

11. Cincinnati Reds (2013: 90-72, Third in NL Central)

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    UT Skip Schumaker
    UT Skip SchumakerVictor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • UT Skip Schumaker
    • C Brayan Pena

     

    Key Subtractions

    • CF Shin-Soo Choo
    • SP Bronson Arroyo (unsigned)
    • C Ryan Hanigan
    • RP Zach Duke
    • IF Cesar Izturis

     

    Team Outlook

    Despite the losses of Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo, the Cincinnati Reds did not have any clear needs this offseason. Top prospect Billy Hamilton will step into the role of leadoff hitter and everyday center fielder, while Tony Cingrani looks ready to assume a regular rotation spot.

    Skip Schumaker was signed to bolster the bench, and he provides plus versatility and insurance for Hamilton in center field. Brayan Pena was also signed to serve as the backup catcher to Devin Mesoraco, opening the door for Ryan Hanigan to be traded.

    All the pieces are there for another run at the playoffs in the season ahead, though the Reds still look to be a notch below the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates (2013: 94-68, Second in NL Central)

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    SP Edinson Volquez
    SP Edinson VolquezThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • SP Edinson Volquez
    • C Chris Stewart

     

    Key Subtractions

    • SP A.J. Burnett (unsigned)
    • RF Marlon Byrd
    • 1B Justin Morneau
    • C John Buck

     

    Team Outlook

    For the first time since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates reached the playoffs this past season, falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games in the NLDS. With a good young core of players who should only get better moving forward, they look to be in position to contend for years to come.

    Potentially losing A.J. Burnett hurts, but full seasons from Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez and Charlie Morton should help offset that, as could the impending arrival of top prospect Jameson Taillon. Offensively, the team still needs a platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez at first base and will be waiting on the arrival of Gregory Polanco in right field. Expect the Pirates to push the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, though a wild-card spot seems more likely.

9. Oakland Athletics (2013: 96-66, First in AL West)

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    RP Jim Johnson
    RP Jim JohnsonGreg Fiume/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • RP Jim Johnson
    • RP Luke Gregerson
    • SP Scott Kazmir
    • OF Craig Gentry
    • RP Fernando Abad
    • UT Nick Punto

     

    Key Subtractions

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

     

    Team Outlook

    The Oakland Athletics have captured back-to-back AL West titles, but they could have their work cut out for them in the year ahead. The Texas Rangers again boast one of the best offenses in baseball, the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners should both at least be able to post winning seasons and even the Houston Astros should be improved.

    Scott Kazmir was signed to replace Bartolo Colon as the veteran in the rotation, while the additions of Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson and Fernando Abad should make a good bullpen even better. The young rotation should benefit from a full season of Sonny Gray, while Bob Melvin should continue to get the most out of his entire roster.

8. Atlanta Braves (2013: 96-66, First in NL East)

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    C Ryan Doumit
    C Ryan DoumitDavid Maxwell/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • C Ryan Doumit
    • SP Gavin Floyd
    • RP Luis Vasquez

     

    Key Subtractions

    • C Brian McCann
    • SP Tim Hudson
    • SP Paul Maholm (unsigned)
    • RP Scott Downs
    • RP Eric O'Flaherty (unsigned)
    • RP Luis Ayala (unsigned)
    • OF Reed Johnson

     

    Team Outlook

    The Atlanta Braves have developed an impressive young core of homegrown talent, with the likes of Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Craig Kimbrel all coming up through the system.

    The loss of Brian McCann hurts, but the team has Evan Gattis ready to step into the everyday catcher role, and Ryan Doumit was acquired from the Minnesota Twins to fill his bench spot. If Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton can bounce back, the team should be in a good position to return to the playoffs.

    Gavin Floyd could wind up being an X-factor, as the Braves rotation lacks a veteran presence, and they hope he can provide that as he returns from Tommy John surgery.

7. Texas Rangers (2013: 91-72, Second in AL West)

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    LF Shin-Soo Choo
    LF Shin-Soo ChooRick Yeatts/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • 1B Prince Fielder
    • LF Shin-Soo Choo
    • C J.P. Arencibia
    • OF Michael Choice
    • RP Chaz Roe

     

    Key Subtractions

    • 2B Ian Kinsler
    • RP Joe Nathan
    • RF Nelson Cruz (unsigned)
    • SP Matt Garza (unsigned)
    • C A.J. Pierzynski
    • OF David Murphy
    • OF Craig Gentry
    • UT Jeff Baker (unsigned)
    • DH Lance Berkman (unsigned)

     

    Team Outlook

    After losing Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young last offseason, the Texas Rangers offense should once again be one of the best in baseball with the additions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo this offseason.

    The pitching staff was dealt a blow with Derek Holland sidelined until midseason, though, and the team could look to add another arm before the offseason is over. The bullpen is also something of a question with Joe Nathan gone, though Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria have closer experience.

    Still, the Rangers look to be in a good position to once again climb to the top of the AL West, and they have to be counted among the AL favorites.

6. New York Yankees (2013: 85-77, Tied for Third in AL East)

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    RF Carlos Beltran
    RF Carlos BeltranJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    Key Additions

    • SP Masahiro Tanaka
    • CF Jacoby Ellsbury
    • C Brian McCann
    • RF Carlos Beltran
    • 3B Kelly Johnson
    • 2B Brian Roberts
    • RP Matt Thornton

     

    Key Subtractions

    • 2B Robinson Cano
    • RP Mariano Rivera (retired)
    • SP Andy Pettitte (retired)
    • OF Curtis Granderson
    • SP Phil Hughes
    • RP Boone Logan
    • RP Joba Chamberlain
    • DH Travis Hafner (unsigned)
    • 1B Lyle Overbay
    • OF Vernon Wells (unsigned)

     

    Team Outlook

    After adding three of the top bats on the market in Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, the Yankees came out on top in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, spending a combined $438 million on those four contracts.

    There are still questions on the infield, with Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson slated to fill two spots and injury-returnees Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter manning the other positions. The bullpen is something of a question as well following the retirement of Mariano Rivera and departure of Boone Logan. Still, the Yankees have done everything in their power to right the ship this offseason, and they should give the Boston Red Sox everything they can handle in the AL East.

5. Boston Red Sox (2013: 97-65, First in AL East)

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    C A.J. Pierzynski
    C A.J. PierzynskiJeff Gross/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • C A.J. Pierzynski
    • RP Edward Mujica
    • RP Burke Badenhop
    • IF Jonathan Herrera

     

    Key Subtractions

    • CF Jacoby Ellsbury
    • C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    • SS Stephen Drew (unsigned)
    • RP Matt Thornton
    • RP Franklin Morales
    • RP Joel Hanrahan (unsigned)
    • IF John McDonald

     

    Team Outlook

    The Boston Red Sox completed an impressive worst-to-first turnaround this past season, going from a 93-loss team in 2012 to winning a World Series title last year. However, they have lost some key pieces this offseason, with Jacoby Ellsbury joining the rival Yankees, Jarrod Saltalamacchia signing with the Marlins and Stephen Drew still a free agent.

    A.J. Pierzynski was signed to replace Saltalamacchia, but the team will rely on a pair of rookies in Jackie Bradley and Xander Bogaerts to replace Ellsbury and Drew. The starting rotation returns intact, but it's a veteran group with some injury history, and its depth could be tested. Still, the Red Sox have the pieces to repeat as AL East champions and are undoubtedly among the favorites in the AL.

4. Washington Nationals (2013: 86-76, Second in NL East)

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    SP Doug Fister
    SP Doug FisterRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • SP Doug Fister
    • OF Nate McLouth
    • RP Jerry Blevins

     

    Key Subtractions

    • SP Dan Haren
    • UT Steve Lombardozzi
    • RP Ian Krol
    • 1B Chad Tracy

     

    Team Outlook

    After posting the best record in baseball in 2012, only to be ousted in the NLDS, the Washington Nationals looked as good as any team in the league heading into this past season. However, a slow start left them just one game over .500 at the All-Star break, and a late-season push was not enough to salvage their season.

    Doug Fister was added this offseason, and replacing Dan Haren with him gives Washington arguably the best rotation in all of baseball. The team also picked up Jerry Blevins to give the bullpen the veteran left-hander it was missing last year, and signing Nate McLouth gives it some needed depth in the outfield.

    The Nationals look to have a leg up on the Braves if they can avoid another slow start, and they could make a run at the NL pennant.

3. Detroit Tigers (2013: 93-69, First in AL Central)

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    2B Ian Kinsler
    2B Ian KinslerRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Key Additions

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

     

    Key Subtractions

    • 1B Prince Fielder
    • SP Doug Fister
    • RP Joaquin Benoit
    • RP Jose Veras
    • 2B Omar Infante
    • UT Ramon Santiago (unsigned)
    • C Brayan Pena

     

    Team Outlook

    The Detroit Tigers have lost a good deal this offseason. They traded Prince Fielder and Doug Fister in separate deals and also lost Omar Infante and Joaquin Benoit in free agency. But that should help free up the payroll room needed to re-sign Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera, and they are still in a position to contend for the AL pennant.

    Whether or not Victor Martinez can provide the same protection that Fielder did for Cabrera remains to be seen, but picking up Ian Kinsler gives the Tigers a legitimate leadoff hitter. The addition of Joe Nathan to the back of the bullpen should also give them a boost as they look to win their fourth straight AL Central title.

    Their offense may not be as deep as the Texas Rangers', and the Boston Red Sox are still the reigning champs, but the Tigers are the team to beat in the American League at this point, in my opinion.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70, First in NL West)

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    SP Dan Haren
    SP Dan HarenNorm Hall/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • SP Dan Haren
    • 2B Alex Guerrero
    • RP Chris Perez
    • RP Jamey Wright
    • OF Mike Baxter

     

    Key Subtractions

    • SP Ricky Nolasco
    • SP Chris Capuano (unsigned)
    • 2B Mark Ellis
    • UT Skip Schumaker
    • UT Michael Young (unsigned)
    • UT Nick Punto
    • UT Jerry Hairston (retired)
    • SP Edinson Volquez
    • RP Carlos Marmol (unsigned)

     

    Team Outlook

    The Los Angeles Dodgers lost out on Tanaka, but they still look to be among the favorites to contend for a World Series title in the season ahead. They have strengthened the bullpen with the re-signing of Brian Wilson and J.P. Howell and additions of Chris Perez and Jamey Wright. Adding Dan Haren also improves the back end of the rotation.

    They are still chasing the St. Louis Cardinals, though, after falling to them in six games in last year's NLCS. It's close, but the edge remains with St. Louis at this point, as it has the deeper lineup and more talented pitching staff top to bottom.

    It's awfully close, however, and those two teams look to be in a tier of their own in the NL.

1. St. Louis Cardinals (2013: 97-65, First in NL Central)

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    SS Jhonny Peralta
    SS Jhonny PeraltaLeon Halip/Getty Images

    Key Additions

    • SS Jhonny Peralta
    • CF Peter Bourjos
    • 2B Mark Ellis

     

    Key Subtractions

    • RF Carlos Beltran
    • 3B David Freese
    • SP Chris Carpenter (retired)
    • RP Edward Mujica
    • 2B Rafael Furcal
    • SP Jake Westbrook (unsigned)
    • RP Fernando Salas

     

    Team Outlook

    After winning the NL pennant last season, the St. Louis Cardinals look like the best team in baseball a month away from the start of spring training. Jhonny Peralta was signed to help improve the offensive attack at shortstop, where the team hit a combined .222/.280/.303 last season.

    Losing Carlos Beltran hurts, and the team also traded third baseman David Freese, but that will open up everyday jobs for prospect Kolten Wong and slugger Matt Adams. Mark Ellis was signed to provide some depth for Wong, and Peter Bourjos will hold down center field until top prospect Oscar Taveras is ready. A full season from Michael Wacha in the rotation and the return of Jaime Garcia could make the pitching even better.

    At this point, the Cardinals are the World Series favorites, in my opinion.

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