MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand as Spring Training Kicks Off

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2014

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand as Spring Training Kicks Off

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Spring training is finally here. Pitchers and catchers around the league have begun reporting, and full-squad workouts are set to begin next week.

    Opening Day is still a month-and-a-half away, but just seeing guys playing catch and running around in sunny Arizona or Florida is enough to stir up some excitement in even the most casual of baseball fans, if for no other reason than the fact that it's a sure sign spring is right around the corner.

    There is still a lot left to be decided this offseason, with position battles to be sorted out and a handful of key free agents still looking for new homes. But for the most part, we now have an idea of how teams will look heading into the 2014 season.

    So with baseball finally getting underway in 2014, here is a look at where all 30 MLB teams rank at the start of spring training.

30. Houston Astros

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Dexter FowlerSP Scott Feldman
    2B Jose Altuve SP Jarred Cosart
    C Jason CastroSP Brett Oberholtzer
    1B Chris CarterSP Brad Peacock
    3B Matt DominguezSP Jerome Williams
    DH Jesus Guzman
    SU Matt Albers
    LF Robbie Grossman SU Josh Fields
    RF L.J. HoesCL Chad Qualls
    SS Jonathan Villar  

     

    Team Outlook

    The Houston Astros look to be an improved team thanks to a handful of offseason additions, highlighted by the signing of Scott Feldman and the acquisition of Dexter Fowler in a trade with the Colorado Rockies. The team also signed a trio of veteran relievers, and while Jesse Crain could miss the start of the season with an injury, the improved 'pen should help its young starters.

    Jason Castro and Jose Altuve have been Houston's All-Stars the past two seasons, while Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez both have plus power potential. They'll soon be joined by top prospects George Springer and Jonathan Singleton, and if they can make an impact, the team could avoid another 100-loss season.

29. Chicago Cubs

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    SS Starlin CastroSP Jeff Samardzija
    LF Junior LakeSP Travis Wood
    1B Anthony RizzoSP Edwin Jackson
    RF Nate Schierholtz SP Jason Hammel
    3B Mike Olt (R)SP Jake Arrieta
    CF Ryan Sweeney SU James Russell
    C Welington Castillo SU Pedro Strop
    2B Darwin BarneyCL Jose Veras

     

    Team Outlook

    It's been a quiet offseason for the Chicago Cubs, who continue to rebuild with an eye on making some noise in 2015. Spring training may well be the most exciting point of the season for the team's fanbase, as its four marquee prospects in Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler will all be in big league camp.

    The final two spots in their rotation are up for grabs this spring, and there are intriguing options, led by potential breakout candidate Jake Arrieta. While the rotation should at least be average, and the bullpen has a chance to be better than last year, the Cubs will likely have a hard time scoring runs all year. Another last-place finish looks inevitable, but the future looks bright on the North Side.

28. Minnesota Twins

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Aaron HicksSP Ricky Nolasco
    2B Brian DozierSP Kevin Correia
    1B Joe MauerSP Mike Pelfrey
    LF Josh WillinghamSP Phil Hughes
    RF Oswaldo ArciaSP Vance Worley
    3B Trevor PlouffeSU Brian Duensing
    DH Jason KubelSU Jared Burton
    C Kurt SuzukiCL Glen Perkins
    SS Pedro Florimon 

     

    Team Outlook

    The additions of Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to the starting rotation may be enough to keep the Minnesota Twins from finishing dead last in starting pitcher ERA again, but a big step forward is not likely. At best, Nolasco is a No. 3 starter on a good team, and the rest of the staff are No. 5 starter types.

    At this point, it's a matter of patience, as top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano lead arguably the best farm system in baseball, and the Twins look to have a big future ahead of them.

    For now, the offense will look for improvement from guys like Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia while again leaning heavily on the star power of Joe Mauer.

27. Miami Marlins

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    2B Rafael FurcalSP Jose Fernandez
    LF Christian YelichSP Jacob Turner
    RF Giancarlo StantonSP Henderson Alvarez
    1B Garrett JonesSP Nathan Eovaldi
    C Jarrod SaltalamacchiaSP Tom Koehler
    CF Marcell OzunaSU A.J. Ramos
    3B Casey McGeheeSU Mike Dunn
    SS Adeiny HechavarriaCL Steve Cishek

     

    Team Outlook

    The 2013 season was a rough one for the Miami Marlins, as an offseason firesale left their roster gutted, and they endured the second 100-loss season in franchise history. It wasn't all bad, though. Their young starting rotation, led by Jose Fernandez, was actually a strength, and it should only get better in the years to come.

    On the other hand, the offense was an absolute mess, as the team's 513 runs scored on the season was last in the MLB and a full 85 runs fewer than the next worst team. The Marlins added a handful of veterans, and while they are all essentially placeholders outside of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, they should bring some improvement nonetheless. A last-place finish still seems likely, but the team will be more competitive as its young core continues to develop.

26. Chicago White Sox

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Adam EatonSP Chris Sale
    SS Alexei RamirezSP Jose Quintana
    RF Avisail GarciaSP John Danks
    1B Jose Abreu (R)SP Erik Johnson (R)
    DH Adam DunnSP Andre Rienzo
    LF Dayan ViciedoSU Scott Downs
    3B Matt Davidson (R)SU Matt Lindstrom
    2B Gordon BeckhamCL Nathan Jones
    C Tyler Flowers 

     

    Team Outlook

    The Chicago White Sox began rebuilding last August with the trades of Jake Peavy and Alex Rios, and they have continued adding young pieces to the puzzle in what has been a very successful offseason. Cuban slugger Jose Abreu was signed to replace Paul Konerko, while a pair of solid young players in Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson were acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    The success of the offense will be greatly influenced by those three players and August addition Avisail Garcia, and there is plenty of potential there to get excited about. The starting rotation is a question mark behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, but Erik Johnson has serious upside, and as a whole, this team looks like it is finally headed in the right direction.

25. Colorado Rockies

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    LF Corey DickersonSP Jhoulys Chacin
    3B Nolan ArenadoSP Jorge De La Rosa
    CF Carlos GonzalezSP Brett Anderson
    SS Troy TulowitzkiSP Tyler Chatwood
    RF Michael CuddyerSP Jordan Lyles
    1B Justin MorneauSU Matt Belisle
    C Wilin RosarioSU Rex Brothers
    2B DJ LeMahieuCL LaTroy Hawkins

     

    Team Outlook

    Pitching continues to be the X-factor for the Colorado Rockies. While their starting rotation improved its ERA from a league-worst 5.81 in 2012 to 4.57 last year behind Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa, it wound up holding the team back nonetheless.

    Talented but oft-injured left-hander Brett Anderson was acquired in a trade with the Oakland A's, while Jordan Lyles was picked up in the Dexter Fowler trade, and those two will need to hold down rotation spots. Offensively, the Rockies should once again have a solid attack, provided Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez can stay on the field.

    Up-and-coming stars Nolan Arenado and Wilin Rosario could both take another step forward, and some added pop would certainly be welcome to back the staff.

24. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Andrew Nelles/Associated Press

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Ben RevereSP Cliff Lee
    SS Jimmy RollinsSP Cole Hamels
    2B Chase UtleySP A.J. Burnett
    1B Ryan HowardSP Kyle Kendrick
    RF Marlon ByrdSP Miguel Gonzalez (R)
    LF Domonic BrownSU Brad Lincoln
    3B Cody AscheSU Antonio Bastardo
    C Carlos RuizCL Jonathan Papelbon

     

    Team Outlook

    The Philadelphia Phillies took a questionable approach to the offseason, re-signing Carlos Ruiz (35) and Chase Utley (35) before adding Marlon Byrd (36) and A.J. Burnett (37) in free agency. In the process, an overpriced and aging roster has gotten even older and more expensive, and a run at a .500 season seems like the best-case scenario.

    Granted, the one-two punch of Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels is still among the best around, and the performance of Cuban defector Miguel Gonzalez will be interesting to watch. However, this team just doesn't look like it has enough to keep pace with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals in its own division, let alone make a run at a playoff spot.

23. San Diego Padres

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    SS Everth CabreraSP Andrew Cashner
    CF Will Venable SP Ian Kennedy
    3B Chase Headley SP Josh Johnson
    LF Carlos QuentinSP Tyson Ross
    1B Yonder AlonsoSP Eric Stults
    2B Jedd Gyorko SU Alex Torres
    RF Seth SmithSU Joaquin Benoit
    C Nick Hundley CL Huston Street

     

    Team Outlook

    The San Diego Padres opened last season with a starting rotation anchored by Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard, so it's safe to say that their staff has a chance to be substantially improved over last season. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross impressed in the second half, while Ian Kennedy and newcomer Josh Johnson are better pitchers than their 2013 performances suggest.

    Offensively, the team lacks a star, but it has some nice young pieces in Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko and a potential bounce-back candidate in Chase Headley. The Padres may not be able to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, but this is a team that has an outside shot at contending for a wild-card spot if a few things break its way.

22. New York Mets

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    RF Chris YoungSP Bartolo Colon
    2B Daniel MurphySP Jon Niese
    3B David WrightSP Zack Wheeler
    LF Curtis GrandersonSP Dillon Gee
    1B Ike DavisSP Jenrry Mejia
    C Travis d'Arnaud (R)SU Scott Rice
    CF Juan LagaresSU Kyle Farnsworth
    SS Ruben TejadaCL Bobby Parnell

     

    Team Outlook

    It looks like the New York Mets are still a year way at this point, but they are a significantly improved team in many areas nonetheless. The most notable improvement has to be in the outfield, where the team struggled to find production across the board last season. Chris Young was signed to a one-year deal as a bounce-back candidate, and the team landed Curtis Granderson prior to the winter meetings.

    Even without Matt Harvey, the rotation has a chance to be a strength. Bartolo Colon was signed to help ease the loss of the Mets' ace, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee have established themselves as solid middle-of-the-rotation arms, and Zack Wheeler could be in for a big second season.

    The offense is still below average, and the bullpen looks far from dominant, but a third-place finish with an eye on making some noise in 2015 seems like a good possibility.

21. Seattle Mariners

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Dustin Ackley SP Felix Hernandez
    3B Kyle Seager SP Hisashi Iwakuma
    2B Robinson CanoSP Taijuan Walker (R)
    DH Corey HartSP James Paxton (R)
    1B Justin Smoak SP Erasmo Ramirez
    LF Logan Morrison SU Tom Wilhelmsen
    RF Michael Saunders SU Danny Farquhar
    C Mike Zunino CL Fernando Rodney
    SS Brad Miller 

     

    Team Outlook

    The Seattle Mariners have gone all-in with an offseason spending spree, and they may yet add someone like Nelson Cruz to the mix as well. The big addition is obviously superstar second baseman Robinson Cano; he's a safe bet to produce regardless of his surrounding after putting up terrific numbers with virtually no protection last season.

    The health of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, as well as the performance of incumbents like Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders, will go a long way in determining what type of team the Mariners are in 2014. Their two rookie starters will also be counted on heavily, but if they can play better in one-run games (19-29) and extra innings (6-15), they should be able to make a run at a winning season, with potential for more.

20. Baltimore Orioles

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    RF Nick Markakis SP Chris Tillman
    3B Manny Machado SP Wei-Yin Chen
    1B Chris DavisSP Bud Norris
    CF Adam JonesSP Miguel Gonzalez
    C Matt Wieters SP Kevin Gausman (R)
    SS J.J. HardySU Ryan Webb
    DH Henry Urrutia SU Darren O'Day
    LF David LoughCL Tommy Hunter
    2B Jemile Weeks 

     

    Team Outlook

    The Baltimore Orioles have some impressive talent on their roster, and they were right in the thick of things for much of last season after a surprise run to the playoffs in 2012. However, they have done nothing to improve this offseason. If anything, they've fallen behind the rest of the pack in the always-competitive AL East.

    The starting rotation was their biggest issue last season, and they've failed to make any additions there, instead relying on the development of Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. Even if one of those two proves capable of holding down a spot, they still lack a legitimate staff ace and could struggle again.

    Question marks also remain at second base, left field and designated hitter. It's hard to see the Orioles finishing better than fourth in the division.

19. Milwaukee Brewers

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    JEFFREY PHELPS/Associated Press

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    SS Jean SeguraSP Yovani Gallardo
    CF Carlos GomezSP Matt Garza
    RF Ryan BraunSP Kyle Lohse
    3B Aramis RamirezSP Marco Estrada
    C Jonathan LucroySP Wily Peralta
    LF Khris DavisSU Brandon Kintzler
    1B Mark ReynoldsSU Francisco Rodriguez
    2B Scooter GennettCL Jim Henderson

     

    Team Outlook

    After laying low for most of the offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers surprised many by signing Matt Garza to a four-year, $50 million deal. He gives the team a third proven veteran atop its rotation, and if everyone can stay healthy and pitch to his potential, the staff has a chance to be a strength.

    Offensively, a healthy season from Aramis Ramirez and the return of Ryan Braun should go a long way in improving the team's run-scoring abilities. Both Khris Davis and Scooter Gennett look poised for breakout seasons, while Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez will look to build off of last season.

    The Brewers are my dark-horse pick to contend in the NL this season as they look to put a disappointing 2013 behind them.

18. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    SS Jose ReyesSP R.A. Dickey
    RF Jose Bautista SP Mark Buehrle
    1B Edwin Encarnacion SP Brandon Morrow
    DH Adam LindSP J.A. Happ
    CF Colby Rasmus SP Kyle Drabek
    3B Brett Lawrie SU Steve Delabar
    LF Melky Cabrera SU Sergio Santos
    C Dioner NavarroCL Casey Janssen
    2B Ryan Goins (R) 

     

    Team Outlook

    There remains a very strong possibility that the Toronto Blue Jays sign either Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana before the offseason comes to an end, but as things stand today, it has been a very quiet offseason for a team that was as busy as anyone last winter.

    If guys like Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ can hold their own as they return from injury and the lineup can hit like it's capable of, there's no reason this team can't make some noise post-hype.

    Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion remain two of the game's most dangerous hitters, Jose Reyes is still a dynamic table-setter, and the one-two punch of R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle atop the rotation was solid even in a rough all-around 2013 season.

17. Cleveland Indians

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Michael BournSP Justin Masterson
    1B Nick SwisherSP Corey Kluber
    2B Jason KipnisSP Danny Salazar
    DH Carlos SantanaSP Zach McAllister
    LF Michael BrantleySP Shaun Marcum
    SS Asdrubal CabreraSU Vinnie Pestano
    RF David MurphySU Cody Allen
    C Yan GomesCL John Axford
    3B Lonnie Chisenhall 

     

    Team Outlook

    Losing Scott Kazmir and presumably Ubaldo Jimenez as well is a major blow to the Cleveland Indians, but big seasons from Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar could help offset those losses. The No. 5 starter job is still wide open, with non-roster invitee Shaun Marcum and prospect Trevor Bauer looking like the front-runners. But either way, the rotation looks like it will be the key to the Indians' chances in 2014.

    The bullpen is still average at best, as it swapped out Matt Albers, Rich Hill, Joe Smith and Chris Perez for Josh Outman and John Axford. The offense added David Murphy in right field; he should prove to be an upgrade over Drew Stubbs, even if he's just used as a platoon bat with Ryan Raburn.

    All in all, the Indians should be a competitive team once again this season, but it'll be an uphill battle to return to the postseason.

16. Los Angeles Angels

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    SS Erick AybarSP Jered Weaver
    CF Mike TroutSP C.J. Wilson
    1B Albert PujolsSP Garrett Richards
    LF Josh HamiltonSP Hector Santiago
    3B David FreeseSP Tyler Skaggs
    DH Raul IbanezSU Sean Burnett
    2B Howie KendrickSU Joe Smith
    RF Kole CalhounCL Ernesto Frieri
    C Chris Iannetta 

     

    Team Outlook

    The Los Angeles Angels followed up a disappointing 2012 season in which they finished 89-73 with a substantially worse showing last year that saw them go just 78-84. With all the money they have spent in the past two offseasons, the expectation was perennial contention. However, underperforming stars and a shaky back end of the rotation have held them back.

    The big move this offseason was dealing Mark Trumbo for left-handers Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs. Those two will be counted on to shore up the rotation. David Freese and Raul Ibanez will look to help offset the loss of Trumbo's bat, but bounce-back seasons from Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are really what the team is looking for.

    The pieces are all there. The team just needs to perform to its potential.

15. San Francisco Giants

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Angel PaganSP Matt Cain
    2B Marco ScutaroSP Madison Bumgarner
    1B Brandon BeltSP Tim Lincecum
    C Buster PoseySP Tim Hudson
    RF Hunter PenceSP Ryan Vogelsong
    3B Pablo SandovalSU Jeremy Affeldt
    LF Michael MorseSU Santiago Casilla
    SS Brandon CrawfordCL Sergio Romo

     

    Team Outlook

    Let down by their starting rotation and without an above-average offense to fall back on, the San Francisco Giants fell well short of defending their title last season. Now, they will look to pick up the pieces and make another run at contention, and they'll do it with essentially the same core roster of guys.

    Tim Hudson was added to replace Barry Zito in the rotation, but the team will need a rebound season from Matt Cain and for something to click with Tim Lincecum. Slugger Michael Morse was added to be the everyday left fielder, and Pablo Sandoval could be in for a big season in a contract year, but the offense as a whole is still just average.

    The Giants have found a way to win it all with similar rosters in recent years, and at the very least, they should be able to improve on last year.

14. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Ralph Freso/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Gerardo Parra SP Patrick Corbin
    2B Aaron HillSP Bronson Arroyo
    1B Paul Goldschmidt SP Wade Miley
    C Miguel Montero SP Trevor Cahill
    LF Mark TrumboSP Brandon McCarthy
    3B Martin Prado SU David Hernandez
    RF Cody Ross SU Brad Ziegler
    SS Didi GregoriusCL Addison Reed

     

    Team Outlook

    Looking for a power bat to protect Paul Goldschmidt, a proven closer and a front-line starter, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded for Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed before signing Bronson Arroyo as a free agent. This is a team that looked like the favorites in the NL West before the Los Angeles Dodgers caught fire last year, and it has the talent to make a playoff push in 2014.

    Paul Goldschmidt should be a perennial MVP candidate, and a return to form from guys like Miguel Montero and Cody Ross could make the Diamondbacks offense a strength. The starting rotation is essentially a collection of No. 3 starter types, but the team could get a big boost from top prospect Archie Bradley if he pushes his way into the picture.

    If any team is going to make a run at the Dodgers, it looks like it will be the Diamondbacks, though a wild-card push seems more likely.

13. Kansas City Royals

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    RF Norichika AokiSP James Shields
    2B Omar InfanteSP Jeremy Guthrie
    1B Eric Hosmer SP Jason Vargas
    DH Billy ButlerSP Bruce Chen
    LF Alex GordonSP Danny Duffy
    C Salvador Perez SU Kelvin Herrera
    3B Mike Moustakas SU Luke Hochevar
    CF Lorenzo CainCL Greg Holland
    SS Alcides Escobar  

     

    Team Outlook

    The Kansas City Royals entered the offseason looking for a replacement for Ervin Santana in the rotation and for upgrades at second base and in right field. The additions of Jason Vargas, Omar Infante and Norichika Aoki have addressed those issues, and the team looks ready to make a serious run at its first postseason trip since 1985.

    If the offense can avoid the ice-cold start that plagued it last season, and someone can step forward to fill the No. 5 spot in the rotation, the Royals should be able to hang around in the AL Central race. Top prospects Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura are the X-factor in the rotation, as both are knocking on the door of the big leagues and have the potential to be impact arms.

12. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    LF David DeJesusSP David Price
    2B Ben ZobristSP Alex Cobb
    3B Evan LongoriaSP Matt Moore
    RF Wil MyersSP Chris Archer
    1B James LoneySP Jake Odorizzi (R)
    DH Matt JoyceSU Jake McGee
    CF Desmond JenningsSU Joel Peralta
    SS Yunel EscobarCL Grant Balfour
    C Ryan Hanigan 

     

    Team Outlook

    Amid an offseason of trade rumors, the Tampa Bay Rays have opted to hold onto staff ace David Price, and they look poised to make a run at their fifth playoff trip in the past seven seasons. It's been the standard quiet offseason for the Rays, with a handful of under-the-radar moves that could wind up being bargains.

    Ryan Hanigan doesn't bring much more to the table offensively than incumbent Jose Molina, but few guys handle a staff better than he does. Veteran relievers Heath Bell and Grant Balfour will look to replace Fernando Rodney, and no team is better at piecing together a bullpen.

    The Rays will once again be backed by one of the best rotations in baseball, and their offense could be dangerous if Wil Myers takes a step forward. Expect them to be right in the middle of the AL East race.

11. Cincinnati Reds

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Billy Hamilton (R)SP Johnny Cueto
    2B Brandon PhillipsSP Mat Latos
    1B Joey VottoSP Homer Bailey
    RF Jay BruceSP Mike Leake
    LF Ryan LudwickSP Tony Cingrani
    3B Todd FrazierSU J.J. Hoover
    SS Zack CozartSU Sean Marshall
    C Devin MesoracoCL Aroldis Chapman

     

    Team Outlook

    Losing Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo would be a dagger for most teams, but the Cincinnati Reds have in-house options to fill those holes in speedster Billy Hamilton and left-hander Tony Cingrani. They battled the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central all year last year, and the division is shaping up to be a great race once again.

    How well Hamilton performs after a suspect .308 OBP at the Triple-A level last year looks like the big question surrounding a good offense, but he could steal 75-plus bases if he hits enough. The rotation is as good as any in baseball top to bottom, and a full season from Johnny Cueto should make it even better than last year. Meanwhile, the bullpen looks to once again be a strength as well.

    New manager Bryan Price could be the X-factor here, as a change from Dusty Baker was clearly needed.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    LF Starling MarteSP Francisco Liriano
    2B Neil WalkerSP Gerrit Cole
    CF Andrew McCutchen SP Wandy Rodriguez
    3B Pedro AlvarezSP Charlie Morton
    C Russell MartinSP Edinson Volquez
    1B Gaby Sanchez SU Tony Watson
    SS Jordy Mercer SU Mark Melancon
    RF Jose Tabata CL Jason Grilli

     

    Team Outlook

    The Pittsburgh Pirates finally broke through last season with their first winning season since 1992, and their breakout was no fluke. This is a team that should only get better in the year to come, and it figures to be a perennial contender alongside the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

    Losing A.J. Burnett to the Phillies, as reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, hurts. But considering Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez and Charlie Morton combined to make just 51 starts last year, full seasons from those three should be able to offset the loss. Edinson Volquez was signed to fill the No. 5 starter spot, though he could get a run from top prospect Jameson Taillon before too long.

    The lineup still needs a platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez at first base and will be waiting on the arrival of prospect Gregory Polanco in right field. With reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen and a handful of other plus offensive pieces, though, the Pirates should once again score enough to back their terrific pitching.

9. Oakland Athletics

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Coco CrispSP Jarrod Parker
    3B Josh DonaldsonSP Scott Kazmir
    SS Jed Lowrie SP Sonny Gray
    LF Yoenis Cespedes SP A.J. Griffin
    1B Brandon MossSP Dan Straily
    RF Josh Reddick SU Luke Gregerson
    DH John Jaso SU Ryan Cook
    2B Alberto Callaspo CL Jim Johnson
    C Derek Norris 

     

    Team Outlook

    The Oakland A's have now won back-to-back AL West titles, and they won't take anyone by surprise in 2014 as they look to make it three in a row. Losing Bartolo Colon hurts, but Scott Kazmir was signed to replace him, and a potential breakout season from Sonny Gray could make the rotation a strength once again.

    The offense doesn't look great on paper, but manager Bob Melvin gets the most out of everyone at his disposal, and it's easy to forget that this team ranked fourth in the MLB in runs scored last season. Key hitters Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss will need to avoid regressing, but there's no reason to think they can't pile up the runs once again with essentially the same lineup.

    Add in a dominant bullpen that added Luke Gregerson and Jim Johnson to the mix, and the A's look like a playoff team once again in 2014.

8. Texas Rangers

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    LF Shin-Soo ChooSP Yu Darvish
    SS Elvis AndrusSP Matt Harrison
    1B Prince FielderSP Alexi Ogando
    3B Adrian BeltreSP Martin Perez
    RF Alex RiosSP Tommy Hanson
    DH Mitch Moreland SU Tanner Scheppers
    C Geovany Soto SU Joakim Soria
    2B Jurickson Profar CL Neftali Feliz
    CF Leonys Martin 

     

    Team Outlook

    The loss of Derek Holland for the first half of the season knocks the Texas Rangers down the rankings a few spots, and someone will need to step up from a group headed by Colby Lewis and Tommy Hanson this spring to round out the rotation. Beyond that issue, though, this looks like one of the top teams in the American League.

    The additions of Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder give the Rangers one of the most feared lineups in baseball once again, while a healthy Matt Harrison will be a welcome addition to the rotation behind ace Yu Darvish. An everyday job for Jurickson Profar could put him in position for a breakout season, while the bullpen has the pieces to offset the loss of Joe Nathan.

    The health of the starting rotation looks like the biggest possible issue, but things are shaping up for a great AL West battle between the Rangers and A's.

7. New York Yankees

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Jacoby EllsburySP CC Sabathia
    SS Derek JeterSP Hiroki Kuroda
    RF Carlos BeltranSP Masahiro Tanaka (R)
    1B Mark TeixeiraSP Ivan Nova
    C Brian McCannSP Michael Pineda
    DH Alfonso SorianoSU Matt Thornton
    3B Kelly Johnson SU Shawn Kelley
    2B Brian RobertsCL David Robertson
    LF Brett Gardner 

     

    Team Outlook

    Sure, there are question marks at second and third base, No. 5 starter and at the back end of the bullpen, but it's hard not to be optimistic about the New York Yankees' chances entering the 2014 season. After all, this is a team that went 85-77 and contended into September with an injury-riddled roster last season.

    The additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann to a lineup that also figures to welcome back a healthy Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter should make the Yankees' offensive attack a dangerous one. The team needs CC Sabathia to bounce back, Hiroki Kuroda to hold off Father Time for another year and Masahiro Tanaka to live up to the hype, but the potential is there for it to be great.

    Granted, the Yankees could also be a mess if the starting rotation crumbles, but we'll take the optimistic side of things here entering spring training.

6. Atlanta Braves

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    john bazemore/Associated Press

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    RF Jason HeywardSP Kris Medlen
    LF Justin UptonSP Mike Minor
    1B Freddie FreemanSP Julio Teheran
    C Evan GattisSP Brandon Beachy
    3B Chris JohnsonSP Alex Wood
    SS Andrelton SimmonsSU Luis Avilan
    2B Dan UgglaSU David Carpenter
    CF B.J. UptonCL Craig Kimbrel

     

    Team Outlook

    The Atlanta Braves' biggest addition this offseason has been trading for Ryan Doumit. But when you have a homegrown core like they do, not much is needed outside of continued development and good health. They ran away with the NL East title last season, but things likely won't be as easy this year, with the Washington Nationals poised to make a run of their own.

    If the offense can get a full season from Jason Heyward and anything in the way of production from Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton, the Braves could lead the NL in runs scored, but they will likely strike out a ton once again and go through their highs and lows. The rotation is relatively young, but it could be great if Brandon Beachy is back to his pre-injury form, and the bullpen is once again anchored by the best closer in the game in Craig Kimbrel. 

5. Boston Red Sox

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    RF Shane VictorinoSP Jon Lester
    LF Daniel NavaSP John Lackey
    2B Dustin PedroiaSP Clay Buchholz
    DH David OrtizSP Jake Peavy
    1B Mike NapoliSP Ryan Dempster
    SS Xander Bogaerts (R)SU Junichi Tazawa
    C A.J. PierzynskiSU Edward Mujica
    3B Will MiddlebrooksCL Koji Uehara
    CF Jackie Bradley (R) 

     

    Team Outlook 

    The Boston Red Sox will have a different look after losing Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and perhaps Stephen Drew this offseason, but they have the horses to make a run at defending their title nonetheless. A.J. Pierzynski was signed to replace Salty behind the plate, while rookies Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley will be counted on to step into the other two spots.

    Considering they led all of baseball in runs scored last year, the Red Sox won't need the rookies to be heroes. They'll just need them to hold their own as everyday players. The starting rotation is a relatively old group with some injury history, but the team has plenty of depth at the minor league level should injury strike.

    It's hard to imagine Koji Uehara being as dominant as he was last year, but the additions of Edward Mujica and Burke Badenhop should make the bullpen as a whole better.

4. Washington Nationals

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Denard SpanSP Stephen Strasburg
    RF Jayson Werth SP Gio Gonzalez
    LF Bryce HarperSP Jordan Zimmermann
    3B Ryan ZimmermanSP Doug Fister
    1B Adam LaRoche SP Ross Detwiler
    SS Ian Desmond SU Drew Storen
    C Wilson Ramos SU Tyler Clippard
    2B Anthony Rendon CL Rafael Soriano

     

    Team Outlook

    A number of people, especially those residing in Atlanta, expect the Braves to run away with the NL East title once again. It was just two years ago, though, that the Washington Nationals posted the best record in all of baseball, and they look like a better team now than they were back then—at least on paper.

    A rough first half derailed them in 2013, but the Nats turned things around in the second half and showed the kind of team they are capable of being. The addition of Doug Fister gives the team arguably the best starting rotation in all of baseball, while the offense remains solid top to bottom.

    If Bryce Harper can stay healthy and guys like Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos can build off of last year, this team will be a legitimate contender in 2014.

3. Detroit Tigers

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    Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    2B Ian KinslerSP Justin Verlander
    RF Torii HunterSP Max Scherzer
    1B Miguel CabreraSP Anibal Sanchez
    DH Victor MartinezSP Rick Porcello
    CF Austin JacksonSP Drew Smyly
    3B Nick Castellanos (R)SU Joba Chamberlain
    LF Andy DirksSU Bruce Rondon
    C Alex AvilaCL Joe Nathan
    SS Jose Iglesias 

     

    Team Outlook

    The Detroit Tigers dealt Prince Fielder and Doug Fister this offseason, but the additions of Ian Kinsler, Joe Nathan and top prospect Nick Castellanos should be enough to make those moves a wash as far as 2014 is concerned. Protecting Miguel Cabrera looks like the biggest issue, but with the pitching staff that the Tigers have, their opponent will have a hard time scoring runs regardless.

    Drew Smyly should be more than capable of replacing Fister in the rotation, and if guys like Austin Jackson and Alex Avila can rebound from rough seasons, the offense should be just fine. The Tigers have been unable to run away with the AL Central each of the past two seasons, and the Royals could give them problems this year. But as long as Detroit reaches the playoffs, it should fare well with its dominant pitching staff in October.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    RF Yasiel Puig SP Clayton Kershaw
    LF Carl CrawfordSP Zack Greinke
    SS Hanley RamirezSP Hyun-Jin Ryu
    1B Adrian GonzalezSP Dan Haren
    CF Matt KempSP Paul Maholm
    3B Juan Uribe SU Brian Wilson
    C A.J. EllisSU Chris Perez
    2B Alex GuerreroCL Kenley Jansen

     

    Team Outlook

    Despite a disastrous start to the 2013 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers still managed to win the NL West title by 11 games. If they can get things going right out of the gates in 2014, it's hard to imagine anyone being able to keep up with them in the division.

    The offense is essentially the same, but healthy seasons from Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp, as well as a full season of Yasiel Puig, should mean better numbers overall. Infield depth is a serious concern with an unproven rookie in Alex Guerrero at second and an inconsistent veteran in Juan Uribe at third, but there is still time to address that. The pitching staff will once again have a dynamic No. 1-No. 3, led by the best pitcher in the game in Clayton Kershaw, while the bullpen looks to be significantly improved as well.

    The only question now is, can the Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven-game series?

1. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    3B Matt CarpenterSP Adam Wainwright
    CF Peter BourjosSP Michael Wacha
    LF Matt HollidaySP Shelby Miller
    RF Allen CraigSP Jaime Garcia
    1B Matt AdamsSP Joe Kelly
    C Yadier Molina SU Kevin Siegrist
    SS Jhonny Peralta SU Carlos Martinez (R)
    2B Kolten Wong (R)CL Trevor Rosenthal

     

    Team Outlook

    A recent article on homegrown talent I put together revealed that 19 of the 25 players projected to make the St. Louis Cardinals' Opening Day roster were drafted and developed by the team. That speaks volumes as to why they have been perennial contenders, and they look like the team to beat entering 2014.

    A full season from Michael Wacha and a healthy Jaime Garcia give the team an abundance of starting pitching, while the offense should be improved thanks to the addition of Jhonny Peralta at shortstop and the impending arrival of top prospect Oscar Taveras.

    The team's biggest strength is its depth, as it has overcome key injuries time and again without missing a beat. Anything short of another NL pennant would be a disappointment for the Cardinals as they look to make their way back to the World Series.