MLB Power Rankings: Where Teams Stand at Start of Spring Training Games

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2014

MLB Power Rankings: Where Teams Stand at Start of Spring Training Games

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    Most MLB teams have been in camp for a couple weeks now, and spring training games will officially start this coming week. 

    The first games will take place Tuesday, with exhibitions between the New York Yankees and Florida State and the Detroit Tigers and Florida Southern, before regular MLB vs. MLB matchups begin the following day.

    Whether it's veteran stars looking to get into shape for the upcoming season, bubble guys trying to fight their way onto a roster or top prospects giving fans a glimpse of the future, spring training games mean an awful lot more than the final core of the contest.

    So as preseason baseball officially gets underway, here is a look at where all 30 MLB teams currently stand. Injuries and roster moves could certainly shake things up between now and Opening Day, but this is a good look at where teams rank following the offseason wheelings and dealings.

30. Houston Astros

1 of 30

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Dexter FowlerSP Scott Feldman
    2B Jose AltuveSP 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 GrossmanSU Josh Fields
    RF L.J. HoesCL Chad Qualls
    SS Jonathan Villar 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    While another last-place finish seems likely, the Astros should be a better team in 2014. At the very least, they could avoid another 100-loss season. It's been a drastic rebuild, but they should start to see the fruits of their labor this year.

    Prospects Jonathan Singleton and George Springer will get a long look this spring, and top pitching prospects Mark Appel and Mike Foltynewicz are in big league camp as well. Newcomer Dexter Fowler should add a spark to the top of the lineup, while veteran Scott Feldman was also added to front a young rotation.

29. Chicago Cubs

2 of 30

    Projected Roster

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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    It could be another long season on the North Side, as the Chicago Cubs continue to rebuild with an eye on making a push toward contention in 2015. The offense looks like one that could struggle to consistently score runs, though bounce-back seasons from Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo would certainly help.

    The Cubs' highly touted foursome of prospects in Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler will all be in big league camp. None are expected to make the Opening Day roster, but Baez and Bryant could both see the majors at some point in 2014.

    Third base will be the position battle to watch, as former top prospect Mike Olt will look to beat out the platoon of Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy.

28. Minnesota Twins

3 of 30

    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 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    Two of the top prospects in all of baseball will be in big league camp for the Minnesota Twins. Center fielder Byron Buxton and third baseman Miguel Sano will look to prove themselves against big league talent, with an eye on reaching Minnesota at some point in 2014.

    The center field job looks to be up for grabs, as does the designated hitter spot, where minor league free agent Jason Kubel is the early favorite. Kubel joins Jason Bartlett and Matt Guerrier as former Twins trying to make good on non-roster invites.

27. Miami Marlins

4 of 30

    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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    It will be a significantly different-looking infield in Miami this coming season, and fans will get their first chance to see Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones, Rafael Furcal, Casey McGehee and Jeff Baker this spring. That group should help improve an offense that ranked last in the MLB in runs scored last season.

    The biggest position battle figures to be at the back of the rotation, where Tom Koehler will have to hold off a handful of challengers that includes top prospect Andrew Heaney, Brian Flynn and Kevin Slowey. Whoever wins that job will join one of the best young rotations in the game, as pitching could be a real strength for the team in 2014. Jose Fernandez will be back to lead the way as he looks to avoid a sophomore slump.

26. Chicago White Sox

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    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 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The Chicago White Sox have done a nice job piecing together a solid young offensive core since they began rebuilding last August. Avisail Garcia is joined by a trio of newcomers in Adam Eaton, Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu, and those four guys will be counted on to lead the way at the plate moving forward.

    Abreu in particular has a chance to make a serious impact from day one, and he'll be one of the more closely watched players in any team's camp.

    On the pitching side of things, young right-handers Erik Johnson and Andre Rienzo will need to beat out Felipe Paulino and Eric Surkamp, and Nathan Jones will need to prove he's the best option to replace Addison Reed in the ninth inning.

25. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Projected Roster

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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The Philadelphia Phillies lineup is essentially set entering camp, but given their age, the team will need to make sure it has viable depth at every position should injury strike. The starting rotation is another story entirely, as there are more than a few candidates to fill out the staff.

    Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett are locks to make it, but the team will likely be without Cole Hamels for at least a couple of starts to kick off the season, as he has dealt with shoulder tendinitis. From there, incumbents Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin join Roberto Hernandez and Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to battle it out for the final three spots.

24. Colorado Rockies

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    Projected Roster

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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    As always, starting pitching is the biggest question mark for the Colorado Rockies, and they will be looking to build on an improved performance in that area last year. Brett Anderson could be the biggest X-factor on the roster, as he has ace stuff when healthy but has struggled to stay on the field.

    Fellow newcomers Jordan Lyles and Franklin Morales join Juan Nicasio, Chad Bettis, Christian Friedrich and a handful of others in the running for the No. 5 starter spot. Top prospects Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler will also be in big league camp. Offensively, Corey Dickerson, Drew Stubbs, Brandon Barnes and Charlie Blackmon will be competing to replace Dexter Fowler in center field.

23. San Diego Padres

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    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    SS Everth CabreraSP Andrew Cashner
    CF Will VenableSP Ian Kennedy
    3B Chase HeadleySP Josh Johnson
    LF Carlos QuentinSP Tyson Ross
    1B Yonder AlonsoSP Eric Stults
    2B Jedd GyorkoSU Alex Torres
    RF Seth SmithSU Joaquin Benoit
    C Nick HundleyCL Huston Street


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The San Diego Padres offense could be ready to take a step forward in 2014, provided Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso can continue their development and veterans Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley can stay healthy and productive. Speedy shortstop Everth Cabrera will also need to prove himself after his breakout 2013 season ended prematurely with a 50-game PED suspension.

    Josh Johnson and Ian Kennedy will be out to prove they are still capable of being elite starters, while Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross will look to show that their second half in 2013 was a sign of bigger things to come.

    The Padres will be one of the most interesting teams to watch in 2014, as they have the potential to be a dark-horse contender if everything goes right. But they could also very well end up in the NL West cellar if they don't.

22. New York Mets

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    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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    There are some big new faces in camp for the New York Mets, led by veterans Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon. It may be another season until the team can make a legitimate run at a playoff spot, but it should improve over 2013, even with ace Matt Harvey on the shelf.

    Top prospect Noah Syndergaard will get a chance to prove himself in big league camp, and a late-season call-up remains a possibility. Former top prospect Jenrry Mejia looks to finally be healthy, and he could be in for a breakout season if he secures the No. 5 starter job. In the outfield, defensive whiz Juan Lagares will need to hold off speedy Eric Young Jr. in center field, as the team will need to choose offense vs. defense.

21. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    SS Jose ReyesSP R.A. Dickey
    RF Jose BautistaSP Mark Buehrle
    1B Edwin EncarnacionSP Brandon Morrow
    DH Adam LindSP J.A. Happ
    CF Colby RasmusSP Kyle Drabek
    3B Brett LawrieSU Steve Delabar
    LF Melky CabreraSU Sergio Santos
    C Dioner NavarroCL Casey Janssen
    2B Ryan Goins (R) 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The Toronto Blue Jays looked like a lock to add a free-agent starter of some sort earlier this offseason, but that is looking less and less likely.

    "I think it's unlikely at this point," GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jeff Odom of The Associated Press (h/t CTV Toronto). "We're getting so late into spring training, (it's) unlikely unless a trade emerges. But again, as the off-season has progressed, we've felt better about the internal options."

    Those internal options include Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, Marcus Stroman and Sean Nolin. Three guys from that group will need to be key contributors if the team is going to have any chance of contending in the AL East.

20. Seattle Mariners

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    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Dustin AckleySP Felix Hernandez
    3B Kyle SeagerSP Hisashi Iwakuma
    2B Robinson CanoSP Taijuan Walker (R)
    DH Corey HartSP James Paxton (R)
    1B Justin SmoakSP Erasmo Ramirez
    LF Logan MorrisonSU Tom Wilhelmsen
    RF Michael SaundersSU Danny Farquhar
    C Mike ZuninoCL Fernando Rodney
    SS Brad Miller 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    Robinson Cano headlines a group of notable additions who will be looking to help the Seattle Mariners make a run at their first postseason berth since 2001. The superstar second baseman will be under a microscope after signing a massive 10-year, $240 million deal, but it's the continued development of the Mariners' young players that may have the biggest bearing on where they finish in 2014.

    Rookies Taijuan Walker and James Paxton will be counted on to hold down rotation spots, while Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak and Mike Zunino all need to prove why they were so highly regarded. Even with everything they've done this offseason, it's hard to picture the Mariners finishing any better than third in the AL West. Crazier things have happened, though, and there is no question the team has improved.

19. Milwaukee Brewers

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    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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    After staying quiet for most of the offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers pulled off a surprise of sorts when they inked right-hander Matt Garza to a four-year, $50 million deal. He joins a starting rotation that has a chance to be one of the better ones in the National League if everyone pitches up to their potential.

    The biggest story in camp, though, will be the return of Ryan Braun, who will need to prove he is still the impact player he was pre-PED suspension. If he can return to form, Aramis Ramirez can stay healthy and someone can step forward and claim the first base job, the offense could again be a strength as well.

    This team is not nearly as bad as its record last season may indicate, but is it good enough to contend in the NL Central?

18. Los Angeles Angels

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    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 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    Trading Mark Trumbo was a tough decision, but it will prove well worth it if left-handers Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs can shore up the back of the rotation. Veterans Raul Ibanez and Carlos Pena will then duke it out for the chance to replace Trumbo in the lineup, though both represent a significant downgrade at this point in their careers.

    The health of Albert Pujols will certainly be worth keeping an eye on, as the team desperately needs him to get back to producing in the middle of the lineup. Expectations will be significantly lower than they were heading into last season, but there is no shortage of talent on this roster, and the Angels could make some noise in the AL West if their stars play up to their contracts.

17. Baltimore Orioles

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    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    RF Nick MarkakisSP Ubaldo Jimenez
    3B Manny MachadoSP Chris Tillman
    1B Chris DavisSP Wei-Yin Chen
    CF Adam JonesSP Bud Norris
    DH Nelson CruzSP Miguel Gonzalez
    C Matt WietersSU Ryan Webb
    SS J.J. HardySU Darren O'Day
    LF David LoughCL Tommy Hunter
    2B Jemile Weeks 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The Baltimore Orioles climb three spots in the rankings after adding Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, but there are still enough question marks to keep this team out of the upper half at this point. That said, those are two big pickups, as Jimenez gives the O's a legitimate No. 1 starter and Cruz fills a DH spot that saw very little production last season.

    They still need to sort out left field and second base this spring, and Tommy Hunter will need to prove he's the man for the job in the ninth inning. Meanwhile, star third baseman Manny Machado continues his quick recovery from last year's gruesome knee injury, and he could yet be ready to go by Opening Day.

16. San Francisco Giants

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    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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    Last season was a huge disappointment for the San Francisco Giants. They had essentially the same roster from the 2012 World Series, but instead of making a run at defending their title, they found themselves battling just to avoid a last-place finish.

    Tim Hudson replaces Barry Zito in the starting rotation, and the staff as a whole will need to return to its previously dominant form if the Giants are going to get back in the title hunt. Offensively, Pablo Sandoval has slimmed down and is entering a contract year, so he could be in for a big season. Slugger Michael Morse was added to provide some pop in left field as he looks to bounce back from a rough 2013 campaign.

15. Cleveland Indians

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    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 Trevor Bauer
    SS Asdrubal CabreraSU Vinnie Pestano
    RF David MurphySU Cody Allen
    C Yan GomesCL John Axford
    3B Lonnie Chisenhall 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    Losing Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir hurts, but the Cleveland Indians rotation could be a strength once again if Corey Kluber can take another step forward and Danny Salazar can pitch for a full season like he did down the stretch. Trevor Bauer is the X-factor, as he still has dynamic stuff, but he has yet to find success at the big league level.

    How the bullpen takes shape will be perhaps the biggest thing to watch this spring, as it was an inconsistent group last year. The team replaced Chris Perez, Joe Smith, Matt Albers and Rich Hill with John Axford and Josh Outman this winter, and the new-look relief corps will need to outperform its 2013 counterpart.

14. Arizona Diamondbacks

17 of 30

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Gerardo ParraSP Patrick Corbin
    2B Aaron HillSP Bronson Arroyo
    1B Paul GoldschmidtSP Wade Miley
    C Miguel MonteroSP Trevor Cahill
    LF Mark TrumboSP Brandon McCarthy
    3B Martin PradoSU David Hernandez
    RF Cody RossSU Brad Ziegler
    SS Didi GregoriusCL Addison Reed


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The Arizona Diamondbacks found the big bat they coveted to protect Paul Goldschmidt when they acquired Mark Trumbo, and they shored up the back end of their bullpen by trading for Addison Reed. However, they failed to acquire the ace-caliber starting pitcher they needed, instead settling for veteran Bronson Arroyo on a two-year deal.

    Patrick Corbin will be closely watched this spring as he looks to prove his first half last year was no fluke. The position battle at shortstop figures to be one of the best around the league as prospect Chris Owings looks to unseat Didi Gregorius. Top prospect Archie Bradley will also be in big league camp, though the Arroyo signing leaves him without a clear path to the rotation unless someone is hurt.

13. Kansas City Royals

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    Projected Roster

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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The Kansas City Royals will enter the season looking to build on a strong second half last year, and with improvements at second base (Omar Infante) and in right field (Norichika Aoki), they should be able to avoid the offensive struggles that plagued them early on last season.

    The No. 5 spot in the rotation is available, with left-hander Danny Duffy looking like the early favorite there. Top prospects Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura will get a long look for that job as well.

    The addition of Jason Vargas and a solid performance out of the No. 5 starter should be enough to offset the loss of Ervin Santana.

12. Tampa Bay Rays

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    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 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The offseason came and went and ace David Price remains in a Tampa Bay Rays uniform. Whether he makes it to the end of 2014 remains to be seen, but with the big left-hander still in place atop the rotation, the Rays look to be in a good position to return to the postseason.

    The moves they did make were the usual under-the-radar variety. Catcher Ryan Hanigan was added in a three-team trade, and Grant Balfour was signed to replace Fernando Rodney as closer. With Jeremy Hellickson sidelined to start the year, rookie Jake Odorizzi will have every chance to break camp as the No. 5 starter; he has the stuff to be the next young starter to make a serious impact for the Rays.

11. Cincinnati Reds

20 of 30

    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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    Outside of re-signing Manny Parra and shoring up their bench with the additions of Skip Schumaker and Brayan Pena, it's been a very quiet offseason for the Cincinnati Reds. There won't be much in the way of spring training battles either, as the roster is essentially set, with non-roster invitees Ramon Santiago and Roger Bernadina expected to fight for the final bench spot.

    That said, speedster Billy Hamilton will be as scrutinized as any player in baseball this spring, as he will be counted on to replace the departed Shin-Soo Choo in center field and atop the order. The rookie could hit .250 and still steal 75 bases, but he will need to prove he can get on base at a consistent enough clip to warrant hitting leadoff.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates

21 of 30

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    LF Starling MarteSP Francisco Liriano
    2B Neil WalkerSP Gerrit Cole
    CF Andrew McCutchenSP Wandy Rodriguez
    3B Pedro AlvarezSP Charlie Morton
    C Russell MartinSP Edinson Volquez
    1B Gaby SanchezSU Tony Watson
    SS Jordy MercerSU Mark Melancon
    RF Jose TabataCL Jason Grilli


    What to Watch for This Spring

    Losing A.J. Burnett is certainly a blow for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they should be able to overcome his departure. Charlie Morton (20), Gerrit Cole (19) and Wandy Rodriguez (12) combined for just 51 starts last season, and full seasons from the three of them should go a long way in easing the loss of Burnett.

    Edinson Volquez was the big offseason addition, as the team looks to strike gold twice by signing a talented but erratic free-agent starter. Last offseason, it was Francisco Liriano agreeing to a one-year, $1 million deal and emerging as the ace of the staff.

    Jeff Locke and top prospect Jameson Taillon could push Volquez for the No. 5 job, while fellow top prospect Gregory Polanco has an outside chance of breaking camp as the starting right fielder after winning Dominican League MVP this offseason.

9. Texas Rangers

22 of 30

    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 MorelandSU Tanner Scheppers
    C Geovany SotoSU Joakim Soria
    2B Jurickson ProfarCL Neftali Feliz
    CF Leonys Martin 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    A year after losing the likes of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young in free agency, the Texas Rangers reloaded offensively, adding on-base machine Shin-Soo Choo in free agency and trading for slugger Prince Fielder. That should be enough to again give them one of the most potent offenses in all of baseball.

    However, questions in the starting rotation are enough to drop them behind the Oakland A's in these rankings and as favorites in the AL West. Derek Holland is out until midseason after suffering a freak knee injury, and Matt Harrison has already fallen behind this spring while dealing with neck and back stiffness. That leaves the likes of Tommy Hanson, Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch to step into rotation spots.

8. Oakland Athletics

23 of 30

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Coco CrispSP Jarrod Parker
    3B Josh DonaldsonSP Scott Kazmir
    SS Jed LowrieSP Sonny Gray
    LF Yoenis CespedesSP A.J. Griffin
    1B Brandon MossSP Dan Straily
    RF Josh ReddickSU Luke Gregerson
    DH John JasoSU Ryan Cook
    2B Alberto CallaspoCL Jim Johnson
    C Derek Norris 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    With back-to-back AL West titles under their belt, the Oakland Athletics' days of surprising people are over, and they enter spring training expected to contend for another division title. It was a relatively quiet offseason, but they are never one to make a big offseason splash.

    Scott Kazmir was signed to replace the departed Bartolo Colon. Luke Gregerson was acquired to bolster an already impressive setup corps, and Jim Johnson replaces Grant Balfour as closer. Prospect Addison Russell will be in big league camp, and with Jed Lowrie set to hit free agency at the end of the offseason, he could position himself for an everyday job next year with a big season in the minors.

7. New York Yankees

24 of 30

    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 JohnsonSU Shawn Kelley
    2B Brian RobertsCL David Robertson
    LF Brett Gardner 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    There is no shortage of new faces in New York Yankees camp, as the Yankees went all out this offseason after missing the playoffs last year for just the second time since 1994. Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann should upgrade the offense significantly, but it will be guys like Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson with the most to prove this spring.

    On the pitching side of things, Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will be as scrutinized as anyone this spring after signing a seven-year, $155 million deal. There will also be a battle for the No. 5 starter spot, with Michael Pineda looking to beat out David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren.

6. Atlanta Braves

25 of 30

    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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The Atlanta Braves' only significant addition this offseason was catcher Ryan Doumit, but that does not mean they sat on their hands all winter. Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward, Julio Teheran and Craig Kimbrel all received multi-year extensions as the team looked to lock up its impressive young core.

    If Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton can provide something offensively and Alex Wood can hold down the No. 5 starter spot, the Braves will be awfully tough once again. They likely won't have things quite so easy in the NL East this year, though, as the Washington Nationals look poised to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 season.

5. Boston Red Sox

26 of 30

    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 Felix Doubront
    SS Xander Bogaerts (R)SU Junichi Tazawa
    C A.J. PierzynskiSU Edward Mujica
    3B Will MiddlebrooksCL Koji Uehara
    CF Jackie Bradley (R) 


    What to Watch for This Spring

    All eyes will be on rookies Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley as they replace departed veterans Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury. They will both be counted on to make an immediate impact, but they do have the luxury of joining the highest-scoring offense in baseball.

    Ryan Dempster has opted to sit out the 2014 season in an effort to get healthy, and that could mean the team's starting pitching depth is tested should injury strike. Chris Capuano was added in free agency, and prospects Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Henry Owens will all get a chance to show what they can do in big league camp. There have been some big changes, but the Red Sox still look like the best team in the AL East top to bottom.

4. Washington Nationals

27 of 30

    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    CF Denard SpanSP Stephen Strasburg
    RF Jayson WerthSP Gio Gonzalez
    LF Bryce HarperSP Jordan Zimmermann
    3B Ryan ZimmermanSP Doug Fister
    1B Adam LaRocheSP Ross Detwiler
    SS Ian DesmondSU Drew Storen
    C Wilson RamosSU Tyler Clippard
    2B Anthony RendonCL Rafael Soriano


    What to Watch for This Spring

    A stagnant offensive attack left the Washington Nationals just one game over .500 when the All-Star break rolled around last season. And even with a strong second half, they were unable to reach the postseason just a year after posting the best record in baseball.

    With the acquisition of Doug Fister, they have arguably the top starting rotation in all of baseball. Ross Detwiler, Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan will fight it out for the No. 5 starter spot, with the other two providing valuable depth. As long as they can stay healthy and avoid a similarly slow start at the plate, the Nationals should give the Atlanta Braves everything they can handle in the NL East.

3. Detroit Tigers

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    Projected Roster

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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    For a team that has reached the ALCS the past three seasons, including the World Series in 2012, the Detroit Tigers made some significant moves this winter with an eye on the future rather than the present. Prince Fielder and Doug Fister were traded, with future extensions for Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera as the motivating factor.

    That said, adding Ian Kinsler in the Fielder trade and signing Joe Nathan in free agency are both big additions to this team. Drew Smyly should be more than capable of replacing Fister in the rotation, and a big season from top prospect Nick Castellanos could certainly help ease the loss of Fielder.

    It was a busy offseason, but on the strength of their pitching and the best hitter in the game, the Tigers still look like the best team in the American League.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Projected Roster

    LineupPitching Staff
    RF Yasiel PuigSP 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 UribeSU Brian Wilson
    C A.J. EllisSU Chris Perez
    2B Alex GuerreroCL Kenley Jansen


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to reach the playoffs in 2013 despite a horrendous start to the season. If they can avoid stumbling out of the gates in 2014, they could be in position to make a run at 100-plus wins.

    They are not without their fair share of question marks, though.

    The health of Matt Kemp and a lack of infield depth should rookie Alex Guerrero or inconsistent veteran Juan Uribe struggle leave the offense farm from rock solid. Full seasons from Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez figure to make the Dodgers that much better, though.

    On the mound, Dan Haren and Paul Maholm fill out a rotation that may feature the best No. 1-No. 3 in all of baseball. And the bullpen should be even better with the additions of Jamey Wright and Chris Perez.

    The biggest question remains whether or not they can beat the St. Louis Cardinals a best-of-seven series.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Projected Roster

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


    What to Watch for This Spring

    The St. Louis Cardinals wasted little time plugging the one glaring hole on their roster, signing Jhonny Peralta to a four-year deal to replace light-hitting Pete Kozma at shortstop. They also upgraded in center field by trading David Freese for Peter Bourjos and, in the process, freed up an everyday spot for prospect Kolten Wong.

    The Cardinals will need to sort out the starting rotation this spring, as they have seven legitimate candidates vying for five spots, but that's an awfully good problem to have. Top prospect Oscar Taveras will look to prove he's 100 percent after missing much of last season with an ankle injury, and he could push Matt Adams back to the bench and claim the starting right field job before too long.

    With a good mix of young up-and-comers and veteran leaders and terrific depth up and down the roster should injury strike, the Cardinals look like the team to beat here as spring training games get underway.