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Updating All 30 MLB Teams' Biggest Need as Spring Training Winds Down

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2014

Updating All 30 MLB Teams' Biggest Need as Spring Training Winds Down

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Spring training not only serves as training camp for MLB teams, but it provides general managers and coaching staffs the chance to evaluate their overall rosters, taking note of what areas of weakness—if any—need to be addressed.

    With the regular season nearly upon us, time is running out for teams to address those needs, and some may be left considering in-house options that, while not ideal solutions for what ails their roster, are the best available options at the moment.

    Let's take a look around baseball at what, if anything, each team still needs heading into Opening Day—and a glance at the rumor mill to see whether those teams are actively looking at outside solutions.

     

     

Arizona Diamondbacks: Front-Line Starting Pitcher

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Arizona has been chasing after a front-line starting pitcher to pair alongside Patrick Corbin (pictured) for months, and with the news that Corbin will miss the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery (via Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona), there's an added sense of urgency to find that elusive arm.

    This past winter, the D-Backs were rumored to be exploring trades for Chicago's Jeff Samardzija and Cleveland's Justin Masterson (per ESPN's Buster Olney) along with Cincinnati's Homer Bailey (via MLB.com's Phil Rogers).

    There was also the team's failed pursuit of the most sought-after free agent of the winter, Masahiro Tanaka (h/t Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal), who eventually signed a lucrative, multi-year deal with the New York Yankees.

    Bailey, who has since signed an extension with Cincinnati, and Tanaka are obviously no longer options, but both Masterson and Samardzija could be. CBS Chicago's Bruce Levine expects the Diamondbacks to approach the Cubs once again about "The Shark," though he notes that the Cubs will likely ask for top prospect Archie Bradley, which would end talks quickly.

    While the Diamondbacks don't have quite as many attractive trade chips as they did heading into the winter, shortstop Didi Gregorius is a valuable carrot for GM Kevin Towers to dangle in front of teams looking for an upgrade—and a long-term solution—at the position.

    A report by CBS Sports' 93.7 FM "The FAN" in Pittsburgh indicates that the Pirates are interested in working out a deal for the 24-year-old, who became expendable after losing the starting job to Chris Owings.

    Whether he'll be enough on his own to fetch the kind of starting pitcher the Diamondbacks seek, however, remains to be seen.

     

     

Atlanta Braves: Depth for the Starting Rotation

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    Can the Braves count on Gavin Floyd?
    Can the Braves count on Gavin Floyd?Elsa/Getty Images

    With the team confirming that both Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen will be out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Gavin Floyd and Mike Minor beginning the year on the disabled list and Ervin Santana still working his way into shape, Atlanta heads into the season with a makeshift rotation.

    GM Frank Wren isn't concerned, as he explained to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman:

    Slowly but surely we're getting Santana, Minor and Floyd. Then we're back to pretty good depth and pretty good strength. By getting Santana, we were able to make the most out of a tough situation.

    But can the Braves count on Floyd, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery of his own?

    Typically, pitchers don't return to form until their second season back from the procedure, and with the Braves expected to be involved in a heated battle with Washington all season long for NL East supremacy, they can't afford for Floyd to be limited in any way once he returns to action.

    Adding a veteran arm that, at the very least, can eat some innings would be a wise insurance policy for the Braves to take out.

Baltimore Orioles: An Experienced Closer

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    Tommy Hunter will be learning on the job.
    Tommy Hunter will be learning on the job.Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Tommy Hunter has the makeup and velocity on his fastball to be a successful closer, but he lacks the experience that most playoff contenders look for in the ninth inning.

    Baltimore clearly wasn't sold on the idea of Hunter replacing Jim Johnson early on this winter, evidenced by the team's failed effort to sign Grant Balfour, and there's reason to wonder whether they made a mistake by not following through on their agreement to ink the veteran reliever.

    In what is sure to be a tight race for the two American League wild-card berths, Baltimore can ill afford to drop games in which they carry a lead into the ninth inning. Given Hunter's inexperience—and penchant for surrendering home runs—that seems like a scenario that is likely to play out multiple times throughout the course of the season.

    Should a veteran reliever with closing experience become available, it would behoove the Orioles to at least inquire about what it would cost to obtain him. Even if that reliever winds up in a setup role, his ability to mentor Hunter as he learns to close on the fly could be invaluable.

Boston Red Sox: Nothing

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    Grady Sizemore has turned out to be a shrewd addition by GM Ben Cherington.
    Grady Sizemore has turned out to be a shrewd addition by GM Ben Cherington.Steven Senne/Associated Press

    I suppose that you could make the case that the Red Sox need some insurance in center field and at the leadoff spot, given Jackie Bradley Jr.'s struggles and Grady Sizemore's lengthy medical history, but the defending World Champions head into the 2014 season in excellent shape.

    Should Sizemore's past rear its ugly head in 2014, Boston could either put Bradley Jr. in his spot or slide right fielder Shane Victorino over to center field, using a combination of Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes to fill in for the "Flyin' Hawaiian." Or they could call on 25-year-old Bryce Brentz, who impressed this spring.

    Boston's farm system is stocked with high-end talent, especially on the mound, enabling the Red Sox to either call upon that young talent to fill holes as they arise or to use some of that talent in a trade to acquire a more established option.

Chicago Cubs: Late-Inning Relief

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    Jose Veras is more of a setup man than a closer.
    Jose Veras is more of a setup man than a closer.Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

    Veteran reliever Jose Veras has bounced around baseball over the course of his nine-year career, with the Cubs marking the eighth different uniform that he's worn.

    He's had middling results as a closer, converting only 26 of 42 save opportunities, and he's at his most effective when used in middle relief or as a setup man.

    With Chicago still in the process of rebuilding, Veras' stay in the Windy City isn't likely to be a long one, with the team looking to flip him for additional pieces at the trade deadline, but the team may want to address their ninth-inning situation before July rolls around.

Chicago White Sox: An Upgrade Behind the Plate

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    The Tyler Flowers era needs to come to an end.
    The Tyler Flowers era needs to come to an end.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Tyler Flowers has made it quite clear that he's not the long-term answer behind the plate in Chicago, and while Rule 5 draft pick Adrian Nieto has been solid at the plate this spring, he's a work-in-progress defensively.

    While Chicago isn't expected to contend in 2014, the White Sox have a talented pitching staff, one that needs a solid game-caller and receiver behind the dish—someone that will be around for a few years so that they can become familiar with each other and develop a rapport.

    It comes as no surprise that the White Sox have been linked to a handful of catchers this spring, including New York's Francisco Cervelli (h/t Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com), and chances are that general manager Rick Hahn will continue to monitor the catching market until he finds the right fit.

Cincinnati Reds: Late-Inning Relief

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    Aroldis Chapman's injury leaves Cincinnati's bullpen thin.
    Aroldis Chapman's injury leaves Cincinnati's bullpen thin.Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    With Jonathan Broxton, Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall all expected to begin the season on the disabled list, the Reds could be on the hunt for a late-inning reliever with some closing experience, as noted by Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, who opines that Arizona's J.J. Putz could be a target.

    That's not to say that J.J. Hoover, the team's closer-by-default, isn't capable of holding things down until one of the team's injured veterans returns to action, but the Reds bullpen is weaker without Hoover serving as a setup man, a role in which he's thrived.

     

Cleveland Indians: An Innings-Eater in the Rotation

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    Can Zach McAllister hold up for an entire season?
    Can Zach McAllister hold up for an entire season?Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    It's not that Cleveland doesn't have a lot of talent in its starting rotation after Justin Masterson—Corey Kluber might be one of the more underrated pitchers in the game—but there are legitimate questions about just how reliable those talented arms will be.

    Between Kluber, Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin, none have ever thrown more than 165 innings or made more than 26 starts in a given season, and Tomlin, who has looked strong this spring, is recovering from 2012 elbow surgery. 

    There's little in the way of depth in the minor leagues, with Carlos Carrasco underwhelming and prospect Trevor Bauer still not ready for prime time.

    After losing the 340 innings of work that Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir provided the rotation with a year ago, the Indians chose not to pursue any of the established arms on the free-agent market. Adding a veteran that's capable of eating some of those lost innings would be a wise move for the Tribe, just in case one of the current starters isn't up for the task.

Colorado Rockies: An Upgrade in Center Field That Can Be the Team's Table-Setter

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    Corey Dickerson has yet to show that he can reach base consistently in the major leagues.
    Corey Dickerson has yet to show that he can reach base consistently in the major leagues.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    While Dexter Fowler was a below-average defender in center field and consistently unable to live up to the expectations that came along with his level of talent, Colorado's former leadoff hitter did know how to get on base, posting a career .367 on-base percentage since 2009.

    Sure, the two players that Colorado has replaced him with, Corey Dickerson and Drew Stubbs, are upgrades with the glove, but neither one has shown the ability to get on base consistently, posting career on-base percentages of .316 and .310, respectively.

    So it came as no surprise when ESPN's Jim Bowden (subscription required) recently filed a report that the Rockies were concerned with the situation in center field and in the leadoff spot, though to this point, it doesn't appear as if the team is pursuing any other options.

    Could Dickerson, who owns a career .370 on-base percentage over parts of four minor league seasons, or Stubbs finally figure things out this year? It's possible. But it's far from a sure thing, and for a lineup that should rank among the game's most dangerous in 2014, that's a problem.

Detroit Tigers: A Starting Shortstop

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    Stephen Drew would solve Detroit's biggest problem.
    Stephen Drew would solve Detroit's biggest problem.Elsa/Getty Images

    With Detroit confirming that starting shortstop Jose Iglesias is out of action for the next four to six months with stress fractures in both shins, speculation ran rampant that the Tigers would sign free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew. 

    That speculation only grew louder after the Detroit Free Press' John Lowe reported that Drew was willing to sign a one-year deal with the Tigers, offering a short-term solution to the team's problem without blocking Iglesias at the position in 2015 and beyond.

    Yet whether it's because of Drew's reported asking price ($14 million) or the fact that the team would have to surrender a first-round draft pick to sign him, the Tigers have opted to pursue far less attractive options, acquiring Andrew Romine from the Angels and Alex Gonzalez from the Orioles.

    While not wanting to lose a draft pick is understandable, the Tigers are built to win now, and with a number of contenders in the American League making improvements to their rosters during the offseason—including those within their own division—now isn't the time for the free-spending franchise to suddenly become frugal.

Houston Astros: Quality Innings-Eaters in the Rotation

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    Scott Feldman isn't enough to fix what ails Houston's rotation.
    Scott Feldman isn't enough to fix what ails Houston's rotation.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    It's no secret that Houston is in rebuilding mode, but after a winter that saw the club spend to sign veteran free agents Matt Albers, Jesse Crain, Scott Feldman and Chad Qualls and trade for Dexter Fowler, the Astros are clearly looking to improve upon last year's 51-111 record.

    Unfortunately for the Astros, only one of those new additions—Feldman—is a starting pitcher, and he enters the 2014 season as one of only two members of the starting rotation, along with Dallas Keuchel, who has ever thrown more than 100 innings in the major leagues.

    While the rest of the rotation—Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock—should all crack triple digits in 2014, Houston's bullpen, which threw the fifth-most innings of any bullpen in baseball in 2013, figures to be overworked once again.

    That's not a recipe for success, and the Astros, with no expectations of finishing the season with a winning record, should be looking to add a veteran arm, if for no other reason than to provide insurance should one of the youngsters break down.

    As teams whittle down their rosters over the next week, Houston could be one of the more active teams in the league, swooping in to pick up the scraps that didn't make the grade elsewhere.

Kansas City Royals: Nothing

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    Jason Vargas isn't as bad of an addition to the rotation as some believe.
    Jason Vargas isn't as bad of an addition to the rotation as some believe.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Is Jason Vargas miscast as the No. 2 starter in Kansas City this season? Absolutely.

    But the 31-year-old southpaw isn't anywhere near as poor an addition to the team's starting rotation as some believe he is, and with the exception of reliever Luke Hochevar, lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery, as reported by MLB.com's Dick KaegelKansas City heads into 2014 healthy and without a glaring hole on its roster.

    The Royals have depth, both on the major league bench and down on the farm, to plug holes as they pop up during the season, especially in the pitching staff, where Danny Duffy, John Lamb and top prospect Kyle Zimmer are waiting in the wings to make an impact if called upon.

    Believe it or not, the Royals are in excellent shape to end a nearly 30-year absence from the playoffs in 2014—and their depth is a major reason why.

Los Angeles Angels: Depth for the Starting Rotation

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    Newcomer Tyler Skaggs is talented—but unproven.
    Newcomer Tyler Skaggs is talented—but unproven.Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The Angels headed into the offseason with two major needs: obtaining upgrades at third base and in the starting rotation. GM Jerry Dipoto accomplished both, acquiring David Freese from St. Louis to man the hot corner and, in exchange for Mark Trumbo, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs to fill out the rotation.

    But with a lack of quality options in the upper levels of its minor league system, the Angels lack the depth that contenders typically need in their starting rotations to make it through the grind of a 162-game regular-season schedule.

    Should someone get bit by the injury bug—or should Skaggs prove that he needs more work in the minor leagues—the Angels will be hard pressed to replace them on the roster, with veteran swingmen Wade LeBlanc and Clay Rapada their best in-house options.

    It wouldn't be at all surprising to see the team pick up a veteran that gets released between now and Opening Day, if for no other reason than to give themselves another option if and when another starter is needed.

     

Los Angeles Dodgers: Nothing

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    Adding players like Alex Guerrero this winter only added to the Dodgers incredible depth.
    Adding players like Alex Guerrero this winter only added to the Dodgers incredible depth.Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    If you're looking for teams with enviable depth, look no further than the Dodgers, who can boast the kind of organizational depth that teams dream about but only a few ever are able to experience.

    It's not just a few positions at which the Dodgers are deep—they've got an in-house option for nearly every position on the field, and the talent, both at the major league and minor league levels, to go out and acquire whatever they don't currently have in the organization.

    A team without a glaring weakness in a division full of flawed rosters is a dangerous one—and that's why the Dodgers are one of the favorites to represent the National League in the Fall Classic this season.

Miami Marlins: An Upgrade at Third Base

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    Casey McGehee leaves a lot to be desired at the hot corner.
    Casey McGehee leaves a lot to be desired at the hot corner.Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

    After hitting .289 with 27 home runs and 90 RBI for Japan's Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013, Miami decided to sign 31-year-old Casey McGehee to a one-year deal to plug their gaping hole at third base.

    Except McGehee isn't exactly the next coming of Mike Schmidt, and the 31-year-old, an average defender at best, is three years removed from his most productive big league season, when he hit .285 with 23 home runs, 104 RBI and an .801 OPS for Milwaukee in 2010.

    Miami got little production from its third basemen in 2013, as the group, mainly Placido Polanco and Ed Lucas, batted .248/.315/.300 with three home runs.

    There's no guarantee that McGehee, who has hit .221 with 22 home runs, 108 RBI and a .632 OPS over 239 major league games since his breakout season, will be a more productive option for the fish than they had a season ago.

    Finding an upgrade at the position would go a long way towards Miami avoiding another 100-loss season in 2014.

Milwaukee Brewers: A Long-Term Answer at First Base

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    Milwaukee hopes that Lyle Overbay can turn back time.
    Milwaukee hopes that Lyle Overbay can turn back time.Morry Gash/Associated Press

    No team in baseball got less production from its first basemen in 2013 than Milwaukee, which used five different players at the position that combined to hit .211/.256/.359 with a league-low 64 wRC+.

    The team turned to a former Brewer, Lyle Overbay, along with Mark Reynolds, both of whom finished the 2013 season with the New York Yankees, to bring more to the table in 2014.

    At the very least, the duo should provide solid defense and some more pop than their predecessors, but those hoping to see the Overbay that hit .289 with 35 home runs, 87 doubles and an OPS of .840 for the Brewers from 2004 to 2005 will be sadly disappointed.

    With prospect Hunter Morris looking less and less like a long-term solution at the position, the Brewers may need to look outside the organization for their first baseman of the future.

    The team had been linked to New York's Ike Davis throughout the winter but, as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted, Milwaukee was not willing to meet the Mets' asking price of RHP Tyler Thornburg. With Davis' future in the Big Apple still very much in question, those talks could pick up steam once again.

Minnesota Twins: A Productive Designated Hitter

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    Jason Kubel has been anything but productive this spring.
    Jason Kubel has been anything but productive this spring.Steven Senne/Associated Press

    It's all about the future in Minnesota, with prospects Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer and the injured Miguel Sano expected to be the cornerstones of the team's return to the land of the contenders in 2015 and beyond.

    While the team spent much of the offseason bolstering its decrepit starting rotation (and yes, they could use another veteran starter), the Twins decided to take a flier on former Twin Jason Kubel, hoping that the outfielder could get his career back on track as the team's primary designated hitter.

    Unfortunately, Kubel hasn't been able to replicate his past success in a Twins uniform this spring, hitting a paltry .212 with only two extra-base hits and a .667 OPS. After Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham, there's a major question as to who is going to serve as a run producer in the lineup, a job that normally falls on the shoulders of a team's DH.

    Perhaps 30-year-old Chris Colabello, who hit .333 with a .967 OPS this spring and is penciled in as the right-handed part of a platoon with Kubel at the position, will eventually take over on a full-time basis and produce, but the Twins could use another veteran option to choose from, just in case.

New York Mets: A Major League-Caliber Shortstop

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    Ruben Tejada would have been jettisoned by most other teams by now.
    Ruben Tejada would have been jettisoned by most other teams by now.David Goldman/Associated Press

    The Mets continue to hold out hope that the Ruben Tejada that hit a combined .287 with a .685 OPS and played solid defense for them in 2011 and 2012 will suddenly reappear at shortstop, solidifying what is the team's biggest weak spot entering the 2014 season.

    Unfortunately, that player has been nowhere to be found this spring, with Tejada hitting .216 with a .572 OPS while committing four errors in the field.

    The team continues to chat with super-agent Scott Boras about free agent Stephen Drew, according to Newsday's Anthony Rieber, while sources tell ESPN New York's Adam Rubin that the Mets have discussed a potential deal for Arizona's Didi Gregorius, though nothing is believed to be close on either front.

    Whether Tejada has simply lost "it" or needs a change of scenery, going into the season with him as the team's everyday shortstop is a recipe for disaster. Finding an upgrade—and fast—is paramount to the team's chances of posting a winning record for the first time since 2008.

New York Yankees: Back of the Bullpen Options

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    David Robertson's shift to the ninth inning has left a void in New York's bullpen.
    David Robertson's shift to the ninth inning has left a void in New York's bullpen.Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    That the Yankees opted to shift David Robertson into the closer's role, replacing a living legend in Mariano Rivera, came as no surprise to anyone. The hard-throwing reliever had long been considered Mo's heir apparent, and he'll get his shot to prove that he's up for the challenge in 2014.

    But the team failed to address the gaping hole that shift created in the eighth inning, and they are counting on the likes of Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton and Dellin Betances, formerly one of the team's top starting pitching prospects, to fill that void.

    Thornton is a left-handed specialist at this point in his career, while Kelley, with a career 3.77 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, and Betances (9.39 ERA, 2.45 WHIP) are anything but sure things in the later innings.

    The Yankees would benefit from adding another experienced, established reliever to the bullpen mix, and it wouldn't at all be surprising to see GM Brian Cashman make a move to acquire one—perhaps someone like Joel Hanrahan, working his way back from 2013 Tommy John surgery—before Opening Day.

     

Oakland Athletics: Depth for the Starting Rotation

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    Losing Jarrod Parker for the season hurts Oakland's chances of a three-peat as division champions.
    Losing Jarrod Parker for the season hurts Oakland's chances of a three-peat as division champions.Morry Gash/Associated Press

    With the team's announcement that Jarrod Parker will miss the 2014 season after undergoing the second Tommy John surgery of his career and A.J. Griffin potentially headed to the disabled list with a muscle strain in his right arm (h/t MLB.com), Oakland finds itself searching for quality arms.

    Youngsters Sonny Gray and Dan Straily, with a combined 255.2 innings of major league experience between them, will be counted on to carry the load along with Scott Kazmir, who has battled injuries throughout his career and not exceeded 160 innings of work since 2008.

    Should another injury hit the A's rotation, Oakland will be hard-pressed to find more quality options in-house, especially with top pitching prospects Raul Alcantara and Michael Ynoa still at least a year away from being able to offer any assistance.

    Adding another veteran arm, even if it's on a minor league deal, would at least give the A's some insurance as they try and defend their division crown against improved competition in the AL West.

Philadelphia Phillies: Rotation Depth

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    Roberto Hernandez is anything but a sure thing at the back of Philadelphia's rotation.
    Roberto Hernandez is anything but a sure thing at the back of Philadelphia's rotation.Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    When healthy, the trio of A.J. Burnett, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee is as formidable as any trio atop a starting rotation in baseball.

    But there's a steep drop in talent after that in Philadelphia, and it's a concern for a team whose window of opportunity is quickly closing.

    Roberto Hernandez and Kyle Kendrick are below-average options at the back end of the rotation, Miguel Gonzalez has looked like anything but a legitimate rotation option since signing with the club late last season and some of the team's top pitching prospects, including Jonathan Pettibone, have injury concerns hovering around them.

    The Phillies would do well to sign a veteran arm as insurance, something that Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says that they're looking to do, though they only have a limited amount of money available to accomplish that goal.

Pittsburgh Pirates: An Upgrade at First Base

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    It's time for Pittsburgh to end the two-headed monster of Gaby Sanchez and a player-to-be-named-later at first base.
    It's time for Pittsburgh to end the two-headed monster of Gaby Sanchez and a player-to-be-named-later at first base.Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    As was the case in 2013, Pittsburgh heads into the regular season with Gaby Sanchez taking the at-bats at first base against left-handed pitching and someone else filling the role against right-handers.

    Neither of Sanchez's platoon partners from a year ago, Garrett Jones and Justin Morneau, are still with the club, leaving either Travis Ishikawa or Andrew Lambo as the most likely candidates to comprise the two-headed monster at the position.

    The Pirates were linked to multiple first base options over the winter, including New York's Ike Davis and free agent Kendrys Morales, and both remain available. 

    USA Today's John Perrotto says that the Mets wanted RHP Nick Kingham in exchange for Davis, while the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reported that the Pirates were leery of surrendering the 27th pick in the 2014 MLB draft to sign Morales.

    If Pittsburgh hopes to build upon its success from a season ago, upgrading the position is a necessity.

San Diego Padres: A Second Left-Handed Reliever

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    Alex Torres was a solid addition, but the Padres need another LOOGY.
    Alex Torres was a solid addition, but the Padres need another LOOGY.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    With San Diego's decision to part ways with left-handed relievers Patrick Schuster and Tony Sipp, as reported by Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Padres head into the regular season with only one left-handed reliever on the roster, 26-year-old Alex Torres.

    As I wrote last week, I've been a fan of Torres' stuff for quite some time and believe his struggles this spring aren't anything to be overly concerned about, but carrying only one southpaw in the bullpen is a risk.

    There aren't many left-handed relievers left available, but should another team set one free between now and Opening Day, San Diego would be wise to seriously consider adding him to the mix.

San Francisco Giants: Rotation Depth

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    Jason Marquis might be a wise investment for the Giants.
    Jason Marquis might be a wise investment for the Giants.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    As has been the case for years, San Francisco's starting rotation, led by Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain, is one of the best in baseball.

    But after the team's five established starters—Bumgarner, Cain, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong—there's nothing.

    San Francisco's best pitching prospects are still at least a year away from making an impact, leaving the team incredibly vulnerable should an injury befall one of its starters.

    Adding a veteran arm who is capable of eating some innings—someone like Jason Marquis, who has experience pitching in the NL West, perhaps—would make a lot of sense as an insurance policy.

Seattle Mariners: A Veteran Starter

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    Taijuan Walker is incredibly talented...and incredibly young.
    Taijuan Walker is incredibly talented...and incredibly young.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Seattle spent its offseason bolstering the offense, adding Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison to give its talented starting rotation some additional run support and, hopefully, pick up a few more wins than a season ago.

    But the talent level on that rotation has waned some, with Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker set to begin the season on the disabled list and, if everything goes right, get back into the mix in late April, as noted by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

    Prospect James Paxton will fill Iwakuma's spot as the team's No. 2 starter for the time being, with Erasmo Ramirez, Roenis Elias and Randy Wolf rounding things out until their injured arms return to action.

    While talented, Elias, Paxton, Ramirez and Walker have only a combined 170.1 major league innings under their belts, with Elias never having pitched in the big show.

    Adding another veteran arm to the mix, one who can eat some innings, would be ideal, especially if the youngsters show that they need some more minor league seasoning.

St. Louis Cardinals: Nothing

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    Oscar Taveras would start on nearly every other MLB team...but not in St. Louis.
    Oscar Taveras would start on nearly every other MLB team...but not in St. Louis.Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    We've touched on a few teams that have excellent depth throughout their organizations so far, but none can contend with what's going on in St. Louis.

    Consider this: With one move—trading third baseman David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels—the Cardinals upgraded three positions—second base, where prospect Kolten Wong takes over on a full-time basis for Matt Carpenter, who shifts back to his natural position at the hot corner and in center field, where newly acquired Peter Bourjos is an upgrade over Jon Jay.

    The team added a Gold Glove-caliber defender, Mark Ellis, as an insurance policy should Wong falter, and the team has multiple options in the outfield—including top prospects Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty—to fill in should right fielder Matt Adams need to shift back to first base.

    It's disgusting, really, how deep St. Louis is—unless you're a Cardinals fan, in which case it's a wonderful feeling to know that your team is covered, regardless of what happens during the regular season.

     

Tampa Bay Rays: An Outfielder with Power

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    David DeJesus and Desmond Jennings aren't big boppers by any means.
    David DeJesus and Desmond Jennings aren't big boppers by any means.Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    I fully admit that this is nitpicking, as Tampa Bay remains one of the elite teams in baseball, well equipped to finish the season with at least 90 wins for the fifth consecutive season, but if there's one area that could use a boost, it's in the power department from their outfielders.

    Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers continues to develop, and there's little question that he'll soon be hitting 20 to 25 home runs a season, if not more. 

    But neither David DeJesus (88 home runs over an 11-year career) or Desmond Jennings (37 home runs over a four-year career) have the kind of "oomph" that most teams look for from their outfield.

    Granted, Tampa Bay isn't like most teams, and I'll be the last one to question what manager Joe Maddon and GM Andrew Friedman have going on, because few teams can compete with their level of success, especially given the tight financial restraints under which they operate.

    Should an affordable outfield bat with power become available—especially from the right side of the plate—it wouldn't hurt the Rays to add that player to their roster, even if he only splits time with Matt Joyce as the team's designated hitter. 

Texas Rangers: A Stop-Gap Second Baseman

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    Jurickson Profar's development continues to be stymied.
    Jurickson Profar's development continues to be stymied.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    As reported by ESPN Dallas' Jean-Jacques Taylor, Texas second baseman Jurickson Profar will start the season on the disabled list, out for the next 10 to 12 weeks with a torn muscle in his right shoulder.

    You know that Ian Kinsler is quietly chuckling to himself right about now.

    This presents two issues for the Rangers. First, they need someone to step in and replace the 21-year-old in the lineup, and the team would prefer to stay in-house to find him, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Those options include Kensuke Tanaka, Adam Rosales or Rougned Odor, the team's top prospect.

    More importantly, this represents another obstacle in Profar's development, and it's fair to wonder whether he'd benefit from playing the season out at Triple-A once he's cleared to return to action just so he can get back into a groove away from the pressure of having to produce immediately for a contender.

    Don't be surprised if the Rangers take a flier on a veteran infielder that finds himself without a job as teams make their final cuts of the spring.

Toronto Blue Jays: Young, Experienced Starting Pitching

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    Trading for Jeff Samardzija makes a ton of sense for Toronto.
    Trading for Jeff Samardzija makes a ton of sense for Toronto.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Toronto is built to win now, with a veteran roster and high-octane offense that will put runs on the board.

    The problem, as it was a season ago, is that the team lacks the arms in the rotation to contend in the brutal American League East.

    After 39-year-old R.A. Dickey and 35-year-old Mark Buehrle, the Blue Jays are counting on pitchers that, while talented, have shaky injury histories in J.A. Happ, Drew Hutchison and Brandon Morrow.

    The team was expected to emerge from the winter with either Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana and wound up with neither one—and with the free-agent market not offering the kind of arm that the Blue Jays need, a trade is the most logical option for the team to pursue.

    Toronto had three scouts in attendance at a recent start by Chicago's Jeff Samardzija, according to CBS Chicago's Bruce Levine, and while pulling off a deal before Opening Day may be a longshot, the Blue Jays need to address the rotation if they have any hope of living up to expectations in 2014.

Washington Nationals: Nothing

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    Washington GM Mike Rizzo has put together a complete roster.
    Washington GM Mike Rizzo has put together a complete roster.Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Washington headed into the offseason needing to bolster the bullpen with some left-handed relievers and appear set to break camp with three—Jerry Blevins, Ross Detwiler and Mike Gonzalez. Finding a capable backup for Wilson Ramos behind the plate was also accomplished with the addition of Jose Lobaton.

    New manager Matt Williams inherits a complete roster, one with no obvious holes and a number of pieces on the farm that can step in and contribute if needed.

     

    *All spring training statistics courtesy of MLB.com. All other statistics courtesy of FanGraphs. 

     

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