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MLB Rumors: The Biggest Needs of Each NL Team and Who They Could Sign

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2010

MLB Rumors: The Biggest Needs Of Each NL Team And Who They Could Sign

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The MLB Hot Stove is in full swing, and a number of significant moves have already been made at the Winter Meetings. That said, there will still be plenty more action before the winter is over, as a number of teams still have glaring needs on their roster.

    Looking to the National League, the Nationals already made a splash signing Jayson Werth, but who will be the next NL team to pull the trigger on a big signing?

    Here is a look at the biggest needs of all 16 NL teams, and who they could sign to fill the needs among the remaining players on the free agent market.  

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: 1B, SP, RP

    The Diamondbacks are officially in rebuilding mode, and they need bounce back seasons out of Justin Upton, Stephen Drew and their other young stars if they want to have a chance in the upcoming season. Their most pressing need appears to be someone to play first base and hit in the middle of the order, replacing the power numbers that Mark Reynolds put up, as he was dealt to the Orioles. They could also still use some bullpen help after signing J.J. Putz, as well a veteran starter to eat some innings.

    Who They Should Acquire

    First Base: Derrek Lee
    Signing Lee would give the D'Backs a veteran who would help shore up both their infield and their lineup. While his days of hitting 40 HR may be behind him, he still has decent pop and will certainly post a better average than Reynolds ever did.

    Starting Pitcher: Kevin Correia
    Considering what an epic flop Rodrigo Lopez was last season, it shouldn't be too hard for the D'Backs to upgrade his spot in the rotation, and Correia is just a year removed from a 12-win, 3.91 ERA season. He has potential to be a solid addition to any rotation.

    Setup Reliever: Kyle Farnsworth
    Despite struggling a bit after being traded from the Royals to the Braves, Farnsworth still had his best season in years last season, he should come at a fairly reasonable price and fit nicely into the eighth inning role ahead of Putz.

Atlanta Braves

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: OF, RP, PH

    The Braves are in a transitional period, and there will be a number of young players counted on to make significant contributions this coming season with top prospect Freddie Freeman stepping in at first base, and a pair of rookies battling for the closer spot in Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters. While all of the starting spots are more or less locked up, they are in need of someone to replace Takashi Saito, as well as a backup outfielder.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Outfielder:  Andruw Jones
    Jones is nowhere near the player he was in his first go around with the Braves, but with Martin Prado moving to left field following the addition of Dan Uggla and the center field position up in the air, having an established backup that can play all three outfield positions is a necessity, and Jones has a history with the team.

    Setup Reliever: Trevor Hoffman
    With so man young relievers, adding a veteran presence to the bullpen is a must for the Braves, and after helping to resurrect the careers of Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito last season, signing Hoffman for a discount this coming season could be a wise move for the Braves.

    Utility Player: Andy LaRoche
    LaRoche is just one season removed from a solid .258 BA, 12 HR, 64 RBI season with the Pirates, and is still just 27-years old.

Chicago Cubs

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: 1B, RP, SP

    Buried under the bloated contracts of Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez among others, the Cubs do not have a ton of money to spend this season. They will, however, be signing a first baseman, as well as a veteran right handed reliever to round out the roster, as well as perhaps a pinch hitter to replace Xavier Nady.

    Who They Should Acquire

    First Base: Adam LaRoche
    After missing out on the top option at the position in Adam Dunn, the Cubs are now set to choose from a group made up of Carlos Pena, Lyle Overbay and LaRoche. Of the group, LaRoche is the best offensive player provides the most upside and could even come cheaper than Pena, who has had some huge seasons but struggled to hit .200 last season.

    Relief Pitcher: Kerry Wood
    The Cubs are looking for a veteran right hander to help take some pressure off of Andrew Cashner in the setup role, and after a solid showing with the Yankees to end last season, he seems like he is over his struggles from his time in Cleveland.

    Starting Pitcher: Brandon Webb
    The Cubs are notorious for signing players who are injured at a discount and hoping for the best, with Ryan Dempster perhaps the best example of a success story. Webb was among the best in the game not too long ago, but has only made one start in the past two seasons. If he can return to form or even be a serviceable starter, he should steal a rotation spot.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: SS, SP

    The Reds were the surprise of the National League last season, and they have a good core of solid young players in place to be competitive moving forward. They do need to add a shortstop, unless they choose to go with light hitting Paul Janish there, and may also look to add some depth to their starting pitching

    Who They Should Acquire

    Shortstop: Edgar Renteria
    Renteria was contemplating retirement, and he will almost certainly only sign somewhere where he will be the unquestioned starter. The Reds may be the only team willing to offer him that role, as they look to fill the void left by last years veteran signing Orlando Cabrera. Don't be surprised if Cabrera ends up back in Cincinnati, however.

    Starting Pitcher: Freddie Garcia
    With veteran Aaron Harang no longer with the team, their depth in the rotation is now somewhat thin. While he is not the sexiest of options, Garcia is much the same veteran innings eater type that Harang was, and could be a fit here.

Colorado Rockies

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: RP, C, MI

    The Rockies addressed perhaps their biggest need in signing Ty Wigginton to spell both Todd Helton and Ian Stewart at the corner infield spots against left handed pitching. From there, the team will now need to find a backup catcher with Miguel Olivo gone, as well as a left handed reliever and an infielder to round out their bench.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Relief Pitcher: Will Ohman
    The Rockies are in need of a left handed setup man, and Ohman may be the answer as his slider could play well in Colorado, inducing a lot of ground balls. Ohman has become one of the better lefty relievers in baseball the past few seasons.

    Catcher: Gerald Laird
    Laird is an extremely intelligent backup catcher, one who could be an asset to the Rockies young pitching staff. He hits well enough to warrant semi-regular playing time and would be a fine backup to Chris Iannetta.

    Infielder: Adam Everett
    The slick fielding Everett would be a solid utility infielder on any team, as he adds speed and defense off of the bench. His bat is not good enough to make him an everyday player, but he could certainly help fill out the Rockies bench.

Florida Marlins

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: UT, RP, OF

    The fact that the Marlins had to trade Dan Uggla when they were unable to re-sign him should be an indication of how little spending money they have. After signing Javier Vazquez, they could be just a few small signings away from having their opening day roster in order.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Utility Player: Delwyn Young
    Young has quietly been one of Pittsburgh's more productive players the last two seasons, and while that is not necessarily saying much, his versatility would be an asset to any team, as he can play 2B, 3B, and all three outfield spots.

    Relief Pitcher: Joe Beimel
    The Marlins are in need of a left handed setup reliever, and while JC Romero is an intriguing option, he may end up being too expensive. Beimel has been terrific in the past with a 3.20 ERA since 2006, and he would help improve a suspect bullpen.

    Outfielder: Gabe Gross
    With unproven Logan Morrison penciled in for right field and Chris Coghlan returning from injury to play center field, the Marlins may be in search of a fourth outfielder who could possibly start if needed. Gross is a solid offensive outfielder who has played in over 100 games each of the past three seasons, so he is capable of playing everyday.

Houston Astros

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: SP, IF, RP

    With the trades of Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, the Astros are now committed to rebuilding. Therefore they could be fairly quiet this offseason as they continue to develop from within and cut down their payroll. That said, the team will need to sign a few players to round out the roster this season, among them being another proven starting pitcher and a solid late inning reliever, as well as someone to fill the hole left by utility player Geoff Blum.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Starting Pitcher: Jeff Francis
    Not too long ago, Francis was the ace of a Rockies team that made it all the way to the World Series, and he has enjoyed a solid career to this point despite pitching in Colorado. The Astros hit on a one-year deal last season when they signed Brett Myers, and they could look to do the same with Francis.

    Shortstop: Jorge Cantu
    The loss of Geoff Blum may not seem like a big one, but he could play everywhere in the infield, and with unproven youngsters in Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace at third and first base respectively, the team would be wise to sign a veteran fall back option at the corners. Cantu can do just that, and will immediately become the team's top pinch hitting option as well.

    Relief Pitcher: Chad Gaudin
    In Gaudin, the Astros would get a valuable swing man who could start should Nelson Figueroa or Bud Norris falter at the back end of the team's rotation, but could also serve as a solid reliever should the team choose to go that route.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: OF, SP, RP

    The Dodgers are coming off of a disappointing season, but they still have a roster in place that makes them potentially one of the top teams in the National League. They are not without their holes however, as they look to upgrade their left field situation as well as adding another starting pitcher and reliever.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Outfielder: Bill Hall
    Jay Gibbons played well last season in limited time with the Dodgers, earning a new contract and the starting left field job. However, the team will more than likely go after a right handed hitter to platoon with him, and Hall could also backup at third base should Casey Blake continue to struggle offensively.

    Starting Pitcher: Vicente Padilla
    Coming off of a solid year and a half run with the Dodgers, re-signing Padilla could be a wise move for the Dodgers, as he may be a good fit for a swingman role: his hard throwing would play well in a late inning role, and he has proven successful when put in the rotation as well.

    Relief Pitcher: Chris Ray
    In Hong-Chih Kuo, the Dodgers have one of the best relievers in all of baseball. However, they could use a good right handed setup man to anchor the bullpen alongside him, and Ray has a history of success in the late innings after saving 33 games in 2006 with the Orioles.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: SP, C, RP

    Although it was widely believed that the Brewers would move Prince Fielder this off season, it is beginning to look like he will in fact be a Brewer come Opening Day. That said, the Brewers still need to add another starting pitcher after trading for Shaun Marcum a few days ago, as well as an established catcher and some bullpen help.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Starting Pitcher: Rich Harden
    Harden is in line to make far less than he did when he signed with the Rangers after a down season in which he again struggled with injuries. If they could sign him for a fairly low price, and they could start him out in the rotation. If he struggles, he could easily be moved to the bullpen.

    Catcher: Russell Martin
    After falling out of favor and struggling in Los Angeles last season, Martin could be looking at in a backup role as his best case scenario. There are rumors that he may become a utility player, playing some third base and second base as well as catching. If nothing else he would be good insurance for the Brewers young catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

    Relief Pitcher: Joel Peralta
    After signing the disappointing LaTroy Hawkins to a setup role last season, the Brewers are still in need of a solid eighth inning man and Peralta is coming off of a great season with the Nationals in which he posted a 2.02 ERA in 39 appearances. He could be the answer at the back end of the pen.

New York Mets

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: SP, C, OF

    The Mets are far too talented a team to not be more competitive, and they may be just a few pieces away from doing that. In adding a front-line starting pitcher and a few key reserves, they could once again find themselves in the NL East race.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Starting Pitcher: Chris Young
    The Mets rotation is clearly a weakness, beyond Johan Santana and top prospect Jon Niese there are few sure things. To expect a similar season from R.A. Dickey is wishful thinking, and who knows whether Mike Pelfrey will bounce back. Signing Young would give the Mets a proven veteran who can slide into the number two spot in the rotation behind Santana.

    Catcher: Ronny Paulino
    With prospect Josh Thole set to assume the starting catching duties, the Mets would be wise to sign a proven backup who is capable of starting should Thole struggle. Paulino has starting experience and also saw significant time as the backup in Florida the past two seasons.

    Outfielder: Matt Diaz
    Along with R.A. Dickey, Angel Pagan is another player who far outperformed expectations, and to go into the season without a viable backup for him would be unwise for the Mets. Diaz has starting experience and is a career .301 hitter. He was a backup last season, but he could easily step in and start if Pagan falters.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: RP, RP, OF

    The Phillies no doubt have one of the better lineups in all of baseball, and their rotation is not too shabby either. They will need to find a replacement for JC Romero, as the bullpen is extremely right handed now, and they may also sign someone to back up new right fielder Domonic Brown.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Setup Reliever: Pedro Feliciano
    With Romero leaving in free agency, the Phillies will need a solid left hander to fill his spot in the late innings, and Feliciano may well be the man they go after. He is as reliable as they come, leading the NL in appearances the past three seasons, including making a career high 92 last season.

    Relief Pitcher: Dennys Reyes
    Reyes is another left hander who could add some balance to what is currently a very righty heavy bullpen. Reyes has quietly become one of baseball's most dependable relievers, and he has been great for the Cardinals the last few seasons.

    Outfielder: Jeff Francoeur
    Brown will clearly be the question mark of the lineup entering next season, and the team may very well look to acquire a veteran right handed hitter to serve as a platoon option with him. Franceour would give the team a solid fielder as well as someone who can bring some pop to the lineup.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: SS, SP, CP

    The Pirates are perpetually rebuilding, but things are looking up as they have infused their lineup with a tremendous amount of young talent. That said, there are still a number of holes and the pitching is a work in progress. They could sign a number of players before the winter is over to fill out the staff as well as the infield.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Shortstop: JJ Hardy
    Hardy is coming off of a down season with the Twins, but he is still fairly young and could be one of the more improved players in all of baseball this coming season if he lands in the right situation. Hardy would not only be the unquestioned starter at shortstop, but would be counted on to be a run producer for the Pirates. A move back to the NL Central could be exactly what he needs.

    Starting Pitcher: Scott Olsen
    Olsen is a name the Pirates have been linked to this off season, and despite his struggles in Washington, he still just 27 and has shown flashes of what made him one of the Marlins top prospects a few years ago. He would be a low cost option for filling out the rotation.

    Closer: Kevin Gregg
    After signing Octavio Dotel to a one year deal last season, the Pirates again find themselves in position to sign a second tier closer to round out their bullpen. Gregg has saved 121 games in the last four seasons, including 37 last season, and while he is not an elite closer, he is a viable ninth inning candidate for a team like the Pirates.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: MI, RP, C

    After acquiring Ryan Theriot via trade and signing Lance Berkman as a free agent, the Cardinals may very well be done making a splash on the free agent market, but they could still make a few more moves before the season starts. They look to shore up their middle infield, their bullpen and find a replacement for Jason LaRue.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Middle Infielder: Jerry Hairston Jr.
    With Felipe Lopez leaving via free agency and Skip Schumaker still penciled in at second base, the Cardinals could use a utility player capable of providing some offense and backing up a number of positions. Hairston will do just that. He has the sort of versatility that LaRussa loves, and he would fit in well on the Cardinals.

    Relief Pitcher: Ron Mahay
    The Cardinals could use another reliever to help fill out their bullpen, Mahay was great with the Twins the past two seasons and is certainly what you would call "established" at the age of 40.

    Catcher: Greg Zaun
    With the loss of Jason LaRue to retirement, the Cardinals are in need of a backup catcher and a veteran presence in the locker room, and Zaun would provide both while also being a significant upgrade offensively over LaRue.

San Diego Padres

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Biggest Needs: 1B, 2B, OF

    With the Adrian Gonzalez trade in the rear view mirror, the Padres now need to turn to rebuilding their offense. With David Eckstein and Miguel Tejada also gone, they are sorely lacking in on the infield. They could also look to add outfield depth after losing the Hairston brothers as well.

    Who They Should Acquire

    First Base: Lyle Overbay
    Depending on who the Cubs sign, the Padres will most likely sign whoever is left over between Carlos Pena, Adam LaRoche and Overbay. The former Blue Jay could be the smartest choice for the Padres, as he may come at a slightly lower price for the rebuilding Padres.

    Second Base: Adam Kennedy
    The current Padres depth chart has Everth Cabrera playing both second and shortstop, if that says anything about the type of depth the Padres have up the middle right now. Kennedy is the definition of a stop gap option, and if the Padres can convince him to take a one year deal, he should produce enough to at least match what David Eckstein brought to the table last season.

    Outfielder: Randy Winn
    With an outfield lacking in depth and a team lacking in age, adding Winn could give the Padres a good fourth outfielder as well as a strong veteran presence in the clubhouse. Despite a down season last year, he could still have something left in the tank.

San Francisco Giants

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    Biggest Needs: IF

    After re-signing Aubrey Huff and replacing Edgar Renteria with Miguel Tejada, the reigning champs are more than likely finished making moves for the most part. With their roster more or less set, they could still be in the market for a utility infielder to take over for Juan Uribe.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Infielder: Felipe Lopez
    With the loss of Uribe, the Giants infield depth took a hit, with Mike Fontenot now serving as the only real backup across the infield. Lopez can play all over the field, and if Pablo Sandoval struggles again, he is a viable option to start at third base as well. He should come fairly cheap after a down season.

Washington Nationals

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    Biggest Needs: SP, 1B, CP

    The signing of Jayson Werth made waves, and rumor has it the Nationals aren't finished spending. With Adam Dunn gone the team needs a first baseman, but the team's biggest need and focus seems to be on starting pitching. They are also in the market for a second tier closer after Tyler Clippard struggled mightily in that role last season.

    Who They Should Acquire

    Starting Pitcher: Carl Pavano
    Cliff Lee is the jewel of this free agent class, but I don't see the Nats signing another $100 million player, and Carl Pavano may be a more realistic option. Pavano has bounced back nicely in the past few seasons, is the probably the second best starter on the market and should still be in the Nats price range.

    First Base: Russell Branyan
    After losing Adam Dunn to free agency, the Nats now have a glaring hole at first base, with Mike Morse currently being their number one option. Branyan could serve as Dunn-light, as he provides plenty of home runs and strikeouts, although he doesn't post the same impressive OBP numbers. He will come at a much friendlier price.

    Closer: Manny Corpas
    Before the season is over, Drew Storen could very well be the Nationals closer, but for the time being the team could be in search of a stop gap option. While there are a number of proven options on the market, Corpas is one of the more intriguing low-cost options. He returned to the closer's role last season, saving 10 games after not closing since the team's 2007 World Series run.

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