MLB Power Rankings: How the Winter Meetings Changed League's Balance of Power

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2014

MLB Power Rankings: How the Winter Meetings Changed League's Balance of Power

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    With the 2014 MLB winter meetings now in the rearview, it's time to take a look at how a busy four days in San Diego may have changed the landscape of the league looking ahead to the 2015 season.

    A whopping seven 2014 All-Stars found new homes this past week, as Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, Dee Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Miguel Montero, Alfredo Simon and Pat Neshek joined new teams.

    Add in the signings and trades of Matt Kemp, Mat Latos, Ervin Santana, Brandon McCarthy, Rick Porcello, Francisco Liriano, Howie Kendrick, Kendrys Morales, Justin Masterson, David Robertson, Luke Gregerson and a handful of others, and you have one busy week of activity around the league.

    So while we still try to digest everything that happened at the winter meetings, here is an updated look at where all 30 teams stand.

    As with all offseason power rankings, these are not meant to be a prediction for the year ahead.

    Instead, they are a look at how teams would stack up with the rosters they currently have if the season were to start today. Just something worth keeping in mind when considering where your favorite team falls in the following rankings.

30. Colorado Rockies (Previous: 29)

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    It was a quiet winter meetings for the Colorado Rockies, though there still stands at least a chance the team trades for Mets right-hander Dillon Gee, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.

    The one deal they did make was to ship infielder Josh Rutledge to the Los Angeles Angels in return for reliever Jairo Diaz. The 23-year-old had 15 saves with a 3.48 ERA, 1.253 WHIP and 11.8 K/9 between High-A and Double-A last year.

    There was also a rumor swirling about a potential trade of Justin Morneau to the Miami Marlins, though talks broke down, according to Tom Singer of MLB.com. Flipping the 33-year-old for another quality starter and opening up first base for Wilin Rosario may not be a bad idea.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Charlie Blackmon
    3B Nolan Arenado
    LF Carlos Gonzalez
    SS Troy Tulowitzki
    1B Justin Morneau
    RF Corey Dickerson
    C Wilin Rosario
    2B DJ LeMahieu
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Jorge De La Rosa
    SP Tyler Matzek
    SP Jordan Lyles
    SP Jhoulys Chacin
    SP Eddie Butler
    SU Rex Brothers
    SU Adam Ottavino
    CL LaTroy Hawkins

29. Philadelphia Phillies (Previous: 28)

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    It's not a full-scale rebuild just yet, but the winter meetings were a step in the right direction for the Philadelphia Phillies, as they traded veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins and reliever Antonio Bastardo.

    While the deal for Rollins is not yet official, it looks like the Phillies will get a decent prospect haul from the Dodgers with a pair of solid starting pitching prospects in Zach Eflin and Tom Windle, according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.

    Marlon Byrd might be the next piece to go, with the Baltimore Orioles showing interest, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. However, the big story the rest of the offseason will be whether the team decides to deal Cole Hamels—and just how much teams will be willing to give up to add the ace.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Ben Revere
    2B Chase Utley
    RF Marlon Byrd

    1B Ryan Howard
    LF Domonic Brown
    C Carlos Ruiz
    3B Cody Asche
    SS Freddy Galvis
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Cole Hamels
    SP Cliff Lee
    SP Jerome Williams
    SP David Buchanan
    SP Jonathan Pettibone
    SU Jake Diekman
    SU Ken Giles
    CL Jonathan Papelbon

28. Minnesota Twins (Previous: 30)

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    Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    For the second straight offseason, the Minnesota Twins set a new record for largest free-agent contract in franchise history, as they signed right-hander Ervin Santana to a four-year, $55 million deal on Thursday.

    After watching their starters post a 5.06 ERA this past season, Santana will be a welcome addition to the staff, and the team is certainly hoping he works out better than Ricky Nolasco, who inked a four-year, $49 million deal last winter.

    This continues to be a franchise with an eye on the future. As it waits for all of the key pieces from its talented farm system to arrive, the additions of Santana and Torii Hunter should at least help keep them competitive in 2015.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Danny Santana
    2B Brian Dozier
    1B Joe Mauer
    DH Kennys Vargas
    RF Torii Hunter
    3B Trevor Plouffe
    LF Oswaldo Arcia
    C Kurt Suzuki
    SS Eduardo Escobar

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Phil Hughes
    SP Ervin Santana
    SP Ricky Nolasco
    SP Kyle Gibson
    SP Tommy Milone
    SU Casey Fien
    SU Brian Duensing
    CL Glen Perkins

27. Texas Rangers (Previous: 25)

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    It was a quiet winter meetings for the Texas Rangers, though they did land left-hander Ross Detwiler in a trade with the Washington Nationals on Thursday, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

    Not walking away with the proven No. 3 starter the team needs, while guys like Francisco Liriano, Ervin Santana and Jason Hammel were scooped up in free agency, is no doubt a setback for this team; options to shore up the rotation are running out.

    The Rangers are also still in need of another corner outfield bat, unless they trust some combination of Jake Smolinski and Michael Choice to man left field.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    RF Shin-Soo Choo
    SS Elvis Andrus
    1B Prince Fielder
    3B Adrian Beltre
    CF Leonys Martin
    DH Mitch Moreland
    LF Jake Smolinski
    C Robinson Chirinos
    2B Rougned Odor

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Yu Darvish
    SP Derek Holland
    SP Colby Lewis

    SP Nick Tepesch
    SP Ross Detwiler
    SU Robbie Ross
    SU Shawn Tolleson
    CL Neftali Feliz

26. Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous: 23)

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    After making a pair of significant additions early in the offseason with the signing of Yasmany Tomas and acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a big subtraction at the winter meetings when they shipped Miguel Montero to the Chicago Cubs.

    They wind up saving $40 million over the next three years in the deal, but it leaves them with a huge hole to fill at the catcher position. They have some intriguing prospects in Peter O'Brien and Stryker Trahan, but they will likely need to find a stopgap option of some sort.

    The team also has a deal in place to send Wade Miley to the Boston Red Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, though the deal was still far from finalized as the meetings wrapped up. Already without a bona fide ace, moving Miley would leave the team without arguably its most consistent starter from a year ago.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF A.J. Pollock
    LF David Peralta
    1B Paul Goldschmidt
    RF Mark Trumbo
    3B Yasmany Tomas
    2B Aaron Hill
    SS Chris Owings
    C Tuffy Gosewisch
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Wade Miley
    SP Josh Collmenter
    SP Jeremy Hellickson
    SP Chase Anderson
    SP Trevor Cahill
    SU Oliver Perez
    SU Brad Ziegler
    CL Addison Reed

25. Houston Astros (Previous: 26)

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    It's never a bad idea to back a young rotation with a proven veteran bullpen, and the Houston Astros made it clear early on this offseason, when they made a run at Andrew Miller, that upgrading the relief corps was a top priority.

    They wound up with two of the better setup arms on the market by signing Pat Neshek (71 G, 25 HLD, 1.87 ERA) to a two-year, $12.5 million deal and Luke Gregerson (72 G, 22 HLD, 2.12 ERA) to a three-year, $18.5 million deal.

    Those two both pitched alongside incumbent closer Chad Qualls for the Padres in 2011, and they should help the Astros improve on what was a 17-28 record in one-run games last year.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    2B Jose Altuve
    CF Dexter Fowler
    RF George Springer
    DH Chris Carter
    C Jason Castro
    3B Matt Dominguez
    1B Jon Singleton
    LF Jake Marisnick
    SS Jonathan Villar

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Dallas Keuchel
    SP Collin McHugh
    SP Scott Feldman
    SP Brett Oberholtzer
    SP Mike Foltynewicz
    SU Pat Neshek
    SU Luke Gregerson
    CL Chad Qualls

24. Tampa Bay Rays (Previous: 24)

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    The Tampa Bay Rays have been quiet since freeing up some payroll space by trading away Jeremy Hellickson, Sean Rodriguez and Joel Peralta earlier this offseason.

    Chances are they will use that money to sign some sort of low-cost power bat, perhaps a Michael Morse, in an effort to add more pop to the middle of the lineup. They could also look for a veteran arm as organizational depth, with the unproven Alex Colome set to fill the No. 5 starter spot.

    Expect Ben Zobrist to pop up in trade rumors a decent amount the rest of the offseason, as the free-agent market at second base is nonexistent and he is entering a contract year. The Rays' asking price remains very high, though, and rightfully so.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Desmond Jennings
    2B Ben Zobrist
    3B Evan Longoria
    1B James Loney
    RF Wil Myers
    LF Matt Joyce
    SS Yunel Escobar
    DH David DeJesus
    C Ryan Hanigan

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Alex Cobb
    SP Drew Smyly
    SP Chris Archer
    SP Jake Odorizzi
    SP Alex Colome
    SU Grant Balfour
    SU Brad Boxberger
    CL Jake McGee

23. Cincinnati Reds (Previous: 18)

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    Trading off one or more of their upcoming free-agent starters was a move that had to be made by the Cincinnati Reds, and it netted a pair of solid pitching prospects in Anthony DeSclafani and Jonathon Crawford. However, losing Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon no doubt hurts the team's 2015 outlook.

    Granted, they are better set up than most teams to lose those arms, with Tony Cingrani and Robert Stephenson waiting in the wings for a starting job, and DeSclafani a candidate for the rotation.

    The team still needs to add a bat in left field, and the options are dwindling by the day. They have also yet to address a bullpen that ranked 26th in the league last season with a 4.11 ERA and moved one of their best arms in Jonathan Broxton in August.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Billy Hamilton
    3B Todd Frazier
    1B Joey Votto
    C Devin Mesoraco
    RF Jay Bruce
    2B Brandon Phillips
    LF Brennan Boesch
    SS Zack Cozart
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Johnny Cueto
    SP Homer Bailey
    SP Mike Leake
    SP Tony Cingrani
    SP Anthony DeSclafani
    SU Manny Parra
    SU Sam LeCure
    CL Aroldis Chapman

22. San Diego Padres (Previous: 27)

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    No one is going to confuse them with the 1927 Yankees, but adding Matt Kemp to the lineup certainly puts the San Diego Padres in a much better position offensively heading into the 2015 season.

    Kemp, as a career .322/.372/.495 hitter at Petco Park, was one of the most productive hitters in baseball in the second half last season when he posted a .971 OPS with 17 home runs and 54 RBI. Those numbers alone would have been good enough to lead the Padres a year ago.

    The fact that the Padres were able to add a big bat without shipping off one of their top starters is huge as far as the team's chances in 2015 are concerned. If guys like Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko can bounce back alongside Kemp, this team has an outside shot at contending.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Will Venable
    3B Yangervis Solarte
    LF Seth Smith
    RF Matt Kemp
    1B Yonder Alonso
    2B Jedd Gyorko
    C Rene Rivera
    SS Clint Barmes
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Tyson Ross
    SP Andrew Cashner
    SP Ian Kennedy
    SP Odrisamer Despaigne
    SP Jesse Hahn
    SU Dale Thayer
    SU Kevin Quackenbush
    CL Joaquin Benoit

21. Atlanta Braves (Previous: 22)

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    The Atlanta Braves managed to plug the hole at second base with veteran Alberto Callaspo, and at this point Justin Upton is still around, so for the time being they actually move up a spot in these rankings.

    However, there is still a good chance Upton is dealt before the offseason is over, and while it will likely net them a big return, it will undoubtedly set them back as far as 2015 is concerned.

    After earlier talks of a potential Upton and Evan Gattis deal, the team is now packaging Upton with third baseman Chris Johnson, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. That will be a tougher sell, but unloading Johnson would be nice.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    RF Nick Markakis
    2B Alberto Callaspo
    LF Justin Upton
    1B Freddie Freeman
    C Evan Gattis
    3B Chris Johnson

    SS Andrelton Simmons
    CF B.J. Upton
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Julio Teheran
    SP Alex Wood
    SP Shelby Miller
    SP Mike Minor
    SP David Hale
    SU James Russell
    SU David Carpenter
    CL Craig Kimbrel

20. New York Yankees (Previous: 17)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    A potential reunion with Chase Headley is still on the table for the New York Yankees, but that could hurt the team's chances of improving the rotation, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

    "The Yankees remained engaged. But the way I hear it, as their budget is currently set, if the Yankees pony up what it will take to sign Headley, then they will have to bottom-feed for starting pitching," Sherman wrote.

    If they do opt to go the pitching route, they could go after someone like Edinson Volquez, but that will likely mean the everyday third base job goes to Martin Prado and second base is up for grabs between a pair of prospects in Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    LF Brett Gardner
    3B Martin Prado
    CF Jacoby Ellsbury
    1B Mark Teixeira
    C Brian McCann
    RF Carlos Beltran
    DH Alex Rodriguez
    SS Didi Gregorius
    2B Rob Refsnyder

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Masahiro Tanaka
    SP Michael Pineda
    SP CC Sabathia
    SP David Phelps
    SP Chase Whitley
    SU Shawn Kelley
    SU Andrew Miller
    CL Dellin Betances

19. Oakland Athletics (Previous: 12)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    Add Jeff Samardzija to the list of key pieces the Oakland Athletics have shipped out this winter, alongside All-Stars Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss, as the big right-hander was traded to the Chicago White Sox.

    While the A's got a solid four-player return from the White Sox, headlined by Marcus Semien, who will have every chance to win the starting shortstop job, the fact that they gave up Addison Russell to acquire Samardzija makes what they flipped him for tough to swallow.

    The rotation is undoubtedly weaker with out Shark, and the team appears to be banking on strong returns from Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin if the rotation is to be a strength of the team once again this year.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Coco Crisp
    LF Stephen Vogt
    RF Josh Reddick
    DH Billy Butler
    1B Ike Davis
    3B Brett Lawrie
    C Derek Norris
    SS Marcus Semien
    2B Eric Sogard

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Sonny Gray
    SP Scott Kazmir
    SP Jesse Chavez
    SP Drew Pomeranz
    SP Kendall Graveman
    SU Fernando Abad
    SU Ryan Cook
    CL Sean Doolittle

18. Cleveland Indians (Previous: 11)

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    While other teams have climbed up the rankings as they piece together more complete rosters, the Cleveland Indians have slipped down several spots with Brandon Moss still ranking as their only notable offseason addition.

    Adding some pop in the form of Moss was nice, but unless they can find a taker for Nick Swisher, which won't be easy, he's essentially a redundant piece on the roster.

    There is also still a glaring need for a proven No. 2 starter to slot behind Corey Kluber, and the mid-level arms have gone quickly over the past few days following the Jon Lester signing. They were competitive last season, but this is not a team that can stand pat and expect to contend for a playoff spot.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Michael Bourn
    2B Jason Kipnis
    LF Michael Brantley
    1B Carlos Santana
    RF Brandon Moss
    C Yan Gomes
    DH Nick Swisher
    SS Jose Ramirez
    3B Lonnie Chisenhall

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Corey Kluber
    SP Carlos Carrasco
    SP Danny Salazar
    SP T.J. House
    SP Trevor Bauer
    SU Scott Atchison
    SU Bryan Shaw
    CL Cody Allen

17. San Francisco Giants (Previous: 14)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    San Francisco Giants fans won't like this one bit, but after missing out on Jon Lester and failing to make any significant moves at the winter meetings, the team slides down the rankings even further to the middle of the pack.

    Their lineup is undoubtedly weaker than it was a year ago, and there is still the glaring hole to fill at third base. Meanwhile, the rotation without Lester added to the mix is a collection of question marks behind Madison Bumgarner.

    General manager Brian Sabean is one of the best in the business, and there is still plenty of time for this team to improve drastically before the start of the season. However, as the roster currently stands, this does not look like a playoff team, let alone a team with any chance of defending its title.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Angel Pagan
    2B Joe Panik
    C Buster Posey
    1B Brandon Belt
    RF Hunter Pence
    LF Gregor Blanco
    SS Brandon Crawford
    3B Joaquin Arias
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Madison Bumgarner
    SP Tim Hudson
    SP Matt Cain
    SP Yusmeiro Petit
    SP Tim Lincecum
    SU Jean Machi
    SU Jeremy Affeldt
    CL Santiago Casilla

16. New York Mets (Previous: 15)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    All signs point to the New York Mets opening the 2015 season with Wilmer Flores as the everyday shortstop, so at this point there is a good chance no more significant additions are made between now and Opening Day.

    The offense is not great, and obviously there is a chance that Flores flops and shortstop is once again an issue all season, but on pitching alone this looks like a team that can at least make a run at a wild-card spot.

    A starter will almost certainly be moved in the next few weeks, with the team pushing hard to move Dillon Gee at the winter meetings, according to Jack Curry of YES Network. That would free up some money to add infield depth or another bullpen arm.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Juan Lagares
    2B Daniel Murphy
    3B David Wright
    1B Lucas Duda
    RF Michael Cuddyer
    LF Curtis Granderson
    C Travis d'Arnaud
    SS Wilmer Flores
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Matt Harvey
    SP Jon Niese
    SP Jacob deGrom
    SP Zack Wheeler
    SP Bartolo Colon
    SU Josh Edgin
    SU Jeurys Familia
    CL Jenrry Mejia

15. Boston Red Sox (Previous: 19)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    Adding Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson and potentially Wade Miley to the rotation is enough for the Boston Red Sox to climb a few spots up the rankings, but it hardly offsets missing out on Jon Lester, and this team is still without a bona fide staff ace.

    There is obviously a lot of offseason left, and they could certainly make a run at James Shields, Max Scherzer or look to trade for Cole Hamels. As the rotation stands right now, though, this is not a championship-caliber team.

    Masterson is the wild card here on a one-year, $9.5 million deal, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. If he can return to his 2013 form, he'd be an absolute steal and would give the Red Sox an ace-caliber arm atop their staff.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    RF Shane Victorino
    2B Dustin Pedroia

    DH David Ortiz
    LF Hanley Ramirez
    3B Pablo Sandoval
    1B Mike Napoli
    SS Xander Bogaerts
    CF Rusney Castillo

    C Christian Vazquez

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Rick Porcello
    SP Clay Buchholz
    SP Justin Masterson

    SP Joe Kelly
    SP Brandon Workman
    SU Edward Mujica
    SU Junichi Tazawa
    CL Koji Uehara

14. Kansas City Royals (Previous: 8)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    Many pointed to the Kansas City Royals' decision to decline their option on Billy Butler as the team looking for more versatility and trying to get away from a DH-only player. However, the signing of Kendrys Morales puts that theory to rest, as they will again be tied to a DH-only bat.

    Morales received a two-year, $17 million deal, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, despite the fact that he hit just .218/.274/.338 with 20 doubles, eight home runs and 42 RBI in 367 at-bats last season. He could certainly bounce back this season without the distraction that was a qualifying offer, but it's hard to get too excited about the signing at this point.

    Big picture, this team still needs a right fielder and some sort of replacement for James Shields in the rotation, and until those two significant holes are filled, this looks like a fringe wild-card contender at best.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    SS Alcides Escobar
    LF Alex Gordon
    RF Lorenzo Cain
    1B Eric Hosmer
    C Salvador Perez
    DH Kendrys Morales
    3B Mike Moustakas
    2B Omar Infante
    CF Jarrod Dyson

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Yordano Ventura
    SP Jason Vargas
    SP Jeremy Guthrie
    SP Danny Duffy
    SP Brian Flynn
    SU Kelvin Herrera
    SU Wade Davis
    CL Greg Holland

13. Chicago White Sox (Previous: 20)

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    It should be an exciting summer in Chicago, as the Cubs were not the only team that was busy at the winter meetings, with the White Sox adding Jeff Samardzija and David Robertson to what was already an impressive offseason haul.

    Samardzija gives them the front-line right-hander they were seeking to slot between the lefty duo of Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, and the team will reportedly look to lock him up long term, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

    The back end of the rotation and the back half of the starting lineup are still a work in progress, but this team went from building to potentially contending this offseason. The bullpen was perhaps the biggest weakness a year ago, and it now looks like a potential strength with the additions of Robertson and Zach Duke.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Adam Eaton
    SS Alexei Ramirez
    1B Jose Abreu
    DH Adam LaRoche
    RF Avisail Garcia
    3B Conor Gillaspie
    LF Dayan Viciedo
    C Tyler Flowers
    2B Carlos Sanchez

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Chris Sale
    SP Jeff Samardzija

    SP Jose Quintana
    SP Hector Noesi
    SP John Danks
    SU Zach Duke
    SU Zach Putnam
    CL David Robertson

12. Milwaukee Brewers (Previous: 10)

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    The Milwaukee Brewers were expectedly quiet at the winter meetings, as they really don't have much to take care of between now and the start of the season.

    Their only significant free agents were relievers, and while they could certainly stand to add another arm or two to the bullpen mix to replace Zach Duke and Francisco Rodriguez, it's something they can address later on this offseason.

    The hole at first base was filled with the acquisition of Adam Lind, though they are still in the market for a right-handed hitting platoon partner and some bench depth in general. As is, this team looks to be solid once again, and with a few small additions they should be right in the running for the NL Central title.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Carlos Gomez
    2B Scooter Gennett
    C Jonathan Lucroy
    3B Aramis Ramirez
    1B Adam Lind
    RF Ryan Braun
    LF Khris Davis
    SS Jean Segura
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Yovani Gallardo
    SP Matt Garza
    SP Kyle Lohse
    SP Wily Peralta
    SP Mike Fiers
    SU Will Smith
    SU Jim Henderson
    CL Jonathan Broxton

11. Chicago Cubs (Previous: 21)

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    For Cubs fans, the Jon Lester signing was like Christmas morning. As new manager Joe Maddon put it, the team "won the baseball lottery" with the signing.

    Add in the relatively low-cost signing of Jason Hammel (two-year, $20 million) to add some veteran depth to the staff, and the addition of All-Star catcher Miguel Montero for a pair of low-level pitching prospects, and it's hard not to get excited about the team's prospects in 2015. At the very least Chicago looks like a legitimate wild-card contender.

    That being said, expectations need to be tempered, as there will undoubtedly be significant growing pains with such a young roster. A number to keep in mind—1,535. That's the single-season team strikeout record, and there's a good chance the Cubs offense blows by that total in 2015.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    LF Chris Coghlan
    2B Javier Baez
    1B Anthony Rizzo
    SS Starlin Castro
    C Miguel Montero

    RF Jorge Soler
    3B Luis Valbuena
    CF Arismendy Alcantara
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Jon Lester
    SP Jake Arrieta

    SP Travis Wood
    SP Kyle Hendricks

    SP Jason Hammel
    SU Neil Ramirez
    SU Pedro Strop
    CL Hector Rondon

10. Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous: 16)

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    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    While the Jon Lester signing was obviously huge for the Chicago Cubs, a case can be made that the Pittsburgh Pirates re-signing Francisco Liriano was equally as important.

    Losing Russell Martin was a big blow for this franchise, but keeping its ace in the fold will go a long way in keeping the team in contention in the NL Central. Gerrit Cole is still the future ace of this staff, but asking him to shoulder the load in 2015 would have been asking too much.

    With Liriano signed, the team has now turned its attention to bringing back Edinson Volquez, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He is said to be seeking a two-year, $20 million deal, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    3B Josh Harrison
    RF Gregory Polanco
    CF Andrew McCutchen
    2B Neil Walker
    LF Starling Marte
    1B Pedro Alvarez
    SS Jordy Mercer
    C Francisco Cervelli
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Francisco Liriano
    SP Gerrit Cole
    SP A.J. Burnett
    SP Jeff Locke
    SP Vance Worley
    SU Jared Hughes
    SU Tony Watson
    CL Mark Melancon

9. Baltimore Orioles (Previous: 9)

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    Losing Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis is obviously a blow to the Baltimore Orioles offensive attack, but the returns of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters should help replace some of that lost production, and a bounce-back season from Chris Davis would go a long way.

    The important thing is that what was a surprisingly good starting rotation remains intact, and it could be even better this year with another step forward from Kevin Gausman.

    The team has received a lot of trade interest in upcoming free agent Wei-Yin Chen, according to Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun, so there is a chance he could be moved in the right offer. The team is still looking for a corner outfielder and another left-handed reliever to pair with Brian Matusz.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    LF Alejandro De Aza
    3B Manny Machado
    CF Adam Jones
    DH Chris Davis
    RF Steve Pearce
    C Matt Wieters
    SS J.J. Hardy
    1B Christian Walker
    2B Jonathan Schoop

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Chris Tillman
    SP Wei-Yin Chen
    SP Bud Norris
    SP Miguel Gonzalez
    SP Kevin Gausman
    SU Brian Matusz
    SU Darren O'Day
    CL Zach Britton

8. Detroit Tigers (Previous: 5)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    Already one of the more potent offensive teams in baseball, the Detroit Tigers just got a little scarier for opposing pitchers with the addition of Yoenis Cespedes to the middle of the order.

    However, the pitching side of things is heading in the opposite direction, as Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have been replaced by Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene.

    The Simon pickup in particular is a questionable one, as the 33-year-old fell apart after a smoke-and-mirrors first half last year, posting a 4.52 ERA after the break and a 4.33 FIP on the year.

    They have also yet to do anything to address what was one of the worst bullpens in baseball a year ago. A full season of Joakim Soria and the return of Bruce Rondon will help, but relying on the incumbent group of arms is not going to cut it.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    2B Ian Kinsler
    CF Anthony Gose
    1B Miguel Cabrera
    DH Victor Martinez
    RF J.D. Martinez
    LF Yoenis Cespedes
    3B Nick Castellanos
    C Alex Avila
    SS Jose Iglesias

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP David Price
    SP Anibal Sanchez
    SP Justin Verlander
    SP Alfredo Simon
    SP Shane Greene
    SU Al Alburquerque
    SU Joakim Soria
    CL Joe Nathan

7. Seattle Mariners (Previous: 6)

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    The Nelson Cruz signing was a huge win for the Seattle Mariners, and it may very well be enough to get them over the hump and into the postseason after they missed out by just one game a year ago.

    There is still a hole to fill in right field, with the team currently targeting White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Talks with free agent Melky Cabrera have reached an impasse, as the two sides are far apart on years and money, per Bob Dutton of The News Tribune of Tacoma.

    They may not be the best team in the AL West just yet, but another step forward from young starters James Paxton and Taijuan Walker could give them top to bottom one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Austin Jackson
    LF Dustin Ackley
    2B Robinson Cano
    DH Nelson Cruz
    3B Kyle Seager
    C Mike Zunino
    1B Logan Morrison
    RF James Jones
    SS Brad Miller

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Felix Hernandez
    SP Hisashi Iwakuma
    SP James Paxton
    SP Taijuan Walker
    SP J.A. Happ
    SU Danny Farquhar
    SU Yoervis Medina
    CL Fernando Rodney

6. Miami Marlins (Previous: 13)

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    At first blush, the No. 6 spot probably seems entirely too high for the Miami Marlins. Keep in mind that these offseason power rankings are all about who has the best roster at this moment in time, though, and it's hard not to like the makeup of their team coming out of the winter meetings.

    Adding Dee Gordon gives the team a bona fide leadoff hitter and a huge upgrade at second base, where it hit just .236/.303/.334 as a team in 2014. Mat Latos provides a front-line arm to pair with Henderson Alvarez until Jose Fernandez returns at midseason, and top to bottom the rotation is rock solid.

    With the Atlanta Braves taking a step back, the Philadelphia Phillies finally starting to rebuild and the New York Mets only starting their push toward contention, the time is now for the Marlins to strike in the NL East, and they clearly realize that.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    2B Dee Gordon
    LF Christian Yelich
    RF Giancarlo Stanton
    3B Casey McGehee
    CF Marcell Ozuna
    1B Garrett Jones
    C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    SS Adeiny Hechavarria
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Henderson Alvarez
    SP Mat Latos
    SP Jarred Cosart
    SP Nathan Eovaldi
    SP Tom Koehler
    SU Mike Dunn
    SU A.J. Ramos
    CL Steve Cishek

5. Toronto Blue Jays (Previous: 7)

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    The Toronto Blue Jays may not have made any significant additions at the winter meetings, but the Boston Red Sox missing out on Jon Lester while the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees both stayed quiet has them looking that much better in the AL East.

    Upgrading at second base remains a priority, as does addressing a bullpen that ranked 25th in the league with a 4.09 ERA before losing closer Casey Janssen to free agency.

    However, the additions of Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Michael Saunders give them an offensive attack that stacks up to any in baseball, and the continued progression of prized prospects Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez has the rotation looking up as well.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    SS Jose Reyes
    3B Josh Donaldson
    RF Jose Bautista
    1B Edwin Encarnacion
    DH Dioner Navarro
    C Russell Martin
    LF Michael Saunders
    2B Maicer Izturis
    CF Dalton Pompey

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Mark Buehrle
    SP R.A. Dickey
    SP Marcus Stroman
    SP Drew Hutchison
    SP Daniel Norris
    SU Steve Delabar
    SU Brett Cecil
    CL Aaron Sanchez

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous: 4)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    New President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman is not shy about pulling the trigger on a trade, that much is for sure, as he was wheeling and dealing over the four-day extravaganza that was the winter meetings for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Gone are Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon and Dan Haren, but the team found its new shortstop in Jimmy Rollins and quickly replaced Gordon with one of the more underrated players in the game in Howie Kendrick.

    Yasmani Grandal should provide a huge offensive upgrade over A.J. Ellis, who will no doubt stick around as personal catcher to Clayton Kershaw. Moving Kemp means the team is counting on Yasiel Puig to find some offensive consistency and Joc Pederson to live up to the hype, which is risky but not unreasonable.

    The team still needs a fifth starter, even after signing Brandon McCarthy. It has also yet to address the bullpen, outside of trading for Joel Peralta, so there is still work to be done. However, this was a team in need of a shake-up after back-to-back postseason exits, and that's exactly what it got this past week.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    SS Jimmy Rollins
    LF Carl Crawford
    RF Yasiel Puig
    1B Adrian Gonzalez
    2B Howie Kendrick
    C Yasmani Grandal
    CF Joc Pederson
    3B Juan Uribe
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Clayton Kershaw
    SP Zack Greinke
    SP Hyun-Jin Ryu
    SP Brandon McCarthy
    SP Joe Wieland
    SU Joel Peralta
    SU J.P. Howell
    CL Kenley Jansen

3. Los Angeles Angels (Previous: 2)

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    Trading Howie Kendrick was no doubt a tough decision for the Los Angeles Angels, but it netted them one of the better pitching prospects in the game in Andrew Heaney, who should immediately step into the No. 5 starter spot.

    It also saved roughly $9.5 million, and with Kendrick entering the final year of his contract and unlikely to be re-signed, it's hard not to like the move when looking at the long-term picture.

    Josh Rutledge was quickly acquired from the Colorado Rockies to compete with Grant Green for the now-vacant second base job. Rutledge opened eyes when he posted a .775 OPS with 33 extra-base hits in 277 at-bats filling in for an injured Troy Tulowitzki back in 2012, but he was never able to seize an everyday job after that.

    There is still a need for a left-handed reliever, and perhaps more starting pitching depth, but the Angels have some money to work with after the Kendrick trade.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    RF Kole Calhoun
    CF Mike Trout
    1B Albert Pujols
    LF Josh Hamilton
    3B David Freese
    SS Erick Aybar
    DH C.J. Cron
    2B Josh Rutledge
    C Chris Iannetta

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Jered Weaver
    SP Matt Shoemaker
    SP Hector Santiago
    SP C.J. Wilson
    SP Andrew Heaney
    SU Kevin Jepsen
    SU Joe Smith
    CL Huston Street

2. St. Louis Cardinals (Previous: 3)

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    The St. Louis Cardinals jump the Los Angeles Angels into the No. 2 spot, as the Angels' trade of Howie Kendrick helps them long term but could be a hit short term.

    With right field upgraded and the bullpen already shored up heading into the meetings, the Cardinals' focus was on upgrading the bench, and they got a potential steal when they signed Mark Reynolds to a one-year, $2 million deal.

    Reynolds had 22 home runs in 378 at-bats last season, and he has a career .809 OPS against left-handed pitching. That makes him a solid platoon option at first with Matt Adams, who hit just .190/.231/.298 against lefties last year.

    The Cardinals could go the rest of the offseason without making a move, and their roster would still stack up to any in baseball heading into the 2015 season.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    3B Matt Carpenter
    RF Jason Heyward

    LF Matt Holliday
    1B Matt Adams
    C Yadier Molina
    SS Jhonny Peralta
    CF Jon Jay
    2B Kolten Wong
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Adam Wainwright
    SP Lance Lynn
    SP John Lackey
    SP Michael Wacha
    SP Carlos Martinez
    SU Matt Belisle
    SU Jordan Walden
    CL Trevor Rosenthal

1. Washington Nationals (Previous: 1)

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Post-Winter Meetings Outlook

    Many of you have been less than enamored with my decision to place the Washington Nationals in the No. 1 spot in these power rankings.

    "They've never won anything."

    "They're just going to choke again in the playoffs."

    "Bryce Harper is the most overrated player ever."

    Look, I get it, regular-season wins don't mean anything if you can't put it together in the postseason and win it all. Point taken.

    However, these rankings are still all about which team has the best roster at this very moment on Dec. 12, and if I had to pick one team that I thought had the best chance of winning it all today, it would be the Nationals. It's as simple as that.

    They may not have any glaring needs, but they do have some big decisions to make this offseason with Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Ian Desmond all headed for free agency. Don't be surprised if one of those guys is moved, and that just may be enough to bump them down the rankings before Opening Day rolls around.

    Projected 2015 Lineup (as of Dec. 11)

    CF Denard Span
    3B Anthony Rendon
    RF Jayson Werth
    LF Bryce Harper
    1B Ryan Zimmerman
    SS Ian Desmond
    C Wilson Ramos
    2B Danny Espinosa
    Pitcher

    Projected 2015 Rotation (as of Dec. 11)

    SP Jordan Zimmermann
    SP Stephen Strasburg
    SP Doug Fister
    SP Gio Gonzalez
    SP Tanner Roark
    SU Matt Thornton
    SU Tyler Clippard
    CL Drew Storen

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.

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