Future Power Rankings: Where All 30 MLB Teams Will Stand 3 Years from Now

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2016

Future Power Rankings: Where All 30 MLB Teams Will Stand 3 Years from Now

0 of 30

    Jon Durr/Getty Images

    With two months to go in the 2016 MLB season, a number of teams are already looking ahead to the future after selling at the deadline.

    That's exactly what we'll do here.

    Baseball is nearly impossible to predict on a year-in and year-out basis, but what follows is an attempt at projecting how the league will look three years from now.

    Included are a projected lineup and rotation/closer for all 30 teams, a reminder of where each team ranked in our latest farm system rankings and a look at notable upcoming free agents each team stands to lose between now and 2019.

    Here's how the projected rosters were assembled:

    • Players Under Contract: The obvious starting point was to pencil in the players who are under contract through the 2019 season.
    • Arbitration-Eligible Players: Next up was players who will have not yet reached free agency when 2019 rolls around but have already established themselves as everyday big leaguers.
    • Top Prospects: From there, the rest of the roster was filled in with top prospects in the farm system. These players are the toughest to project, as they have yet to prove anything at the big league level, but homegrown talent is key to building a winner.
    • Free Agents: Free agency plays a major role in reshaping the MLB landscape, but for the sake of this exercise we made no assumptions as to where players would sign once they hit the open market.
    • Financial Flexibility: While free-agent signing predictions were not made, a team's expected financial flexibility did factor into its spot in the rankings. The New York Yankees are the perfect example, as they will have boatloads of money to spend on the vaunted 2018-19 free-agent class. That had to be taken into account.

    With all of that in mind, a combination of each team's projected roster, overall quality of young talent and financial freedom factored into its final ranking.

    Let's dive right into our future MLB power rankings with a look at where all 30 teams might stand three years from now.

30. Los Angeles Angels

1 of 30

    Mike Trout will continue to anchor the Angels' lineup with a contract that runs through 2020.
    Mike Trout will continue to anchor the Angels' lineup with a contract that runs through 2020.Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. LF Jahmai JonesSP Matt Shoemaker
    2. RF Kole CalhounSP Andrew Heaney (L)
    3. CF Mike TroutSP Tyler Skaggs (L)
    4. 1B Matt ThaissSP Nate Smith (L)
    5. DH Albert PujolsSP Nick Tropeano
    6. 3B Kaleb CowartCL Cam Bedrosian
    7. SS Andrelton Simmons 
    8. 2B David Fletcher 
    9. C Taylor Ward 

       

    Farm System Rank: 30

       

    Notable Free Agents

    SP Jered Weaver (2017), SP C.J. Wilson (2017), SP Garrett Richards (2019), RP Huston Street (2019)

         

    Overview

    Will Mike Trout still be wearing a Los Angeles Angels jersey in 2019?

    The fact that it's even a question has to be terrifying for the fanbase, but to this point the Angels have squandered a generational talent.

    With the worst farm system in baseball and little in the way of young talent at the MLB level, it's hard to paint a positive picture for the Angels' long-term outlook.

    Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson will reach free agency this offseason and free up a whopping $40.7 million, but at the same time Trout sees his salary jump from $16.08 million this year to $20.08 million next year to $34.08 million from 2018 to 2020.

    That eats into a good chunk of that freed-up payroll, and it doesn't help that this coming winter brings one of the thinnest free-agent crops in recent memory.

    If Matt Shoemaker can build off the success he's had this season and southpaws Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs can get healthy, the rotation could be solid. Then again, if that doesn't happen, it could be a disaster.

    Trading Trout and overhauling the organization may end up being the only option. For now, the Angels don't look like a contender in the short or long term.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks

2 of 30

    Jake Lamb has been one of the breakout stars of 2016.
    Jake Lamb has been one of the breakout stars of 2016.Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. CF Socrates BritoSP Zack Greinke
    2. RF David PeraltaSP Braden Shipley
    3. 1B Paul GoldschmidtSP Archie Bradley
    4. 3B Jake LambSP Robbie Ray (L)
    5. LF Peter O'BrienSP Anthony Banda (L)
    6. C Oscar HernandezCL Jake Barrett
    7. 2B Chris Owings 
    8. SS Nick Ahmed 

       

    Farm System Rank: 24

       

    Notable Free Agents

    C Welington Castillo (2018), CF A.J. Pollock (2019), SP Shelby Miller (2019), SP Patrick Corbin (2019), 2B Jean Segura (2019), LF Yasmany Tomas (2019, player option)

       

    Overview

    Paul Goldschmidt has a $14.5 million team option for 2019 that will cap off a six-year, $46.55 million deal and go down as one of the best decisions in Arizona Diamondbacks franchise history.

    Now it's up to the front office to build a winner around one of the game's truly elite offensive players.

    The emergence of Jake Lamb this season gives them another run producer, and rookies Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley are gaining valuable experience.

    However, Shelby Miller has been disappointing, and A.J. Pollock has missed the entire season after a dynamic performance in 2015. An extension for Pollock remains high atop the to-do list.

    Yasmany Tomas has player options of $15.5 million (2019) and $17 million (2020). If he continues to hit like he has this season, declining that first option and entering free agency as a 28-year-old will be a no-brainer.

    With a bare farm system and a payroll that is stretched thin, it will be interesting to see how the Diamondbacks go about shaking things up over the next three years.

28. Kansas City Royals

3 of 30

    Hunter Dozier is starting to live up to his status as a former first-round pick.
    Hunter Dozier is starting to live up to his status as a former first-round pick.Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. CF Billy BurnsSP Yordano Ventura
    2. LF Alex GordonSP Matt Strahm (L)
    3. 3B Hunter DozierSP Ian Kennedy
    4. 1B Ryan O'HearnSP Jake Junis
    5. C Salvador PerezSP Miguel Almonte
    6. DH Jorge BonifacioCL Kyle Zimmer
    7. RF Anderson Miller 
    8. 2B Christian Colon 
    9. SS Raul A. Mondesi 

        

    Farm System Rank: 25

        

    Notable Free Agents

    Edinson Volquez (2017), DH Kendrys Morales (2017), 1B Eric Hosmer (2018), CF Lorenzo Cain (2018), 3B Mike Moustakas (2018), RP Wade Davis (2018), SP Jason Vargas (2018), SS Alcides Escobar (2018), SP Danny Duffy (2018), RP Kelvin Herrera (2019)

         

    Overview

    It stands to reason the Kansas City Royals will extend at least one of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain, and perhaps Hosmer and Moustakas will both be willing to come back with a hometown discount.

    That being said, we're making no assumptions here as to who will be retained, and the Royals' offensive outlook without that trio is troubling to say the least.

    Hunter Dozier and Ryan O'Hearn are both enjoying terrific seasons at the minor league level, but they are not elite-level prospects and should probably not be the centerpiece of a team's lineup.

    The pitching staff is in equally rough shape.

    Yordano Ventura has yet to come near living up to his ace potential, and behind him is a cluster of unproven arms that may peak as middle-of-the-rotation options.

    The one pitching prospect with a chance to be a real difference-maker is Kyle Zimmer, but health issues could wind up forcing him to the bullpen, where he has the stuff to close.

    Who the Royals decide to extend, if anyone, will alter their ranking greatly. Until one or more of those core pieces is locked up, though, they look to be in rough shape.

27. Baltimore Orioles

4 of 30

    Dylan Bundy still has all the makings of a future ace.
    Dylan Bundy still has all the makings of a future ace.Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. LF D.J. StewartSP Dylan Bundy
    2. 2B Jonathan SchoopSP Kevin Gausman
    3. RF Chris DavisSP Chris Lee (L)
    4. 3B Jomar ReyesSP Hunter Harvey
    5. 1B Trey ManciniSP Mike Wright
    6. DH Christian WalkerCL Tanner Scott (L)
    7. C Chance Sisco 
    8. CF Mike Yastrzemski 
    9. SS Ryan Mountcastle 

        

    Farm System Rank: 29

        

    Notable Free Agents

    DH Mark Trumbo (2017), C Matt Wieters (2017), SP Chris Tillman (2018), SP Ubaldo Jimenez (2018), 3B Manny Machado (2019), CF Adam Jones (2019), RP Zach Britton (2019), RP Brad Brach (2019), SS J.J. Hardy (2019)

        

    Overview

    The biggest story for the Baltimore Orioles is whether or not they will be able to lock up Manny Machado with a long-term deal.

    If not, they'll be losing one of the best players in the game leading up to the 2019 season, to go along with the departures of star center fielder Adam Jones, All-Star relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach and shortstop J.J. Hardy.

    In fact, the only pieces of one of the most dangerous offenses in baseball that are under control through 2019 are slugger Chris Davis and up-and-coming second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

    Yet it's the pitching staff that remains the biggest question mark.

    Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman have a chance to be a dynamic duo, but given Bundy's injury history and the lack of consistency from Gausman so far, that's far from a slam dunk. The same goes for Hunter Harvey, who has spent more time in the trainer's room than on the field since being drafted.

    If that trio of arms can live up to their potential and second-tier prospects like Chance Sisco, D.J. Stewart and Jomar Reyes can make the leap in their development, the Orioles would have an enviable core of homegrown talent.

    That's a big "if," though.

26. Oakland Athletics

5 of 30

    It's been a breakout season for corner infielder Ryon Healy.
    It's been a breakout season for corner infielder Ryon Healy.John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. 2B Franklin BarretoSP Sonny Gray
    2. C Stephen VogtSP A.J. Puk (L)
    3. 1B Ryon HealySP Sean Manaea (L)
    4. LF Khris DavisSP Grant Holmes
    5. RF Matt OlsonSP Kendall Graveman
    6. 3B Matt ChapmanCL Frankie Montas
    7. DH Renato Nunez 
    8. SS Marcus Semien 
    9. CF Brett Eibner 

        

    Farm System Rank: 13

        

    Notable Free Agents

    1B Yonder Alonso (2018), 3B Danny Valencia (2018), OF Coco Crisp (2018), RP Ryan Madson (2019)

        

    Overview

    Considering the way vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane and Co. operate, predicting what the Oakland Athletics lineup and pitching staff will look like three years from now is an exercise in futility.

    Sonny Gray, Stephen Vogt and Khris Davis could all be moved ahead of free agency in 2019-20, and the same goes for Marcus Semien, who hits the open market the following offseason.

    That being said, there are some good young bats on the cusp of making a serious impact, led by the foursome of Ryon Healy, Matt Chapman, Renato Nunez and Matt Olson. Olson has seen his prospect star fade, but he still has legitimate 30-homer power.

    Sean Manaea and A.J. Puk both have front-line potential, and assuming Gray is still around and that he's sorted things out after a confusingly bad 2015 season, the rotation could be a strength.

    Franklin Barreto will be the X-factor here, as he still has a chance to salvage the Josh Donaldson trade if he can live up to his ceiling offensively.

25. San Diego Padres

6 of 30

    A breakout season by Wil Myers has him looking like a building block for the Padres.
    A breakout season by Wil Myers has him looking like a building block for the Padres.Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. CF Manuel MargotSP Anderson Espinoza
    2. 3B Yangervis SolarteSP Colin Rea
    3. 1B Wil MyersSP Eric Lauer (L)
    4. RF Hunter RenfroeSP Dinelson Lamet
    5. LF Alex DickersonSP Luis Perdomo
    6. C Austin HedgesCL Carter Capps
    7. SS Javier Guerra 
    8. 2B Jose Rondon 

        

    Farm System Rank: 12

        

    Notable Free Agents

    SS Alexei Ramirez (2017), SP Tyson Ross (2018), C Derek Norris (2019)

        

    Overview

    It's been a tumultuous first two seasons at the helm for San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller.

    After expanding the payroll and gutting the farm system for a run at contention last season, he's quickly set to work rebuilding the minor league ranks and adding young talent this year after falling short of expectations.

    Wil Myers has once again established himself as one of the best young hitters in the game, while Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot are all putting up impressive numbers at the Triple-A level.

    The biggest question going forward will be the pitching staff and the development of Anderson Espinoza, who San Diego acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Drew Pomeranz. He's only 18 but is already pitching at the Single-A level, and he could move quickly once things start to click.

    The front office showed a willingness to spend two winters ago, so when the time comes to contend again it could be busy adding veteran talent.

24. Detroit Tigers

7 of 30

    An extension for J.D. Martinez could be the Tigers' next big move.
    An extension for J.D. Martinez could be the Tigers' next big move.Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. CF Derek HillSP Michael Fulmer
    2. DH Justin UptonSP Jordan Zimmermann
    3. 1B Miguel CabreraSP Justin Verlander
    4. LF Christin StewartSP Daniel Norris (L)
    5. 3B Nick CastellanosSP Matt Boyd (L)
    6. RF Michael GerberCL Joe Jimenez
    7. 2B JaCoby Jones 
    8. C James McCann 
    9. SS Dixon Machado 

       

    Farm System Rank: 27

       

    Notable Free Agents

    RF J.D. Martinez (2018), RP Francisco Rodriguez (2018), SP Anibal Sanchez (2018, club option), 2B Ian Kinsler (2018, club option), DH Victor Martinez (2019), SS Jose Iglesias (2019)

       

    Overview

    The Detroit Tigers will have a good deal of money coming off of the books leading up to the 2019 season, as Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler and Anibal Sanchez are three of the team's seven highest-paid players and all earning north of $10 million.

    That should make them active players on the vaunted 2018-19 free-agent market, and there could be some glaring holes to fill up the middle of the diamond.

    Extending J.D. Martinez ahead of his 2018 free agency would seem like a wise move for the franchise, and the same goes for shortstop Jose Iglesias, who will still be just 29 years old in 2019.

    The future of the pitching staff will depend greatly on the continued development of Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd, both acquired in last year's David Price trade, but it appears they've found their ace of the present and future in Michael Fulmer, who was the prize of the Yoenis Cespedes deal.

    The development of former first-round picks Derek Hill and Christin Stewart and the progression of those young starters look like the biggest X-factors for a Tigers team that will have payroll room but needs in-house talent to perform.

23. Toronto Blue Jays

8 of 30

    Aaron Sanchez is the present and future ace of the Blue Jays staff.
    Aaron Sanchez is the present and future ace of the Blue Jays staff.Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. 2B Devon TravisSP Aaron Sanchez
    2. SS Richard UrenaSP Marcus Stroman
    3. 3B Troy TulowitzkiSP Sean Reid-Foley
    4. DH Rowdy TellezSP Jon Harris
    5. 1B Justin SmoakSP Conner Greene
    6. RF Anthony AlfordCL Roberto Osuna
    7. LF Harold Ramirez 
    8. CF Kevin Pillar 
    9. C Reese McGuire 

        

    Farm System Rank: 19

        

    Notable Free Agents

    RF Jose Bautista (2017), DH Edwin Encarnacion (2017), OF Michael Saunders (2017), SP Marco Estrada (2018), SP Francisco Liriano (2018), 3B Josh Donaldson (2019), SP J.A. Happ (2019)

        

    Overview

    The Toronto Blue Jays have mortgaged a tremendous amount of young talent in recent years, and it shows in a farm system that ranks near the bottom third of the league.

    They'll have some big decisions to make this winter as the trio of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders reaches free agency.

    Rowdy Tellez is the one prospect in the organization capable of replacing some of that lost power, and he could be ready to make the jump to the majors next season. Athletic outfielder Anthony Alford, standout shortstop prospect Richard Urena and the recently acquired duo of Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire should all be pushing for starting gigs as well.

    Veteran catcher Russell Martin will still be under contract for $20 million in the final year of his deal in 2019, but he'll be 36. McGuire and Max Pentecost both look like potential everyday options, so there's a good chance he'll be relegated to being an expensive backup.

    The one-two punch of Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman has a chance to be a real strength, and the team is loaded with high-ceiling pitching prospects, most notably Sean Reid-Foley, who is enjoying a breakout season.

    Returning Roberto Osuna to a starting role remains a possibility as well.

22. Chicago White Sox

9 of 30

    The development of Carson Fulmer will be interesting to watch over the next three years.
    The development of Carson Fulmer will be interesting to watch over the next three years.Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. SS Tim AndersonSP Chris Sale (L)
    2. RF Adam EatonSP Jose Quintana (L)
    3. DH Jose AbreuSP Carson Fulmer
    4. C Zack CollinsSP Carlos Rodon (L)
    5. 1B Jameson FisherSP James Shields
    6. 3B Trey MichalczewskiCL Zack Burdi
    7. CF Adam Engel 
    8. 2B Jake Peter 
    9. LF Charlie Tilson 

       

    Farm System Rank: 23

        

    Notable Free Agents

    3B Todd Frazier (2018), OF Melky Cabrera (2018), 2B Brett Lawrie (2018), RP David Robertson (2019)

        

    Overview

    There are a lot of question marks in that projected lineup for the Chicago White Sox, especially on the position-player side of things.

    Jose Abreu should still be a dangerous bat three years from now, and the recently drafted duo of Zack Collins and Jameson Fisher has a chance to make a real impact as well alongside standout rookie Tim Anderson.

    However, prospects like Trey Michalczewski, Adam Engel, Jake Peter and Charlie Tilson could just as easily wind up being organizational depth as they could emerging as everyday options.

    Pitching looks like a potential strength on paper, but it's far from a given that Chris Sale and Jose Quintana will still be around in 2019. Carson Fulmer and Carlos Rodon both have front-line upside and a significantly lower floor due to command issues.

    That being said, the trio of Nate Jones, Zack Burdi and Fulmer at the back of the bullpen could be lethal.

21. Miami Marlins

10 of 30

    Giancarlo Stanton is locked up through at least 2020.
    Giancarlo Stanton is locked up through at least 2020.Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. 2B Dee GordonSP Adam Conley (L)
    2. LF Christian YelichSP Luis Castillo
    3. RF Giancarlo StantonSP Wei-Yin Chen (L)
    4. CF Marcell OzunaSP Jarlin Garcia (L)
    5. 1B Justin BourSP Kendry Flores
    6. C J.T. RealmutoCL Tayron Guerrero
    7. 3B Derek Dietrich 
    8. SS J.T. Riddle 

        

    Farm System Rank: 28

        

    Notable Free Agents

    3B Martin Prado (2017), SP Andrew Cashner (2017), SP Jose Fernandez (2019), RP A.J. Ramos (2019), SS Adeiny Hechavarria (2019), SP Tom Koehler (2019), RP David Phelps (2019)

           

    Overview

    Having the outfield trio of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna and speedy table-setter Dee Gordon all locked up through 2019 is a huge bonus for the Miami Marlins.

    However, the story here is the impending free agency of ace Jose Fernandez following the 2018 season.

    If he's not retained, and there's a good chance he won't be, the starting rotation could be left in shambles.

    Top prospects Braxton Garrett and Tyler Kolek will likely still be at least a year away in 2019, and that leaves Adam Conley, Wei-Yin Chen and whoever emerges from the handful of young arms that include Jarlin Garcia, Luis Castillo, Kendry Flores, Jose Urena, Justin Nicolino, Austin Brice and Jake Esch.

    Is there potential there? Sure, but there are also no sure things, and even Conley has been inconsistent in his first full season.

    Catcher J.T. Realmuto could be one of the league's best all-around catchers by 2019, but that left side of the infield of J.T. Riddle and Derek Dietrich will need to be addressed.

20. Seattle Mariners

11 of 30

    Will Taijuan Walker ever reach his ceiling as a top-of-the-rotation starter?
    Will Taijuan Walker ever reach his ceiling as a top-of-the-rotation starter?Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. SS Ketel MarteSP Felix Hernandez
    2. 3B Kyle SeagerSP Taijuan Walker
    3. 2B Robinson CanoSP James Paxton (L)
    4. LF Tyler O'NeillSP Andrew Moore
    5. RF Alex JacksonSP Nate Karns
    6. 1B D.J. PetersonCL Edwin Diaz
    7. DH Dan Vogelbach 
    8. C Mike Zunino 
    9. CF Braden Bishop 

       

    Farm System Rank: 21

       

    Notable Free Agents

    1B Dae-Ho Lee (2017), 1B Adam Lind (2017), OF Seth Smith (2018), C Chris Iannetta (2018), DH Nelson Cruz (2019), SP Hisashi Iwakuma (2019), CF Leonys Martin (2019)

       

    Overview

    GM Jerry Dipoto has at least a few more tricks up his sleeve after completely overhauling the roster in his first offseason at the helm as the Seattle Mariners continue to search for their first postseason berth since 2001.

    Felix Hernandez will still be just 33 years old when the 2019 season rolls around, but at his current pace he'll be pushing 3,000 career innings.

    That makes the continued progression of Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, as well as the development of top pitching prospects Andrew Moore and Luiz Gohara, a key factor in the Mariners' long-term outlook.

    Offensively, they look to have a good one in Tyler O'Neill. He has some of the best raw power in all of minor league baseball and should be more than capable of stepping in for Nelson Cruz once he reaches free agency.

    Meanwhile, D.J. Peterson and Dan Vogelbach have run-production potential as well, and Alex Jackson still has the highest ceiling of any prospect in the system.

    That projected lineup provides a good mix of experience and youth and should leave the Mariners in a position to spend some money as well with so many of those players still pre-arbitration.

19. Colorado Rockies

12 of 30

    Jon Gray is finally starting to flash the front-line potential the Rockies were hoping for when they took him No. 3 overall.
    Jon Gray is finally starting to flash the front-line potential the Rockies were hoping for when they took him No. 3 overall.Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. CF David DahlSP Jon Gray
    2. RF Raimel TapiaSP Jeff Hoffman
    3. 3B Nolan ArenadoSP Tyler Anderson (L)
    4. 2B Trevor StorySP German Marquez
    5. SS Brendan RodgersSP Kyle Freeland (L)
    6. 1B Ryan McMahonCL Carlos Estevez
    7. LF Jordan Patterson 
    8. C Tom Murphy 

        

    Farm System Rank: 9

        

    Notable Free Agents

    SP Jorge De La Rosa (2017), C Nick Hundley (2017), RF Carlos Gonzalez (2018), SP Tyler Chatwood (2018), RP Jake McGee (2018), CF Charlie Blackmon (2019), 2B DJ LeMahieu (2019)

        

    Overview

    As has been the case since their inception as a franchise back in 1993, piecing together a viable pitching staff at altitude remains the biggest hurdle for the Colorado Rockies in their efforts to contend.

    Jon Gray has finally begun to show flashes of being the front-line starter the team was hoping for when it took him No. 3 overall in 2013. Further development from him and a smooth transition to the majors from Jeff Hoffman could give the staff a pair of front-line workhorses atop the rotation.

    As for the offense, even with Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu projected to be gone, things still look to be in good shape.

    Nolan Arenado is a bona fide superstar, and both Trevor Story and David Dahl have turned heads during their rookie campaigns. Raimel Tapia is more than capable of being a Blackmon-esque contributor, and many felt Brendan Rodgers had a higher ceiling than both Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman leading up to the 2015 draft.

    Flipping CarGo at some point ahead of his free agency and perhaps doing the same with Blackmon could bring even more young talent to what is already a top-10 farm system. The pitching is still suspect enough to not rank the Rockies any higher, but there is legitimate hope for the future in Colorado.

18. Tampa Bay Rays

13 of 30

    Blake Snell has front-line potential for the pitching-rich Rays.
    Blake Snell has front-line potential for the pitching-rich Rays.Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. SS Willy Adames SP Chris Archer
    2. 2B Matt DuffySP Blake Snell (L)
    3. LF Jake Bauers SP Jake Odorizzi
    4. 3B Evan Longoria SP Brent Honeywell
    5. 1B Brad MillerSP Chih-Wei Hu
    6. RF Steven Souza CL Alex Colome
    7. DH Corey Dickerson 
    8. CF Kevin Kiermaier  
    9. C Justin O'Conner 

        

    Farm System Rank: 15

        

    Notable Free Agents

    SP Alex Cobb (2018), LF Desmond Jennings (2018), 2B Logan Forsythe (2019), SP Drew Smyly (2019)

        

    Overview

    The Tampa Bay Rays finally pulled the trigger on moving a starter when they shipped Matt Moore to the San Francisco Giants at the deadline, and they may not be done.

    Dealing one of Jake Odorizzi or Chris Archer this coming offseason to add more offensive firepower could prove to be a franchise-altering move and thrust the Rays back into contention.

    Blake Snell and Brent Honeywell will represent the next wave of front-line rotation talent, and there are plenty more rotation options behind them if the team moves a starter.

    Chih-Wei Hu, Jacob Faria, Taylor Guerrieri and Jaime Schultz should all be ready to challenge for a rotation spot, while Ryne Stanek and Hunter Wood represent the next wave of bullpen options.

    Offensively, the emergence of Brad Miller this season gives the team a somewhat proven power bat to pair with Evan Longoria, and prospects Willy Adames and Jake Bauers both look like impact players in their own right.

    This coming offseason and what they choose to do with their enviable pitching depth will have an impact on the club's long-term outlook.

17. Cincinnati Reds

14 of 30

    Anthony DeSclafani has looked the part of a future staff ace this season.
    Anthony DeSclafani has looked the part of a future staff ace this season.Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. SS Jose PerazaSP Anthony DeSclafani
    2. LF Jesse WinkerSP Amir Garrett (L)
    3. 1B Joey VottoSP Robert Stephenson
    4. RF Adam DuvallSP Cody Reed (L)
    5. 3B Nick SenzelSP Brandon Finnegan (L)
    6. 2B Dilson HerreraCL Raisel Iglesias
    7. C Chris Okey 
    8. CF Billy Hamilton 

        

    Farm System Rank: 11

        

    Notable Free Agents

    2B Brandon Phillips (2018), SS Zack Cozart (2018), C Devin Mesoraco (2019), RP J.J. Hoover (2019)

        

    Overview

    The Cincinnati Reds have done a terrific job cashing in their trade chips over the past two seasons, moving Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Mike Leake, Marlon Byrd and others.

    The result is a farm system that ranks as one of the best in baseball, even with Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, Jose Peraza and Adam Duvall using up their prospect eligibility.

    DeSclafani is perhaps the most valuable asset in the organization. He's looked like an ace this season after a quietly stellar rookie campaign, but he could also be a significant trade chip given his remaining team control.

    Behind him are several promising young arms, led by Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed, but also including Tyler Mahle, Keury Mella, Rookie Davis, Nick Travieso, Sal Romano and Max Wotell.

    That kind of pitching depth opens the door for plenty of activity on the buying side of the trade market, once the team is ready to make a push back toward contention.

    The 2019 season could be that turning point.

16. Minnesota Twins

15 of 30

    Max Kepler is making a strong push for AL Rookie of the Year honors.
    Max Kepler is making a strong push for AL Rookie of the Year honors.Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. CF Byron Buxton SP Jose Berrios
    2. SS Nick GordonSP Kohl Stewart
    3. RF Max KeplerSP Kyle Gibson
    4. 3B Miguel Sano SP Stephen Gonsalves (L)
    5. DH Adam WalkerSP Phil Hughes
    6. 1B Byung-Ho ParkCL J.T. Chargois
    7. LF Eddie Rosario 
    8. 2B Jorge Polanco  
    9. C Mitch Garver  

        

    Farm System Rank: 14

        

    Notable Free Agents

    SP Hector Santiago (2018), 3B Trevor Plouffe (2018), 2B Brian Dozier (2019), 1B Joe Mauer (2019), RP Glen Perkins (2019), SS Eduardo Escobar (2019), SP Ervin Santana (2019, mutual option)

        

    Overview

    After a surprise run at contention in 2015, the Minnesota Twins have taken a big step backward in 2016. The long-term outlook of the franchise remains bright, though.

    Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano have not lived up to lofty expectations so far, but both players are still young and more than capable of being cornerstones of the franchise going forward.

    Meanwhile, Max Kepler has looked the part of a future middle-of-the-order run producer, and prospects Nick Gordon, Jorge Polanco and Adam Walker have continued their ascent through the minor league ranks.

    It's pitching that is the strength of the farm system, though.

    Incumbents Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes could have a hard time holding off the likes of Jose Berrios, Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart, Tyler Jay, Fernando Romero and Adalberto Mejia over the next few seasons.

    In the bullpen, the flame-throwing duo of J.T. Chargois and Nick Burdi could be a dangerous weapon, and Pat Light, Jake Reed, Mason Melotakis and Trevor Hildenberger profile as impact arms as well.

    All the pieces are there in theory, but the Twins are leaning heavily on the continued development of so many young players that's it's hard to rank them any higher without an established core in place.

15. Milwaukee Brewers

16 of 30

    Corey Ray appears to be on the fast track after going No. 5 overall in the June draft.
    Corey Ray appears to be on the fast track after going No. 5 overall in the June draft.Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. 3B Jonathan Villar SP Josh Hader (L)
    2. SS Orlando Arcia SP Zach Davies
    3. RF Corey RaySP Jimmy Nelson
    4. 1B Ryan BraunSP Luis Ortiz
    5. CF Lewis Brinson SP Phil Bickford
    6. LF Brett PhillipsCL Corey Knebel
    7. C Andrew Susac  
    8. 2B Scooter Gennett  

        

    Farm System Rank: 2

        

    Notable Free Agents

    SP Wily Peralta (2019), SP Matt Garza (2019)

          

    Overview

    The Milwaukee Brewers dove head first into the rebuilding process last summer, and the wheeling and dealing continued at this year's deadline as they moved Jonathan Lucroy, Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith.

    The result is a vastly improved farm system and what should be a team on the rise by 2019.

    An outfield of Brett Phillips, Lewis Brinson and Corey Ray has a chance to be the centerpiece of the offense, while Orlando Arcia could be the next young star at the shortstop position. Assuming Ryan Braun is still around, and he's signed through 2020 with an option for 2021, a move to first base seems likely.

    While they may be lacking in experienced arms outside of Jimmy Nelson, there is a wealth of young pitching in the organization with Josh Hader, Zach Davies, Luis Ortiz and Phil Bickford all acquired via trade since the team began rebuilding.

14. Atlanta Braves

17 of 30

    Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies headline a deep Braves farm system.
    Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies headline a deep Braves farm system.Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. 2B Ozzie Albies SP Julio Teheran
    2. CF Ender Inciarte SP Matt Wisler
    3. SS Dansby SwansonSP Sean Newcomb (L)
    4. 1B Freddie FreemanSP Mike Foltynewicz
    5. LF Matt KempSP Mike Soroka
    6. 3B Austin RileyCL Arodys Vizcaino
    7. RF Travis Demeritte  
    8. C Tanner Murphy 

        

    Farm System Rank: 4

        

    Notable Free Agents

    RF Nick Markakis (2019), C Tyler Flowers (2019)

           

    Overview

    With a top-five farm system and an abundance of payroll room, the Atlanta Braves could be gearing up for something special in 2019.

    Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran are the building blocks at the MLB level and middle infielders Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies headline the minor league ranks, but it's their wealth of high-ceiling pitching that stands out.

    Sean Newcomb, Kolby Allard, Ian Anderson, Mike Soroka, Joey Wentz, Touki Toussaint, Kyle Muller and Max Fried all have legitimate front-line upside, and the young duo of Matt Wisler and Mike Foltynewicz has shown flashes at the MLB level.

    Even if only half of those guys pan out, the Braves will be loaded with controllable young pitching and the trade chips necessary to acquire the offensive pieces they need.

    It's sort of the opposite approach to the Chicago Cubs, who loaded up on position-player talent and went outside the organization to put together their pitching staff.

    A number of those pitchers are still teenagers, and the offense is a long ways off, but 2019 could be when the pieces start to come together in Atlanta.

13. Philadelphia Phillies

18 of 30

    It's been an up-and-down season for Aaron Nola.
    It's been an up-and-down season for Aaron Nola.Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. CF Odubel HerreraSP Aaron Nola
    2. SS J.P. CrawfordSP Vince Velasquez
    3. 3B Maikel FrancoSP Jake Thompson
    4. LF Dylan CozensSP Jerad Eickhoff
    5. 1B Rhys HoskinsSP Franklyn Kilome
    6. RF Nick WilliamsCL Jimmy Cordero
    7. C Jorge Alfaro 
    8. 2B Scott Kingery 

        

    Farm System Rank: 7

        

    Notable Free Agents

    SP Jeremy Hellickson (2017), 1B Ryan Howard (2017, club option), RP Jeanmar Gomez (2018), SP Matt Harrison (2019), SS Freddy Galvis (2019)

        

    Overview

    The Philadelphia Phillies don't have much left in the way of tradable assets, so 2017 figures to be the year when they cast their prospects out into the MLB world to see what they can do.

    J.P. Crawford remains the headliner in a deep farm system, and sluggers Dylan Cozens (.983 OPS, 33 2B, 32 HR, 104 RBI) and Rhys Hoskins (.959 OPS, 24 2B, 35 HR, 104 RBI) have turned some heads this season as well.

    Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro and Jake Thompsonthe trio of top prospects acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels tradeshould all see MLB action down the stretch this year with an eye on stepping into significant roles next season.

    Aaron Nola, Vincent Velasquez and Jerad Eickhoff have all enjoyed some degree of success at the MLB level, and Thompson looks like a safe bet to at least reach his floor as a middle-of-the-rotation workhorse.

    That leaves Franklyn Kilome, Mark Appel, Ricardo Pinto, Thomas Eshelman, Ben Lively and a handful of others to duke it out for what could be one rotation spot.

    There's no glaring weakness on the projected roster above, and considering how many of those players will be pre-arbitration, the Phillies should have a ton of money to make a run at one of the marquee free agents of the 2018-19 class.

12. Texas Rangers

19 of 30

    Nomar Mazara has as high a ceiling as any young hitter in the majors.
    Nomar Mazara has as high a ceiling as any young hitter in the majors.Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. CF Delino DeShields Jr.SP Cole Hamels (L)
    2. 2B Rougned OdorSP Yohander Mendez (L)
    3. RF Nomar Mazara SP Ariel Jurado
    4. DH Joey GalloSP Martin Perez (L)
    5. 1B Ronald GuzmanSP Chi Chi Gonzalez
    6. LF Shin-Soo Choo CL Jeremy Jeffress
    7. 3B Jurickson Profar  
    8. C Jose Trevino 
    9. SS Elvis Andrus 

        

    Farm System Rank: 17

        

    Notable Free Agents

    CF Ian Desmond (2017), RF Carlos Beltran (2017), 1B Mitch Moreland (2017), SP Colby Lewis (2017), SP Yu Darvish (2018), C Jonathan Lucroy (2018), 3B Adrian Beltre (2019), RP Jake Diekman (2019), SP Derek Holland (2019)

        

    Overview

    Even after the blockbuster deals to acquire Cole Hamels and Jonathan Lucroy, the Texas Rangers still have plenty of impact talent down on the farm.

    Sluggers Joey Gallo and Ronald Guzman will be asked to shoulder the run-production load going forward, alongside rookie Nomar Mazara, who has legitimate superstar potential.

    An extension with Ian Desmond would make sense given the disappointing performance of Delino DeShields Jr. this season and the decision to deal top prospect Lewis Brinson. Otherwise, center field looks like a hole that will need to be addressed.

    Yu Darvish is the other big name headed for free agency before the 2019 season, as he'll be entering the final year of his contract next season. Health is a factor when it comes to offering him a significant chunk of change, but the Rangers will no doubt consider it.

    The continued progression of Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado will be big on the pitching side, but you can expect the Rangers to be in the market for someone like Jose Fernandez on the open market.

11. Washington Nationals

20 of 30

    Trea Turner is only scratching the surface of his overall potential.
    Trea Turner is only scratching the surface of his overall potential.Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. RF Rafael Bautista SP Max Scherzer
    2. SS Trea TurnerSP Stephen Strasburg
    3. LF Michael TaylorSP Lucas Giolito
    4. 3B Anthony Rendon SP Joe Ross
    5. 1B Ryan ZimmermanSP Tanner Roark
    6. CF Andrew StevensonCL Reynaldo Lopez
    7. 2B Wilmer Difo  
    8. C Pedro Severino  

        

    Farm System Rank: 10

        

    Notable Free Agents

    RP Mark Melancon (2017), C Wilson Ramos (2017), RP Jonathan Papelbon (2017), CF Ben Revere (2018), LF Jayson Werth (2018), SS Danny Espinosa (2018), RF Bryce Harper (2019), 2B Daniel Murphy (2019), SP Gio Gonzalez (2019)

        

    Overview

    The Washington Nationals have locked up the core of their starting rotation with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg both signed through 2021 and Lucas Giolito expected to be a full-time member of the staff next season.

    The offense is a different story.

    The left side of the infield will be a strength with Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon, but if they lose Bryce Harper to free agency, they'll have a huge hole to fill.

    Outfield prospect Victor Robles has a chance to be a dynamic, superstar-caliber talent once he reaches the majors. He's still just 19 years old, though, and may not be ready by 2019.

    Wilmer Difo, Andrew Stevenson, Rafael Bautista, Drew Ward and Pedro Severino are all capable of seizing everyday jobs between now and the 2019 season, but none profile as true impact talents.

    That's why the Harper decision will be the story. 

10. San Francisco Giants

21 of 30

    Brandon Belt was extended through the 2021 season.
    Brandon Belt was extended through the 2021 season.Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. CF Denard SpanSP Madison Bumgarner (L)
    2. 2B Joe Panik SP Jeff Samardzija
    3. LF Brandon BeltSP Matt Moore (L)
    4. C Buster PoseySP Tyler Beede
    5. 1B Chris ShawSP Sam Coonrod
    6. 3B Christian ArroyoCL Hunter Strickland
    7. SS Brandon Crawford 
    8. RF Steven Duggar  

        

    Farm System Rank: 26

        

    Notable Free Agents

    RP Santiago Casilla (2017), RP Sergio Romo (2017), SP Johnny Cueto (2018, opt out), 3B Eduardo Nunez (2018), SP Matt Cain (2018, club option), RF Hunter Pence (2019)

        

    Overview

    The San Francisco Giants did well to lock up Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford this year, and they hold a pair of $12 million options on Madison Bumgarner for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, so he won't be going anywhere either.

    However, All-Star starter Johnny Cueto has an opt-out option following the 2017 season that seems like a safe bet to be exercised as long as he stays healthy.

    That made the move to acquire Matt Moore, who has team control through the 2019 season with a trio of option years, a smart one for the Giants.

    There are a lot of different ways the projected lineup could go, and another distinct possibility is Aramis Garcia emerging as the primary catcher, Buster Posey moving to first base and Chris Shaw being used as a trade chip.

    While the farm system as a whole is thin, there are some guys to watch in the upper levels of the minors who could factor into the long-term plans. Infielder Christian Arroyo, outfielder Steven Duggar and right-handers Tyler Beede and Sam Coonrod could all debut by next season as they look to work their way into the everyday picture.

9. St. Louis Cardinals

22 of 30

    Carlos Martinez will be asked to take over as staff ace once Adam Wainwright is gone.
    Carlos Martinez will be asked to take over as staff ace once Adam Wainwright is gone.Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. 3B Matt CarpenterSP Carlos Martinez
    2. 2B Kolten WongSP Alex Reyes
    3. RF Stephen PiscottySP Michael Wacha
    4. CF Randal GrichukSP Luke Weaver
    5. LF Harrison BaderSP Mike Leake
    6. 1B Jedd GyorkoCL Dakota Hudson
    7. C Carson Kelly 
    8. SS Edmundo Sosa 

        

    Farm System Rank: 18

        

    Notable Free Agents

    1B Brandon Moss (2017), RP Seung Hwan Oh (2017), LF Matt Holliday (2017, club option), SS Aledmys Diaz (2018), SP Lance Lynn (2018), SP Jaime Garcia (2018), SS Jhonny Peralta (2018), SP Adam Wainwright (2019), C Yadier Molina (2019), RP Trevor Rosenthal (2019), 1B Matt Adams (2019)

        

    Overview

    That's a long list of free agents, as change is coming for the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday have been at the heart of the team's recent run of success, but all three figure to be gone by the time the 2019 season rolls around.

    Extending Aledmys Diaz seems like a no-brainer on the surface, but this is a franchise with a history of letting other teams pay their top free agents while they continue to develop their cheap, in-house talent.

    That means Edmundo Sosa may still be the shortstop of the future, or at least of the near-future as he keeps the spot warm for Delvin Perez.

    Replacing Molina will be tough, as he's essentially a coach on the field. Carson Kelly will get the first crack at the job before a number of lower-level catching prospects start to push him.

    The Cardinals' future success offensively hinges greatly on Stephen Piscotty taking the lead and both Kolten Wong and Randal Grichuk rebounding from disappointing seasons.

    On the pitching side, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha will anchor a new-look staff that should feature some combination of Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty by 2019, with more high-octane arms on the way in Junior Fernandez and Sandy Alcantara.

8. New York Mets

23 of 30

    Three years from now, Noah Syndergaard could be the best pitcher in baseball.
    Three years from now, Noah Syndergaard could be the best pitcher in baseball.Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. SS Amed RosarioSP Noah Syndergaard
    2. 2B Gavin CecchiniSP Jacob deGrom
    3. 1B Dominic SmithSP Steven Matz (L)
    4. LF Michael ConfortoSP Zack Wheeler
    5. C Travis d'ArnaudSP Anthony Kay (L)
    6. 3B Wilmer FloresCL Justin Dunn
    7. RF Brandon Nimmo 
    8. CF Juan Lagares 

        

    Farm System Rank: 22

        

    Notable Free Agents

    2B Neil Walker (2017), SP Bartolo Colon (2017), LF Yoenis Cespedes (2017, opt out), RF Curtis Granderson (2018), RF Jay Bruce (2018), 1B Lucas Duda (2018), SP Matt Harvey (2019), RP Jeurys Familia (2019), SS Asdrubal Cabrera (2019)

        

    Overview

    Outside of the Cleveland Indians and perhaps the Washington Nationals, no team boasts a better long-term pitching outlook than the New York Mets.

    Even with Matt Harvey set to reach free agency as part of the 2018-19 class, the trio of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz still gives the team three ace-caliber arms, and Zack Wheeler is still capable of front-line production as well.

    It's the offense that will be a concern.

    Yoenis Cespedes is a lock to opt out of his contract this coming offseason, and Neil Walker will join him in free agency. Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda then see their names come up the following offseason, and anything the team gets from David Wright at this point has to be considered a bonus.

    It would be a mild shock if he's not retired by 2019.

    That leaves it up to young outfielders Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, as well as prospects Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini, to lead the offensive attack going forward.

    The team should have some money to spend, but keep in mind that Syndergaard, deGrom and Matz are going to get expensive awfully quick once they reach arbitration.

7. Cleveland Indians

24 of 30

    Francisco Lindor has quickly become the face of the franchise for the Indians.
    Francisco Lindor has quickly become the face of the franchise for the Indians.Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. CF Bradley ZimmerSP Corey Kluber
    2. 2B Jason KipnisSP Danny Salazar
    3. SS Francisco LindorSP Carlos Carrasco
    4. 1B Bobby BradleySP Trevor Bauer
    5. DH Nellie RodriguezSP Mike Clevinger
    6. RF Tyler NaquinCL Shawn Armstrong
    7. LF Jose Ramirez 
    8. C Yan Gomes 
    9. 3B Yandy Diaz 

        

    Farm System Rank: 20

        

    Notable Free Agents

    1B Mike Napoli (2017), 1B Carlos Santana (2018), RP Andrew Miller (2019), LF Michael Brantley (2019), SP Josh Tomlin (2019), RP Cody Allen (2019), RF Lonnie Chisenhall (2019)

        

    Overview

    The Cleveland Indians have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball, and the fact that Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer are all under control through 2019 gives them a huge boost in these rankings.

    The offense has a chance to be improved as well.

    Losing Carlos Santana after the 2017 season and Michael Brantley the following year will hurt, but slugger Bobby Bradley and multifaceted outfielder Bradley Zimmer should serve as suitable replacements for a fraction of the cost.

    Third base or left field looks like a hole, depending on where Jose Ramirez settles in, and the team could use another power bat in the middle of the lineup.

    However, for a small-market team that generally shies away from the blockbuster trade or the big-money free-agent signing, the Indians look to be well-positioned for success in 2019 without doing much of anything.

6. Houston Astros

25 of 30

    Carlos Correa has still not reached his ceiling.
    Carlos Correa has still not reached his ceiling.Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. RF George SpringerSP Lance McCullers
    2. 2B Jose Altuve SP Francis Martes
    3. LF Alex Bregman SP David Paulino
    4. SS Carlos Correa SP Collin McHugh
    5. 1B A.J. ReedSP Joe Musgrove
    6. 3B Yulieski Gurriel CL James Hoyt
    7. DH Derek Fisher 
    8. CF Teoscar Hernandez 
    9. C Jake Rogers 

        

    Farm System Rank: 3

        

    Notable Free Agents

    C Jason Castro (2017), CF Colby Rasmus (2017), CF Carlos Gomez (2017), SP Doug Fister (2017), SP Dallas Keuchel (2019), C Evan Gattis (2019), IF Marwin Gonzalez (2019)      

     

    Overview

    It wasn't too long ago that the Houston Astros were rebuilding.

    They arrived sooner than expected with a wild-card berth last season, and they should be in contention for the foreseeable future with an enviable young core.

    The middle infield duo of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa headline that core, along with right fielder George Springer and recently promoted Alex Bregman, who still needs a full-time defensive home but has a bat that will play anywhere.

    The catcher and center field positions may need to be addressed in free agency, and re-upping with Jason Castro this coming winter would make sense for a team with no clear in-house replacement.

    The decision not to extend Dallas Keuchel this past offseason looks like a smart one now as he's come nowhere close to matching his Cy Young performance. He's part of the 2018-19 free-agent class, and the Astros could just play out their team control with him and let him walk.

    The continued progression of prospects like Francis Martes, David Paulino and Joe Musgrove helps make that a realistic possibility, and the team will also still have Mike Fiers and Collin McHugh in the mix along with presumptive future ace Lance McCullers.

    Throw in an X-factor like Yulieski Gurriel, and there's an awful lot to like about the Astros' outlook for 2019.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

26 of 30

    Gerrit Cole will be going into a contract year in 2019.
    Gerrit Cole will be going into a contract year in 2019.Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. LF Austin MeadowsSP Gerrit Cole
    2. SS Kevin NewmanSP Tyler Glasnow
    3. CF Starling MarteSP Jameson Taillon
    4. 1B Josh BellSP Mitch Keller
    5. RF Gregory Polanco SP Chad Kuhl
    6. 3B Jung Ho Kang CL Yeudy Garcia
    7. 2B Josh Harrison 
    8. C Francisco Cervelli  

        

    Farm System Rank: 8

        

    Notable Free Agents

    RP Neftali Feliz (2017), 3B David Freese (2017), SP Ivan Nova (2017), RP Tony Watson (2018), 1B John Jaso (2018), CF Andrew McCutchen (2019), SS Jordy Mercer (2019)

        

    Overview

    Even after giving up prospects Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire in a cost-cutting deadline deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Pittsburgh Pirates' farm system is still overflowing with young talent on the verge of contributing.

    Josh Bell figures to take over the everyday first base job next season, while Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon will be counted on to hold down a pair of spots in the rotation.

    They should be joined in short order by rising prospect Mitch Keller, while Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault have both proved to be capable big league arms as well this year. They'll all be backing ace Gerrit Cole, who will be entering a contract year in 2019.

    Kevin Newman looks like the shortstop of the future with a .337/.401/.445 line this season between High-A and Double-A that has sent him rocketing up prospect rankings. The Pirates will have the benefit of easing him into the role with Jung Ho Kang signed through 2019 and Jordy Mercer also around the next two years.

    One of the biggest questions is whether the team will look to keep face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen around beyond the 2018 season. Austin Meadows is waiting in the wings as a capable replacement, and McCutchen has seen a dip in his production this year.

    He's still just 29 years old, though, and is a franchise icon.

    Regardless of how they proceed, the Pirates look to have the necessary pieces to adequately restock the MLB squad with cheap, young talent in the years to come.

4. Boston Red Sox

27 of 30

    Yoan Moncada could be the next superstar slugger in Boston.
    Yoan Moncada could be the next superstar slugger in Boston.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. RF Mookie BettsSP David Price (L)
    2. 2B Dustin Pedroia SP Steven Wright
    3. SS Xander Bogaerts SP Michael Kopech
    4. 3B Yoan Moncada SP Rick Porcello
    5. 1B Hanley RamirezSP Eduardo Rodriguez (L)
    6. LF Andrew Benintendi CL Jake Cosart
    7. DH Blake Swihart  
    8. CF Jackie Bradley Jr. 
    9. C Christian Vazquez 

        

    Farm System Rank: 5

        

    Notable Free Agents

    SP Clay Buchholz (2017, club option), RP Koji Uehara (2017), RP Craig Kimbrel (2019), SP Drew Pomeranz (2019), SP Joe Kelly (2019)

        

    Overview

    On the strength of a top-five farm system and a pair of young, controllable superstars in Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, the Boston Red Sox claim a spot inside the top five.

    It's fair to assume that standout prospect Yoan Moncada and recently promoted Andrew Benintendi will also figure prominently into the team's lineup three years from now, as there's no reason to believe the Red Sox won't still have one of the most dangerous offenses in baseball.

    Dustin Pedroia will be 35 years old in 2019 and still signed for two more seasons, but he's remained productive at the plate and a standout in the field. He should still be the starting second baseman. 

    The pitching side of things is not quite as stable as the offense, and this is where the team could regret the decision to part with Anderson Espinoza in the Drew Pomeranz trade.

    That said, David Price is still capable of pitching like an ace even after a disappointing debut, and flame-throwing prospect Michael Kopech has ace upside himself if everything falls into place.

    Getting Eduardo Rodriguez right would be huge.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

28 of 30

    The Dodgers have one of the game's most exciting young arms in Julio Urias.
    The Dodgers have one of the game's most exciting young arms in Julio Urias.Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. 3B Kike HernandezSP Clayton Kershaw (L)
    2. RF Alex VerdugoSP Julio Urias (L)
    3. SS Corey SeagerSP Jose De Leon
    4. 1B Cody BellingerSP Kenta Maeda
    5. CF Joc PedersonSP Alex Wood (L)
    6. 2B Willie CalhounCL Josh Sborz
    7. LF Trayce Thompson 
    8. C Austin Barnes 

        

    Farm System Rank: 6

        

    Notable Free Agents

    RP Kenley Jansen (2017), 3B Justin Turner (2017), RF Josh Reddick (2017), SP Rich Hill (2017), C A.J. Ellis (2017), 2B Howie Kendrick (2018), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (2019), C Yasmani Grandal (2019), SP Scott Kazmir (2019), SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (2019), SP Brandon McCarthy (2019), OF Andre Ethier (2019)

           

    Overview

    Given their recent track record, the Los Angeles Dodgers will almost certainly open up their wallets in free agency to add more veteran talent between now and 2019.

    A long-term answer at catcher, third base or at one of the corner outfield spots would make sense, as would extensions for All-Star closer Kenley Jansen and third baseman Justin Turner, who are both set to reach free agency this coming winter.

    That being said, shortstop Corey Seager is now the focal point of the lineup, and he should be joined by top prospects Cody Bellinger and Alex Verdugo before the 2019 season arrives.

    Bellinger is an easy replacement for Adrian Gonzalez as a middle-of-the-order run producer at first base, and Verdugo is capable of providing a similar skill set to what Andre Ethier did in his prime.

    On the pitching side, Clayton Kershaw can opt out following the 2018 season—and he almost certainly will—but it's impossible to envision any scenario where the deep-pocketed Dodgers let their homegrown superstar get away. That's the one assumption we'll make on the free agent side of things.

    He'll be joined by Julio Urias and Jose De Leon, who both have front-line potential in their own right, as well as Kenta Maeda, who signed an eight-year, $24 million deal in the offseason that now looks like an absolute steal.

    By 2019, the farm system figures to be headlined by Cuban defectors Yusniel Diaz, Yadier Alvarez and Omar Estevez as well as Dominican outfielder Starling Heredia, and it could be the No. 1 system in the league once again.

2. New York Yankees

29 of 30

    Aaron Judge is an imposing physical specimen with unlimited raw power.
    Aaron Judge is an imposing physical specimen with unlimited raw power.Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. 2B Jorge MateoSP Masahiro Tanaka
    2. LF Jacoby Ellsbury SP Luis Severino
    3. RF Aaron JudgeSP Justus Sheffield (L)
    4. 1B Greg BirdSP Domingo Acevedo
    5. DH Brian McCannSP James Kaprielian
    6. CF Clint FrazierCL Dellin Betances
    7. C Gary Sanchez 
    8. 3B Starlin Castro 
    9. SS Gleyber Torres 

        

    Farm System Rank: 1

        

    Notable Free Agents

    SP CC Sabathia (2017), SP Nathan Eovaldi (2018), SP Michael Pineda (2018), RP Tyler Clippard (2018), 3B Chase Headley (2019)

        

    Overview

    A combination of the No. 1 farm system in baseball and what would appear to be more financial flexibility than any other team in the league earns the New York Yankees the No. 2 spot.

    We're making no assumptions about who will sign where on the free-agent market, but it's easy to envision two of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Jose Fernandez winding up in Yankee pinstripes.

    That would obviously catapult them to the level of AL favorites at the very least, but for now the spending potential alone is enough to boost their ranking considerably.

    They will have some in-house decisions to make.

    Brett Gardner has a $12.5 million option in 2019 for what will be his age-35 season. The progression of Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge could make him an expendable piece.

    Shortstop Didi Gregorius is also under team control through the 2019 season, and he's enjoying a breakout season of sorts with a .773 OPS, 22 doubles and 14 home runs.

    He'll be pushed by prospects Jorge Mateo and Gleyber Torres, and the same can be said for current second baseman Starlin Castro. One moving to third base and one being traded looks like a reasonable expectation at this point.

    The pitching staff is the question mark. Masahiro Tanaka continues to pitch with a partially torn UCL, and no one else on that projected staff has proved much of anything. The prospect trio of Justus Sheffield, Domingo Acevedo and James Kaprielian has tremendous potential, though.

    Any potential roster shortcomings are trumped by the Yankees' spending power and wealth of prospects, as they'll have the resources to do whatever they want leading up to the 2019 season.

1. Chicago Cubs

30 of 30

    Kris Bryant gives the Cubs a present and future superstar in the middle of the lineup.
    Kris Bryant gives the Cubs a present and future superstar in the middle of the lineup.Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Roster Outlook

    Projected 2019 LineupProjected 2019 Pitching Staff
    1. SS Addison RussellSP Kyle Hendricks
    2. 2B Ian HappSP Jon Lester (L)
    3. 1B Anthony RizzoSP Dylan Cease
    4. RF Kris BryantSP Trevor Clifton
    5. LF Kyle SchwarberSP Duane Underwood
    6. 3B Javier BaezCL Carl Edwards Jr.
    7. CF Jason Heyward 
    8. C Willson Contreras 

        

    Farm System Rank: 16

        

    Notable Free Agents

    RP Aroldis Chapman (2017), RP Travis Wood (2017), SP Jake Arrieta (2018), CF Dexter Fowler (2018), SP John Lackey (2018), SP Jason Hammel (2018), RP Pedro Strop (2018), RP Hector Rondon (2019)

        

    Overview

    The No. 1 team in the latest edition of our weekly MLB power rankings also claims the top spot in these hypothetical future rankings.

    The Chicago Cubs did a tremendous job rebuilding from the ground up, and the offensive core of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber is all under team control through the 2019 season and beyond in most cases.

    Rookie catcher Willson Contreras looks the part of a stable everyday backstop, and the versatile Ian Happ would appear to be the perfect replacement for Ben Zobrist.

    Zobrist is signed through 2019, but he may be relegated to a part-time role as a 38-year-old.

    It's the pitching side of things where there are questions to be answered, starting with an extension for Jake Arrieta.

    John Lackey and Jason Hammel both figure to be gone by 2019, leaving some combination of Dylan Cease, Trevor Clifton, Duane Underwood, Oscar De La Cruz, Jake Stinnett and a handful of other prospects to compete for a spot in the rotation.

    The Jason Heyward contract looks like a bust at this point, and he's no lock to exercise his opt-out option in 2018 or 2019, but if he does, Jorge Soler remains an option as well.

    Then there's the farm system.

    While it has graduated a number of top-tier prospects in recent years, it's far from run dry, with outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Eddy Martinez and the aforementioned Cease among the high-ceiling options still in the mix.

    With money to spend, a dynamic young core and more young assets on the farm, the sky is the limit for this current group on the North Side.

        

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

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!