All 30 MLB Teams' Blueprint to an 'A' Grade in the 2016-17 Offseason
Every MLB team has a different set of goals and a different path it will follow this offseason to improve heading into 2017, but one thing is for sure: Everyone has work to do.
Whether it is adding a player to upgrade a specific area of weakness, re-signing a key player in free agency, selling high on a trade chip or extending an in-house player, there is lots to be done before the start of spring training.
With that in mind, here is a look at all 30 MLB teams' blueprint to an "A" grade this offseason—a quick rundown of what every team needs to accomplish this winter to be in the best possible position heading into next season.
1. Add a closer
2. Add multiple relievers
3. Extend 2B Jean Segura
Don't expect the same fireworks we saw from the Arizona Diamondbacks last winter.
They'll likely bank on healthy seasons from core players like A.J. Pollock and David Peralta, as well as bounce-back performances from Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, to play the biggest role in turning things around.
That said, there is still work to do.
With Brad Ziegler, Tyler Clippard and Daniel Hudson all gone from last year's bullpen, adding a veteran reliever capable of closing figures to be the biggest priority.
The top tier of free agents is probably not an option, but guys like Joaquin Benoit, Sergio Romo and Koji Uehara represent realistic targets capable of stepping into the ninth-inning role.
A 5.19 starters ERA—worst in the National League and 29th in MLB—will lead some to call for the team to add a starter.
However, with Greinke, Miller, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, Zack Godley, Rubby De La Rosa and eventually top prospect Anthony Banda all candidates for a rotation spot, that's not necessarily a need.
The team could open talks on an extension for second baseman Jean Segura, who put together a brilliant first season in Arizona with an .867 OPS, 41 doubles, 20 home runs, 64 RBI, 102 runs scored and 33 stolen bases for a 5.7 WAR.
Buying out the 26-year-old's remaining arbitration years, which run through 2018, and locking down a couple free-agent seasons as well could be a good forward-thinking play by the franchise.
1. Add two starting pitchers
2. Add a catcher
3. Add a right-handed bench bat
What will be the rebuilding Atlanta Braves' primary focus this offseason?
"The biggest needs for us one, two and three? Starting pitching, starting pitching, starting pitching," Braves general manager John Coppolella told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
O'Brien went on to write that the Braves will be looking to add at least two starters on one- or two-year deals as they look to eat up innings without blocking the path of any of the arms making their way through the minor league ranks.
Perhaps a run at one of the top options on the free-agent market such as Jeremy Hellickson, Ivan Nova or Jason Hammel and then a roll of the dice on a risk-reward signing like Charlie Morton or Brandon Morrow could be how the front office approaches bolstering the rotation.
At any rate, expect the search for pitching to dominate their offseason focus.
The team is also in the market for a starting catcher with the departure of veteran A.J. Pierzynski, assuming they don't feel 100 percent comfortable with the current tandem of Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker.
Matt Wieters is probably out of their preferred price range, leaving the likes of Nick Hundley, Kurt Suzuki and Jason Castro as potential targets.
Finally, filling out the bench with a right-handed bat could help bring some balance to a lefty-heavy roster.
Another reunion with Jeff Francoeur, anyone?
1. Add a corner outfielder
2. Add a starting pitcher
3. Add a catcher
4. Add speed
5. Shop RP Zach Britton
The Baltimore Orioles spent $243 million last offseason to sign Chris Davis, Darren O'Day, Yovani Gallardo and Matt Wieters, among others.
It's probably safe to assume they'll spend a bit less this time around.
A corner outfielder should be near the top of their wish list, with Hyun Soo Kim, Joey Rickard and Dariel Alvarez representing the best in-house options to start on either side of center fielder Adam Jones.
Ian Desmond is one player they've been linked to in the early stages of the offseason, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
Then there's the starting rotation, a group that ranked 24th in the majors with a 4.72 ERA last season and was universally identified as the team's biggest weakness.
Despite those struggles, GM Dan Duquette appears to be perfectly content bringing back the same group of guys.
"Our starting pitching is all right going into the season. They've all won more than they've lost over the course of their career. We have six starters going in, which is something we haven't had," Duquette told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com.
He's apparently taking a quantity-over-quality approach, as no one is going to confuse Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley and Gallardo for a top-tier rotation.
If the right opportunity to add another starter comes along, they have to at least consider it.
With Wieters set to depart, the team could use a stopgap veteran to man the catcher position until prospect Chance Sisco is ready. They do still have Caleb Joseph, but he's best suited as a backup.
Adding team speed should be another priority after they stole all of 19 bases as a team last year, by far the lowest total in the majors.
Finally, the Orioles would not be doing their due diligence if they don't at least test the market for standout closer Zach Britton. The value of top-end relief pitching is at an all-time high, and so is Britton's stock.
With Brad Brach and O'Day both capable of stepping into the closer's role, landing a massive haul for Britton could prove to be the best move for a franchise with holes to fill and a thin farm system.
Boston Red Sox
1. Add a power bat to replace David Ortiz
2. Add a setup reliever
3. Explore the third base market
Replacing David Ortiz will be no easy task for the Boston Red Sox.
Big Papi went out with a bang in 2016, posting a 1.021 OPS with 48 doubles, 38 home runs and 127 RBI to author arguably the greatest final season in MLB history.
There are plenty of options to fill his shoes, though, including Edwin Encarnacion, Kendrys Morales, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.
Scott Lauber of ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that the team "badly" wants to sign Beltran, so he looks like their No. 1 target.
The bullpen will also need some work following the departures of Koji Uehara, Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa in free agency.
A reunion with Ziegler is a possibility, given his standing as one of the top setup options on the market. That's what they'll be looking for with Craig Kimbrel firmly entrenched in the closer's role.
Lastly, a decision needs to be made at third base.
Travis Shaw won the job from Pablo Sandoval last spring, then Sandoval spent the entire season sidelined following shoulder surgery.
Shaw started off strong but eventually faded, leading to the July addition of veteran Aaron Hill. When that platoon provided limited production, top prospect Yoan Moncada was promoted, but he wound up striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances.
The future is still incredibly bright for Moncada, and with Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts up the middle, third base looks like his future home.
He's headed back to the minors for further seasoning, though, so if the team doesn't feel comfortable relying on Shaw or Sandoval they could explore outside options.
1. Add a late-inning reliever
2. Add a left-handed reliever
3. Add a swingman
4. Explore a Jake Arrieta extension
The Chicago Cubs gave up a good deal to acquire Aroldis Chapman at the trade deadline, then leaned heavily on the hard-throwing closer during their run to the World Series.
However, the team may guard against paying an exorbitant sum for Chapman or any of the other top-tier closers in favor of casting a wider net on the relief pitching market.
"We're going to explore every avenue," GM Jed Hoyer told reporters. "Obviously, there’s an appeal to guys in the free-agent market that have had great track records. But I think closers come from all over. Generally—when you sort of start looking at where those guys come from—some (have) had some bumps along the road and established themselves later on."
Assuming the Cubs are confident in turning the closer duties back over to Hector Rondon, they should still look to add a capable setup man to bolster the pen.
Finding a reliable left-handed reliever and perhaps a swingman capable of providing some spot starts also figures to be a need, as Travis Wood is set to depart in free agency and Mike Montgomery is ticketed for a spot in the rotation.
With no glaring holes on the position-player side of things, and bringing back Dexter Fowler looking more and more unlikely, another attempt at extending Jake Arrieta could be made.
Agent Scott Boras landed a seven-year, $175 million deal for Stephen Strasburg last season, and one would have to think that would be the starting point in negotiations with Arrieta.
The Cubs would no doubt love to have him back, but they won't hamstring themselves with a bad contract to do it, so it will have to be a long-term deal that makes sense for both sides.
Chicago White Sox
1. Decide what direction the franchise is going
2. Act aggressively on that decision
That's a pretty vague blueprint, so allow me to expand.
If the White Sox think they have a chance of contending next season, there are a number of holes to fill.
Catcher, center field, starting pitching depth, middle relief and a left-handed power bat to pair with Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier all have a spot on the offseason shopping list.
However, if the front office doesn't think this team can realistically contend for a title next year, they need to stop throwing band-aids on the roster and playing for a .500 record and make a serious move in the other direction.
The White Sox farm system checked in at No. 23 in Bleacher Report's final update in September, and the organization as a whole is lacking in young, impact talent.
Trading Chris Sale or Jose Quintana for a big return would be a start, but it would also be an example of the team once again setting up shop in that gray area.
Trading Chris Sale and Jose Quintana is what they need to do if they don't think this core group can win it all.
While they're at it, there would be plenty of interest in guys like Adam Eaton, Frazier, David Robertson and Melky Cabrera as well if they were made available.
This has been a team without a clear direction for years now, and it's time for that to change.
1. Trade SS Zack Cozart
2. Add a cheap veteran starter
3. Fill out the bullpen
Assuming Joey Votto is a building block for the future and Brandon Phillips is immovable at this point, the Cincinnati Reds don't have much left in the way of tradable pieces as they continue to rebuild.
One player who could be on the move this offseason is shortstop Zack Cozart.
The 31-year-old, who is entering his final year of arbitration and projected for a $4.7 million salary, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, was nearly traded to the Seattle Mariners last July, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune.
He had a .799 OPS with 22 doubles and 14 home runs at the All-Star break, but cooled considerably in the second half with a .603 OPS and just nine extra-base hits, before missing the final three weeks of the season with a knee injury.
Despite that poor finish, there should still be interest in Cozart this winter. Stephen Drew, Alexei Ramirez and Erick Aybar represent the best the free-agent class has to offer.
As for potential additions, it should be a relatively quiet offseason for the Reds.
Dan Straily, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan and Homer Bailey appear to be locked into four rotation spots, leaving the No. 5 job open to guys like Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson and Amir Garrett. Bringing in a cheap veteran to compete with those young guys makes sense.
They'll also be active at the bottom of the relief pitching market, as they look for low-cost arms to fill out the relief corps around Blake Wood, Tony Cingrani, Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias.
Again, don't expect anything flashy, but they'll bring in a few arms between now and the start of the spring training.
1. Re-sign 1B Mike Napoli
2. Add an outfielder
The Cleveland Indians have been searching for a right-handed power threat since the days of Manny Ramirez, and they finally found one in Mike Napoli.
Signed to a one-year, $7 million deal last offseason, Napoli wound up posting an .800 OPS with 34 home runs and 101 RBI.
Napoli turned 35 on Oct. 31 and he doesn't bring much to the table beyond his run-production ability and positive clubhouse presence, but that's enough to make him a clear target to be re-signed by the AL champs.
"We have a desire to have him here, and my sense is that he has a desire to be here," GM Mike Chernoff said of Napoli to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
The team's other major free agent is speedster Rajai Davis, who appears less likely to be re-signed.
That puts the team in the market for an outfielder to join Tyler Naquin, Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer who could all benefit from being in a platoon situation.
Ideally, a healthy Michael Brantley would fill the need, but counting on him to hold down an everyday spot is risky after all the time he's missed the past two years.
Top prospect Bradley Zimmer also figures to arrive on the scene at some point in 2017, but he's by no means a lock to make the team out of camp.
It doesn't need to be an impact signing, but adding some outfield depth seems like a must.
1. Add multiple relievers
2. Add a first baseman
3. Explore the catcher market
Despite adding the likes of Jake McGee, Chad Qualls and Jason Motte to the bullpen last offseason, the Colorado Rockies relief corps was still nothing short of a dumpster fire.
They finished dead last in the majors with a 5.13 ERA, converting just 37 saves in 65 chances along the way and undermining what was a vastly improved starting rotation.
Expect them to target similar additions in the mid-level range of the reliever market, and they could be an appealing destination for someone like Brad Ziegler or Joaquin Benoit who may not be afforded an opportunity to close elsewhere.
On the position-player side of things, they need to scrap the ill-conceived idea of Gerardo Parra playing first base.
We're talking about a two-time Gold Glove-winning outfielder who has never hit more than 14 home runs in a season and is coming off a year where he posted a .671 OPS.
That signing was a puzzling decision from the get-go, but he's more valuable as a fourth outfielder than he would be as an everyday first baseman. There are plenty of low-cost options at first on the market, including Mitch Moreland, Adam Lind and Logan Morrison.
Then there's the catcher position, where the team will need to decide if a platoon of Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy is good enough.
Wolters hit .259/.327/.395 over 230 plate appearances while earning good marks defensively, while Murphy crushed Triple-A pitching to the tune of a 1.008 OPS, 26 doubles and 19 home runs over 322 plate appearances, then homered five more times in 49 plate appearances following a September call-up.
1. Trade RF J.D. Martinez
2. Explore other trade options
3. Add a cheap center fielder
4. Add a catcher
Trade speculation surrounding Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander will be the prevailing story out of Detroit Tigers camp heading into the winter meetings, but finding the right deal to move either of those high-priced superstars still looks like a long shot.
Instead, right fielder J.D. Martinez looks like the team's most valuable and most likely trade chip this offseason.
Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported that the team is unlikely to pursue an extension with the slugger, and he's entering his final season of team control.
Martinez has hit .299/.357/.540 with 83 home runs since joining the Tigers in 2014, despite averaging only 499 at-bats during that span.
Moving him now could be the team's best chance of adding some top-tier talent to a thin farm system, especially if they have no intention of bringing him back beyond 2017.
Even as they trim payroll and entertain trade offers up and down the roster, there is still enough money invested in this team that they'll be looking to at least stay competitive.
Center field looks like one spot where a veteran addition would make sense, as Tyler Collins, Steven Moya, Anthony Gose and JaCoby Jones represent the top in-house options.
"We will weigh our options as far as center field is concerned for next season," GM Al Avila said (via Charlie Wilmoth of MLB Trade Rumors). "There will be a wide-open competition starting in the spring, and we’ll see how it plays out."
They could also bring in a veteran catcher after a disappointing sophomore season from James McCann and with Jarrod Saltalamacchia hitting free agency once again.
It will be interesting to see what the Tigers roster looks like when Opening Day rolls around, as a busy offseason awaits.
1. Add a center fielder
2. Add a power bat
3. Add a catcher
4. Add a left-handed reliever
5. Explore the front-line starter trade market
It's probably safe to assume the Houston Astros don't want to give Jake Marisnick and his career .607 OPS regular at-bats this coming season, so bringing aboard a center fielder headlines their to-do list.
Dexter Fowler and Ian Desmond are the top options on the free-agent market, though someone like Jon Jay might be a better fit depending on what else the team decides to do this offseason.
And so far, it sounds like they're planning on doing a lot.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeted that the team will pursue Miguel Cabrera via trade and Edwin Encarnacion on the free-agent market, noting that a "payroll increase is coming."
That was followed shortly thereafter by another tweet from Morosi linking the team to New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann, who is on the block this winter following the emergence of Gary Sanchez.
With Jason Castro reaching free agency, the Astros are in the market for a catcher to split time with Evan Gattis behind the plate, and McCann would certainly fill that need.
On the pitching side of things, they could use another left-hander in the bullpen.
Tony Sipp saw his ERA climb from 1.99 to 4.95 last season after signing a three-year, $18 million deal. Kevin Chapman and Reymin Guduan are the only other southpaw relievers on the 40-man roster.
Finally, the Astros have the trade chips to at least explore the front-line starting pitching market.
They have plenty of starting pitching depth, especially if Joe Musgrove can hold down a spot and Chris Devenski makes the move to starting as many expect, but after some regression from Dallas Keuchel they are lacking a bona fide ace.
One way or another, big things are coming from the Astros.
Kansas City Royals
1. Trade RP Wade Davis
2. Add a starting pitcher
3. Re-sign or replace DH Kendrys Morales
"We’re going to have to look internally and (in) trades," GM Dayton Moore told reporters of the team's offseason plans back in September. "We won’t be adding money. That’s for darn sure."
In fact, with significant arbitration raises coming for Eric Hosmer, Danny Duffy and Kelvin Herrera, the team could actually be looking to shed some payroll.
The most obvious trade candidate on the roster is closer Wade Davis, who had his $10 million option exercised ahead of reaching free agency next winter.
Davis was a popular name leading up to the trade deadline, but a forearm strain eventually scared teams off.
The Royals were already fielding significant interest in the right-hander a month ago while the postseason was still going on, according to Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball, so there does not appear to be any lingering health concerns.
For teams that aren't in a position to pony up to sign Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon to multiyear deals, Davis could be an attractive short-term alternative.
Even if they are selling off pieces, the Royals will still need to add some starting pitching help.
They checked in 22nd in the majors with a 4.67 starter's ERA last season, and with Edinson Volquez departing there is at least one rotation spot to fill.
The biggest departure is designated hitter Kendrys Morales, who declined his end of a $10 million mutual option after posting a .795 OPS with 30 home runs and 93 RBI.
The return of Mike Moustakas and a bounce-back season from Lorenzo Cain will help the offense, but losing Morales still leaves a hole in the middle of the lineup.
Re-signing him or adding another capable run producer would be ideal, but only at the right price.
Los Angeles Angels
1. Add a second baseman
2. Add a starting pitcher
3. Add a leadoff hitter
4. Add a setup reliever
The second base position has been a revolving door for the Los Angeles Angels since Howie Kendrick departed, and they received a dismal .235/.275/.345 line of production there this past season.
Cliff Pennington is the top in-house option as things currently stand, so upgrading at the keystone figures to be a priority this offseason, and a reunion with Kendrick is not out of the question.
The Angels will also look to add a starting pitcher, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, though it sounds like they'll be targeting back-of-the-rotation candidates as opposed to significant help.
Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Ricky Nolasco and Tyler Skaggs are currently penciled in to the first four spots in the rotation, with a bevy of inexperienced arms led by Alex Meyer and top prospect Nate Smith vying for the No. 5 job.
"More is always better," GM Billy Eppler told Fletcher. "I think we'll be presented an opportunity to add to that group, add to that population. Unless it completely falls apart we will be able to supplement that."
Further down the wish list, the Angels could also use a more conventional leadoff hitter, as Yunel Escobar is better suited hitting in the No. 2 spot given his high contact rate but overall lack of speed.
A setup reliever to join Cam Bedrosian and a healthy Huston Street at the back of the bullpen could also go a long way, though the team did already make a move to bring back Andrew Bailey.
The Angels will have some money to spend with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson both coming off the books, though the escalating salaries of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols do eat into a good chunk of that savings.
Los Angeles Dodgers
1. Re-sign 3B Justin Turner
2. Re-sign or replace RP Kenley Jansen
3. Add a setup reliever
4. Add a second baseman and trade Howie Kendrick
Considering the alternative would appear to be either signing Luis Valbuena or giving up significant young talent to acquire Evan Longoria, expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to do everything in their power to re-sign third baseman Justin Turner.
Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reported last month that there was mutual interest in a reunion, but cautioned that the Dodgers are "very cognizant of age generally" and won't go overboard to sign the 31-year-old.
Another in-house free agent, closer Kenley Jansen, also figures to be a priority to re-sign.
"The Dodgers understand the value of the closer, so expect them to make a nice attempt to bring back Jansen," wrote Heyman.
A run at signing Aroldis Chapman or trading for Wade Davis is also a possibility, but one way or another the closer's role has to be filled.
That's not the only bullpen spot that needs to be addressed either, as the departure of Joe Blanton (75 G, 28 HLD, 2.48 ERA) leaves a key setup spot vacant.
Howie Kendrick is reportedly unhappy with his playing time and the team is making an effort to trade him, according to Heyman, so second base will be an area of need with Chase Utley also hitting free agency.
Another one-year deal for Utley seems likely, but it's something that needs to be addressed nonetheless.
In a perfect world, the Dodgers could also find a right-handed power hitter to slot between Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez in the middle of the lineup. Rekindling Ryan Braun talks with the Milwaukee Brewers would be one way to do that.
1. Trade for a controllable starting pitcher
2. Add another starting pitcher
3. Add a left-handed reliever
4. Find a platoon partner for 1B Justin Bour
The Miami Marlins need starting pitching in the worst way, with only Adam Conley, Wei-Yin Chen and Tom Koehler locks for the 2017 rotation.
Financial limitations will make shoring up the staff difficult, though.
"Unless there’s a change of heart, they’re not expected to have a big enough budget to afford one of the most expensive free agent pitchers such as Jeremy Hellickson or Rich Hill, though they like Hellickson. They will need to find a cheaper option from a weak free agent class," wrote Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
That could mean trading someone like Marcell Ozuna or J.T. Realmuto for a cost-controlled starter, with the Tampa Bay Rays looking like an obvious trade partner.
Pulling off a blockbuster deal to add a quality front-line arm and then going bargain shopping for a No. 5 starter makes sense given their restrictions.
The bullpen should be a strength once again, anchored by Kyle Barraclough and A.J. Ramos, but there is a need for a reliable left-hander now that Mike Dunn is a free agent.
Meanwhile, the everyday lineup is essentially set, at least for the time being. They will need to find a right-handed-hitting platoon partner for Justin Bour at first base, though.
Chris Johnson filled that role last season, posting a .611 OPS with five home runs and 24 RBI in 264 plate appearances, so upgrading won't be difficult.
1. Trade LF Ryan Braun for a significant return
2. Add a third baseman
3. Add multiple relievers
The Milwaukee Brewers have shipped out most of their veteran trade chips in recent years, building up one of the deepest and most talented farm systems in the game in the process.
They still haven't found the right deal to move Ryan Braun, though.
The 32-year-old was nearly traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers ahead of the August waiver deadline, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today providing the details of a proposed deal that would have brought Yasiel Puig, Brandon McCarthy (and his contract) and prospects to Milwaukee.
That proposal could be revisited this offseason, but don't expect Braun to be traded simply for the sake of trading him. He returned to elite-level production with a .903 OPS, 30 home runs and 91 RBI and will be evaluated as such.
It will take a significant return and a deal that benefits the team beyond just being a salary dump.
As for potential additions to the roster, this won't be the offseason we see the Brewers start spending again.
The team has made it clear it has no intentions of making Jonathan Villar the everyday third baseman next year, according to Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball, so signing someone like Luis Valbuena to man the hot corner is a possibility.
They could also add multiple relievers after trading away Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress last summer.
Regardless, most of their pickups will come from the bargain aisle, though, where they did well a year ago with the additions of Junior Guerra, Keon Broxton, Chris Carter and the aforementioned Villar.
1. Add a catcher
2. Add a closer
3. Trade 3B Trevor Plouffe
4. Shop SP Ervin Santana
After entering last season with hopes of contending in the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins will need to take a step back this winter and reassess their current standing.
Adding a catcher to anchor the young pitching staff will be a priority, as veteran Kurt Suzuki is a free agent and John Ryan Murphy failed to seize the job as hoped last season.
There are a number of veteran backstops available this year, and Jason Castro has already been identified as an early target, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.
A late-inning reliever should also be on the wish list, as Glen Perkins is still working his way back from surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Brandon Kintzler did an admirable job in his absence, converting 17 saves in 20 chances and posting a 3.15 ERA over 54 appearances, but he could use some help at the back of the bullpen.
The Twins opted to hold on to Trevor Plouffe last offseason. That was a mistake.
The 30-year-old now looks like a non-tender candidate after a disappointing 2016 and with a projected salary of $8.2 million in his final year of arbitration. Getting anything for him before the non-tender deadline comes would be a bonus.
Finally, the team would be crazy not to at least test the market for starter Ervin Santana.
The 33-year-old quietly put together a terrific season, going 7-11 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 149 strikeouts in 181.1 innings for a 3.8 WAR.
He's owed $27 million over the next two years with a $14 million option for 2019, and in this market that's a bargain for a capable No. 3 or 4 starter.
New York Mets
1. Re-sign LF Yoenis Cespedes
2. Add a setup reliever
3. Re-sign or replace Jerry Blevins
The New York Mets offense was a scary sight before Yoenis Cespedes arrived at the trade deadline in 2015, and it was a mess this past season when he missed time with a quad injury.
A healthy Lucas Duda and a bounce-back season from Michael Conforto would certainly be a boost for the lineup, but the Mets need to do everything in their power to re-sign Cespedes.
MLB Trade Rumors is predicting a five-year, $125 million deal. Don't think twice if that's the going rate. Pay the man.
Aside from breaking the bank to sign their top slugger, the Mets don't have a ton to do this winter.
Adding a late-inning bullpen arm is one potential focus and could become a priority depending on how things unfold with Jeurys Familia's domestic violence case.
They will also need to either re-sign Jerry Blevins or sign a capable left-handed reliever to replace him.
Blevins, 33, was an integral part of the relief corps this past season with a 2.79 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 11.1 K/9 and 16 holds in 73 appearances.
He rejoined the team on a one-year, $4 million deal last offseason, and he's earned himself a raise and perhaps multiple years this time around.
Otherwise, Travis Wood, Boone Logan, Brett Cecil and Mike Dunn are among the top southpaw alternatives on the market.
New York Yankees
1. Add a starting pitcher
2. Add multiple relievers
3. Explore the market for a power bat
Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda have three spots in the New York Yankees rotation locked up, but with Ivan Nova gone and Nathan Eovaldi recovering from a pair of elbow surgeries, the team will be looking to add at least one starter.
Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green, Luis Severino and Luis Cessa are all in the mix to start, but ideally they'd be competing for one spot on the staff and not two.
According to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, the team plans to reach out to veteran Rich Hill, who from a short-term outlook is the top starter on the free-agent market.
The team is also looking for late-inning bullpen help, as Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote:
Brian Cashman, upon arriving at the Major League Baseball general managers’ meetings Monday, said that he has reached out to the representatives for (Aroldis) Chapman, who is one of “a number of free agents” the Yankees’ general manager has contacted.
Surely among the “number” to which Cashman reached out are Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and Nationals closer Mark Melancon, whom the Yankees drafted and signed in 2006. Moreover, former Royals closer Greg Holland, recovering from Tommy John surgery, held a showcase Monday, near the site of these meetings, which drew talent evaluators from the Yankees and more than half the other teams.
Davidoff goes on to write that the team could try to build another "super bullpen" around incumbent Dellin Betances, with Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren currently representing the other top options in the pen.
While the focus appears to be on pitching, the Yankees should also at least test the waters for a power bat.
Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge will be asked to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the middle of the lineup next season, especially if Brian McCann is traded, so signing someone like Kendrys Morales to serve as the primary DH could help take some of the pressure off them.
1. Add a center fielder
2. Add a starting pitcher
The Oakland Athletics always manage to have a busy offseason, even with their budgetary restrictions.
Last winter, the focus in free agency was on upgrading the bullpen, with Ryan Madson among a number of significant additions to the relief corps.
Then, just before the start of spring training, they pulled off a trade to acquire Khris Davis from the Milwaukee Brewers and he promptly went on to post an .831 OPS with 42 home runs and 102 RBI.
Such an unpredictable front office makes drawing up a blueprint for the A's somewhat tricky, but there are some rather obvious items on the to-do list.
Chief among them is adding a center fielder, as Brett Eibner and Jake Smolinski are both capable fourth outfielders but nothing more.
Ian Desmond and Dexter Fowler will be out of their price range, leaving names like Jon Jay, Michael Bourn, Rajai Davis and Austin Jackson as potential targets.
If they really want to get crazy, rolling the dice and paying a bit more money for Carlos Gomez could give them a valuable trade chip if his late-season renaissance was for real.
Adding a starting pitcher will also be a priority, according to Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area:
(GM David) Forst said the A’s definitely will pursue starting pitching this offseason, despite the fact that 1) he’s very optimistic about the crop of young pitching Oakland has developed, and 2) he believes Sonny Gray will bounce back from a poor 2016 season.
A reunion with left-hander Brett Anderson is an intriguing option for an A's team that has shown a willingness to take a flier on injury returnees in the past.
The team could still look to unload Danny Valencia in an effort to free up more playing time for its young players, but given its lack of corner outfield options, he looks like a fairly safe bet to open the season as the starting right fielder.
1. Add an outfielder
2. Add a veteran starting pitcher
3. Shop SP Vincent Velasquez
Will this be the offseason where the Philadelphia Phillies make a splash in free agency?
They have money to spend, that much is for sure.
The team's payroll topped out at $177 million in 2014 but was all the way down to $88 million this past season, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.
With Ryan Howard bought out of his option, Carlos Ruiz traded and both Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton off the books as well, the projected salary for the upcoming season sits at just $52 million, per Roster Resource.
The obvious spot for a big addition is in the outfield, where All-Star Odubel Herrera is locked in as the starting center fielder, but the corner spots are up for grabs.
Aaron Altherr, Roman Quinn, Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, Tyler Goeddel and prospect Nick Williams are among the in-house options, but none is a lock for a starting role in 2017.
Bringing in a veteran starting pitcher of some sort would also be wise.
As it stands, the Phillies could trot out a rotation of Aaron Nola, Vincent Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher and Jake Thompson with an eye toward the future.
However, the elder statesman of that group would be Eickhoff, who is 26, so adding a veteran presence could aide in the staff's development if nothing else.
Considering the going rate for controllable starting pitching and the complete lack of free-agent options for pitching-needy teams, it's at least worth testing the market for someone like Velasquez.
There was some talk of a potential deal that would send Velasquez to the Texas Rangers leading up to the trade deadline, according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, so his name has at least come up in talks in the past.
1. Add a starting pitcher
2. Add a right-handed setup reliever
3. Re-sign or replace OF Matt Joyce
The Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation took a huge step backward last season, going from fifth in the majors in starters ERA (3.53) to 22nd (4.67).
If nothing else, it's a young staff.
Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are currently slated to front the rotation next year, with 2016 rookies Tyler Glasnow, Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl set to battle Drew Hutchison and Jeff Locke.
The Pirates have had tremendous success with reclamation projects in recent years under pitching coach Ray Searage, and finding another diamond in the rough would really help solidify the rotation.
Would someone like Andrew Cashner who has obvious untapped potential consider taking less money for a chance to work with Searage?
There is also a need for a right-handed arm at the back of the bullpen to join lefties Tony Watson and Felipe Rivero.
Neftali Feliz filled that role this past season, but the Pirates will likely be priced out of his services this winter, so they'll be looking for another low-cost gem in the pen as well.
Finally, the Pirates bench is set to lose a pair of key pieces in Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce.
Alen Hanson is capable of filling the utility role that Rodriguez occupied, but re-signing Joyce or bringing in another left-handed hitting outfielder to complement David Freese in the pinch-hit role would be ideal.
Someone like Colby Rasmus could be a nice buy-low target.
San Diego Padres
1. Add multiple starting pitchers
2. Add a late-inning reliever
3. Decide if Luis Sardinas is the answer at shortstop
4. Dump C Derek Norris
The A.J. Preller era in San Diego has been a roller coaster ride so far to put it mildly.
With the franchise reverting to rebuild mode after a failed attempt at contention in 2015, chances are the Padres won't be looking to spend much this winter, but they do have some holes to fill.
Luis Perdomo, Christian Friedrich and a (hopefully) healthy Tyson Ross appear to be the closest thing they have to locks for the starting rotation.
The pitcher's paradise that is Petco Park is an attractive destination for pitchers looking to prove themselves on a one-year deal, so someone like Charlie Morton or Jon Niese could be a fit.
Clayton Richard and Edwin Jackson both logged some useful innings last season after being plucked from the scrap heap, and a reunion with one or both of them is not out of the question either.
The pitching staff could also use a late-inning bullpen arm, similar to last winter's signing of Fernando Rodney.
They have some solid relievers in Brad Hand, Brandon Maurer, Ryan Buchter and Kevin Quackenbush, but that group is light on closing experience.
One of the biggest decisions of the offseason will be whether Luis Sardinas is the guy at shortstop.
The 23-year-old hit .287/.353/.417 in 120 plate appearances after coming over in an August trade with the Seattle Mariners. He had little in the way of prior MLB success, though.
Lastly, if the team could find a way to unload catcher Derek Norris, it would be a nice bonus.
The catcher job now belongs to Austin Hedges after he posted a .951 OPS with 20 doubles, 21 home runs and 82 RBI in 334 plate appearances with Triple-A El Paso. His offensive game had always been the question mark, so there's nothing holding him back now.
Norris is a former All-Star with a reasonable $4.0 million projected arbitration salary and two more years of team control, so he's an intriguing target for a team looking to buy low on a backstop.
San Francisco Giants
1. Add a closer
2. Add multiple other relievers
3. Add a left fielder
Perhaps the worst-kept secret of the offseason is the San Francisco Giants' glaring need for a bullpen overhaul.
After watching the relief corps melt down in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs, longtime staples Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez are all set to depart in free agency.
That leaves Derek Law, Hunter Strickland and Will Smith as the notable returning arms in the pen, and while that trio has a chance to be solid, none is the proven closer that the Giants were so sorely lacking this past season.
With that in mind, expect someone from the group of Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon and Wade Davis to wind up in San Francisco before the offseason is over.
Cory Gearrin, Steven Okert, George Kontos and Josh Osich will all be options for the remaining bullpen spots, but the team will likely add a few other outside options beyond just a ninth-inning arm.
The other big hole to fill is in left field.
With Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan both hitting free agency, the team could turn to Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson to step into a larger role.
It could also consider moving Eduardo Nunez to left field and giving Conor Gillaspie regular playing time at third base after his postseason heroics.
However, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reported on Wednesday that the team is at least "surveying" the outfield market and that Yoenis Cespedes is a potential target.
Cespedes or a similar power bat would be a welcome addition to a lineup that ranked 28th in the majors with 130 home runs and was led by Brandon Belt with 17.
1. Add an outfielder
2. Add a left-handed reliever
3. Add a first baseman
4. Explore starting pitching depth
The Seattle Mariners were wheeling and dealing in the first offseason with new GM Jerry Dipoto at the helm, and it could be a busy winter once again.
With Nori Aoki and Franklin Gutierrez gone from what was already a shaky outfield situation, the top priority will be adding an outfield bat.
Seth Smith, Leonys Martin and either Ben Gamel or Stefen Romero would be the starters if the season began today, but it's fair to assume that none of them are locked into a starting role.
Top prospect Tyler O'Neill is expected to arrive in the majors at some point in 2017, so they won't want to block him, but adding at least one corner outfielder is a must.
There is also a glaring need for a left-handed reliever in the bullpen, as David Rollins and recently claimed Dean Kiekhefer are the only lefty relievers on the 40-man roster, along with switch-pitcher Pat Venditte.
First base is shaping up to be a platoon between a pair of rookies in Dan Vogelbach and D.J. Peterson, though bringing back Dae-Ho Lee to pair with Vogelbach is still a very real possibility, as Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reported.
An outside addition at the position is not out of the question, though Vogelbach has earned a shot.
Finally, adding depth to the starting rotation would be a nice way to round out the offseason.
The rotation looks to be set with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Ariel Miranda.
However, Zach Lee and Cody Martin are the only other starters on the 40-man roster, and they have a grand total of 61 innings at the MLB level combined.
St. Louis Cardinals
1. Add a center fielder
2. Add a left-handed reliever
3. Extend SP Carlos Martinez
The St. Louis Cardinals made a run at two huge signings last winter, losing out on Jason Heyward (Cubs) and David Price (Red Sox).
Their pursuit of those two big-money players was a departure from the norm, as they have generally shied away from making a splash in free agency and instead focused on player development and locking up their own in-house talent.
With that in mind, the biggest move of the offseason could wind up being an extension for ace Carlos Martinez.
The 25-year-old will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, with a projected salary of $5.3 million, and that figure is only going to climb in the years to come.
Martinez has become the team's most reliable starter, going 30-16 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 358 strikeouts in 375 innings over the past two seasons after making the move from the bullpen.
As far as significant additions, the team seems set on bringing aboard a new center fielder in an effort to improve its overall defense.
Even if the Cardinals don't land a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder, adding someone league average at the position and sliding Randal Grichuk over to left field would be a stark improvement in their overall outfield defense.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch identified Charlie Blackmon, A.J. Pollock and Adam Eaton as potential targets for the Cardinals on the trade market, while MLB Trade Rumors predicted a four-year, $64 million deal for Dexter Fowler.
A left-handed reliever could also be on the wish list.
The team has a terrific lefty setup man in Kevin Siegrist, but he's actually been more effective against right-handed batters, so picking up more of a LOOGY could make sense in filling out the bullpen.
Tampa Bay Rays
1. Trade SP Drew Smyly or Jake Odorizzi for a bat
2. Add a catcher
3. Add a right-handed power bat
4. Add cheap bullpen help
In order to contend on a budget, the Tampa Bay Rays have to continue to get creative in how they use their controllable assets.
Matt Moore was traded to the San Francisco Giants in July for infielder Matt Duffy and a pair of prospects, and another young starter could be on the move this winter.
Drew Smyly ($6.9 million) and Jake Odorizzi ($4.6 million) are both due significant raises in arbitration, at least relative to the team's payroll, and flipping one of them for a big league-ready bat in this thin pitching market makes sense.
Odorizzi is the more valuable of the two, not only because he carries an extra year of team control, but because he was the better pitcher in 2016.
Ideally the team could pick up a right-handed power bat capable of playing the outfield, as both Nick Franklin and Corey Dickerson struggle against left-handed pitching.
A deal with the Miami Marlins built around Marcell Ozuna almost makes too much sense.
The search for an answer at the catcher position continues as well, with Curt Casali, Bobby Wilson, Hank Conger and Luke Maile hitting a combined .202/.265/.349 last season.
Take your pick from Kurt Suzuki, Nick Hundley and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Any of them would be a cheap upgrade.
The annual search for diamonds in the rough to fill out the bullpen will resume as well.
1. Add a No. 3 starter
2. Add a center fielder
3. Add a first baseman or DH
First and foremost, the Texas Rangers need a quality third starter to slot behind Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish and ahead of Martin Perez and A.J. Griffin in the starting rotation.
Whether it's a run at signing Jeremy Hellickson or another major trade, if this team is going to legitimately contend for a title, that No. 3 spot in the rotation has to be addressed.
Center field is also on the to-do list, though a reunion with Ian Desmond or Carlos Gomez is still very much on the table.
Dexter Fowler would be an interesting addition to the top of the lineup, setting the table for a productive middle of the order.
However, if the team is going to make a major addition to the lineup, it's more likely to come at first base.
With Mitch Moreland reaching free agency and Prince Fielder forced into retirement by injury, the position is wide-open at this point.
Giving Jurickson Profar a chance at some positional stability and regular at-bats there is one in-house option, as is turning Joey Gallo loose to make a run at 40 home runs and the single-season strikeout record.
The designated hitter spot is also open, so signing someone capable of stepping into the middle of the lineup and driving in runs looks like a very real possibility.
The original point stands, though: Shoring up the starting rotation has to be the No. 1 priority.
Toronto Blue Jays
1. Re-sign DH Edwin Encarnacion
2. Add a corner outfielder
3. Add a setup reliever
The Blue Jays made a "big push" early to re-sign the slugger, but an unwillingness to go to five years makes it unlikely an early deal will come to fruition, according to Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball.
Encarnacion is said to be seeking a five-year, $125 million deal, according to Rick Westhead of TSN.
With Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders also hitting the open market, the Blue Jays are in danger of losing a significant portion of what has been one of the most feared offenses in baseball the past few seasons.
Given Bautista's age and injury history, Encarnacion seems like the better target to re-sign, though if the team is unwilling to give him that fifth year, there's a good chance someone else will.
The departures of Saunders and Bautista also make adding a corner outfielder a need.
The deadline addition of Melvin Upton Jr. and surprise second-half emergence of Ezequiel Carrera gives the team some options to flank center fielder Kevin Pillar, but best-case scenario those two would form a platoon in left field and the team would add another everyday outfielder.
The starting rotation is in good shape, even with the departure of R.A. Dickey, thanks to the July addition of Francisco Liriano.
However, the bullpen could use another setup arm.
Jason Grilli will be back to pitch the eighth ahead of closer Roberto Osuna, but Brett Cecil and Joaquin Benoit are both free agents.
A lefty would probably be preferable, as Aaron Loup is currently the top southpaw option on the roster.
1. Re-sign or replace RP Mark Melancon
2. Add a catcher
3. Decide on a position for Trea Turner
The Washington Nationals made a big move to acquire Mark Melancon at the trade deadline, and now they'll be searching for a closer once again with the veteran departing in free agency.
Re-signing Melancon is certainly still an option, but one way or another the team will need to add a proven closer, with Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen and Sammy Solis all representing solid setup options with zero closer experience.
The catcher position will also need to be addressed.
Wilson Ramos was not extended a qualifying offer, or he likely would have accepted as he's recovering from a torn ACL suffered in September.
A move to the American League could be best for Ramos, giving him an opportunity to ease back into catching by spending some time at DH.
Matt Wieters is the top free-agent alternative, while Brian McCann could also be a target on the trade market. Prospect Pedro Severino has the tools to be a starting catcher down the road, but he's not there yet.
Deciding where Trea Turner is going to play long-term is also on the offseason to-do list.
A shortstop by trade, he split his time between second base (30 games) and center field (45 games) last season, hitting .342 with 35 extra-base hits and 33 stolen bases in 324 plate appearances for a 3.5 WAR.
The 23-year-old is a star in the making, and for the sake of his development the team's best move is to install him at one position and leave him there.
Shortstop still makes the most sense, as that would allow the team to move Danny Espinosa back to the super utility role where he thrived in 2015.
Don't rule out second base, though, with Daniel Murphy sliding over to first base and Ryan Zimmerman settling into a part-time role.
What the Nationals do on the outfield market, if anything, will certainly have an impact on that decision.