Future Power Rankings: Where Every MLB Team Will Stand 3 Years from Now

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2017

Future Power Rankings: Where Every MLB Team Will Stand 3 Years from Now

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    With a little over a month to go in the 2017 MLB regular season, a number of teams are already looking ahead to the future after falling out of contention.

    That's exactly what we'll do here.

    Baseball is nearly impossible to predict on a year-in, 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, a look at notable upcoming free agents each team stands to lose between now and 2020, and a breakdown of what profiles as the biggest positive and negative for each club.

    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 2020 season.
    • Arbitration-Eligible Players: Next up were players who will have not yet reached free agency when 2020 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 and '19 free-agent classes. 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.

30. Los Angeles Angels (Previous: 30)

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    Mike Trout
    Mike TroutAlex Brandon/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    LF Jahmai JonesSP Alex Meyer
    RF Kole CalhounSP Tyler Skaggs (L)
    CF Mike TroutSP Andrew Heaney (L)
    1B Matt ThaissSP Matt Shoemaker
    DH Albert PujolsSP Jaime Barria
    SS Andrelton SimmonsCL Cam Bedrosian
    3B Kaleb Cowart 
    C Taylor Ward 
    2B David Fletcher 

    Farm System Rank: 30


    Notable Free Agents

    OF Cameron Maybin (2018), 3B Yunel Escobar (2018), RP Bud Norris (2018), SP Garrett Richards (2019), C Martin Maldonado (2019), 3B Luis Valbuena ($8.5 million club option for 2019)


    Biggest Positive: Control over Mike Trout

    What can the Los Angeles Angels do to address the thinnest farm system in baseball?

    Eventually, trading Mike Trout might be the answer to that question, and the fact that he's signed through the 2020 season is the biggest chip in the team's favor at this point.

    He might not have a contract as team-friendly as Chris Sale, but he's the best player in baseball, and it's not at all unreasonable to think the Angels could land a haul of young talent that dwarfs what the Boston Red Sox gave up to land Sale this past offseason.


    Biggest Negative: Starting pitching

    Alex Meyer and Tyler Skaggs have both shown flashes of being quality MLB starters, but the idea of them anchoring the starting rotation comes with some obvious reservations.

    Prospect Jaime Barria should arrive in the majors in short order, and others like Nate Smith, Grayson Long and Jesus Castillo will soon be knocking on the door as well.

    Notably absent from the 2020 projected rotation is rookie standout Parker Bridwell. With a 4.55 FIP accompanying his 2.92 ERA, he still needs to prove he's more than just a flash in the pan.

    Simply put, there's no obvious future ace in the organization right now, and this front office could still be gun-shy when it comes to flashy free-agent signings after the Albert Pujols/C.J. Wilson/Josh Hamilton debacles.

29. Kansas City Royals (Previous: 28)

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    Danny Duffy
    Danny DuffyBen Margot/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    2B Whit MerrifieldSP Danny Duffy (L)
    CF Khalil LeeSP Ian Kennedy
    LF Hunter DozierSP Jake Junis
    DH Ryan O'HearnSP Foster Griffin (L)
    C Salvador PerezSP Eric Skoglund (L)
    RF Jorge SolerCL Josh Staumont
    1B Samir Duenez 
    3B Cheslor Cuthbert 
    SS Raul Mondesi        

    Farm System Rank: 29


    Notable Free Agents

    1B Eric Hosmer (2018), 3B Mike Moustakas (2018), OF Lorenzo Cain (2018), SP Jason Vargas (2018), SS Alcides Escobar (2018), OF Melky Cabrera (2018), RP Kelvin Herrera (2019), RP Mike Minor (2019), SP Jason Hammel (2020), OF Alex Gordon ($23 million mutual option for 2020)


    Biggest Positive: Financial flexibility

    Assuming Alex Gordon has his $23 million mutual option for 2020 declined, the Royals will only have three guaranteed contracts on the books—Ian Kennedy ($16.5 million), Danny Duffy ($15.25 million) and Salvador Perez ($14.2 million).

    That gives the relatively small-market club plenty of wiggle room to make outside additions and to explore potential in-house extensions if anyone emerges as worthy.

    Nothing is more damning to a financially conscious team than bad contracts, and having money to spend will allow the front office the freedom to work toward rebuilding a contender.


    Biggest Negative: A lack of high-end young talent

    The Royals used a series of high draft picks in the late 2000s to build up an impressive homegrown core and then they rode that group to consecutive World Series appearances.

    However, the next wave of young talent simply never arrived.

    More recent early picks like Christian Colon, Bubba Starling and Kyle Zimmer have not panned out, and the pipeline of impact talent has run dry.

    On the plus side, the team should have an abundance of early picks in next year's draft, assuming they extend qualifying offers to Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain and low-level prospects like Khalil Lee, Seuly Matias and 2017 first-round pick Nick Pratto who have provided some reason for optimism.

28. Detroit Tigers (Previous: 24)

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    Michael Fulmer
    Michael FulmerTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Michael GerberSP Michael Fulmer
    1B Jeimer CandelarioSP Justin Verlander
    RF Justin UptonSP Beau Burrows
    DH Miguel CabreraSP Daniel Norris (L)
    LF Christin StewartSP Kyle Funkhouser
    3B Dawel LugoCL Joe Jimenez
    C James McCann 
    2B Dixon Machado 
    SS Sergio Alcantara 

    Farm System Rank: 24


    Notable Free Agents

    2B Ian Kinsler (2019), DH Victor Martinez (2019), SS Jose Iglesias (2019), SP Anibal Sanchez ($16 million option in 2019), 3B Nicholas Castellanos (2020), RP Alex Wilson (2020), RP Bruce Rondon (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Offense

    The projected 2020 lineup you see above is assuming Justin Upton doesn't opt out of his contract following this season and that a 37-year-old Miguel Cabrera, who has already shown signs of declining this year, is still a capable middle-of-the-order bat.

    Those are two fairly large assumptions.

    Jeimer Candelario was a nice addition in a deadline trade with the Chicago Cubs and outfielder Christin Stewart has shown some intriguing pop throughout his time in the minors, but overall this team is severely lacking in young impact position players.


    Biggest Negative: Starting pitching

    Justin Verlander has a $22 million vesting option for 2020 that requires a top-five finish in Cy Young voting in 2019; otherwise, it becomes a team option. That leaves his status as part of the 2020 rotation murky at best.

    Luckily, Michael Fulmer has shown all the makings of a future ace and he should be ready to over as the leader of the staff by 2020, if not sooner.

    Beyond that, prospects Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser look like future rotation fixtures, while lefties Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd already have valuable MLB experience under their belts.

    Mid-level prospects like Tyler Alexander, Gregory Soto and Sandy Baez provide further depth, and the front office should have the money to replace Verlander with another veteran presence if that becomes a clear need.

27. Baltimore Orioles (Previous: 27)

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    Dylan Bundy
    Dylan BundyGail Burton/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    SS Tim BeckhamSP Dylan Bundy
    CF Cedric MullinsSP Kevin Gausman
    DH Trey ManciniSP Keegan Akin (L)
    1B Chris DavisSP Hunter Harvey
    RF Austin HaysSP Zac Lowther (L)
    C Chance SiscoCL Mychal Givens
    2B Ryan Mountcastle 
    LF D.J. Stewart 
    3B Jomar Reyes        

    Farm System Ranking: 16

    Notable Free Agents

    SP Chris Tillman (2018), OF Seth Smith (2018), SP Ubaldo Jimenez (2018), SS J.J. Hardy ($14 million club option in 2018), 3B Manny Machado (2019), CF Adam Jones (2019), RP Zach Britton (2019), RP Brad Brach (2019), C Welington Castillo (2019), 2B Jonathan Schoop (2020), DH Mark Trumbo (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Emerging prospect talent

    The O's farm system outlook has improved as much as any team in baseball this season, thanks to the emergence of guys like Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, Tanner Scott, Cedric Mullins and Zac Lowther.

    Add to that a stellar rookie season from Trey Mancini, the impending arrival of the perceived catcher of the future Chance Sisco and the deadline addition of Tim Beckham, and suddenly there's a fairly respectable young core in place.

    Extending Jonathan Schoop this offseason would be a smart move, especially with Manny Machado all but certain to bolt for greener pastures in free agency.


    Biggest Negative: Starting pitching

    Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman both have the stuff to be top-of-the-rotation starters, but to this point in their respective careers, they've yet to show the consistency required to take that next step.

    Oft-injured prospect Hunter Harvey also has major upside if he can put his arm issues in the rearview and he's still only 22 years old. That's a major if, though.

    From there, the team will be counting on an arm or two to emerge from a fairly deep pool of mid-level pitching prospects that includes Keegan Akin, Zac Lowther, Cody Sedlock, Michael Baumann and Alex Wells in order to fill out the rotation.

    Striking out on the Ubaldo Jimenez and Yovani Gallardo signings could also deter them from looking outside the organization.

26. Oakland Athletics (Previous: 26)

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    Sean Manaea
    Sean ManaeaJulie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    2B Franklin BarretoSP Sean Manaea
    RF Dustin FowlerSP A.J. Puk (L)
    DH Ryon HealySP Jharel Cotton
    3B Matt ChapmanSP Grant Holmes
    1B Sheldon NeuseSP Kendall Graveman
    C Sean MurphyCL Blake Treinen
    SS Marcus Semien 
    LF Renato Nunez 
    CF Jorge Mateo 

    Farm System Rank: 8


    Notable Free Agents

    IF Jed Lowrie (2019), RP Santiago Casilla (2019), OF Matt Joyce (2019), OF Khris Davis (2020), RP Liam Hendriks (2020)


    Biggest Positive: A deep farm system

    If there's one thing the Oakland Athletics have excelled at in recent years, it's turning established MLB talent into farm system depth.

    This trade season was no exception as they flipped Sonny Gray, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Yonder Alonso to further bolster what was already one of the better farm systems in the league.

    Ryon Healy and Matt Chapman have shown intriguing power since arriving in the majors, Franklin Barreto should take over an everyday role in 2018, catching prospect Sean Murphy looks like the real deal, and 2017 deadline pickups Sheldon Neuse, Dustin Fowler and Jorge Mateo all look like potential long-term pieces.

    That's a good collection of young position-player talent to start building around.


    Biggest Negative: Starting pitching

    Notably absent from that above rundown of prospect talent is pitching.

    Left-hander A.J. Puk looks like a solid bet to join incumbent Sean Manaea as a long-term rotation piece, but neither profiles as a true ace and the rest of the rotation is a question mark.

    Kendall Graveman has been a serviceable starter and will still be under team control through 2020, while 2016 deadline additions Jharel Cotton and Grant Holmes also profile as big league rotation pieces.

    Logan Shore, Jesus Luzardo and a healthy James Kaprielian could also be in the mix by 2020, but overall the future of the staff is very much up in the air and lacking in top-tier talent.

25. Miami Marlins (Previous: 21)

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    Giancarlo Stanton
    Giancarlo StantonLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    2B Dee GordonSP Dan Straily
    CF Christian YelichSP Braxton Garrett (L)
    RF Giancarlo StantonSP Dillon Peters (L)
    1B Justin BourSP Jose Urena
    3B Brian AndersonSP Wei-Yin Chen (L)
    C J.T. RealmutoCL Kyle Barraclough
    LF Brian Miller 
    SS J.T. Riddle 

    Farm System Rank: 28


    Notable Free Agents

    SP Edinson Volquez (2019), RP Brad Ziegler (2019), RP Junichi Tazawa (2019), OF Marcell Ozuna (2020), 3B Martin Prado (2020)


    Biggest Positive: A strong offensive core

    With Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, J.T. Realmuto, Dee Gordon, Justin Bour and rising prospect Brian Anderson all in place through the 2020 season, the Miami Marlins have a rock-solid offensive core.

    On the other hand, the future of the pitching staff looks suspect at best.

    Braxton Garrett and Tyler Kolek recovering from arm injuries and fulfilling their first-round potential would go a long way, as would the continued emergence of Dillon Peters.

    Still, if they can find a way to field a serviceable rotation that's backed by a quality bullpen like they tried to do this season, they have more than enough offensive firepower to make some noise.


    Biggest Negative: A potentially necessary rebuild

    There's a very real chance the Miami Marlins will need to consider a full-scale rebuild in the near future if they don't take the next step toward legitimate contention with this current group.

    That could start by trading Stanton, who can opt out of his current megadeal following the 2020 season. The sooner they trade him ahead of that opt-out date, the more value he has.

    Meanwhile, Yelich, Ozuna and Realmuto could also fetch a significant return if they were dangled for prospect talent—something the organization is undeniably thin on at the moment—and the new ownership group could be anxious to turn the page.

24. Seattle Mariners (Previous: 20)

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    James Paxton
    James PaxtonTed S. Warren/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Braden BishopSP James Paxton (L)
    SS Jean SeguraSP Nick Neidert
    2B Robinson CanoSP Andrew Moore
    LF Kyle LewisSP Ariel Miranda (L)
    3B Kyle SeagerSP Marco Gonzales (L)
    RF Mitch HanigerCL Edwin Diaz
    1B Dan Vogelbach 
    DH Ben Gamel 
    C Mike Zunino 

    Farm System Rank: 23


    Notable Free Agents

    OF Jarrod Dyson (2018), IF Danny Valencia (2018), SP Hisashi Iwakuma ($15 million club option in 2018), SP Yovani Gallardo ($13 million club option in 2018), DH Nelson Cruz (2019), SP Drew Smyly (2019), SP Felix Hernandez (2020), RP Nick Vincent (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Financial flexibility

    The only players the Seattle Mariners have under contract for the 2020 season are Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Jean Segura, who will earn a combined $58.35 million.

    Compare that to the $168 million payroll the team is working with this season, and it's easy to see a significant outside addition or two being made between now and 2020.

    Extending James Paxton might also be a wise use of those available funds, though he may need to prove he can stay healthy for a full season before the team is willing to commit long-term.


    Biggest Negative: Starting pitching

    Remember when Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen were the future of Seattle rotation?

    Now Walker is pitching for the D-backs and Hultzen is out of baseball entirely.

    Instead, it looks like a one-two punch of Paxton and Nick Neidert will anchor the staff in 2020 and beyond, while the rest of the rotation is up for grabs.

    Felix Hernandez could be re-signed to make sure he spends his entire career in Seattle, and prospect Andrew Moore has the stuff to be a useful middle-of-the-rotation arm.

    Beyond that, it looks like some combination from the underwhelming group of Marco Gonzales, Ariel Miranda, Max Povse, Rob Whalen and Chase De Jong at the moment.

23. San Francisco Giants (Previous: 10)

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    Buster Posey
    Buster PoseyNick Wass/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Bryan ReynoldsSP Johnny Cueto
    3B Christian ArroyoSP Tyler Beede
    C Buster PoseySP Jeff Samardzija
    LF Chris ShawSP Ty Blach (L)
    1B Brandon BeltSP Andrew Suarez (L)
    SS Brandon CrawfordCL Mark Melancon
    RF Heath Quinn 
    2B Joe Panik 

    Farm System Rank: 26


    Notable Free Agents

    SP Matt Cain ($21 million club option for 2018), OF Hunter Pence (2019), SP Madison Bumgarner (2020), SP Matt Moore (2020), RP Will Smith (2020), OF Denard Span (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Financial flexibility

    The San Francisco Giants were up against a wall financially this season with a $188 million payroll that ranks sixth in the majors.

    Shedding the bloated salaries of Matt Cain ($21 million) and Hunter Pence ($18.5 million) over the next two seasons will improve that situation significantly.

    Some of that savings will go to the escalating salaries of Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, but the team should still be in a position to make a run at extending Madison Bumgarner and adding an impact bat on the free-agent market.

    That is important since it's unlikely they'll be getting much significant help from the current crop of minor league talent.


    Biggest Negative: A lack of high-end young talent

    Christian Arroyo, Chris Shaw, Tyler Beede and Bryan Reynolds are all quality prospects who should be ready to make an MLB impact before 2020.

    However, none of them profile as future stars and there's a rather significant drop-off after those four prospects in what is one of baseball's thinnest farm systems.

    That's particularly troubling on the pitching side of things, especially if Johnny Cueto opts out, as they're really without anything even remotely resembling a front-line starter unless Beede takes a huge step forward once he reaches the majors.

    The Giants have a strong track record of uncovering diamonds in the rough and in developing their in-house talent in general, but there's not much reason for optimism surrounding the current state of the farm system.

22. Texas Rangers (Previous: 12)

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    Nomar Mazara
    Nomar MazaraTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Leody TaverasSP Yohander Mendez (L) 
    1B Ronald GuzmanSP Ariel Jurado
    RF Nomar MazaraSP Martin Perez (L)
    3B Joey GalloSP Kyle Cody
    LF Willie CalhounSP Joe Palumbo (L)
    SS Elvis AndrusCL Matt Bush
    2B Rougned Odor 
    DH Shin-Soo Choo 
    C Jose Trevino 

    Farm System Rank: 21


    Notable Free Agents

    CF Carlos Gomez (2018), SP Andrew Cashner (2018), 1B Mike Napoli ($11 million club option for 2018), 3B Adrian Beltre (2019), SP A.J. Griffin (2019), RP Jake Diekman (2019), SP Cole Hamels (2020), C Robinson Chirinos (2020), UT Jurickson Profar (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Offense

    Even though the Texas Rangers have traded off a good deal of prospect talent in recent seasons, the future still looks bright offensively.

    Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo are already dangerous power threats and both still have plenty of room to improve at the highest level, while first baseman Ronald Guzman and slugger Willie Calhoun—the prize of the Yu Darvish trade—should both arrive in the majors for good by next season.

    The middle infield of Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus is also more than capable of making a significant impact offensively, though they won't necessarily be relied on to shoulder the load.

    The X-factor here is whether 18-year-old Leody Taveras will be ready for a big league gig three years from now. He's moved quickly to this point and shown legitimate five-tool upside, but that's still asking a lot.


    Biggest Negative: Starting pitching

    The departure of Cole Hamels after the 2019 season leaves the starting rotation as a glaring weakness for the Rangers.

    Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado both have relatively high floors as the team's top pitching prospects, but both profile better as middle-of-the-rotation guys and the same goes for incumbent lefty Martin Perez.

    Kyle Cody and Joe Palumbo get the nod over the likes of Brett Martin, Michael Matuella and A.J. Alexy for the final two spots, as Cole Ragans and Hans Crouse still might not be ready by 2020.

    Expect the Rangers to be active on the free-agent market, but luring top-tier arms to hitter-friendly Arlington is not always the easiest sell.

21. Cincinnati Reds (Previous: 17)

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    Joey Votto
    Joey VottoGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Jose PerazaSP Luis Castillo
    1B Joey VottoSP Tyler Mahle
    3B Nick SenzelSP Amir Garrett (L)
    RF Adam DuvallSP Anthony DeSclafani
    SS Eugenio SuarezSP Robert Stephenson
    LF Jesse WinkerCL Raisel Iglesias
    2B Dilson Herrera 
    C Tyler Stephenson 

    Farm System Rank: 9


    Notable Free Agents

    SS Zack Cozart (2018), SP Scott Feldman (2018), C Devin Mesoraco (2019), CF Billy Hamilton (2020), SP Homer Bailey ($25 million mutual option for 2020)


    Biggest Positive: Pitching depth

    Luis Castillo, Amir Garrett, Anthony DeSclafani, Tyler Mahle and Robert Stephenson all have the stuff to develop into front-line starters for the Cincinnati Reds in the years to come.

    Assuming even one of them realizes his full potential and assumes the role of staff ace, that group has a chance to be one of the deepest rotations in the majors by 2020.

    There's plenty of depth behind them too with Cody Reed, Sal Romano, Vladimir Gutierrez, Rookie Davis and Keury Mella.

    And don't forget, uber-prospect Hunter Greene could also be along shortly after the 2020 season as well.


    Biggest Negative: Questions up the middle

    A strong case can be made for middle-of-the-diamond players—catcher, second base, shortstop and center fieldbeing the most important on any MLB roster, and that could prove to be a weakness for the Reds by 2020.

    A lot will depend on whether Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton are re-signed and where Jose Peraza settles in defensively.

    The eventual arrival of Nick Senzel will push Eugenio Suarez off third base, and he could potentially return to shortstop, where he spent the bulk of his time in the minors.

    If Hamilton walks and Peraza becomes the regular center fielder, second base will be an interesting battle between Dilson Herrera and Shed Long.

    Then there's the question of whether Tyler Stephenson or Chris Okey can develop into an everyday backstop or if the team will have to look elsewhere behind the dish.

    At any rate, the overall uncertainty up the middle is troubling.

20. San Diego Padres (Previous: 25)

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    Manuel Margot
    Manuel MargotGregory Bull/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Manuel MargotSP Cal Quantrill
    SS Luis UriasSP Anderson Espinoza
    LF Wil MyersSP Joey Lucchesi (L)
    RF Hunter RenfroeSP Dinelson Lamet
    1B Josh NaylorSP Eric Lauer (L)
    3B Yangervis SolarteCL Michel Baez
    C Austin Hedges  
    2B Carlos Asuaje 

    Farm System Rank: 7


    Notable Free Agents

    SP Jhoulys Chacin (2018), SP Clayton Richard (2018), RP Craig Stammen (2018), SS Erick Aybar (2018), RP Carter Capps (2019), RP Brad Hand (2020)


    Biggest Positive: High-upside prospects

    The San Diego Padres might have the most intriguing farm system in all of baseball.

    Cal Quantrill, Anderson Espinoza, Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez all have ace-caliber upside among the team's pitching prospects. No one from that group is a surefire front-line starter, but they all have the potential to make a major impact.

    On the position-player side, Fernando Tatis Jr. is among the fastest-rising prospects in the game, and others like Josh Naylor and Luis Urias figure to join 2017 rookies Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe in short order.

    There's no shortage of young talent with considerable upside, that's for sure.


    Biggest Negative: Lack of established MLB talent

    The opposite side of that coin is that this is a roster that is lacking in established MLB talent. Prospects give a rebuilding team hope for the future and the Padres have as much of that as anyone, but not all prospects pan out.

    Wil Myers is the one cornerstone piece the team has in place at this point after he signed a six-year, $83 million extension during the offseason.

    While the front office should have plenty of money to spend in free agency once it's ready to make a push toward contention again, establishing more homegrown talent as core pieces will be priority No. 1 in the years to come. 

    Simply put, the Padres' window might not open until after 2020.

19. Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous: 5)

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    Josh Bell
    Josh BellDuane Burleson/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    LF Starling MarteSP Jameson Taillon
    CF Austin MeadowsSP Mitch Keller
    RF Josh BellSP Tyler Glasnow
    1B Will CraigSP Chad Kuhl
    3B Ke'Bryan HayesSP Steven Brault (L)
    2B Josh HarrisonCL Felipe Rivero (L)
    SS Kevin Newman 
    C Elias Diaz 

    Farm System Rank: 14


    Notable Free Agents

    RP Juan Nicasio (2018), CF Andrew McCutchen (2019), SS Jordy Mercer (2019), SP Gerrit Cole (2020), SP Ivan Nova (2020), C Francisco Cervelli (2020), 3B David Freese (2020), 3B Jung Ho Kang (2020)


    Biggest Positive: A steady pipeline of homegrown talent

    Due in large part to their financial limitations, the Pittsburgh Pirates have relied heavily on homegrown talent to allow them to contend in recent seasons.

    Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Jordy Mercer and Tony Watson are just a few of the notable players who have worked their way up the organizational ladder.

    More recently, Josh Bell has looked right at home taking over as the team's everyday first baseman and Jameson Taillon looks like a long-term rotation fixture.

    And there's more developing talent on the way on both sides of the ball. As long as that homegrown pipeline doesn't run dry and they continue developing their own talent, they'll have a chance to compete with the larger market clubs.


    Biggest Negative: The stalled development of Tyler Glasnow

    When we put out these rankings last season, a 2019 rotation of Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Mitch Keller and Ivan Nova was one of the biggest chips in the Pirates' favor.

    A year later, the rotation might be the most glaring hole.

    Cole and Nova will both reach free agency after the 2019 season, and Glasnow has not made the leap from dominating minor league hitters to carving out a spot in the MLB rotation as hoped.

    The 24-year-old has continued to dominate at the Triple-A level with a 1.99 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 81.1 innings. However, he struggled to a 7.45 ERA and 4.8 walks per nine innings in 12 MLB starts earlier this season.

    Getting him on track to take over as the future ace of the staff will be paramount.

18. Tampa Bay Rays (Previous: 18)

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    Chris Archer
    Chris ArcherJae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Kevin KiermaierSP Chris Archer
    SS Willy AdamesSP Brent Honeywell
    LF Jesus SanchezSP Blake Snell (L)
    RF Steven Souza Jr.SP Jacob Faria
    DH Brendan McKaySP Jose De Leon
    3B Evan LongoriaCL Alex Colome
    1B Jake Bauers 
    2B Matt Duffy 
    C Nick Ciuffo 

    Farm System Rank: 5


    Notable Free Agents

    1B Logan Morrison (2018), SP Alex Cobb (2018), 1B Lucas Duda (2018), C Wilson Ramos (2019), SS Adeiny Hechavarria (2019), SP Jake Odorizzi (2020), OF Corey Dickerson (2020), IF Brad Miller (2020)


    Biggest Positive: In-house pitching talent

    The Tampa Bay Rays have as good a track record as any team in recent memory when it comes to developing pitching talent.

    Chris Archer should still be around to anchor the staff three years from now, and they have plenty of intriguing lumps of clay to mold into future rotation pieces behind him.

    Brent Honeywell is already knocking on the door for a big league rotation spot, while Jacob Faria and Blake Snell have shown promise in their brief MLB action. If he can ever stay healthy, Jose De Leon has a chance to be as good as any of them.

    Add to that mid-level prospects like Austin Franklin, Genesis Cabrera, Brock Burke, Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough, and the future looks bright on the mound.

    Alex Colome will also still be under team control, and if he's traded, prospect Jaime Schultz has legitimate ninth-inning potential.


    Biggest Negative: Offensive firepower

    The offense was a strength for the Rays during the first half of this season thanks to big numbers from Logan Morrison, Steven Souza Jr. and Corey Dickerson, among others.

    However, the lineup has fallen off considerably since the All-Star break, and finding enough consistent firepower to back a strong pitching staff could continue to be an issue.

    Brendan McKay has a chance to be a steady run producer if he turns his full attention to hitting, and precocious outfielder Jesus Sanchez could be a superstar in the making by the time the 2020 campaign rolls around.

    That's a lot of faith to be placed in two players who have yet to even prove anything in the upper levels of the minors, though.

17. Toronto Blue Jays (Previous: 23)

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    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    LF Anthony AlfordSP Marcus Stroman
    2B Devon TravisSP Aaron Sanchez
    3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.SP Sean Reid-Foley
    SS Bo BichetteSP T.J. Zeuch
    1B Rowdy TellezSP Ryan Borucki (L)
    DH Troy TulowitzkiCL Roberto Osuna
    RF Teoscar Hernandez 
    CF Kevin Pillar 
    C Max Pentecost 

    Farm System Rank: 17


    Notable Free Agents

    SP Marco Estrada (2018), 3B Josh Donaldson (2019), SP J.A. Happ (2019), RF Jose Bautista ($20 million vesting option in 2019), 1B Justin Smoak (2020), C Russell Martin (2020), DH Kendrys Morales (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Potential superstar prospect talent

    The Toronto Blue Jays have two of baseball's most exciting prospects in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.

    Their numbers between Single-A and High-A this season have been eye-popping considering they're both still teenagers:

    • Guerrero: .322 BA, .908 OPS, 27 2B, 11 HR, 67 RBI, 68 BB, 57 K
    • Bichette: .372 BA, 1.003 OPS, 39 2B, 13 HR, 67 RBI, 38 BB, 71 K

    Aside from their impressive power potential, both players have also shown an advanced approach that should allow them to move quickly and arrive in the majors by 2020.

    Also, don't forget about outfield prospect Anthony Alford. He has legitimate 20/20 potential and could be a dangerous catalyst atop the lineup.


    Biggest Negative: Starting pitching

    Marcus Stroman has further solidified his place as the ace of the Blue Jays staff and one of the best young pitchers in the game this season.

    However, Aaron Sanchez has struggled to stay healthy and taken a significant step backward from where he was a year ago, and there's no slam-dunk future rotation staple among the team's prospect crop.

    Sean Reid-Foley, T.J. Zeuch, Ryan Borucki, Conner Greene, Justin Maese, Thomas Pannone, Jordan Romano and Jon Harris are all capable of developing into big league starters by 2020, but there's no sure bet in that group.

16. Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous: 29)

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    Archie Bradley
    Archie BradleyRalph Freso/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    LF David PeraltaSP Zack Greinke
    CF Marcus WilsonSP Robbie Ray (L)
    3B Jake LambSP Taijuan Walker
    1B Pavin SmithSP Zack Godley
    RF Yasmany TomasSP Jon Duplantier
    2B Brandon DruryCL Archie Bradley
    SS Ketel Marte 
    C Daulton Varsho 

    Farm System Rank: 27


    Notable Free Agents

    OF J.D. Martinez (2018), OF A.J. Pollock (2019), SP Patrick Corbin (2019), 1B Paul Goldschmidt (2020), IF Chris Owings (2020), C/OF Chris Herrmann (2020), SP Shelby Miller (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Starting Pitching

    The Arizona Diamondbacks climbed so many spots due in large part to the vastly improved outlook of their starting rotation.

    Zack Greinke has returned to ace form after a shaky first season in Arizona, Robbie Ray has emerged as a bona fide front-line starter in his own right, Zack Godley has been a pleasant surprise, and Taijuan Walker still boasts tremendous upside.

    Adding someone from the prospect trio of Jon Duplantier, Taylor Clarke and Anthony Banda to that group should make for a rock-solid starting staff in 2020. The emergence of Archie Bradley as a lockdown setup man and the presumptive future closer helps the bullpen's outlook as well.


    Biggest Negative: Potentially losing Paul Goldschmidt

    Miguel Cabrera signed an eight-year, $248 million extension in 2014 that kicked in at the start of his age-33 season.

    Paul Goldschmidt will be entering his age-32 season when he finally reaches free agency for the first time, and a shiny new $300 million deal could be awaiting him. But will it come from the Arizona Diamondbacks?

    To their credit, the D-backs may very well have found his long-term replacement when they took University of Virginia standout Pavin Smith with the No. 7 pick this past June. Still, we're talking about replacing someone who might already have earned the title of best player in franchise history.

15. Minnesota Twins (Previous: 16)

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    Jose Berrios
    Jose BerriosJim Mone/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Byron BuxtonSP Jose Berrios
    SS Nick GordonSP Fernando Romero
    3B Miguel SanoSP Stephen Gonsalves
    DH Lewin DiazSP Felix Jorge
    RF Max KeplerSP Adalberto Mejia (L)
    1B Brent RookerCL John Curtiss
    LF Eddie Rosario 
    2B Travis Blankenhorn 
    C Mitch Garver 

    Farm System Rank: 15


    Notable Free Agents

    RP Matt Belisle (2018), SP Hector Santiago (2018), 2B Brian Dozier (2019), 1B Joe Mauer (2019), SP Ervin Santana (2020), C Jason Castro (2020), SP Kyle Gibson (2020), SP Phil Hughes (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Financial flexibility

    The Minnesota Twins have a $6.5 million option on Byung Ho Park for the 2020 season that carries a $500,000 buyout.

    That's the only money on the books for 2020.

    Shedding the salaries of Joe Mauer ($23 million), Ervin Santana ($13.5 million) and Phil Hughes ($13.2 million) alone will give the team a ton of money to work with, and that should allow them plenty of flexibility to fill in the gaps on the roster.


    Biggest Negative: An inexperienced starting rotation

    Jose Berrios, Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves all have top-tier upside looking ahead to the 2020 rotation.

    However, they'll also be 26, 25 and 26 years old, respectively.

    Relying on three pitchers who have proved very little at the MLB level to be the anchors of the starting rotation is a risky proposition.

    Felix Jorge and Adalberto Mejia are also short on experience, and whether it's a splashy signing with their available payroll space or more of a low-level addition, adding some sort of veteran presence to the staff will be crucial.

14. Colorado Rockies (Previous: 19)

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    Ryan McMahon
    Ryan McMahonWilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Raimel TapiaSP Jon Gray
    LF David DahlSP Kyle Freeland (L)
    2B Brendan RodgersSP German Marquez
    3B Ryan McMahonSP Antonio Senzatela
    SS Trevor StorySP Chad Bettis
    RF Jordan PattersonCL Ben Bowden (L)
    1B Ian Desmond 
    C Tom Murphy 

    Farm System Rank: 18


    Notable Free Agents

    OF Carlos Gonzalez (2018), SP Tyler Chatwood (2018), RP Jake McGee (2018), OF Charlie Blackmon (2019), 2B DJ LeMahieu (2019), RP Greg Holland (2019), OF Gerardo Parra ($12 million option in 2019), 3B Nolan Arenado (2020)


    Biggest Positive: An up-and-coming starting rotation

    The Colorado Rockies are never going to struggle to score runs.

    It's a vastly improved pitching staff that has been the key to contention this season, and with three rookies (Kyle Freeland, German Marquez and Antonio Sentzatela) and a 25-year-old (Jon Gray) currently making up the starting rotation, the future looks bright.

    Ideally, Gray would take the next step and emerge as a legitimate ace, and rising prospects like Peter Lambert, Ryan Castellani, Yency Almonte and Sam Howard would continue their progression and provide valuable depth.


    Biggest Negative: The potential departures of Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon

    Like we said above, the Rockies are always going to score runs.

    However, they might score noticeably fewer runs if Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon are both playing elsewhere by the time the 2020 season arrives.

    A healthy David Dahl and the arrivals of Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers as everyday players could certainly help offset those losses.

    Still, we're talking about two of the game's most dynamic offensive players, so moving forward without them won't be without its repercussions.

13. New York Mets (Previous: 8)

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    Noah Syndergaard
    Noah SyndergaardLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Brandon NimmoSP Noah Syndergaard
    SS Amed RosarioSP Jacob deGrom
    LF Yoenis CespedesSP Steven Matz (L)
    RF Michael ConfortoSP Seth Lugo
    1B Dominic SmithSP Robert Gsellman
    3B Jhoan UrenaCL Justin Dunn
    C Tomas Nido 
    2B Gavin Cecchini 

    Farm System Rank: 20


    Notable Free Agents

    SP Matt Harvey (2019), RP Jeurys Familia (2019), RP A.J. Ramos (2019), IF Asdrubal Cabrera (2019), SP Zack Wheeler (2020), IF Wilmer Flores (2020), C Travis d'Arnaud (2020)


    Biggest Positive: A proven one-two punch atop the rotation

    Questions about the future of the starting rotation were a recurring theme in these rankings, and not many teams boast a pair of proven front-line starters under control through the 2020 season.

    However, the New York Mets have just that in Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom.

    Syndergaard will be in his third year of arbitration and deGrom in his fourth, so neither pitcher will come cheap three years from now, but the important thing is they shouldn't be going anywhere.

    There's an alarmingly large gap between floor and ceiling for the trio of Steven Matz, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman behind them in the rotation, but having two top-tier studs goes a long way when it comes to assembling a successful rotation.


    Biggest Negative: Position-player depth

    The core group of Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith is a great starting point for the Mets offense looking ahead to 2020.

    There's a fairly significant talent gap after those five guys, though.

    Much of the team's minor league talent on the position-player side is still in the lower levels of the minors and likely won't be ready to make an impact three years from now.

    Gavin Cecchini, Tomas Nido and Jhoan Urena are decent prospects who could develop into everyday players, but they're far from a sure thing.

    Beyond that, the team will be forced to look outside the organization to fill out the everyday lineup and it's not particularly well-positioned for the inevitable injury issues as a result of their lacking depth.

12. Milwaukee Brewers (Previous: 15)

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    Orlando Arcia
    Orlando ArciaTom Lynn/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Lewis BrinsonSP Jimmy Nelson
    SS Orlando ArciaSP Luis Ortiz
    LF Ryan BraunSP Chase Anderson
    3B Travis ShawSP Brandon Woodruff
    RF Domingo SantanaSP Corbin Burnes
    1B Eric ThamesCL Corey Knebel
    2B Isan Diaz 
    C Manny Pina 

    Farm System Rank: 4


    Notable Free Agents

    SP Matt Garza ($13 million club option in 2018), C Stephen Vogt (2020), SP Wily Peralta (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Pitching depth

    Future pitching depth has always looked like a strong point for the Milwaukee Brewers, and the emergence of controllable starters Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson at the MLB level this season has only further improved their outlook.

    Luis Ortiz, Brandon Woodruff and breakout prospect Corbin Burnes were our picks to fill out the 2020 rotation, and all three have a chance to be terrific starters at the next level.

    That said, lefty Josh Hader could make the move back to starting after being used out of the bullpen this year, and the farm system also features the likes of Freddy Peralta, Cody Ponce, Kodi Medeiros, Marcos Diplan, Trey Supak and Phil Bickford as rotation candidates.

    And don't forget Zach Davies. The 24-year-old already has 60 big league starts with a 3.99 ERA and 4.5 WAR to his credit. He doesn't have swing-and-miss stuff, but he's proved far more than most of the guys listed above.


    Biggest Negative: The lack of an ace-caliber arm

    For all the valuable rotational depth the team has, there's no clear-cut future ace in that group.

    The front office resisted the urge to flip prospects for a chance to acquire Jose Quintana or Sonny Gray at the deadline this year, but a similar deal might prove to be a necessary evil in the years to come.

    Nelson and Ortiz both have a chance to be solid No. 2/3 starter-types on a contending team, and there's certainly something to be said for having five above-average arms to make up a staff.

    Still, it's hard to win a title without a pair of true top-tier arms to lean on in October. Maybe someone emerges from their stable of in-house arms, but the brass can't be afraid to pull the trigger on a rotation-bolstering deal if it presents itself.

11. Philadelphia Phillies (Previous: 13)

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    Aaron Nola
    Aaron NolaJeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    LF Roman QuinnSP Aaron Nola
    CF Odubel HerreraSP Sixto Sanchez
    RF Aaron AltherrSP Vincent Velasquez
    1B Rhys HoskinsSP Franklyn Kilome
    2B Scott KingerySP Jerad Eickhoff
    3B Maikel FrancoCL Hector Neris
    SS J.P. Crawford 
    C Jorge Alfaro 

    Farm System Rank: 6


    Notable Free Agents

    OF Daniel Nava (2018), IF Andres Blanco (2018), SS Freddy Galvis (2019)

    Biggest Positive: Starting pitching

    Controllable starting pitching is the most valuable commodity in today's game, and it looks like the Philadelphia Phillies could simultaneously have one of the league's cheapest and most effective starting staffs in 2020.

    Aaron Nola has all the makings of a legitimate staff ace, while Vincent Velasquez and Jerad Eickhoff have shown enough in their brief time in the majors to believe they can be solid rotation options.

    The X-factor is the development of prospects Sixto Sanchez and Franklyn Kilome—two young right-handers that I'm admittedly as high on as anyone.

    Sanchez has already reached the High-A level at the age of 19 and his advanced feel for pitching should allow him to continue moving quickly, while Kilome's "arrow is pointing up and his ceiling is as high as any pitcher in the system," according to MLB.com.

    Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta, Thomas Eshelman, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin, Adonis Medina, Ranger Suarez and Jojo Romero are all potential rotation depth behind that group.


    Biggest Negative: Offensive production

    The stalled development of former top prospects J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro along with a disappointing season from Maikel Franco (.665 OPS) raises some serious questions about that projected 2020 lineup.

    Rhys Hoskins is off to a terrific start to his MLB career and Scott Kingery has been a nice surprise with the bat this season, but this is a team that's lacking a clear offensive cornerstone right now for the ongoing rebuild.

    Luckily, they have a ton of money to spend once they decide to be major players on the free-agent market again.

    Until that splashy signing comes, though, it's hard to overlook the projected lineup as a clear weakness.

10. St. Louis Cardinals (Previous: 9)

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    Carlos Martinez
    Carlos MartinezKeith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Dexter FowlerSP Carlos Martinez
    1B Matt CarpenterSP Alex Reyes
    RF Stephen PiscottySP Jack Flaherty
    LF Tyler O'NeillSP Luke Weaver
    SS Paul DeJongSP Mike Leake
    3B Jedd GyorkoCL Sandy Alcantara
    C Carson Kelly 
    2B Kolten Wong 

    Farm System Rank: 11


    Notable Free Agents

    SP Lance Lynn (2018), RP Trevor Rosenthal (2019), SP Adam Wainwright (2019), SP Michael Wacha (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Overall depth

    The St. Louis Cardinals always seem to have someone ready to step into a bigger role when the opportunity presents itself.

    Guys like Paul DeJong, Luke Voit and Jose Martinez are the perfect examples in 2017.

    So while the farm system might be without a potential future superstar outside of injured starter Alex Reyes, the overall quality of depth and the organization's ability to develop in-house talent remains a huge positive.

    That's especially true on the pitching side.

    The projected rotation above looks rock-solid, and beyond those five guys, the team has intriguing arms like Dakota Hudson, Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen, Junior Fernandez, Jordan Hicks, Austin Gomber and Jake Woodford as viable rotation candidates.

    Assembling as much young talent as possible and letting the chips fall where they may is never a bad strategy.


    Biggest Negative: Middle-of-the-order production

    The St. Louis Cardinals have not had a prototypical middle-of-the-order run producer since Albert Pujols left in free agency, and there doesn't appear to be one on the horizon either.

    Paul DeJong has been a pleasant surprise as a rookie and Stephen Piscotty was a steady RBI threat at the start of his career, but neither profile as perennial 30-homer threats.

    If one player has that kind of upside, it's outfielder Tyler O'Neill, but the considerable swing-and-miss in his game was enough for the Seattle Mariners to swap him for Marco Gonzales last month.

    Having that middle-of-the-order presence is by no means a requirement for winning a World Series titlejust ask the Kansas City Royals.

    It definitely doesn't hurt, though.

9. Washington Nationals (Previous: 11)

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    Max Scherzer
    Max ScherzerJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    SS Trea TurnerSP Max Scherzer
    RF Adam EatonSP Stephen Strasburg
    CF Victor RoblesSP Joe Ross
    LF Juan SotoSP Erick Fedde
    3B Carter KieboomSP Seth Romero (L)
    1B Jose MarmolejosCL Koda Glover
    C Raudy Read 
    2B Wilmer Difo 

    Farm System Rank: 13


    Notable Free Agents

    OF Jayson Werth (2018), RP Brandon Kintzler (2018), RF Bryce Harper (2019), 2B Daniel Murphy (2019), SP Gio Gonzalez (2019), C Matt Wieters (2019), 3B Anthony Rendon (2020), SP Tanner Roark (2020), RP Ryan Madson (2020), RP Shawn Kelley (2020), 1B Ryan Zimmerman ($20 million club option in 2020)


    Biggest Positive: A proven one-two punch atop the rotation

    A staggering number of teams on this list have had starting pitching identified as their biggest negative.

    Not the Washington Nationals.

    Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg will earn a combined $60.921 million in 2020, and they'll be worth every penny if they stay healthy and continue to pitch at the level we've seen in recent seasons.

    Trading away Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning took a bite out of the team's starting pitching depth, but the trio of Joe Ross, Erick Fedde and Seth Romero rounding out the staff has a chance to be terrific as well.


    Biggest Negative: The likely departure of Bryce Harper

    We can't ignore the elephant in the room.

    Bryce Harper will almost certainly be playing elsewhere after next season, and there's not much the Nationals can do besides wave goodbye and move on.

    The continued development of Victor Robles and Juan Soto could give the team a pair of dynamic offensive threats to bolster the offense, and the table-setting tandem of Trea Turner and Adam Eaton will still be around as well.

    The loss of Harper would be felt throughout the organization, though.

8. Cleveland Indians (Previous: 7)

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    Francisco Lindor
    Francisco LindorTony Dejak/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    SS Francisco LindorSP Corey Kluber
    CF Bradley ZimmerSP Carlos Carrasco
    3B Jose RamirezSP Triston McKenzie
    DH Edwin EncarnacionSP Danny Salazar
    C Francisco MejiaSP Trevor Bauer
    1B Bobby BradleyCL Mike Clevinger
    2B Jason Kipnis 
    LF Yandy Diaz 
    RF Tyler Naquin 

    Farm System Rank: 19


    Notable Free Agents

    OF Jay Bruce (2018), 1B Carlos Santana (2018), RP Andrew Miller (2019), OF Michael Brantley (2019), RP Cody Allen (2019), SP Josh Tomlin (2019), OF Lonnie Chisenhall (2019)


    Biggest Positive: No glaring roster holes

    That's a pretty good-looking projected roster, is it not?

    Slotting Mike Clevinger in the closer's role is a bit of a stretch and there might be some questions about the corner outfield tandem of Yandy Diaz and Tyler Naquin, but top to bottom, this roster looks like a legitimate contender without the help of any outside additions over the next three years.

    The pitching staff, in particular, is in great shape with incumbents Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer being joined by one of the game's top pitching prospects in Triston McKenzie.

    There will be some interesting decisions to make with the free agency of Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley and Andrew Miller, among others. Either way, the organization is well-positioned for sustainable success.


    Biggest Negative: A bullpen that will need restocking

    Miller and Cody Allen are as good as any bullpen tandem in baseball, and middle relievers Bryan Shaw, Dan Otero and Zach McAllister have been steady contributors as well.

    All five of those pitchers will reach free agency between now and 2020.

    Pitching prospects like Julian Merryweather, James Karinchak and Aaron Civale could see their stuff play up with a move to the bullpen, but replacing the current stellar relief corps will be a precarious pursuit in the years to come.

7. Atlanta Braves (Previous: 14)

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    Ronald Acuna
    Ronald AcunaLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Ender InciarteSP Kolby Allard (L)
    SS Dansby SwansonSP Mike Soroka 
    RF Ronald AcunaSP Mike Foltynewicz
    1B Freddie FreemanSP Luiz Gohara (L)
    3B Austin RileySP Julio Teheran
    C Alex Jackson CL Touki Toussaint
    2B Ozzie Albies 
    LF Travis Demeritte 

    Farm System Rank: 2


    Notable Free Agents

    C Kurt Suzuki (2018), 2B Brandon Phillips (2018), C Tyler Flowers (2019), RF Nick Markakis (2019), SP R.A. Dickey (2019), RP Jim Johnson (2019), LF Matt Kemp (2020), RP Arodys Vizcaino (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Potential superstar prospect talent

    The Atlanta Braves have a stacked farm system and they figure to be leaning heavily on that group by the time the 2020 season rolls around.

    The marquee name in the system right now is 19-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna, who has climbed three levels this season to reach Triple-A Gwinnett, where he's hitting .354 with a 1.013 OPS in 39 games. He has a chance to be a bona fide superstar three years from now.

    Third baseman Austin Riley could also be a middle-of-the-order run producer, and the middle infield of Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson still has huge upside.

    Then there's the deep stable of arms led by Kolby Allard, arguably the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, and right-hander Mike Soroka, who also boasts front-line upside.

    Luiz Gohara also has impressive stuff, and the trio of Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson and Joey Wentz also won't be far off by 2020.


    Biggest Negative: Catcher

    No offense, Alex Jackson.

    The Braves picked up the former No. 6 overall pick in the draft this past offseason in a change-of-scenery trade with the Seattle Mariners and moved him from the outfield back to his high school position of catcher.

    His offensive game has responded well as he has an .812 OPS with 20 doubles and 16 home runs between High-A and Double-A, but his receiving skills are still a work in progress.

    Considering how many young pitchers figure to be key members of the 2020 rotation, finding a veteran presence behind the plate to provide some needed leadership might be a necessity. 

6. Houston Astros (Previous: 6)

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    Carlos Correa
    Carlos CorreaSeth Wenig/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF George SpringerSP Lance McCullers Jr.
    2B Alex BregmanSP Francis Martes
    RF Kyle TuckerSP Forrest Whitley
    SS Carlos CorreaSP Franklin Perez
    1B Yuli GurrielSP David Paulino
    LF Derek FisherCL Ken Giles
    3B J.D. Davis 
    C Jake Rogers 
    DH Josh Reddick  

    Farm System Rank: 10

    Notable Free Agents

    DH Carlos Beltran (2018), SP Dallas Keuchel (2019), UT Marwin Gonzalez (2019), SP Charlie Morton (2019), C Evan Gattis (2019), 2B Jose Altuve (2020), C Brian McCann (2020), SP Collin McHugh (2020), SP Mike Fiers (2020), RP Will Harris (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Ample young superstar talent

    George Springer, Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. are All-Star-caliber players just entering their respective primes, and that should make the Houston Astros a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.

    Meanwhile, prospects like Kyle Tucker, Derek Fisher, Francis Martes, Forrest Whitley and Franklin Perez all have significant upside, and Alex Bregman is still just scratching the surface of his potential.

    Having so many young, cheap controllable players capable of performing at a high level is a recipe for success and will allow the team to be more calculated in the moves it makes on the free-agent market.


    Biggest Negative: Potentially losing Jose Altuve

    Jose Altuve is one of the best bargains in baseball with two years and $12.5 million left on his contract in the form of two team options.

    That price is going to skyrocket once he hits free agency for the first time at the age of 30.

    The Astros will do everything in their power to re-sign him and they have plenty of money to spend at the moment with so many pre-arbitration players on the roster.

    Guys like Correa, Springer and McCullers are going to get exponentially more expensive in the years to come, though, and the team may inevitably decide that a massive extension for Altuve is not in its best interest.

    Shifting Alex Bregman over to second base and slotting J.D. Davis or Colin Moran at the hot corner is not the worst alternative.

    However, losing the heart and soul of the team would still be a major blow.

5. Chicago White Sox (Previous: 22)

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    Michael Kopech
    Michael KopechRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    2B Yoan MoncadaSP Michael Kopech
    CF Luis RobertSP Lucas Giolito
    RF Eloy JimenezSP Carlos Rodon (L)
    3B Jake BurgerSP Dylan Cease
    C Zack CollinsSP Alec Hansen
    LF Blake RutherfordCL Carson Fulmer
    1B Casey Gillaspie 
    SS Tim Anderson 
    DH Nicky Delmonico 

    Farm System Rank: 1


    Notable Free Agents

    SP Miguel Gonzalez (2018), SP James Shields ($16 million club option in 2019), 1B Jose Abreu (2020), OF Avisail Garcia (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Pitching depth

    Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez might be the two most talked-about prospects in the Chicago White Sox's loaded farm system, but the real strength of that group is its pitching depth.

    Michael Kopech is the headliner and he might be the best pitching prospect in baseball right now, thanks to a triple-digits fastball and a devastating slider.

    After that, you have Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Alec Hansen, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer, Dane Dunning, Spencer Adams, Jordan Stephens, Jordan Guerrero, Ian Clarkin and A.J. Puckett all in the mix as potential rotation candidates.

    Lopez and Fulmer might eventually profile better in the bullpen and there will inevitably be injuries and stalled development in that group, but having 12 legitimate future rotation candidates along with incumbent starter Carlos Rodon puts the organization in an enviable spot.


    Biggest Negative: Veteran leadership

    The oldest player on that projected 2020 roster you see above is Nicky Delmonico.

    He's 25 years old.

    Say what you will about the value of team chemistry and locker room leadership, but that's something the team will need to take into account when it comes to building its next potential contender.

    Re-signing Jose Abreu is one very real possibility given the relationship he has with fellow Cuban imports Moncada and Luis Robert. This team will have plenty of money to spend, so making the right veteran additions will be key.

4. Boston Red Sox (Previous: 4)

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    Andrew Benintendi
    Andrew BenintendiCharles Krupa/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    2B Dustin PedroiaSP David Price (L)
    RF Mookie BettsSP Eduardo Rodriguez (L)
    LF Andrew BenintendiSP Jay Groome (L)
    3B Rafael DeversSP Michael Shawaryn
    DH Michael ChavisSP Roniel Raudes
    CF Jackie Bradley Jr.CL Tanner Houck
    1B Sam Travis 
    SS C.J. Chatham 
    C Christian Vazquez 

    Farm System Rank: 22


    Notable Free Agents

    RP Addison Reed (2018), RP Craig Kimbrel (2019), SP Drew Pomeranz (2019), RP Joe Kelly (2019), DH Hanley Ramirez ($22 million club option for 2019), SP Chris Sale (2020), SS Xander Bogaerts (2020), SP Rick Porcello (2020), UT Brock Holt (2020), RP Tyler Thornburg (2020)


    Biggest Positive: A stacked offense

    Even if Xander Bogaerts walks in free agency, this offense has a chance to be one of the best in baseball.

    Mookie Betts is already a superstar, and if their debuts are any indication, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi are not far behind.

    Prospect Michael Chavis and Sam Travis are both putting up impressive numbers in the upper levels of the minors, and Jackie Bradley Jr. has settled in as a steady contributor on both sides of the ball in center field.

    With that kind of firepower, the team can afford to go with the defensive-minded Christian Vazquez behind the plate and an unproven prospect like C.J. Chatham at shortstop and still have one of the league's best offenses.

    Extending Bogaerts would just be icing on the cake.


    Biggest Negative: An unproven starting rotation

    Beyond David Price, that's a whole lot of potential and little in the way of proven production as far as the projected starting rotation is concerned.

    Luckily, the Red Sox have the financial means to fill in the gaps.

    Re-upping with Chris Sale should be a top priority, and with the money saved by the departures of Hanley Ramirez and Rick Porcello along with Pablo Sandoval coming off the books, they'll be in good shape to make another Price-caliber signing.

    Let's not discount the potential of guys like Jay Groome and Eduardo Rodriguez going forward. It's just a risky proposition to rely on unproven young arms to lead the way for a contender, and until a major outside addition is made, we can't assume.

3. Chicago Cubs (Previous: 1)

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    Kris Bryant
    Kris BryantCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    LF Kyle SchwarberSP Jon Lester (L)
    3B Kris BryantSP Kyle Hendricks
    1B Anthony RizzoSP Jose Quintana (L)
    C Willson ContrerasSP Oscar De La Cruz
    CF Ian HappSP Mike Montgomery (L)
    2B Javier BaezCL Carl Edwards Jr.
    SS Addison Russell 
    RF Jason Heyward 

    Farm System Rank: 25


    Notable Free Agents

    SP Jake Arrieta (2018), RP Wade Davis (2018), SP John Lackey (2018), OF Jon Jay (2018), RP Hector Rondon (2019), 2B Ben Zobrist (2020), RP Pedro Strop (2020)


    Biggest Positive: A dynamic position-player core

    Projecting in-house talent with no outside additions over the next three seasons, the Chicago Cubs have far and away the best lineup on paper.

    He's not having the best season this year, but 23-year-old Addison Russell still has the tools to develop into a consistent 20-homer, 80-RBI threat at the shortstop position and he's batting seventh.

    Just how good that lineup can be will rely heavily on the continued progression of guys like Russell, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ.

    There's already an awful lot to like about the offensive core the defending champs have assembled, though.


    Biggest Negative: Starting pitching

    The addition of Jose Quintana helps here, but it still looks like the obvious area of concern.

    Jon Lester will be 36 in 2020, Oscar De La Cruz has yet to pitch above the High-A level, and Mike Montgomery might be best suited in his current swingman role.

    There's intriguing depth on the farm with Adbert Alzolay, Thomas Hatch, Trevor Clifton and 2017 first-round pick Alex Lange, who should move quickly.

    Still, it looks fairly obvious the team will need to make another outside addition to the rotation if they intend to let Jake Arrieta walk in free agency this winter.

    The Cubs have the financial resources and the stability on the position-player side to make pitching a priority.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous: 3)

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    Cody Bellinger
    Cody BellingerJae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    2B Chris TaylorSP Clayton Kershaw (L)
    RF Alex VerdugoSP Walker Buehler
    SS Corey SeagerSP Julio Urias (L)
    1B Cody BellingerSP Yadier Alvarez
    3B Justin TurnerSP Kenta Maeda
    LF Yusniel DiazCL Kenley Jansen
    CF Joc Pederson 
    C Will Smith 

    Farm System Rank: 12


    Notable Free Agents

    OF Andre Ethier ($17.5 million club option for 2018), C Yasmani Grandal (2019), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (2019), 2B Logan Forsythe (2019), SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (2019), SP Scott Kazmir (2019), SP Brandon McCarthy (2019), SP Alex Wood (2020), SP Rich Hill (2020), RF Yasiel Puig (2020)


    Biggest Positive: No glaring roster holes

    The Los Angeles Dodgers have as complete a roster as anyone when projecting their 2020 lineup and they'll also have a ton of money coming off the books in the coming seasons.

    Andre Ethier ($17.5 million) is gone this coming offseason, while Adrian Gonzalez ($22.357 million), Scott Kazmir ($17.67 million) and Brandon McCarthy ($11.5 million) are up after 2018. Rich Hill ($18.67 million) comes off following the 2019 season.

    That's a ton of payroll flexibility for a team that doesn't have any clear-cut weaknesses to address.


    Biggest Negative: Catcher

    If there's one potential area of concern, it's the catcher position.

    Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith are both solid prospects with starter upside, but developing catching prospects is a notoriously fickle pursuit.

    Extending Yasmani Grandal would be the obvious solution as he's still just 28 years old and well worth the money for his defensive skills alone.

    For now, shoring up the long-term situation behind the plate remains on the to-do list.

1. New York Yankees (Previous: 2)

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    Luis Severino
    Luis SeverinoJulie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Roster Outlook

    2020 Lineup2020 Pitching Staff 
    CF Estevan FlorialSP Luis Severino
    SS Gleyber TorresSP Chance Adams
    LF Clint FrazierSP Justus Sheffield (L)
    RF Aaron JudgeSP Domingo Acevedo
    C Gary SanchezSP Albert Abreu
    3B Miguel AndujarCL Aroldis Chapman (L)
    1B Greg Bird 
    2B Starlin Castro 
    DH Jacoby Ellsbury 

    Farm System Rank: 3


    Notable Free Agents

    SP Masahiro Tanaka (opt-out in 2018), SP Michael Pineda (2018), DH Matt Holliday (2018), 3B Todd Frazier (2018), SP CC Sabathia (2018), RP David Robertson (2019), 3B Chase Headley (2019), SP Sonny Gray (2020), RP Dellin Betances (2020), OF Aaron Hicks (2020), SS Didi Gregorius (2020), LF Brett Gardner (2020)


    Biggest Positive: Financial flexibility

    It's almost been accepted as a foregone conclusion that one of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado will be playing for the New York Yankees in 2019.

    With an influx of homegrown talent filling out the roster on the cheap, the notoriously free-spending Yankees will once again be in a position to shell out absurd amounts of money on the free-agent market.

    Landing a proven stud pitcher to front the rotation alongside emerging star Luis Severino and rounding out the lineup with one of those two superstars could legitimately cost north of $500 million.

    And the Yankees can legitimately afford that, putting them in the best position of any team looking ahead to 2020.


    Biggest Negative: The Jacoby Ellsbury contract

    It's legitimately difficult to find a negative when it comes to how the Yankees have positioned themselves for the 2020 season.

    If there's one nit to pick, it's the roughly $21 million that will be owed to Jacoby Ellsbury in the final year of his deal.

    The 33-year-old has already begun to see a reduced role this season and he could be the league's highest-paid fourth outfielder three years from now.

    However, there's always the possibility the Yankees will be compelled to try to get something for their money and give him more playing time than he deserves.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, while contract information comes via Spotrac.