1 Impact Offseason Move All 30 MLB Teams Will Make This Winter
The month of November tends to be the calm before the storm when it comes to the MLB offseason. Things will kick into gear at the annual winter meetings, which begin Dec. 10 in Orlando, Florida.
In the meantime, we've taken a crack at nailing down what the biggest offseason move will be for all 30 MLB teams.
That could mean a major free-agent signing, a blockbuster trade acquisition, a major trade chip being moved for prospects or even a lucrative extension for an in-house player.
The goal here was to project what one move, once the dust settles and spring training arrives, will be the most impactful for each club.
Baltimore Orioles: Trade RP Zach Britton
The starting rotation needs to add at least two—and perhaps three—capable arms, and there's a viable in-house replacement to fill the closer's role in Brad Brach.
Flipping Britton in a thin market for proven late-inning arms and lefties would net a significant return, even after he missed time last season with a forearm strain. It sounds like the front office is going to shop in the bargain aisle when it comes to addressing the rotation, and a Britton trade would rank as the most impactful move of the winter.
Boston Red Sox: Sign 1B Carlos Santana
The Red Sox had the most potent offense in baseball during the 2016 season, leading the majors in runs per game (5.4) and finishing ninth in home runs (208). But those numbers fell precipitously this past season as they dropped to 10th in runs per game (4.8) and 27th in home runs (168).
Signing a big bat at first base seems like the obvious way to add some thump with Mitch Moreland departing in free agency.
The switch-hitting Santana has legitimate 30-homer power, a .365 career on-base percentage, strong career numbers at Fenway Park (.827 OPS, 5 HR), and he should come cheaper than Eric Hosmer—who has never topped 25 home runs in a season.
New York Yankees: Sign SP/DH Shohei Otani
It's far from a foregone conclusion that Otani will sign with the Yankees, but they're a popular pick as the early favorites to land the Japanese star.
The dynamic two-way standout would give the Yankees a 23-year-old with legitimate ace potential to lead the rotation into the future and a legitimate power bat to deploy as they see fit between starts.
He'd also be a marketing dream in the Big Apple, and the money he'd make in endorsements would go a long way toward offsetting his limited earning potential as a result of international free-agency restrictions.
Then again, a murky posting situation could throw a wrench into his stateside transition.
Tampa Bay Rays: Trade SP Jake Odorizzi
It's going to take a King's ransom to pry Chris Archer away from the Rays and rightfully so. The four years and $30.25 million remaining on his contract make him one of the most valuable assets in the game.
A deal to acquire Odorizzi might come a bit easier.
The 27-year-old has gone 40-36 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.22 WHIP while averaging 30 starts and 167 innings over the past four seasons since becoming a full-time member of the Tampa Bay rotation.
He's under team control for two more seasons, and his salary is set to jump from $4.1 million to a projected $6.5 million in arbitration. Moving him would free up some salary, bring back a decent prospect return and open up a rotation spot for the impending arrival of Brent Honeywell.
Toronto Blue Jays: Extend SP Marcus Stroman
A popular breakout candidate in 2016, Stroman delivered what many expected and emerged as a front-line starter. It just took an extra year.
The 26-year-old went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA while topping 200 innings for a second consecutive season—putting to rest any lingering questions about whether his 5'8" frame would hold up over a starter's workload.
Stroman earned $3.4 million this season, and that's projected to jump to $7.2 million in his second year of arbitration. While it's unclear what direction the Blue Jays are headed in the years to come, locking up Stroman should be a priority.
Buying out his final three years of arbitration and a year or two of free agency would be a great move.
Chicago White Sox: Sign SP Clay Buchholz
The White Sox took a chance on bounce-back candidate Derek Holland last offseason to fill out the rotation, and a similar signing or two this winter figures to be on the to-do list.
Buchholz made just two starts last season with the Philadelphia Phillies before undergoing forearm surgery, but that didn't stop him from making his mark on the young staff.
"I tried to be a sponge with it and share the wealth with the younger guys that don't really have a feel for what's going on and how and why," Buchholz told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. "I've gotten to know a lot of guys in here, being able to talk from my point of view. I've been as good as you can be, and I've been as bad as you can be in this game."
He sounds like a great fit for a White Sox team that will be leaning heavily on young arms in 2018.
Cleveland Indians: Re-sign OF Jay Bruce
Whether it's as a replacement for Carlos Santana at first base or as insurance for the oft-injured Michael Brantley in the outfield, bringing back Bruce looks like a good move for the Indians.
The 30-year-old posted an .808 OPS with seven home runs and 26 RBI in 43 games with the Tribe, and he finished the 2017 season with 36 home runs and 101 RBI.
Given the current market for fairly one-dimensional power bats, a three-year deal in the $45 million range seems reasonable, and that should be in the price range of an Indians team looking to win now.
Detroit Tigers: Trade RP Shane Greene
What's left for the Tigers to trade?
Controllable starter Michael Fulmer is going to carry a steep asking price, and veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler has a partial no-trade clause. Glove-first shortstop Jose Iglesias is a year removed from free agency, but he's not all that different from free agent Alcides Escobar.
All of that might make reliever Shane Greene the team's most likely trade chip.
The 28-year-old posted a 2.66 ERA and 9.7 K/9 with nine saves and 14 holds in 71 appearances in his first full season in the bullpen. He's under team control through 2020 and carries a team-friendly $1.7 million projected salary for the upcoming season, which should be enough to bring back a couple of quality prospects.
Kansas City Royals: Re-sign 1B Eric Hosmer
Hosmer might not be a true superstar, but the fact that he just turned 28 in October makes him one of the most attractive free agents on the market and a strong candidate for a six-year deal well north of $100 million.
The Royals are well aware that he won't come cheap, yet it sounds like they're ready to make a strong push to retain the homegrown slugger, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
Whether it makes sense for a team that's headed for a rebuild to throw a nine-figure deal at a first baseman isn't the argument here, and a reunion with the Royals still looks like a real possibility.
Minnesota Twins: Sign RP Steve Cishek
While Brandon Kintzler and Matt Belisle did an admirable job holding down the closer's role for the Twins, both pitchers are now gone, and they'll undoubtedly be looking for a more traditional ninth-inning arm.
Breaking the bank for Wade Davis or Addison Reed doesn't make much sense as they continue to build for the future, but a buy-low deal for former Marlins closer Steve Cishek looks like a good fit.
The 31-year-old was quietly brilliant after joining the Rays just before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, posting a 1.09 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 9.5 K/9 in 26 appearances.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts a two-year, $14 million deal. If that is in fact Cishek's price tag, the Twins should jump at the chance to add a pitcher with 121 career saves who finished last season on a high note.
Houston Astros: Acquire RP Brad Hand
The Astros don't have a ton of needs to address, but finding a quality lefty to add to the relief corps figures to be at or near the top of the to-do list.
Tony Sipp (46 G, 5.79 ERA) and Reymin Guduan (22 G, 7.88 ERA) are the only southpaw relievers on the 40-man roster.
After signing Sipp to an ill-advised three-year, $18 million extension, the front office might prefer making a play for Brad Hand and his two cost-controlled years of arbitration. The alternative would be shelling out another big free-agency deal for Mike Minor, Jake McGee or Tony Watson.
I explored what a potential Hand-to-Houston trade might look like earlier this week.
Los Angeles Angels: Sign 3B Mike Moustakas
Third base (.724 OPS, tied for 22nd in MLB) and left-handed hitting (.689 OPS, 30th in MLB) were both major weaknesses for the Angels this past season.
Moustakas could kill two birds with one stone.
The 29-year-old slugged a franchise-record 38 home runs for the Royals, and while his on-base skills are lacking (.314 OBP, 5.7 BB%), he'd still be a huge upgrade at the hot corner thanks to his run production ability.
A five-year, $85 million deal like the one that MLB Trade Rumors predicted wouldn't break the bank, and his age means the team would be paying for mostly prime production.
Oakland Athletics: Trade SP Sean Manaea
The A's are committed to the idea of a "major rebuild," per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, and that could mean more wheeling and dealing this offseason after the team moved Sonny Gray and others over the summer.
Khris Davis, Kendall Graveman, Blake Treinen, Liam Hendriks, Jed Lowrie and Matt Joyce are all potential trade candidates, but the most valuable chip on the roster is left-hander Sean Manaea.
The 25-year-old has legitimate front-line starter upside, and he's under team control through the 2022 season.
He won't even be arbitration-eligible until next offseason, and flipping him now in a thin market for starting pitching might be the best way to maximize his value.
Seattle Mariners: Sign SP Yu Darvish
The Mariners used 17 different starting pitchers in 2017, and they have two open spots to fill in the rotation behind James Paxton, Felix Hernandez and Mike Leake.
A strong early push to sign Darvish would fill one of those spots with a top-tier starter and could also help the team's pursuit of Japanese star Shohei Otani.
Otani and Darvish are friends and offseason workout partners, so the idea of their being a package deal this offseason is not out of the realm of possibility.
Even if signing Darvish doesn't also bring Otani aboard, he could be a big enough addition for the team to finally snap a playoff drought that stretches back to 2001.
Texas Rangers: Sign CF Lorenzo Cain
Shoring up the starting rotation with at least a couple of new faces and/or a new contract for Andrew Cashner will be the top priority for the Rangers this offseason.
However, the most impactful addition could come in the outfield.
Signing Cain to play center field, shifting Delino DeShields Jr. (7 DRS, 11.5 UZR/150) to left field and using Shin-Soo Choo (-6 DRS, -15.4 UZR/150) as the full-time designated hitter would improve the outfield defensive twofold.
Cain's .363 on-base percentage would also be a welcome addition to a lineup that finished tied for 18th in the majors in on-base percentage (.320) this past season.
Atlanta Braves: Sign 3B Todd Frazier
Third base is an obvious area for the Braves to address this winter.
Adonis Garcia, Rio Ruiz and Johan Camargo saw the bulk of the playing time at the hot corner last season, and the position produced a combined .244/.297/.358 line for a .655 OPS that ranked 29th in the majors.
Frazier would provide a terrific veteran presence in a young locker room, and he could turn out to be a steal if the three-year, $33 million contract that MLB Trade Rumors is predicting for him comes to fruition.
He still provides 30-homer power, strong on-base skills and Gold Glove-caliber defense, even if his batting average has bottomed out in recent seasons.
Miami Marlins: Trade RF Giancarlo Stanton
If the Marlins' new ownership group is serious about trimming the team's payroll to $90 million, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, trading Stanton will be a top priority this winter.
The 28-year-old is set to earn $25 million in 2018, and he's owed a whopping $270 million over the next 10 seasons.
Assuming the Marlins would prefer not to eat any of that money—trading him would be a cost-cutting measure above all else—they might have to settle for a less than overwhelming return.
Still, moving him would represent a massive shift in direction for a team that's been somewhat aimless since opening their new stadium in 2012.
New York Mets: Sign IF Eduardo Nunez
The Mets can't count on anything from David Wright at this point, so signing someone from the free-agent trio of Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier and Eduardo Nunez to man the hot corner looks like a good move.
Nunez backed up a breakout 2016 season by hitting .313/.341/.460 with 33 doubles, 12 home runs and 24 stolen bases, and he did it while lining up all over the diamond defensively.
His versatility means the Mets wouldn't be pigeonholed into using him as the everyday third baseman if Wright does return, and he'd fit well at the top of a lineup that's lacking a true leadoff hitter.
Philadelphia Phillies: Sign SP Jake Arrieta
It's time for the Phillies to use some of their payroll flexibility to make a splash on the free-agent market, and adding a proven top-tier starter to anchor the rotation alongside Aaron Nola would be the best way to do it.
The 31-year-old has already been a part of one successful rebuild with the Cubs, and his experience through the highs and lows on the North Side would make him an equally valuable addition to the clubhouse.
Washington Nationals: Sign RP Mike Minor
The Nationals bullpen went from a liability to a legitimate strength after Washington added Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler at the non-waiver deadline.
However, Kintzler is set to depart in free agency, and Oliver Perez, Matt Albers and Joe Blanton will be joining him. So adding a few relief arms will be a priority.
Enny Romero and Matt Grace give the team a pair of lefties to help support Doolittle—the presumptive closer—though neither is that shutdown guy you want taking the ball with Freddie Freeman digging into the box in a tight game.
Minor was that guy for the Royals in his first season as a reliever, posting a 2.55 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 in 65 appearances.
Chicago Cubs: Re-sign RP Wade Davis
The Cubs have at least one spot to address in the starting rotation, and adding Alex Cobb looks like a real possibility.
However, the more impactful move will still be what they decide to do with the closer's role.
The bullpen was a complete disaster in the postseason, and potential closer candidate Carl Edwards Jr. was one of the biggest culprits.
It will cost something in the neighborhood of the four-year, $62 million deal that Mark Melancon signed with the San Francisco Giants last winter to bring back Davis, but unless the front office has something else up its sleeve on the trade market, it's a necessity.
Cincinnati Reds: Re-sign SS Zack Cozart
Unless the Reds decide to shop closer Raisel Iglesias—who would bring a huge return thanks to his team-friendly contract and stellar 2017 performance—don't expect any needle-moving trades.
Instead, the most impactful transaction could be a reunion with Cozart.
Despite those stellar numbers, it's hard to find him a better fit than the Reds.
The Royals and San Diego Padres have glaring needs at shortstop but likely won't want to spend the money, and no other team has a clear hole at the position.
Milwaukee Brewers: Sign SP Lance Lynn
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote in October that the Brewers have the financial flexibility to be bigger players than usual on the free-agent and trade markets.
Adding a proven starter to a young rotation that benefited from the emergence of guys such as Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson and Zach Davies could help the club take that next step forward. MLB Trade Rumors even predicted they could be the landing spot for Arrieta.
Another NL Central staple might be a more fiscally responsible addition, though.
Lynn is a quality middle-of-the-rotation arm capable of eating up innings who would also bring some welcome postseason experience to the young roster. The 30-year-old is also 6-2 with a 2.37 ERA in nine career starts at Miller Park.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Sign SP Tyler Chatwood
Who will be this year's pet project for pitching coach Ray Searage?
The 27-year-old also has age on his side, and even after going 8-15 with a 4.69 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 2017, he figures to have plenty of suitors hoping to unlock his potential.
If the Pirates are serious about contending again in 2018 and not headed for a rebuild, he looks like the perfect target.
St. Louis Cardinals: Sign RP Addison Reed
It sounds like the Cardinals are ready to open their checkbooks to shore up the back of the bullpen, as general manager Michael Girsch told reporters:
"Certainly we will evaluate the brand-name closers in the market and see what that market looks like and see if there is a fit. Ideally, you don't pay retail for closers if you can avoid it, and we've been lucky for the last long period of not having to dip into that end of the market. But we don't have an heir apparent at the moment, so we will have to evaluate what our options are."
If they're unable to pry Davis away from the rival Cubs, Reed might be the preferred Plan B over fellow free agent Greg Holland—who struggled down the stretch and comes with some injury concerns.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Re-sign RF J.D. Martinez
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, early reports have agent Scott Boras seeking a deal in the $200 million range for Martinez.
That's probably wishful thinking given his injury history, but after he posted a 1.066 OPS with 45 home runs and 104 RBI, there's no doubt he's the top bat on the market and the six-year, $150 million deal that MLB Trade Rumors predicted is not out of the question.
The 30-year-old immediately transformed the D-backs offense after joining them in a July trade, and with the team's window of contention wide-open, bringing him back gives Arizona the best chance to make a run at a title.
Colorado Rockies: Re-sign C Jonathan Lucroy
A down season offensively took a bite out of Lucroy's earning potential, but he's still the top catcher on the market this winter.
The 31-year-old put up an .865 OPS with 11 extra-base hits in 46 games after joining the Rockies at the non-waiver deadline, and his ability to handle a staff could be instrumental in the development of the team's young arms.
"[Lucroy] has credibility—two-time All-Star, good blocker of the ball, good receiver, knows the National League being in Milwaukee all those years," manager Bud Black told Thomas Harding of MLB.com.
Deciding how to address the bullpen will be important, but Lucroy's impact on the staff as a whole could be greater.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Acquire RF Giancarlo Stanton
Until another team makes a strong push forward, the Dodgers have to be considered the favorites to land Stanton.
They have more than $40 million coming off the books, so his $25 million salary won't be an issue in 2018. And the win-now mentality should be stronger than ever after Los Angeles came one win away from a World Series title.
The team has a hole to fill at the corner outfield spot opposite Yasiel Puig, plenty of assets to swing a deal and the financial flexibility to take on the entirety of his remaining contract—something no other team may be willing to do.
A lineup of Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, Stanton, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Puig, Logan Forsythe and Austin Barnes would be awfully scary.
San Diego Padres: Sign SP Chris Tillman
The Padres cobbled together a starting rotation last offseason by signing Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, Trevor Cahill and Jered Weaver to one-year deals that totaled just $8.25 million.
It's unlikely they'll take a markedly different approach this offseason, and Tillman represents one of the more intriguing bounce-back candidates on the market.
The 29-year-old went 56-30 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.28 WHIP while averaging 32 starts and 189.6 innings in the four seasons leading up to 2017 before his ERA spiked to 7.84 in an injury-plagued campaign.
A one-year turn at pitcher-friendly Petco Park could be the ticket to rebuilding his value.
San Francisco Giants: Sign OF Carlos Gonzalez
If the Giants whiff on trading for Stanton and signing Martinez, where does that leave them in their pursuit of a power bat and corner outfielder?
Jay Bruce, Carlos Gomez, Curtis Granderson and Jose Bautista could emerge as targets, but rolling the dice on CarGo would provide them with the most potential bang for their buck.
His 2015 (116 OPS+, 40 HR, 97 RBI) and 2016 (111 OPS+, 25 HR, 100 RBI) seasons were terrific, though, and he could be looking for a one-year prove-it deal, which would be a low-risk, high-reward fallback plan for the Giants.