The Best MLB Offseason Acquisition Every Team Can Still Make
Pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 13, and a trove of MLB free agents and potential trade targets remain on the board.
The realities of this slow-developing offseason market have been well-chronicled, but here's another truth: Players will eventually sign. Even if it means holding an all-free-agent spring camp, a possibility floated by Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, they will eventually sign.
Until they do, let's examine all 30 teams and assess the one acquisition they can and should still make. In some cases, it's filling an obvious hole with a premier player. In other cases, it's tinkering around the edges of the roster or adding depth to a rebuilding squad.
One important caveat: We're looking at realistic acquisitions based on the roster construction, budget and needs of each club, not pie-in-the-sky wish lists.
American League West
Houston Astros: LHP Kevin Siegrist
The defending champion Houston Astros are a pretty complete team, especially after acquiring right-hander Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates to bolster the rotation.
Houston could use more left-handed relief, however. Currently, the 'Stros are relying on 34-year-old Tony Sipp (5.79 ERA in 2017) and converted outfielder Anthony Gose.
Kevin Siegrist isn't a household name, but the 28-year-old has posted a 3.04 ERA with 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings over five big league seasons and has postseason experience in two different go-rounds with the St. Louis Cardinals.
In a thinning bullpen market, he's a solid—if unheralded—option.
Los Angeles Angels: OF Ben Revere
The Los Angeles Angels' starting outfield is set from left to right with Justin Upton, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun. After that, the depth chart takes a precipitous dive.
Jefry Marte and his .224 career average is the next best thing on the 40-man roster. For a team in win-now mode trying to get the game's best player (Trout) back to the playoffs, that simply won't do.
The Halos need a legitimate fourth outfielder. They can get one by reuniting with 29-year-old free agent Ben Revere, who hit .275 with 21 stolen bases last season for Los Angeles.
Oakland Athletics: C J.T. Realmuto
The Oakland Athletics could use a catcher. Their best option at present is Bruce Maxwell, who hit .237 in 76 games last season and was arrested in mid-November on gun charges.
The Miami Marlins are in the midst of a fire sale and have already jettisoned outfielders Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. It's not a stretch to assume catcher J.T. Realmuto—who's under team control through 2020 and slashed .278/.332/.451 with 17 home runs last season—will be the next to go.
Realmuto would cost the A's a couple of prospects from the top tier of their farm system, such as outfielder Dustin Fowler or infielder Jorge Mateo. Given Realmuto's controllability and premium position, it's a price that executive Billy Beane and company should be prepared to pay.
Seattle Mariners: RHP Lance Lynn
After using 17 starting pitchers in 2017, the Seattle Mariners need to boost their injury-riddled, underperforming rotation.
Aces Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish remain unsigned, but both will command years and dollars that may be too steep for Seattle.
Instead, the M's could target right-hander Lance Lynn, who returned from Tommy John surgery to post a 3.43 ERA in 186.1 innings for the Cardinals last season. The 30-year-old would provide needed depth in the starting five as the Mariners try to bust their 16-year postseason drought.
Texas Rangers: RHP Jake Arrieta
The Texas Rangers watched the in-state rival Astros blow past them in 2017.
If the gang from Arlington hopes to regroup, it needs a big gun. Enter Arrieta, who would join left-hander Cole Hamels to form a notable, if imperfect, top of the rotation.
After winning the National League Cy Young Award in 2015, Arrieta's ERA has climbed and his velocity has dipped in each of the two subsequent seasons. He turns 32 in March. Any deal in excess of four years will come with significant risk, particularly on the back end.
That said, Arrieta lowered his ERA from 4.35 before the All-Star break to 2.28 after it last season, and he posted a 0.84 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 10.1 innings in two postseason starts for the Chicago Cubs.
He went to high school in Plano, Texas. The Rangers could offer him a homecoming of sorts and a chance to get them back on the Lone Star map.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: LHP Ian Krol
The Chicago White Sox have already added some pieces to their bullpen, including veterans Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan and Miguel Gonzalez.
Another big trade or free-agent splash is unlikely, but Chicago could take a flier on 26-year-old Ian Krol. The lefty posted an unsightly 5.33 ERA last season with the Atlanta Braves, but put up a 3.18 mark in 51 innings in 2016 while averaging 9.9 strikeouts per nine.
He could likely be had on a low-risk deal while offering notable upside for the burgeoning White Sox.
Cleveland Indians: OF Cameron Maybin
The Cleveland Indians lost outfielder Jay Bruce, a 2017 trade-deadline acquisition, to free agency. Two-time All-Star Michael Brantley is coming off major ankle surgery. Lonnie Chisenhall and Bradley Zimmer are fine complementary pieces but they aren't stars.
The Tribe should win the weak AL Central even without further additions, but outfield is an area where Cleveland could improve.
Free agent Cameron Maybin wouldn't break the bank after hitting a scant .228 last season, but the 30-year-old owns a respectable .255/.321/.372 lifetime slash line and can capably play all three outfield positions.
Detroit Tigers: INF Darwin Barney
No, this isn't a sexy move. Get used to it, Detroit Tigers fans. You're entering the initial, painful stages of an overdue rebuild.
That said, Darwin Barney would provide middle infield depth for the Tigers behind Dixon Machado and Jose Iglesias. He's logged big league innings at second base, third base and shortstop and was worth 1.5 fWAR as recently as 2016.
Will the 32-year-old jolt Detroit back into contention? No. Is he worth a low-cost look? Absolutely.
Kansas City Royals: 1B Eric Hosmer
This is a tough one. On the one hand, the Kansas City Royals are due for an overhaul if not an outright rebuild. Handing huge years and dollars to anyone, even a franchise icon, is a tough sell.
Yet the Royals recently made a trade that sent first baseman/designated hitter Brandon Moss and left-hander Ryan Buchter to Oakland to clear salary space for a pursuit of Hosmer, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
It makes some sense. Hosmer is young enough (28) to assume he's got a lot left in the tank. He's a noted clubhouse leader. And he's a beloved figure in K.C. If the Royals are going to splurge, this is where they should do it.
Minnesota Twins: RHP Alex Cobb
The Minnesota Twins buttressed their bullpen by inking Addison Reed to a two-year, $17 million deal. The rotation, which posted a 4.73 ERA last season, is a muddled mix of youngsters and question marks after right-hander Ervin Santana.
If the Twinkies are serious about building on last season's wild-card berth, they need an impact starter.
Minnesota is reportedly willing to offer five years to Darvish, per MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. A better and more realistic target for the Twins might be right-hander Alex Cobb.
The 30-year-old posted a 3.66 ERA in 179.1 innings in his first full season back from Tommy John. He'd come for fewer years and dollars than Darvish but form a solid one-two punch with Santana.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: RHP Andrew Cashner
For better or (spoiler alert) worse, the Baltimore Orioles have opted to keep superstar Manny Machado and make one more postseason run before their franchise building block hits free agency.
If the O's are going to have a prayer in the top-heavy AL East, they'll need to improve a starting rotation that ranked last in the game with a ghastly 5.70 ERA.
Guys like Arrieta and Darvish are too rich for Baltimore's blood. Andrew Cashner, who posted a 3.60 ERA with Texas last season and isn't over the hill at age 31, is an affordable alternative.
Boston Red Sox: OF J.D. Martinez
Sam and Diane. Ross and Rachel. Jim and Pam. The Boston Red Sox and J.D. Martinez. Some relationships are inevitable, even if they drag out for a long, long time.
OK, the Red Sox aren't destined to sign Martinez. They are, however, the best fit for the slugging outfielder. Boston won the AL East in 2017 despite finishing last in the Junior Circuit in home runs. Martinez crushed 45 home runs between the Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Red Sox would have to make room for Martinez by either trading an outfielder or bumping aging/underperforming Hanley Ramirez from designated hitter duties. They'd also have to write a big ol' check.
With the archrival New York Yankees breathing down their neck, they don't have much choice.
New York Yankees: 3B Todd Frazier
The Yankees made their massive move when they acquired NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton from Miami. They also reupped veteran southpaw CC Sabathia to fill out the rotation.
They've got questions in the infield, however, after trading second baseman Starlin Castro and third baseman Chase Headley.
One of those spots will go to top prospect Gleyber Torres, who is ready to join the Yanks' budding-star revolution. The other could go to Todd Frazier, a New Jersey boy who brought dingers and a veteran presence to the Bronx after a deadline swap from the White Sox last season.
Tampa Bay Rays: 1B Logan Morrison
The murky market is bad for players seeking lucrative paydays, but it's good for small-market teams. That includes the Rays, who now have a shot at re-signing first baseman Logan Morrison.
Morrison had a career year last season with Tampa Bay, cracking 38 homers with an .868 OPS. He remains unsigned, however, and might be available at a rate the budget-conscious Rays can afford.
If so, they should snap him up and hope for a repeat of 2017.
Toronto Blue Jays: LHP Jaime Garcia
Like Baltimore, the Toronto Blue Jays opted not to trade their franchise infielder (third baseman Josh Donaldson) and are hoping to push back to the playoffs after finishing 10 games below .500 last season.
The most realistic and pressing hole they need to fill is at the back end of the rotation.
Left-hander Jaime Garcia won't single-handedly get the Jays back on the October stage, but the 31-year-old would join Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, and Marco Estrada to form a deep starting five.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks: OF Carlos Gonzalez
Assuming J.D. Martinez walks into the arms of another suitor, the Diamondbacks could fill the outfield power void with a less expensive but still intriguing free agent.
Carlos Gonzalez is coming off a terrible campaign in which he posted full-season career lows in average (.262) and OPS (.762) and put up minus-three defensive runs saved in right field for the Colorado Rockies.
He's also a three-time All-Star and rebounded to post a .921 OPS in the second half. Like Colorado, the D-backs play their home games in a hitter-friendly yard. A show-me contract could be great for Gonzalez as he tries to rebuild his value and for Arizona, as it tries to challenge the Los Angeles Dodgers for NL West supremacy.
Colorado Rockies: 1B Mark Reynolds
The Rockies have aggressively stocked their bullpen with a series of moves, including signing closer Wade Davis to a three-year, $52 million contract.
Now, they need help at first base.
Rookie Ryan McMahon is interesting but untested. Ian Desmond is better suited for the outfield. Then there's Mark Reynolds, who smacked 30 home runs last season for Colorado and would provide a veteran right-handed complement to McMahon's left-handed bat.
The 34-year-old Reynolds won't come at a Mile High cost, but he'll bring value for the Rocks as they angle for another playoff push.
Los Angeles Dodgers: OF Jarrod Dyson
Some will balk at this. Isn't the Dodgers outfield crowded enough as it is?
Not exactly. The defending NL champs have depth but few sure things. Chris Taylor was a breakout performer in 2017, but the 27-year-old's track record is thin. Yasiel Puig re-emerged, but the mercurial right fielder is always a danger to go haywire.
Joc Pederson has pop, but he took a step back last season as he hit .212 with 11 homers. After that, it's a mild stew of unproven youngsters (Trayce Thompson, Alex Verdugo), journeymen (Kike Hernandez, Andrew Toles) and declining vets (Matt Kemp).
Redundant as it seems, the Dodgers could bring in speedy free agent Jarrod Dyson to add defense and stolen-base capability. No, it isn't the type of seismic signing to which L.A. fans have grown accustomed, but it would solidify one of the few possible weaknesses on a deep Dodgers roster.
San Diego Padres: LHP Wade Miley
Hopefully the San Diego Padres will accept their status as a rebuilding team that's at least a few years away from contention and avoid a persistently rumored investment in Hosmer.
Instead, San Diego should look to acquire an inexpensive innings-eater such as 31-year-old left-hander Wade Miley.
Miley hasn't posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2013, but he's a known commodity that will add utility in the starting rotation without heavily denting the Friars' payroll.
San Francisco Giants: RHP Bud Norris
The San Francisco Giants have made multiple moves to improve a team that lost 98 games in 2017, including trading for third baseman Evan Longoria and outfielder Andrew McCutchen and signing outfielder Austin Jackson.
The Giants are also bumping up against the luxury tax and unlikely to make any more major additions.
They have uncertainty at the back of the rotation, however, after the trio of Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. And the bullpen is far from settled.
Bud Norris, who posted a 4.21 ERA in 62 innings last season for the Angels, might be willing to accept a smaller deal for a chance to build his value as a reliever/spot starter at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: RHP Yu Darvish
To be clear: The Chicago Cubs aren't simply trying to win the NL Central. They're trying to surpass the Dodgers and Astros and regain their status as alpha dogs of MLB.
Assuming Arrieta and veteran John Lackey leave via free agency, they need to add starting pitching.
Signing Tyler Chatwood was a fine first salvo, but now the Cubbies need to go big and ink Darvish. Forget his struggles in the World Series with L.A. The Japanese right-hander is unquestionably a stud who would join Jon Lester and Jose Quintana to form a fearsome top three.
Open the wallet, Cubs, and make it happen.
Cincinnati Reds: LHP Hector Santiago
The rebuilding Cincinnati Reds aren't going to throw open the vault for a name-brand free agent. They'd benefit from depth in their starting rotation, however, and could find it in the form of left-hander Hector Santiago.
The 30-year-old wobbled with the Twins and Angels in 2016 and 2017 but was an All-Star in 2015 with the Halos. At the least, he would provide a cushion for Cincinnati alongside the trio of Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan and Luis Castillo.
Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Chris Archer
The Milwaukee Brewers have remade their outfield with the acquisition of Christian Yelich from the Marlins and the signing of Lorenzo Cain.
Now, the Brew Crew has a glut of outfielders and a glaring need in the starting rotation.
The Brewers could peruse the free-agent shelves, but they'd be better off dealing from their surplus. Like, say, shipping some combination of Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips to the Rays for ace Chris Archer.
All three are pre-arbitration-eligible and now blocked by Milwaukee's recent moves. Archer is an ace-level talent who would instantly make the Brewers a legitimate contender.
Milwaukee would have to sweeten the deal with more MiLB pieces as Archer is inked through 2021 with a pair of affordable team options, but it would be worth it for both sides.
Pittsburgh Pirates: OF Ichiro Suzuki
The Pittsburgh Pirates have jettisoned their ace (Gerrit Cole) and the face of the franchise (Andrew McCutchen). A Change.org petition calling on principal owner Bob Nutting to sell the team had gathered more than 59,000 signatures as of this writing.
Here's a novel idea: distract the understandably distraught masses by signing future National Baseball Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki.
The 44-year-old would add depth to an outfield that's counting on the eventual arrival of injury-prone prospect Austin Meadows, and he'd give Bucs fans a consolation prize. If you're going to watch a torn-down former contender slink toward last place, at least you can enjoy the late-career exploits of one of the game's most legendary figures.
St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Greg Holland
The St. Louis Cardinals already augmented their bullpen by signing Luke Gregerson. Now, as they look to keep pace with Milwaukee and Chicago atop the division, they should make a play for closer Greg Holland.
Holland had a strong Tommy John comeback in 2017, notching 41 saves and averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings for the Rockies.
He won't come cheap, but he'd anchor the Cards bullpen and help them ascend toward the Senior Circuit's top tier.
National League East
Atlanta Braves: 3B Mike Moustakas
The Atlanta Braves have a hole at third base. They could cross their fingers for a breakout from 24-year-old Johan Camargo, and he might pay off.
Or they could sign Mike Moustakas, a two-time All-Star who hit 38 home runs last season for Kansas City and would bring a veteran presence and playoff-tested credentials to the emerging Braves.
Whether a deal happens will depend on Moustakas' asking price, though with each day the offseason grinds on, the odds of the 29-year-old accepting a less robust offer increase.
Miami Marlins: OF Peter Bourjos
The Marlins traded their entire starting outfield and are intent on slashing payroll to the bone. Still, they'll need enough players to complete a 162-game season in 2018.
Peter Bourjos hit .223 last season for the Tampa Bay Rays, but the 30-year-old possesses plus defensive tools, can patrol all three outfield positions and won't cost much, which is the primary consideration these days in South Beach.
New York Mets: INF Eduardo Nunez
Even after bringing back Jose Reyes, the New York Mets could use some coverage in the infield.
They're hoping for big things from youngster Amed Rosario. Erstwhile captain David Wright may be done, however, and veterans Asdrubal Cabrera and especially Adrian Gonzalez are iffy on the corners.
Yes, New York may require insurance in its injury-plagued rotation and might need another bullpen arm. But speedy, versatile Eduardo Nunez (.313 AVG., .801 OPS, 24 SB in 2017) would be able to log innings at multiple infield positions and the outfield in a pinch.
Philadelphia Phillies: INF Erick Aybar
The Philadelphia Phillies have cash to spend and already made a significant signing when they inked first baseman Carlos Santana for three years and $60 million. They could make a surprise push for Arrieta, Darvish or another major name.
More likely, the Phils will use 2018 to evaluate the young, emerging players already on their roster and those marinating in the minor leagues. That said, they're thin in the middle infield behind untested shortstop J.P. Crawford and second baseman Cesar Hernandez.
Erick Aybar is three seasons removed from his All-Star campaign, but the 34-year-old has some pop and versatility and would suit the Phillies' stopgap needs.
Washington Nationals: C Jonathan Lucroy
The Washington Nationals have won four of the last six NL East titles but have never advanced past the division series. Bryce Harper may walk via free agency this winter. It's full-throttle, win-now time in D.C.
The Nats are set at most positions but have concerns behind the dish, where Matt Wieters slashed .225/.288/.344. Wieters is back after exercising his $10.5 million player option, but the Nats could complement him with veteran Jonathan Lucroy.
Lucroy rebuilt his offensive value last season after a deadline trade from the Rangers to the Rockies and is a formerly elite receiver whose pitch-framing skills eroded significantly, per StatCorner.
He'd be a roll of the dice, but he'd also add reassuring depth for Washington.