Projecting Each MLB Team's Starting Lineup 1 Month from Spring Training

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2019

Projecting Each MLB Team's Starting Lineup 1 Month from Spring Training

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    We're about a month away from spring training, which means it's time to start talking actual baseball.

    Multiple impact players remain on the free-agent market. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado et al will eventually sign and shift the MLB landscape.

    But if the season started today, what would each team's starting lineup look like? That's the question we'll attempt to answer, setting unsigned players aside.

    Feel free to insert your free agent (or agents) of choice.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    LF David Peralta

    2B Ketel Marte

    1B Jake Lamb

    RF Steven Souza Jr.

    3B Eduardo Escobar

    SS Nick Ahmed

    C Alex Avila

    CF Jarrod Dyson

    Pitcher

       

    The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals in a trade, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup. They don't have anyone who can fill said hole, which means their offense will be suspect.

    That said, they've got a nice balance of power and speed up and down the lineup. If Steven Souza Jr. and Jake Lamb rebound from injury-shortened years, the Snakes could get enough production to be a sneaky contender in the National League West.

Atlanta Braves

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    LF Ronald Acuna Jr.

    2B Ozzie Albies

    1B Freddie Freeman

    3B Josh Donaldson

    CF Ender Inciarte

    RF Adam Duvall

    SS Dansby Swanson

    C Tyler Flowers

    Pitcher

       

    The Atlanta Braves rolled the dice by handing third baseman Josh Donaldson a one-year, $23 million contract. If it works out, he'll be a veteran anchor for a youthful lineup.

    If it doesn't, he'll be an expensive 33-year-old albatross on an otherwise up-and-coming team.

    Either way, the defending National League East champs can look toward the future with optimism as long as they employ burgeoning superstars such as Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    RF Trey Mancini

    SS Jonathan Villar

    1B Chris Davis

    DH Mark Trumbo

    3B Renato Nunez

    LF Joey Rickard

    CF Cedric Mullins

    C Austin Wynns

    2B Steve Wilkerson

       

    The Baltimore Orioles are lurching into an overdue rebuild after a disastrous 115-loss season. Buckle up, O's fans...it's about to get ugly.

    Soon, Baltimore will have to make a decision on Chris Davis, who hit .168 last season and is owed $23 million annually through 2022. Unless he's got an unexpected renaissance in him, the 32-year-old may soon get paid to stay home.

    Mostly, the Orioles will have to endure a lot of losing before they're relevant again in the American League East.

Boston Red Sox

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    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    RF Mookie Betts

    LF Andrew Benintendi

    1B Mitch Moreland

    DH J.D. Martinez

    SS Xander Bogaerts

    3B Rafael Devers

    2B Eduardo Nunez

    C Sandy Leon

    CF Jackie Bradley Jr.

       

    The Boston Red Sox will attempt to defend their 2018 World Series title with the combination of reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts and slugging designated hitter J.D. Martinez anchoring the lineup.

    They'll also hope for the healthy return of veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who played just three games in 2018 because of a knee injury.

    Assuming Pedroia isn't ready by Opening Day, the Sox can lean on a combination of the speedy, versatile Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt.

Chicago Cubs

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    SS Javier Baez

    3B Kris Bryant

    1B Anthony Rizzo

    C Willson Contreras

    LF Kyle Schwarber

    2B Ben Zobrist

    CF Albert Almora Jr.

    RF Jason Heyward

    Pitcher

       

    The Chicago Cubs lurk as dark-horse suitors for outfielder Bryce Harper, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. Assuming they don't make a move of that magnitude, the Cubbies still have a formidable lineup.

    Javier Baez was the National League MVP runner-up in 2018 and is on the doorstep of superstardom. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo provide a strong 1-2 punch.

    The National League Central is a competitive division with the Milwaukee Brewers looking to improve on last season's National League Championship Series appearance and the St. Louis Cardinals reloading for a run, but Chicago has the bats to compete with anyone.

Chicago White Sox

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    2B Yoan Moncada

    LF Eloy Jimenez

    1B Jose Abreu

    DH Yonder Alonso

    RF Leury Garcia

    C Welington Castillo

    3B Yolmer Sanchez

    SS Tim Anderson

    CF Adam Engel

       

    The Chicago White Sox have featured in countless rumors regarding top free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, including this one from Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald.

    Either or both players would accelerate the ChiSox's rebuild. Even without them, however, Chicago has an enviable collection of young talent that could propel it to contention in the weak, winnable American League Central.

    If not, look for veteran first baseman and impending free agent Jose Abreu to be on the trading block by July.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

    CF Scott Schebler

    SS Jose Peraza

    2B Scooter Gennett

    1B Joey Votto

    LF Matt Kemp

    3B Eugenio Suarez

    RF Yasiel Puig

    C Tucker Barnhart

    Pitcher

       

    The Cincinnati Reds accelerated their rebuild when they acquired outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp as well as left-hander Alex Wood from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Now, they need to integrate Puig and Kemp into an outfield mix that includes Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker as well as top prospect Nick Senzel.

    Unless more trades or signings are forthcoming, Cincinnati will have some sorting out to do in spring training.

Cleveland Indians

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    SS Francisco Lindor

    3B Jose Ramirez

    DH Carlos Santana

    2B Jason Kipnis

    1B Jake Bauers

    RF Tyler Naquin

    CF Leonys Martin

    C Roberto Perez

    LF Jordan Luplow

        

    The Cleveland Indians could use help in the outfield after Michael Brantley walked via free agency.

    That said, they ply their trade in a weak division and have a potent twosome in shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Jose Ramirez.

    They need second baseman Jason Kipnis to rebound or to sign a replacement at the keystone sack, but Cleveland boasts enough firepower to compete.

Colorado Rockies

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    Ralph Freso/Getty Images

    CF Charlie Blackmon

    1B Daniel Murphy

    3B Nolan Arenado

    RF David Dahl

    SS Trevor Story

    LF Ian Desmond

    C Chris Iannetta

    2B Brendan Rodgers

    Pitcher

       

    The Colorado Rockies will aim for a third straight playoff appearance in 2018 after signing Daniel Murphy to join a lineup centered around center fielder Charlie Blackmon and third baseman Nolan Arenado, who is entering his contract year.

    Top prospect Brendan Rodgers could win a job out of spring training to replace second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who signed a two-year, $24 million pact with the New York Yankees. Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson are also in the middle infield mix.

Detroit Tigers

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    CF Jacoby Jones

    3B Jeimer Candelario

    RF Nicholas Castellanos

    1B Miguel Cabrera

    2B Niko Goodrum

    DH John Hicks

    LF Christin Stewart

    C Grayson Greiner

    SS Jordy Mercer

       

    The Detroit Tigers have been predictably quiet this offseason as they continue a much-needed rebuild.

    They don't have many tradeable assets on the roster, and that includes Miguel Cabrera. The future Hall of Famer is owed $30 million or more each season through at least 2023 and will be a financial drag in perpetuity.

    In the meantime, Detroit fans should prepare for a protracted run of painful losing and embrace the attendant high draft picks.

Houston Astros

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    CF George Springer

    3B Alex Bregman

    2B Jose Altuve

    SS Carlos Correa

    1B Yuli Gurriel

    LF Michael Brantley

    RF Josh Reddick

    DH Tyler White

    C Robinson Chirinos

       

    The Houston Astros plugged a significant hole by signing outfielder Michael Brantley. They're hoping for the healthy return of third baseman Alex Bregman, who underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery Friday.

    Other than that, the 'Stros will bank on further excellence from second baseman Jose Altuve, the continued development of center fielder George Springer and a leap forward by shortstop Carlos Correa as they seek to regain supremacy in the Junior Circuit.

Kansas City Royals

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    2B Whit Merrifield

    SS Adalberto Mondesi

    LF Alex Gordon

    C Salvador Perez

    1B Ryan O'Hearn

    DH Jorge Soler

    3B Hunter Dozier

    RF Jorge Bonifacio

    CF Billy Hamilton

       

    Other than speedy, light-hitting outfielder Billy Hamilton, the Kansas City Royals have made no meaningful upgrades this offseason.

    Instead, they're moving toward a rebuild with veterans Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez serving as reminders of the 2014-15 glory days when the Royals won a pair of pennants and a World Series.

    Those days, sadly, are over.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    RF Kole Calhoun

    CF Mike Trout

    LF Justin Upton

    DH Albert Pujols

    SS Andrelton Simmons

    1B Justin Bour

    3B Zack Cozart

    C Jonathan Lucroy

    2B David Fletcher

       

    The Los Angeles Angels are trying to build a playoff-caliber lineup around Mike Trout before their franchise star hits free agency after the 2020 season.

    They've plugged their hole at catcher by signing veteran Jonathan Lucroy but could use an upgrade at second base.

    Albert Pujols, who's entering his age-39 season and is owed $87 million through 2021, remains an unmovable albatross.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    LF Joc Pederson

    SS Corey Seager

    3B Justin Turner

    CF Cody Bellinger

    1B Max Muncy

    RF Chris Taylor

    C Russell Martin

    2B Enrique Hernandez

    Pitcher

       

    The Los Angeles Dodgers addressed their catching situation by reuniting with Russell Martin via a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.

    They could use depth in the outfield after dealing Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig to the Reds and seem like a match for glitzy free agent Bryce Harper.

    Even if they make no further moves, they'll benefit from the return of star shortstop Corey Seager from Tommy John surgery.

Miami Marlins

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    Toru Takahashi/Associated Press

    RF Magneuris Sierra

    3B Brian Anderson

    C J.T. Realmuto

    1B Peter O'Brien

    2B Starlin Castro

    CF Lewis Brinson

    LF Austin Dean

    SS JT Riddle

    Pitcher

       

    Assuming he isn't dealt prior to Opening Day, J.T. Realmuto will be the centerpiece of the Miami Marlins' young lineup. Second baseman Starlin Castro could also be on the trading block if there are takers.

    After that, it's a hodgepodge of up-and-comers who will get every opportunity to prove themselves on a team that's likely to lose 100-plus games.

    Buckle up, Fish faithful. It's going to be a long, choppy season in South Beach.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    CF Lorenzo Cain

    RF Christian Yelich

    LF Ryan Braun

    3B Travis Shaw

    1B Jesus Aguilar

    C Yasmani Grandal

    SS Orlando Arcia

    2B Hernan Perez

    Pitcher

       

    The Milwaukee Brewers upgraded their offense and filled a notable hole by agreeing to sign catcher Yasmani Grandal to a one-year, $18.3 million deal, per Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.

    They'll hope for more good things from center fielder Lorenzo Cain and reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich atop the lineup.

    In all, the Brew Crew have the bats to get back to the postseason and possibly advance past Game 7 of the NLCS, which is where they left off in 2018.

Minnesota Twins

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    LF Eddie Rosario

    SS Jorge Polanco

    3B Miguel Sano

    DH Nelson Cruz

    1B C.J. Cron

    RF Max Kepler

    2B Jonathan Schoop

    C Jason Castro

    CF Byron Buxton

       

    The Minnesota Twins added much-needed power and veteran cache when they signed slugging designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

    Likewise, the signings of first baseman C.J. Cron and second baseman Jonathan Schoop should bolster the offense.

    The Twinkies will also cross their fingers for bounce-backs from Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, both of whom possess notable talent but regressed in 2018.

New York Mets

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    Richard Drew/Associated Press

    RF Brandon Nimmo

    2B Jed Lowrie

    1B Robinson Cano

    LF Michael Conforto

    3B Todd Frazier

    C Wilson Ramos

    SS Amed Rosario

    CF Juan Lagares

    Pitcher

       

    The New York Mets acquired Robinson Cano via trade this offseason and agreed to sign Jed Lowrie, per Jeff Passan of ESPN.com, creating a possible logjam in the infield.

    Assuming the Mets are willing to push aside young Dominic Smith, they could slide Cano to first base and slot Lowrie at second.

    Given their obvious desire to win now as opposed to retooling or rebuilding, that seems like the course they'll take initially.

New York Yankees

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    Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

    LF Brett Gardner

    RF Aaron Judge

    DH Giancarlo Stanton

    CF Aaron Hicks

    C Gary Sanchez

    3B Miguel Andujar

    SS Gleyber Torres

    2B DJ LeMahieu

    1B Luke Voit

       

    After signing second baseman DJ LeMahieu, the New York Yankees appear to be out on top free agent Manny Machado.

    That might be disappointing to some Yanks fans, but New York has a balanced lineup that will be truly formidable if catcher Gary Sanchez rebounds from a season in which he hit .186 with a .697 OPS.

    The bottom line is this: The Yankees set an all-time record for home runs by a team last year and are basically getting the band back together with some ancillary additions.

Oakland Athletics

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    SS Marcus Semien

    3B Matt Chapman

    DH Khris Davis

    1B Matt Olson

    RF Stephen Piscotty

    2B Jurickson Profar

    LF Nick Martini

    CF Ramon Laureano

    C Josh Phegley

       

    The Oakland Athletics shocked the baseball world with a 97-win season in 2018 and are looking to build on that success.

    They'll never sign top-shelf free agents on their shoestring budget, but they've got enough talent top to bottom to compete.

    That'll be especially true if Khris Davis can approach his 2018 output of 48 home runs and again finish in the top 10 in AL MVP voting.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

    2B Cesar Hernandez

    SS Jean Segura

    LF Andrew McCutchen

    1B Rhys Hoskins

    RF Nick Williams

    3B Maikel Franco

    CF Odubel Herrera

    C Jorge Alfaro

    Pitcher

       

    The Philadelphia Phillies have been widely rumored to be in on infielder Manny Machado and outfielder Bryce Harper. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, they're the "clear-cut favorite" to ink Harper. 

    Unless and until that happens, the Phils will base their lineup around veteran free-agent signee Andrew McCutchen and emerging slugger Rhys Hoskins, who hit 34 home runs with an .850 OPS in 2018.

    Epic signings may be on the horizon, but even without them the Phillies have a solid lineup.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    2B Adam Frazier

    RF Gregory Polanco

    CF Starling Marte

    1B Josh Bell

    LF Corey Dickerson

    C Francisco Cervelli

    3B Colin Moran

    SS Kevin Newman

    Pitcher

       

    The Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping to contend in 2018 in one of baseball's deepest divisions. To no one's surprise, the cost-conscious Bucs haven't made any major signings.

    Instead, they'll hope holdovers Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson and Gregory Polanco can produce at or above their career averages.

    Meanwhile, they'll look for a rebound from Josh Bell, who suffered a sophomore slump after a 26-homer rookie season in 2017.

San Diego Padres

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    Justin Casterline/Getty Images

    2B Ian Kinsler

    3B Wil Myers

    1B Eric Hosmer

    RF Hunter Renfroe

    CF Manuel Margot

    LF Franmil Reyes

    C Austin Hedges

    SS Luis Urias

    Pitcher

       

    The San Diego Padres have the No. 1 farm system in the game, according to Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter. Watch out for the arrival of top prospects such as infielder Fernando Tatis Jr.

    In a year or two, the Pads could be serious contenders in the NL West and the NL as a whole, especially if they get more production from first baseman Eric Hosmer, who signed an eight-year, $144 million deal last offseason.

    For the time being, they're an emerging team with talent throughout the lineup, but they're not ready for prime time.

San Francisco Giants

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    2B Joe Panik

    1B Brandon Belt

    C Buster Posey

    3B Evan Longoria

    SS Brandon Crawford

    RF Austin Slater

    LF Chris Shaw

    CF Steven Duggar

    Pitcher

       

    The San Francisco Giants are in a state of flux under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. Are they rebuilding? Retooling? Some combination of both?

    While they await answers, the Giants could use an upgrade in the outfield and might also consider trading ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who is entering his contract year.

    Meanwhile, veterans such as Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford offer reminders of the even-year titles San Francisco won in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Those memories might need to keep the Giants warm for a while.

Seattle Mariners

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    Abbie Parr/Getty Images

    CF Mallex Smith

    RF Mitch Haniger

    3B Kyle Seager

    DH Edwin Encarnacion

    1B Ryon Healy

    LF Domingo Santana

    C Omar Narvaez

    SS J.P. Crawford

    2B Dee Gordon

       

    Seattle Mariners executive Jerry Dipoto loves to trade. It's a safe bet he'll wheel and deal some more before the offseason is over.

    That could include shipping out veteran slugger Edwin Encarnacion, whom the Mariners acquired from the Cleveland Indians in a three-team swap.

    For now, Encarnacion slots into the middle of a lineup that features emerging star Mitch Haniger and a mix of veterans and up-and-comers.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    3B Matt Carpenter

    2B Kolten Wong

    1B Paul Goldschmidt

    LF Marcell Ozuna

    C Yadier Molina

    SS Paul DeJong

    CF Harrison Bader

    RF Dexter Fowler

    Pitcher

       

    The St. Louis Cardinals measurably upgraded their lineup with the addition of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. He joins third baseman Matt Carpenter, left fielder Marcell Ozuna and catcher Yadier Molina to form a strong offensive core.

    The Cards finished 14th in OPS and 17th in batting average last season. Goldy should nudge both of those figures northward as he angles for a massive deal in his contract year.

    In the outfield, Jose Martinez will push fading veteran Dexter Fowler for playing time.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    CF Kevin Kiermaier

    LF Tommy Pham

    2B Joey Wendle

    RF Austin Meadows

    DH Ji-Man Choi

    SS Willy Adames

    1B Yandy Diaz

    C Mike Zunino

    3B Matt Duffy

       

    The Tampa Bay Rays won 90 games in 2018 and could be contenders in 2019, even in the top-heavy AL East.

    If they hope to make noise, they'll need outfielder Tommy Pham to approach the 1.071 OPS he posted after coming over in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals and shortstop Willy Adames to make the jump from touted rookie to consistent big-league contributor.

    They'll never spend with the Red Sox and Yankees, but the Rays are frequently good at getting the most out of what they have.

Texas Rangers

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    Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

    DH Shin-Soo Choo

    2B Rougned Odor

    SS Elvis Andrus

    LF Joey Gallo

    RF Nomar Mazara

    1B Ronald Guzman

    CF Delino DeShields

    C Jeff Mathis

    3B Patrick Wisdom

       

    The Texas Rangers are caught between a rebuild and a retool while they stare up at the Astros in the Lone Star State power rankings.

    They'd love to offload veteran Shin-Soo Choo and the $42 million he's owed through 2020, but that probably won't happen unless they swallow a lot of cash.

    Other than that, the Rangers will hope young players such as Joey Gallo and Delino DeShields take the leap from promising to reliable.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    LF Teoscar Hernandez

    SS Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

    1B Justin Smoak

    DH Kendrys Morales

    CF Kevin Pillar

    RF Randal Grichuk

    3B Brandon Drury

    2B Devon Travis

    C Danny Jansen

       

    The Toronto Blue Jays join the Orioles at the bottom of the AL East. A rebuild is upon them.

    There aren't many top-shelf trade chips in their starting lineup, though center fielder Kevin Pillar could draw interest in his second year of arbitration eligibility.

    Mostly, the Jays should look to shed salary and tread water while they await the arrival of top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Washington Nationals

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    RF Adam Eaton

    SS Trea Turner

    3B Anthony Rendon

    LF Juan Soto

    2B Brian Dozier

    1B Ryan Zimmerman

    CF Victor Robles

    C Yan Gomes

    Pitcher

       

    Assuming they don't reunite with franchise outfielder Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals lineup is mostly set.

    They filled their holes at catcher and second base by trading for Yan Gomes and signing Brian Dozier. Add the signing of ace left-hander Patrick Corbin, and it's clear Washington plans to contend in the deep NL East in 2019.

    Don't rule out a Harper signing, but consider the Nats set to make noise as is.

       

    All statistics and contract information courtesy of Baseball Reference.