Pitchers and catchers will begin reporting to spring training later this week, and among other things, that means it's time for an updated version of our MLB power rankings.
While these rankings will provide an up-to-date snapshot of the league, there's still a ton of talent left on the free-agent market. That should mean a lot more activity before Opening Day on March 28.
For reference, this order was last shuffled Jan. 31. As with any offseason power rankings, these take into account how complete a roster is and the direction the franchise is headed.
Here are the updated rankings:
Notable Recent Transactions
The Philadelphia Phillies climbed from No. 13 to No. 10 in these rankings with the addition of All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto in a blockbuster deal with the Miami Marlins.
Adding arguably the best catcher in baseball will not only provide a boost to the Phillies offense, but it should also have a positive impact on a young pitching staff. It was a significant enough addition for the Phillies to leapfrog the Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers and division-rival New York Mets.
On the Marlins' end, they were already sitting at No. 29 in the rankings, and they still don't look like a worse team than the Baltimore Orioles, so they stay put.
Flipping two years of Realmuto for five years of Jorge Alfaro makes perfect sense for the rebuilding Marlins, and if headliner Sixto Sanchez can live up to his billing as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, the trade could have a significant positive impact on the franchise.
While that was the only swap that figured into the rankings, several other teams have added useful pieces.
The Washington Nationals brought back starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson on a one-year, $1.3 million deal to compete with Joe Ross and Erick Fedde for the No. 5 starter job. The 31-year-old went 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 91.1 innings spanning 19 starts last season, though his 4.22 FIP gives reason for pause.
On the AL side, the Oakland Athletics signed catcher Nick Hundley and lefty reliever Jerry Blevins to minor league deals before re-signing starter Brett Anderson to a one-year MLB pact Monday, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Hundley immediately becomes the No. 1 catching option on a depth chart that includes Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann, Blevins has a great shot of winning a bullpen job as the second left-hander alongside Ryan Buchter, and Anderson will slot in as the No. 3 starter behind Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada.
It would still behoove the A's to add another proven catcher—Martin Maldonado and Matt Wieters remain unsigned. More starting pitching depth would also be welcome. That said, these are the kinds of moves the A's will make in their effort to once again field a contender.
While Blevins settled for a minor league contract despite a solid track record, Zach Duke (Cincinnati Reds), Tony Barnette (Chicago Cubs) and Brad Boxberger (Kansas City Royals) each secured MLB deals. Boxberger should have a chance to win the closer job in Kansas City.
The Cleveland Indians swung a minor trade to acquire Nick Wittgren from the Miami Marlins in exchange for right-hander Jordan Milbrath. Wittgren, 27, posted a 2.94 ERA and 8.3 K/9 with five holds in 32 appearances last season. He's under team control through 2022. The Indians also added Alex Wilson on a minor league deal after he posted a 3.20 ERA in 246 appearances with the Detroit Tigers over the past four seasons.
Other notable minor league pacts include those of Francisco Liriano, Tom Koehler, Nick Franklin and Melky Cabrera (Pittsburgh Pirates), Rene Rivera and Stephen Vogt (San Francisco Giants), Curtis Granderson (Miami Marlins), Matt Davidson and Jason Hammel (Texas Rangers), Josh Tomlin (Milwaukee Brewers), and Lucas Duda, Wilin Rosario and Adam Rosales (Minnesota Twins).
Free Agency Shake-Up
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will shift these rankings before Opening Day based on where they sign. With that in mind, it's worth taking a look at the latest rumors that surround each player and how their decisions could impact things.
The San Francisco Giants have emerged from the shadows as contenders to sign Harper, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today recently reporting that the Giants plan to offer him a "lucrative, short-term deal" as they continue to seek outfield help.
That might not move the needle, though. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported on Tuesday that Harper is not considering any short-term deals.
Still, the Giants are the new favorites in the latest Vegas odds, followed by the Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals.
The Giants and Padres would both climb into the top 20 in these rankings with Harper in the fold, while signing him would be enough to make both the Phillies and Nationals new favorites in the NL East. He'd be a huge addition for the Dodgers as well but wouldn't be enough to jump them ahead of the Red Sox or Yankees.
The Chicago White Sox remain the front-runners to sign Machado, and that's reflected in his most recent Vegas odds.
With Machado in the mix and top prospect Eloy Jimenez on the horizon, the White Sox could push for second in the AL Central and hover on the periphery of the AL wild-card picture.
The New York Yankees, San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies were the other teams included in his updated odds. Other suitors could still emerge as things stretch further into February, but those are the clubs to keep an eye on.
It's hard to see how he fits with the Yankees, but signing him would be enough for them to vault the Red Sox into the No. 1 spot. Just like with Harper, signing Machado would push the Padres into the top 20 and the Phillies to the top of the NL East heap.
Other Remaining Free Agents
Harper and Machado are not the only remaining free agents of note. Here's a quick position-by-position rundown of the rest of the remaining class:
- C: Martin Maldonado, Matt Wieters
- 1B: Logan Morrison, Adrian Gonzalez
- 2B: Josh Harrison, Logan Forsythe
- 3B: Mike Moustakas, Yangervis Solarte
- SS: Jose Iglesias, Adeiny Hechavarria, Alcides Escobar
- OF: Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez, Denard Span, Carlos Gomez
- UT: Marwin Gonzalez, Derek Dietrich
- DH: Evan Gattis, Hanley Ramirez
- SP: Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez, Clay Buchholz, Edwin Jackson
- RHRP: Craig Kimbrel, Ryan Madson, Adam Warren, Bud Norris, John Axford
- LHRP: Jake Diekman, Tony Sipp, Jorge De La Rosa, Dan Jennings
Which of these guys will settle for less money or a minor league deal, and who will hold out and still be looking for work when Opening Day arrives?
Depending on how the key dominoes fall, this could be a transformative offseason that leads to an overhaul of the free-agency system.