MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand, 2019 Mid-Spring Training EditionMarch 15, 2019
Our first MLB power rankings of the offseason were published all the way back on Oct. 29.
The idea behind that version was to set the stage for the upcoming offseason, with the approach to placing teams spelled out as follows:
"For the first edition of our offseason rankings, teams will be ranked based on their outlook for the 2019 season. That took into account things like how complete the roster is heading into free agency, how active the team is expected to be and the overall direction the franchise is headed."
Here at the midway point of spring training and with Opening Day rapidly approaching, it's time for an updated look at where all 30 teams stand.
In an effort to demonstrate which teams improved and declined the most since the October rankings, the up or down arrow beside each team reflects its placement relative to that article.
Several updates have taken place since that original version, but this is the best way to paint a picture of the impact of the entire offseason as a whole.
Here are the rankings:
The biggest surprise of the offseason from a team approach standpoint has undoubtedly been the Cincinnati Reds (+7) and their push to contend.
On the heels of four straight 90-loss seasons and last-place finishes in the NL Central, most viewed the Reds as an also-ran once again for the 2019 season as they continued developing a good farm system and rebuilding.
Instead, they completely overhauled a starting rotation that ranked 25th in the majors with a 5.02 ERA a year ago, adding Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark and Alex Wood via trade. That group will join the promising young duo of Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle to form a staff that should be vastly improved.
They also added veteran lefty Zach Duke to the bullpen and took advantage of a slow-moving free-agent market to sign Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias to minor league deals.
Climbing from a presumptive spot in the NL Central cellar to legitimate wild-card contention makes Cincinnati the biggest riser of the offseason.
The New York Mets (+7) also climbed seven spots in the rankings following a busy winter under new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
A blockbuster deal to acquire second baseman Robinson Cano and pitcher Edwin Diaz from the Mariners kicked aside the status quo of sitting on their hands and hoping for improved health from the incumbent talent.
From there, they added infielder Jed Lowrie coming off a career year in Oakland, signed Wilson Ramos to upgrade the catcher position and further bolstered the relief corps behind Diaz by inking Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson, along with non-roster invitees Luis Avilan and Hector Santiago.
The NL East is going to be a battle royale this year, and the Mets have solidified their spot at the table. The health of the starting staff is still the big X-factor, though, and nothing was done to add further depth.
It looked like the Washington Nationals (+6) might be ready to take a step back after a disappointing 2018 season and with Bryce Harper departing in free agency.
That quickly changed when they signed Patrick Corbin to a six-year, $140 million deal to join Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg atop the staff. And they didn't stop there.
Catchers Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki, second baseman Brian Dozier, veteran starter Anibal Sanchez, powerful bench bat Matt Adams and relievers Trevor Rosenthal, Kyle Barraclough and Tony Sipp were all added to the roster.
A healthy season from Dozier, the massive upgrade at the catcher position and the arrival of top prospect Victor Robles could go a long way toward replacing Harper's production, leaving this as an even better team without him.
The three teams that climbed four spots in the rankings—the Philadelphia Phillies (+4), San Diego Padres (+4) and St. Louis Cardinals (+4)—share something in common: They all added superstar sluggers to already-talented rosters.
Bryce Harper (Phillies), Manny Machado (Padres) and Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals) are three of the game's truly elite offensive performers and potential game-changers for their new teams.
The Phillies were expected to be busy this offseason, and the Harper signing capped off a roster haul that also included J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson and Jose Alvarez.
They have a lot riding on the performance of Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez at the back of the rotation, but if they can take a step forward as hoped, this team could be headed for an NL East title.
Goldschmidt joins a talented Cardinals lineup, along with reliever Andrew Miller, as they look to climb back into the postseason picture.
Machado moves the timetable of contention forward in San Diego. There's still work to do on the pitching side of things, and a lot will hinge on the development of baseball's best farm system, but it's clearly a team on the rise.
The fact that no AL team climbed more than two spots speaks volumes to the sharp divide between contenders and non-contenders. Will anyone be this year's Oakland Athletics?
The Milwaukee Brewers (-6) and Pittsburgh Pirates (-6) are the two biggest fallers since our first rankings of the offseason for two main reasons.
Inactivity and the Reds' vast improvement.
The Brewers did add catcher Yasmani Grandal in free agency while also re-signing Mike Moustakas, but their inactivity on the pitching side of things is troubling.
Wade Miley and Gio Gonzalez are both gone. Jimmy Nelson is still rehabbing his shoulder and is now expected to start the season on the injured list. Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff are all inexperienced. Zach Davies went 2-7 with a 4.77 ERA last season.
It's just hard to put a positive spin on the starting staff, which means they'll again employ a bullpen-centric approach. That could leave them one Josh Hader or Jeremy Jeffress injury away from disaster.
As for the Pirates, they dumped innings-eater Ivan Nova to save some money, then rummaged for spare parts all offseason with the additions of Lonnie Chisenhall, Jordan Lyles, Erik Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera and old friend Francisco Liriano.
After taking the aggressive steps to acquire Chris Archer and Keone Kela last summer with an eye on contending in 2019, they've done little to improve in a market that was tailor-made for a small-market team to pounce on potential bargains.
A last-place finish seems just as likely as wild-card contention.
Just behind that duo we have a pair of 2018 playoff teams in the Cleveland Indians (-5) and Colorado Rockies (-5).
Props to the Rockies on extending Nolan Arenado, and the Indians still have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball, but has either team done anything to improve this offseason?
The Indians cited payroll limitations and offloaded Yan Gomes, Yonder Alonso and Edwin Encarnacion. When your window of contention is wide open, you don't cut costs. You find a way to get better.
The ramifications of swapping out Gomes for a platoon of Kevin Plawecki and Roberto Perez could be sweeping. The outfield of Greg Allen, Leonys Martin and Tyler Naquin might be the worst in baseball, and the bullpen lost Cody Allen and Andrew Miller.
They're still the best team in the AL Central, but that speaks more to the state of the division than anything.
As for the Rockies, they did sign Daniel Murphy to replace DJ LeMahieu, but does an offense-for-defense move really make sense?
More importantly, nothing was done to address the loss of their best reliever, Adam Ottavino. That means the team is banking on bounce-back seasons from Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw—a risky proposition to say the least.
The Seattle Mariners (-5) also dropped five places, but this offseason was a win.
While their short-term outlook has declined, this was a long overdue retooling of the core, and it brought back some sorely needed prospect depth.
If Yusei Kikuchi and Marco Gonzales can prove they're long-term pieces and Mitch Haniger can continue his ascent to stardom, there's a good core in place to build around.
Interestingly, four of the five AL West teams fell in the rankings, and the Los Angeles Angels only climbed one spot. Maybe retooling over rebuilding is the right move for Seattle.
How teams rose and fell based on expectations entering the offseason won't have any bearing on the grand scheme of things in 2019, but it does help illustrate how outlooks have changed based on winter activity.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.