MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand Entering Free Agency

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2019

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand Entering Free Agency

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    With the MLB offseason underway, it's time for an updated version of our leaguewide power rankings.

    For our first offseason reshuffling, teams are ranked based on their 2020 outlook. That took into account things such as how complete the roster is heading into free agency, how active the club is expected to be and the overall direction the franchise is headed.

    In other words, don't be surprised when a Los Angeles Angels team that won 72 games is ranked ahead of a San Francisco Giants team that won 77 games.

    We'll put together fresh versions of these power rankings throughout the offseason, with clubs shifting based on their wheelings and dealings. This will serve as a starting point.

             

    On a personal note, I want to say thanks to everyone for reading along all season. This was my eighth year authoring our weekly MLB power rankings here at Bleacher Report, and it's been an absolute pleasure every step of the way.


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30. Detroit Tigers (47-114, 5th in AL Central)

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    Matthew Boyd
    Matthew BoydRon Vesely/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 28

    Key Free Agents: IF Gordon Beckham, SS Jordy Mercer, SP Edwin Jackson, SP Tyson Ross, SP Matt Moore

                 

    Outlook

    While the Detroit Tigers continue to wait on the arrival of top prospects such as Casey Mize and Matt Manning, look for their front office to again target a few bounce-back arms in an effort to bolster the rotation. While the Tyson Ross and Matt Moore signings didn't work out, they hit on Mike Fiers the previous year.

    Big picture, this team is still in the early stages of rebuilding, so don't expect significant additions.

    The biggest storyline will be whether the Tigers seriously shop left-hander Matthew Boyd, who finished sixth in the AL with 238 strikeouts and has three years of team control remaining. Their asking price was prohibitive this summer, and he slumped down the stretch, so finding the right deal could prove difficult.

29. Baltimore Orioles (54-108, 5th in AL East)

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    Jonathan Villar
    Jonathan VillarWill Newton/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 30

    Key Free Agents: DH Mark Trumbo

                

    Outlook

    The Baltimore Orioles may not be ready to spend significant money at this point in their rebuilding efforts, but something has to be done to address a pitching staff that posted an MLB-worst 5.59 ERA.

    Another unexpected breakout, like the one turned in by 2014 11th-round pick John Means, would go a long way. The 26-year-old lefty posted a 3.60 ERA and a team-leading 4.6 WAR in 155 innings while representing the club in the All-Star Game.

    Jonathan Villar looks like a prime candidate be traded ahead of his final year of team control—and in a thin market for middle infielders—after he posted a 109 OPS+ with 62 extra-base hits and 40 steals. The team could also shop slugger Trey Mancini, though his status as the de facto face of the franchise will mean an asking price that likely exceeds his market value.

28. Miami Marlins (57-105, 5th in NL East)

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    Starlin Castro
    Starlin CastroEmilee Chinn/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 29

    Key Free Agents: IF Neil Walker, OF Curtis Granderson, IF Martin Prado, 2B Starlin Castro ($16M club option)

                    

    Outlook

    Expect the Miami Marlins to continue to tread water while they wait on a vastly improved farm system to provide an in-house boost.

    Catcher Jorge Alfaro and starters Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and Jordan Yamamoto all showed the potential to become core pieces alongside Brian Anderson, but there's still a lot of work to do before this team becomes a contender.

    Veteran free-agent signings Neil Walker (381 PA) and Curtis Granderson (363 PA) saw significant action in 2019, and the Marlins will likely be in the market to ink a few similar one-year deals this offseason. They could also pursue a reunion with Starlin Castro, once they buy out his $16 million club option for $1 million.

27. Pittsburgh Pirates (69-93, 5th in NL Central)

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    Starling Marte
    Starling MarteDustin Bradford/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 20

    Key Free Agents: RP Francisco Liriano, OF Melky Cabrera, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, RP Tom Koehler, RP Brandon Maurer

                 

    Outlook

    After hovering around .500 throughout the season's first half, the Pittsburgh Pirates were a dumpster fire after the All-Star break, going 25-48 with a minus-117 run differential.

    Team president Frank Coonelly, general manager Neal Huntington, manager Clint Hurdle, pitching coach Ray Searage and bench coach Tom Prince have all been fired since the season ended.

    All signs point to a rebuild, and that means outfielder Starling Marte could be one of the most coveted bats on the trade market. He's fresh off a second straight 20/20 season and one of the few players available this winter who's capable of manning center field.

26. Kansas City Royals (59-103, 4th in AL Central)

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    Ian Kennedy
    Ian KennedyG Fiume/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 27

    Key Free Agents: LF Alex Gordon ($23M mutual option)

             

    Outlook

    For whatever reason, the Kansas City Royals were unwilling to pay down the salaries of Ian Kennedy and Danny Duffy last summer to facilitate a trade, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Neither pitcher will be part of the next contending Royals team, so doing what it takes to move them would seem like a no-brainer.

    Meanwhile, speculation will continue about a potential Whit Merrifield trade, but there's no reason to think the front office will change its tune regarding the sparkplug second baseman.

    With a few decent core pieces such as Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Soler, Hunter Dozier and Brad Keller in place, and a farm system on the rise, the Royals can see a light at the end of the tunnel. That tunnel likely stretches beyond the 2020 season, though.

25. Toronto Blue Jays (67-95, 4th in AL East)

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    Ken Giles (right)
    Ken Giles (right)Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 26

    Key Free Agents: 1B Justin Smoak, SP Clay Buchholz

                 

    Outlook

    The Toronto Blue Jays have an enviable collection of young position-player talent, with more on the way, but their pitching needs to be addressed.

    The decision to trade Marcus Stroman ahead of his final year of arbitration is a good indication they viewed 2020 as another rebuilding season, so expect them to hunt for value on the free-agent market rather than target any of the top available arms.

    An untimely elbow injury kept Ken Giles from being traded last summer, but he returned and pitched well down the stretch and should be a hot commodity this winter. In fact, a strong case can be made that he's a more appealing option than both Will Smith and Will Harris, who are the top two relievers on the free-agent market if Aroldis Chapman opts in for 2020 with the Yankees.

24. Colorado Rockies (71-91, 4th in NL West)

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    Charlie Blackmon
    Charlie BlackmonRob Leiter/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 14

    Key Free Agents: 1B Yonder Alonso ($9 million team option), C Drew Butera

          

    Outlook

    After making back-to-back trips to the postseason for the first time in franchise history, the Colorado Rockies' wheels fell off in 2019.

    What was a vastly improved pitching staff in 2018 once again proved to be a major weakness, with Kyle Freeland (22 GS, 6.73 ERA) and Antonio Senzatela (25 GS, 6.71 ERA) struggling mightily after serving as key members of the rotation the previous year.

    There were rumblings of a potential Charlie Blackmon trade leading up to the deadline, but his remaining money and distinct home-road splits could make that next to impossible. Given how difficult it is to convince top-tier free agents to pitch at Coors Field, the front office may have to get creative on the trade market to shore up the pitching staff. Otherwise, another losing season awaits.

23. Seattle Mariners (68-94, 5th in AL West)

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    Mitch Haniger
    Mitch HanigerStephen Brashear/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 22

    Key Free Agents: SP Felix Hernandez, RP Tommy Milone, SP Wade LeBlanc ($5M club option)

          

    Outlook

    The Seattle Mariners have quietly assembled one of the better farm systems in baseball, and while a playoff drought that stretches back to 2001 continues to hang over the franchise, the focus may continue to be on the future in 2020.

    With Jerry Dipoto in the general manager seat, expect plenty more trades this offseason. That could mean outfielder Mitch Haniger and controllable starter Marco Gonzales hit the trade block along with Kyle Seager, Dee Gordon, Domingo Santana and Mallex Smith if Dipoto can find a taker for any of them.

    At the very least, a few arms will need to be added to both the starting rotation and the bullpen. For now, expect the Mariners to shop the bargain bin while they continue to stockpile young talent.

22. Chicago White Sox (72-89, 3rd in AL Central)

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    Jose Abreu
    Jose AbreuJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 23

    Key Free Agents: 1B Jose Abreu, SP Ivan Nova, SP Ross Detwiler, RP Hector Santiago, OF Jon Jay, OF Brandon Guyer, C Welington Castillo ($8M club option)

          

    Outlook

    The Chicago White Sox were serious contenders to sign Manny Machado last offseason before he agreed to terms with the San Diego Padres. Could they make a similar run at a top-tier free agent this offseason?

    The South Siders were described as the "most logical" landing spot for J.D. Martinez if he decides to opt out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI. Someone like Nicholas Castellanos might also make sense.

    Veteran leader Jose Abreu is probably worth more to the White Sox than he is to anyone else, so there's still a good chance he'll be back. This team is on the cusp, and a run at a winning record in 2020 is not out of the question if the young pitching staff can take a step forward.

21. San Francisco Giants (77-85, 3rd in NL West)

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    Madison Bumgarner
    Madison BumgarnerDaniel Shirey/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 24

    Key Free Agents: SP Madison Bumgarner, RP Will Smith, C Stephen Vogt, IF Pablo Sandoval, RP Fernando Abad, RP Tony Watson ($2.5M player option)

         

    Outlook

    The San Francisco Giants will likely begin the offseason by tendering qualifying offers to Madison Bumgarner and 2019 All-Star Will Smith, but there's a good chance each will play elsewhere in 2020.

    A culture change is coming in San Francisco with Bruce Bochy no longer in the manager role. The next person to fill that seat won't feel the same obligation to keep underperforming veterans such as Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford in the everyday lineup, and the team figures to get younger as a result.

    It's going to take some time for the changing of the guard, and there will be a lot of salary clutter in the meantime. The organization, however, finally seems to be headed in the right direction after it foolishly chased contention when the window had closed.

20. Los Angeles Angels (72-90, 4th in AL West)

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    Kole Calhoun
    Kole CalhounJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 19

    Key Free Agents: SP Trevor Cahill, RF Kole Calhoun ($14M club option)

          

    Outlook

    Are the Los Angeles Angels finally ready to invest in building a contender around Mike Trout?

    Another offseason spent signing players the caliber of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill in an effort to field a viable starting rotation simply won't cut it. It's time to spend on a starting pitcher, and there will be an awfully good one available in Gerrit Cole, who just happens to be a SoCal kid.

    Before they turn their attention to free agency, the Angels will first need to decide what to do with Kole Calhoun. The 32-year-old hit a carer-high 33 home runs in a 2.3 WAR season, but top prospect Jo Adell could be ready to take over in right field before the All-Star break, and his $14 million club option could be redistributed toward pitching.

19. San Diego Padres (70-92, 5th in NL West)

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    Chris Paddack
    Chris PaddackDylan Buell/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 17

    Key Free Agents: RP Craig Stammen, RP Adam Warren ($2.5M club option), RP Aaron Loup ($2M club option)

          

    Outlook

    After shelling out big money to sign Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado in the past two offseasons, the San Diego Padres can no longer be overlooked as major players on the free-agent market.

    The organization has a wealth of talented young pitchers, including Chris Paddack, Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, Dinelson Lamet and Cal Quantrill, who showed varying levels of usefulness at the MLB level, and uber-prospect MacKenzie Gore.

    However, the need remains for an established veteran presence atop the starting staff, and with a loaded farm system, the Padre could turn their attention to the trade market to make a splash. More was expected from them than a 70-win season, and expectations will continue to grow.

18. Texas Rangers (78-84, 3rd in AL West)

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    Mike Minor
    Mike MinorJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 25

    Key Free Agents: DH Hunter Pence, IF Logan Forsythe, SP Edinson Volquez, RP Nate Jones ($5.2M club option), RP Shawn Kelley ($2.5M club option)

          

    Outlook

    The Texas Rangers are a team to watch in 2020, provided they fill out the pitching staff.

    Mike Minor (32 GS, 3.59 ERA, 200 K, 208.1 IP) and Lance Lynn (33 GS, 3.67 ERA, 246 K, 208.1 IP) were one of the best starting pitching tandems in baseball, yet the team still finished 25th in the majors with a 5.37 starters' ERA as 17 different pitchers started at least one game behind that duo.

    The unexpected contributions of Hunter Pence and Danny Santana also went a long way, so adding another proven bat might be a necessity. Still, there's potential if the Rangers can find a few more key pieces.

17. Cincinnati Reds (75-87, 4th in NL Central)

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    Jonathan India
    Jonathan IndiaJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 15

    Key Free Agents: SP Alex Wood, SS Jose Iglesias, RP Justin Grimm, IF Freddy Galvis ($5.5M club option)

          

    Outlook

    Despite finishing with a losing record for the sixth straight season, the Cincinnati Reds have lofty goals for the 2020 season.

    "All we're talking about is the postseason," president of baseball operations Dick Williams told reporters while also indicating the club's payroll will increase. "That's what matters. That's the goal next year. It's not taking incremental steps in a rebuild. It's about the postseason."

    By trading for Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark and Alex Wood last offseason and then Trevor Bauer at the deadline, the front office showed a willingness to deal. With another quality arm to slot alongside Gray, Bauer and Luis Castillo, an upgrade in center field to allow Nick Senzel to move to the infield and a bullpen arm or two, the Reds could be ready to contend.

16. Arizona Diamondbacks (85-77, 2nd in NL West)

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    Robbie Ray
    Robbie RayJamie Sabau/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 21

    Key Free Agents: C Alex Avila, OF Adam Jones, OF Jarrod Dyson, RP Yoshihisa Hirano, IF Wilmer Flores ($6M club option), RP T.J. McFarland ($1.9M club option)

          

    Outlook

    Despite trading away Paul Goldschmidt last offseason and Zack Greinke at the deadline, the Arizona Diamondbacks still finished with a winning record, and they closed the season with an 8-2 mark.

    The front office could once again look to flip short-term assets without fully committing to a rebuild, with left-hander Robbie Ray and outfielder David Peralta among the veterans who could be shopped.

    With a talented farm system and solid core pieces in place in Ketel Marte, Zac Gallen, Luke Weaver and Carson Kelly, the D-backs are well-positioned for future success. They might still be a year away, though, with another season in the .500 neighborhood on tap.

15. Boston Red Sox (84-78, 3rd in AL East)

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    Mookie Betts
    Mookie BettsMaddie Meyer/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 1

    Key Free Agents: SP Rick Porcello, 1B Mitch Moreland, IF/OF Brock Holt, 1B Steve Pearce, SP Jhoulys Chacin, IF/OF Chris Owings, DH J.D. Martinez (opt-out), SP Andrew Cashner ($10M club option)

          

    Outlook

    The Boston Red Sox have already made it clear that getting under the luxury-tax threshold will be a priority this offseason, and that could mean significant cost-cutting measures.

    Superstar right fielder Mookie Betts is projected to earn $27.7 million in his final year of arbitration, and he has said he plans on testing the open market, so the new-look front office will at least need to consider the idea of moving him now in an effort to restock a diminished farm system.

    That said, given Boston's large market and significant salary commitments, don't expect 2020 to be a rebuilding year. It can trade Betts and still try to contend, similar to what Arizona did with Paul Goldschmidt last offseason.


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14. Philadelphia Phillies (81-81, 4th in NL East)

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    Alec Bohm
    Alec BohmBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 6

    Key Free Agents: OF Corey Dickerson, SP Drew Smyly, RP Tommy Hunter, IF Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison, IF Sean Rodriguez, RP Juan Nicasio, RP Nick Vincent, SP Jason Vargas ($8M club option), RP Pat Neshek ($7M club option), RP Jared Hughes ($3M club option)

          

    Outlook

    The Philadelphia Phillies spent a ton of money last offseason and ended up with a flawed team that didn't have enough quality pitching to make a serious push in the NL East.

    With so much committed to the roster, expect them to do whatever they can to rectify those issues and push toward contention.

    That could mean a blockbuster trade to acquire a frontline arm if they come up empty on the free-agent market. Slugging third base prospect Alec Bohm would make an awfully appealing centerpiece in any major deal. This team is in win-now mode, so its foot will remain on the gas.

13. New York Mets (86-76, 3rd in NL East)

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    Zack Wheeler
    Zack WheelerRob Carr/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 11

    Key Free Agents: SP Zack Wheeler, 3B Todd Frazier, RP Luis Avilan, OF Juan Lagares, C Rene Rivera, SP Ervin Santana

         

    Outlook

    With Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and a full season of Marcus Stroman on the mound, and Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis and Amed Rosario leading the offensive attack, there will be a lot to like about the New York Mets in 2020.

    Still, they need to hire a new manager, and a big decision awaits on whether to pursue a long-term deal with free-agent starter Zack Wheeler.

    After going all-in last offseason and then buying at the trade deadline despite a losing record, the Mets still appear to be fully committed to winning now and will treat the offseason that way. The NL East is tough, though, and they have some work to do to bridge the gap to the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.

12. Cleveland Indians (93-69, 2nd in AL Central)

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    Corey Kluber
    Corey KluberMark Brown/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 10

    Key Free Agents: OF Yasiel Puig, RP Tyler Clippard, IF Ryan Flaherty, C Dioner Navarro, IF Adam Rosales, 2B Jason Kipnis ($16.5M club option), RP Dan Otero ($1.5M club option)

          

    Outlook

    It's worth watching what direction the Cleveland Indians will go this offseason after they were knocked off their perch atop the AL Central.

    There's a world in which the front office decides the window has closed and salary consciousness is the No. 1 priority, which could mean Francisco Lindor, Corey Kluber and others hit the trade block.

    At the same time, it's just as easy to envision a rotation fronted by a healthy Kluber, Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger doing the heavy lifting while a few mid-level additions to the lineup shore up the offense enough to make Cleveland a serious contender once again.

    It's a coin flip, and one of the most compelling storylines of the offseason.

11. Chicago Cubs (84-78, 3rd in NL Central)

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    Kris Bryant
    Kris BryantMatt Marton/Associated Press

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 5

    Key Free Agents: OF Nicholas Castellanos, SP Cole Hamels, RP Pedro Strop, RP Steve Cishek, RP Brandon Kintzler, IF/OF Ben Zobrist, C Jonathan Lucroy, RP Brandon Morrow, RP Xavier Cedeno, SP/RP Derek Holland ($7M club option), RP David Phelps ($5M club option), SP Kendall Graveman ($3M club option), RP Tony Barnette ($3M club option)

          

    Outlook

    On paper, the Chicago Cubs were still one of the most talented teams in baseball in 2019. On the field, they were a lackluster, complacent group that didn't seem to be playing with the same fire it had in recent seasons.

    Will David Ross unlock the team's full potential again after taking over for Joe Maddon?

    A busy offseason awaits, with the real possibility that some core members of the team will be traded. The Cubs' inability to develop any impactful homegrown pitchers has become an issue, and the result could be flipping someone such as Kris Bryant to land a controllable young arm.

    One way or another, change is coming.

10. Minnesota Twins (101-61, 1st in AL Central)

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    Jake Odorizzi
    Jake OdorizziBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 18

    Key Free Agents: SP Jake Odorizzi, SP Michael Pineda, SP Kyle Gibson, 2B Jonathan Schoop, RP Sergio Romo, C Jason Castro, SP Martin Perez ($7.5M club option)

        

    Outlook

    This might seem low for a team coming off a 101-win season, but keep in mind this is a ranking of teams based on their outlook for 2020 and not what they accomplished in 2019.

    The Twins might have more work to do this offseason than any other playoff team, with Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez all set to reach free agency. Those four pitchers accounted for 70.4 percent of the team's starts (114 of 162) and 43.1 percent of its innings pitched (630.1 of 1463.1).

    Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer and Brusdar Graterol showed potential down the stretch, but the Twins can't afford to go with four unproven guys behind staff ace Jose Berrios. One or two significant additions are needed to the rotation if they hope to repeat as AL Central champions.

9. Milwaukee Brewers (89-73, 2nd in NL Central)

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    Yasmani Grandal
    Yasmani GrandalJamie Sabau/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 12

    Key Free Agents: SP Gio Gonzalez, SP Jordan Lyles, RP Drew Pomeranz, RP Matt Albers, SP Chase Anderson ($8.5M club option), 1B Eric Thames ($7.5M club option), C Yasmani Grandal ($16M mutual option), 3B Mike Moustakas ($11M mutual option)

          

    Outlook

    It's a broken record at this point to say the Milwaukee Brewers need starting pitching help if they want to get over the hump and be a legitimate title contender.

    The bullpen-heavy approach worked in 2018, but when the relief corps took a step back this season, they didn't have the horses in the starting staff to make up the difference. A second-tier free agent such as Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner or Jake Odorizzi should be at the top of the Brewers' wish list.

    They will also have to deal with the likely departures of both Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas via mutual options. A new deal for each player is a distinct possibility, and that's one more bolded item on the to-do list as Milwaukee looks to make three straight trips to the postseason for the first time.

8. St. Louis Cardinals (91-71, 1st in NL Central)

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    Carlos Martinez
    Carlos MartinezKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 7

    Key Free Agents: OF Marcell Ozuna, SP Adam Wainwright, SP Michael Wacha, C Matt Wieters, RP Tony Cingrani

          

    Outlook

    The St. Louis Cardinals used an 18-9 August to seize control of the NL Central, avoiding the franchise's first four-year postseason drought since the mid-1990s in the process.

    The emergence of Jack Flaherty as a bona fide ace and Tommy Edman as a 3.8 WAR player in a super-utility role made a world of difference, and those two will be asked to fill key roles again next season. And with slugger Marcell Ozuna unlikely to be signed to a long-term deal, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt will need to avoid another slow start and carry the run production load.

    The biggest question mark is the starting rotation with Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson the only locks for spots. Will Adam Wainwright return for another season? Will Carlos Martinez move back into the rotation or be traded? Will there be an outside addition to replace Michael Wacha? All that needs to be answered.

7. Oakland Athletics (97-65, 2nd in AL West)

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    Tanner Roark
    Tanner RoarkRob Leiter/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 16

    Key Free Agents: SP Tanner Roark, SP Homer Bailey, SP Brett Anderson, RP Jake Diekman ($5.8M mutual option), RP Yusmeiro Petit ($5.5M club option)

          

    Outlook

    With a healthy Sean Manaea, an active Frankie Montas and expanded roles for Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, the Oakland Athletics starting rotation already looks vastly improved for 2020.

    The infield trio of shortstop Marcus Semien, third baseman Matt Chapman and first baseman Matt Olson combined for a staggering 19.9 WAR in 2019, while Mark Canha (4.5) quietly enjoyed a breakout season as one of baseball's most valuable utility players. The emergence of Liam Hendriks as a dominant late-inning force also went a long way.

    The Oakland front office just keeps finding ways to win on a shoestring budget, and after back-to-back postseason berths, it would be unwise to bet against a return to the playoffs in 2020.

6. Atlanta Braves (97-65, 1st in NL East)

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    Josh Donaldson
    Josh DonaldsonTodd Kirkland/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 8

    Key Free Agents: 3B Josh Donaldson, SP Dallas Keuchel, OF Matt Joyce, RP Josh Tomlin, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, C Francisco Cervelli, RP Anthony Swarzak, RP Darren O'Day, RP Jerry Blevins, SP Julio Teheran ($12M club option), OF Billy Hamilton ($7.5M mutual option), RF Nick Markakis ($6M club option), C Tyler Flowers ($6M club option)

          

    Outlook

    The Atlanta Braves have one of the most exciting young cores in baseball, and there is more help on the way with top prospects Cristian Pache, Drew Waters and Ian Anderson having closed the season at Triple-A Gwinnett.

    The second-half struggles of Austin Riley raised some questions about the future at third base, and the club would be wise to at least entertain a reunion with Josh Donaldson, who made good on a one-year, $23 million deal with a 37-homer, 6.1 WAR season.

    With Dallas Keuchel headed for free agency and Julio Teheran on the bubble with a $12 million club option, finding a starter to join Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz in the rotation should be a top priority. The bullpen could also use some help, though Mark Melancon pitched well in the closer's role.

5. Tampa Bay Rays (96-66, 2nd in AL East)

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    Travis d'Arnaud
    Travis d'ArnaudPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 13

    Key Free Agents: C Travis d'Arnaud, OF Avisail Garcia, IF Eric Sogard

          

    Outlook

    There's an awful lot of controllable young talent on the Tampa Bay Rays, who ranked 30th in the majors with a payroll just north of $64 million.

    The only notable free agents are the catcher they signed off the scrapheap, an outfielder they signed to a one-year deal last offseason and a utility infielder who was acquired at the trade deadline. That said, Travis d'Arnaud plugged a major hole behind the plate, and Avisail Garcia finished second on the team with 72 RBI, so the Rays will need to address those potential losses.

    Looking ahead to 2020, a return to health by Tyler Glasnow and a return to form by Blake Snell could make an already terrific pitching staff that much better. This team isn't going anywhere, and with more high-end young talent on the way, it could push for the AL East crown in 2020.

4. New York Yankees (103-59, 1st in AL East)

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    Didi Gregorius
    Didi GregoriusElsa/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 2

    Key Free Agents: SS Didi Gregorius, OF Brett Gardner, RP Dellin Betances, OF Cameron Maybin, RP Cory Gearrin, SP CC Sabathia (retirement), DH Edwin Encarnacion ($20M club option), RP Aroldis Chapman (opt-out)

          

    Outlook

    The New York Yankees dealt with a record number of injuries and in the process uncovered some valuable depth that will have an impact on their offseason decisions.

    If they let Didi Gregorius walk, they could go with an infield of Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and breakout performer Gio Urshela. If they let Brett Gardner walk, they could go with an outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and breakout performer Mike Tauchman, with Clint Frazier also in the mix. That gives them valuable leverage.

    The question is whether they will bolster the starting rotation with a flashy free-agent signing. With Domingo German likely to be suspended and J.A. Happ showing signs of age, the only clear-cut members of the 2020 staff are Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton. This is a team that could be one frontline arm away.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56, 1st in NL West)

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    Hyun-Jin Ryu
    Hyun-Jin RyuWill Newton/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 3

    Key Free Agents: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP Rich Hill, C Russell Martin, IF Jedd Gyorko ($13M club option)

          

    Outlook

    Another year, another NL West title, another disappointing finish to the postseason.

    After back-to-back World Series losses, the Dodgers won a franchise-record 106 games only to bow out in the National League Division Series.

    There's a wealth of talent on the roster, to the point that even if no outside additions are made, NL Cy Young Award candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu and veteran Rich Hill could easily be replaced in the starting rotation by up-and-comers Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin and the team would still be in great shape.

    It was World Series or bust in 2019, and the Dodgers came up short. That mindset won't change, and with some money to spend, don't be surprised if L.A. makes a splash in an effort to finally get over the hump.

2. Houston Astros (107-55, 1st in AL West)

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    Gerrit Cole
    Gerrit ColePatrick Smith/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 4

    Key Free Agents: SP Gerrit Cole, RP Will Harris, SP Wade Miley, C Robinson Chirinos, RP Hector Rondon, RP Joe Smith, SP/RP Collin McHugh, C Martin Maldonado

          

    Outlook

    The Houston Astros' decision to gut the farm system to acquire Zack Greinke this summer worked twofold. It bolstered the starting staff for the playoff push in 2019 but also provided the team with a quality veteran contingency plan if Gerrit Cole signs elsewhere in free agency.

    Veteran Wade Miley was also a key member of the starting staff before falling off down the stretch, so the team will need to decide if an emerging Jose Urquidy and a healthy Lance McCullers Jr. will be enough to offset those potential losses to the starting staff.

    With Will Harris (68 G, 26 HLD, 1.50 ERA), Hector Rondon (62 G, 19 HLD, 3.71 ERA) and Joe Smith (28 G, 4 HLD, 1.80 ERA) also reaching free agency, the bridge to closer Roberto Osuna will need to be fortified.

    With a deep roster in place that can withstand losing an AL Cy Young candidate, the pieces are there for this team to get right back to the Fall Classic in 2020.

1. Washington Nationals (93-69, 2nd in NL East)

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    Anthony Rendon
    Anthony RendonTim Warner/Getty Images

    2019 Opening Day Rank: 9

    Key Free Agents: 3B Anthony Rendon, IF/OF Howie Kendrick, RP Daniel Hudson, IF Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B Brian Dozier, OF Gerardo Parra, SP Jeremy Hellickson, RP Fernando Rodney, RP Greg Holland, RP Jonny Venters, 1B Ryan Zimmerman ($18M club option), C Yan Gomes ($9M club option), 1B Matt Adams ($4M mutual option), SP Stephen Strasburg (opt-out)

          

    Outlook

    With Anthony Rendon headed for free agency and Stephen Strasburg likely to opt out of the final four years and $100 million of his current contract, the Washington Nationals have a big decision to make regarding two of their cornerstone players.

    They will also need to address second base with Howie Kendrick and Brian Dozier set to depart, unless they feel top prospect Carter Kieboom is ready to handle the job. The bullpen also needs reinforcements with midseason additions Daniel Hudson and Fernando Rodney set to walk.

    Despite those question marks, the Nationals still have a tremendous core in place. Juan Soto and Victor Robles are two of the most exciting young outfielders in baseball, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin are signed long-term, and there is a real possibility both Rendon and Strasburg are retained.

    For now, the Nationals have earned the No. 1 spot in these rankings. There's work to do this offseason, though, if they want to stay perched atop these rankings heading into 2020.

         

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.

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