A Wish-List for Every MLB Team to Improve Roster Before Spring Training

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterDecember 24, 2019

A Wish-List for Every MLB Team to Improve Roster Before Spring Training

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    Josh Donaldson still needs a job, and quite a few teams could use him.
    Josh Donaldson still needs a job, and quite a few teams could use him.Associated Press

    The 2019-20 Major League Baseball offseason has been anything but boring, yet the process of teams fitting all the right pieces into all the right places is far from complete.

    We've taken a fresh look at what teams are still missing on the eve of the new year. In keeping with the theme of the season, consider these to be their holiday wish-lists.

    For contenders, this involved highlighting weak spots and high-profile trades and free agents who might fix them. For everyone else, it was about addressing areas where depth and trade chips are needed.

    We'll go division by division, starting in the American League East and ending in the National League West.

American League East

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    What should the Yankees' offseason look like post-Gerrit Cole?
    What should the Yankees' offseason look like post-Gerrit Cole?Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Baltimore Orioles: Pitchers and Infielder

    It'll be a few more years before the Baltimore Orioles finish their rebuild, so there's no point suggesting they go after big-ticket players. However, trades of Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Villar only exacerbated their initial need for pitchers and infielders.

    Pitching-wise, the Orioles can pursue one-year deals with veterans such as Homer Bailey, Ivan Nova and Alex Wood or reclamation projects such as Aaron Sanchez, Jimmy Nelson and Taijuan Walker. Someone like Matt Duffy would be an ideal upside play for their infield.

               

    Boston Red Sox: Relief Pitchers

    The Boston Red Sox will have a big hole to fill if their quest to cut payroll leads to a trade of Mookie Betts or David Price. But in the meantime, their rotation and offense are actually in decent shape following the additions of Martin Perez and Jose Peraza.

    Boston's bullpen, on the other hand, still resembles the leaky ship it was throughout the 2019 season. If the Rod Sox don't want to stretch their budget for Will Harris, they might pursue lower-cost veterans like Craig Stammen or Brandon Kintzler. A reunion with Andrew Cashner should also be in the cards.

                 

    New York Yankees: Infielder and Relief Pitcher

    In addition to re-signing ol' standby Brett Gardner, the New York Yankees broke with their recent pattern of risk aversion to sign ace right-hander Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking $324 million contract. As a result, their outfield and starting rotation are good to go.

    From here, the Yankees might fill Didi Gregorius' vacated spot in their infield depth chart with a veteran such as Brock Holt or Asdrubal Cabrera. And while their bullpen is already stacked, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that they're eyeing Milwaukee Brewers All-Star Josh Hader. To which we say: Sure, why not?

                

    Tampa Bay Rays: Corner Infielder and Catcher

    The Tampa Bay Rays are another AL East power that might get away with standing pat for the rest of the winter. They initially needed to see to their offense, but not so much anymore after re-signing Mike Zunino and adding Hunter Renfroe and Yoshi Tsutsugo.

    Still, it wouldn't kill the Rays to add a right-handed hitter (e.g., Todd Frazier or Wilmer Flores) who can play the infield corners. And given how poorly Zunino hit in 2019, it wouldn't be a bad idea to upgrade their catching depth chart. To wit, Jason Castro and Robinson Chirinos are still out there.

                 

    Toronto Blue Jays: Designated Hitter, Center Fielder and Relief Pitchers

    When the offseason began, the Toronto Blue Jays simply had to add veteran starting pitchers. Now that they have Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson, that need doesn't loom as large. They also don't need a first baseman as much after signing Travis Shaw.

    The Blue Jays might now seek veteran help at designated hitter and center field, for which reunions with Edwin Encarnacion and Kevin Pillar are possible. Since they could also use depth in their bullpen, they should be looking at the same relievers as the Red Sox.

American League Central

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    Rocco Baldelli's Twins still need pitching.
    Rocco Baldelli's Twins still need pitching.Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Chicago White Sox: Infielder and Starting Pitcher

    Following their more or less encouraging 72-89 showing in 2019, the Chicago White Sox have lined themselves up for contention in 2020 by re-signing Jose Abreu and bringing aboard Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez and Nomar Mazara.

    Because they still need an infielder, the White Sox might go for broke and sign Josh Donaldson. Or, they could keep Yoan Moncada at the hot corner and pick up a second baseman such as Asdrubal Cabrera or Starlin Castro. One more starting pitcher would also be a good idea, even if it was something as simple as re-signing Ivan Nova to eat innings.

                    

    Cleveland Indians: Starting Pitcher, Second Baseman and Outfielder

    Rather than cut further payroll by trading Francisco Lindor, the Cleveland Indians should use their savings from the Corey Kluber trade to patch the hole in their rotation created by his departure. They also still haven't really filled the shoes vacated by Yasiel Puig in their outfield.

    Signing Nicholas Castellanos or simply reuniting with Puig would work for the latter. Kluber's shoes are harder to fill, but the Indians might roll the dice on Aaron Sanchez, Jimmy Nelson or Taijuan Walker. If they merely want innings, Nova or Homer Bailey would do.

                

    Detroit Tigers: Hitters

    The Detroit Tigers will be in rebuilding mode for a few more seasons, but they nonetheless needed to upgrade an offense that mustered only 3.6 runs per game in 2019. To their credit, newcomers C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and (to a lesser extent) Austin Romine will help with that.

    Yet the Tigers still have room for veterans who could bring additional dignity to their offense and maybe become trade chips down the line. For instance, Puig, Kole Calhoun, Eric Thames and Todd Frazier are among those who might be amenable to accepting a one-year pillow deal to play in Detroit. 

               

    Kansas City Royals: Outfielder and Pitchers

    There's no pressure on the Kansas City Royals to win any time soon, so they don't need to reel in any big-name players. But since they need an outfielder, they might make an exception for old friend Alex Gordon, who can be re-signed for much less than the $20 million he earned in 2019.

    The Royals should also be eyeing the same cheap starters that make sense for the Orioles. They would also be doing their bullpen a service by going after more reclamation projects like Trevor Rosenthal. Hector Rondon, for example, is a former standout who might have something left in the tank.

               

    Minnesota Twins: Starting Pitchers and Corner Infielder

    The Minnesota Twins have deepened their pitching staff by re-inserting Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda into their rotation and also adding Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard to their bullpen. Alex Avila, meanwhile, is set to step into Jason Castro's empty shoes behind the plate.

    However, the Twins still require an impact starting pitcher. Because the free-agent market is out of options, they must turn to the trade market for David Price, Robbie Ray or Matthew Boyd. And while they don't need a big bat, Donaldson or Edwin Encarnacion would make their all-powerful offense even more so.

American League West

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    Anthony Rendon alone can't save the Angels.
    Anthony Rendon alone can't save the Angels.Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Houston Astros: Starting Pitchers

    Assuming they don't go and do something foolish—like, say, trading Carlos Correa—the Houston Astros have most of what they need to continue their string of 100-win seasons in 2020. Save, that is, for a fully functional starting rotation.

    With Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley gone and their 2020 payroll already projected well into luxury-tax territory, this situation looks grim. But the Astros can at least find some innings by signing Ivan Nova or Homer Bailey. If it's upside they desire, a trade for Robbie Ray or Jon Gray would suit them.

              

    Los Angeles Angels: No. 1 Starter, Catcher and Relief Pitcher

    Evidently, the Los Angeles Angels have had just about enough of Mike Trout's prime years going to waste. Anthony Rendon is aboard to help him carry the offense, while Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran are in to provide innings for the starting rotation.

    But because the Angels still need a No. 1 starter, they should have their sights set on David Price and other high-profile names on the trade market. Further, Jason Castro or Robinson Chirinos would upgrade their catching corps. Will Harris is the best arm they can add to their good-not-great bullpen.

                   

    Oakland Athletics: Second Baseman and Starting Pitcher

    What do the Oakland Athletics need before they can make a run at a third straight 97-win season? At this point, arguably nothing. They were shockingly short on needs when the winter began, and that hasn't changed.

    But with Jurickson Profar now out of the picture, the A's might seek out Asdrubal Cabrera, Starlin Castro or Brian Dozier to bring veteran stability to second base. It also wouldn't hurt if they added a veteran starter. Bringing back Homer Bailey on a low-cost deal is a potential solution.

                  

    Seattle Mariners: Pitchers and Veteran Hitters

    At least among American League clubs, the Seattle Mariners are in a unique spot. They're rebuilding, but they've already built their farm system into one of baseball's best. Yet despite that, it's too soon for them to spur improvement with a Jon Lester-esque signing.

    However, Kendall Graveman shouldn't be the last low-cost, low-risk starter the Mariners add this winter. They should have their eye on the usual suspects we've name-dropped several times already. They might also take fliers on veteran hitters who might have something left in the tank such as Brian Dozier or Jason Kipnis.

                 

    Texas Rangers: Third Baseman, Outfielder and Catcher

    The Texas Rangers have arranged one of the AL's best starting rotations, but they still have an oh-so-obvious need at third base after whiffing on Rendon. Josh Donaldson should be their prime target, though they shouldn't neglect possible trades for Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant.

    Because the Rangers could also use a right-handed stick in their outfield, they need to be in on Nicholas Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna and Yasiel Puig. They also need help behind the dish, so they should get revenge on the Angels by getting to Castro or Chirinos first.

National League East

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    Is Stephen Strasburg enough for the Nationals?
    Is Stephen Strasburg enough for the Nationals?Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Atlanta Braves: Third Baseman and Outfielder

    The Atlanta Braves began their winter with holes up and down their roster. Many were taken care of in a rapid succession of free-agent signings highlighted by deals with Cole Hamels and Will Smith. However, they're still missing Josh Donaldson at third base and in the middle of their batting order.

    If the Braves don't simply re-sign Donaldson, they should consider trading for Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant. In the event that they move ahead with Austin Riley at the hot corner, they could at least add a right-handed-hitting outfielder like Nicholas Castellanos or Marcell Ozuna.

                 

    Miami Marlins: Hitters and Relief Pitchers

    The Miami Marlins were basically in the same boat as the Tigers when the offseason began. Despite their ongoing rebuild, they needed to do something to address an offense that scored only 3.8 runs per game in 2019. To this end, they've so far added Jonathan Villar, Jesus Aguilar and Francisco Cervelli.

    Because their outstanding farm system should start bearing fruit in the near future, the Marlins might consider a bigger upgrade by signing Miami native Nicholas Castellanos or old friend Marcell Ozuna. Speaking of old friends, Steve Cishek is one of many possibilities for their weak bullpen.

               

    New York Mets: Relief Pitcher and Center Fielder

    After signing Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha for their starting rotation and deepening their outfield by trading for Jake Marisnick, the New York Mets are potentially done adding to their roster. But after saving a bunch of money by amending Yoenis Cespedes' contract, they shouldn't be.

    Will Harris would be a fine addition to a bullpen that was often unreliable in 2019. And rather than go with a Marisnick/Brandon Nimmo platoon, the Mets would do well to add a star center fielder. A trade for Starling Marte, for instance, still sticks out as a move they should make.

             

    Philadelphia Phillies: Third Baseman and Relief Pitcher

    The Philadelphia Phillies' rotation and infield look a lot better after the signings of Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius. Yet their offense won't quite feel complete until they add a third baseman, so they should be determined to beat the Braves to Donaldson, Arenado or Bryant.

    The Phillies otherwise don't need much, though their bullpen would look better with another late-inning reliever—preferably of the right-handed variety. Lucky for them, Harris and Daniel Hudson are still looking for work.

               

    Washington Nationals: Third Baseman and Relief Pitchers

    The Washington Nationals have retained Stephen Strasburg, Howie Kendrick and Yan Gomes since winning their first-ever World Series championship in October. Anthony Rendon, however, escaped their grasp when he bolted for the Angels.

    That makes the Nationals yet another team that should be in on Donaldson, Arenado and Bryant for third base. Their bullpen, meanwhile, would benefit greatly from a reunion with Hudson. It could also use another left-hander such as Francisco Liriano.

National League Central

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    New Cubs manager David Ross could use some new toys.
    New Cubs manager David Ross could use some new toys.David Banks/Getty Images

    Chicago Cubs: Second Baseman, Center Fielder, Starting Pitcher and Relief Pitcher

    The Chicago Cubs parted ways with Joe Maddon and replaced him in the manager's chair with David Ross back in October. Rather than go shopping for various parts Ross needs, however, the Cubs have done basically nothing to improve their roster this winter.

    Their primary needs are still at second base and center field, as well as in their rotation and bullpen. A trade for Whit Merrifield is the best thing they can do for their offense, as he can bat leadoff and play both second and center. They should also have their eye on Andrew Cashner and Collin McHugh as candidates to work as both a starter and a reliever.

               

    Cincinnati Reds: Shortstop and Outfielder

    Meanwhile in Cincinnati, the Cubs' inaction might help explain why the Reds have been so busy. By adding Mike Moustakas to their lineup and Wade Miley to their rotation, they've positioned themselves to contend for the NL Central title in 2020.

    The Reds can continue their climb up the division's ranks by upgrading at shortstop and in their outfield. Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna are their best bets for the latter. Free agency doesn't have much for the former, but a trade for Francisco Lindor is sitting there waiting to be made.

                

    Milwaukee Brewers: Third Baseman and Relief Pitcher

    The Milwaukee Brewers may have lost Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal to free agency, but they've done plenty to try to make up for it. Though Avisail Garcia, Justin Smoak and Luis Urias are the headliners, they've made a ton of signings and trades that have impacted every corner of their roster.

    The Brewers still don't have a proper third baseman, though. They don't seem like a candidate to land Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant, but they could at least go for Asdrubal Cabrera or Todd Frazier. They could also use a late-inning righty to help out Josh Hader. Will Harris and Daniel Hudson might be in their price range.

             

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Catcher and Power Hitters

    With new leadership in place from top to bottom, the Pittsburgh Pirates should now be focused on subtracting pieces from a roster that produced an ugly 93-loss season in 2019. They need a full-on rebuild, and it should start with trades of Starling Marte and even Josh Bell.

    But since the Pirates are in no hurry to do that, we'll play along and suggest they fix their deficiencies. Jason Castro or Robinson Chirinos would upgrade their catching depth chart. After hitting only 163 home runs in 2019, they should also target low-cost sluggers. Frazier, for example, would work for them, too.

                

    St. Louis Cardinals: Impact Hitters

    The St. Louis Cardinals began the winter with holes in their rotation, but they took care of them by re-signing Adam Wainwright and bringing aboard Korean left-hander Kwang-Hyun Kim.

    What they need now is an impact hitter or two for an offense that stumbled throughout the 2019 regular season before finally crashing and burning in the postseason. Since their outfield is the best place for said bats, they should consider re-signing Ozuna or going for Castellanos instead.

National League West

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    Do the Diamondbacks have any more surprises after Madison Bumgarner?
    Do the Diamondbacks have any more surprises after Madison Bumgarner?Matt York/Associated Press

    Arizona Diamondbacks: Infielder, Corner Outfielder and Relief Pitcher

    The Arizona Diamondbacks pulled off a surprise when they scored Madison Bumgarner for what was already a pretty good starting rotation. They can now keep up the pressure on the rest of the NL West by filling out their lineup and adding to their bullpen.

    After stretching their budget for Bumgarner, the Snakes might go cheaper for Kole Calhoun or Corey Dickerson to fill their need for a corner outfielder. They should also seek a reunion with Wilmer Flores so he can platoon at second base and third base. Their bullpen would specifically benefit from a lefty such as Francisco Liriano.

                  

    Colorado Rockies: Catcher, Infielder and Outfielder

    The Colorado Rockies are coming off a 91-loss campaign, and their 2020 payroll is set to be high by their standards even though they haven't made any seismic moves this winter. Hence why there's so much intrigue about them possibly trading Nolan Arenado.

    If the Rockies instead keep him and aim to contend in 2020, their offense will need attention. They specifically need right-handed hitters to balance out their lineup. Robinson Chirinos is the best they can do at catcher, while Flores and Cameron Maybin are low-cost options for their infield and outfield.

               

    Los Angeles Dodgers: Impact Hitter and Starting Pitcher

    The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the winter with more than enough money and prospects to pursue high-profile free agents and trade targets. But all they've done is add Blake Treinen to their bullpen while other teams have snatched up stars who would have fit perfectly in Los Angeles.

    The Dodgers can still save their offseason by signing Josh Donaldson, who would be the kind of offensive upgrade they need. Alternatively, they could trade for Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant or even Arenado. Their rotation also has a hole that needs filling, so they should likewise have their eye on David Price, Robbie Ray, Matthew Boyd and Jon Gray.

                   

    San Diego Padres: No. 1 Starter

    It's hard to see the San Diego Padres as a real threat to the Dodgers, or even to the Diamondbacks. This has, however, been yet another aggressive offseason that's thus far boosted their offense, rotation and bullpen. As a result, the Padres are suddenly short on true needs. 

    Still, they haven't yet landed a proper No. 1 starter to slot ahead of Chris Paddack and a healthy Garrett Richards. With the free-agent market picked clean, they should be thinking about putting their prospect depth to use in a trade for one of the aces mentioned above.

              

    San Francisco Giants: Starting Pitcher, Relief Pitcher and Power Hitters

    The San Francisco Giants were probably lucky to win 77 games in 2019 even with Bumgarner and Will Smith. Now that they're gone, they have holes in both their rotation and their bullpen. They also have a general need for power in an offense that mustered only 167 home runs this past season.

    The Giants should be looking at veteran innings-eaters such as Ivan Nova and Homer Bailey. They should also be in the market for Will Harris and Daniel Hudson. If they want to, they can likely afford Marcell Ozuna or Nicholas Castellanos, both of whom would fit well in their outfield.

               

    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Payroll data courtesy of Roster Resource.

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