Predicting Each MLB Team's Best Player in 2025

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2020

Predicting Each MLB Team's Best Player in 2025

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Earlier this month, we took a crack at predicting each MLB team's most valuable player during the upcoming season.

    That in itself was no easy feat, and more than a few of those projections will likely wind up looking silly by this time next year.

    Ahead we've taken that a few steps furtherfive years' worth to be exactwith our predictions for who will be each team's best player at the start of the 2025 season.

    Think of this as a fun look ahead at what's to come for each organization. Players were selected based on long-term upside, contract situation and old fashioned guesswork. It's a mix of top prospects who have yet to make their MLB debuts, rising MLB stars and a few established MLB talents.

    Enjoy.

AL East

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    Wander Franco
    Wander FrancoBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Baltimore Orioles: C Adley Rutschman

    The No. 1 overall pick last June after he hit .411/.575/.751 with 17 home runs during his junior season at Oregon State, Rutschman has a chance to be a generational talent behind the plate for the rebuilding Orioles.

    While the organization has no reason to rush him, he made it to Single-A in his pro debut and could reach Double-A before the 2020 season is over. Chance Sisco has failed to live up to his billing as the team's catcher of the future, and he won't stand in Rutschman's way once he's deemed ready. A 2021 or 2022 debut could set him up to be the face of the franchise by 2025.

         

    Boston Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts

    Bogaerts signed a six-year, $120 million extension last April that will keep him in Boston through the 2025 season and perhaps a year longer if a $20 million option vests.

    The 27-year-old enjoyed the best offensive season of his career last year, posting a 140 OPS+ with 52 doubles, 33 home runs and 117 RBI in a 5.2-WAR campaign. He's always been a below-average defender at shortstop, and a move to the hot corner by 2025 could actually improve his overall profile.

         

    New York Yankees: SS Gleyber Torres

    The sky is the limit for Torres after he launched 38 home runs in his age-22 season. In order for him to still be playing with the Yankees by the time the 2025 season rolls around, he will need to have signed an extension, as he will be eligible for free agency for the first time during the 2024-25 offseason.

    The X-factor here is hyped international signing Jasson Dominguez.

    Signed for $5.1 million last summer and compared to the likes of Bo Jackson, Mickey Mantle and Mike Trout, Dominguez just turned 17 years old this month. The outfielder could debut by 2023 if he follows the developmental path of some other recent international phenoms, but expecting him to be the face of the Yankees at that point may be asking too much.

         

    Tampa Bay Rays: SS Wander Franco

    The consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball entering the 2020 season, Franco hit .327/.398/.487 with 43 extra-base hits in 114 games between Single-A and High-A.

    While he doesn't turn 19 years old until March 1, he is already well ahead of the developmental curve, and a 2021 debut seems well within reach. He is a strong enough defensive shortstop that his glove will not hold him back, and his bat has a chance to be MVP-caliber with an 80-grade hit tool and 60-grade power.

         

    Toronto Blue Jays: 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

    After hitting .272/.339/.433 with 43 extra-base hits in a 2.1-WAR season as a rookie, Guerrero is just scratching the surface of his once-in-a-generation potential.

    He has the offensive tools to win multiple batting titles and home run crowns, and as long as he stays on top of his conditioning, he should quickly develop into the face of the franchise and one of baseball's true superstars.

    Don't overlook Nate Pearson here, as his ceiling is as high as any young pitcher in baseball thanks to his high-octane stuff.

AL Central

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    Casey Mize
    Casey MizeMark Cunningham/Getty Images

    Chicago White Sox: CF Luis Robert

    While Eloy Jimenez has as much power potential as any player in baseball, Robert is a more complete player, with the wheels to be a perennial 30-30 threat and the glove to stick in center field for the long haul.

    The six-year, $50 million extension he signed in January includes a pair of club options that could keep him on the South Side through the 2027 season. After he hit .328/.376/.624 with 74 extra-base hits and 36 steals in the upper levels of the minors last year, Robert will begin the 2020 season as the front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year honors.

         

    Cleveland Indians: LF George Valera

    It's fair to assume the Indians will not shell out the money it takes to lock up guys like Francisco Lindor and Shane Bieber long-term. Top prospect Nolan Jones, a third baseman, has a high floor thanks to his elite on-base skills, but Valera has the highest ceiling in the Cleveland system.

    MLB.com wrote:

    "Valera has the best stroke in a system full of pretty swings, displaying looseness, rhythm and balance from the left side of the plate. He also has a mature approach and a knack for drawing walks along with making contact to all fields. His bat speed and the leverage in his swing give him solid raw power, and his skill as a hitter means that he may be able to translate most of it into home-run production once he adds more strength."

         

    Detroit Tigers: SP Casey Mize

    Will it be Casey Mize or Matt Manning who emerges as the future ace of the Detroit staff?

    Mize, 22, has been lights out since going No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft, rocketing through the minor league ranks to reach Double-A last season. Armed with a polished three-pitch mix that includes a lethal splitter and pitching from a strong 6'3", 220-pound frame, he checks all the boxes to be a future Cy Young contender.

         

    Kansas City Royals: SS Bobby Witt Jr.

    Pitching prospects like Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch will likely beat him to the majors, but last year's No. 2 overall pick, Bobby Witt Jr., has the highest ceiling in the Kansas City system.

    The 19-year-old is the rare shortstop with legitimate five-tool potential, giving him a chance to be the team's best homegrown position player since Alex Gordon debuted in 2007. In almost any other year, he would have been a slam-dunk No. 1 overall pick.

         

    Minnesota Twins: SS Royce Lewis

    The Twins' current homegrown core will no longer be under team control when the 2025 season rolls around, which makes one of the team's current top prospects the most likely face of the franchise five years from now.

    Shortstop Royce Lewis and outfielder Alex Kirilloff both suffered through disappointing seasons in 2019, but their long-term outlook remains incredibly bright.

    Lewis hit .236/.290/.371 in 127 games between High-A and Double-A during the regular season, but the 20-year-old rebounded to bat .353/.411/.565 with 12 extra-base hits in 22 Arizona Fall League games. That could be a springboard to a big 2020 and putting him back on the path to superstardom.

AL West

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    Mike Trout
    Mike TroutJohn McCoy/Getty Images

    Houston Astros: SP Forrest Whitley

    It will be interesting to see if the Astros run into problems trying to retain their in-house talent in the years to come, given the black cloud hanging over the organization.

    Alex Bregman is under contract through 2024, while several other core players will have a chance to leave even sooner. Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez will both still be arbitration-eligible, but if dynamic right-hander Forrest Whitley rights the ship and reaches his ceiling, he has a chance to be a perennial AL Cy Young contender and the future ace of the staff.

         

    Los Angeles Angels: CF Mike Trout

    All due respect to Jo Adell and Shohei Ohtani, who both have bright futures and the upside to be legitimate superstars, but it's hard to bet against Trout.

    The best player in the game today will still be just 33 years old in 2025. His massive 12-year, $426.5 million extension will keep him in an Angels uniform through the 2030 season, so unless the unforeseen occurs, he can be penciled in as the face of the franchise for 2025 and beyond.

        

    Oakland Athletics: SP Jesus Luzardo

    Luzardo is finally healthy and ready to seize a spot in the Oakland rotation after posting a 1.50 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings down the stretch, followed by three scoreless innings in the AL Wild Card Game.

    The 22-year-old has electric stuff and could be the ace of the Oakland staff before the 2020 season comes to a close. Current stars Matt Chapman and Matt Olson are only under team control through the 2023 season, and the small-market A's could have a hard time keeping them around long-term. The same goes for shortstop Marcus Semien, who is a free agent following the upcoming season.

        

    Seattle Mariners: RF Julio Rodriguez

    Julio Rodriguez or Jarred Kelenic?

    It's a good question to be facing for a Mariners team that has worked hard to build up the farm system over the past year-plus. Both young outfielders rank among the game's most exciting offensive prospects, and while Kelenic may be slightly ahead of Rodriguez in terms of current development, Rodriguez may wind up with the higher ceiling.

    Mariners fans are already dreaming about that duo sharing the outfield and the middle of the lineup for years to come.

        

    Texas Rangers: C Sam Huff

    The Rangers are a tricky team to forecast. Joey Gallo is a free agent after 2022 and the entire pitching staff is made up of veterans, leaving no clear answer on the current MLB roster.

    Pitching prospects Hans Crouse and Cole Winn both have a lot of boom-or-bust potential, while the same applies to guys like outfielder Leody Taveras and infielder Sherten Apostel. The opposite is true of 2019 first-round pick Josh Jung, who may ultimately be more floor than ceiling as he moves quickly toward the starting third base job.

    As a solid defensive catcher with 30-homer potential, Sam Huff could be a rare breed if he can build off his breakout 2019 season to emerge as one of the best two-way backstops in baseball.

NL East

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    Ronald Acuna Jr.
    Ronald Acuna Jr.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Atlanta Braves: CF Ronald Acuna Jr.

    Thanks to an eight-year, $100 million extension signed last offseason, Acuna will be in Atlanta through at least the 2026 season, and it could be longer if a pair of club options are exercised.

    After making a serious run at a 40-40 season in his second MLB campaign, it will be interesting to see just how much better Acuna can get in the years to come. Even if he has already peaked, which seems unlikely, he is a dynamic five-tool talent and a NL MVP candidate as things currently stand.

         

    Miami Marlins: SP Sixto Sanchez

    The centerpiece of the J.T. Realmuto blockbuster, Sanchez is finally healthy and ready to deliver on his front-of-the-rotation potential.

    The 21-year-old had a 2.76 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with a 103-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 114 innings. Despite his undersized 6'0", 185-pound frame, he has a chance to develop into the future ace of the Miami staff, and a 2020 debut to begin working toward that ceiling looks like a very real possibility.

        

    New York Mets: SS Ronny Mauricio

    Jacob deGrom is under contract through the 2023 season with a club option for 2024, at which point he will be 36 years old, so the door will be open for a new face of the Mets franchise. Slugger Pete Alonso is under team control through 2024, and one-dimensional first basemen don't age particularly well in today's game, so he seems like a risky pick as well.

    That leaves us with Mauricio, the current top prospect in the farm system. He hit a modest .268/.307/.357 with 29 extra-base hits in 116 games at Single-A last year, despite being one of the youngest players in full-season ball. As long as he remains so far ahead of the developmental curve, it will be easy to dream on his future potential.

            

    Philadelphia Phillies: 3B Alec Bohm

    The No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Bohm hit .305/.378/.518 with 30 doubles and 21 home runs while reaching Double-A in his first full pro season.

    His offensive game has been as advertised and his defense at the hot corner has been better than expected. While Bryce Harper is under contract through the 2031 season and J.T. Realmuto could be headed for a lucrative long-term extension of his own, Bohm has just as good a chance of anchoring the offensive attack five years down the road.

         

    Washington Nationals: LF Juan Soto

    Soto set expectations sky-high with a monster rookie season in which he hit .292/.406/.517 with 48 extra-base hits in 494 plate appearances. It was more of the same last year when he posted a 138 OPS+ while hitting .282/.401/.548 with 32 doubles, 34 home runs and 110 RBI to finish ninth in NL MVP voting.

    After letting Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon walk in free agency, it's worth wondering if Soto will also be allowed to test the open market following his final year of arbitration in 2024. Here's betting the team finds a way to lock him up with a pre-arbitration extension, making that a non-factor.

NL Central

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    Jack Flaherty
    Jack FlahertyMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    Chicago Cubs: CF Brennen Davis

    Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras are all rapidly approaching free agency, with the first four doing so after 2021 and Contreras the year after. There's a good chance at least one of them will be locked up long-term, with Baez looking like the leading candidate, but he'll be 32 years old in 2025.

    That means there's a good chance the best player on the Cubs five years from now will be someone not currently on the MLB roster. Hard-throwing Brailyn Marquez, catcher Miguel Amaya and infielder Nico Hoerner are all reasonable candidates, but we'll go with five-tool outfielder Brennen Davis, who hit .305/.381/.525 with 20 extra-base hits in 50 games as a 19-year-old at Single-A last year.

         

    Cincinnati Reds: SP Hunter Greene

    Despite spending the 2019 season watching from the sidelines following Tommy John surgery, Greene remains the most exciting prospect in the Cincinnati farm system, thanks to a special arm that gives him generational talent upside.

    His mix of athleticism, stuff and intangibles are rarely found on the pitcher's mound, and while the injury has stalled his development, he is still just 20 years old and has plenty of time to get back on track. The Reds will bring him along slowly the next few years, but he could be fronting the MLB staff by 2025.

               

    Milwaukee Brewers: 2B Keston Hiura

    By the end of the 2019 season, Hiura was hitting cleanup for a contending Brewers team, and his first full season in the majors could see him emerge as one of the breakout stars of 2020.

    The 23-year-old hit .303/.368/.570 with 23 doubles and 19 home runs in 348 plate appearances last year, and he has done nothing but rake since going No. 9 overall in the 2017 draft. With team control through the 2025 season and little in the way of rising stars down on the farm, Hiura looks like a good bet to be the guy in Milwaukee if Christian Yelich departs.

        

    Pittsburgh Pirates: SS Oneil Cruz

    What's not to like about a 6'6" shortstop?

    Cruz hit .298/.356/.475 with 27 extra-base hits and 11 steals in 73 games while reaching Double-A last year, and he's only beginning to tap into his 60-grade power. Meanwhile, he has yet to look overmatched at shortstop, despite conventional wisdom suggesting a player his size is not capable of sticking at the position.

    Right-hander Mitch Keller or third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes would have been the easy answer here, but don't sleep on Cruz as one of the most compelling prospects in baseball.

        

    St. Louis Cardinals: SP Jack Flaherty

    The Cardinals do as good a job as any team locking up homegrown players with early extensions, with second baseman Kolten Wong and shortstop Paul DeJong among those who have recently been inked to long-term deals.

    Flaherty would be the logical next target for an early extension after his lights-out second half last season. The 24-year-old had a 0.91 ERA and .142 opponents' batting average with 124 strikeouts in 99.1 innings in 15 starts after the All-Star break. He's a free agent after the 2023 season, but there's a good chance he'll never hit the open market.

NL West

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    Fernando Tatis Jr.
    Fernando Tatis Jr.John McCoy/Getty Images

    Arizona Diamondbacks: RF Kristian Robinson

    With a limitless offensive ceiling and advanced tools for a teenager, Robinson could be a household name by the end of the 2020 season.

    The 19-year-old hit .282/.368/.514 with 13 doubles and 14 home runs in 69 games last season, and he does not turn 20 until December. More of the same in a full season at the Single-A level will vault him to the upper echelon of leaguewide top-100 lists, and by 2025 he could be an absolute force in the middle of the Arizona lineup.

        

    Colorado Rockies: SS/3B Ryan Vilade

    Assuming the unhappy Nolan Arenado opts out of his contract after the 2021 season, the Rockies do not currently have anyone under contract for the 2025 season.

    A second-round pick in 2017, Vilade quietly enjoyed a breakout offensive season last year, hitting .303/.367/.466 with 27 doubles, 10 triples, 12 home runs and 24 steals at Single-A. The 21-year-old can play shortstop and third base, and he could wind up replacing Arenado as the everyday third baseman and the face of the franchise down the road.

         

    Los Angeles Dodgers: SP Walker Buehler

    The Dodgers have done an excellent job developing top prospects into MLB stars in recent years, and they will have some decisions to make on whether to sign those budding stars to long-term deals.

    With Clayton Kershaw likely to be out of the picture by 2025, Buehler may be the most important player on the roster. The 25-year-old finished ninth in NL Cy Young voting last year with a 3.26 ERA and 215 strikeouts in 182.1 innings, and all signs point to him being the future ace of the staff and a perennial Cy Young candidate.

        

    San Diego Padres: SS Fernando Tatis Jr.

    Tatis is a free agent after the 2024 season, so the Padres will need to find a way to lock him up long-term if he's going to be the face of the franchise in 2025. Expect them to do just that while they make the climb from rebuilding to contending at some point in the next couple of years.

    Left-hander MacKenzie Gore is also a solid choice here as arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball. He will just be entering the prime of his career in 2025, and as long as he stays healthy, all signs point to him developing into a bona fide ace.

         

    San Francisco Giants: SS Marco Luciano

    He's not talked about as much as fellow top prospects Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos quite yet, but there's a good chance Luciano winds up being the best player to emerge from a San Francisco farm system on the rise.

    The 18-year-old made his pro debut stateside last year and hit .302/.417/.564 with 13 doubles, 10 home runs and 42 RBI in 47 games split between rookie ball and Low-A. His 14.8 percent walk rate showed discipline beyond his years, he's just scratching the surface of his full offensive potential, and there is no doubt he can stick at shortstop. Face of the franchise potential for sure.

        

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