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

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2020

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

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

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

    For our first offseason reshuffling, teams are ranked based on their 2021 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 in the coming months and the overall direction the franchise is headed.

    We'll put together fresh versions of these power rankings throughout the offseason, with clubs shifting according to their wheelings and dealings.

    For now, this serves as a baseline for those future editions of our offseason rankings.

         

    On a personal note, I want to say thanks to everyone for reading along all season. This was my ninth year authoring our weekly MLB power rankings here at Bleacher Report, and debating the rankings each week remains one of my favorite parts of the job.

30. Pittsburgh Pirates (19-41, Fifth in NL Central)

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    Joe Musgrove
    Joe MusgroveRon Schwane/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 23

    Key Free Agents: RP Keone Kela, SP Derek Holland

         

    Outlook

    The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the early stages of what is going to be a lengthy rebuild, and after trading center fielder Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks last offseason, the roster is thin on viable trade chips.

    Third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes looked like a budding superstar in his first MLB action, hitting .376/.442/.682 with 14 extra-base hits in 95 plate appearances and showcasing Gold Glove-caliber defense. He gives the team a long-term building block and could be a candidate for an early extension.

    Expect the front office to once again pick through the free-agency scraps while shopping slugger Josh Bell and controllable starters Joe Musgrove, Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault. None of those players will bring back a franchise-altering return, but there should be some interest.

29. Texas Rangers (22-38, Fifth in AL West)

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    Lance Lynn
    Lance LynnTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 20

    Key Free Agents: DH Shin-Soo Choo, RP Jesse Chavez, C Jeff Mathis, SP Corey Kluber ($18M club option)

         

    Outlook

    The Texas Rangers front office has been candid about plans to trim payroll and commit to a youth movement, which means the AL West cellar could be their home for the foreseeable future.

    With Shin-Soo Choo ($21 million) and Corey Kluber ($18.5 million) coming off the books, they won't necessarily need to sell aggressively to get to their target payroll goal.

    Instead, they can focus on mining the best possible returns for veteran starter Lance Lynn and slugger Joey Gallo, the two most valuable trade chips on the roster. In a perfect world, they would also find a way to unload Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus, but that may be wishful thinking given their remaining financial commitments.

28. Baltimore Orioles (25-35, Fourth in AL East)

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    Ryan Mountcastle
    Ryan MountcastleKathy Willens/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 30

    Key Free Agents: SP Wade LeBlanc

         

    Outlook

    The Orioles hovered around .500 into the final month of the year before a 5-14 finish sent them tumbling down these rankings and up the 2021 MLB draft board.

    A pitching staff held together with bubble gum and duct tape somehow finished 16th in the majors with a 4.51 ERA, while bargain free-agent signing Jose Iglesias hit .373/.400/.556 with 17 doubles in 150 plate appearances.

    Sluggers Renato Nunez and Anthony Santander both made an impact in the middle of the order, and longtime prospect Ryan Mountcastle hit .333/.386/.492 with 23 RBI in 35 games after finally getting the call. There's more young talent rising the ranks and a light at the end of the tunnel, but the O's are still at least a few years from making a legitimate push.

27. Kansas City Royals (26-34, Fourth in AL Central)

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    Brady Singer
    Brady SingerPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 27

    Key Free Agents: RP Greg Holland, RP Ian Kennedy, LF Alex Gordon (retired)

         

    Outlook

    The Royals kicked off their youth movement when 2018 first-round pick Brady Singer earned a spot on the Opening Day roster, and fellow pitching prospect Kris Bubic also joined him in the starting rotation for the bulk of the season.

    Those two young pitchers took their lumps but also provided plenty of reason for optimism, and that's only the beginning in a system loaded with quality pitching talent.

    With Ian Kennedy ($16.5 million) and Alex Gordon ($4 million) coming off the books, they'll have some money to spend in free agency. Don't expect a huge splash, but they should be active players on the secondary market as they look to infuse a young roster with some veteran leadership.

26. Arizona Diamondbacks (25-35, Fifth in NL West)

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    Zac Gallen
    Zac GallenDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 15

    Key Free Agents: OF Jon Jay, C Stephen Vogt ($4M club option), RP Hector Rondon ($4M club option), SP Mike Leake ($18M mutual option)

         

    Outlook

    Arguably the most disappointing team of the 2020 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks looked poised to make a run at a playoff spot after adding Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte to a team that quietly won 85 games in 2019.

    Instead, a disastrous 2-18 stretch of games in late August and early September torpedoed their hopes of contending, Bumgarner flopped in the first season of a five-year, $85 million contract, and Marte ended up traded at the deadline.

    Right-hander Zac Gallen looks like a building block in the rotation, and the farm system is among the deepest in baseball, but their hopes of short-term contention when they traded Paul Goldschmidt for MLB-ready pieces might have been misguided. Expect a quiet offseason as they continue to retool.

25. Detroit Tigers (23-35, Fifth in AL Central)

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    Willi Castro
    Willi CastroCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 29

    Key Free Agents: 2B Jonathan Schoop, 1B C.J. Cron, SP Ivan Nova, C Austin Romine, SP Jordan Zimmermann

         

    Outlook

    After a 114-loss season in 2019 that earned them the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, the Tigers jumped out to a solid 17-16 start before falling off and finishing well below .500 once again.

    In the process, they welcomed a wealth of young talent to the majors, including top pitching prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, third baseman Isaac Paredes, outfielder Daz Cameron and shortstop Willi Castro, who hit .349/.381/.550 with 12 extra-base hits in 140 plate appearances.

    With Jordan Zimmermann ($25 million) finally off the books, the front office could be a bit more aggressive this offseason. That said, they've done a terrific job on the fringes of the free-agent market in recent years, including signing Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron to one-year deals last winter.

24. Colorado Rockies (26-34, Fourth in NL West)

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    Nolan Arenado
    Nolan ArenadoDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 26

    Key Free Agents: CF Kevin Pillar, DH Matt Kemp, IF/OF Chris Owings, RP AJ Ramos, RP Wade Davis ($15M mutual option), 1B Daniel Murphy ($12M mutual option)

         

    Outlook

    Despite a vastly improved performance from the starting rotation thanks to bounce-back seasons from Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela, the Rockies were once again on the outside looking in among NL West contenders.

    The bullpen was a disaster with a 6.77 ERA and 1.67 WHIP, and the offense went quiet, finishing in the middle of the pack with 275 runs scored (15th in MLB) and a .716 OPS (18th in MLB).

    After sitting on its hands last offseason, the front office needs to do something to shore up the relief corps and find some consistent production alongside Charlie Blackmon in the outfield. Otherwise, there was no reason to sign Nolan Arenado to that huge extension.

23. Seattle Mariners (27-33, Third in AL West)

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    Jarred Kelenic
    Jarred KelenicElaine Thompson/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 24

    Key Free Agents: RP Yoshihisa Hirano, OF Mallex Smith, IF/OF Dee Strange-Gordon ($14M club option), SP Kendall Graveman ($3.5M club option)

         

    Outlook

    Will 2021 be the year the Seattle Mariners finally snap a postseason drought that stretches back to the 2001 season?

    There's something special brewing down the farm, where outfield prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez headline a wealth of ascending young talent.

    However, the MLB roster remains a work in progress with little to build around beyond left-hander Marco Gonzales and AL Rookie of the Year front-runner Kyle Lewis, and the bullpen will need to be entirely rebuilt once again this offseason.

    This team is going to make some serious noise in the not-too-distant future, but the waiting game will likely continue for at least another year.

22. Boston Red Sox (24-36, Fifth in AL East)

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    Chris Sale
    Chris SaleTony Dejak/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 18

    Key Free Agents: CF Jackie Bradley Jr., RP Collin McHugh, SP Martin Perez ($6.25M club option)

         

    Outlook

    The return of Eduardo Rodriguez and eventually Chris Sale will provide a dramatic boost to a Boston Red Sox starting rotation that ranked 25th in the majors with a 5.34 ERA while using 16 different starting pitchers.

    Young players Alex Verdugo, Bobby Dalbec and Tanner Houck provided plenty of reason for excitement for the future, and there's more young talent on the way with guys like Jeter Downs, Triston Casas, Jarren Duran and Bryan Mata knocking on the door.

    However, after finishing in the AL East cellar, this team might be headed for a multiyear stretch of retooling the roster, even with the luxury tax now reset.

    They could look to make a splash in free agency, but they could just as easily look to shop guys like Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Nathan Eovaldi this offseason.

21. San Francisco Giants (29-31, Third in NL West)

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    Kevin Gausman
    Kevin GausmanJeff Chiu/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 25

    Key Free Agents: SP Kevin Gausman, SP Drew Smyly, RP Tony Watson, SP Trevor Cahill, SP Jeff Samardzija

         

    Outlook

    The San Francisco Giants hung around in the NL wild-card race longer than expected thanks to a surprisingly productive starting rotation led by offseason additions Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly and Trevor Cahill.

    According to Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area, there is mutual interest in a reunion with Gausman and Smyly, though it will likely cost significantly more than the combined $13 million they were set to earn in 2020 before the season was shortened.

    Mike Yastrzemski established himself as a foundational piece in the outfield, and Joey Bart gained some valuable experience behind the plate after Buster Posey opted out of the season, and there is a wealth of young talent rising the minor league ranks.

    It will likely be another offseason of bargain hunting before Johnny Cueto, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford all come off the books after the 2021 season.

20. Los Angeles Angels (26-34, Fourth in AL West)

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    Dylan Bundy
    Dylan BundyAssociated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 21

    Key Free Agents: SS Andrelton Simmons, SP Julio Teheran

         

    Outlook

    Until the Los Angeles Angels build a viable starting rotation, it's impossible to take them seriously as postseason contenders.

    Dylan Bundy was a great buy-low find last offseason, going 6-3 with a 3.29 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 65.2 innings, while Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning are both quality complementary pieces on the staff.

    Finding another frontline starter tops the offseason to-do list, and there is also a big decision to make on the infield with shortstop Andrelton Simmons headed for free agency.

    The front office can't afford to continue wasting Mike Trout's prime, and with Albert Pujols and Justin Upton both coming down the homestretch of their massive contracts, they should be ready to spend if the opportunity presents itself.

19. New York Mets (26-34, Fourth in NL East)

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    Marcus Stroman
    Marcus StromanJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 13

    Key Free Agents: SP Marcus Stroman, SP Rick Porcello, SP Michael Wacha, RP Justin Wilson, OF/DH Yoenis Cespedes, OF Jake Marisnick, RP Jared Hughes, C Robinson Chirinos ($6.25M club option), 3B Todd Frazier ($5.75M club option)

         

    Outlook

    With new ownership set to take charge, the New York Mets are in for a busy offseason.

    The starting rotation needs to be entirely rebuilt behind Jacob deGrom and rookie standout David Peterson, with Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha all headed for free agency and Noah Syndergaard still recovering from Tommy John surgery.

    That said, the team's top offseason priority could be a run at catcher J.T. Realmuto in free agency to address what has long been a revolving door behind the plate.

    There's no shortage of talent on the Mets roster, but the NL East is loaded, and despite lofty expectations year in and year out, they have turned in just three winning seasons in the last 12 years. Until sweeping changes are made, it's hard to view them as contenders.

18. Washington Nationals (26-34, Fourth in NL East)

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    Carter Kieboom
    Carter KieboomNick Wass/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 6

    Key Free Agents: C Kurt Suzuki, RP Sean Doolittle, IF Asdrubal Cabrera, 1B Ryan Zimmerman, SP Anibal Sanchez ($12M club option), RF Adam Eaton ($10.5M club option), IF Howie Kendrick ($6.5M mutual option), 1B Eric Thames ($4M mutual option)

         

    Outlook

    A year after winning the World Series, the Washington Nationals plummeted to the NL East cellar.

    An injury to Stephen Strasburg and a wildly ineffective back of the starting rotation left what was previously the team's biggest strength as a major weakness behind Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin.

    The departure of Anthony Rendon was also felt offensively, and beyond Juan Soto and Trea Turner, the lineup underwhelmed across the board.

    The trio of Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin will earn a combined $93.9 million in 2021, leaving the team with limited financial flexibility. That could mean tough decisions on whether to exercise club options on Anibal Sanchez ($12M) and Adam Eaton ($10.5M).

    They're not as bad off as they looked in 2020, but there's work to be done if they hope to contend with this current core.

17. Toronto Blue Jays (32-28, Third in AL East)

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    Taijuan Walker
    Taijuan WalkerAdam Hunger/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 22

    Key Free Agents: SP Taijuan Walker, SP Matt Shoemaker, SP Robbie Ray, IF/OF Jonathan Villar, RP Ken Giles, RP Anthony Bass, IF Joe Panik, SP Chase Anderson ($9.5M club option)

         

    Outlook

    The Blue Jays have work to do in rebuilding their starting rotation behind Hyun-Jin Ryu before they can be viewed as viable contenders in 2021.

    Ross Stripling, Tanner Roark, Trent Thornton, T.J. Zeuch, Anthony Kay and hard-throwing prospect Nate Pearson are among the in-house candidates to fill spots on the staff. They could also explore a new deal with deadline pickup Taijuan Walker after he threw the ball well down the stretch.

    There's a dynamic young offensive core in place headlined by Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and 2020 breakout star Teoscar Hernandez, and catcher Alejandro Kirk impressed in a nine-game debut.

    It's all about shoring up the pitching staff.

16. Cincinnati Reds (31-29, Third in NL Central)

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    Trevor Bauer
    Trevor BauerGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 16

    Key Free Agents: SP Trevor Bauer, SP Anthony DeSclafani, SS Freddy Galvis

         

    Outlook

    The Cincinnati Reds used an 11-3 finish to the regular season to punch their ticket to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

    Starting pitching was the strength of the team, and replacing NL Cy Young favorite Trevor Bauer won't be easy. There's still a chance that the Reds will make a serious push to re-sign him, but he's going to have a robust market and there are better landing spots if chasing a title is his No. 1 priority.

    The offense is also an area of concern after the Reds were held scoreless in their two postseason losses to Atlanta while hitting .169 as a team. The front office invested heavily in Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama last winter, but more needs to be done to address the lineup.

    There are enough question marks at the start of the offseason that it's hard to rank them any higher, despite their 2020 success.

15. Philadelphia Phillies (28-32, Third in NL East)

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    J.T. Realmuto
    J.T. RealmutoMatt Slocum/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 10

    Key Free Agents: C J.T. Realmuto, SS Didi Gregorius, RP Brandon Workman, RP Tommy Hunter, RP Jose Alvarez, OF/DH Jay Bruce, SP Jake Arrieta ($22.5M club option), RP David Robertson ($12M club option), RP David Phelps ($4.5M club option)

         

    Outlook

    First and foremost, the Philadelphia Phillies need to decide how much they're willing to spend on trying to retain All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. The 29-year-old will be tough to replace, but there's inherent risk in spending big at the position and they have other areas that need to be addressed as well.

    The good news is there's money to spend.

    Between Jake Arrieta, David Robertson, Jay Bruce and Didi Gregorius, there is $59 million coming off the books, and they could save another $7 million by cutting ties with Hector Neris.

    Rebuilding a bullpen that converted just 11 of 25 save chances and finished last in the majors with a 7.06 ERA has to be a top priority, and the team will also need to find at least one starting pitcher to replace Arrieta on the staff.

    It's going to be a busy offseason, but they're well-positioned to make sweeping improvements to the roster.

14. Milwaukee Brewers (29-31, Fourth in NL Central)

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    Corbin Burnes
    Corbin BurnesJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 11

    Key Free Agents: SP Brett Anderson, IF Eric Sogard ($4.5M club option), OF Ben Gamel ($2.6M club option), 1B/OF Ryan Braun ($15M mutual option)

         

    Outlook

    The emergence of Corbin Burnes in the starting rotation and Devin Williams at the back of the bullpen has greatly improved the Milwaukee Brewers' future outlook.

    Starting pitching has long been the biggest question mark on the roster, and Burnes' breakout as a frontline arm alongside Brandon Woodruff has changed that. That said, they would still benefit from adding another quality arm capable of chewing up innings.

    Christian Yelich (111 OPS+) and Ryan Braun (101 OPS+) were the only regulars with above-average offensive output, while Jedd Gyorko (135 PA, 121 OPS+) emerged as the team's best hitter down the stretch.

    The Brewers will never be a free-spending team, but they should have some flexibility with Braun coming off the books. A few complementary pieces and some in-house bounce-back performances could be enough for them to return to the postseason.

13. Chicago Cubs (34-26, First in NL Central)

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    Kris Bryant
    Kris BryantCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 14

    Key Free Agents: SP Jose Quintana, SP/RP Tyler Chatwood, RP Jeremy Jeffress, 2B Jason Kipnis, OF Cameron Maybin, SP Jon Lester ($25M club option)

         

    Outlook

    The Chicago Cubs are at a crossroads.

    With Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber all headed for free agency after the 2021 season and a glaring need for young, controllable pitching, something has to give.

    They won the NL Central title, but no one was surprised when they were quickly ousted from the postseason by a young Miami Marlins team with an inconsistent offense and shaky bullpen.

    If they're going to make one last push with the current core, they will need to shore up the starting rotation behind Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. Alec Mills and Adbert Alzolay both showed enough in 2020 to be viewed as potential long-term pieces, but further help is needed.

    Trading Bryant could be one way to address that need, and moving him this winter remains a distinct possibility, but they would be selling low after he hit .206 with a 73 OPS+ in the worst season of his career.

    Team president Theo Epstein is likely moving on once his contract expires after 2021, so one last run before handing things off to the next front office makes sense.

12. Miami Marlins (31-29, Second in NL East)

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    Sixto Sanchez
    Sixto SanchezJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 28

    Key Free Agents: RP Brad Boxberger, OF Matt Joyce, RP Nick Vincent

         

    Outlook

    The trio of Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez and rookie standout Sixto Sanchez helped the Miami Marlins reach the postseason for just the third time in franchise history, and they will be the foundation of the club's long-term plans.

    The lineup lacks star power, and Brian Anderson is the closest thing they have to an impact offensive player, but they received contributions from up and down the roster and a full season of deadline pickup Starling Marte could go a long way.

    It's unlikely they'll make a major splash in free agency at this point, instead relying on an influx of young talent from one of the deepest farm systems in baseball.

    They have a decision to make on a $4 million club option for closer Brandon Kintzler, and more help is needed to round out the relief corps. A few complementary pieces while they continue to wait on the development of their prospect talent should make them competitive amid the ongoing rebuild.

11. Houston Astros (29-31, Second in AL West)

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    George Springer
    George SpringerJae C. Hong/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 5

    Key Free Agents: CF George Springer, DH Michael Brantley, RF Josh Reddick, SP/RP Brad Peacock

         

    Outlook

    Despite a losing record during the regular season, the Houston Astros reached the postseason and went on a run, pushing the Tampa Bay Rays to seven games in the ALCS.

    Losing Justin Verlander for the year after Gerrit Cole departed in free agency was a huge blow to the pitching staff, but it opened the door for Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier to turn in breakout seasons in the starting rotation. Outfielder Kyle Tucker was also a revelation once Yordan Alvarez's season-ending knee injury paved the way for more playing time.

    The biggest question is what the front office will decide to do with George Springer and Michael Brantley in free agency, keeping in mind that Carlos Correa is also a free agent after the 2021 season and will require a significant financial investment if he's going to be retained.

    We saw the beginnings of the Houston roster transitioning to a younger core in 2020, and that figures to continue in the years to come. They're still good enough to contend in the process, but there could be some growing pains.

10. Oakland Athletics (36-24, First in AL West)

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    Marcus Semien
    Marcus SemienAshley Landis/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 9

    Key Free Agents: SS Marcus Semien, RP Liam Hendriks, 2B Tommy La Stella, OF Robbie Grossman, SP Mike Fiers, RP Joakim Soria, RP Yusmeiro Petit, RP T.J. McFarland, SP Mike Minor

         

    Outlook

    The Oakland Athletics ran away with the AL West in 2020, capturing their first division title since 2013 before the Houston Astros ousted them in the ALDS.

    That sets the stage for what will be a pivotal offseason for the franchise.

    A dominant bullpen has been a big part of their success in recent years, and replacing closer Liam Hendriks and veteran setup relievers Joakim Soria and Yusmeiro Petit will be the biggest key to the offseason.

    That said, shortstop Marcus Semien is the most compelling name among their free agents. His follow-up performance to a third-place finish in AL MVP voting fell short, but he's still a quality two-way shortstop and there's no clear in-house replacement.

    Don't rule out a new contract for deadline pickup Tommy La Stella and Robbie Grossman, who are both great fits in Oakland with their on-base-heavy approach.

9. Cleveland Indians (35-25, Second in AL Central)

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    Carlos Santana
    Carlos SantanaRon Schwane/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 12

    Key Free Agents: 2B Cesar Hernandez, RP Oliver Perez, C Sandy Leon, 1B Carlos Santana ($17.5M club option), RP Brad Hand ($10M club option)

         

    Outlook

    The Cleveland Indians will continue trying to build a contender on a shoestring budget, and that could mean declining their club options on both Carlos Santana ($17.5M) and Brad Hand ($10M).

    The decision on Hand would be directly tied to the belief that rookie standout James Karinchak is ready to step into the closer's role.

    The controllable trio of Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale will anchor the staff going, while prospect Triston McKenzie could be the X-factor after an up-and-down debut.

    Offensively, the team's outfield production is still sorely lacking, and the right side of the infield will also need to be addressed if Santana is cut loose and Cesar Hernandez is not re-signed.

    While the front office will continue to push to field a contender, it could also ramp up trade talks surrounding Francisco Lindor with just a year remaining before he reaches free agency.

8. St. Louis Cardinals (30-28, Second in NL Central)

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    Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright
    Yadier Molina and Adam WainwrightJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 8

    Key Free Agents: SP Adam Wainwright, C Yadier Molina, IF Brad Miller, C Matt Wieters

         

    Outlook

    Will Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina ride off into the sunset together, or will they return for another season in 2021?

    That's the biggest question surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals to begin the offseason, and it will dictate how they approach free agency this winter.

    With Dakota Hudson sidelined following Tommy John surgery and Miles Mikolas recovering from his own arm injury, the starting rotation is already a clear area of need, and Wainwright's retirement would make it an even more pressing concern. Deciding how to best use Carlos Martinez, Austin Gomber, Alex Reyes and Kwang Hyun Kim could be the key to maximizing the pitching staff.

    The Cardinals generally shy away from flashy free-agent signings, but they hit on the bargain addition of Brad Miller last winter and could again search for under-the-radar values.

7. Minnesota Twins (36-24, First in AL Central)

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    Nelson Cruz
    Nelson CruzJim Mone/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 7

    Key Free Agents: DH Nelson Cruz, SP Jake Odorizzi, RP Trevor May, RP Tyler Clippard, SP Rich Hill, UT Marwin Gonzalez, IF Ehire Adrianza, C Alex Avila

         

    Outlook

    The first big decision for the Minnesota Twins this offseason will be whether to bring back 40-year-old Nelson Cruz. After an MVP-caliber season, he could be looking for a raise over the two-year, $26 million contract he recently wrapped up, and the Twins have other areas of need.

    Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda will return in the starting rotation, and sinkerballer Randy Dobnak showed some intriguing potential, but the team needs at least one quality starter.

    The bullpen is of equal concern with free agents Trevor May (24 G, 3.86 ERA, 14.7 K/9) and Tyler Clippard (26 G, 2.77 ERA, 9.0 K/9) among the team's top relievers in 2020.

    On the offensive side, the front office might decide to bank on bounce-back seasons from Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano and Mitch Garver rather than searching for outside additions, and top prospect Alex Kirilloff is ready to make an impact after debuting in the postseason.

6. New York Yankees (33-27, Second in AL East)

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    DJ LeMahieu
    DJ LeMahieuMatt Slocum/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 2

    Key Free Agents: 2B DJ LeMahieu, SP Masahiro Tanaka, SP J.A. Happ, SP James Paxton

         

    Outlook

    How much is DJ LeMahieu going to demand in free agency?

    The 32-year-old signed a two-year, $24 million contract when he joined the Yankees, but after back-to-back MVP-caliber seasons, it's not out of the question to think he could approach the four-year, $92 million deal that Josh Donaldson signed last winter.

    Pitching is the biggest need on the Yankees roster, but deciding what to do with LeMahieu should be first on the to-do list.

    As the rotation currently stands, some combination of Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Severino (once he returns from Tommy John surgery) and Domingo German (if he's welcomed back to the roster) would follow ace Gerrit Cole.

    Bringing back Masahiro Tanaka makes sense if the price is right, and they will likely also kick the tires on Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman and the market's other top starters.

    There's money to spend and a dynamic core in place, but until the rotation is properly addressed, they can't move any higher up these rankings.

5. Atlanta Braves (35-25, First in NL East)

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    Max Fried
    Max FriedAdam Hunger/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 4

    Key Free Agents: DH/OF Marcell Ozuna, RP Mark Melancon, RP Shane Greene, SP Cole Hamels, C Tyler Flowers, RF Nick Markakis, RP Josh Tomlin

         

    Outlook

    The Atlanta Braves came one win away from the World Series with breakout ace Max Fried and a trio of rookies in Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson making up the starting rotation.

    There's a ton of upside in that group, and Mike Soroka will rejoin them at some point after missing the bulk of 2020 following a torn Achilles, but the team could still look to add a veteran presence to the staff.

    The biggest decision will be what to do with Marcell Ozuna now that it has been announced that the universal DH rule will not return in 2021. The team could go with an outfield of Adam Duvall, Cristian Pache and Ronald Acuna Jr. with top prospect Drew Waters waiting in the wings and Ender Inciarte serving as the fourth outfielder.

    They will also need to re-sign or replace veteran relievers Mark Melancon and Shane Greene after they anchored one of the best relief corps in baseball.

4. Chicago White Sox (35-25, Second in AL Central)

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    Luis Robert
    Luis RobertPaul Beaty/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 17

    Key Free Agents: C James McCann, RP Alex Colome, OF Jarrod Dyson, DH Edwin Encarnacion ($12M club option), SP Gio Gonzalez ($7M club option)

         

    Outlook

    Before addressing their various roster needs, the Chicago White Sox will first need to hire a new manager after Rick Renteria was let go following the team's early exit from the playoffs.

    Catcher James McCann is a compelling free-agent situation, as he's undoubtedly good enough to start elsewhere but is also extremely valuable to the White Sox roster. Ace Lucas Giolito had a 2.61 ERA in eight starts pitching to McCann, compared to a 5.66 ERA in four starts with Yasmani Grandal behind the plate.

    One route could be to decline their $12 million club option on Edwin Encarnacion and use a combination of Grandal and McCann in the DH role.

    Right fielder Nomar Mazara is a non-tender candidate, and that could be one area the front office looks to upgrade, while the back of the bullpen will also need to be addressed with closer Alex Colome reaching free agency.

    The return of Michael Kopech and rise of Andrew Vaughn should provide even more young talent to a roster on the rise, and the emergence of Dane Dunning down the stretch went a long way toward shoring up the current rotation.

3. San Diego Padres (37-23, Second in NL West)

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    Mike Clevinger
    Mike ClevingerGregory Bull/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 19

    Key Free Agents: RP Trevor Rosenthal, SP Garrett Richards, IF/OF Jurickson Profar, RP Kirby Yates, C Jason Castro, 1B Mitch Moreland ($3M club option)

         

    Outlook

    The San Diego Padres are still chasing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, but they bridged the gap significantly during the 2020 season.

    A breakout campaign from Dinelson Lamet and the deadline addition of Mike Clevinger solidified the starting rotation, though their health remains a major uncertainty after both pitchers suffered arm injuries down the stretch.

    Assuming the duo is 100 percent for the start of the season, they could still use another starter to replace Garrett Richards and serve as a stopgap prior to the arrival of top prospect MacKenzie Gore.

    Offensively, it's hard to find a hole in the roster, though they would be wise to bring back Jurickson Profar or find an equally versatile replacement to fill the super-utility role.

    Re-signing Trevor Rosenthal also looks like a smart move to solidify the bullpen, though there is no shortage of power arms in the organization.

    After a handful of splashy signings and trades the past few years, the Padres look like bona fide title contenders, and a few complementary additions this winter could push them over the top.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (40-20, First in AL East)

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    Tyler Glasnow
    Tyler GlasnowJae C. Hong/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 3

    Key Free Agents: RP Aaron Loup

         

    Outlook

    The Rays may have come up short in the World Series, but this team isn't going anywhere.

    Lefty reliever Aaron Loup is the only key member of the roster headed for free agency after he made good on a minor league deal, though they may also need to replace veteran starter Charlie Morton if he decides to retire.

    Healthy seasons from Austin Meadows, Yandy Diaz and Brendan McKay should provide an in-house boost, and breakout star Randy Arozarena will also be a full-time member of the everyday lineup. Fun fact: He still has rookie eligibility and will likely be the favorite for AL Rookie of the Year honors.

    With a loaded farm system headlined by consensus No. 1 prospect Wander Franco, a dynamic young core at the MLB level and a front office that knows how to identify and develop young talent, the Rays are here to stay as title contenders.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (43-17, First in NL West)

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    Justin Turner
    Justin TurnerEric Gay/Associated Press

    2020 Opening Day Rank: 1

    Key Free Agents: 3B Justin Turner, RP Blake Treinen, RP Jake McGee, RP Pedro Baez, OF Joc Pederson, IF/OF Enrique Hernandez, SP/RP Alex Wood

         

    Outlook

    The Los Angeles Dodgers won 13 division titles and made 14 trips to the postseason before finally winning their first World Series title since 1988, and they begin the offseason as favorites to repeat in 2021.

    Locking up Mookie Betts with a 12-year, $365 million contract the day before the 2020 season began eliminated their biggest offseason question mark in advance, but there is still work to be done this winter.

    Kenley Jansen is no longer a lock to fill the closer's role at the back of the bullpen, and key setup relievers Blake Treinen, Pedro Baez and Jake McGee are all set to depart in free agency. Expect the front office to explore all the market's top bullpen arms.

    Third base will also need to be addressed if Justin Turner is not retained, though a short-term deal to bridge the gap to prospect Kody Hoese is probably the best-case scenario for everyone involved.

    With Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May penciled into rotation spots and a stacked lineup set to return, the Dodgers have a legitimate shot at defending their title.

         

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.