Predicting Every MLB Team’s 2021 Opening Day Lineup 3 Months Out

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2021

Predicting Every MLB Team's 2021 Opening Day Lineup 3 Months Out

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The slow-moving MLB offseason means there is a wealth of talent still sitting in free agency, waiting to see where they will be playing in 2021.

    That makes it a bit difficult to get a lay of the MLB land for the upcoming season without projecting where all of the available talent will sign.

    Ahead, we've done just that, assigning all of the top remaining free agents to logical landing spots before predicting each MLB team's Opening Day starting lineup.

    Last season's lineup data from Baseball Reference, the projected roster from FanGraphs and a healthy amount of speculation went into compiling each team's batting order.

    Let the debate begin.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Ketel Marte
    Ketel MarteRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Ketel Marte
    2. LF David Peralta
    3. 1B Christian Walker
    4. RF Kole Calhoun
    5. 3B Eduardo Escobar
    6. CF Kevin Pillar
    7. SS Nick Ahmed
    8. C Carson Kelly
    9. SP Zac Gallen

         

    Notes

    The D-backs' best in-house option to man center field right now is converted catcher Daulton Varsho.

    He hit .188 with 33 strikeouts in 115 plate appearances in his MLB debut, and while the former top prospect still profiles as a big part of the team's future, it's clear he would benefit from more time in the minors.

    The free-agent market is thin on viable center field options, but veteran Kevin Pillar can fill the void on a short-term deal. He posted a 107 OPS+ with 21 extra-base hits last season on a one-year, $4.25 million deal, and he should have a similar price tag this winter.

Atlanta Braves

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    Freddie Freeman
    Freddie FreemanMatt Slocum/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Ronald Acuna Jr.
    2. 1B Freddie Freeman
    3. LF Marcell Ozuna
    4. C Travis d'Arnaud
    5. 3B Kris Bryant
    6. 2B Ozzie Albies
    7. SS Dansby Swanson
    8. CF Cristian Pache
    9. SP Max Fried

          

    Notes

    The decision to non-tender Adam Duvall has created a more clear path for the Atlanta Braves to re-sign Marcell Ozuna, and while he does profile best as a designated hitter, he's no worse defensively in the outfield than Nick Castellanos, and the Cincinnati Reds didn't hesitate to sign him to a four-year, $64 million contract to be their right fielder last winter.

    Is Atlanta going to be the landing spot for Kris Bryant?

    It makes a lot of sense, and a package built around Austin Riley and a few high-ceiling, lower-level prospects should be enough to pry him loose from a Cubs team in the process of dismantling the roster. Extending him on the other end of the trade when his value has dipped could also be a good way to squeeze some long-term value out of the deal while shoring up the third base position for the foreseeable future.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Ryan Mountcastle
    Ryan MountcastleJulio Cortez/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Cedric Mullins
    2. SS Freddy Galvis
    3. 1B Ryan Mountcastle
    4. DH Trey Mancini
    5. RF Anthony Santander
    6. C Pedro Severino
    7. 3B Rio Ruiz
    8. LF Austin Hays
    9. 2B Yolmer Sanchez
    SP John Means

          

    Notes

    The decision to non-tender Hanser Alberto and trade Jose Iglesias has left the rebuilding Orioles in need of at least one middle infielder this winter. Veteran Freddy Galvis is still a low-end starter at shortstop in this league, but Baltimore may be his only opportunity for everyday playing time, so it seems like an obvious fit.

    It will be interesting to see which three outfielders emerge from the foursome of Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart, though all are likely to be included on the Opening Day roster.

    The availability of Trey Mancini is also still a question mark as he makes his return from colon cancer, and if he's not ready to go, it would likely be Chris Davis in the DH role to begin the year.

Boston Red Sox

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    Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers
    Xander Bogaerts and Rafael DeversAssociated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Alex Verdugo
    2. 3B Rafael Devers
    3. SS Xander Bogaerts
    4. DH J.D. Martinez
    5. C Christian Vazquez
    6. RF Hunter Renfroe
    7. 1B Bobby Dalbec
    8. LF Andrew Benintendi
    9. 2B Enrique Hernandez
    SP Nathan Eovaldi

          

    Notes

    Top prospect Jeter Downs is the future at second base in Boston, but he has played just 12 games above High-A, so expecting him to be on the Opening Day roster is wishful thinking.

    To that point, the Red Sox have shown "strong interest" in the versatile Enrique Hernandez in free agency, according to Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. After filling a utility role with the Dodgers, he is no doubt looking for everyday playing time with his next team.

    Don't rule out Bobby Dalbec starting the season in the minors after he struck out a staggering 42.4 percent of the time in his 23-game debut, in which case Michael Chavis would likely get the nod at first base.

Chicago Cubs

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    Ian Happ
    Ian HappCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Ian Happ
    2. 1B Anthony Rizzo
    3. SS Javier Baez
    4. C Willson Contreras
    5. 2B Jonathan Schoop
    6. RF Jason Heyward
    7. 3B Austin Riley
    8. CF Nico Hoerner
    9. SP Kyle Hendricks

          

    Notes

    With reports that Nico Hoerner could see more playing time in center field, the Chicago Cubs could be in the market for a second baseman. David Bote is an option there, but he's arguably more valuable to the team in his current super-utility role.

    Jonathan Schoop quietly posted a 115 OPS+ with eight home runs and 23 RBI in 44 games with the Detroit Tigers last year on a one-year, $6.1 million deal and could conceivably come even cheaper this winter in a slow-moving market.

    With Kris Bryant projected to be traded to the Atlanta Braves in this exercise, Austin Riley takes over as the new third baseman and a young building block on the North Side. There's still a chance Willson Contreras could be moved, but expect him to stay put for the time being following the Victor Caratini trade.

Chicago White Sox

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    Tim Anderson
    Tim AndersonPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. SS Tim Anderson
    2. 3B Yoan Moncada
    3. 1B Jose Abreu
    4. DH Nelson Cruz
    5. LF Eloy Jimenez
    6. C Yasmani Grandal
    7. CF Luis Robert
    8. RF Adam Eaton
    9. 2B Nick Madrigal
    SP Lucas Giolito

          

    Notes

    Adding Nelson Cruz to what is already one of the most potent offenses in baseball would not be a prohibitively expensive move for the White Sox.

    The team received disappointing production from Edwin Encarnacion at designated hitter last season on a one-year, $12 million contract, and it probably won't cost much more than that to sign Cruz, who is entering his age-40 season. He just wrapped up a two-year, $26 million contract with the Minnesota Twins.

    That would allow Adam Engel to be used as the team's fourth outfielder and a defensive replacement for Eloy Jimenez, which would keep his bat from being exposed with regular playing time.

    The fact that they would also be stealing an impact player from the division-rival Twins is just icing on the cake.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Nick Castellanos
    Nick CastellanosAaron Doster/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Shogo Akiyama
    2. RF Nick Castellanos
    3. 1B Joey Votto
    4. 3B Eugenio Suarez
    5. 2B Mike Moustakas
    6. SS Didi Gregorius
    7. LF Jesse Winker
    8. C Tucker Barnhart
    9. SP Sonny Gray

          

    Notes

    The Cincinnati Reds were my pick as the most likely team to sign Didi Gregorius last month, and the fit still makes a lot of sense.

    Prospect Jose Garcia was fast-tracked all the way from High-A to the majors last season in an effort to fill the void at shortstop, and as you might expect, he struggled to a .194 average with zero extra-base hits in 68 plate appearances. The 22-year-old can be the answer long-term, but he's not ready yet.

    There is also a logjam in the outfield to sort out now that Jesse Winker can no longer be penciled into the DH role. Aristides Aquino looks like the odd man out, while Nick Senzel could be used in a utility role.

Cleveland

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    Josh Naylor
    Josh NaylorCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Andres Gimenez
    2. LF Josh Naylor
    3. 3B Jose Ramirez
    4. DH Franmil Reyes
    5. RF Adam Duvall
    6. 1B Bobby Bradley
    7. SS Amed Rosario
    8. C Roberto Perez
    9. CF Oscar Mercado
    SP Shane Bieber

          

    Notes

    The long-awaited Francisco Lindor trade finally came Thursday afternoon, with young middle infielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario going the other way in the deal as part of a four-player package.

    That duo now represents the double-play tandem of the present and future.

    There's still a hole to plug in the outfield and they could use another run producer now that Lindor is gone, so surprise non-tender Adam Duvall makes a lot of sense as a low-cost free-agent target to round out a busy offseason.

    There's still enough talent for this team to contend, especially if Josh Naylor is the real deal after a red-hot postseason, but scoring runs just got a bit more difficult Thursday.

Colorado Rockies

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    Nolan Arenado
    Nolan ArenadoGary Landers/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Raimel Tapia
    2. SS Trevor Story
    3. RF Charlie Blackmon
    4. 3B Nolan Arenado
    5. 1B Ryan McMahon
    6. C Wilson Ramos
    7. CF Sam Hilliard
    8. 2B Brendan Rodgers
    9. SP German Marquez

          

    Notes

    Elias Diaz and Dom Nunez are currently the only catchers on the 40-man roster in Colorado. Diaz is a bat-first catcher who can't hit, and Nunez is a 25-year-old with 16 games of MLB experience who profiles best as a backup long-term.

    There are several low-cost veteran options capable of filling the starting catcher role on a short-term basis, and Wilson Ramos is as good as any to serve as a stopgap. He slumped at the plate in 2020, but he's just a year removed from hitting .288/.351/.416 with 14 home runs and 73 RBI.

    Sorting out who plays where between Ryan McMahon, Josh Fuentes, Brendan Rodgers and Garrett Hampson on the right side of the infield will also be fascinating to watch unfold.

Detroit Tigers

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    Willi Castro
    Willi CastroCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Robbie Grossman
    2. 2B Willi Castro
    3. DH Miguel Cabrera
    4. 1B Jeimer Candelario
    5. LF Kyle Schwarber
    6. SS Niko Goodrum
    7. 3B Isaac Paredes
    8. C Robinson Chirinos
    9. CF Victor Reyes
    SP Spencer Turnbull

          

    Notes

    The Tigers are in desperate need of a middle-of-the-order power hitter, and Kyle Schwarber has been part of a young, rebuilding team on the rise before when he first debuted with the Chicago Cubs.

    He's also a better defensive left fielder than he gets credit formore slightly below average than truly horrendousso he doesn't necessarily need to be a DH wherever he winds up.

    Catcher also looks like an obvious spot to upgrade, and while it's tempting to project a reunion with Alex Avila, we'll go with Robinson Chirinos to temporarily fill the void and handle the young pitching staff.

Houston Astros

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    Yordan Alvarez
    Yordan AlvarezDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Jose Altuve
    2. 3B Alex Bregman
    3. DH Yordan Alvarez
    4. LF Michael Brantley
    5. SS Carlos Correa
    6. RF Kyle Tucker
    7. 1B Yuli Gurriel
    8. CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
    9. C Martin Maldonado
    SP Zack Greinke

          

    Notes

    There are currently only four outfielders on the Houston Astros 40-man roster, and that includes Yordan Alvarez, who will be the full-time DH, Chas McCormick, who has yet to make his MLB debut, and speedy utility man Myles Straw.

    A reunion with George Springer seems unlikely at this point, but they could still bring back Michael Brantley on something similar to the two-year, $32 million deal he landed last time he was a free agent. That would be money well spent to shore up the outfield and the middle of the lineup.

    As for replacing Springer defensively, longtime Red Sox starter Jackie Bradley Jr. represents the only other everyday center field option on the free-agent market. According to Peter Gammons, the Astros labeled him a "priority" in the offseason, and the fit still makes perfect sense.

Kansas City Royals

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    Salvador Perez
    Salvador PerezAaron Doster/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Whit Merrifield
    2. SS Adalberto Mondesi
    3. C Salvador Perez
    4. DH Jorge Soler
    5. 1B Carlos Santana
    6. 3B Hunter Dozier
    7. LF Michael Taylor
    8. CF Delino DeShields
    9. 2B Nicky Lopez
    SP Brad Keller

          

    Notes

    The Kansas City Royals have already made a few solid moves this offseason, including signing first baseman Carlos Santana and outfielder Michael Taylor for a combined $8.75 million in 2021.

    They could still use another outfielder, especially if they think Whit Merrifield is going to see semi-regular action at second base, where Nicky Lopez has yet to show anything offensively.

    Doesn't Delino DeShields just feel like a Royals player?

    With plus defense, elite speed and zero power, he's essentially Jarrod Dyson, who was an extremely productive member of their World Series teams.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B David Fletcher
    2. SS Jose Iglesias
    3. CF Mike Trout
    4. 3B Anthony Rendon
    5. RF Jared Walsh
    6. LF Justin Upton
    7. 1B Albert Pujols
    8. DH Shohei Ohtani
    9. C Max Stassi
    SP Trevor Bauer

          

    Notes

    The Los Angeles Angels traded for Jose Iglesias to replace Andrelton Simmons at shortstop earlier this offseason, and the rest of the winter should be focused on improving the pitching staff.

    If there's one franchise that could truly point to Trevor Bauer as the missing piece, it's an Angels team with a glaring hole at the top of the starting rotation.

    With Bauer in the role of staff ace, the rotation suddenly looks solid with a complementary Dylan Bundy and Andrew Heaney, and Griffin Canning still providing some intriguing upside. It's going to cost a ton, but it's the move the Angels have to make if they want to field a legitimate contender.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Mookie Betts
    Mookie BettsMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Mookie Betts
    2. 3B DJ LeMahieu
    3. SS Corey Seager
    4. 1B Max Muncy
    5. CF Cody Bellinger
    6. C Will Smith
    7. LF AJ Pollock
    8. 2B Chris Taylor
    9. SP Clayton Kershaw

          

    Notes

    If anyone is going to steal DJ LeMahieu from the New York Yankees, it's the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    The latest reports have the Yankees in "wait-and-see mode" with LeMahieu, which doesn't sound promising for a deal getting done anytime soon. That opens the door for the Dodgers to swoop in with an offer he can't refuse, and they certainly have the capital to do it.

    After reports that Justin Turner is seeking a four-year deal surfaced earlier this week, the Dodgers may be ready to start seriously looking elsewhere to address the hot corner.

    The other big question here is second base and top prospect Gavin Lux, but a trip back to the minors to start the year appears likely after he struggled mightily in limited MLB action in 2020.

Miami Marlins

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    Starling Marte
    Starling MarteLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Corey Dickerson
    2. CF Starling Marte
    3. 1B Jesus Aguilar
    4. 3B Brian Anderson
    5. RF Garrett Cooper
    6. SS Miguel Rojas
    7. 2B Kolten Wong
    8. C Jason Castro
    9. SP Sandy Alcantara

          

    Notes

    Isan Diaz may still be the future at second base for the Miami Marlins, but he has not looked ready for the present in his brief MLB action. If the Marlins are serious about contending once again following a surprise postseason trip in 2020, Kolten Wong would be a solid short-term upgrade up the middle.

    That would keep speedy Jon Berti in a utility role and allow Diaz more time to refine his approach in the minors.

    Catcher is also a question mark after Jorge Alfaro and Chad Wallach both underwhelmed in 2020.

    Adding Jason Castro could help the development of their young pitching staff while also perhaps lighting a fire under Alfaro. He still profiles as the catcher of the future with three years of club control remaining and has the potential to be an impact offensive player, but he has yet to put it all together in the majors.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Christian Yelich
    Christian YelichCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Lorenzo Cain
    2. LF Christian Yelich
    3. 2B Keston Hiura
    4. 1B C.J. Cron
    5. 3B Jake Lamb
    6. RF Avisail Garcia
    7. SS Orlando Arcia
    8. C Omar Narvaez
    9. SP Brandon Woodruff

          

    Notes

    The Milwaukee Brewers struggled all season to find consistent production at the corner infield spots.

    Daniel Vogelbach hit .328/.418/.569 with four home runs and 12 RBI in 19 games, and he sits atop the depth chart at first base, but his inconsistency the past few seasons makes him far from a lock to be the everyday guy.

    C.J. Cron posted a 139 OPS+ in 13 games with the Detroit Tigers last season before undergoing season-ending knee surgery, and he could be a steal on a low-cost deal if he's healthy.

    The same is true of Jake Lamb, who caught on with the Oakland Athletics after he was released by the Arizona Diamondbacks and wound up posting a 143 OPS+ with three home runs and nine RBI in 13 games before hitting cleanup in the postseason. He has a 30-homer, 105-RBI season in 2017 to his credit and just turned 30 in October.

    Those two players might cost a combined $5 million, and they could completely transform the Milwaukee lineup if they perform up to their potential.

Minnesota Twins

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    Josh Donaldson
    Josh DonaldsonJim Mone/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Max Kepler
    2. 3B Josh Donaldson
    3. SS Jorge Polanco
    4. DH Miguel Sano
    5. 1B Mitch Moreland
    6. LF Alex Kirilloff
    7. CF Byron Buxton
    8. C Mitch Garver
    9. 2B Luis Arraez
    SP Kenta Maeda

          

    Notes

    If the Minnesota Twins let Nelson Cruz walk as we're projecting here, they could then move Miguel Sano into the DH role and either use rookie Alex Kirilloff at first base or target a first baseman in free agency.

    Mitch Moreland hit .328/.430/.746 with eight home runs and 21 RBI in 22 games with the Boston Red Sox last season before he was traded to the San Diego Padres, and he has been a steady source of 20-plus home runs and Gold Glove-caliber defense throughout his career.

    The Padres declined a $3 million club option for 2021 in favor of a $500,000 buyout, and that's probably all it would cost the Twins to add his bat and glove to the roster.

    A healthy Josh Donaldson has a chance to trump any outside additions the team may make.

New York Mets

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    Michael Conforto
    Michael ConfortoJulio Cortez/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF George Springer
    2. 2B Jeff McNeil
    3. SS Francisco Lindor
    4. 1B Pete Alonso
    5. RF Michael Conforto
    6. LF Dominic Smith
    7. 3B J.D. Davis
    8. C James McCann
    9. SP Jacob deGrom

          

    Notes

    Here come the New York Mets.

    After a relatively quiet first couple of months of the offseason highlighted by the addition of catcher James McCann on a four-year, $40.6 million deal, they finally made a splash Thursday with the addition of All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor.

    Even after that blockbuster trade, they remain a viable landing spot for free agent George Springer. Adding him would create an outfield logjam, perhaps turning Brandon Nimmo into a trade chip in the process, but there are also worse problems to have than too many quality players.

    With Dominic Smith potentially seeing time at first base when Pete Alonso needs a rest, and the inevitable injury somewhere on the roster, there's enough playing time to go around even if Nimmo doesn't see his name penciled into the Opening Day lineup.

New York Yankees

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    Aaron Judge
    Aaron JudgeJae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Aaron Hicks
    2. RF Aaron Judge
    3. DH Giancarlo Stanton
    4. 1B Luke Voit
    5. 2B Gleyber Torres
    6. LF Clint Frazier
    7. 3B Gio Urshela
    8. SS Andrelton Simmons
    9. C Gary Sanchez
    SP Gerrit Cole

          

    Notes

    New York Yankees fans won't like to hear it, but with each passing week, it's increasingly likely that DJ LeMahieu will sign elsewhere this winter. There's still a very real chance he'll find his way back to the Bronx, but it's no longer the slam dunk it appeared to be when the offseason began.

    If he does walk, which is what we're projecting here, it would make sense to target a shortstop in free agency. That would allow Gleyber Torres to move back to second base, where he's better suited defensively.

    With a stacked lineup, the Yankees can afford to focus more on the defensive side of things with whom they target, and there are few better in MLB history than Andrelton Simmons. The 31-year-old may be available on a one-year deal after an injury-plagued 2020 season, in which case it would be a no-risk addition.

Oakland Athletics

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    Matt Chapman
    Matt ChapmanTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Tommy La Stella
    2. SS Marcus Semien
    3. CF Ramon Laureano
    4. 1B Matt Olson
    5. 3B Matt Chapman
    6. LF Mark Canha
    7. DH Khris Davis
    8. RF Stephen Piscotty
    9. C Sean Murphy
    SP Jesus Luzardo

          

    Notes

    The price may be right in this slow-moving market for the Oakland Athletics to retain the middle-infield tandem of Tommy La Stella and Marcus Semien.

    La Stella hit .281/.370/.449 with more walks (27) than strikeouts (12) last season, and he became Oakland's leadoff hitter after he was acquired from the Angels at the trade deadline.

    Semien followed up his third-place finish in AL MVP voting with a disappointing year, and even with a stacked shortstop class next offseason, he still looks like a candidate for a one-year deal in an effort to rebuild his free-agency stock.

    The A's remain clear contenders in the AL West if they can shore up their middle infield.

Philadelphia Phillies

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

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Andrew McCutchen
    2. 1B Rhys Hoskins
    3. RF Bryce Harper
    4. C J.T. Realmuto
    5. 3B Alec Bohm
    6. SS Jean Segura
    7. 2B Scott Kingery
    8. CF Cameron Maybin
    9. SP Aaron Nola

          

    Notes

    It could be some time before we find out where J.T. Realmuto will be playing in 2021 and beyond, but the Philadelphia Phillies remain the favorites to sign him.

    "But Realmuto also has a fondness for Philadelphia. He's made that clear many times. There's no way he seriously considers any offer without first swinging back to the Phillies and seeing what they say," wrote Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

    Locking him up with a long-term deal and further addressing a thin bullpen would likely leave little money to reinforce center field, where light-hitting Roman Quinn is currently the projected starter. Veteran Cameron Maybin won't cost much and would be a modest upgrade.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Ke'Bryan Hayes
    Ke'Bryan HayesGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Adam Frazier
    2. 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes
    3. CF Bryan Reynolds
    4. 1B Colin Moran
    5. LF Eddie Rosario
    6. RF Gregory Polanco
    7. C Jacob Stallings
    8. SS Kevin Newman
    9. SP Joe Musgrove

          

    Notes

    The Pirates are going to have a tough time attracting any free-agent talent at this juncture in what figures to be a long, grueling rebuild. Even in the best of times, they rarely spent significant money in free agency.

    That said, there's a glaring need for run-production help following the Josh Bell trade, and Eddie Rosario could help fill that void after he was non-tendered by the Twins.

    The 29-year-old is just a year removed from a 32-homer, 109-RBI season, and while his lack of on-base ability (.310 career OBP) undercuts his value, he would address the need for a middle-of-the-order bat, fill a hole in the outfield and provide a potential deadline trade chip.

San Diego Padres

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    Fernando Tatis Jr.
    Fernando Tatis Jr.Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Trent Grisham
    2. SS Fernando Tatis Jr.
    3. 3B Manny Machado
    4. 1B Eric Hosmer
    5. LF Tommy Pham
    6. RF Wil Myers
    7. 2B Ha-Seong Kim
    8. C Austin Nola
    9. SP Yu Darvish

          

    Notes

    The starting lineup may not include NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Jake Cronenworth following the addition of KBO star Ha-Seong Kim, but he is a safe bet to see regular playing time in a super-utility role after playing all four infield positions in 2020.

    The addition of Victor Caratini likely means top prospect Luis Campusano will start the season in the minors, but he remains the catcher of the future and could push for playing time before the upcoming season is over.

    Who will get the Opening Day start on the mound? Newcomers Yu Darvish and Blake Snell both have a strong case, while Dinelson Lamet is the incumbent fresh off a breakout season. My best guess:

    1. Darvish
    2. Snell
    3. Lamet

San Francisco Giants

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    Buster Posey
    Buster PoseyDarryl Webb/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Mike Yastrzemski
    2. 2B Donovan Solano
    3. 1B Brandon Belt
    4. C Buster Posey
    5. LF Alex Dickerson
    6. 3B Evan Longoria
    7. SS Brandon Crawford
    8. CF Mauricio Dubon
    9. SP Kevin Gausman

          

    Notes

    The San Francisco Giants are a year away from having an enviable amount of payroll flexibility.

    Between Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Johnny Cueto, they potentially have more than $75 million coming off the books following the 2021 season, with option decisions to be made on both Posey and Cueto.

    That should make them major players next winter, but for now, they are likely to spend another year developing their in-house talent and skimming the margins for more bargain talent like they did with the Mike Yastrzemski, Donovan Solano and Alex Dickerson additions.

Seattle Mariners

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    Kyle Lewis and Kyle Seager
    Kyle Lewis and Kyle SeagerAssociated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. SS J.P. Crawford
    2. 2B Cesar Hernandez
    3. CF Kyle Lewis
    4. 3B Kyle Seager
    5. RF Mitch Haniger
    6. DH Ty France
    7. 1B Evan White
    8. C Tom Murphy
    9. LF Jake Fraley
    SP Marco Gonzales

          

    Notes

    With Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez rapidly climbing the minor league ranks, it's unlikely the Seattle Mariners will make a big addition to address their need in the outfield. A healthy Mitch Haniger would fill one corner spot, while the other could go to Jake Fraley, Jose Marmolejos or Braden Bishop.

    Ty France has earned a shot in the DH role after posting a 133 OPS+ in 155 plate appearances last year, and some combination of Tom Murphy and Luis Torrens will continue to keep the catcher position warm until Cal Raleigh is ready.

    That leaves second base as the only real uncertainty, and while Dylan Moore could be the answer, signing productive veteran Cesar Hernandez to a one-year deal would allow Moore to remain in the super-utility role in which he thrived in 2020.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Dylan Carlson
    Dylan CarlsonJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Tommy Edman
    2. SS Paul DeJong
    3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt
    4. LF Dylan Carlson
    5. 3B Matt Carpenter
    6. C Yadier Molina
    7. RF Dexter Fowler
    8. CF Harrison Bader
    9. SP Jack Flaherty

          

    Notes

    The Cardinals' biggest need is a middle-of-the-order power hitter, but they may already have the answer in rising star Dylan Carlson.

    After initially struggling to find his footing in the big leagues last year, he hit .286/.333/.629 with four doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI in his final 11 games and closed out the year batting cleanup. A step forward in his first full season would go a long way.

    That leaves catcher as the biggest unknown, and Yadier Molina is not going to find a better payday than what the Cardinals will be willing to offer to make sure he retires in St. Louis.

Tampa Bay Rays

27 of 30

    Randy Arozarena
    Randy ArozarenaEric Gay/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. DH Austin Meadows
    2. 2B Brandon Lowe
    3. LF Randy Arozarena
    4. 1B Ji-Man Choi
    5. RF Manuel Margot
    6. 3B Joey Wendle
    7. SS Willy Adames
    8. CF Kevin Kiermaier
    9. C Mike Zunino
    SP Tyler Glasnow

          

    Notes

    Consider the following from Mark Feinsand of MLB.com earlier this offseason:

    "A source noted that Tampa Bay is not actively shopping [Blake] Snell, who has three years and $39 million remaining on his five-year, $50 million extension, but given the financial losses the Rays endured during the pandemic-impacted 2020 season, trading the 27-year-old represents the club's best chance to create some much-needed flexibility."

    If financial losses were reason enough for them to trade the 2018 American League Cy Young winner with a contract most other clubs would deem team-friendly, there's probably not much money sitting around to spend on free-agent additions.

    Luckily, there is an awfully good roster of talent in place, and a full season of Randy Arozarena is going to be a lot of fun to watch.

Texas Rangers

28 of 30

    Joey Gallo
    Joey GalloRoger Steinman/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa
    2. 3B Nick Solak
    3. DH Willie Calhoun
    4. RF Joey Gallo
    5. LF Joc Pederson
    6. 1B Nate Lowe
    7. CF David Dahl
    8. 2B Rougned Odor
    9. C Tyler Flowers
    SP Kyle Gibson

          

    Notes

    After an aggressive offseason as buyers last winter when they tried to rebuild their starting rotation, the Texas Rangers have reversed course and now appear to be clear sellers after trading Lance Lynn and Rafael Montero.

    That could mean Joey Gallo is playing elsewhere in 2021, but with two years of club control remaining, there is no urgency to move him this winter.

    The front office has done a nice job buying low on David Dahl and Nate Lowe, and it could get Joc Pederson at a similar bargain if his market doesn't pick up in the coming months.

    They have prioritized defense behind the plate in years past, so veteran Tyler Flowers makes sense as a stopgap target to give Sam Huff a bit more time to develop his all-around game.

Toronto Blue Jays

29 of 30

    Bo Bichette
    Bo BichetteJeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Cavan Biggio
    2. SS Bo Bichette
    3. 3B Justin Turner
    4. RF Teoscar Hernandez
    5. 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    6. LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
    7. DH Rowdy Tellez
    8. CF Randal Grichuk
    9. C Danny Jansen
    SP Hyun Jin Ryu

          

    Notes

    Justin Turner might have painted himself into a corner.

    If his asking price of a four-year deal scares away the Dodgers and they sign someone else to play third base, it's highly unlikely anyone else is going to give him that many years. In fact, it's not out of the question to think he could be forced to settle for a one-year deal ahead of his age-36 season.

    The Blue Jays have shown interest, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, and if they can get him on a short-term deal, he would be a great veteran addition to a young clubhouse.

    Signing him would mean Vladimir Guerrero Jr. plays first base again, Rowdy Tellez shifts to DH, and Alejandro Kirk is without a clear path to playing time unless they trust him behind the plate.

Washington Nationals

30 of 30

    Juan Soto
    Juan SotoNick Wass/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. SS Trea Turner
    2. LF Jurickson Profar
    3. RF Juan Soto
    4. 1B Josh Bell
    5. 2B Starlin Castro
    6. C Yan Gomes
    7. CF Victor Robles
    8. 3B Carter Kieboom
    9. SP Max Scherzer

          

    Notes

    The Nationals offense was virtually nonexistent beyond Trea Turner and Juan Soto last season.

    The front office has already taken one significant step toward addressing that issue with the addition of Josh Bell, but Washington could still stand to add another bat to the outfield, where unproven Andrew Stevenson is the leading candidate to fill Adam Eaton's vacated spot.

    Jurickson Profar is still just 27 years old and quietly hit .278/.343/.428 with seven home runs and 25 RBI in 202 plate appearances for the San Diego Padres last season. He could serve as the team's primary left fielder while also providing some defensive versatility to fill the Howie Kendrick void.

    Divvying up playing time between Starlin Castro and young infielders Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia at second and third base will be something else that needs to be sorted out.

              

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