Predicting Every MLB Team's 2021 Opening Day Lineup 2 Months Out

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2021

Predicting Every MLB Team's 2021 Opening Day Lineup 2 Months Out

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Shortly after the start of 2021, I predicted the Opening Day lineup for all 30 MLB teams, including forecasting where the remaining free agents would sign.

    Some of those predictions came true. Marcell Ozuna, Michael Brantley and J.T. Realmuto re-signed with their respective clubs; Enrique Hernandez is now the Boston Red Sox second baseman; Freddy Galvis joined the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles.

    Others did not. Nelson Cruz did not jump ship to the division-rival Chicago White Sox, George Springer will not be playing center field for the New York Mets next season, and Trevor Bauer is not going to be the Opening Day starter for the Los Angeles Angels.

    With a flurry of activity over the past month and teams set to start reporting to spring training next week, now is the perfect time for an updated version of those predictions.

    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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    Christian Walker
    Christian WalkerMatt York/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

    It's been a quiet offseason for the D-backs following a disappointing 2020 campaign.

    The only major addition to the roster thus far has been veteran reliever Joakim Soria, who will likely slot into the closer's role that was vacated when Archie Bradley was traded to Cincinnati over the summer.

    After catcher-turned-outfielder Daulton Varsho hit .188 with 33 strikeouts in 115 plate appearances in his MLB debut, it would make sense to find a stopgap option in center field that would allow him more time to develop. A one-year deal with Kevin Pillar would fit the bill.

Atlanta Braves

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    Marcell Ozuna
    Marcell OzunaBrynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

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

          

    Notes

    With Marcell Ozuna re-signed to a four-year, $65 million contract earlier this month, there is a good chance the Atlanta Braves are done spending this winter.

    Austin Riley is projected for a .782 OPS with 31 home runs and 95 RBI, according to the Depth Charts projections at FanGraphs, so while third base has long been pointed to as a potential area to upgrade, the former top prospect still has significant upside.

    Unless they make a play for Jackie Bradley Jr., it looks like Cristian Pache will have a clear path to the center field job, with veteran Ender Inciarte serving as an insurance policy should he struggle.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Anthony Santander
    Anthony SantanderJulio 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

    As we predicted in last month's version of this article, the O's filled their most glaring need by signing Freddy Galvis to a one-year, $1.5 million deal to replace Jose Iglesias at shortstop.

    Anthony Santander is locked into the right field job, leaving the trio of Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart to battle for the two remaining starting outfield spots.

    Don't be surprised if former top-100 prospect Jahmai Jones, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Alex Cobb, pushes 2019 Gold Glove winner Yolmer Sanchez for the starting second base job this spring.

Boston Red Sox

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    Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez
    Xander Bogaerts and J.D. MartinezKathy Willens/Associated 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. LF Franchy Cordero
    8. 1B Bobby Dalbec
    9. 2B Enrique Hernandez
    SP Nathan Eovaldi

          

    Notes

    Since our last update, the Red Sox have addressed their need at second base by signing Enrique Hernandez to a two-year, $14 million contract. He'll shift back into a super-utility role once top prospect Jeter Downs is ready for the majors.

    Another roster shakeup came Wednesday night when Andrew Benintendi was traded to the Kansas City Royals in a three-team trade that brought back Franchy Cordero and prospects.

    The 26-year-old Cordero was once viewed as a long-term piece in San Diego after he hit .326 with 21 doubles, 18 triples, 17 home runs and 15 steals at Triple-A in 2017. He has struggled to stay healthy in the years since but still possesses some intriguing untapped potential.

Chicago Cubs

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    Kris Bryant
    Kris BryantAssociated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Ian Happ
    2. 3B Kris Bryant
    3. 1B Anthony Rizzo
    4. SS Javier Baez
    5. LF Joc Pederson
    6. C Willson Contreras
    7. RF Jason Heyward
    8. 2B Nico Hoerner
    9. SP Kyle Hendricks

          

    Notes

    Is Kris Bryant going to start the 2021 season in a Chicago Cubs uniform after all?

    Mike Puma of the New York Post recently noted the New York Mets' past interest in Bryant but pointed to an unwillingness to move catching prospect Francisco Alvarez as a roadblock in negotiations.

    If Bryant does stay put, and following the addition of Joc Pederson to fill the Kyle Schwarber-sized hole in left field, the Cubs lineup has the potential to be one of the best in the National League with a bit of internal positive regression.

    The starting rotation behind Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies will determine if they are contenders.

Chicago White Sox

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    Eloy Jimenez
    Eloy JimenezCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

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

          

    Notes

    Well, the Nelson Cruz signing I kept predicting all offseason didn't happen, which means unless the White Sox make a late signing, it will be defensive-minded Adam Engel as the everyday left fielder.

    The 29-year-old is a Gold Glove-caliber defender, but his 68 OPS+ in 1,140 career plate appearances could make him a black hole at the bottom of the batting order.

    Speaking of the batting order, expect Nick Madrigal to eventually move up to the No. 1 or 2 spot in the lineup, allowing Yoan Moncada to slide down into more of a run-production role. For now, he fits great as a second leadoff hitter in the No. 9 spot.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Eugenio Suarez
    Eugenio SuarezGene J. Puskar/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. LF Jesse Winker
    7. SS Willy Adames
    8. C Tucker Barnhart
    9. SP Sonny Gray

          

    Notes

    Even if they don't view themselves as contenders in 2021, it's hard to envision the Cincinnati Reds starting the season with Jose Garcia, Kyle Farmer and Dee Strange-Gordon as their top options at shortstop.

    A trade for Willy Adames would make sense from a short-term and long-term standpoint. The Tampa Bay Rays shortstop is under club control through the 2024 season, and the Reds have been kicking the tires, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

    The Reds are out of options on the free-agent market after whiffing on Jonathan Villar, and Tampa Bay will need to clear a path for Wander Franco at shortstop at some point in the not-too-distant future, so a trade makes sense for both sides.

Cleveland

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    Josh Naylor
    Josh NaylorCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

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

          

    Notes

    The decision to re-sign second baseman Cesar Hernandez means newly acquired Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario will be battling for playing time on the Cleveland infield.

    Adding a proven run producer in Eddie Rosario on a reasonable one-year, $8 million contract will help take some pressure off Jose Ramirez, and a breakout season from Josh Naylor would also go a long way toward reshaping the offense.

    The first base and center field jobs will both be up for grabs this spring, with Jake Bauers, Daniel Johnson and Bradley Zimmer among the notable players on the outside looking in, according to this projection.

Colorado Rockies

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    Ryan McMahon
    Ryan McMahonDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Raimel Tapia
    2. SS Trevor Story
    3. RF Charlie Blackmon
    4. 3B Ryan McMahon
    5. 1B Josh Fuentes
    6. CF Sam Hilliard
    7. 2B Brendan Rodgers
    8. C Dom Nunez
    9. SP German Marquez

          

    Notes

    "I Traded Nolan Arenado and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt"

    That should be the required attire for Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich for the next year after the team's best player was traded for pennies on the dollar.  As it turns out, when you put a guy on the trade block a year after he signs a huge extension and do nothing to improve the team around him, he's not keen on sticking around. Who would have thought?

    Ryan McMahon is the leading in-house candidate to replace Arenado at the hot corner, opening up the right side of the infield for longtime top prospect Brendan Rodgers to seize the second base job.

    How long before Trevor Story is the next big name out the door?

Detroit Tigers

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    Willi Castro
    Willi CastroCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Robbie Grossman
    2. SS Willi Castro
    3. DH Miguel Cabrera
    4. 1B Jeimer Candelario
    5. 2B Jonathan Schoop
    6. C Wilson Ramos
    7. 3B Niko Goodrum
    8. CF JaCoby Jones
    9. RF Victor Reyes
    SP Spencer Turnbull

          

    Notes

    The Detroit Tigers have done a great job adding low-cost value while rebuilding the past few seasons, and they've been busy again this winter.

    Robbie Grossman signed a two-year, $10 million deal to shore up the outfield and provide a veteran presence in the locker room, Jonathan Schoop was brought back after a quietly productive 2020 season, and Wilson Ramos was signed to a one-year, $2 million deal to plug a void at catcher.

    Bringing back Schoop creates a bit of a logjam on the infield, squeezing Isaac Paredes out of our projected Opening Day lineup. He could eventually grab hold of the everyday third base gig, with Niko Goodrum filling more of a super-utility role.

Houston Astros

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    Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez
    Alex Bregman and Yordan AlvarezAssociated 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 Jason Castro
    SP Zack Greinke

          

    Notes

    The Astros re-signed Michael Brantley and brought back catcher Jason Castro for a second stint to team with Martin Maldonado behind the plate, but they have yet to address the loss of George Springer.

    Speedy Myles Straw is currently the leading in-house candidate for the job, but he's best utilized as a utility player and pinch-runner, making Jackie Bradley Jr. an obvious target to cap off a busy offseason.

    Will they be able to lock up Carlos Correa long-term before next winter, or is he the next core piece headed elsewhere in free agency?

Kansas City Royals

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    Salvador Perez
    Salvador PerezCharlie Riedel/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. LF Andrew Benintendi
    7. 3B Hunter Dozier
    8. CF Michael Taylor
    9. 2B Hanser Alberto
    SP Brad Keller

          

    Notes

    While other teams have trimmed payroll and adhered to a strict budget, the Kansas City Royals have had a busy offseason.

    Even before they traded for Andrew Benintendi on Wednesday, left-hander Mike Minor (2/$18M), first baseman Carlos Santana (2/$17.5M) and outfielder Michael Taylor (1/$1.75M) were all signed to team-friendly deals to address glaring roster needs.

    Infielder Hanser Alberto and former closer Wade Davis were also added on minor league deals with an inside track to break camp with a roster spot. In fact, Alberto should give light-hitting Nicky Lopez a serious push for the starting second base job this spring.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Jared Walsh
    Jared WalshTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B David Fletcher
    2. SS Jose Iglesias
    3. CF Mike Trout
    4. 3B Anthony Rendon
    5. 1B Jared Walsh
    6. LF Justin Upton
    7. DH Shohei Ohtani
    8. RF Dexter Fowler
    9. C Kurt Suzuki
    SP Dylan Bundy

          

    Notes

    Where is Albert Pujols?

    Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic wrote: "This is Albert Pujols' final year under contract, and at this point, he's essentially become a part-time player. It's just a question of if Jared Walsh's extreme September production was for real or if Matt Thaiss or Taylor Ward could emerge as a future option at the position for 2021 and beyond."

    Jared Walsh hit .337/.368/.744 with nine home runs and 26 RBI in 95 plate appearances last September, and he's earned a shot to prove that production was for real with regular playing time.

    Adding Kurt Suzuki addresses a thin catcher position, and reuniting Dexter Fowler with former manager Joe Maddon will allow Jo Adell more time to develop in the minors.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Edwin Rios
    Edwin RiosEric Gay/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

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

          

    Notes

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are now $29.4 million over the luxury tax threshold and facing a tax bill approaching $10 million following the Trevor Bauer signing, according to Spotrac.

    They could still opt to throw caution to the wind in pursuit of another title, but it's hard to see how Justin Turner fits into their future plans.

    Assuming he does wind up elsewhere, the door opens for Edwin Rios to see regular playing time at third base. The 26-year-old has homered 12 times in 139 plate appearances in the big leagues and profiles a lot like former Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez.

    Max Muncy is also capable of manning the hot corner, lining up there 16 times in 2020.

Miami Marlins

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    Starling Marte
    Starling MarteChris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. LF Corey Dickerson
    2. CF Starling Marte
    3. 1B Jesus Aguilar
    4. 3B Brian Anderson
    5. RF Adam Duvall
    6. SS Miguel Rojas
    7. 2B Brad Miller
    8. C Jorge Alfaro
    9. SP Sandy Alcantara

          

    Notes

    The addition of Adam Duvall on a one-year, $2 million contract could mean Miami Marlins first baseman/outfielder Garrett Cooper hits the trade block, and the Dodgers and Padres are already circling, according to Craig Mish of SportsGrid.

    Ideally, the team would find a left-handed-hitting complement to Duvall and first baseman Jesus Aguilar.

    Second base remains a question mark after Isan Diaz struggled mightily last season, and the leading in-house candidate for the job is speedy utility man Jon Berti. Veteran Brad Miller primarily filled in at third base for the St. Louis Cardinals last season, but he's played plenty of second base in his career and could be a low-cost solution.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Keston Hiura
    Keston HiuraCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Lorenzo Cain
    2. LF Christian Yelich
    3. 3B Justin Turner
    4. 1B Keston Hiura
    5. RF Avisail Garcia
    6. 2B Kolten Wong
    7. SS Orlando Arcia
    8. C Omar Narvaez
    9. SP Brandon Woodruff

                

    Notes

    The addition of Kolten Wong on a two-year, $18 million contract means Keston Hiura will likely shift to first base. That will allow Hiura to focus on his offense as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2020 while also vastly improving Milwaukee's infield defense.

    The Brewers look like one of the few logical remaining landing spots for Justin Turner, and signing him would mirror the club's decision to ink 34-year-old Aramis Ramirez to a multiyear deal in December 2011.

    If Turner, 36, winds up back in Los Angeles or elsewhere, Luis Urias would get first dibs at the starting third base job despite his hit-over-power offensive profile.

Minnesota Twins

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    Byron Buxton
    Byron BuxtonJim Mone/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Max Kepler
    2. 3B Josh Donaldson
    3. 2B Jorge Polanco
    4. DH Nelson Cruz
    5. 1B Miguel Sano
    6. LF Alex Kirilloff
    7. CF Byron Buxton
    8. C Ryan Jeffers
    9. SS Andrelton Simmons
    SP Kenta Maeda

                    

    Notes

    With Nelson Cruz back in the fold and Andrelton Simmons signed to a one-year, $10.5 million contract to serve as a defensive upgrade at shortstop, the Minnesota Twins look like a finished product on the position-player side.

    Jorge Polanco will shift to second base, and Luis Arraez will fill a super-utility role, seeing regular playing time while moving around the infield and getting some innings in left field.

    The projected bench of Arraez, Mitch Garver, Brent Rooker and Jake Cave is one of baseball's best, and all four of those players can step into a regular role and produce if needed.

New York Mets

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    Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso
    Brandon Nimmo and Pete AlonsoNick Wass/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Brandon Nimmo
    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

    Despite whiffing on George Springer, the New York Mets still look vastly improved with Francisco Lindor penciled in at shortstop and James McCann signing a four-year, $40.6 million deal to halt the revolving door at catcher.

    Locking up Lindor with a long-term extension similar to what the Dodgers did with Mookie Betts just before Opening Day last year would be ideal, and that will be a storyline to follow this spring with free agency looming for him next winter.

    They could still sign Justin Turner, Jackie Bradley Jr. or one of the market's remaining starting pitchers, but even without any further additions, this team is ready to contend in 2021.

New York Yankees

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    Clint Frazier
    Clint FrazierKathy Willens/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

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

              

    Notes

    After Clint Frazier posted a 149 OPS+ with eight home runs and 26 RBI in 39 games last season while showing an improved glove, he should be handed the starting left field job this spring without having to look over his shoulder.

    That means only re-signing Brett Gardner if he's willing to accept a fourth outfielder role, or else letting the team's longest-tenured player walk.

    Will Gary Sanchez take back the starting catcher job after losing playing time to Kyle Higashioka down the stretch and in the postseason?

Oakland Athletics

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    Sean Murphy
    Sean MurphyTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF Ramon Laureano
    2. 2B Adam Frazier
    3. 3B Matt Chapman
    4. 1B Matt Olson
    4. RF Mark Canha
    6. C Sean Murphy
    7. DH C.J. Cron
    8. SS Elvis Andrus
    9. LF Chad Pinder
    SP Jesus Luzardo

                 

    Notes

    The Oakland Athletics will have to get creative to fill their remaining holes, with limited financial flexibility and a dwindling free-agent market.

    Flipping Khris Davis to the Texas Rangers for Elvis Andrus helped shore up shortstop, but they could still use an upgrade at second base and another power bat to serve as the primary DH.

    Moving Stephen Piscottythe second-highest-paid player on the team, with a $7.6 million salary—would create financial wiggle room, and packaging him with a decent prospect could be enough to entice the rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates into a deal for second baseman Adam Frazier.

    Frazier carries a $4.3 million salary for 2021, and the remaining savings could go toward signing slugger C.J. Cron to a cheap one-year deal and perhaps re-signing reliever Yusmeiro Petit.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Alec Bohm
    Alec BohmMatt 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 Didi Gregorius
    7. 2B Jean Segura
    8. CF Scott Kingery
    9. SP Aaron Nola

              

    Notes

    Since our last update, J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius both re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, leaving little question as to what their Opening Day lineup will look like.

    Scott Kingery should see the bulk of his playing time in center field, with Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn and prospect Mickey Moniak also in the mix at the position. Beyond that, there is not much mystery as to how the rest of the lineup shakes out.

    Third baseman Alec Bohm is a major X-factor as he looks to evolve toward stardom following a runner-up finish in NL Rookie of the Year voting.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Kevin Newman
    2. 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes
    3. CF Bryan Reynolds
    4. 1B Colin Moran
    5. LF Stephen Piscotty
    6. RF Gregory Polanco
    7. C Jacob Stallings
    8. SS Erik Gonzalez
    9. SP Steven Brault

          

    Notes

    The Pittsburgh Pirates have already traded Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon this offseason, and they might not be finished, with Adam Frazier generating interest on the trade market, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

    We have him going to the Oakland Athletics in a projected trade that sends Stephen Piscotty and a prospect the other way, and that would give the team a needed middle-of-the-order bat.

    Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl are the leading candidates for the Opening Day start now that Musgrove and Taillon are gone, but don't be surprised if Mitch Keller is the ace of the staff by midseason.

San Diego Padres

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    Kelvin Kuo/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 biggest decision for the San Diego Padres as far as the Opening Day roster is concerned is who will be the starting pitcher between breakout star Dinelson Lamet and newcomers Yu Darvish and Blake Snell.

    The addition of Ha-Seong Kim also creates an infield logjam, which will likely be solved by Jake Cronenworth's return to the utility role he filled early in the 2020 season.

    Jurickson Profar re-signed since our last set of predictions, and he'll serve as valuable insurance for the oft-injured Tommy Pham and a versatile bench piece.

San Francisco Giants

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    Brandon Belt
    Brandon BeltEric Risberg/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. RF Mike Yastrzemski
    2. 2B Tommy La Stella
    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 continue to quietly improve with under-the-radar additions, from the Mike Yastrzemski trade to the Donovan Solano signing to the buy-low deal they gave Kevin Gausman last winter.

    The three-year, $18.75 million contract that Tommy La Stella signed could prove to be a similar bargain, as he's been one of the best contact hitters in baseball the past few seasons.

    That signing will likely push Solano to a bench role, but he could still see regular playing time with La Stella sliding to third base when Evan Longoria needs a day off.

    With a ton of money coming off the books next winter and one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, the Giants are on the cusp of something big.

Seattle Mariners

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    Mitch Haniger
    Mitch HanigerElaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. SS J.P. Crawford
    2. 2B Jedd Gyorko
    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

    It's been an unusually quiet offseason from Jerry Dipoto in the Seattle Mariners front office, though he has stockpiled relievers on minor league deals to compete for spots in a revamped bullpen.

    Dylan Moore is the leading in-house candidate for the second base job after he posted a 139 OPS+ with nine doubles and eight home runs in 159 plate appearances last season, but he's arguably more valuable in a utility role. Shed Long is also an option at the keystone, but he hasn't looked ready for the majors.

    Despite spending the bulk of his time manning the corner infield spots the last few seasons, Jedd Gyorko began his career as a second baseman. After posting a 121 OPS+ with nine home runs in 135 plate appearances with the Brewers last year, he's an intriguing buy-low candidate capable of outperforming what should be a team-friendly contract.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Tyler O'Neill
    Tyler O'NeillJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

    1. 2B Tommy Edman
    2. SS Paul DeJong
    3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt
    4. 3B Nolan Arenado
    5. RF Dylan Carlson
    6. C Yadier Molina
    7. LF Tyler O'Neill
    8. CF Harrison Bader
    9. SP Jack Flaherty

                  

    Notes

    With the rest of the NL Central either selling aggressively or simply content to make minor moves, the St. Louis Cardinals seized control of the division when they acquired Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies.

    His middle-of-the-order presence and Gold Glove defense at the hot corner changes the complexion of the team, and the finishing touches of the offseason came when Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina both re-signed.

    Matt Carpenter will return to a utility role in the final year of his contract, and young outfielders Tyler O'Neill, 25, and Dylan Carlson, 22, have a clear path to playing time after Dexter Fowler's trade to the Los Angeles Angels.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Eric 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. CF Kevin Kiermaier
    8. C Mike Zunino
    9. SS Taylor Walls
    SP Tyler Glasnow

          

    Notes

    Earlier in this article, we projected a trade that would send Willy Adames to the Cincinnati Reds to fill their shortstop void.

    It's unlikely Wander Franco will take the starting shortstop job this spring, but baseball's top prospect will push his way into the MLB picture soon. In the meantime, Taylor Walls can keep the position warm.

    A third-round pick in 2017, Walls is the best defensive shortstop in the Tampa Bay system, and he showed some punch at the plate in 2019 when he hit .270/.343/.452 with 40 extra-base hits in 96 games in High-A and Double-A.

Texas Rangers

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    Willie Calhoun
    Willie CalhounDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

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

                

    Notes

    The Texas Rangers have taken an opportunistic approach this offseason while starting on a rebuilding path, trading Lance Lynn, Rafael Montero and Elvis Andrus while taking a low-cost flier on David Dahl and swinging an under-the-radar trade for Nate Lowe.

    They could continue that approach by rolling the dice on Jake Lamb, who finished the 2020 season strong with the Oakland Athletics and is not far removed from being a 30-homer, 100-RBI player with the Diamondbacks.

    For an organization that has long valued defense at catcher, veteran Tyler Flowers would be a nice addition to help with the development of Sam Huff and recently acquired Jonah Heim.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Bo Bichette
    Bo BichetteCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

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

                

    Notes

    With Marcus Semien slotting in at second base after signing a one-year, $18 million contract, Cavan Biggio will shift to the hot corner. He played 10 games at third base last year, so it should be a smooth transition.

    The bigger question is what happens with the outfield now that George Springer has joined the trio of Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk. The DH spot could help sort things out, but Rowdy Tellez has shown impact power potential. It's a good problem to have.

    Sorting out the starting rotation behind Hyun Jin Ryu will be the focus of spring training, with Robbie Ray, Nate Pearson, Steven Matz, Tanner Roark, Ross Stripling, Tyler Chatwood, Trent Thornton, Thomas Hatch and Anthony Kay all vying for spots.

Washington Nationals

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    Carter Kieboom
    Carter KieboomJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Projected Lineup

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

                

    Notes

    The Washington Nationals offense was dreadful beyond the contributions of Juan Soto and Trea Turner a year ago, and the front office has taken significant steps to address that with the additions of Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber to the middle of the lineup.

    Young infielders Luis Garcia, 20, and Carter Kieboom, 23, will compete with veterans Starlin Castro and Josh Harrison for playing time this spring, but the pieces are in place for this to be a good offensive team once again.

    Kieboom has the tools to break out if he's afforded the chance to get comfortable at the MLB level.

              

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