The Biggest Hole on Every MLB Roster Right Now

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterDecember 3, 2021

The Biggest Hole on Every MLB Roster Right Now

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    With Gleyber Torres now at second base, the Yankees still have a need at shortstop.
    With Gleyber Torres now at second base, the Yankees still have a need at shortstop.Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    When Major League Baseball's owners voted to instituted a lockout on Wednesday, they pressed pause on winter business that was far from over.

    So whenever the 2021-22 offseason boots back up, plenty of teams will still have plenty of holes to fill.

    Here, we've highlighted the biggest such hole for all 30 teams. This required considering weaknesses from this past season that clubs haven't yet addressed and vacancies opened up by big-name free agents.

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

American League East

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    Nelson Cruz
    Nelson CruzChris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Baltimore Orioles: Starting Pitching

    Though the Orioles did something by signing Jordan Lyles at the last minute before the lockout, he alone isn't much of a fix for a starting rotation that coughed up a league-high 5.99 ERA in 2021. They certainly have the payroll space to make more moves, so whether or not they want to is the only real question.


    Boston Red Sox: Defense

    Though the Red Sox could still use late-inning relievers and an impact bat, their most pressing Achilles' heel is a defense that was dead last with minus-38 outs above average this season. The return of Jackie Bradley Jr. helps that in theory, but less so if he's going to play a reserve role in reality.


    New York Yankees: Shortstop

    The Yankees have had a question mark hanging over shortstop ever since they moved Gleyber Torres back to second base, yet they were supposedly in no rush to sign one of the market's top options before the lockout. That notably cost them Corey Seager, who was a perfect fit on paper.


    Tampa Bay Rays: Slugger

    Durability questions be damned, two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is a nice dice roll for a Rays rotation that needed a veteran arm. Next up should be a big bopper who can fill Nelson Cruz's shoes in the middle of the lineup. Maybe it's a reach, but reigning World Series MVP Jorge Soler would fit well.


    Toronto Blue Jays: Relief Ace

    It hurt Toronto to lose Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray, but Cavan Biggio can fill in for the former and the Jays signed Kevin Gausman to replace the latter. What they need now is a relief ace who could set up for or perhaps supplant Jordan Romano at closer. When baseball resumes, Kenley Jansen will still be out there.

American League Central

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    A.J. Hinch
    A.J. HinchAlex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Chicago White Sox: Second Base

    After signing Kendall Graveman, the White Sox are a rare team that might actually have enough pitching. But another bat would be good, and particularly at second base so Leury Garcia can slide back into his customary super-utility role. Josh Harrison or Jonathan Villar should be potential options.


    Cleveland Guardians: Left Field

    As they lacked consistent hitters outside of Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes in 2021, the Guardians need offense in general. Yet there's no better place for a new bat than left field. If they want to spring for him, Ohio native Kyle Schwarber would be an ideal fit both out there and in the middle of Cleveland's order.


    Detroit Tigers: Center Field

    With the signings of Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez , the Tigers filled needs in their rotation and at shortstop. They might now turn to center field, which produced only 0.3 rWAR this past season. With the free-agent market mostly picked clean, they might want to consider a trade for, say, Ketel Marte.


    Kansas City Royals: Starting Pitching

    The Royals might not surprise anyone like they did by signing Mike Minor and Carlos Santana last year, yet they'd do well to at least add a back-end starter for their rotation. The more experience and upside, the better, so perhaps a reunion with Danny Duffy is in the cards.


    Minnesota Twins: Starting Pitching

    With Byron Buxton's extension done, it's now time for the Twins to fix what ailed them in 2021. Namely, a starting rotation that ranked last in rWAR. Pickings are already slim there, but they could simultaneously improve and deny the enemy if they were to sign Carlos Rodon away from the White Sox.

American League West

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    Carlos Correa
    Carlos CorreaDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Houston Astros: Shortstop

    The Astros took care of their rotation by re-signing Justin Verlander and of the back end of their bullpen by inking Hector Neris. Now they just need to replace Carlos Correa at shortstop. They reportedly want to do so with a big splash, which points the arrow firmly at Trevor Story.


    Los Angeles Angels: Starting Pitching

    Because the Angels got a league-low minus-1.0 rWAR from shortstop in 2021, whether Tyler Wade should be the answer there is debatable. What shouldn't be debatable, though, is that they still need starters even after adding Noah Syndergaard. Carlos Rodon would be a similar high-risk, high-reward addition.


    Oakland Athletics: Outfield

    With the A's apparently willing to move anyone and everyone in an attempt to cut payroll, it's sort of pointless to pick apart where they need to add. But if we must, we'll point to an outfield that's missing Ramon Laureano because of a suspension and which has lost Mark Canha to free agency.


    Seattle Mariners: A Kris Bryant-Like Hitter

    By trading for Adam Frazier and signing AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray, the Mariners fulfilled their big needs on the infield and in their rotation. That could potentially conclude their shopping for big-ticket players, but they can and should splurge on Kris Bryant. They need his power and winning experience.


    Texas Rangers: No. 1 Starter

    With Corey Seager and Marcus Semien now paired together, the Rangers have one heck of a double play combination. But fellow newcomer Jon Gray isn't quite the ace their rotation sorely lacked in 2021, so they should also pursue local boy and future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw.

National League East

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    Freddie Freeman
    Freddie FreemanDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Atlanta: First Base

    The holes left in Atlanta by Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson loom large, but not nearly as large as the one potentially left by Freddie Freeman at first base. It's long been thought that he wouldn't leave Atlanta, but he just might if the team doesn't outbid an imposing list of other interested parties.


    Miami Marlins: Outfielder

    By signing Avisail Garcia and trading for Jacob Stallings, the Marlins fulfilled their needs for an impact hitter and everyday catcher. Yet they could still stand to improve an offense that ranked last in OPS+ in 2021. With room for another outfielder, they should consider Kyle Schwarber or even Kris Bryant.


    New York Mets: Starting Pitching

    Headlined by Max Scherzer's $130 million megadeal, a recent quartet of signings has the Mets looking that much bigger on the National League landscape. Yet they could use something solid in a rotation littered with red flags. Yusei Kikuchi or Michael Pineda would fit the bill.


    Philadelphia Phillies: Center Field

    Didi Gregorius had such a bad year in 2021 that the Phillies must consider signing Carlos Correa or Trevor Story. But whereas Gregorius is at least playable at shortstop, the Phillies don't have a proper center fielder. With the free-agent market plucked dry, they should consider a trade for Ketel Marte.


    Washington Nationals: Relief Pitching

    Apart from adding Francisco Perez off waivers, the Nationals have neglected a bullpen that ranked dead last in rWAR this season. Luckily, they're a good home for bounce-back candidates like Alex Colome and Shane Greene, who could potentially be had on dirt-cheap deals.

National League Central

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    Nick Castellanos
    Nick CastellanosAaron Doster/Associated Press

    Chicago Cubs: Shortstop

    This easily could have read "Starting Pitching" as recently as Wednesday afternoon, but the Cubs doubled up on good starters when they signed Marcus Stroman to pitch ahead of waiver-wire addition Wade Miley. So how about a new shortstop? If not Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, then at least Andrelton Simmons.


    Cincinnati Reds: Outfielder

    The Reds weren't in much of a buying mode before the lockout, and they probably won't be after it. But on the off chance that they are, they need bodies for an outfield that's missing Nick Castellanos and which basically doesn't have a center fielder. Tommy Pham would be worth a flier.


    Milwaukee Brewers: Impact Hitter

    The Brewers couldn't hit much in 2021, and replacing Avisail Garcia in right field with Hunter Renfroe via a trade isn't necessarily a step in the right direction. They really should consider Kyle Schwarber, would could platoon in the outfield and also play first base on occasion.


    Pittsburgh Pirates: Corner Outfielder

    To give credit where it's due, the Pirates were proactive in picking up low-cost players to fill various needs before the lockout. The corners of their outfield could use similar additions. There will be pickings aplenty there, including Alex Dickerson and Danny Santana.


    St. Louis Cardinals: Shortstop

    This was a hard one, as the Cardinals roster was suddenly bereft of obvious holes after they signed Steven Matz. They might nonetheless look to be opportunistic on the shortstop market, where Story could potentially be had on a one-year "prove it" contract if interest in him runs dry.

National League West

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    Clayton Kershaw
    Clayton KershawRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Arizona Diamondbacks: Relief Pitching

    Only the Nationals got less WAR out of their bullpen than the Diamondbacks in 2021, so the signing of veteran closer Mark Melancon was a good move on their part. But there's still room for more relievers, with good upside plays including Richard Rodriguez and Chris Martin.


    Colorado Rockies: Shortstop

    The entire Rockies roster is cringe-worthy, but it's especially hard to look at their lineup sans Trevor Story at shortstop. Re-signing him is likely a long shot, and there aren't any high-reward guys at the bottom of the shortstop market. So, a trade for a shortstop buried in some other organization may be in order.


    Los Angeles Dodgers: Starting Pitching

    The Dodgers haven't been entirely unproductive this winter, but there's no ignoring the unfilled shoes of Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer in their starting rotation. They might still bring back the former, but they shouldn't neglect the trade market either. Specifically, not Luis Castillo's corner of it.


    San Diego Padres: Closer

    One of the few places where the Padres didn't have significant issues in 2021 was at closer, where Mark Melancon cleaned up with a 2.23 ERA and a league-high 39 saves. But he's gone now, so the Pads ought to consider twisting the knife on the Dodgers by stealing Kenley Jansen.


    San Francisco Giants: Outfielder

    We would recommend that the Giants replace Buster Posey with a similar talent behind the plate, but that fits firmly in the "Not Possible" file right now. Instead, they could use an everyday right-handed hitter for their outfield. Nick Castellanos might work, so long as he would also have the benefit of the universal DH.


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.