MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand Post-LockoutMarch 11, 2022
MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand Post-Lockout
After 99 long days, the Major League Baseball lockout is officially over!
MLB and the MLBPA finally agreed to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement on Thursday afternoon, and players can now immediately begin reporting to spring training.
Opening Day is slated for April 7, with spring training games starting in a week. Expect free agency and the trade market to take off in the days to come as teams look to cram three months' worth of offseason into a matter of days.
Before baseball is fully back up and running again, let's lay the groundwork on where things stand for all 30 teams with an updated version of our MLB power rankings.
Baseball is back!
30. Pittsburgh Pirates
Pirates starters pitched to a National League-worst 5.53 ERA last year, and with a projected staff of Jose Quintana, JT Brubaker, Zach Thompson, Bryse Wilson and Mitch Keller, it's hard to see how things will get better. At least the trio of Bryan Reynolds, Ke'Bryan Hayes and rookie Oneil Cruz will be fun to watch.
29. Baltimore Orioles
Much like the Pirates, the Orioles have some exciting young position-player talent, led by breakout star Cedric Mullins and rising top prospect Adley Rutschman. But they sorely lack quality pitching. Veteran Jordan Lyles, who had a 5.15 ERA in 180 innings last year, has been the only notable addition to a pitching staff that was baseball's worst with a 5.84 ERA.
28. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies' focus this offseason has been on extending their in-house players, with new deals for C.J. Cron, Antonio Senzatela and Elias Diaz, but they have not made outside additions to the 40-man roster. That strategy should ensure continued mediocrity for the worst-run team in the sport. But, hey, at least Colorado has an extra draft pick for holding on to Trevor Story at the trade deadline. Rolls eyes.
27. Washington Nationals
Juan Soto is really, really good. The rest of the Nationals, not so much. Young players such as Lane Thomas, Keibert Ruiz, Carter Kieboom and Josiah Gray will have opportunities to carve out their spots as long-term pieces, while slugger Josh Bell is a prime trade candidate in his final year of team control.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks
Healthy seasons from star Ketel Marte and staff ace Zac Gallen would go a long way for the D-backs, as would continued development from young players Daulton Varsho, Josh Rojas and Pavin Smith. There's a huge gap to bridge to the top three teams in the NL West, however, and they'll likely play for a distant fourth in 2022.
25. Texas Rangers
The Rangers spent $500 million to sign Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million) and Marcus Semien (seven years, $175 million) and also added right-hander Jon Gray (four years, $56 million) to anchor a young starting rotation. That significantly changed their future, but it's still tough to envision them contending without several more quality arms.
24. Chicago Cubs
After last summer's fire sale, the Cubs are in transition. They took some buy-low fliers on Clint Frazier and Harold Ramirez while adding Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley to a starting rotation that was second-worst in the NL with a 5.27 ERA in 2021. If Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel can avoid significant regression and the young middle infield tandem of Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal can set the table, the offense will be better than expected.
23. Minnesota Twins
The Twins simply don't have the starting pitching to be viewed as a contender. Despite trading Jose Berrios, losing Kenta Maeda to Tommy John surgery and potentially having Michael Pineda walk via free agency, the only addition they've made is Dylan Bundy, who pitched to a 6.06 ERA in 2021. The offense is solid, but they need more arms.
22. Kansas City Royals
After an influx of talented young pitchers over the last two seasons, the Royals are set to welcome several up-and-coming bats. Top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. will be given every opportunity to win a spot on the Opening Day roster, while Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez won't be far behind. The tide is turning for a team that quietly went 38-35 after the All-Star break last year.
21. Miami Marlins
On Feb. 28, Derek Jeter stepped down as CEO of the Marlins. "Jeter went into the lockout believing team chairman Bruce Sherman had approved the spending of another $10 million to $15 million on player(s) whenever transactions begin again. And that plan was reversed, in Jeter's understanding," Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote. In other words, more of the same from a penny-pinching organization that has an enviable collection of young arms and could make a serious push up the standings with a few impact bats.
20. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds gave away Wade Miley on waivers, traded Tucker Barnhart and have yet to re-sign or replace Nick Castellanos in the middle of the lineup. It's hard to look at that as anything but a step backward for a team that went 83-79 a year after making the postseason. It's tough to nail down Cincinnati's direction.
19. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers made a pair of flashy free-agent signings in Javier Baez (six years, $140 million) and Eduardo Rodriguez (five years, $77 million), and they also acquired defensive standout Tucker Barnhart to anchor the young pitching from staff behind the plate. Those additions, coupled with growth from the young players and the impending arrivals of Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, make this a team on the rise.
18. Oakland Athletics
All signs have pointed to the Athletics' cutting payroll this offseason, and were it not for the lockout, one or more of Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea might already call another city home. They always seem to find a way to stay relevant, but relevance might be their ceiling if they sell as expected.
17. Cleveland Guardians
With 2020 American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber and 2021 breakout star Cal Quantrill fronting the rotation and the flame-throwing duo of Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak anchoring the bullpen, there's no question the Guardians have pitching. However, they have made no notable additions to a lineup that ranked 18th in runs (717) and 21st in OPS (.710).
16. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels still need to find a shortstop, but adding Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen to the starting rotation and welcoming back Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon after injury-plagued seasons gives them significant upside. At the very least, a reunion with Andrelton Simmons or Jose Iglesias would provide a short-term solution up the middle.
15. Philadelphia Phillies
What have the Phillies done to improve after going 82-80? Right-hander Corey Knebel was a nice addition to the bullpen and looks like the front-runner to close, but he's the only notable newcomer for a perennially underperforming team. They again look like a club that will hover around .500 and hang on the periphery of the wild-card picture.
14. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners feel like they are on the cusp of something big, but they also have the cloud of a 20-year postseason drought. After strong final months from Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert and more young talent on the way, led by Julio Rodriguez, the future is bright. The additions of Robbie Ray and Adam Frazier also plugged two major holes.
13. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals ripped off a 22-7 record in September to steal a wild-card spot after playing sub-.500 baseball during the first half. Their offense is going to score plenty of runs, and the bullpen should be able to protect leads, but they have to have better health from their rotation. Adam Wainwright was the only pitcher on the staff to top 110 innings last year, and 13 different starters took the ball.
12. San Francisco Giants
Even the most optimistic Giants fan didn't predict 107 wins, and repeating that success won't be easy. Ace Kevin Gausman is gone, Kris Bryant is expected to follow, Buster Posey retired, and Brandon Crawford, 35, and Brandon Belt, 33, are coming off career years that will be difficult to duplicate. San Francisco arrived as a contender sooner than expected, and the future is still bright.
11. Milwaukee Brewers
Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta combined for a 2.59 ERA and 640 strikeouts in 490.2 innings last year, and that trio alone is enough for the Brewers to be favorites in the National League Central. However, their lack of offensive firepower was exposed when they were shut out twice in the National League Division Series, and replacing Avisail Garcia with Hunter Renfroe has been their only notable move.
10. Atlanta Braves
Until the Atlanta Braves come to terms on a new deal with Freddie Freeman or find a suitable replacement, it's hard to move them any higher.
The defending World Series champions did seem to be lining up a fallback plan prior to the lockout, with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reporting they had checked in on Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson, so that provides optimism that something will be done one way or another.
It would also make sense to bring back one or more of Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario and Joc Pederson so Atlanta doesn't have to rely on Cristian Pache and Drew Waters to fill starting spots in the outfield, and more starting pitching is never a bad thing.
The Braves are not a finished product, but they should be contenders again when the dust settles.
9. Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox will essentially swap a healthy Chris Sale and newcomers Rich Hill and Michael Wacha into the starting rotation in place of Eduardo Rodriguez, Martin Perez and Garrett Richards, who all hit free agency this offseason.
Will that be enough to move the needle on what was a middle-of-the-road pitching staff?
Another step forward by Tanner Houck would be a major boon to the rotation, while young players Alex Verdugo, Bobby Dalbec and Jarren Duran are capable of providing an in-house boost to an already potent offense.
This team played its best baseball down the stretch last year, taking the Houston Astros to six games in the American League Championship Series.
8. San Diego Padres
With a talented roster and after a strong showing during the shortened 2020 season, the San Diego Padres entered 2021 with lofty expectations.
However, the wheels fell off during the second half. They stumbled to a 26-43 record and slipped out of the postseason picture, finishing 79-83 a year after they logged a .617 winning percentage and made the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
With that said, it's hard not to be optimistic.
With Mike Clevinger healthy and Japan League standout Nick Martinez added to the back of the rotation, the starting staff that was such an issue last year looks like a strength. The offense is dynamic, the bullpen is loaded with power arms, and new manager Bob Melvin will provide a steadying presence in the clubhouse.
7. Toronto Blue Jays
This might not sit well with Boston Red Sox fans, but the young Toronto Blue Jays have more upside.
The rotation has a chance to be a strength for the first time in years with Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, Hyun Jin Ryu and Alek Manoah leading the way, and the bullpen fell into place last year with Tim Mayza and Adam Cimber settling into setup roles ahead of breakout closer Jordan Romano.
Losing Marcus Semien via free agency hurt, but his production can be largely offset by healthy seasons from George Springer and Cavan Biggio, and the middle-of-the-order trio of Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez stacks up to any in baseball.
Despite a fourth-place finish last year, this was a 91-win team.
6. New York Mets
The New York Mets were busy prior to the lockout, signing Max Scherzer (three years, $130 million), Starling Marte (four years, $78 million), Mark Canha (two years, $26.5 million) and Eduardo Escobar (two years, $20 million) in an effort to push for title contention.
Jacob deGrom's health remains an X-factor, as does the performance of starter Carlos Carrasco, who struggled to a 6.04 ERA in 53.2 innings in his first Mets season last year. If those two can stay healthy and pitch to their potential, the rotation will rival any in baseball.
After five straight years of disappointment and unfulfilled expectations, no team has done more to improve this offseason. And until the Atlanta Braves address their needs, the Mets look like the team to beat in the National League East.
Can they avoid another letdown?
5. Houston Astros
The Houston Astros still have some big questions to answer.
First and foremost, they need to sort out who will play shortstop if Carlos Correa walks via free agency as expected. Top prospect Jeremy Pena impressed in Triple-A last year, and he could be the answer before the season is over, but relying on him would be a considerable risk.
Trevor Story would be a high-level replacement, while Andrelton Simmons and Jose Iglesias might be better targets as stopgaps.
The bullpen will also need to be addressed with Kendall Graveman, Yimi Garcia and Brooks Raley having signed elsewhere. Hector Neris signed a two-year, $17 million deal, and Ryan Pressly and Ryne Stanek are still around, but more bullpen depth would help.
Assuming those questions are sufficiently answered, the Astros will once more be the favorites in the American League West.
4. New York Yankees
The New York Yankees may still have a blockbuster move on the horizon, but even if they don't, there are plenty of reasons to expect in-house improvement.
A full season of left fielder Joey Gallo, a 4.7-WAR player last year, healthy seasons from Luis Severino and Domingo German in the starting rotation, and a permanent shift away from shortstop for Gleyber Torres that should allow him to focus on his offensive game are potential avenues for improvement.
Ideally, the team would at least find a stopgap at shortstop, which would allow Gio Urshela to stay at third base and DJ LeMahieu to fill the super-utility role he has thrived in in the past. Signing Andrelton Simmons or Jose Iglesias would not block top prospect Anthony Volpe once he's ready for the big leagues.
Then again, a splashy signing of Carlos Correa or Trevor Story would provide a major boost to the Yankees' short-term outlook.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays won a franchise-record 100 games last year despite the 26th-highest payroll in baseball as they continued to do more with less.
Third baseman Joey Wendle was the latest casualty of the small market team's constant salary churn, and outfielders Austin Meadows, Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot are also on the trade block, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
But the young talent pipeline is as stocked as ever, and the Rays checked in at No. 1 in our most recent farm system rankings even after graduating Wander Franco to the majors.
Some combination of Shane McClanahan, Shane Baz, Drew Rasmussen, Luis Patino, Ryan Yarbrough, Josh Fleming and newcomer Corey Kluber will chew through bulk innings, while All-Star Andrew Kittredge and flame-thrower Pete Fairbanks anchor a bullpen that seems to grow diamonds in the rough.
Is anyone still foolish enough to bet against the Rays' finding a way to contend?
2. Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox won the American League Central by 13 games last season, and they did it even though Yasmani Grandal (93 games), Luis Robert (68 games) and Eloy Jimenez (55 games) missed significant chunks of the year.
Shifting the hard-throwing Michael Kopech into the starting rotation will account for the likely departure of Carlos Rodon via free agency, while the addition of Kendall Graveman in the bullpen could open the window for a trade of 2021 deadline pickup Craig Kimbrel.
With Robert and Jimenez healthy and poised to build on their early career success, the White Sox can get away with having Adam Engel and Leury Garcia in the starting lineup on a regular basis.
If the season started today, Chicago would have one of the most complete rosters, and there's still time for it to add depth.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Even with Max Scherzer and Corey Seager gone and Clayton Kershaw in free-agency limbo, the Los Angeles Dodgers still look like baseball's most complete team.
A lineup that features Trea Turner, Mookie Betts, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Will Smith and Chris Taylor can afford to roll the dice on a potential bounce-back season by 2019 National League MVP Cody Bellinger and give a long leash to former top prospect Gavin Lux.
On the mound, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias are still a dynamic one-two punch in the rotation, and there's a good chance Kershaw will return on a short-term deal to close his career in a Dodgers uniform.
Even the potential loss of longtime closer Kenley Jansen via free agency could be solved by slotting ace setup man Blake Treinen in the ninth-inning role.
The Dodgers likely are not done adding pieces, but even if they are, they will again be title contenders.
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.