Arizona Diamondbacks – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
The Diamondbacks had a decent starting rotation in 2018 as Zack Greinke was very good as he usually is. Patrick Corbin was terrific in 2018 as well as he had a 3.15 ERA for the Diamondbacks. However, the Diamondbacks head into the offseason with major questions with their starting rotation. The biggest question mark is whether Patrick Corbin will re-sign with the team and it seems increasingly unlikely that he will return in 2019. That would leave with the Diamondbacks rotation with a major void that will be really difficult to fill. It is also very possible that the Diamondbacks could decide to move Zack Greinke since he has a big contract and he is getting older. Clay Buchholz was a pleasant surprise with a 2.01 ERA in 16 starts, but the Diamondbacks can’t expect him to have that type of production again even if they decide to re-sign him. Robbie Ray provides some hope for the pitching staff, but he struggled at times this past season. Taijuan Walker could be back from Tommy John surgery at some point in 2019, but the Diamondbacks shouldn’t count on any contributions from him. Arizona’s rotation will look a lot different next season and they need to do something in free agency to address it in order to remain competitive.
Atlanta Braves – Biggest Need: Catcher
The Atlanta Braves received decent production from Kurt Suzuki at the catcher position last season as he hit .271 with 12 home runs. However, Suzuki is 35 years old and he is a free agent this offseason. The Braves would ideally like an upgrade over Suzuki anyways and it is extremely likely that they try to find a new starter at the catcher position this offseason. The catcher market in free agency provides the Braves with some good options like Wilson Ramos and Yasmani Grandal if they are willing to spend that kind of money on a catcher. However, it seems more likely that the Braves will tap into the trade market to find their new catcher. J.T. Realmuto is certainly the best option available, but it would likely take at least a couple of top prospects in order to get the deal done. The Braves have some options to find a new catcher, but it will be interesting to see how they address that position.
Baltimore Orioles – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
The Orioles have big needs at just about every position, but the glaring weakness continues to be their starting pitching. They tried to address the problem last offseason by signing veteran pitchers Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner in free agency, but those players just ended up making the rotation worse. Baltimore could see if those guys improve in 2019 or they could just decide to cut their losses and replace them. Dylan Bundy was supposed to be the ace of the Orioles rotation, but it appears that he isn’t the answer either as he had a disastrous 5.45 ERA last season. It is highly unlikely that the Orioles get a top-tier starting pitcher this offseason, but they need to sign several starting pitchers to try and at least make their starting rotation acceptable.
Boston Red Sox – Biggest Need: 2nd Base
Boston’s main weakness was at 2nd base this season mainly because starter Dustin Pedroia couldn’t stay healthy as he only played in 3 games. The Red Sox tried to fix the problem by trading for Ian Kinsler, but that didn’t really work out very well. Kinsler is a free agent after this season and the Red Sox certainly have no intention of bringing him back. That leaves Pedroia as the starter heading into 2019, but he has struggled to stay healthy over the past couple of seasons. That being said, Pedroia is 35 years old and he likely is just an average starter at best at this point in his career. Pedroia might still have some solid production left in his career, but it might be time for the Red Sox to move on from Pedroia and find an upgrade at 2nd base.
Chicago Cubs – Biggest Need: Shortstop
Addison Russell was once a hyped prospect, but he has failed to live up to the hype as he is just an average starting shortstop. Russell is a terrific defensive player, but he just hasn’t provided the Cubs with much of anything on offense. Russell was already in danger of losing his job in 2019 due to his lack of offensive production, but it seems even more likely now due to his character concerns. Russell will miss the start of the season because of a domestic violence issue and there is a chance that the Cubs could just decide to get rid of him altogether. Either way, the Cubs need to do something to address the shortstop position and it is somewhat likely that they could do so by going after a top player like Manny Machado. There is a good chance that the Cubs could land Machado and it would be a major upgrade at the shortstop position even when Russell returns.
Chicago White Sox – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
Reynaldo Lopez and Carlos Rodon look like good young starting pitchers as they led the White Sox rotation last season. The White Sox also remain hopeful that talented prospects Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito can live up to the hype and help make the White Sox rotation stronger. Either way, the White Sox need to find at least one veteran starting pitcher to help improve the rotation and make the White Sox a contender in 2019. The White Sox could be big spenders this offseason and they have many areas to improve, but the continued growth of their young starting pitchers should be the number one priority.
Cincinnati Reds – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
The Reds have one of the best offenses in the MLB and they have a decent bullpen as well. However, the starting pitching remains the main issue that keeps the Reds from being playoff contenders. They were counting on veterans Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani to lead the rotation last season, but both had an absolutely disastrous 2018 season. Cincinnati has some talented young starting pitchers led by Luis Castillo, but they all suffered some growing pains as expected. The Reds are hoping that their young starters like Castillo can continue to improve in 2019. However, the Reds need to either sign a solid veteran pitcher in free agency or make a trade to improve their rotation. If the Reds can find a couple of good starting pitchers then it is possible that they could be playoff contenders in 2019.
Cleveland Indians – Biggest Need: Center Field
Cleveland had hopes that Bradley Zimmer could finally live up to the hype and take over the everyday role in center field, but that unfortunately never happened. They struggled to find anybody to take over that role and they ended up shifting Jason Kipnis to center field. Kipnis has been an infielder for basically his entire career and he was never meant to be anything more than a temporary solution at the position. The good news is that Cleveland could address the free agency with solid veterans like Adam Jones or A.J. Pollock. However, Cleveland just needs to do something in order to upgrade that position because it is really holding the team back.
Colorado Rockies – Biggest Need: Relief Pitching
The Rockies spent tons of money last offseason to try and improve their bullpen, but they didn’t see any results at all. Bryan Shaw, Chris Rusin, and Jake McGee all had big bullpen roles last season, but they all had an absolutely horrible season. Even closer Wade Davis who was known as one of the top closers in the game struggled with consistency. Adam Ottavino and Scott Oberg pitched very well for the Rockies, but they didn’t get much help from the rest of the bullpen. It is possible that the bullpen gets even worse next season especially if Adam Ottavino departs in free agency. Either way, the Rockies need to upgrade their bullpen in a major way this offseason. It is unlikely that they spend tons of money to upgrade the bullpen like they did last year, but they need to add a couple of reliable bullpen pieces in order to get better in that area.
Detroit Tigers – Biggest Need: Shortstop
Detroit has already made it known that last year’s starting shortstop Jose Iglesias won’t be retained for the 2019 season. However, that leaves a major void for the Tigers at shortstop that they must fill this offseason. The Tigers likely won’t spend much in free agency on a shortstop and they’ll likely just add a veteran shortstop on a short-term deal. That being said, the market for shortstops is once again slim this offseason. However, there are some decent temporary options at shortstop for the Tigers as Freddy Galvis, Alcides Escobar, and Adeiny Hechavarria are all free agents. Those guys are good defenders, but they don’t provide much on offense. Detroit needs a shortstop that can fill that role temporarily and it is very likely that they sign a player like Galvis for that role.
Houston Astros – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
The Astros head into a very interesting offseason mostly because they have a few key free agents that they need to decide whether to re-sign or not. However, starting pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton might be the most important players for them to re-sign. Houston has Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander as two terrific options at the top of their rotation. However, if they fail to re-sign Morton and Keuchel this offseason then they would have 3 rotation spots to fill especially with Lance McCullers out for the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery. It is very possible that the Astros won’t be able to re-sign Morton or Keuchel, so it needs to be a priority to try and find a top level starting pitcher like Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, or Nathan Eovaldi. Either way, the Astros will be searching to find at least a couple of new starting pitchers this offseason.
Kansas City Royals – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
Kansas City is in the midst of a full-scale rebuild so they have needs at several positions, but the biggest problem that they had last season was their starting pitching. Danny Duffy was supposed to be the ace of the rotation, yet he had an awful 2018 season as he had a 4.88 ERA. The Royals need him to bounce back in 2019 and they need their younger pitchers like Jakob Junis to continue to improve. Brad Keller was a pleasant surprise for the Royals last season as he became the Royals best starter, but we’ll see if he can continue his success in 2019. Either way, the Royals rotation needs to add a couple of quality veteran pitchers to try and solidify their starting rotation this offseason. They certainly won’t sign a top-level starting pitcher in free agency, but they need to find at least someone on a short-term deal that can help their rotation out in 2019.
Los Angeles Angels – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
The Angels have an offense that can compete at a high level, but the consistency of the team’s pitching continues to hold them back. They once again struggled mightily with injuries to their starting rotation as players like Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs once again couldn’t stay healthy. Richards is a free agent this offseason and it is unlikely that the Angels retain him due to his lengthy injury history. Shohei Ohtani also won’t pitch in 2019 after he just had Tommy John surgery. That leaves the Angels with a couple of major voids to fill in a starting rotation that already was just average at best. The Angels need to find a couple of starting pitchers in free agency to try and give some more stability to their rotation.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Biggest Need: Relief Pitching
The Dodgers used Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen extensively in the postseason because those were about the only two relief pitchers that they could rely on. However, that ended up being their downfall because the teams that they faced in the playoffs had much more depth in their bullpen. If the Dodgers want to make a deep playoff run again then they’ll need to at least find a good 7th inning option that will take some of the pressure off of Baez and Jansen. If the Dodgers can add some more depth to their bullpen then it will allow them to be more competitive if they reach the playoffs once again in 2019.
Miami Marlins – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
The Marlins have a couple of good starting pitchers with Jose Urena and Dan Straily. Neither are elite starting pitchers, but they at least provide some stability to the Marlins starting rotation. However, the rest of the starting rotation needs some help for sure. Wei-Yin Chen was completely unreliable in 2018 and they also couldn’t rely on consistency from younger starters like Caleb Smith and Trevor Richards. Miami likely won’t spend big to get a starting pitcher in free agency, but they need to find a veteran that can help provide some depth to their rotation.
Milwaukee Brewers – Biggest Need: Catcher
The combination of Erik Kratz and Manny Pina didn’t do much during the regular season, but they did contribute to the Brewers success in the 2018 playoffs. However, Kratz is 38 years old and the Brewers need to find an upgrade over him either way. Meanwhile, Pina is a good backup catcher for the Brewers, but he isn’t the long-term starter at catcher. The good news is that the catcher market in free agency gives the Brewers several good options. It is unlikely that they spend big money on a catcher like Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos. However, they could go after a lower-cost starter like Kurt Suzuki, Jonathan Lucroy, Brian McCann, or Matt Wieters. There are plenty of options at catcher for Milwaukee, but they need to do something to improve that position.
Minnesota Twins – Biggest Need: 1st Baseman
Minnesota has had the privilege of having Joe Mauer be their everyday 1st baseman for the past few years. However, the Twins now must find a replacement at 1st base after he decided to retire this offseason. The bad news though is that the Twins don’t really have a player on their roster that can fill that everyday role. They will likely use free agency to fill that major void, but the issue is that it is a a very weak group of 1st baseman. Steve Pearce, Matt Adams, Lucas Duda, and Mark Reynolds are about the only options for the Twins at that position and none of them are exactly inspiring options. The Twins could decide to trade for a 1st baseman and that is likely the better route to take, but they need to do something because they don’t have anybody that can fill the void at 1st base right now.
New York Mets – Biggest Need: Catcher
The good news for the Mets is that they have one of the best starting rotations in the MLB right now. However, the bad news is that they probably have the worst offense in the entire MLB as well. They have needs to fill at several positions and they need key players like Todd Frazier and Michael Conforto to produce more consistently. That being said, the biggest need for the Mets continues to be at the catcher position. They tried to address the issue by acquiring Devin Mesoraco from the Reds early in the 2018 season, but that trade didn’t work out. Now Mesoraco is set to become a free agent this offseason and the team has basically nothing left at the catcher position. Either way, the Mets need an upgrade over Mesoraco at catcher and it is likely that they will go all-in on finding a good starting catcher this offseason. It is very possible that they spend big to sign a catcher like Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos in free agency. However, they also have expressed tons of interest in trading for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. It will take a big risk either way to find a good starting catcher, but it is a risk that they must take in order to improve their team.
New York Yankees – Biggest Need: 1st Baseman
The New York Yankees are pretty much a complete team and they especially don’t need to improve their offense much. However, 1st base continues to be the position that holds their lineup back from reaching its full potential. The Yankees had hope that Greg Bird would live up to the hype and become their everyday 1st baseman. Sure, he has shown tremendous power with his bat, but he just hasn’t been able to produce consistently on offense. Luke Voit came in and did a very good job at 1st base, but he didn’t do much in the playoffs and he isn’t the long-term answer at 1st base. The Yankees don’t have any better options in free agency, but they could look to address their need at 1st base via a trade. The Yankees already are rumored to be intrerested in Paul Goldschmidt if the Diamondbacks decide to trade him and that would make the Yankees offense perhaps the best of any team in MLB history. Either way, they need to find a long-term solution at 1st base because Greg Bird and Luke Voit just aren’t the answer.
Oakland Athletics – Biggest Need: Catcher
Bruce Maxwell was supposed to take over the starting role at catcher for the Athletics, but it appears that will never happen. Jonathan Lucroy was the Athletics main catcher and he did a good job defensively, but he surprisingly struggled offensively as he only hit for a .241 average with 4 home runs. Lucroy is a free agent this offseason and the Athletics should definitely explore options to upgrade at the position. The Athletics could bring back Lucroy at a low cost or they could decide to spend more money and get a better catcher. It isn’t typical of Oakland to be aggressive spenders in free agency, but this might be the offseason that they need to do that in order to improve at the catcher position.
Philadelphia Phillies – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
The Philadelphia Phillies received a terrific performance from young starting pitcher Aaron Nola who became the Phillies undisputed ace last season with an impressive 2.37 ERA. Jake Arrieta also had a decent season with a 3.96 ERA, but beyond those two pitchers the Phillies starting rotation was really inconsistent. The return of Jerad Eickhoff next season should give the Phillies rotation some much needed depth. However, the other two spots in the rotation are completely up in the air. They could just have Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez compete for the final two spots. That being said, it is probably just best if the Phillies add at least one veteran starting pitcher to help add some more depth in order to solidify the Phillies rotation. Philadelphia likely won’t be in the market for a top starting pitcher, although they must do something in order to improve the back end of their starting rotation.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Biggest Need: Shortstop
The Pirates middle infield is likely going to look a lot different next season with 2nd baseman Josh Harrison and shortstop Jordy Mercer both likely to depart in free agency. However, the biggest concern is the void that Pittsburgh currently has at shortstop especially if Mercer leaves in free agency. Mercer was just an average shortstop at best and it shouldn’t be too difficult to replace him, but the problem is that they don’t really have a plan to do so. The Pirates could dig into the rather weak shortstop market in free agency with players like Freddy Galvis and Alcides Escobar available likely at a low cost. However, none of the free agent options for the Pirates are necessarily upgrades over what the Pirates had with Mercer. Maybe the Pirates can address the need via a trade, but that seems highly unlikely at this point. The Pirates don’t have many good options to fill the shortstop void and it might be best if they just bring back Mercer on a short-term deal.
San Diego Padres – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
The Padres let go of a couple of good starting pitchers from the 2017 season as they traded away Trevor Cahill and let Jhoulys Chacin leave in free agency. Those turned out to be really bad decisions for the Padres as their starting rotation was an absolute disaster in 2018. Joey Lucchesi was clearly the team’s best starting pitcher last season and he struggled with consistency as he had a 4.08 ERA. The other pitchers including Eric Lauer, Tyson Ross, and Clayton Richard were even more inconsistent. The only real lock to make the starting rotation in 2019 is Lucchesi, but the rest of the starting rotation is completely up in the air. Either way, San Diego needs to sign a few veteran starting pitchers in free agency to finally help improve their starting rotation. If they fail to accomplish that this offseason then it will hold the Padres back from being a competitive team once again.
San Francisco Giants – Biggest Need: Right Fielder
The San Francisco Giants was absolutely terrible last season and the main issue was that their entire outfield wasn’t good at all. Andrew McCutchen was brought in to improve their lineup and he was arguably their best offensive player, but he still failed to live up to the hype before being traded during the season. However, after he was traded then it left the Giants with a major void at each of the outfield positions. Right Field is a particular area of need because they have absolutely nobody to fill that role right now. Hunter Pence had a terrible 2018 season and it is almost certain that the Giants will let him depart in free agency. Gorkys Hernandez could fill the void, but he will most likely start in left field for the Giants. Either way, the Giants desperately need to find a new starting right fielder this offseason. Maybe they make a push to sign a mid-range starter in right field like Carlos Gonzalez or Nick Markakis. However, it isn’t out of the question that they make a bigger splash at the position by trying to acquire an elite player like Bryce Harper. Adding him would not only fill the void in right field, but it would instantly make a huge difference in a rather weak Giants lineup. Either way, the Giants need some more power in their lineup and they certainly need to find a new everyday player in right field.
Seattle Mariners – Biggest Need: Catcher
The Mariners made the first big move of the MLB offseason by trading away starting catcher Mike Zunino. However, the problem is that the Mariners don’t have a catcher that is able to replace him. David Freitas is the best catcher that the Mariners have right now, but he isn’t even a very good backup. The Mariners desperately need to find a new starting catcher this offseason and the good news is that it is a strong market for catchers in free agency. It is unlikely that they try to sign a top catcher like Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos since the team is clearly trying to shed payroll this offseason. That being said, there should be some decent low-cost options like Jonathan Lucroy or Kurt Suzuki that the Mariners could sign on a short-term deal. Either way, the Mariners at least need to do something to fill the void left by Zunino’s departure.
St. Louis Cardinals – Biggest Need: Closer
The Cardinals bullpen started off the 2018 season well especially since Bud Norris performed well in the closer’s role. However, Norris’ performance faded later on in the season and the rest of the bullpen didn’t fare well either as pretty much every relief pitcher struggled with consistency. It is a problem that the Cardinals must address this offseason as they especially need to find a reliable closer that can shut down games and help them reach the playoffs once again. The good news for St. Louis is that there are plenty of good closers available in free agency. Craig Kimbrel is obviously the best closer on the market, but it would take tons of money to sign him. It is more likely that the Cardinals try to sign a mid-range closer like Cody Allen, Kelvin Herrera, Jeurys Familia, or Sergio Romo. Either way, Bud Norris proved that he wasn’t the right guy in the 9th inning and now the Cardinals badly need a closer to help solidify their bullpen that needs some serious improvement.
Tampa Bay Rays – Biggest Need: Relief Pitching
Jose Alvarado quietly became an elite setup man for the Rays as he had a 2.39 ERA in 70 appearances. Alvarado figures to play a major role in the Rays bullpen next season and it is very possible that he could take over the closer’s role as well. However, the rest of the bullpen needs some serious help. Closer Sergio Romo is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason and it seems somewhat unlikely that he’ll be retained. Ryne Stanek and Chaz Roe provide some solid bullpen depth, but the Rays need to find some better late-inning options. The Rays need to find a mid-range relief pitcher in free agency that can help solidify their bullpen in the late innings.
Texas Rangers – Biggest Need: Starting Pitching
The Texas Rangers added some veteran starting pitchers last offseason in hopes that they could piece together a decent starting rotation. However, things didn’t work out quite as planned as veteran pitchers Mike Minor, Yovani Gallardo, Bartolo Colon, Doug Fister, Martin Perez, and Matt Moore all struggled tremendously. Another big problem is that all of those pitchers except for Mike Minor are scheduled to be free agents this offseason. Minor is a lock to make the Rangers rotation since he was their best starting pitcher last season, but there is a major void with the other 4 spots in the rotation. It will be tough for the Rangers to adequately fill all 4 spots, yet they need to do something to fix their starting rotation which was completely awful last season.
Toronto Blue Jays – Biggest Need: Relief Pitching
The Blue Jays weakened their bullpen considerably when they traded away Roberto Osuna and Seunghwan Oh during the 2018 season. However, the Blue Jays bullpen could get even worse this offseason with Tyler Clippard and Aaron Loup becoming free agents. They still have Ken Giles and Ryan Tepera in their bullpen, but that’s about all that they have. The Blue Jays badly need to find another late-inning option and they just need to add much more depth to their bullpen in general.
Washington Nationals – Biggest Need: 2nd Baseman
The Nationals have some huge decisions to make this offseason especially with star player Bryce Harper becoming a free agent. However, the biggest area of weakness for the Nationals is at 2nd base. Washington traded away Daniel Murphy during the season and that created a big void at 2nd base. Wilmer Difo isn’t a bad backup, but he has already proven that he shouldn’t be relied upon to be the starter at 2nd base. There are some intriguing options in free agency that the Nationals should consider. Jed Lowrie and DJ LeMahieu seem like the best options for the Nationals as they would provide an instant upgrade at 2nd base. However, there are also a couple of intriguing lower-cost options available like Josh Harrison and Brian Dozier. Washington has a chance to find a good starter at 2nd base this offseason and an upgrade over Wilmer Difo would be very beneficial.