Category Archives: Pittsburgh Pirates

Biggest weakness for every MLB team

Arizona Diamondbacks – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

The Diamondbacks were decent at the catcher position last season, but they let starter Chris Iannetta leave in free agency. However, the Diamondbacks are seriously struggling at the catcher position in 2018. Jeff Mathis is a good defensive catcher, yet he is only hitting .182 with no home runs this season. The Diamondbacks also have Alex Avila at the position and he has been even worse while batting .148 this season. It is hard to find good offensive catchers these days, but Arizona needs much better production than what they are getting right now.

Atlanta Braves – Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

The Braves have a really good starting rotation, but issues arise when they have had to call upon their bullpen this season. Arodys Vizcaino has been terrific as the team’s closer, but the rest of the bullpen has been very inconsistent. Shane Carle, A.J. Minter, and Dan Winkler have been good at times. However, none of those guys have been the reliable relief pitchers that Atlanta needs. If Atlanta is going to make the playoffs this year, then they need to find some better late-inning options in the bullpen.

Baltimore Orioles – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Baltimore has been terrible in many different aspects, but starting pitching stands out as being the worst of it all. Dylan Bundy has been the best starter for the Orioles, but even he only has an average 4.08 ERA this season. Kevin Gausman has been decent as well with a 4.11 ERA, but he has been inconsistent as well. The rest of the rotation though has been completely awful as the offseason free agent signings of Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb have just made the rotation worse. Also, Daniel Hess and Chris Tillman both have absolutely terrible ERA’s as well. Baltimore has had terrible starting pitching for years, yet it might actually be worse than ever this season.

Boston Red Sox – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Sandy Leon performed well offensively in 2017, but he has regressed so far this season as he has become the weakness of the Red Sox lineup. Leon still hasn’t been terrible, yet he is only averaging .252 with 4 home runs in 2018. Meanwhile, Christian Vazquez has been even worse offensively for Boston. Vazquez is hitting .213 with 3 home runs in 2018 despite getting even more at-bats than Leon. Boston has enough in their lineup to make up for the lack of production at the catcher position, although they will need more if the Red Sox really want to reach their full potential.

Chicago Cubs – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Jon Lester has been outstanding for the Cubs this year as he has a 2.45 ERA. However, the rest of the starting rotation for Chicago hasn’t been nearly as good. Mike Montgomery has been decent as a 5th starter for the Cubs, but they need much more from the other pitchers. Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, and Yu Darvish have all underachieved this season. The Cubs are still a probable playoff team, but if the Cubs want to make a deep playoff run then they’ll need much more from their starting pitching.

Chicago White Sox – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Reynaldo Lopez has been the lone bright spot in the White Sox starting rotation as leads the White Sox starters with a 3.77 ERA. However, the rest of the White Sox starting pitchers have been disastrous to say the least. James Shields, Dylan Covey, Lucas Giolito, and Carson Fulmer all have been really awful. Giolito and Fulmer are still big parts of the rotation for the future, yet Chicago needs much better starting pitching if they ever want to be relevant again.

Cincinnati Reds – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Tyler Mahle has been outstanding with a 3.66 ERA this season and Matt Harvey has been good for the Reds as well with a 3.79 ERA in 11 starts for the team. However, the rest of the rotation hasn’t been good at all. Sal Romano, Luis Castillo, and Homer Bailey all have an ERA 5.28 or less this season. The good news is that the Reds have a very good offense, but they will need much better starting pitching if they want to compete anytime soon.

Cleveland Indians – Biggest Weakness: Center Field

Bradley Zimmer and Greg Allen have both split time in center field for Cleveland this season, but the issue is that neither of them have been productive offensively. Zimmer is hitting only .226 with 2 home runs this season. However, Greg Allen has been even worse as he is a .208 hitter with just 1 home run. Cleveland might need to consider adding a center fielder at the trade deadline since they are getting terrible production from the position right now.

Colorado Rockies – Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

Colorado made some major changes to their bullpen this past offseason, but it has only seemingly made that unit even worse than last season. Adam Ottavino has been terrific and Scott Oberg has been good as well, but the rest of the bullpen has been terrible. Wade Davis was supposed to be an elite closer for the Rockies, but he instead has a mediocre 4.04 ERA this season. Also, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Chris Rusin, and Mike Dunn have all been awful this season. The Rockies have some proven relief pitchers, yet for whatever reason they just haven’t been able to produce this season.

Detroit Tigers – Biggest Weakness: Designated Hitter

Victor Martinez has had a terrific career, but at this point he is nothing more than a mentor for the young players on the Tigers team as he finishes out his likely final MLB season. Martinez certainly isn’t the player that he once was as he is currently 39 years old and he hasn’t been a good hitter at all. Martinez is hitting .240 with just 4 home runs for Detroit this season despite making $18 million in salary. Those aren’t great stats especially for a designated hitter that is supposed to help carry the Tigers offense.

Houston Astros – Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

The Astros are a world series contender once again this season, but they certainly don’t have a bullpen worthy of that distinction. Ken Giles was supposed to be the closer this season, but he has been awful with a 4.11 ERA. Will Harris is another late-inning option for the Astros that has really struggled this year as well. Joe Smith has been the worst of all with a 4.70 ERA in 2018 for Houston. Hector Rondon, Tony Sipp, and Chris Devenski have been the reliable relief pitchers for the Astros. However, that isn’t exactly an inspiring group of relievers especially for a team that could make a deep playoff run. Either way, Houston needs to make it their priority to find some much better late-inning bullpen options at the trade deadline.

Kansas City Royals – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitcher

It’s never a good sign when a pitcher that has been in the bullpen for most of his career is the best starting pitcher that the team has. However, that is the case with the Royals as Brad Keller has basically been the ace of the Royals rotation with a 2.82 ERA in 7 starts this year. Veteran Pitchers Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, and Jason Hammel were supposed to carry the starting rotation for Kansas City this season. However, all three of those guys have an ERA of 4.89 or lower. Meanwhile, Jakob Junis had a terrific start to the season, but he has been absolutely recently. The Royals need to find some better young starting pitchers or else their rotation might be bad for awhile.

Los Angeles Angels – Biggest Weakness: 2nd Base

Ian Kinsler was acquired by the Angels in order to be a major upgrade at the 2nd base position, but he has performed probably even worse than what the team had before. Kinsler has dealt with some injuries this year and that might be a contributing factor to his poor performance, but there is no excusing his .213 batting average. Kinsler has been a major weakness in the Angels lineup and he is holding them back from reaching their full potential.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Biggest Weakness: 2nd Base

The 2nd base position has been somewhat of revolving door as they really haven’t had a clear starter at the position. Logan Forsythe has been the starter for most of the season at 2nd base, although he has been absolutely awful offensively. Forsythe is hitting only .199 this season with just 2 home runs for the Dodgers. Veteran 2nd baseman Chase Utley hasn’t been much better as he is only hitting .227 with 1 home run this year. Either way, the 2nd base position has been a major weakness for the Dodgers and it is something that needs to be fixed soon.

Miami Marlins – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Miami hasn’t really had a clear ace of their starting rotation since the death of Jose Fernandez and they still don’t have one. Jose Urena has been the best Marlins starter this season, although he only has an average 4.13 ERA. Caleb Smith has been decent as well, but the rest of the rotation hasn’t been good at all. Dan Straily has really underachieved this season as he was supposed to be the ace of the rotation. Also, Trevor Richards and Wei-Yin Chen have been absolutely awful this season. Miami has some decent players in their lineup, but they need to find some better starting pitchers soon.

Milwaukee Brewers – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

The Brewers have used four different catchers this season, but the problem is that none of them have been good. Manny Pina has seen the most action at catcher for the Brewers, yet he is hitting just .227 with 16 RBI’s in 2018. Also, backup catcher Erik Kratz has been even worse with a .210 batting average and 6 RBI’s. Milwaukee has a good lineup otherwise, but they need to find some help at the catcher position if they want to make a deep playoff run.

Minnesota Twins – Biggest Weakness: Designated Hitter

Minnesota added Logan Morrison this offseason as they were hoping to add some power to their lineup. Morrison has accomplished that to some extent as he has hit 10 home runs this year, but the issue is that he hasn’t hit much of anything else. Morrison is batting just .193 for Minnesota this season and that just isn’t good enough. The designated hitter position is supposed to have a player that is a good hitter, but Morrison hasn’t lived up to expectations for the Twins.

New York Mets – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

The New York Mets had a big void at the catcher position which is why they acquired Devin Mesoraco early in the year from the Cincinnati Reds. However, Mesoraco hasn’t exactly been the solution at catcher as he is hitting just .232 with 18 RBI’s this season. Also, his backup Kevin Plawecki has been even worse as he is hitting .217 with just one home run for the Mets this year. The Mets have struggled mightily offensively this season and the catcher position has been a major source of those issues.

New York Yankees – Biggest Weakness: 1st Base

1st Base has been a revolving door for the Yankees this season as they have started a few different players at the position. They started out with Tyler Austin at 1st base, although he hit just .223 before being demoted to Triple-A. Meanwhile, Greg Bird has provided some power with 6 home runs, but he is only hitting .207 this year. The Yankees have even put Neil Walker at 1st base a lot and that has been disastrous as he is only hitting .197 with 2 home runs this season. The rest of the Yankees lineup is really good, but they need to find somebody that can produce more at 1st base.

Oakland Athletics – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Jonathan Lucroy was once an all-star caliber catcher in the MLB, but he hasn’t really been an average catcher for the Athletics this season. Lucroy is hitting just .245 with 1 home run for Oakland in 2018. His backup Josh Phegley has been worse as he is batting just .219 with 2 home runs for the Athletics this year. Oakland really needs to find a new starting catcher because the position has just not been good this season.

Philadelphia Phillies – Biggest Weakness: Shortstop

Scott Kingery was an elite prospect coming into this season for Philadelphia and there were high expectations for him as the starting shortstop. However, Kingery has failed to live up to expectations as he is hitting just .229 with 4 home runs this season. Pedro Florimon has been better in his limited time at shortstop as he is batting .263 with 2 home runs this year. The Phillies have been rumored to be interested in Manny Machado and they could really use him at this point because they are really struggling at shortstop.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Biggest Weakness: Shortstop

Jordy Mercer is just an average shortstop and he probably always will be, but he especially hasn’t provided much offense this season. Mercer is hitting just .242 with 5 home runs for Pittsburgh as he has basically been the everyday player at that position. The Pirates need to finally find an upgrade at the position because Mercer isn’t worthy of being their starting shortstop.

San Diego Padres – Biggest Weakness: Shortstop

Freddy Galvis is certainly known for his defense and that is probably the only reason that he remains a starting shortstop at the MLB level. However, he has been a liability offensively for the Padres this season as he is batting just .234 with 4 home runs. Galvis makes the Padres a better team defensively, although the team needs to find a shortstop that can provide much more on offense.

San Francisco Giants – Biggest Weakness: Left Field

Hunter Pence was once an all-star caliber player, but his performance has really dropped off this season. He is hitting just .208 with no home runs in 2018 for the Giants as he has been a major liability in their offense. Gregor Blanco has also seen some time in left field for the Giants, but he hasn’t been much better as he is hitting just .242 with 1 home run. The Giants need to find more production from that position especially if they want to remain in the playoff race.

Seattle Mariners – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Mike Zunino has spent quite a bit of time on the disabled list this season, but he hasn’t even been productive when he has been healthy. Zunino has provided great power as proven by his 12 home runs, but the problem is that he doesn’t do much else on offense. Zunino strikes out way too much and he is only hitting .189 so far this year for the Mariners. David Freitas and Chris Herrmann are the other catchers on the roster right now, but they haven’t been any better. Freitas is hitting just .194 with no home runs while Herrmann is batting .222 with 1 home run this year. The Mariners have a good lineup otherwise, yet the catcher position could hold them back if they make the playoffs.

St. Louis Cardinals – Biggest Weakness: 2nd Base

Kolten Wong has basically been the everyday starter at 2nd base, but he hasn’t exactly proved that he is deserving of being the starter. Wong is hitting just .221 with 7 home runs for the Cardinals this season as he has been the weakest part of their lineup. The Cardinals need to find an upgrade at that position especially if they want to compete with the Brewers and Cubs in the NL central.

Tampa Bay Rays – Biggest Weakness: Right Field

Carlos Gomez was once a terrific starter at the MLB level and that is the main reason the Rays signed him to see if he can provide that type of play to the team. However, it hasn’t quite worked out that way so far as he is batting just .206 with 7 home runs this year. Gomez has been the everyday starter in right field, but the Rays need to find an upgrade at that position since it is holding the lineup back.

Texas Rangers – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Robinson Chirinos has basically been the everyday catcher for the Rangers this season and he has provided some good power with 11 home runs. However, he has struggled to make contact as proven by his .204 batting average this year. The Rangers have been so bad at the position that they have utility infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa as the backup catcher. Texas needs to find an upgrade at the position because that duo just doesn’t provide the offense necessary to help out their lineup.

Toronto Blue Jays – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Russell Martin was once an all-star catcher, but he has not been good the past couple of seasons for the Blue Jays. He still provides some power as he has 6 home runs this season, but he is only hitting .173 so far in 2018. Backup catcher Luke Maile has been better, although he is still only hitting .234 with 3 home runs. Russell Martin isn’t the player that he once was and it is about time for Toronto to find an upgrade at the position.

Washington Nationals – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Matt Wieters wasn’t performing well as the starting catcher for the Nationals as he was hitting just .232 for the team before getting injured. His injury just weakened what was an already bad group of catchers. Pedro Severino has seen the most playing time since the injury, although he has been awful as he is batting just .171 with 2 home runs. Backup catcher Spencer Kieboom has been somewhat better, yet he is still only hitting .222 with no home runs. Washington is likely in the market for a catcher at the trade deadline and they really need to find at least an average catcher to help improve their lineup.

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Best trade asset for each potential seller teams at the MLB trade deadline

Baltimore Orioles – Manny Machado – Shortstop

This one is really easy because Machado is by far the best player on the Orioles and he is also the most likely player to be traded since his contract expires after this season. Machado is still really young as he is only about to turn 26 years old and that means it will take a huge haul to acquire Machado from the Orioles. It is somewhat unlikely that the Orioles will be able to re-sign Machado since it would take a huge contract offer to be able to do so. However, the Orioles could get some elite prospects in return if they do decide to trade Machado before the deadline.

Chicago White Sox – Jose Abreu – 1st baseman

Jose Abreu is by far the best available trade bait that the White Sox have as he is one of the players at 1st base in the MLB. However, the question will be whether the White Sox are in a rush to trade him. He is under contract through the 2019 season, so theoretically the White Sox could stay patient and wait for the right deal to take place. Abreu is 31 years old and doesn’t appear to be too much part of the White Sox future. However, the White Sox might not trade him at the deadline since they really have until the 2019 trade deadline to make a decision.

Cincinnati Reds – Raisel Iglesias – Relief Pitcher

Raisel Iglesias has quietly become one of the top closers in the entire MLB and there aren’t many closers available via trade this season. There will certainly be many contending teams that acquire about Iglesias, but the Reds do have the ability to wait for the right deal to come around. Iglesias is under contract through the 2020 season and he is only due $5 million each season, so the Reds don’t have to rush to trade him. Iglesias might not get traded very soon because the asking price will probably be too steep for many teams. However, if a team offers some top prospects then that could be enough to get a deal done.

Detroit Tigers – Nick Castellanos – Right Fielder

The Tigers have a couple of pieces that are more likely to be traded like Francisco Liriano and Matthew Boyd. However, the player that could get the most in return is probably right fielder Nick Castellanos. He is under contract at a cheap price through the 2020 season which means the Tigers could decide to keep him. Also, he is only 26 years old, so he could still be a key part of their future when the team can contend again. The Tigers need to decide soon whether Castellanos is going to be a key part of their future or if he is a player that they can trade while his value is still high. Castellanos could be traded soon, but in all likelihood it will come at a later point.

Kansas City Royals – Mike Moustakas – 3rd Baseman

Mike Moustakas is one of the few reliable players in the Royals lineup, but the problem is that Moustakas is going to be a free agent once again after this season. Kansas City almost lost Moustakas in free agency for nothing this past offseason before he decided to re-sign on a relatively cheap deal. There is no doubt that Moustakas could help a playoff contender this season, but the problem is there isn’t much of a market for starting 3rd basemen right now. The Royals probably wouldn’t get a top prospect in return especially since Moustakas will probably just be a rental player for a playoff team. However, it would be shocking if the Royals don’t trade him by the deadline since they will likely lose him for nothing if they don’t.

Miami Marlins – J.T. Realmuto – Catcher

It is really tough to find all-star caliber catchers available for trade and the Marlins are very fortunate to have one that they are willing to trade. J.T. Realmuto is one of the top catchers in the MLB and he is arguably the best offensive catcher in the MLB. There are plenty of MLB teams that have a bad need for a catcher and Realmuto would be a major upgrade for many teams at that position. He is still under team control through the 2020 season, so the Marlins don’t have to rush to trade him this season. If they decide to trade him, then they could get some really good prospects in return since there is a shortage of really good catchers in the MLB. The Marlins should just wait for the right deal, but don’t be surprised if they charge a steep price for Realmuto.

New York Mets – Jacob DeGrom – Starting Pitcher

Jacob DeGrom is one of the elite starting pitchers in the MLB and he is still under team control at a cheap price through the 2020 season. The Mets could very well decide to keep him as he is an extremely valuable piece of their team. However, DeGrom’s value is probably as high as it will ever be and the Mets could get at least two elite prospects in return for him. It is unlikely that New York will trade him before the deadline unless the team receives an offer that blows them away. However, it would make sense for the Mets to trade him soon in order to replenish their farm system.

Oakland Athletics – Jed Lowrie – 2nd Baseman

Perhaps no player has had their trade value increase this season more than Oakland 2nd baseman Jed Lowrie. He has always been an above average player, but this season he has taken his game to an all-star caliber level. Also, he probably isn’t part of the Athletics future since he is 34 years old. The Athletics would be very wise to trade him before the deadline while his value is still high especially since Oakland might lose him for nothing after this season in free agency. The Athletics could probably get a top prospect in return for Lowrie, but that might not be the case since he will likely just be a rental for a playoff contender.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Josh Harrison – 2nd Baseman

It is kind of surprising that the Pirates haven’t traded Harrison by now considering that rumors have been swirling around him for awhile. Harrison is still under two more years of team control, but the question is whether the Pirates really want to keep him around for that long. Harrison probably won’t bring back too big of a haul, but he is still valuable considering that he can play several positions as a utility player. The Pirates could stay patient and wait for the right trade, although it seems as if Pittsburgh is willing to trade him very soon.

San Diego Padres – Brad Hand – Relief Pitcher

Not many teams even wanted to sign Brad Hand not too long ago as he was claimed off of waivers by the Padres just two years ago. However, San Diego has completely revived Hand’s career and now he has become one of the best closers in the MLB. Hand is under contract with the Padres through the 2021 season, so the team is in absolutely no rush to trade him. It would likely take a big trade package consisting of top prospects for the Padres to even consider trading Hand. However, there is no questioning that there will be many teams interested in acquiring Hand since there aren’t many elite closers available on the trade market.

Tampa Bay Rays – Wilson Ramos – Catcher

Wilson Ramos has become an all-star level catcher in the MLB as he provides rare offensive abilities for someone of his position. However, the Rays will likely have to trade him away before the deadline considering that he is a free agent after this season. The Rays also appear to like Jesus Sucre to replace Ramos as their catcher of the future, so it appears that a trade involving Ramos could be imminent. The good news is that several teams have a major need for a good starting catcher and it helps that Ramos is basically an all-star player at that position. Tampa Bay does lose some value since Ramos is likely going to be just a rental for a playoff contender, yet they could still get some good prospects in return.

Texas Rangers – Adrian Beltre – 3rd Baseman

Adrian Beltre is really old at 39 years old, yet he continues to play at a really high level despite his age. Beltre is going to be a free agent after this season and it is sort of unlikely that Texas is willing to re-sign him considering his age. However, Beltre still has some good trade value and the Rangers could get a couple of solid prospects back in return.

Toronto Blue Jays – J.A. Happ – Starting Pitcher

It would be kind of shocking if the Blue Jays don’t trade away Happ before the deadline since he is 35 years old and he is scheduled to be a free agent after the season. The good news is that there are plenty of teams that are already reportedly interested in Happ. He has had a terrific 2018 season and he could provide some solid depth to basically any playoff contender’s starting rotation. He is likely just a rental player for a contender and that will likely diminish his trade value, yet the Blue Jays could still get a lot in return for him.

2018 NL Central Predictions

  1. Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are still a very good team, but the NL central will be much more interesting this season with the Brewers and Cardinals making big improvements this offseason. However, Chicago still has arguably the most dangerous lineup from top to bottom in the entire MLB. The Cubs have terrific power hitters Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras,  and Kyle Schwarber in the middle of their lineup. However, they also have solid complementary players like Addison Russell and Jason Heyward to make their lineup even deeper. They really don’t have any weaknesses in their lineup and their roster is so deep that quality players Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist don’t even have a starting role. Chicago also has an extremely deep starting rotation even though they lost Jake Arrieta this offseason. The Cubs just ended up replacing him with terrific starting pitcher Jake Arrieta and they also added Tyler Chatwood to be their quality 5th starter. Chicago also returns Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana which makes their rotation arguably the best in the MLB. The Cubs bullpen looks a little bit different especially with Brandon Morrow as their new closer. However, it is likely even deeper than it was last season as they have Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., and Steve Cishek as quality late-inning options. It is very difficult to find a weakness on this roster and that is why they are once again the favorites to win the NL central in 2018.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are in a better position to compete with the Cubs for the division title in 2018 especially after the acquisitions that they made this offseason. The biggest addition that they made was acquiring Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins as he provides the elite power hitter that the team was missing last season. St. Louis already had a good lineup, but now it is great since they have terrific hitters like Tommy Pham, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, and Paul DeJong all returning for the 2018 season. St. Louis shouldn’t have any problems scoring runs and they certainly have just as good of a lineup as any team in the MLB. The Cardinals also have a very good starting rotation led  by Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Adam Wainwright. We all know what those 3 pitchers can do, but it will be young pitchers Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty that will need to step up. Both Weaver and Flaherty have tremendous potential, but they will need to make an immediate impact if the Cardinals rotation is to become great in 2018. The Cardinals bullpen is the one area that could potential hold them back in 2018. They do have plenty of depth and they have Dominic Leone and Tyler Lyons as terrific late-inning options. However, the closer role is still somewhat of an issue for the Cardinals heading into 2018. Luke Gregerson was signed in order to fill that void, but even he struggled last season and it is unknown if he will improve that role in 2018. Overall, the Cardinals should be a playoff team in 2018, but they still have a few holes that are holding them back from winning this division.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers signaled that they are ready to compete for a playoff spot in 2018 after they made some big-time acquisitions this offseason. Milwaukee now has an extremely deep outfield after acquiring Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain this offseason. The team now has Yelich, Cain, Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, and Keon Broxton all competing for 3 outfield spots in 2018 and it’s safe to say that they might have the best outfield in the entire MLB. However, the Brewers also have a very deep lineup with players like Travis Shaw, Orlando Arcia, and Eric Thames all figuring to be key contributors once again this season. Milwaukee is certainly going to score many runs in 2018, but the main area of concern is with their pitching. Their best pitcher Jimmy Nelson is injured right now and he probably won’t return until June. Zach Davies and Chase Anderson both had terrific years for the Brewers in 2018, but besides them the pitching staff doesn’t have much depth. Milwaukee is hoping that veteran pitchers Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo can be the pitchers that they once were and make the Brewers rotation great. Milwaukee has a decent starting rotation right now and it will be better once Nelson returns, but they still need to add some more depth in order to compete with the best teams in the NL. The Brewers bullpen has the potential to be good especially with elite closer Corey Knebel and quality setup man Josh Hader as their 8th-inning option. However, Milwaukee needs somebody to step up and really take control of the other late-inning role. The Brewers have a decent bullpen right now with Knebel and Hader, but the rest of the bullpen needs to prove itself in order for them to be really good. Milwaukee will certainly compete for a playoff spot in 2018 and they are better than last season, although they need to improve their pitching before they can really guarantee themselves a playoff spot.

4. Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are a team that might be able to be a respectable team in 2018, but one thing is for sure and that is they are going to score plenty of runs in 2018. Joey Votto is still arguably the best hitter in the MLB and that probably won’t change much this season. However, the one thing that he does have is plenty of offensive threats alongside him as Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, Scooter Gennett, and Eugenio Suarez all proved to be very capable power hitters last season. The pitching is the one thing that will likely destroy the Reds season in 2018 just like it did last season.  Veteran starting pitchers Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey are back from injury and that should provide a major boost to the Reds rotation especially if they can pitch like they have before in their careers. However, the rest of the rotation is a complete unknown as they have a few young unproven pitchers that will likely will the rest of the rotation. Luis Castillo was very impressive last season, but we’ll see if he can continue that success with a full season for the Reds. Brandon Finnegan is another young pitcher that has had some success in the past, but we’ll see if he can bounce back from injury in 2018. The Reds starting rotation has tremendous potential in 2018, although it could also be the thorn in the side of the Reds just like the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the Reds bullpen has the opportunity to be decent in 2018. Raisel Iglesias is the clear leader of the bullpen as he has quietly become one of the best closers in the MLB. The Reds also added some much needed depth to their bullpen by signing veteran relief pitchers Jared Hughes and David Hernandez. Both of those guys will compete with Michael Lorenzen and Wandy Peralta for the late-inning roles for Cincinnati. We’ll see which pitchers win that competition, but just based on depth the Reds bullpen should be better this season. Cinncinnati is a team on the rise and don’t be surprised if they are at least a respectable team in 2018.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh had a few years of success, but now it is back to the rebuilding mode for the Pirates after trading away star players Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen this offseason. However, all isn’t lost for the Pirates as they still have a good outfield with Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, and newly-acquired Corey Dickerson. Marte and Polanco didn’t have very good seasons for Pittsburgh in 2018, but they still have tremendous potential and if they improve in 2018 then it could provide the Pirates with a big boost on offense. The team also has above average starters Josh Bell and Josh Harrison in their lineup and they should provide the offense with even more of a boost. Either way, the Pirates offense should still be decent in 2018 even with the loss of McCutchen and it could be really good if Marte and Polanco bounce back in 2018. The problem for the Pirates could be their starting pitching which wans’t even that good prior to Gerrit Cole’s departure. Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, and Joe Musgrove are all decent starting pitchers, although they all struggled last season as each of them had at least a 4.14 ERA. However, the Pirates absolutely need them to improve in 2018 because the team has no chance without them especially since there isn’t much depth at the back end of the rotation. Pittsburgh’s rotation could be better than most expect, but those guys need to step it up in order for the pitching staff to be successful. Meanwhile, the bullpen also has a chance to be decent for the Pirates in 2018. Felipe Rivero is a terrific closer and he became one of the elite closers in the MLB last season. However, the depth behind him is somewhat of a concern as they don’t have great late-inning options to set him up. George Kontos and Kyle Crick are decent options, but they will need to improve in order for the Pirates bullpen to be successful since they don’t have much depth. The Pirates are technically in a rebuild mode for the 2018 and don’t expect them to compete for a playoff spot. However, Pittsburgh should still be a decent team considering they still have some quality position players to carry the load.

Biggest need remaining for every NL Central team

Chicago Cubs – Biggest need: Centerfielder

It is extremely difficult to find a weakness on the Cubs roster, but if there is one weakness then it is probably in centerfield. Albert Almora Jr. figures to see the most time at that position next season. However, the team did sign Jon Jay as well this offseason to split time with Almora in center field. Neither Jay or Almora Jr. are good options in centerfield, but it won’t be easy to find a player that can start everyday at that position.

Cincinnati Reds – Biggest need: Bullpen

The Cincinnati Reds have many weaknesses, but their bullpen is probably the biggest mystery that the team has heading into next season. Raisel Iglesias figures to be the team’s closer in 2017, but he has limited experience at that position. Iglesias was a starting pitcher not too long ago and it will be interesting to see how well he does as the closer for the Reds. However, the Reds don’t have much besides him as Blake Wood and Tony Cingrani appear to be the setup guys for Iglesias. There are still some decent bullpen options that are available like Drew Storen and they should at least sign somebody to make their bullpen decent.

Milwaukee Brewers – Biggest need: Catcher

Milwaukee has three average catchers with Manny Pina, Andrew Susac, and Jett Bandy. However, none of those guys stands out as being a good starting catcher for the Brewers and they need to find at least somebody to fill that role. I don’t believe the Brewers will make any more moves at the position, but it will be a weakness if Pina is their starting catcher in 2017.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Biggest need: 1st base

The Pirates have a relatively strong roster, so it’s difficult to find a need. However, 1st base could be a concern for the team heading into the 2017 season. John Jaso did a decent job as the starter at 1st base last season, although Josh Bell is projected to be the new 1st baseman in 2017. Bell doesn’t have much MLB experience as he only has 128 at-bats, but it is a mystery how well he will handle being the everyday 1st baseman. At least Pittsburgh has Jaso as a fallback option if Bell doesn’t work out at 1st base.

St. Louis Cardinals – Biggest need: 2nd base

St. Louis didn’t get much consistency out of starting 2nd baseman Kolten Wong last season as he only hit .240 with 5 home runs. They are hoping that he can begin to play like he did a couple of years ago. However, if he doesn’t then they at least have a really good backup 2nd baseman with Jedd Gyorko who hit 30 home runs last season. Don’t expect St. Louis to add anything to the position, yet Wong needs to be more consistent to help the Cardinals.

Pirates re-sign Nova to a 3-year deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates should have another solid starting rotation next season as they re-signed veteran starting pitcher Ivan Nova to a 3-year/$26 million deal. Pittsburgh acquired Nova at the trade deadline last season from the Yankees and he quickly became their top pitcher. Nova went 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA for the Pirates in 11 starts last season and it was clear that the Pirates would try and retain him this offseason. I’m not sure that Nova will repeat those numbers next season as he has been very inconsistent throughout his career. Nova only has a 4.30 career ERA as he has spent most of his career with New York, but at least he will provide a veteran presence in an extremely young Pirates starting rotation. Nova was one of the best starting pitchers available this offseason, so it was probably the best option for the Pirates to re-sign him rather than bring in another pitcher in free agency. Pittsburgh’s starting rotation figures to be very good next season as long as all of their starting pitchers can stay healthy. However, I’m not quite sold that Nova can repeat what he did with the Pirates last season. Ultimately, I believe he will probably return to being the inconsistent pitcher that he has been most of his career.

Grade: C

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Pirates sign Hudson to a 2-year deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t known for making many free agent signings. However, they made a signing to try and improve their bullpen as they signed relief pitcher Daniel Hudson to a 2-year/$11 million contract. Pittsburgh needed some bullpen help badly this offseason especially in the late innings and Hudson should provide some more stability. Tony Watson will be the team’s new closer, so the Pirates needed a new 7th and 8th inning option in their bullpen. Hudson certainly had a rough 2016 season with Arizona as he went 3-2 with a 5.22 ERA. It was by far his worst season in the MLB, so expect those stats to improve next season with the Pirates especially since he won’t pitching at hitter-friendly Chase Field anymore. The Pirates still have to find a 7th inning option, but at least the signing of Daniel Hudson should fix the 8th inning vacancy for Pittsburgh. Overall, this is a solid signing for the Pirates as they look to provide some more stability to their bullpen. Hopefully Hudson won’t be as bad as he was last season with the Diamondbacks, although I fully expect him to be the consistent late inning bullpen option that he was during the 2015 season.

Grade: B+

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Notable MLB players non-tendered

Here are the notable players that were non-tendered by their teams just prior to Friday’s non-tendered deadline. All of these players are now free agents and can sign with any team.

Chris Carter – 1st baseman – Milwaukee Brewers – 2016 Stats: .222 avg. and 41 HR’s

This was a shocking move by the Brewers considering that Carter tied for the national league lead this past season with 41 home runs. However, the issue is that Carter doesn’t play good defense, he strikes out too much, and he doesn’t get on base enough. Still, I don’t think this was a great move for the Brewers to make because they are taking away a tremendous power threat from a relatively weak lineup.

Grade: C-

Welington Castillo – Catcher – Arizona Diamondbacks – 2016 Stats: .264 avg. and 14 HR’s

The Diamondbacks releasing their starting catcher Welington Castillo was by far the worst decision made this offseason by any MLB team. Castillo was very productive last season as he hit .264 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI’s. It’s really difficult to find catchers that can hit in the MLB these days, so for Arizona to get rid of a solid catcher like Castillo is extremely stupid. Also, they are replacing him with Chris Herrmann as the starting catcher who had a decent year as he hit .284 with 6 home runs for Arizona last season in limited time. However, Herman has been awful throughout his career and it’s hard to believe that he’ll be any better now that he is a starting catcher for the first time at 29 years old.

Grade: F

Jeff Locke – Starting Pitcher – Pittsburgh Pirates -2016 Stats: 9-8 and 5.44 ERA

This non-tender actually makes a little bit of sense for the Pirates. Sure, he was a productive player at times during his 5 seasons with Pittsburgh. However, he has been too inconsistent and therefore he lost his spot in the Pirates starting rotation. I’m sure a team in need of some pitching depth will sign Locke this offseason. Locke clearly didn’t have a role with Pittsburgh as the Pirates have a lot of young starting pitching that is ready to join the rotation.

Grade: B

Ben Revere – Outfielder – Washington Nationals – 2016 Stats: .217 avg. and 2 HR’s

Ben Revere was a really productive player just in 2015 when he hit .306 with the Phillies and Blue Jays. However, his only season with the Nationals proved to be a disaster as his average dropped dramatically to .217 and he only hit 2 home runs in 103 games played. Revere still could provide something to a team as he still can steal some bases and I expect his average to improve a lot next season. However, the Nationals don’t have the patience for him to improve as they are trying to win immediately. Also, Washington has a really crowded outfield right now, so this is a really good move for the Nationals to give him an opportunity to find a role elsewhere.

Grade: A

Tyson Ross – Starting Pitcher – San Diego Padres – 2016 Stats: 0-1 and 11.81 ERA

I think it was a really poor decision for the Padres to non-tender Tyson Ross. Sure, Ross only had 1 start for San Diego last season before a shoulder injury ended his season. However, when healthy this guy might have been San Diego’s best pitcher as proven by his 2.81 ERA in 2014 and his 3.26 ERA in 2015. I know the Padres are going through a rebuild right now, but Ross is only 29 years old which makes him a long-term option for the team. Also, the Padres have a very poor starting rotation and Ross would have provided at least some more stability to the pitching staff. This was yet another poor decision for a Padres organization that is trying to find a clear direction towards contention that seems really far away right now.

Grade: D-

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