The offseason is officially upon us, and now a whole new level of excitement can kick in for every team and fanbase who has grown weary of the Washington Nationals victory parade already.
This Winter is sure to be an interesting one, with an upper echelon of talent that includes a man who is bound to set records as baseball’s highest paid pitcher…ever. Throw in the fact that pretty much every big name on the open market this offseason is represented by Scott Boras, and it becomes obvious that we’re also going to be in for a ton of painstakingly delayed signings (a la the Harper/Machado fiasco from a year ago).
Every team has needs this Winter though, and at least for the time being we can evaluate those needs and fantasy pair players with the teams we see as a good fit. That’s exactly what I tried to do here.
The rules of this piece are simple, only one player can be deemed the “must add” piece, regardless of how many pieces the team needs. This player can come via free agency, perceived trade options, or simply by re-signing an integral part of your current roster. Now since obviously all 30 teams in baseball have a need for a guy like Gerrit Cole, I went with the same rules that apply to real life: only one team can actually sign him. So for players who will draw big interest from several different organizations, I selected the team with the greatest need for them and who is most willingly to pay/trade the price.
So without further ado:
Los Angeles Dodgers –
The offseason has barely begun, and somehow it seems that the Los Angeles Dodgers have been linked to damn near every name in free agency or on the trade block. Perhaps the most notable name that we’ve seen associated with the Dodgers has been Francisco Lindor, and while he does seem destined for a major market, I can’t really say that an electrifying shortstop is exactly what this LA franchise should be shopping for at the moment. Instead, the team that employs the legendary Clayton Kershaw is desperate for pitching, and he is partly to blame. Kershaw’s inability to get it done in the playoffs has become something of a comedy routine. Arguably the greatest regular season starter in the history of the game, has for some reason become the guy hitters most want to see on the mound in October. Hyun-Jin Ryu emerged as the latest breakout Dodger starter this summer, with an electrifying year that included a stretch of brilliance in his lone playoff start too. Rather than overpay another ace available in this market, I point to Ryu as the guy LA should focus on signing above all else. He’s proven that he can be a consistent 2 or 3 starter for you, and that come playoff time he isn’t the choke artist that Kershaw has been. If your biggest weakness is your rotation, you can’t reasonably allow your best starter in 2019 to walk away from you.
Alternatives: Gerrit Cole (RHP), Madison Bumgarner (OF), Francisco Lindor (SS)
Important Re-Signings: Rich Hill (LHP)
Arizona Diamondbacks –
2019 was something of a “shock the world” campaign for the Arizona Diamondbacks; a team fully committed to a rebuild, somehow amassed a win total that kept them in the Wild Card picture through mid-September and proved to be good enough for second place in a division that greatly disappointed. You could look at the season and say that the franchise is so poorly run, they couldn’t even lose properly, or you could choose to take the more optimistic approach and acknowledge that perhaps the team that they fielded in 2019 was a bit more up to the task than anyone wanted to give them credit for. They spent the last couple of years shedding big contracts, and I don’t think that they’re quite ready to start dishing out any new ones. But to continue to try and stay in the postseason picture they’re going to have to try to bring in the right free agents around what they’ve already built. Avisail Garcia is the perfect blend of immediate consistency and breakout potential. He can man Right Field for the D-Backs at a Gold Glove level, something that has been a need for Arizona for a long time, while also supplying a plug-and-play bat capable of hitting at any spot in the order. The Rays might try to re-sign him, but even this cost-cutting Arizona squad appears to be more inclined to spend-to-win than Tampa.
Alternatives: Yasiel Puig (OF), Marcell Ozuna (OF), Nicholas Castellanos (OF)
Important Re-Signings: Wilmer Flores (UTL), Adam Jones (OF)
San Francisco Giants –
If you’re still holding your breath that the San Francisco Giants will magically make a run at a World Series in the coming even-year, please stop it, that stretch died in 2016. More importantly, so has that championship core. With Bumgarner likely to depart for a winning situation this Winter, only Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford remain as mainstays of that even-year dynasty. It’s time for the Giants to move away from forced mediocrity, and sell their high-priced assets while they still have some semblance of value. Looking for a new direction is imperative for the Giants, and luckily they already have a pair of youngsters with Hall of Fame bloodlines to begin the rebuild around. It’s hard to imagine that Crawford, Posey, or even Evan Longoria will command much of a blue-chip prospect return via trade, so the next step is to bring in the right kind of veteran leadership that can teach the next generation how to be a big leaguer regardless of how highly-touted the prospects might be. Jose Iglesias is a Gold Glove shortstop, above average hitter, and above all else, a well-respected locker room pressence around baseball. There isn’t an immediate need for someone with his skillset on a pre-built contender so his best bet is using the Giants as a stepping stone to a mid-season trade. In the process though he can teach the Bay Area youngsters how to be professionals in all capacities.
Alternatives: Neil Walker (UTL), Brian Dozier (2B), Alex Gordon (OF)
Important Re-Signings: Will Smith (RHP), Kyle Barraclough (RHP)
Colorado Rockies –
The Colorado Rockies were far and away the biggest let down for me in 2019. As an unbiased baseball fan I’d be inclined to say the Red Sox, but considering the fact that I bleed Pinstripes, I’ll switch things up and go with Colorado instead. I have legitimate fears that their inability to pitch in their own ballpark will inevitably waste what I believe to be the greatest power-hitting left side of the infield ever assembled. They just re-signed Nolan Arenado to a massive extension last Spring to avoid him hitting the open market this Winter, but I’m not sure how long his (or Trevor Story’s) loyalty will last if the Rockies are unable to at least contend consistently during their primes. Will Smith is the best closer on the open market, and since the starting rotation isn’t coming together properly in Colorado it might be time for the Rockies to adopt the new way of pitching. Smith can pair with Jake McGee, Wade Davis, and Bryan Shaw to create the lights-out 6th-9th innings that has brought the Yankees to the postseason consistently.
Alternatives: Will Harris (RHP), Dellin Betances (RHP), Brad Brach (RHP)
Important Re-Signings: N/A
San Diego Padres –
Let me start by saying, I whole heartedly believe that the San Diego Padres should go all-in on pursuing Stephen Strasburg (and Gerrit Cole to a lesser degree) this offseason. But I do think that higher on their must-add list is a better, and strangely more attainable superstar available to every team who doesn’t play their home games in the Bronx. Mookie Betts is officially on the trade block in Boston, following JD Martinez’s decision to not opt-out of his massive contract. That means a man who I believe is the second-best player in baseball (behind only Mike Trout) will likely be moved to the highest bidder before Opening Day. The San Diego Padres boast baseball’s premier farm system, and they can use that to best any other potential suitor. At this point, the only detractor for teams is Betts’ desire to test his value on the open market, so you’re only guaranteed a year of the 2019 Gold Glove award winner. The good news for the Padres though, is you play in San Diego. You get to tout how incredible Southern California is, you get to promise that fellow superstar Manny Machado will be around for at least the next 9 seasons, and you have so many potential all-stars at or just beneath the major league level that the contention window is open for pretty much that entire stretch of time (regardless of who you send to Boston). Why not wait till next Winter and just try to sign him outright instead? Well because the team most likely to get him if the Padres don’t are the Braves, who can offer a very similar array of choice location, superstar talent, and youth; while also being a lot closer to Betts’ home in Tennessee.
Alternatives: Stephen Strasburg (RHP), Gerrit Cole (RHP), Corey Kluber (RHP)
Important Re-Signings: Adam Warren (RHP), Craig Stammen (RHP)