Just like any other sport, Major League Baseball is loaded with many players switching teams for one reason or another. Sometimes players leave in free agency because they want a chance to play in the playoffs and hopefully win a World Series Championships. Sometimes teams trade players to contending teams in hopes of boosting their farm system.
This was not always the case in baseball. Several decades ago, it was a rarity that players left their first teams in exchange for greater glory and postseason experience. More often than not, fans of any particular team could reliably know that most of their team’s star players would still be there year in, year out. The introduction of free agency has changed a lot.
What if, in some radical imaginative world, MLB went back to the way things were? MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gets rid of free agency and, this time around, teams are restricted to the number of trades they can make. He rearranges every team’s roster so that they are entirely comprised of players who started their baseball career with that team. This would mean that a team will only have a player whom they drafted out of high school or college or signed as an international free agent.
For this article, we will be doing just that. We have reassembled each team’s prospective starting lineup and best starting pitcher as if they could only have players who started out their careers with that team. Would the balance of power shift in the league as a result of this? Continue reading to find out!
30 Arizona Diamondbacks
Lineup: C Miguel Montero, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 2B Chris Owings, 3B Jake Lamb, SS Dansby Swanson, LF Carlos Gonzalez, CF AJ Pollock, RF Justin Upton
Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer
This would actually be a very solid lineup, and one that would actually have a strong chance at making the playoffs.
They would have a couple of aging veterans, but I’m sure Arizona would love to have Goldschmidt, Gonzalez, Pollock, and Upton in the same lineup together. Even in his mid-30s, Scherzer is still a legitimate ace in baseball.
29 Atlanta Braves
Lineup: C Brian McCann, 1B Freddie Freeman, 2B Ozzie Albies, 3B Brandon Drury, SS Johan Camargo, LF Ronald Acuna Jr., CF Martin Prado, RF Jason Heyward
Starting Pitcher: Julio Teheran
This lineup is actually not too far off from the current Atlanta Braves roster. They have a veteran catcher, two veteran outfielders accompanying rookie phenom Ronald Acuna Jr., and a young but talented infield core. Of course, the Braves will still have their MVP caliber first baseman, Freddie Freeman.
28 Baltimore Orioles
Lineup: C Matt Wieters, 1B Trey Mancini, 2B Jonathan Schoop, 3B Ryan Mountcastle,SS Manny Machado, LF Christian Walker, CF Trey Mancini, RF Nick Markakis
Starting Pitcher: Jake Arrieta
The good news for Baltimore Orioles fans is they get rid of the onerous contracts given to Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo. The bad news is that this team is still likely not enough to make the playoffs. At least they will still have Manny Machado in the middle of their lineup, and an improved Jake Arrieta.
27 Boston Red Sox
Lineup: C Blake Swihart, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 2B Dustin Pedroia, 3B Jed Lowrie, SS Xander Bogaerts, LF Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Andrew Benintendi, RF Mookie Betts
Starting Pitcher: Jon Lester
The Boston Red Sox currently have one of the most dominant rosters in MLB, but this one would not be too far off.
It is a testament to the Red Sox' strong scouting department that most of these players are high quality MLB players in 2018. A returning Jacoby Ellsbury in left field at this point in his career is a bit of a let-down, but getting back Anthony Rizzo and putting him at first base would more than make up for it.
26 Chicago Cubs
Lineup: C Willson Contreras, 1B Kyle Schwarber, 2B DJ LeMahieu, 3B Josh Donaldson, SS Gleyber Torres, LF Kris Bryant, CF Ian Happ, RF Jorge Soler
Starting Pitcher: Zack Godley
There are stacked lineups, and then there is this version of the Chicago Cubs' lineup which is unbelievably stacked! That batting lineup is so deep that there could be as many as six All-Stars. Opposing pitchers would have nightmares trying to figure out how to pitch to the Cubs' lineup.
25 Chicago White Sox
Lineup: C Chris Stewart, 1B Jose Abreu, 2B Marcus Semien, 3B Eduardo Escobar, SS Tim Anderson, LF Chris Young, CF Adam Engel, RF Paulo Orlando
Starting Pitcher: Chris Sale
The Chicago White Sox still have a lineup based heavily around first baseman Jose Abreu. There is no disputing they have some potentially talented hitters in that lineup, but they would still probably find themselves towards the bottom of the standings. At least Chris Sale is with the White Sox again.
24 Cincinnati Reds
Lineup: C Yasmani Grandal, 1B Joey Votto, 2B Justin Turner, 3B Todd Frazier, SS Zack Cozart, LF Jesse Winker, CF Billy Hamilton, RF Jay Bruce
Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto
This one has got to hurt for Cincinnati Reds fans.
The team seems stuck in a perpetual rebuild but, if they had kept many of their young players, their roster could have resembled something like this.
Their outfield could still use a bit of improvements, but this team would fare much better than the 2018 Reds.
23 Cleveland Indians
Lineup: C Roberto Perez, 1B Victor Martinez, 2B Gio Urshela, 3B Jose Ramirez, SS Francisco Lindor, LF Jason Kipnis, CF Tyler Naquin, RF Lonnie Chisenhall
Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer
This Cleveland Indians batting lineup is certainly not as imposing as the one they currently have in 2018. It is a tough lineup to put together given the Indians have not drafted many quality hitters who have made it to the major leagues. The Indians also lose ace Corey Kluber, but they do replace him with Chris Archer.
22 Colorado Rockies
Lineup: C Chris Iannetta, 1B Tony Wolters, 2B Trevor Story, 3B Nolan Arenado, SS Troy Tulowitzki, LF Corey Dickerson, CF Charlie Blackmon, RF Dexter Fowler
Starting Pitcher: Jhoulys Chacin
I’m not sure how Troy Tulowitzki would feel about returning to Colorado after his displeasure over how the Rockies handled his 2015 trade. Apart from that, this would be an interesting team to watch. They have a couple of large contracts given to veteran players, but it would be a relatively imposing lineup for sure.
21 Detroit Tigers
Lineup: C James McCann, 1B Alex Avila, 2B Devon Travis, 3B Nick Castellanos, SS Eugenio Suarez, LF Curtis Granderson, CF Cameron Maybin, RF Avisail Garcia
Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander
The Detroit Tigers would be fielding a fairly solid lineup if they get all their drafted players back.
This is an improved infield over what the Tigers currently have, but that outfield could use some upgrades.
At the very least, Tigers fans can celebrate the return of fan favorite starting pitcher Justin Verlander.
20 Houston Astros
Lineup: C Jason Castro, 1B Ben Zobrist, 2B Jose Altuve, 3B Alex Bregman, SS Carlos Correa, LF Preston Tucker, CF George Springer, RF J.D. Martinez
Starting Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel
The Houston Astros seem to have a knack for identifying young talented prospects, developing them in their farm system, and seeing them contribute to their roster. Most of this roster was a part of their 2017 World Series Championship run. This is a very solid starting lineup, made stronger with the addition of J.D. Martinez.
19 Kansas City Royals
Lineup: C Salvador Perez, 1B Eric Hosmer, 2B Whitt Merrifield, 3B Mike Moustakas, SS Hunter Dozier, LF Alex Gordon, CF Jarrod Dyson, RF Wil Myers
Starting Pitcher: Zack Greinke
The Kansas City Royals get most of their star players back, including the recently traded Mike Moustakas. A returning Wil Myers bolsters their outfield and provides another solid bat to their lineup. Even though he is now in his mid-30s, Zack Greinke is still a very good addition to the top of their rotation.
18 Los Angeles Angels
Lineup: C Martin Maldonado, 1B Mike Napoli, 2B Howie Kendrick, 3B Sean Rodriguez, SS Jean Segura, LF Kole Calhoun, CF Mike Trout, RF Randal Grichuk
Starting Pitcher: Patrick Corbin
This is not too bad of a roster, although Mike Trout still does not have very many offensive-minded hitters surrounding him in the lineup.
There is some decent talent in this lineup, but it is unlikely it would be able to be a consistent playoff contender.
17 Los Angeles Dodgers
Lineup: C Russell Martin, 1B Carlos Santana, 2B Dee Gordon, 3B Adrian Beltre, SS Corey Seager, LF Cody Bellinger, CF Matt Kemp, RF Yasiel Puig
Starting Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw
I’m not sure if this lineup would be as good as the one the Dodgers currently have, since this iteration of the Dodgers would have some aging and expensive players on the roster. With that being said, it would be interesting to watch this lineup play a full season together. If they are all performing well, they actually have a decent blend of power and speed.
16 Miami Marlins
Lineup: C J.T. Realmuto, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B Chris Coghlan, 3B Miguel Cabrera, SS Colin Moran, LF Christian Yelich, CF Marcell Ozuna, RF Giancarlo Stanton
Starting Pitcher: Tom Koehler
This would be a pretty fun Marlins team to watch a few years ago. The Marlins get their best outfield back, plus they get Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez as well. Miguel is not the best option at third, but he was drafted as a third baseman and briefly played there.
15 Milwaukee Brewers
Lineup: C Jonathan Lucroy, 1B Ryan Braun, 2B Alcides Escobar, 3B Brett Lawrie, SS Scooter Gennett, LF Khris Davis, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Michael Brantley
Starting Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo
Even with a couple of players out of their normal positions, this is a lineup filled of what could have been.
The Milwaukee Brewers would have a perfectly solid lineup with a nice combination of speed, power, and ability to hit for average. A starting rotation led by Yovani Gallardo is cause for concern, however.
14 Minnesota Twins
Lineup: C Wilson Ramos, 1B Joe Mauer, 2B Brian Dozier, 3B Danny Valencia, SS Yangervis Solarte, LF Eddie Rosario, CF Byron Buxton, RF Aaron Hicks
Starting Pitcher: Jose Berrios
This version of the Minnesota Twins would not be too bad actually. If they were all in their prime, they would certainly not hit for much power whatsoever. They would get on base a lot and wreak havoc on the basepaths. Jose Berrios is the ace of the Twins rotation, lacking many other logical options.
13 New York Mets
Lineup: C Kevin Plawecki, 1B Lucas Duda, 3B David Wright, SS Jose Reyes, LF Michael Conforto, CF Carlos Gomez, RF Nelson Cruz
Starting Pitcher: Jacob DeGrom
If all of these hitters were in their prime years and all on the New York Mets roster, this would have been a very solid lineup. Even with the loss of Syndergaard, the Mets still have a solid rotation that has Jacob DeGrom as their staff ace.
12 New York Yankees
Lineup: C Gary Sanchez, 1B Greg Bird, 2B Robinson Cano, 3B Miguel Andujar, SS Rob Refnsyder, LF Tyler Austin, CF Brett Gardner, RF Aaron Judge
Starting Pitcher: Luis Severino
The New York Yankees have used the international amateur free agent pool to their advantage, as about half of these players were signed through that method.
Regardless, the Yankees would have a very fascinating lineup to watch. They have weaknesses at shortstop and left field but have more than enough quality hitters to make up for it.
11 Oakland Athletics
Lineup: C Kurt Suzuki, 1B Ryon Healy, 2B Cliff Pennington, 3B Matt Chapman, SS Addison Russell, LF Matt Olson, CF Yoenis Cespedes, RF Andre Ethier
Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray
Billy Beane certainly has skills when it comes to amateur drafts and discovering young international talent. While not perfect, this would be a lineup that could probably win more games than they would lose. It’s a shame that many of these players are now with other organizations.
10 Philadelphia Phillies
Lineup: C Travis d'Arnaud, 1B Maikel Franco, 2B Cesar Hernandez, 3B Chase Utley, SS Jonathan Villar, LF Rhys Hoskins, CF Domingo Santana, RF Aaron Altherr
Starting Pitcher: Cole Hamels
I’m not sure how this team would fare in the NL East division which would still be fairly competitive. They would have some quality young player such as Rhys Hoskins, Domingo Santana, Jonathan Villar, and Cesar Hernandez. However, the Phillies would be stuck with a couple underperforming veteran players.
9 Pittsburgh Pirates
Lineup: C Elias Diaz, 1B Steve Pearce, 2B Neil Walker, 3B Pedro Alvarez, SS Brock Holt, LF Starling Marte, CF Andrew McCutchen, RF Jose Bautista
Starting Pitcher: Gerrit Cole
The Pittsburgh Pirates had so many quality outfielders that we had to leave a few players out.
While this would not be a bad lineup by any means, it would have been an even better lineup if it had happened a few years ago.
All these players in their prime years would have been something to watch.
8 San Diego Padres
Lineup: C Austin Hedges, 1B Jedd Gyorko, 2B Logan Forsythe, 3B David Freese, SS Cory Spangenberg, LF Travis Jankowski, CF Trea Turner, RF Hunter Renfroe
Starting Pitcher: Corey Kluber
The San Diego Padres get a second chance at fielding a roster with Trea Turner in the starting lineup and Corey Kluber at the top of their rotation. While the Padres’ lineup would have a couple of weaknesses, it would undoubtedly be a relatively strong roster.
7 San Francisco Giants
Lineup: C Buster Posey, 1B Brandon Belt, 2B Joe Panik, 3B Matt Duffy, SS Brandon Crawford, LF Adam Duvall, CF Mac Williamson, RF Gorkys Hernandez
Starting Pitcher: Madison Bumgarner
This is nearly identical to the lineup the San Francisco Giants currently have, except for a couple of players. As a result, it would not be too surprising that this would not change the team’s fortunes too much. The Giants still have a couple high quality players, but a core that is getting older and not good enough to reach the postseason.
6 Seattle Mariners
Lineup: C Mike Zunino, 1B Dan Vogelbach, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B Kyle Seager, SS Ketel Marte, LF Michael Saunders, CF Adam Jones, RF Dustin Ackley
Starting Pitcher: Felix Hernandez
This version of the Seattle Mariners would have much less power than the 2018 Mariners, and probably would not be a legitimate playoff contender either.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Adam Jones would not make up for the losses of Dee Gordon, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz to their original teams.
5 St. Louis Cardinals
Lineup: C Yadier Molina, 1B Albert Pujols, 2B Kolten Wong, 3B Matt Carpenter, SS Aledmys Diaz, LF David Peralta, CF Jon Jay, RF Stephen Piscotty
Starting Pitcher: Carlos Martinez
The St. Louis Cardinals frequently have very strong drafts, as can be seen from this lineup. This is easily one of the better lineups in this article, as the Cardinals would be loaded with quality major leaguers. Albert Pujols is not the offensive threat he once was, but there is little doubting St. Louis would love to have him back (although not at his current contract).
4 Tampa Bay Rays
Lineup: C Stephen Vogt, 1B Dioner Navarro, 2B Derek Dietrich, 3B Evan Longoria, SS Tim Beckham, LF Mike Mahtook, CF Kevin Kiermaier, RF Melvin Upton Jr.
Starting Pitcher: David Price
The Tampa Bay Rays have had great success developing pitchers. Beyond ace David Price, they have James Shields, Jason Hammel, Alex Cobb, and Jake Odorizzi. The team’s ability to develop quality major league hitters is another story altogether. As can be seen from the batting lineup, the only genuine star is third baseman Evan Longoria. There are a couple of other solid hitters, but they have not really experienced substantial success over a prolonged period in the major leagues.
3 Texas Rangers
Lineup: C Tomas Telis, 1B Justin Smoak, 2B Ian Kinsler, 3B Joey Gallo, SS Rougned Odor, LF Leonys Martin, CF Odubel Herrera, RF Chris Davis
Starting Pitcher: Kyle Hendricks
The Texas Rangers would certainly hit a lot of home runs, but would not do much else.
A lineup with both Joey Gallo and Chris Davis would make for a fun Home Run Derby, but not when both strike out over 150 times a season.
The Rangers developed quite a few decent starting pitchers, but Kyle Hendricks would probably be the best bet to be their ace.
2 Toronto Blue Jays
Lineup: C Yan Gomes, 1B Eric Thames, 2B Franklin Barreto, 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., SS Adeiny Hechavarria, LF Jake Marisnick, CF Kevin Pillar, RF Dalton Pompey
Starting Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard
Toronto did not draft well for many years, and this lineup proves that. Noah Syndergaard is a huge boost to a deep Blue Jays rotation, however. The lineup would not score very many runs, and there would not be any better options at third base so we have no choice but to go with young phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
1 Washington Nationals
Lineup: C Derek Norris, 1B Ryan Zimmerman, 2B Brandon Phillips, 3B Anthony Rendon, SS Ian Desmond, LF Steven Souza Jr., CF Juan Soto, RF Bryce Harper
Starting Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg
This is actually a very solid team with a fairly well-balanced offensive attack. They could probably use another big bat alongside Bryce Harper, but they will score enough runs to win many ballgames. The Nationals drafted some decent starting pitchers, but Strasburg is the obvious choice.