This could either be the best time of the year, or the saddest time of the year, depending how you look at it. On the one hand, baseball season is over and we have to wait a long winter until we see teams take the field again. On the other hand, fans of teams that had painful 2018 seasons now get a glimmer of hope as they await to see what their teams do to get better over the offseason.
The regular season was full of surprises with some teams overachieving, others underperforming, and young superstars ascending. For some teams, a complete overhaul is needed, while other teams just need a tweak here and there to make their team competitive for next year. With the loaded list of free agents this offseason, one player can definitely change the complexion of a team and alter the destiny of their 2019 season.
During the winter break, every team needs to weigh the factors in determining their offseason moves. There's the makeup of the team, how much money they have to spend and the needs of every organization all determine the moves teams make. Each player is looked at as well. A player’s age, their numbers, the position or positions they can play, how much money they will demand during their free agency and how long to sign the player all have to be measured. In this article, the needs of each team are weighed in, and the best choice, with all factors considered, to fill these needs is already determined. Starting in alphabetical order, here are the players each team should target in the offseason.
30 Arizona Diamondbacks - Patrick Corbin
The Arizona Diamondbacks couldn’t compete against the might of the L.A. Dodgers or the Colorado Rockies, but they can’t blame Patrick Corbin, who has put together a sensational season. Corbin has a winning record, an ERA just above 3.00, and a WAR well above 4.0.
Coming off of an All-Star year, Corbin will demand a hefty payout in the offseason, and Arizona is a small market team.
However, the D-Backs need to pony up and lock Corbin down. Then, Arizona can figure out if they want to do with Paul Goldschmidt, who will probably be gone after 2019.
29 Atlanta Braves: Michael Brantley
The Braves won the NL East handedly on their great young offense and pitching. They’ve exceeded expectations and don’t have any glaring holes in their lineup except for one, leftfield. Adam Duvall has been lackluster to say the least and to make matters worse, their best outfielder, Nick Markakis might be gone.
With leftfield hurting and Markakis’ future questionable, the Braves need to pursue Michael Brantley hard. Brantley has an OPS of .835, an average above .300 and has belted a little under 20 home runs. Those numbers aren’t earth-shattering, but they’re far better than Duvall’s, who has a minus WAR with Atlanta.
28 Baltimore Orioles: Edwin Jackson
Undoubtedly, not many fans would be thrilled at the signing of Edwin Jackson, but Baltimore is rebuilding. They’re not going to get a superstar starter, and even if they did, what difference would he make here and now?
The Orioles do have some prospects on the way, and right now they just need a dependable pitcher to fill the five man rotation. Jackson could fill that role and more. Jackson put together a solid season in Oakland but should be more than affordable for Baltimore.
27 Boston Red Sox: Craig Kimbrel
What does a team with 100 plus wins need? Not a whole lot this offseason. Question marks remain with Dustin Pedroia’s status for next year and whether or not David Price will opt out of his contract (probably won’t). However, the Red Sox are going to have a definite decision to make on a closer for next season all the while hoping to lock down the young talent that gave them this great season.
Boston may not want to devote a lot of money towards their closer position, but they really should.
Closer could be one of the few holes on a 2019 Boston team should Kimbrel leave. Why give what could be a great Boston team for next year as well a weakness when Kimbrel is right there to resign.
26 Chicago Cubs: Bryce Harper
Despite the Chicago Cubs arguably being the most talented team in the National League, they don’t have as much power as one would think. They’re great at getting on base and getting hits. However, their slugging percentage was just above the league average, and their home run total ranked in the bottom third in the league. Adding Bryce Harper could help with those power numbers.
Harper is going to a big market team, but New York and Boston are doing just fine in offense. Chicago may need to shift (or trade) an outfielder, but they’ll take that move for Harper’s much needed power.
25 Chicago White Sox: José Bautista
White Sox fans were only given a small sample size of what their future holds, but they have to be pretty excited for what the next couple of seasons could bring. While the coming years may be interesting, this offseason will likely provide very few fireworks, unfortunately.
With the White Sox having a lot of extra money to play with, why not bring in José Bautista? It would prop up their outfield and give the young stars some veteran experience to take in. Bautista cranking homers could give the Chicago fans something to watch, and “Joey Bats” may even find his swing again back in the AL, making him a tradable piece down the road.
24 Cincinnati Reds: Nathan Eovaldi
The Reds are slowly rebuilding with a few pieces they can still move. With Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati has some mighty pop in their lineup and could be a decent team with their minor leaguers mixed in with their veterans.
However, the Reds needs some pitching now, especially in their rotation.
The Reds ranked in the bottom third in league in ERA and are one of few teams that served up 220-plus home runs.
The Reds shouldn’t break the bank, but they could get a young serviceable starter in Nathan Eovaldi. He’s likely not sticking around with Boston, despite an ERA under four which is more than decent enough to improve a Reds shaky rotation.
23 Cleveland Indians: A.J. Pollock
The Indians have an impressive pitching staff with a bullpen that can slam the door on even the best teams in the A.L. Their offense is nothing to brush off either even without much help at centerfield.
Jason Kipnis was pretty useless in 2018 with a meager batting average of .230 and his lowest slugging percentage yet. Why not upgrade that position by signing A.J. Pollock, who has more home runs and a higher OPS of nearly 100 points? Pollock won’t be cheap, but Cleveland will get more out of Pollock than resigning an expensive Andrew Miller.
22 Colorado Rockies: Kelvin Herrera
The Rockies wisely locked down Charlie Blackmon, but the question remains what to do with Nolan Arenado? Colorado is in an awkward position, needing to maintain their great playoff team but nearing the end of the hottest free-agent-to-be’s contract.
The time to win may be now for the Rockies because there’s a good chance Arenado is gone after 2019, so that money can be spent elsewhere. In the meantime, the Rox should bolster their strong bullpen with Kelvin Herrera. An injury free Herrera wouldn’t break the bank, and down the road, they can at least make an offer to Nolan while also keeping the Rockies bullpen strong for 2019.
21 Detroit Tigers: Nick Castellanos
While Tigers fans didn’t have much to celebrate, they can at least take some solace in knowing that Nick Castellanos has turned into quite a slugger. He’s in the top ten in the AL in batting average and has a slugging percentage above .500.
Detroit is definitely rebuilding and isn’t going to spend as much money as L.A. or New York.
Still, with Castellanos’ contract up after 2018, Detroit would be foolish not to re-sign him. With Miguel Cabrera and Castellanos, the Tigers will have a powerful one-two punch in their lineup and may have a good to great team when these prospects finally hit the majors.
20 Houston Astros: Kurt Suzuki
The 2017 World Series Champions don’t need much during this offseason. They have the best pitching staff in the league, and their offense ranked in the top ten in every offensive category. However, with Evan Gattis departing, and Brian McCann having had a down year, even the Astros have a need.
The “Stros” aren’t going to be looking for the top free agents. They are still a small market team and are going to want to retain their core players. That makes Kurt Suzuki a perfect fit for the 2019 Astros. He had a WAR above two, a batting average over .270 and an OPS of .781. He’s also not a top free agent, making him more affordable than many other free agent catchers.
19 Kansas City Royals: Matt Harvey
The Royals are coming off of a down season and are once again in rebuild mode. They still have some pieces to trade away for prospects, but they will need players for the 2019 season. To help out their weak rotation, Kansas City has nothing to lose by rolling the dice with Matt Harvey.
The Royals had one of the worstd ERAs in all of baseball.
Meanwhile, The “The Dark Knight” is starting to rise with the lowly Reds, sporting an ERA of 4.50. Harvey will be 30 next year, and if he performs as well in K.C., he can be traded for more youth or kept around to prop up the up-and-coming prospects.
18 Los Angeles Angels: José Abreu
Albert Pujols’ time in baseball is winding down, and yet, Albert is signed through 2021. The Angels may get something out of Pujols off the DH, but he’ll just get in the way of Shohei Ohtani.
Since the Angels don’t want to rebuild, they should at least improve first base. Unfortunately, few first basemen are available this offseason.
The Angels don't have much choice other than a trade but their farm system is pretty weak. Luckily, many of the big trades already happened, so the White Sox may not have many taker left for José Abreu except the Angels. L.A. should offer whatever prospects they can give to get Abreu, who’s still got some good years in him and continues to hit well for Chicago.
17 Los Angeles Dodgers: Andrew Miller
The Dodgers looked like they were in trouble, with their rotation and bullpen letting games slip away. L.A. slid into the playoffs and got back to the World Series, but fans can bank on them improving their bullpen this winter.
Bullpen stud Andrew Miller will be a free agent after this season, and he’s not going to come cheap. He’ll go to a big market team, and L.A. would benefit greatly from his services. Especially, if the Dodgers let Manny Machado walk, they'll likely bring “Miller Time” to jolt the ailing Dodgers bullpen.
16 Miami Marlins: Joe Kelly
The Miami Marlins have stocked their farm system with young talent, but they could use some young starters for 2019. Enter Joe Kelly. Kelly has had some ups and downs with Boston and probably isn’t going to re-sign with them. As an average reliever, Kelly won’t be expensive, but the Marlins won’t be using him in that role.
Joe Kelly has starting rotation experience. With a 4.50 ERA, the Marlins could get Kelly for cheap and put the young right-hander in their rotation. The Marlins team ERA was nearing 5.00 and would gladly take Kelly’s ERA for their 2019 rotation.
15 Milwaukee Brewers: Gio González
The Brewers were a good team to start the season, but they made it even better after making all the right moves at the trade deadline. They swapped for Mike Moustakas to get some pop and even more importantly traded for Gio González to solidify their rotation.
The Brew Crew is looking to win now or in the immediate future.
If they want to be good for seasons to come, they’re going to need to keep Gio González . For the year, his ERA was above 4.00, but Gio waas sensational for the Brewers with an ERA of 2.66 with them.
14 Minnesota Twins: Matt Adams
The 2019 season could have been better for the Twins and so could have Miguel Sano. However, Joe Mauer can still hit for average, even if his power remains missing after his 2010 AL MVP season. Unfortunately, with his baseball future in the air, the Twins may be in search of a new first basemen if Mauer does indeed retire.
Either way, Mauer isn’t going to be around much longer which will leave room for Matt Adams to come over to Minneapolis. Adams may not have Mauer’s batting average, but “Big City” has more home runs, he’s still young and has a significantly higher OPS.
13 New York Mets: Wilson Ramos
Despite having a great rotation with a Cy Young contending pitcher, the New York Mets had a miserable season. These high expectations were nixed thanks to a complete lack of offense ranking near the bottom of the league in batting average.
Since they’re unwilling to rebuild, the Mets need to acquire some pop to their 2019 lineup. One big area that lacks this pop is catcher. Wilson Ramos could easily provide some offense in that area. Ramos is a free agent and hit over .300 with 15 total home runs in 2018. Those numbers would definitely beef up the the team's batting average, and maybe then New York could finally give deGrom some run support.
12 New York Yankees: Dallas Keuchel
Clearly, the Yankees are in win-now mode. Unfortunately, they’re still behind Boston, but everyone knows the Yankees don’t just want to win now, they want to win every year. That’s why the Yankees may let J.A. Happ walk so that they can acquire the younger Dallas Keuchel.
Happ was excellent for New York, and really, was great all year. However, Keuchel’s ERA isn’t that far off from Happ’s. Even better would be Keuchel’s age.
The Yankees are going to pay one of these pitchers a large sum of money, and it might as well be the pitcher they can get the most out of.
While Happ was a great acquisition for them, New York will get more good years out of Keuchel than they will from Happ.
11 Oakland Athletics: Andrew McCutchen
Oakland rode into the playoffs thanks to a solid pitching staff and the great hitting of Khris Davis and Jed Lowrie. However, their outfield hasn’t been the same for much of the year. That could change with the signing of Andew McCutchen.
McCutchen wants to play for a contender, and Oakland can contend at the moment and perhaps for years to come. With his numbers sliding, he shouldn’t come at too costly a price, and it’ll solve the A’s outfield issues. With “Cutch” the centerpiece of the outfield, the A’s could be one pitcher away from a huge playoff push in 2019.
10 Philadelphia Phillies: Manny Machado
With all the great free agents available, this offseason will be very interesting, especially for Manny Machado. Everyone is wondering where he’ll end up, and the obvious answer is one of the big market teams. However, the top contenders like Chicago, L.A. and New York should be addressing other needs or signing other top players. That leaves Philadelphia as a top team ripe for Machado negotiations.
The Phillies have a need for shortstop, and Machado would be an excellent fit. The Phillies playoff hopes crumbled in 2018, but the 2019 season with Machado could be the spark that sends the young Philly team to the playoffs and beyond.
9 Pittsburgh Pirates: José Iglesias
The Pittsburgh Pirates need a lot of work if they want to compete in the loaded National League Central. While they wait for Chris Archer to find his All-Star form, and their young players to rise to the majors, Pittsburgh needs to fix their broken infield.
Errors plagued the Pirates in 2018, and José Iglesias could fix that this offseason.
Pittsburgh definitely wants to go young and have a reliable infielder. With Iglesias, they can get both, along with a WAR of 2.2, a batting average of .269 and, more importantly, a fielding percentage of .983, which is much better than what they’ve been getting from the middle infield.
8 San Diego Padres: Padres: Trevor Cahill
With Eric Hosmer leading the charge, the San Diego Padres are going to have a good young major league team at their disposal. To complete this team, which will be contenders in the next couple of seasons, the Padres will need a major league ready starter, and a pretty darn good one in Trevor Cahill could cement their rotation.
Cahill had an interesting season, going 7-4 but with an ERA under 4.00. Still, a steady major league ready starter is just what the Padres need for the time being. Cahill will only be 31 next year, and could be a Padre for years to come. If nothing else, signing Cahill means San Diego will only need to vie for four starters instead of five.
7 Seattle Mariners: Charlie Morton
Charlie Morton is coming off a Cy Young caliber year with the Astros, but Houston is looking to keep their core players. Morton is going to get a tremendous payout, and Seattle should have the money to make a surprise signing for one of the more underrated free agent starters.
Morton is 35 and pitching like a true ace. His age means he’s going to a win now team, and the Mariners are more than capable of being a winning team next year. And with Morton, who's coming off of a 15-3 season, in their rotation, they could be a World Series contending team.
6 San Francisco Giants: Nick Markakis
Reconstruction is not the route San Francisco wants to go. If that’s the case, they should at least fix their depleted outfield.
With Hunter Pence and Gregory Blanco about to leave and Andrew McCutchen already gone, that leaves the Giants wide open for some retooling.
When healthy, the Giants could be a good team, and Nick Markakis would only make them better. Markakis could fill the blanks in the outfield, but if they have another down season, it may be time for a massive wholesale of players.
5 St. Louis Cardinals: Justin Wilson
The Cardinals went from a team with all sorts of issues to a team that appeared playoff ready and formidable. Under a new manager and almost entirely rebuilt team mid-season, St. Louis has fixed almost every issue that plagued them during the first half. Unfortunately, bullpen issues returned to destroy the Cardinals’ playoff hopes.
The Cardinals could be a good young team, but their bullpen needs to be addressed in the offseason, especially regarding their left-handed specialist. Brett Cecil has been a nightmare, so why not bring in Justin Wilson? It’s not a big signing, but at least they’d have a reliable lefty in the bullpen. Wilson’s ERA was just above 3.00 in 2018, and he could even fill in as a closer as well which is another question mark for next season.
4 Tampa Bay Rays: Yasmani Grandal
One of the big surprises of the 2018 season was the Tampa Bay Rays. They finished the season over .500, in the top heavy AL East, with one of the major league’s best team batting averages. The Rays seemed to continue with their strategy of getting them on, over and in, and Yasmani Grandal can help them continue that philosophy.
The Rays are looking for a catcher after trading Wilson Ramos, and Tampa Bay should pursue Grandal to replace him for 2019. The current Dodgers catcher is slightly younger than Ramos and small market Tampa will have an easier time signing Grandal than Ramos, who should be getting some nice money.
3 Texas Rangers: Josh Donaldson
While this would be a risky signing, sending Josh Donaldson to Texas would at least fill their third base need. Beltré is going to be retiring, traded or DHing for the Rangers, so why not get a third basemen that can play every day.
Granted, Donaldson is coming off of an injury riddled year, but 2019 could be a bounce back season for the former Blue Jay.
Donaldson will be 32 next year so a short term deal could give Texas some good years left or see him traded to fill other needs with prospects.
2 Toronto Blue Jays: Lance Lynn
The Blue Jays are supposedly rebuilding but doing so in a strange way. They got very little from their Happ trade, as Brandon Drury was just awful, and Ken Giles is certainly no Roberto Osuna. For whatever reason, the Jays aren’t looking for prospects as much as they are major league ready players. If that’s the case, they should pursue 31 year old starter Lance Lynn.
Lynn is a serviceable pitcher, who could give the Jays some innings either in the bullpen or as a starter. He shouldn’t be that expensive and pitched okay for the Yankees with an ERA just above 4.00. Lynn isn’t as young as they should go, but with what’s available, he may be the best option for a team that should be searching for more top prospects.
1 Washington Nationals: Jeurys Familia
The Nationals are going to come up short once again despite having one of the best pitchers in Max Scherzer and one of the best hitters in Bryce Harper. The Nats are going to lose some offense in 2019, but what really killed them in 2018 was their bullpen.
Although the Nats were one of the top teams in the National League in OPS, their pitching was barely above the league’s average. With Scherzer and hopefully Strasburg, the Nationals can have a good rotation, but they need someone to close out games.
Jeurys Familia could be the closer or a setup man for Sean Doolittle which could improve the bullpen. Familia had a solid 2018, with an ERA just above 3.00, and could be used to lower the Nationals' team ERA if nothing else.