Each team's biggest offseason need
Baseball’s offseason shopping spree is underway, giving all 30 clubs an opportunity to address the areas they feel need the most attention in 2023 and beyond.
Some will try to bolster their rosters with an eye toward contention, while others will continue to build an infrastructure with the hopes of returning to the postseason in the near future.
With that in mind, here’s a look at each team’s biggest need as they embark on another busy offseason.
American League East
Blue Jays: Starting pitcher
The Blue Jays’ rotation was in the middle of the pack of the AL with a 3.98 ERA, but with Ross Stripling headed to free agency and Yusei Kikuchi struggling all season, there are rotation holes to address. Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman and José Berríos will return to lead the group, but Toronto will look to bolster its rotation depth.
Potential FA targets: Nathan Eovaldi, Jameson Taillon
Orioles: Starting pitching
The Orioles took a big step forward with their surprising 2022 season, but the rotation continued to be an issue, ranking 10th in the American League with a 4.35 ERA. Grayson Rodriguez, the team’s No. 2 prospect, should get a shot to win a rotation spot, but there is a growing sense that Baltimore will look to make a big move to add a starter via trade or free agency.
Potential FA targets: Mike Clevinger, Carlos Rodón
Rays: Left-handed bat
The Rays have plenty of returning hitters to feel good about, as their lineup will likely be led by young stars Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena, but their offense clearly needs an upgrade. Specifically, they could use a lefty hitter with power after their left-handed hitters batted just .214/.288/.342 on the season, good for a .630 OPS that ranked 28th in the Majors ahead of only the Tigers and White Sox. The Rays like to keep a flexible and defensively skilled position player group, but they could slot in a lefty thumper at DH, first base (assuming Ji-Man Choi is not the answer there) or third base.
Potential FA targets: Josh Bell, Matt Carpenter
Red Sox: Relief pitcher
The Red Sox have a number of lineup needs to address this offseason, but none are as glaring as the bullpen. Boston’s relief corps ranked 14th in the AL with a 4.59 ERA, suffering 28 blown saves, third-most in the AL. John Schreiber had a breakout season, while Tanner Houck and Matt Barnes should also be back. Although it seems unlikely that Chaim Bloom would spend big on a closer, the Red Sox could pursue veteran bullpen help in free agency.
Potential FA targets: Zack Britton, David Robertson
Yankees: Left fielder
Even if Aaron Judge returns to the Bronx, the Yankees could have some turnover in the outfield, where Harrison Bader will likely take over as the center fielder. Andrew Benintendi is a free agent, Aaron Hicks has struggled in an everyday role and could be a trade candidate this winter, and Giancarlo Stanton is likely to see a chunk of his at-bats at DH. No. 2 prospect Jasson Domínguez is still at least a year away, while neither Oswaldo Cabrera nor Estevan Florial have established themselves as everyday options.
Potential FA targets: Andrew Benintendi, Joc Pederson
American League Central
Guardians: First baseman
The Guardians like Josh Naylor’s bat, but his inconsistent defense -- his mobility has been limited since he broke his ankle in 2021 -- makes him better suited as a designated hitter. Owen Miller hasn’t taken to first base defensively since moving there last year, so although the pair helped Cleveland rank in the middle of the AL with a .746 OPS, the Guardians could use a full-time first baseman who can help improve the consistency of the infield defense.
Potential FA targets: Brandon Belt, Trey Mancini
Royals: Relief pitcher
The Royals’ 4.66 bullpen ERA ranked last in the AL, as did their 1.92 strikeout/walk ratio. There were some bright spots (Scott Barlow, Dylan Coleman), but Kansas City needs to add depth to get through the 162-game season.
Potential FA targets: Mychal Givens, Matt Moore
Detroit’s catching combination of Tucker Barnhart and Eric Haase ranked near the bottom of the league in pitch-framing, and while their .680 OPS at the position ranked in the middle of the AL, the Tigers could use an upgrade behind the plate.
Potential FA targets: Willson Contreras, Austin Hedges
Twins: Corner outfielder
Byron Buxton posted solid numbers during his injury-shortened season, but the rest of the Twins outfield struggled to produce. Minnesota’s .686 outfield OPS ranked 11th in the AL, while all outfielders not named Buxton combined for just 33 home runs, 141 RBIs and an on-base percentage below .300. Although Alex Kirilloff and/or Trevor Larnach are still in the mix, adding some right-handed pop in a corner outfield spot makes sense as the Twins try to get back to the top of the AL Central.
Potential FA targets: Adam Duvall, Mitch Haniger
White Sox: Second baseman
Second base was a hole for much of 2022, as the White Sox used seven players at the position, posting an overall OPS of .629, more than 50 points below the AL average. The second-base market isn’t loaded with talent this offseason, but there are upgrades to be had.
Potential FA target: Brandon Drury
American League West
Angels: Starting pitcher
Michael Lorenzen is a free agent, and after trading Noah Syndergaard this summer, the Angels’ endless search for rotation help will continue this offseason. Los Angeles has no 2023 rotation prospects coming down the pike, so GM Perry Minasian will be scouring the free-agent and trade markets for pitching help.
Potential FA targets: Chris Bassitt, Carlos Rodón
Michael Brantley is headed for free agency, leaving a hole in left field. Yordan Alvarez is likely to see most of his time at DH rather than moving to the outfield on a full-time basis, but there are a number of appealing options on the free-agent market for Houston to consider.
Potential FA targets: Andrew Benintendi, Tyler Naquin
Athletics: First baseman
Oakland ranked 13th in the AL with a .651 OPS at first base, using a dozen players at the position after trading Matt Olson to Atlanta last offseason. With no answer in their farm system, the Athletics will look for options to stabilize the position in 2023 and possibly beyond.
Mariners: Second baseman
The Mariners’ production at second base was non-existent in 2022, as four players combined for just nine home runs, 58 RBIs and a .608 OPS, the third-lowest mark in the AL. Adam Frazier took about 75 percent of those plate appearances, posting a poor season as he heads to free agency.
Potential FA target: César Hernández
Rangers: Starting pitcher
After spending big on Corey Seager and Marcus Semien last winter, the Rangers will likely turn their attention to the starting rotation, where the free-agent market offers a number of options. The Rangers’ 4.63 ERA from starters ranked 13th in the AL, a key contributor to Texas’ disappointing year.
Potential FA targets: Nathan Eovaldi, Clayton Kershaw
National League East
Braves: Left fielder/Designated hitter
The Braves’ biggest priority this winter will likely be re-signing Dansby Swanson, who is headed for free agency following two solid seasons. Atlanta could bring back Swanson or turn to Vaughn Grissom at shortstop, but Marcell Ozuna’s underwhelming season could have them looking for a new answer at the left field/DH spot. Robbie Grossman and Adam Duvall are also free agents.
Potential FA targets: Michael Conforto, Joc Pederson
The Marlins ranked last in the NL in runs scored and next-to-last in home runs and OPS, thanks largely to a lack of production in the outfield that posted a league-worst .626 OPS. Avisaíl García and Jorge Soler are signed for a combined $27 million in 2023, but Jesús Sánchez’s poor first half landed him back in the Minors in early August. Miami will be looking for an outfield bat among other areas of need this offseason.
Potential FA targets: Joey Gallo, Brandon Nimmo
Mets: Starting pitcher
The starting rotation was a strength for the Mets in 2022, but with the prospect of losing Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt and/or Taijuan Walker, New York has some work to do in order to round out its starting five. Max Scherzer, David Peterson and Tylor Megill are the only starters under team control, leaving the Mets in search of two or three arms this offseason. Bringing deGrom back figures to be atop the Mets’ winter wish list.
Potential FA targets: deGrom, Carlos Rodón
Nationals: Starting pitcher
The Nationals’ rotation was a mess in 2022, posting a Major League-worst 5.97 ERA. A total of 15 pitchers made starts for Washington, with only Patrick Corbin, Josiah Gray and Erick Fedde topping the 20-start mark. MacKenzie Gore, one of the primary pieces in the Juan Soto trade, should claim one of the rotation spots in 2023, but the Nationals will likely look for depth on the market this winter.
Potential FA targets: José Quintana, Michael Wacha
Phillies: Starting pitcher
The everyday lineup should return intact for 2023, but the Phillies’ rotation could face the loss of free agents Kyle Gibson and Noah Syndergaard, as well as Zach Eflin, who has a mutual option. Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suárez will be back, leaving two rotation spots open. Philadelphia has roughly $130 million committed in payroll for 2023, leaving the Phillies some flexibility to pursue some big names.
Potential FA targets: Tyler Anderson, Taijuan Walker
National League Central
Brewers: Third base
The Brewers ranked sixth in the NL in runs scored and OPS, though a lack of prime production at third base -- four players combined to slash .220/.312/.344 -- was a factor in the club not cracking the top five. While the Brewers have three of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, all of them are outfielders, leaving no immediate help on the way at the hot corner. That said, the third base free-agent market isn’t strong this year, so Milwaukee could look for a trade.
Potential FA targets: Brandon Drury, Jonathan Villar
For the first time in 17 years, the Cardinals are in the market for a new starting catcher following Yadier Molina’s retirement. Andrew Knizner split time with Molina in 2022, but he’s unlikely to inherit the starting job. St. Louis could look to the trade market to address the need -- Sean Murphy, perhaps? -- but there are some answers in free agency, as well.
Potential FA targets: Willson Contreras, Christian Vázquez
After losing Javier Baez to free agency last year, the Cubs could be in the market for one of this year’s premier free-agent shortstops. Nico Hoerner had a solid season, but the Cubs can slide him to second base to open a spot for an impact bat -- something the lineup sorely needs.
Potential FA targets: Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner
Pirates: First baseman
The average NL first baseman slashed .250/.327/.435 this season, but the Pirates’ group checked in at .206/.264/.337, their .601 OPS coming in a whopping 160 points below league average. Ten players appeared at first base for Pittsburgh, with Michael Chavis -- a below-average fielder who logged a -0.6 fWAR in 126 games -- getting a majority of playing time. Malcom Nunez (Pittsburgh’s No. 12 prospect) could be a long-term answer at first base, but he’s still only 21.
The Reds’ outfielders combined for a .661 OPS, the second-lowest mark in the NL. Despite a farm system that vaulted from No. 15 to No. 4 this season, the only outfielder in its top 15 prospects is 19-year-old Jay Allen, who figures to be at least a couple of years away. After losing Nick Castellanos to free agency and trading Jesse Winker, Tyler Naquin and Tommy Pham during the past year, Cincinnati might be on the lookout for outfield help this offseason.
Potential FA targets: Robbie Grossman, Brandon Nimmo
National League West
D-backs: Relief pitcher
The D-backs tried to address the bullpen last year with their signings of Mark Melancon and Ian Kennedy, but the unit ranked 12th in the NL with a 4.58 ERA in 2022. Joe Mantiply and Kyle Nelson give them a couple of pieces to build around, but Arizona will likely look to bolster its relief corps via the trade or free-agent market.
Potential FA targets: Seth Lugo, Taylor Rogers
Dodgers: Starting pitcher
It’s strange to look at a team with a rotation that led the Majors with a 2.75 ERA and say that starting pitching is its greatest need, but that’s the case with the Dodgers. Los Angeles currently has Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May under control for 2023, and Urías is entering his final season before free agency. Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney are all free agents, leaving some holes in the starting five.
Potential FA targets: Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodón
Farhan Zaidi, the team’s president of baseball operations, said recently that the Giants need to get younger and more athletic this offseason. That should start in the outfield, where the four players who started at least 50 games apiece combined for 6.7 fWAR and -11 outs above average.
Potential FA targets: Mitch Haniger, Aaron Judge
Padres: Starting pitcher
The Padres’ rotation ranked in the middle of the NL with a 3.80 ERA in 2022, but after frontline starters Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell, the rest of the group struggled to find consistency. Sean Manaea and Mike Clevinger are free agents, while Darvish and Snell have one year left before they hit the open market -- and the Padres dealt top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore in the Juan Soto trade, leaving San Diego in search of rotation depth.
Potential FA targets: Tyler Anderson, Chris Bassitt
Rockies: Center fielder
Center field was a black hole for the Rockies in 2022, as Yonathan Daza, Randal Grichuk and Garrett Hampson -- a trio that started 142 games at the position -- combined for a 0.1 fWAR and were a collective -3 in outs above average in center. Colorado has had four different Opening Day center fielders in the four years since Charlie Blackmon moved to right field.
Potential FA targets: Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Nimmo