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How Russell Martin could rebound in 2019

Finding the launch angle sweet spot key in catcher's return to L.A.
MLB.com @AndrewSimonMLB

A year ago, the Dodgers made a surprise trade to reacquire Matt Kemp, and the veteran outfielder enjoyed a rebound season by putting up his best offensive numbers since his first stint with Los Angeles, in 2014.

Now it's Russell Martin's turn to be back in Dodger blue -- and perhaps author a late-career resurgence.

A year ago, the Dodgers made a surprise trade to reacquire Matt Kemp, and the veteran outfielder enjoyed a rebound season by putting up his best offensive numbers since his first stint with Los Angeles, in 2014.

Now it's Russell Martin's turn to be back in Dodger blue -- and perhaps author a late-career resurgence.

Less than a month after sending Kemp on to Cincinnati, the club swung a trade with Toronto on Friday to land Martin, who referenced Kemp's 2018 All-Star season in his comments to reporters.

"There's something about putting on that Dodgers uniform that can bring out the magic in you," said Martin, who turns 36 next month and has one year remaining on his contract. "I hope to get some of that magic this year."

There is no "magic," of course. But there is reason to think that with some minor adjustments, Martin can achieve the rebound he seeks in his first season with the Dodgers since 2010.

In 2015 and '16 with the Blue Jays, Martin was basically a league-average hitter, posting identical weighted runs created-plus (wRC+) of 101. But that dropped to a 91 wRC+ last year, putting Martin about 10 percent below average while slashing .194/.338/.325. Given that MLB catchers as a group had an 84 wRC+, and that Martin is well respected for his work behind the plate, he certainly can contribute to the Dodgers without boosting his bat. But if he does, it would help the club make up for the departure of Yasmani Grandal.

Video: TB@TOR: Martin launches a go-ahead solo homer in 8th

"Last year was obviously a down year [offensively], but digging into it more, the quality of at-bat is elite and the batted ball profile is still strong," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said of acquiring Martin, per MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.

The first point is certainly true. Of the more than 300 batters who saw 500 or more pitches out of the strike zone last season, Martin had the lowest chase rate (10.2 percent), beating out second-place Joey Votto. He also ranked among the MLB leaders in walk rate (15.9 percent), with a strikeout rate (23.3 percent) not far above the MLB average.

Friedman's second point, about Martin's batted ball profile, is also true -- in one sense. He still has plenty of thump in his bat:

Martin's 2018 MLB ranks, per Statcast™
Min. 200 batted balls (281 batters)
Average exit velocity: 90.6 mph (T-42nd)
(On line drives + fly balls): 95.4 mph (T-36th)
Hard-hit rate (95+ mph): 43.0% (T-52nd)

Martin actually hit the ball harder on average -- and hit it hard more often -- than in 2016 or '17. His average launch angle (10.1 degrees), while below the MLB rate (11.7), also was higher than before. Combine Martin's walk and strikeout rates with his hard-hit rate and average launch angle, and you get a profile strikingly similar to that of the Mets' Brandon Nimmo, who hit .263/.404/.483 (149 wRC+).

The thing about averages, though, is that they don't tell the full story.

Consider the following leaderboard, which FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan previously pointed to:

Lowest rate of batted balls hit between 5-35 degrees, 2018
Min. 200 total batted balls (281 batters)
1. Russell Martin: 30.0 percent
2. Orlando Arcia: 31.2 percent
3. Eric Hosmer: 31.6 percent
4. Travis Jankowski: 32.2 percent
5-T. Avisail Garcia: 32.4 percent
5-T. Ian Desmond: 32.4 percent
MLB average: 40.9 percent

Hitting the ball at a launch angle below five degrees produces ground balls, resulting in a .242 MLB-wide slugging percentage last season. Hitting it above 35 degrees produces high fly balls and popups, resulting in an .058 batting average. That leaves a sweet spot in between that accounted for about 88 percent of all extra-base hits in 2018.

Focusing only on Martin's hard contact (exit velocity of 95-plus mph), fewer than half of his batted balls fell into that sweet spot, putting Martin in the bottom eight percent of MLB hitters. Simply put, even when Martin hit the ball hard, he produced too many easy outs.

Back in 2017, Martin made hard contact roughly the same number of times as in '18, but nearly 70 percent of those batted balls fell into the ideal launch angle range. That put him in the top eight percent of MLB hitters.

Perhaps Martin himself can make the adjustments necessary to move back in that direction. Perhaps the Dodgers, with their analytical approach and new hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc in place, can aid that quest.

There's not a huge gap to overcome. The difference between Martin's 2017 and '18 seasons, over roughly 300 at-bats, was about eight hits and 18 total bases.

The odds are against any 36-year-old catcher, and Martin could continue to decline, losing playing time to Austin Barnes or another late addition. But with a tweak to Martin's launch angle, his return to L.A. could turn out to be a sweet one.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Russell Martin

How MLB.com writers voted in HOF balloting

MLB.com

Six MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

Six MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

As many as four candidates -- and possibly more -- could be elected, according to the public ballots amassed online. Here's a look at how the six voted, and at the bottom you can see what the totals look like among this group:

T.R. Sullivan
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Fred McGriff
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Billy Wagner
9. Larry Walker
10. Michael Young

There are many offensive players who could/should be elected based on their career numbers. I strongly believe McGriff is unfairly overlooked because he was one of the last great hitters before the offensive explosion of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Mussina also thrived as a starting pitcher in the American League right in the thick of that era. It should not have taken him this long to be elected. I'm not big on comparables, but Wagner was every good as a reliever as Rivera or Trevor Hoffman.

Video: MLB Tonight on Mike Mussina's Hall of Fame case

Mark Feinsand
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Mike Mussina
6. Manny Ramirez
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Curt Schilling
9. Gary Sheffield
10. Omar Vizquel

Three of the players I voted for a year ago -- Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome -- were inducted into the Hall, so the holdovers (Bonds, Clemens, Edgar, Mussina, Manny, Schilling and Sheffield) took up the first seven spots on my ballot.

That left me with up to three open spots to fill. Rivera was an obvious choice for one of them in his first time on the ballot, as was Halladay, who, despite a modest win total (203), was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation. Although I delved into their statistics to confirm what I already knew, these two were no-brainers.

Video: Roy Halladay's case for the Hall of Fame

The final spot was a little more difficult. After a first examination of the 26 players, I narrowed down my choice to Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Andy Pettitte, Scott Rolen, Vizquel, Larry Walker and Vernon Wells. (OK, Wells wasn't really on my list, but he was one of my favorite players I ever covered, so I considered using my last spot for him for about 30 seconds.)

Although I probably would have voted for five or six of these players had the ballot been open-ended and without the 10-man limit, my choice ultimately came down to two: Pettitte and Vizquel.

Pettitte is viewed by many as a borderline candidate, a take I can't argue with. While his candidacy might be seen differently by voters, I think he belongs in the conversation. (Based on my voting history, I'm obviously not holding his HGH admission against him.) Having seen similar players such as Jorge Posada, Kenny Lofton and Johan Santana fall off the ballot in their first years, I considered voting for Pettitte in an effort to help him get the requisite 5 percent for him to be on the ballot again next year.

Ultimately, Vizquel's excellence in the field (he took home 11 Gold Gloves and is in the conversation as the best defensive shortstop ever) won out. He might not have been an offensive force, but Vizquel was far from an automatic out, finishing his career with 2,877 hits. Pettitte had a great career and will likely be in the mix for my vote again next year, but my belief that Vizquel should be in the Hall outweighed my hopes of seeing Pettitte remain on the ballot.

Jeffrey Flanagan
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Andruw Jones
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mike Mussina
7. Manny Ramirez
8. Mariano Rivera
9. Curt Schilling
10. Larry Walker

It was difficult leaving off McGriff and Rolen, but we only get 10 spots, which is why I've always favored a binary system -- simply yes or no to each candidate. As for the PED issue, my stance hasn't really changed: If what they did (or didn't) do is so egregious, the Hall of Fame should take those players off the ballot. Don't make us be the morality judges.

Video: MLB Network debates Bonds, Clemens' merits for HOF

Richard Justice
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Mike Mussina
6. Mariano Rivera
7. Scott Rolen
8. Curt Schilling
9. Billy Wagner
10. Larry Walker

Easy calls on nine of the 10. All belong in the Hall. As for Wagner, he's one of greatest closers ever, and if they're part of the game (same for DHs), the best of them should be in the Hall. I didn't like leaving off Andruw Jones, Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Omar Vizquel, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield, who at least deserve to be in the conversation longer.

Jon Paul Morosi
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Fred McGriff
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Scott Rolen
9. Curt Schilling
10. Larry Walker

I voted for Bonds and Clemens, as I have every year. For now, at least, my policy regarding players tied to PED use remains unchanged: I do not vote for players suspended under MLB's drug policy from 2005 to present, but I support the best all-around players from the complicated era that preceded it.

Rivera is one of the clearest first-ballot Hall of Famers in history, and Halladay's dominant peak (in a hitter-friendly ballpark, against AL East competition) makes him worthy of the Hall. McGriff, overlooked for far too long, hit more home runs -- with a better adjusted OPS -- than first-ballot Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Carl Yastrzemski; McGriff is eminently qualified for Cooperstown.

My toughest decision came among Rolen, Vizquel and Sheffield for the last of my 10 spots. I opted for Rolen, given the overall quality of his career, at a position underrepresented in the Hall. Rolen is one of only three third basemen in history with at least seven Gold Gloves and seven All-Star appearances. The others are Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt.

Video: MLB Network on Edgar Martinez's case for the HOF

Chris Haft
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Jeff Kent
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Curt Schilling
9. Omar Vizquel
10. Larry Walker

Rivera's career forestalls debate. And if you feel free to vote for closers, you should feel free to vote for other specialists, such as Martinez the designated hitter. I dismounted my moral high horse regarding Bonds and Clemens two or three years ago. I needed some persuasion to vote for Walker; by contrast, I remained stubbornly loyal to Kent. Mussina embodied consistency; Schilling dominated the postseason and Halladay finished 98 games above .500 in just 390 starts. As for Vizquel, I pity those who can't or won't comprehend his excellence.

Vote totals of the 6 MLB.com writers

With 75 percent of the vote needed for entry to the Hall, Bonds, Martinez, Rivera, Mussina, Clemens, Halladay, Schilling and Walker received enough support -- the first six appearing on all six ballots, and the other two appearing on five of six ballots (83 percent) -- from MLB.com writers.

Barry Bonds -- 6 votes
Roger Clemens -- 6
Roy Halladay -- 6
Edgar Martinez -- 6
Mike Mussina -- 6
Mariano Rivera -- 6
Curt Schilling -- 5
Larry Walker -- 5
Fred McGriff -- 2
Manny Ramirez -- 2
Scott Rolen -- 2
Omar Vizquel -- 2
Billy Wagner -- 2
Andruw Jones -- 1
Jeff Kent -- 1
Gary Sheffield -- 1
Michael Young -- 1

Each team's lineup if season started today

MLB.com

We're less than a month away from Spring Training, so it's a good time to project what each club's Opening Day lineup will look like, or at least what it would look like if the season started today. With the help of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a roundup of how they might shake out.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

We're less than a month away from Spring Training, so it's a good time to project what each club's Opening Day lineup will look like, or at least what it would look like if the season started today. With the help of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a roundup of how they might shake out.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays
Initially, the Jays will be looking for a healthy, bounce-back year from second baseman Devon Travis and continued growth from shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and left fielder Teoscar Hernandez to support a lineup anchored by first baseman Justin Smoak, right fielder Randal Grichuk and designated hitter Kendrys Morales. But at some point soon, the real fun begins when the next wave of Jays stars reach Toronto -- outfielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr., infielder Bo Bichette and catcher Danny Jansen are all expected to arrive in 2019. Jansen likely will start the season with the Jays, and the other two won't be far behind. -- Gregor Chisholm

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Devon Travis, 2B
2. Justin Smoak, 1B
3. Kendrys Morales, DH
4. Randal Grichuk, RF
5. Teoscar Hernandez, LF
6. Kevin Pillar, CF
7. Brandon Drury, 3B
8. Danny Jansen, C
9. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., SS

Video: Bo Bichette discusses his goals for 2019, Vlad Jr.

Orioles
For years, the Orioles were anchored by a core group of positions players who Buck Showalter would regularly arrange into one of baseball's most powerful offensive units. Now with the O's fully in rebuilding mode, the only guarantee about new manager Brandon Hyde's first lineup is that it will look very different.

Seven of the nine members of last year's Opening Day lineup are out of the organization, but the fact that dozens of free agents remain on the market gives the Orioles ample time to bolster a roster that, as of now, projects to be only a fraction as productive as it was a year ago. The current group could receive a boost if Mark Trumbo recovers from offseason knee surgery in time for late March. Top prospects Yusniel Diaz or Ryan Mountcastle could also play their way into the mix, should they impress enough in camp to crack the club's Opening Day roster. -- Joe Trezza

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Cedric Mullins, CF
2. Jonathan Villar, 2B
3. Trey Mancini, DH
4. Chris Davis, 1B
5. DJ Stewart, RF
6. Renato Nunez, 3B
7. Joey Rickard, LF
8. Richie Martin, SS
9. Chance Sisco, C

Rays
Due to the team's versatility, manager Kevin Cash will have a lot of quality options with his lineup card. Mallex Smith, who had a .357 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot in 2018, was traded to Seattle in November, which creates a hole at the top of the lineup for the Rays. With Smith gone, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier could be the first in line to get a crack at the leadoff spot. Kiermaier struggled at the plate to begin last season and then was sidelined for two months with a torn ligament in his right thumb. The 28-year-old outfielder finished the season with a .217 batting average, but had an encouraging end to his season, posting a .306/.371/.597 slash line in September.

In this lineup, Tommy Pham would hit third with designated hitter Ji-Man Choi hitting cleanup. In just 25 at-bats in the cleanup role last season, Choi posted a .450/.520/.850 slash line. Willy Adames and Yandy Diaz provide a good combination of contact and power in the fifth and sixth spots, while Meadows, who hit .250 in 10 games with the Rays last season, provides some power from the left-hand side in the seventh slot. Mike Zunino and Joey Wendle (or Daniel Robertson, depending on the pitcher) would round out the team's lineup. -- Juan Toribio

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Kevin Kiermaier, CF
2. Matt Duffy, 3B
3. Tommy Pham, LF
4. Ji-Man Choi, DH
5. Willy Adames, SS
6. Yandy Diaz, 1B
7. Austin Meadows, RF
8. Mike Zunino, C
9. Joey Wendle, 2B

Red Sox
The World Series champs are in the enviable position of returning their entire allotment of position players, except for Ian Kinsler. But there's good news on that front also, as the hope is that second baseman and veteran leader Dustin Pedroia can return to the lineup after missing all but three games last season due to a left knee injury.

This lineup is deep and balanced, with power and speed, and has the ability to put the ball in play consistently. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez should again present major headaches to the opposition on a near nightly basis. Andrew Benintendi and Betts will be flip-flopped from their spots from a year ago, with the hope it will create more RBI opportunities for the latter. This could be a big growth year for the 22-year-old Rafael Devers. -- Ian Browne

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Andrew Benintendi, LF
2. Mookie Betts, RF
3. J.D. Martinez, DH
4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
6. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
7. Rafael Devers, 3B
8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
9. Christian Vazquez, C

Yankees
One year after the Yankees became the first team to have a dozen players reach double digits in the home run department, the Bronx Bombers again appear primed to boast impressive power, even without adding a megastar like Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. The projected order skews heavily toward right-handed bats, which is odd considering Yankee Stadium's configuration, but most have the ability to power the ball to right-center field. Troy Tulowitzki will have first crack at shortstop, but DJ LeMahieu provides a capable option at second base, shortstop and third base. -- Bryan Hoch

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Aaron Hicks, CF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
5. Gary Sanchez, C
6. Miguel Andujar, 3B
7. Gleyber Torres, 2B
8. Luke Voit, 1B
9. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Video: MLB Tonight on how LeMahieu fits in with Yankees

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians
The Indians' lineup will feature plenty of new names in 2019, but one familiar face will be back with the Tribe. After spending last season with the Phillies, Carlos Santana was traded to the Mariners briefly before coming back home to Cleveland in exchange for Edwin Encarnacion.

Despite the team's high turnover rate, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez will return to the Indians' infield, providing leadership to the young roster. Both Ramirez and Lindor are coming off standout seasons, placing third and sixth in American League MVP voting, respectively. -- Mandy Bell

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Francisco Lindor, SS
2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
3. Jose Ramirez, 3B
4. Carlos Santana, DH
5. Jake Bauers, 1B
6. Tyler Naquin, RF
7. Leonys Martin, CF
8. Jordan Luplow, LF
9. Roberto Perez, C

Video: Jose Ramirez is the No. 1 third baseman right now

Royals
Of course, the big question regarding the batting order is where manager Ned Yost will fit in speedster Billy Hamilton, who primarily hit toward the bottom of the order while with the Reds. Yost could go for the speed trifecta at 9-1-2 with Hamilton hitting ninth, and then Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi at the top. -- Jeffrey Flanagan

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Whit Merrifield, 2B
2. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
3. Alex Gordon, LF
4. Jorge Soler, DH
5. Salvador Perez, C
6. Ryan O'Hearn,1B
7. Hunter Dozier, 3B
8. Jorge Bonifacio, RF
9. Billy Hamilton, CF

Tigers
The Tigers have work to do before they can put together a lineup of young talent to go with their promising pitching prospects. But their 2019 lineup shows some promise. With Jeimer Candelario at third base and Christin Stewart likely in left field, Detroit has a pair of young run producers. On the flip side, the Tigers get veteran Miguel Cabrera back after he missed most of last season due to biceps surgery. If Nicholas Castellanos isn't traded, Detroit has a decent core to the batting order if it can identify another run producer for the fifth spot. -- Jason Beck

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
2. Christin Stewart, LF
3. Nick Castellanos, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Niko Goodrum, 2B
6. John Hicks, DH
7. Grayson Greiner, C
8. JaCoby Jones, CF
9. Jordy Mercer, SS

Twins:
Minnesota finished 23rd in the Majors with 166 homers in 2018, but added a trio of right-handed sluggers with 30-homer power -- C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and Nelson Cruz -- to address the power concerns and fill the needs at first base, second base and designated hitter on manager Rocco Baldelli's first Twins roster. -- Do-Hyoung Park

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Jorge Polanco, SS
2. Eddie Rosario, LF
3. Miguel Sano, 3B
4. Nelson Cruz, DH
5. C.J. Cron, 1B
6. Max Kepler, RF
7. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
8. Jason Castro, C
9. Byron Buxton, CF

White Sox
This lineup on Jan. 15 could change by the end of the month or the end of the week or even the end of the day, as the White Sox continue their strong pursuit of premium free agent infielder Machado and possibly even premium free agent outfielder Harper. If they get one, let alone fulfill the long shot of reaching a deal with both, their lineup immediately looks quite different. Even if they miss out on both, the White Sox still have made significant changes to balance their lineup with the additions of left-handed hitting Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay. They also brought in catcher James McCann, who probably won't split time with Welington Castillo, but will get more than backup playing time. -- Scott Merkin

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Jon Jay, RF
2. Yoan Moncada, 2B
3. Jose Abreu, 1B
4. Yonder Alonso, DH
5. Welington Castillo, C
6. Daniel Palka, LF
7. Tim Anderson, SS
8. Yolmer Sanchez, 3B
9. Adam Engel, CF

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

Angels
The Angels are expected to be without designated hitter Shohei Ohtani to begin the season, as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, which means Albert Pujols will open the year as DH. Manager Brad Ausmus said he'd like to see Mike Trout hit No. 2 in the lineup, while Zack Cozart served as leadoff hitter early last season until suffering a season-ending labrum tear in his left shoulder. There remains a competition in the infield among David Fletcher, Taylor Ward and Tommy La Stella and it'll be determined in Spring Training. -- Rhett Bollinger

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Zack Cozart, 3B
2. Mike Trout, CF
3. Justin Upton, LF
4. Justin Bour, 1B
5. Albert Pujols, DH
6. Andrelton Simmons, SS
7. Kole Calhoun, RF
8. David Fletcher, 2B
9. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Astros
The Astros made a huge addition to their lineup last month when they signed free agent outfielder Michael Brantley, who brings a much-needed presence from the left side of the plate while being difficult to strike out. The core of Houston's powerful lineup is all right-handed --Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and George Springer -- and the addition of Brantley gives them a top five in the lineup that's perhaps the deepest in baseball, when healthy. -- Brian McTaggart

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. George Springer, CF
2. Alex Bregman, 3B
3. Jose Altuve, 2B
4. Carlos Correa, SS
5. Michael Brantley, LF
6. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
7. Josh Reddick, RF
8. Tyler White, DH
9. Robinson Chirinos, C

Video: AJ Hinch on Brantley's veteran approach, preparation

Athletics 
One of baseball's most potent offenses will feature many of the same bats that helped the A's into the postseason last year. Homer-happy Khris Davis isn't the only power hitter residing in this lineup: Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien also routinely hit the ball out of the park, and they're flanked by productive complementary pieces, including on-base machine Nick Martini and the dynamic Ramon Laureano. -- Jane Lee

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Nick Martini, LF
2. Matt Chapman, 3B
3. Matt Olson, 1B
4. Khris Davis, DH
5. Stephen Piscotty, RF
6. Jurickson Profar, 2B
7. Ramon Laureano, CF
8. Marcus Semien, SS
9. Chris Herrmann, C

Mariners
Only four of last season's Opening Day position starters are still on the roster, though it's likely that a fifth -- Ichiro Suzuki -- will be added before the season begins. But gone are Seattle stalwarts Robinson Cano, Cruz and Jean Segura, who batted in the 2-3-4 spots in the lineup in last year's 2-1 Opening Day win over the Indians. Also gone is 2018 Opening Day catcher Mike Marjama, who was filling in for an injured Zunino, who has also been traded.

That leaves returning starters Dee Gordon -- who is shifting from center field to second base -- along with right fielder Mitch Haniger, third baseman Kyle Seager and first baseman Ryon Healy. -- Greg Johns

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Mallex Smith, CF
2. Dee Gordon, 2B
3. Mitch Haniger, RF
4. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
5. Kyle Seager, 3B
6. Domingo Santana, LF
7. Ryon Healy, 1B
8. Omar Narvaez, C
9. Tim Beckham, SS

Rangers
The Rangers are loaded with young left-handed power with Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor and Ronald Guzman, but are still susceptible to the strikeout. They could also use more help from the right side and depth at both catcher and third base. They also need a full and healthy season from Delino DeShields in the leadoff spot. -- T.R. Sullivan

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Delino DeShields, CF
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Shin-Soo Choo, DH
4. Nomar Mazara, RF
5. Joey Gallo, LF
6. Rougned Odor 2B
7. Ronald Guzman 1B
8. Patrick Wisdom 3B
9. Jeff Mathis C

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves
The Braves feel good about having three MVP candidates at the top of their lineup, but uncertainty about who will be the third outfielder leaves a glaring hole in the cleanup spot. If an outfielder is not acquired and Adam Duvall is given a starting spot, manager Brian Snitker could address the top-heavy nature of his lineup by moving Ender Inciarte to the leadoff spot and dropping either Ronald Acuna Jr. or Josh Donaldson to the fourth spot. The offense's success will be influenced by Ozzie Albies' adjustments against left-handers and Dansby Swanson's attempt to expand his plate coverage. -- Mark Bowman

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Ronald Acuna Jr., LF
2. Josh Donaldson, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. TBD
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Ozzie Albies, 2B
7. Ender Inciarte, CF
8. Dansby Swanson, SS

Marlins
The Marlins continue to explore the market for a left-handed power bat to play either first base or a corner outfield spot, and there is the on-going saga of whether All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto will be traded or not. With so much up in the air, projecting the Marlins' Opening Spring Training lineup remains highly speculative. But based on how the roster is constructed as of now, there are a number of directions the organization can go. A year ago, Lewis Brinson was the Opening Day leadoff hitter, and unless a more traditional table-setter is added, Brinson again could get a look at the top of the order, in hopes of getting him on track. -- Joe Frisaro

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Lewis Brinson, CF
2. J.T. Realmuto, C
3. Starlin Castro, 2B
4. Brian Anderson, RF
5. Peter O'Brien, 1B
6. Martin Prado, 3B
7. Austin Dean, LF
8. JT Riddle / Miguel Rojas SS

Mets
The addition of Jed Lowrie gives the Mets an obvious No. 2 hitter, though they'll skew left-handed at the top of the order for as long as Yoenis Cespedes remains sidelined. A greater issue is where Lowrie fits on defense; given his lack of experience at first base, he may push Todd Frazier to that position early in the season. -- Anthony DiComo

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Brandon Nimmo, RF
2. Jed Lowrie, 3B
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Wilson Ramos C
5. Michael Conforto, LF
6. Todd Frazier, 1B
7. Juan Lagares, CF
8. Amed Rosario, SS

Video: Jon Heyman discusses the Jed Lowrie signing for Mets

Nationals
There is still so much speculation about whether Harper will ultimately wind up back in the middle of this batting order, but the Nationals feel confident in this lineup even without their homegrown star at the center. Thanks to a boost at catcher, a new second baseman and the infusion of rookie Victor Robles, this new-look Nats lineup has a chance to remain one of the most productive in the National League. -- Jamal Collier

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Adam Eaton, RF
2. Trea Turner, SS
3. Anthony Rendon, 3B
4. Juan Soto, LF
5. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
6. Brian Dozier, 2B
7. Victor Robles, CF
8. Yan Gomes / Kurt Suzuki, C

Phillies 
The Phillies have upgraded their lineup from 2018, with the additions of outfielder Andrew McCutchen and shorstop Segura. But they hope to make one more major move before Opening Day. If the Phillies sign Harper or Machado to a multiyear contract, it changes everything. -- Todd Zolecki

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Jean Segura, SS
3. Andrew McCutchen, LF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Odubel Herrera, CF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Nick Williams, RF
8. Jorge Alfaro, C

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers
The Brewers are returning the bulk of the roster that played to within one game of the World Series in 2018, with second base representing the only real hole after the team signed catcher Yasmani Grandal. Right now, a Hernan Perez/Cory Spangenberg platoon is possible, though general manager David Stearns is likely to either sign or trade for a player to fill that position, or find a third baseman and move Travis Shaw to second. -- Adam McCalvy

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
2. Christian Yelich, RF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Travis Shaw, 3B
5. Jesus Aguilar, 1B
6. Yasmani Grandal, C
7. Hernan Perez / Cory Spangenberg, 2B
8. Orlando Arcia, SS

Video: MLB Now analyzes Grandal's deal with the Brewers

Cardinals
The top of the Cardinals' order became instantly more formidable with the December acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt. He'll likely hit behind one of the best leadoff hitters in the game and ahead of the club's two biggest power threats. With an element of speed at the bottom of the order, the Cardinals' lineup is positioned to be more dynamic than it was a year ago. -- Jenifer Langosch

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Matt Carpenter, 3B
2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
3. Paul DeJong, SS
4. Marcell Ozuna, LF
5. Dexter Fowler, RF
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Kolten Wong, 2B
8. Harrison Bader, CF

Cubs
Cubs manager Joe Maddon cycled through 152 lineup variations in 2018, so this alignment is definitely written in pencil. At least 10 players appeared in each lineup spot for Chicago, which featured one of MLB's top offenses until a two-month slump to end last season. The Cubs are banking on a return to health from slugger Kris Bryant, among other things, to help this group get back on track in '19. -- Jordan Bastian

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Ben Zobrist, 2B
2. Kris Bryant, 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Javier Baez, SS
5. Kyle Schwarber, LF
6. Willson Contreras, C
7. Jason Heyward, RF
8. Albert Almora Jr., CF

Pirates
The Pirates haven't officially settled on a shortstop, and it's unclear how they'll use Colin Moran and Jung Ho Kang at third base. The look of their lineup will also change when right fielder Gregory Polanco, their most productive hitter last season, comes off the disabled list. Manager Clint Hurdle will look for the right configuration, but it's fair to assume that Adam Frazier, Starling Marte and Corey Dickerson will be involved atop the order with Josh Bell getting another shot in the cleanup spot. -- Adam Berry

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Adam Frazier, 2B
2. Starling Marte, CF
3. Corey Dickerson, LF
4. Josh Bell, 1B
5. Francisco Cervelli, C
6. Colin Moran/Jung Ho Kang, 3B
7. Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
8. Erik Gonzalez / Kevin Newman, SS

Reds
The front office has signaled more improvements to the club are coming in the final month before Spring Training. There is still a need for a regular center fielder and the team has an overload of corner outfielders that will need to be sorted out. A fluid situation, it does not account for how the Reds will utilize another acquisition in corner outfielder Matt Kemp. And then there is Nick Senzel. The organization's No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, will be competing for the opening in center field but could also be a lineup regular in a utility role, playing up to five positions. -- Mark Sheldon

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Jesse Winker, LF
2. Jose Peraza, SS
3. Joey Votto, 1B
4. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
5. Scooter Gennett, 2B
6. Yasiel Puig, RF
7. Scott Schebler, CF
8. Tucker Barnhart, C

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs
The D-backs still have work to do in order to complete their lineup for Opening Day with one big piece still unknown. They are looking to either move Ketel Marte to center and acquire a second baseman or acquire a center fielder and leave Marte at second. How that plays out could will reshape this lineup. One thing to note about the catching spot: while Carson Kelly figures to get a lot of time behind the plate, the D-backs also like to rotate their catchers, so Alex Avila and John Ryan Murphy will also play. -- Steve Gilbert

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Ketel Marte, 2B
2. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
3. David Peralta, LF
4. Steven Souza Jr., RF
5. Jake Lamb, 1B
6. Nick Ahmed, SS
7. Alex Avila, C
8. Jarrod Dyson, CF

Dodgers
There's plenty of time left for trades and free-agent signings and a host of mutations depending on matchups and platoons. Russell Martin figures to challenge Austin Barnes for the starting catching job. All that aside, what does the Dodgers' starting lineup for 2019 look like today? Some variation of this. -- Ken Gurnick

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Chris Taylor, 2B
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Justin Turner, 3B
4. Cody Bellinger, CF
5. Max Muncy, 1B
6. Enrique Hernandez, RF
7. Joc Pederson, LF
8. Austin Barnes, C

Giants
The Giants' current projected lineup is comprised of holdovers from 2018, but they are hoping to add a couple of new faces to the starting outfield by Opening Day to help boost an offense that struggled to consistently score runs last year. -- Maria Guardado

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Steven Duggar, CF
2. Joe Panik, 2B
3. Buster Posey, C
4. Brandon Belt, 1B
5. Evan Longoria, 3B
6. Brandon Crawford, SS
7. Mac Williamson, RF
8. Chris Shaw, LF

Padres
Franmil Reyes, Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe are currently fighting for two corner outfield spots (and, presumably, the No. 4 and 5 spots in the lineup). The Padres have a clear logjam in their outfield, and it's possible one of those three big boppers is dealt before the season. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that Ty France actually starts on Opening Day. General manager A.J. Preller remains in search of third-base help, and it's a near certainty he adds someone before the start of camp. -- AJ Cassavell

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Manuel Margot, CF
2. Luis Urias, SS
3. Eric Hosmer, 1B
4. Franmil Reyes, RF
5. Wil Myers, LF
6. Ian Kinsler, 2B
7. Austin Hedges, C
8. Ty France, 3B

Rockies
The addition of Daniel Murphy puts some left-handed pop in the lineup behind home run threats Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story. The lineup still could use one more right-handed threat. Another idea could be to lead off with David Dahl, followed by Story, Charlie Blackmon and Arenado to separate the left- and right-handed hitters through the early portion. -- Thomas Harding

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

1. Charlie Blackmon, LF
2. David Dahl, RF
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B
4. Trevor Story, SS
5. Daniel Murphy, 1B
6. Ian Desmond, CF
7. Ryan McMahon, 2B
8. Chris Iannetta, C

Video: Blackmon on adding Murphy, Arenado's importance

Healthy Seager would be boost for Dodgers

Prospect callups, injury returns can equal impact of a star free agent
MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

With so much focus on the free-agent market and trade winds, it can be easy to forget about the other players whose first games will be worth paying just as much attention to next season. The marketplace is one way for teams to improve, but sometimes the answers can be found right within a club's own roster.

Diverting from the Hot Stove for just a second, here's a mix of veterans and rookies we're looking forward to seeing just as much in 2019.

With so much focus on the free-agent market and trade winds, it can be easy to forget about the other players whose first games will be worth paying just as much attention to next season. The marketplace is one way for teams to improve, but sometimes the answers can be found right within a club's own roster.

Diverting from the Hot Stove for just a second, here's a mix of veterans and rookies we're looking forward to seeing just as much in 2019.

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
You can be forgiven if Miggy slipped off your radar for a while; most of his 2018 highlights came in either bitter cold temperatures or dreadful rain, and a torn bicep ended his season by mid-June. But since it's been a while, it's worth a reminder that Cabrera was as lethal as ever in many ways at the plate -- even if the homers were slow to come. Here's where some of Cabrera's contact metrics stood among qualified hitters by the time he tore that bicep tendon on June 12.

• 54.6 percent hard-hit rate (6th)
• 98.1 mph average line drive/fly ball exit velocity (T-17th)
• .315 expected batting average (T-8th)

Cabrera should be back in the Tigers' Opening Day lineup, and while he'll be entering his age-36 season, Detroit is hoping Cabrera can stay on the field enough to showcase that significant talent still left in his bat.

Corey Seager, Dodgers
Here's another big name who's been off the grid for a while, especially after the incredibly deep Dodgers managed to reach the World Series even without one of their bona fide stars. A quick refresher: Seager's 134 league-adjusted OPS+ in 2016 tied for the highest by a rookie shortstop in modern history, and his '17 season was nearly as good despite some elbow issues.

Video: LAD@SF: Seager hammers 2-run homer to right

We just saw Gleyber Torres come back from Tommy John surgery and make an immediate impact for the Yankees. Fangraphs' Steamer projections are similarly optimistic about Seager -- likely due back in May -- believing he'll be somewhere between a 5- to 6-WAR player. The Dodgers might still wind up signing Bryce Harper or trading for J.T. Realmuto, but getting a healthy Seager back in the lineup would be just as impactful.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
There might be no better reflection of the excitement surrounding Guerrero than his Steamer projection, which places him between Aaron Judge and Nolan Arenado among the 20 or so best players by WAR in 2019. Projections are typically conservative, but that's just how much MLB's top prospect has raked in the Minors. Guerrero's OPS hasn't finished below .800 at any level, and his strikeout rate has never risen above 13.4 percent -- still nearly 10 points below the Major League average last season.

Video: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. looks to impress in the Majors

We don't know exactly when Guerrero will make his Major League debut, but his first big league at-bat figures to be one of the biggest moments on the 2019 calendar.

Eloy Jimenez, White Sox
Baseball's No. 3 prospect isn't far behind Guerrero in terms of his prodigious skill with the bat. Jimenez was promoted to Triple-A Charlotte last June and proceeded to hit .355, compile a .996 OPS and knock 12 homers in 228 plate appearances, ramping up expectations on the South Side for the White Sox biggest piece from their Jose Quintana trade with the Cubs.

"We're hoping that this young man's career for us is going to be one of those future impact guys," White Sox manager Rick Renteria told Baseball America last month. "I don't want to call him a Hall of Famer, because that's a lot to put on a kid's plate, but he has the skill set to potentially be a very, very impactful frontline Major League player."

Jimenez probably could have made it to the big leagues last September, but the White Sox outfield figures to get a lot more potent whenever he arrives this spring. Perhaps Jimenez and Guerrero could give the American League its own version of last summer's thrilling Rookie of the Year race between Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto.

Video: Cassavell on the excitement around Tatis Jr.

Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias, Padres
It's not every day that a team can envision the middle of its infield fortified by two top-50 prospects, but that's the enviable situation San Diego finds itself in with MLB Pipeline's top-ranked prospects at shortstop and second base. Tatis and Urias are 20 and 21, respectively, so they'll take their lumps. But with everything pointing toward 2020 and beyond, Padres fans have to be excited to see two significant pieces of the team's future step closer toward the present.

Jimmy Nelson, Brewers
Milwaukee got within one game of its first World Series appearance since the Reagan administration, and it did so with a new-age mix of bullpenning and diamond-in-the-rough starters like Jhoulys Chacin and Wade Miley. But here's the type of ace the Brewers hope can step back into the fold this year:

Nelson's ranks among qualified NL starters, 2017

ERA: 8th
FIP: 3rd
K-BB%: 7th
WAR: 4th

Nelson became a breakout ace, but unfortunately his shoulder injury took him away much too quickly. Nelson's rehab went slower than expected last summer, but if he can break camp atop the Brewers' depth chart, he represents a huge boost to their hopes of repeating in the NL Central.

Video: Reyes on returning from elbow surgery

Alex Reyes, Cardinals
This is almost a copy-paste from last year at this time, when Cardinals fans were anxious for Reyes to return from Tommy John surgery and slot in as either a lights-out closer or electric starter. His first game back in 2018 didn't go according to plan, as his velocity dipped after three innings and he wound up needing more surgery for a torn lat. But there's still reasons to be optimistic with Reyes: He hit 97.7 mph in that May 30 start against Milwaukee, and the Brewers were late on many of their swings before his velocity dropped. If Reyes can find that easy gas again and stay on the field, this righty could boost several areas of the Cardinals' pitching staff depending on how they decide to use him.

Michael Pineda, Twins
It's hard to overlook the fact that Pineda has pitched just 89 games since he made the All-Star team as a rookie in 2011, but the big right-hander is cleared for Spring Training and has a chance for his first healthy season in years. There's a lot to unlock if Pineda can take the mound: As MLB.com's Andrew Simon pointed out, he's ranked among the game's upper echelon at missing bats and limiting walks even in his more injury-riddled times as a big leaguer.

Video: CHC@CIN: Darvish strikes out 7, limits Reds to 1 run

Yu Darvish, Cubs
Darvish's injury-riddled 2018 had ripple effects across Chicago's roster: The Cubs picked up Cole Hamels' $20 million option this offseason partly as insurance in case Darvish gets hurt again, and that might have kept them financially hamstrung for shopping sprees like the Harper sweepstakes. But a full-strength season from Darvish would be just as beneficial for the North Siders as picking up Harper. Darvish is a dominant staff leader when he's right (a reminder that he's on pace to be one of the game's all-time strikeout-per-nine innings leaders), and the Cubs need him to be that pitcher more than ever with Hamels and Jon Lester continuing to age.

Darvish says he's ready for Spring Training and 2019, and Chicago fans have roughly 101 million remaining reasons to hope he's right.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

The 1 player most likely to be a Dodger in '25

MLB.com @williamfleitch

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

EAST

Blue Jays: Danny Jansen, C
Unlike Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette, he's already on the 40-man roster; he hit three homers in 81 at-bats last season. Like them, he's currently a top-75 prospect.

Orioles: Trey Mancini, OF
The toughest call on the board. The Orioles are starting over in every conceivable way, and there will be a lot of turnover here in the next few years. The guess here is Mancini, who is a fan favorite already and could maybe hang around long enough to be a platoon or bench bat in 2025, when he'll be only 32.

Rays: Willy Adames, SS
Attempting to guess who will be on the Rays' roster in two years, let alone six, is a fool's errand, but Adames is the centerpiece of everything the Rays are going to be trying to do over the next decade.

Red Sox: Mookie Betts, OF
He's a free agent after the 2020 season, but the Red Sox should never let a star like this get away. And he wants to stay

Video: Betts signs record deal to avoid arbitration

Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton, RF
As the guy who is signed through 2027, he's the obvious pick here. Aaron Judge hits free agency in 2023, by the way.

CENTRAL

Indians: Francisco Lindor, SS
It's tough to imagine the Indians letting Lindor go … though they may have to choose between him and Jose Ramirez.

Video: Lindor gets his second career Silver Slugger Award

Royals: Salvador Perez, C
He survived the last teardown. He's their Yadier Molina -- he'll survive any future ones.

Tigers: Jeimer Candelario, 3B
He's more likely than anyone else here to be a member of the next contending Tigers team.

Twins: Max Kepler, OF
Kepler feels like the type of player the Twins would come to some sort of modest, Paul DeJong-esque extension with, doesn't he?

White Sox: Yoan Moncada, 2B
With any luck, Eloy Jimenez will be there right alongside him.

WEST

Angels: Mike Trout, OF
Put it this way: If Mike Trout isn't on the 2025 Angels, everything about that franchise is radically different than it is right now.

Video: Guardado on the latest between Angels and Trout

Astros: Jose Altuve, 2B
Alex Bregman seems like the most likely extension candidate -- Altuve's deal runs out after the 2024 season -- but the Altuve-Astros relationship feels like one that shouldn't be broken.

Athletics: Matt Chapman, 3B
The ideal extension candidate, Chapman could be the face of the franchise whenever it moves into its new digs.

Mariners: Justus Sheffield, LHP
He made his debut in September, so he's on the Mariners' 40-man, even if he might not start the season in the Majors.

Rangers: Rougned Odor, 2B
He, Elvis Andrus and Joey Gallo will be free agents following the 2022 season. Here's betting Odor is the one who sticks around, if anybody does.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

EAST

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
He'll actually reach free agency after the 2024 season, if you are counting the days. (That's to say: If you're every other team in baseball.)

Video: Snitker on best lineup spot for Acuna Jr. in 2019

Marlins: Lewis Brinson, OF
Considering he remains the primary haul from their trades last offseason, Brinson will get every possible opportunity to prove himself.

Mets: Brandon Nimmo, OF
Though maybe only because first base slugging prospect Peter Alonso isn't on the 40-man yet.

Nationals: Juan Soto, OF
If the Nationals don't extend him, he'll hit the free-agent market with Acuna.

Phillies: Rhys Hoskins, 1B
This answer could very well change depending on how free agency shakes out this offseason.

CENTRAL

Brewers: Josh Hader, LHP
Yes, yes, he's a reliever, but still: He seems like one of the few relievers on earth worthy of talking long-term, under-market extension with, yes?

Cardinals: Paul DeJong, SS
The extension he signed last year gives the Cardinals team options on him in both 2024 and '25, and if he keeps playing like he has been, they'll happily pick them both up. (It's also possible the answer here is Yadier Molina, and may be through 2035.)

Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B
This will be the most-watched are-they-gonna-extend-him-soon? story in baseball over the next couple of years.

Video: Kris Bryant is the No. 8 third baseman right now

Pirates: Mitch Keller, RHP
He's already on the 40-man, and he might be the best pitcher in an already underrated rotation by season's end.

Reds: Eugenio Suarez, 3B
He's signed through 2024, and the Reds have a club option on him for '25. Also, top prospect Nick Senzel isn't on the 40-man yet.

WEST

D-backs: Ketel Marte, SS
He's already got options for 2023 and '24, and he'll just be into his 30s when the D-backs have to make their next decision on him. Newly acquired catcher Carson Kelly could be the answer here as well.

Dodgers: Corey Seager, SS
Isn't right now the perfect time to start talking extension with Seager?

Giants: Buster Posey, C
As long as Posey is still playing, he'll be a Giant … right, Farhan?

Padres: Franmil Reyes, OF
It's tough to even imagine this kid being 30 someday.

Rockies: Nolan Arenado, 3B
They did a mega-extension with Charlie Blackmon last offseason, so they are clearly willing to go that route. Arenado is eligible for free agency next winter, so we'll find out his long-term fate pretty soon.

Video: Arenado seeks record $30 million in arbitration

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Joc, Turner play softball to help CA fire victims

California Strong softball game attracts large crowd to Malibu
MLB.com @kengurnick

MALIBU, Calif. -- Green shoots now carpet the scarred Santa Monica Mountains, nature's initial healing from the deadly November Woolsey Fire.

But nature can heal only so much, and Malibu residents Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, Mike Moustakas and Mike Attanasio wondered soon after the blaze: What can we do?

MALIBU, Calif. -- Green shoots now carpet the scarred Santa Monica Mountains, nature's initial healing from the deadly November Woolsey Fire.

But nature can heal only so much, and Malibu residents Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, Mike Moustakas and Mike Attanasio wondered soon after the blaze: What can we do?

Video: Yelich, Braun on charity softball game for California

What they did on Sunday was pretty amazing. A couple text messages two months ago led to Sunday's California Strong Celebrity Softball Game at Pepperdine University in Malibu, where the breathtaking Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island backdrop belied the devastation wrought by a wildfire and mass shooting that physically and emotionally buckled this community.

A standing-room-only crowd at Eddy D. Field Stadium attended on Sunday, with all proceeds going directly to victims of the California wildfires and the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in nearby Thousand Oaks. 

Tweet from @Brewers: Speaking of the MVP...@CAstrongfund #CaliforniaStrong pic.twitter.com/lI9pCo3DjO

"The conversations started because we live in Malibu and we didn't know if our houses survived," said Braun. "When we realized our houses survived, the conversation quickly turned to, how can we use our platform and wealth of people in the area to help the people rebuild? In times of need, look at all of the people that banded together and do something awesome for the community."

Tweet from @CAstrongfund: Just a few of the stars that came to support #CaliforniaStrong! Happy to have you @tylerhoechlin @PSchwarzenegger @ZacharyLevi and @Cary_Elwes! pic.twitter.com/rnDoNjADKh

The three players who were teammates in Milwaukee last year called on the Major League community for support. Attanasio, son of Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, marshalled resources and arranged for a partnership with the YMCA of Southeast Ventura County.

The Hollywood community joined to assist those impacted not only by the wildfire, but the mass shooting that occurred two nights before the fire erupted. Leading into Sunday's event, the California Strong campaign had raised $450,000 in donations.

"This isn't a short-term fix," said Mike Attanasio. "We're here for the long run, to make sure people know they haven't been forgotten."

Tweet from @CAstrongfund: Thank you so much to the sheriffs and first responders! We are so proud to put this event together for you and the affected families #CaliforniaStrong pic.twitter.com/I3upZIUoCZ

The celebrity turnout on Sunday was Malibu eclectic: Charlie Sheen, Jamie Foxx, Brad Paisley, Adam Sandler, Robin Thicke, Rainn Wilson, Mira Sorvino and Pia Toscano.

"When you get the call personally from Ryan Braun and Christian Yelich, you can't say no," said Sheen, who was limited to coaching by a shoulder injury.

"I grew up in these parts. I see houses where my friends lived -- just gone. The night of the fire, I couldn't find my parents for 10 hours. The community was torn apart and we're here today to lend our names and talents and baseball skills to do something good. If what we're doing today gives somebody affected one moment of relief or hope, then our efforts here are successful."

Tweet from @Brewers: "Juuuusssst a bit outside....How can guys lay off pitches that close?��� pic.twitter.com/oxxONq3OJN

Foxx lives only minutes from the site of the Borderline shooting and close to the Hill Fire, which broke out hours before the Woolsey Fire.

"You see fires destroy a lifetime of belongings, you see a shooting in Thousand Oaks, the safest place in the world, but when was the last time you heard about it?" said Foxx. "My thing is not just to raise money, but have a conversation. We're the smartest country in the world. When something happens, we adjust. We need to adjust, so our kids don't have to wonder if there will be anything left for them."

Video: Moose talks about charity softball game for Calif.

Country music superstar Paisley splits time between Nashville and Montecito near Santa Barbara, an area still recovering from last year's Thomas Fire and subsequent mudslides.

"We were real close to the fires last year. Next thing you know, there's a shooting at the Borderline club, where so many of my friends frequented," said Paisley. "It's so hard to see these things happen, let alone the double-whammy of the fire afterwards. So, when Justin Turner called to rope me into this thing, I'm happy to make a fool of myself for this cause and for this community."

Video: Turner on California Strong celebrity softball game

The NFL was represented by Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. There was a Heisman Trophy winner, Matt Leinart, former NBA stars Reggie Miller, Dennis Rodman and Don MacLean, plus MMA star Chuck Liddell.

Among the retired Major Leaguers was Derrek Lee, whose home one mile away suffered major damage in the fire, as well as Royce Clayton, Jered Weaver and Jack Wilson.

Of course, with Brewers Yelich, Braun and (free agent) Moustakas headlining, their fellow Major Leaguers were all over campus, including Turner, Joc Pederson, Eric Hosmer, Jon Jay, Jack Flaherty, Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Plouffe, Jake Marisnick and Max Fried.

Video: Hosmer discusses charity softball game for California

"We're a tight-knit brotherhood, and when something like this happens we try to come together and take advantage of our platform and do some good," Turner said.

Brewers Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker shared public address announcer duties.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Dodgers reuniting with catcher Martin

Los Angeles sends Minor Leaguers Sopko, Brito to Toronto in swap
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- After being reacquired by the Dodgers on Friday, Russell Martin told president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman that he wanted to win a championship so badly he'd do anything and play any position.

"I'm super excited to be back where it all started for me, and I always felt there was some unfinished business when I left, so I'm glad for this opportunity," Martin said.

LOS ANGELES -- After being reacquired by the Dodgers on Friday, Russell Martin told president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman that he wanted to win a championship so badly he'd do anything and play any position.

"I'm super excited to be back where it all started for me, and I always felt there was some unfinished business when I left, so I'm glad for this opportunity," Martin said.

"I don't want this to be my last year. Coming off a year where I feel I underperformed offensively, I'm looking for a bounce-back year and I'm looking for a championship. I'm still hungry for that. That keeps me motivated. I know the team in L.A. got close last year and they're really hungry for it."

Friedman swapped Minor Leaguers Ronny Brito and Andrew Sopko for Martin, with the Blue Jays agreeing to pay $16.4 million of Martin's $20 million salary this season.

Tweet from @Dodgers: Welcome back, @russellmartin55! pic.twitter.com/Qj7wOnLqZ3

Martin's first five years in the Major Leagues were with the Dodgers, and they see him returning as an ideal veteran catching partner for Austin Barnes as the club awaits the arrival of catching prospects Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz. Martin replaces Yasmani Grandal, who chose free agency and signed a one-year, $18.25 million deal with the Brewers on Wednesday.

"He's still really good at what he does behind the plate," Friedman said of Martin, a four-time All-Star and a Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger Award winner entering his 14th Major League season.

Video: Russell Martin's most memorable Dodgers highlights

The first five of those were with the Dodgers, who converted Martin from third base.

"He'll team up with Austin to be a really good duo behind the plate," Friedman said. "We feel they can be good stewards for our pitching staff."

Martin, who turns 36 in February, is coming off a disappointing 2018 season during which he hit .194 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs in 90 games.

"Last year was obviously a down year [offensively], but digging into it more, the quality of at-bat is elite and the batted ball profile is still strong," Friedman said. "We'll … bet on him at the plate beyond what he did last year. At that position, the offensive bar isn't extremely high and there's obviously a lot more that goes into a catcher having value. We feel between he and Barnes, we'll get good offensive production and good production behind the plate."

Martin is the second All-Star to be reacquired by the Dodgers after Matt Kemp in 2018, when Kemp turned back into an NL All-Star.

"There's something about putting on that Dodgers uniform that can bring out the magic in you," Martin said. "I hope to get some of that magic this year. It's a big year for me. I need to have a good year or nobody's going to want to have me. The motivation is there."

Video: TOR@TB: Martin makes managerial debut vs. the Rays

A Canadian native, Martin was non-tendered by the Dodgers in 2010 coming off a hip injury and joined the Yankees, then the Pirates and most recently the Blue Jays. He was an All-Star as recently as 2015. He also notably managed the Blue Jays' final game of the 2018 season after the departure of longtime skipper John Gibbons.

Martin also has played third base, shortstop, second base and the outfield in recent years.

"We have something unique with Russell and Austin in that both are really good athletes," Friedman said. "Both can kick out and do different things."

The Dodgers had targeted Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto as Grandal's replacement and the Marlins demanded center fielder Cody Bellinger in return, but Los Angeles had no interest in dealing him. While the Dodgers also have been rumored as suitors for game-changers like outfielder Bryce Harper and starting pitcher Corey Kluber, acquiring a catcher has been a top offseason priority.

"Our focus is always on wanting to get better," Friedman said, when asked if he might still be in the market for a catcher, without mentioning any names (like Realmuto). "We like the team we have in place, but that doesn't mean we aren't focusing on continuing to improve it, whether that's before the season starts or when the season is in progress."

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: There is not a chance the 2019 version of Russell Martin would preclude the #Dodgers from continuing to pursue J.T. Realmuto.

Sopko, 24, was selected by the Dodgers in the seventh round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Gonzaga, and he has a career 27-17 Minor League record with a 3.61 ERA and 363 strikeouts against 112 walks over four seasons.

Brito, 19, signed with Los Angeles as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2015, and has a career Minor League slash line of .259/.339/.418 with 15 homers and 104 RBIs over three seasons.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Russell Martin

Dodgers reach agreement with all 7 arb-eligibles

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers reached agreement with their seven arbitration-eligible players on Friday.

Reaching agreement were pitchers Pedro Baez ($2.1 million), Josh Fields ($2.85 million) and Yimi Garcia ($710,000); utilitymen Enrique Hernandez ($3.725 million) and Chris Taylor ($3.5 million); outfielder Joc Pederson ($5 million); and shortstop Corey Seager ($4 million).

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers reached agreement with their seven arbitration-eligible players on Friday.

Reaching agreement were pitchers Pedro Baez ($2.1 million), Josh Fields ($2.85 million) and Yimi Garcia ($710,000); utilitymen Enrique Hernandez ($3.725 million) and Chris Taylor ($3.5 million); outfielder Joc Pederson ($5 million); and shortstop Corey Seager ($4 million).

Friday was the deadline for unsigned arbitration-eligible players and their teams to exchange figures that would be used in a February hearing to determine their salary.

Although negotiations could have continued until those hearings, under the Dodgers' current regime the club has warned players they will go to a hearing and not negotiate after the exchange of figures. As it did on Friday, the strategy effectively results in settlements, perhaps because current president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman went 5-0 in hearings while with Tampa Bay.

During a hearing, a three-member arbitration panel weighs arguments from the player and team and selects one side's salary figure or the other.

Since the inception of salary arbitration 43 years ago, the Dodgers are 14-6 in cases decided by a hearing and 6-1 in their past seven cases dating to 1991. That includes the most recent hearings with Joe Beimel in 2007 and Eric Gagne in '04.

The last player to win a hearing against the Dodgers was Terry Adams in 2001. The club's first arbitration case was in 1975, when Ron Cey was awarded a salary of $56,000 instead of the club's submission of $47,000.

Click here to learn more about the process with our MLB.com file-and-trial primer.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

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