You've probably heard that there's a crazy number of unsigned free agents with the start of Spring Training just days away. Coincidentally, there's a long list of teams with unfinished business, and hopefully this thing works itself out over the next few weeks.While a lot has been said about players
You've probably heard that there's a crazy number of unsigned free agents with the start of Spring Training just days away. Coincidentally, there's a long list of teams with unfinished business, and hopefully this thing works itself out over the next few weeks.
While a lot has been said about players feeling anxious to get what they see as their fair market value, less attention has been focused on the teams still hoping to make upgrades. Some wish lists are more important than others. Some teams are set to make a postseason run without doing a thing. Others, though, aren't there yet.
Let's consider 10 teams that still have work to do and suggest modest proposals for each:
No team needs to make a move more than this one, especially with the news that Ervin Santana could miss the first month of the regular season after undergoing surgery on his right middle finger. If this is about grabbing one of the two American League Wild Card berths -- and it probably is, seeing how good the Indians are -- the Twins must add to their starting rotation. The Angels, Red Sox and Blue Jays probably are better, and the Mariners and Rays may be as well. Lucky for Minnesota, there's lots of help on the market.
Modest proposal: Sign a free-agent starter and put him in a rotation with Santana and Jose Berrios to create a solid front three. This isn't complicated. Two elite starters (Yu Darvish and Jacob Arrieta) remain unsigned, while two other very good ones (Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn) would also be nice fits.
Conventional wisdom says the Rockies need to add a corner outfielder. You know what conventional wisdom gets you? Looking at some serious regression. Colorado has the makings of a young rotation that is potentially very good. What the Rockies do not have is a true No. 1 to stop the losing streaks and set a tone.
Modest proposal: This one is tricky. Colorado has had some flameouts with free-agent pitching in the past. That's why you hire a Buddy Black to manage your club. If anyone can help a newcomer adjust to working at Coors Field, it's Black. Lynn has the mental toughness and bulldog approach to thrive in a challenging environment.
Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain are fine additions to the outfield, but unless GM David Stearns adds at least one starting pitcher, the Brewers are going to be long shots to make the playoffs.
Modest proposal: If rumors about Darvish waiting for the Yankees or Dodgers to clear payroll are true, the Brewers should focus on signing one of the remaining free agents and then going all in for Rays ace Chris Archer. That would set the stage for a fun baseball summer in Milwaukee.
4. Red Sox
The AL East appears to be a dead heat, even after the Yankees' acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton. The Red Sox can go a long way toward closing the deal by adding another hitter, preferably a home run hitter, if you know what we mean -- and we think you do.
Modest proposal: Do we have to spell it out for you? The Red Sox and agent Scott Boras have had so many discussions regarding J.D. Martinez that they can finish each other's sentences by now. This is one of those deals that seems inevitable, which would then shift the pressure back to the Bronx.
It's possible the Yankees do not need anything. They're apparently going to let the young players fill the holes at second and third, and could have enough in the rotation, even if it means counting on 23-year-old right-hander Chance Adams at some point. But if the Red Sox do sign Martinez, will Yanks GM Brian Cashman suddenly find a way to squeeze Darvish or Arrieta onto his club? Stay tuned. This one is just getting good.
Modest proposal: There's no such thing as a modest proposal in Yankeeland. There's also no getting out in front of baseball's best general manager. Your move, Brian Cashman.
Last season was no fluke, and the D-backs are nicely positioned to return to the playoffs. On the other hand, the Dodgers are still the best team in the National League West, and the Giants, Cardinals and Mets appear to be much improved. So Arizona could be better than last season, yet not make the postseason.
Modest proposal: Sign free agent Logan Morrison to a one-year deal with an option for a second. This is not a perfect fit, given that he has played mostly first base in recent years, and that the D-backs have one of the best in Paul Goldschmidt. But Arizona is already looking at a club-record $120 million payroll, so J.D. Martinez seems likely to land elsewhere.
The Cardinals are already within striking distance of the Cubs in the NL Central with the possibility of upgrading at third base and the back of the bullpen. For now, they're prepared to open the season with veteran Luke Gregerson as the closer and Jedd Gyorko at third.
Modest proposal: Sign free-agent closer Greg Holland to add stability to a bullpen that has caused Cards fans a lot of heartburn in recent seasons. And then continue to pursue Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado to play third, even though both are in their walk year. Given how solid Gyorko's 2017 season was, there's no urgency to do anything, unless a dramatic improvement presents itself.
No team has had a better offseason than this one with the re-signing of Justin Upton and the additions of Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart and Jim Johnson. The Angels may not have caught up with the Astros in the AL West, but they've closed the gap. Now about that starting pitching. If Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Matthew Shoemaker and Andrew Heaney stay healthy, this rotation might line up with almost any other. But all of them have some injury history.
Modest proposal: How about signing Jake Arrieta or Alex Cobb to line up behind Richards, and potentially create a rotation that deserves to be in the same conversation with Houston's?
The Cubs should win the NL Central for a third straight year, despite a relatively quiet offseason. And they may not need anything else as long as the front three of Jonathan Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana stay healthy. At a time when most of the contenders would like to add another starting pitcher, the Cubs are no different.
Modest proposal: Cobb is a perfect fit, if both sides can get comfortable with the contract. He has a long relationship with Joe Maddon, Benjamin Zobrist and news Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey, and he might turn a solid rotation into one capable of getting the team deep into October.
Had the Orioles traded Manny Machado and Zach Britton at last summer's Trade Deadline, the seemingly inevitable rebuild would be on its way. Instead, the decision was made to keep the club together and make another run in 2018. Every O's fan should be happy about that. But the rotation needs some big-time upgrades.
Modest proposal: The Orioles need two free-agent starters, and if they're unwilling or unable to spend for one of the top guys, options remain. Andrew Cashner was solid in 28 starts for the Rangers last season. Jaime Garcia might accept a one-year deal. How about a reunion with Chris Tillman?
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.