10 biggest remaining needs after Winter Meetings
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- They came, they saw, they talked, they got lost trying to navigate their way around a comically large hotel. And some of the executives gathered at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Conference Center this week even got deals done.
But, of course, no buzzer sounded when the Winter Meetings wrapped. Turns out, the offseason actually lasts beyond the first full week of December. Who would have thunk it?
With the Meetings in the rearview mirror and plenty of roster spots and landing spots still uncertain, here are the biggest remaining needs this offseason:
1. Dodgers: Pitching help
Hisashi Iwakuma, with whom the Dodgers have a three-year, $45 million agreement, is a quality arm that Los Angeles received for a fraction of the cost the D-backs will spend on Zack Greinke. But let's face it: He's no Greinke. On the first day of the Meetings, the Dodgers parlayed the Iwakuma addition with a trade for Aroldis Chapman, and their intent was clear: Quality innings from the starters, and a dominant back end of the bullpen that shortens games. Makes sense. But then things hit a major snafu with the revelations about domestic violence allegations against Chapman, and now that deal is dead.
So, now what? If the Dodgers are still going to target a back-end arm, Ken Giles is off the board, but Andrew Miller is still available. Or maybe the Dodgers do as Andrew Friedman has hinted and instead look to devote their resources to their offense.
But it's clear, as we sit here today, that the Dodgers' pitching staff could still use a boost.
2. Giants: An outfielder
General manager Bobby Evans' stated goal is to add another starting arm to the mix, and that's totally understandable given the uncertainty surrounding Jeff Samardzija (who is coming off a brutal year), not to mention Jake Peavy and Matt Cain, who both missed time due to injury last season.
Still, it would be nice to see the Giants use their resources to play in the deep end of the outfield pool. San Francisco was linked to all the big names -- Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon and Justin Upton -- at the Winter Meetings, and obviously nothing transpired there. But if any club can get that market moving, it's this one.
3. Cardinals: An impact bat
The Cardinals now have a pretty pricey infield utility man in Jedd Gyorko, who can provide some right-handed thump and ensure the regulars get rest. After making a run at David Price and getting outbid by Boston, the Cards appear content to go with their internal options in the Lance Lynn-less rotation (they could, of course, always find a cost-effective innings-eater for the back end), which means they're going to devote the bulk of their resources to a bat. Re-signing Heyward was priority No. 1, but St. Louis must now pivot elsewhere. It still seems unlikely the Cardinals would turn their attention to first baseman Chris Davis (they are content to go with Matt Adams and Brandon Moss), but we'll see.
It still seems unlikely the Cardinals would turn their attention to first baseman Chris Davis (they are content to go with Matt Adams and Brandon Moss), but we'll see.
4. Orioles: A starting arm and an OBP-boosting bat
The Orioles made a reported $150 million offer for Davis. Think about that. If Davis were to accept, the O's, who have re-signed Darren O'Day, would be bringing back a more expensive version of the same team that finished .500 in 2015 -- minus one of their best pitchers (Wei-Yin Chen).
So it was smart to pull back the offer and start thinking about other options. Because barring a big payroll boost, it would seem more worthwhile to devote those Davis resources to multiple pieces. The Orioles last season had their lowest team-wide OBP since 1988, and Mark Trumbo isn't going to move the needle there. For that reason, Alex Gordon remains a sensible solution in the corner outfield, and, of course, the O's still need to patch up their rotation, too.
5. Indians: An outfielder
The Indians discussed Todd Frazier with the Reds at these Meetings, and, given the uncertainty over what they can get offensively out of Giovanny Urshela, it makes sense to check in on the acquisition cost of a premier hot-corner piece.
But as far as an outright hole is concerned, the outfield -- center field, in particular -- remains a glaring one. Even Terry Francona acknowledged that if the season started today, Cleveland wouldn't be ready to field a full outfield as a result of Michael Brantley missing at least the first month of the season following shoulder surgery.
There were conflicting reports about Brantley's timetable this week, but the Indians insist it hasn't changed and that they expect to have him back in April or May. The Tribe has also acquired Collin Cowgill, a defensive asset in all three outfield spots. Still, finding an everyday option in the outfield remains a must for a team hoping to contend around its young pitching.
6. Angels: A left fielder
Preferably a left-handed-hitting left fielder, given the complexion of their lineup. But from either side, the Halos still need somebody who can lengthen a lineup that was entirely too dependent on Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the middle last year.
We can never rule out the club going bold in free agency, which is why the Angels have been linked to Cespedes, Upton, Gordon and Heyward. The Halos do have some pitching depth, but as far as trades are concerned, that would more likely be used to satisfy needs at third base or second than the big bat needed in the outfield.
7. Marlins: Rotation help
All right, so, after all that Winter Meetings madness, it appears Jose Fernandez is staying put. Good. Great. Awesome. But who slots in behind him? The Marlins have a protected first-round pick, so they are in a better position than most to go after Chen or Yovani Gallardo. Scott Kazmir and Mike Leake, neither of whom is tied to a compensation pick, are also possibilities. And we can't rule out Johnny Cueto falling to the Fish, either.
Like Fernandez, center fielder Marcell Ozuna wasn't moved at the Meetings, despite widespread expectation that he will get traded this offseason. Miami appears to be prioritizing the free-agent field before entertaining serious offers for Ozuna in its bid to improve the team's pitching staff.
8. Yankees: Rotation depth
The Yankees' starting staff might as well have caution tape draped around it. CC Sabathia is pitching with bone-on-bone arthritis in his knees, and yet he's actually the only Yanks starter who qualified for the ERA title last season. Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka all spent time on the DL. Luis Severino came up in July, so he has yet to pitch a full season.
While the trade for Starlin Castro patched the hole at second base, it created another on the pitching staff, as the Yankees included valuable swingman Adam Warren in the deal. As they continue to look for ways to obtain cost-controlled pitching assets, the Yanks need to be thinking long and hard about how to ensure their rotation can withstand the rigors of a 162-game schedule in the American League East. Because right now, this group looks very vulnerable.
9. White Sox: Another bat
Obtaining Brett Lawrie from the A's was a good step toward recovering from the offensive abyss of 2015, if and only if Lawrie pans out as the productive power hitter scouts believe he can be. That breakout, though, has yet to happen, and so the Sox are wise to keep looking for ways to improve their offensive profile now that it's more clear they're still making an earnest effort to contend in '16. They've had conversations with the Reds about Frazier (who would force Lawrie to move over to second base), but the asking price is too high right now.
If the White Sox found a taker for Adam LaRoche (doubtful) and put Melky Cabrera at DH or moved or otherwise backed off Avisail Garcia (possible), they could pursue a major outfield upgrade. But they're not expected to set the market for any of the aforementioned big bats.
10. Royals: A corner outfielder
The defending champions are intent on giving Jarrod Dyson his shot as a starter, and Paulo Orlando, Brett Eibner, Reymond Fuentes and Jose Martinez give them depth options. But they could still use a more stable source of production and, of course, the defense they value so much. Gerardo Parra is one such option, but a lot of dominoes likely have to fall in the outfield market (including Alex Gordon) before Parra's situation is settled.
The Royals are also looking for rotation depth.