Hot Stove advice for each Major League GM
With the Hot Stove generating plenty of late-autumn warmth, we offer a few words of advice -- unsolicited, but sincere -- to all 30 Major League Baseball general managers.
American League East
One way or another, obtain pitching. And among your valued free agents, if you can't re-sign Chris Davis, Gerardo Parra is an exceptionally useful player.
Boston Red Sox
You have both the need and the resources to meet that need. A top-of-the-rotation pitcher is a must for a return to the postseason.
New York Yankees
We understand, you're acting like mere mortals in terms of spending. But adding some affordable depth to a rotation with health issues would be a sound investment.
Tampa Bay Rays
If free-agent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera departs, an adequate replacement will have to be found. But you have the rare advantage of having enough pitching depth to be able to trade for run production.
Toronto Blue Jays
With the best offense in baseball, the focus will be on pitching, particularly if David Price proves to be too pricey. Help for the rotation and the bullpen is in order.
Chicago White Sox
Major moves in the past two offseasons have not resulted in comparable improvements in the standings. Let's get back to the basics. Free-agent catcher Matt Wieters, returning to full health, could be a very helpful addition here.
With a solid pitching foundation combined with a need for an impact bat, you may have to listen very seriously to trade offers that include getting a legitimate run producer, but involve trading a starting pitcher.
After a tumultuous season, there is still an impressive core of players here. So do the one thing that has gone undone in even successful recent seasons: Fix the bullpen.
Kansas City Royals
The World Series champions, a role-model franchise, don't require a lot of advice. But it won't hurt to underscore what an integral part of this team AL Gold Glove Award-winning left fielder and free agent Alex Gordon is.
This promising team was missing one component in 2015 -- power arms in the bullpen that could generate strikeouts. If the Twins decide to make slugger Miguel Sano their third baseman, Trevor Plouffe, the incumbent at that position, could be a valuable trading chip.
With an impressive young team and a wealth of talent in your system, for immediate improvement, you should obtain bullpen help. And then you should obtain more bullpen help.
Los Angeles Angels
Upgrades at second base and in left field would seem to be necessary. There is depth in the starting rotation, but one more top-of-the-line starter could separate this group from the pack.
It's either a major overhaul or staying the course with young talent. Or some of both. You can never tell with Billy Beane, except that you feel he is due for a bounce-back offseason. You can't trade Josh Donaldson or sign Billy Butler twice.
Seemingly underachievers in recent seasons after expensive free-agent signings, this might be a time to stress athleticism and defense. Mid-range expenditures on an outfielder such as Parra or Denard Span could make perfect sense.
The biggest improvement for this rotation will come when Yu Darvish returns from Tommy John surgery. On the receiving end, the catching could be upgraded by signing Wieters or trading for Jonathan Lucroy.
National League East
With a nice foundation of young pitchers being built, this club can search for affordable run production at its own pace. Does that mean waiting until 2017 when this group is more nearly ready for contention, or going for it whenever the first opening occurs?
Can you trade for organizational stability? There is a lot of talent on hand here. Adding a proven late-inning reliever would be helpful, but a year in which the manager remains the manager and the GM remains the GM would be a real plus.
New York Mets
All that wonderful young pitching on one hand. A need for more offense on the other. This situation fairly shouts "Trade!" But if big money must be spent on increased run production, don't spend it on Yoenis Cespedes.
This is a time for organizational patience and discipline. There won't be any quick fixes or shortcuts, even if there may be demands for both.
It's not even winter on the calendar yet, and you have already hit an offseason home run with the hiring of Dusty Baker as manager. Next up, revamping the bullpen. Of the Nats' nine free agents, the toughest to replace would be starter Jordan Zimmermann.
You need one more top-shelf starter and one more proven arm in the bullpen. With all that young talent among position players, you have more than one way to obtain that pitching. Happy shopping.
In an expedited rebuild mode, the most attractive trading chips here are closer Aroldis Chapman, right fielder Jay Bruce and third baseman Todd Frazier. But there is a balancing act between trading your top talent and remaining competitive.
Sometimes, the best trade value comes from the player you would least like to trade. In this case, that would be Lucroy. Or you could perform a minor miracle and get someone to take Ryan Braun and his $105 million contract off your hands.
There is at least one spot to fill in the rotation with the retirement of A.J. Burnett. This group doesn't have to shop in the most expensive aisle at the free-agent pitching market because of the success pitching coach Ray Searage has had with reclamation projects.
St. Louis Cardinals
Even coming off a 100-victory season, the offensive requires improvement. Much will depend on whether Jason Heyward can be re-signed. He's an all-around talent, and he's fully on board with the Cardinal way.
This club took a major step forward in 2015. But further progress is going to require the addition of both quality and depth in the starting rotation.
The offense is more than good enough; the pitching is not good enough. Major free-agent pitchers don't want to work at altitude. Promising young position players may have to be traded for rotation help.
Los Angeles Dodgers
If Zack Greinke leaves, a sizable gap in the rotation will need to be addressed. But money has not been an object for this ownership group, so signing an elite, expensive starter would be a logical answer. And maybe we'll find out if Yasiel Puig is still in the organizational plans.
San Diego Padres
A major renovation last offseason didn't immediately pay dividends in the standings. A second chance seems to be preferable to starting over, so less dramatic moves may be made. A left-handed run producer would add balance to the lineup. More pitching depth could be added.
San Francisco Giants
We're moving into an even-numbered year, which means that the Giants will win it all. But to reach that level again, you're going to have to renovate what was always your longest suit, the starting rotation. With $46 million coming off your payroll and a reasonably deep free-agent pitching class, this is well within your range.