Here's how all 12 postseason teams were built

October 12th, 2022

Everyone has a different ideal method of constructing a roster. Some fans might prefer their front office splash cash on the free-agent market. Others enjoy a little extra kick out of seeing a group of homegrown stars. In truth, there is more than one way to build a championship-caliber ballclub, and that’s never been clearer than looking at this year’s 12 postseason-bound organizations.

The Dodgers eclipsed the 110-win mark for the first time in franchise history and will head to the playoffs with a balanced projected playoff roster with eight homegrown players eight free agents, nine acquired in trades and even one via the waiver wire. The Astros -- winners of the AL West -- lead the way in homegrown players with 15, while the Padres sit at the bottom with only three. If you look at contribution levels through the lens of Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement, Houston holds the advantage with a playoff-best 35.2 WAR from its homegrown players, including Kyle Tucker (5.2), Jose Altuve (5.1), Jeremy Peña (4.8) and Alex Bregman (4.5).

The Dodgers (17.8) have the highest WAR from free agents, while the Padres (33.5) hold a healthy lead in WAR from players acquired by trade. A certain former Nationals outfielder certainly helped with that.

What follows is a detailed team-by-team breakdown of how each postseason club was built for the end of 2022. If a player was acquired by a team, went to another team and then returned to the original team, he is listed according to how he was most recently acquired. (See: Albert Pujols.) If a player was acquired by a team and then re-signed as a free agent without going to another team, he is listed according to how he was originally acquired.

American League

ASTROS (57.4 WAR, 2nd among 12 teams)

Homegrown: 15 (35.2 WAR)
• Draft: 8 (19 WAR)
• International: 7 (16.2 WAR)
Free agents: 2 (2.7 WAR)
Trades: 9 (19.5 WAR)

The best team in the American League, the Astros lead all postseason clubs in homegrown and international talent, both in terms of number of players and WAR. Houston excels at finding international bargains, highlighted by Jose Altuve ($15,000), Cristian Javier ($10,000), Framber Valdez ($10,000) and Luis Garcia ($20,000). It also has hit on early-round Draft picks such as Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker (two of the top five overall selections in 2015) and Jeremy Peña. Despite all that, the Astros' two best players in 2022 have been trade acquisitions Yordan Alvarez and Justin Verlander.

BLUE JAYS (46.8 WAR, 7th among 12 teams)

Homegrown: 9 (25.3 WAR)
• Draft: 6 (16.9 WAR)
• International: 3 (8.4 WAR)
Free agents: 6 (7.2 WAR)
Trades: 11 (14.3 WAR)

It’s a well-established fact at this point that hitting on Alek Manoah (5.9 WAR), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (4.0) and Bo Bichette (3.6) as a homegrown nucleus has helped Toronto build out its roster through other means, and steps forward by the catching duo of Danny Jansen (2.9) and Alejandro Kirk (3.9) didn’t hurt matters either. The addition of George Springer continues to pay dividends at the top of the lineup, while Matt Chapman, who was acquired from the A’s in the spring, helped shore up the third-base position. Rotation additions Kevin Gausman and José Berríos had a 50-50 hit rate during their first full systems in the organization, but again, Manoah’s ascension to ace status made that situation all the more palatable north of the border.

YANKEES (46.3 WAR, 8th among 12 teams)

Homegrown: 5 (15.2 WAR)
• Draft: 3 (12.0 WAR)
• International: 2 (3.2 WAR)
Free agents: 7 (9.8 WAR)
Trades: 14 (21.3 WAR)

With the notable exception of 2013 first-round pick Aaron Judge, much of the Yankees' AL East division-winning team was imported. Nestor Cortes was a steal as a 36th-round pick in 2013, but New York designated him for assignment and gave him to the Mariners for future considerations in 2019 before reacquiring him as a Minor League free agent a year later. Gerrit Cole is a much more exorbitant free-agent signing that has paid off. The Yankees may field a playoff lineup with as many as seven position-player starters acquired via trades: Gleyber Torres, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Trevino, Harrison Bader and Giancarlo Stanton.

GUARDIANS (45.9 WAR, 9th among 12 teams)

Homegrown: 14 (22.7 WAR)
• Draft: 12 (14.6 WAR)
• International: 2 (8.1 WAR)
Free agents: 2 (1.5 WAR)
Trades: 9 (20.7 WAR)
Rule 5 Draft: 1 (1.0)

The youngest team to make the playoffs in MLB's expansion era (since 1961), the Guardians have done it almost entirely with Draft picks and trades. Andrés Giménez and Amed Rosario both came from the Mets in the Francisco Lindor/Carlos Carrasco deal in January 2022, and Cleveland also landed Emmanuel Clase, Myles Straw, Cal Quantrill and Josh Naylor via trades. Steven Kwan (fifth round, 2018) and Triston McKenzie (supplemental first round, 2015) had breakthrough seasons in 2022, while Shane Bieber (fourth round, 2016) continued his reign as the Guardians' ace. Both of the international signees on the club, Jose Ramirez and Oscar Gonzalez, are formidable parts of the lineup. Trevor Stephan is the only former Rule 5 pick on a playoff roster.

MARINERS (42.4 WAR, 11th out of 12 teams)

Homegrown: 6 (15.6 WAR)
• Draft: 5 (9.6 WAR)
• International: 1 (6.0 WAR)
Free agents: 3 (5.1 WAR)
Trades: 17 (21.7 WAR)

The Mariners are in the postseason for the first time since 2001 thanks largely to deals made to bring talent in, with 17 players on the 26-man roster coming via trade. In terms of WAR, Eugenio Suárez led that group in 2022 with a 4.0 WAR while the Deadline acquisition of Luis Castillo helped anchor the rotation. While Seattle has one of the smaller groups of homegrown players among the playoff teams, it’s a core that could carry the team for a very long time, led of course by international signee Julio Rodríguez, while a pair of first-round picks, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby, form a formidable 1-2 starting pitcher punch.

RAYS (38.9 WAR, 12th among 12 teams)

Homegrown: 4 (9.0 WAR)
• Draft: 2 (6.5 WAR)
• International: 2 (2.5 WAR)
Free agents: 4 (4.3 WAR)
Trades: 18 (25.6 WAR)

For all the talk of the Rays’ development successes over the last decade, there isn’t a high quantity of hometown talent on this likely postseason iteration. But there is certainly a high quality in perhaps the club’s two best players (when healthy) in Shane McClanahan and Wander Franco. Elsewhere, the club’s pro-scouting department deserves a lot of kudos for identifying pickups like Jeffrey Springs (3.6 WAR), Yandy Díaz (3.5) and Drew Rasmussen (2.9). The 18 trade acquisitions are the most of any playoff-bound team, beating out the Padres and Mariners (both with 15). Interestingly, all 13 projected pitchers were Draft picks while 12 of the 13 hitters (all but Taylor Walls) were signed internationally, either by Tampa Bay or another organization.

National League

DODGERS (58.4 WAR, 1st among 12 teams)

Homegrown: 8 (20.6 WAR)
• Draft: 6 (16.1 WAR)
• International: 2 (4.5 WAR)
Free agents: 8 (17.2 WAR)
Trades: 9 (17.8 WAR)
Waivers: 1 (2.8 WAR)

The Dodgers cruised to a franchise-record 111 victories and their 10th consecutive playoff appearance while getting strong contributions from a variety of sources. Aside from the (now eliminated) Mets, Los Angeles received more free-agent production than any other playoff club, led by Freddie Freeman, Tyler Anderson, Max Muncy and Justin Turner, and it also had the best waiver claim in Evan Phillips. Two of the Dodgers' three best players this season (Mookie Betts, Trea Turner) arrived via trades, while the perennially strong farm system contributed Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin, Will Smith, Clayton Kershaw and Gavin Lux.

BRAVES (51.2 WAR, 3rd out of 12 teams)

Homegrown: 8 (27.5 WAR)
• Draft: 6 (21.9 WAR)
• International: 2 (5.6 WAR)
Free agents: 7 (7.9 WAR)
Trades: 10 (16 WAR)
Waivers: 1 (-0.2 WAR)

It’s not the largest number of homegrown players, but the 27.1 WAR that group produced this year is among the highest totals. That’s largely thanks to Austin Riley and Michael Harris, who produced 11.8 of that WAR, though draftees Kyle Wright and Spencer Strider combined for 7.5 WAR on the mound. A healthy Ronald Acuña Jr. could carry the team, and the international signee contingent, this postseason. The two leaders in WAR from the trade acquisition group were both acquired when they were prospects, Dansby Swanson (5.7) in the lineup and Max Fried (5.9) in the rotation, though we don’t want to overlook the contribution of March trade acquisition Matt Olson (3.4).

METS (50.6 WAR, 4th among 12 teams)

Homegrown: 10 (20.1 WAR)
• Draft: 9 (20.1 WAR)
• International: 1 (0.0 WAR)
Free agents: 9 (17.3 WAR)
Trades: 7 (13.2 WAR)

The Mets made big splashes last offseason by signing Max Scherzer, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar and Adam Ottavino -- almost half of their nine free-agent additions. Trades also notably netted them two superstars in Francisco Lindor and Edwin Díaz and a stable member of the rotation in Chris Bassitt. Of course, New York has been able to get so aggressive in the free-agent and trade markets because of the homegrown nucleus that’s solidified in Queens in recent years. Draft picks Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil remain key contributors to the heart of the Mets lineup, with the former eclipsing 35 homers for the third time in four seasons and the latter becoming a first-time NL batting champ, while Jacob deGrom can dominate one game on the mound as well as anyone in baseball. The potential power of top overall prospect Francisco Álvarez gives New York another impactful homegrown talent this postseason.

CARDINALS (48.5, T-5th among 12 teams)

Homegrown: 13 (20.7 WAR)
• Draft: 13 (20.7 WAR)
• International: 0
Free agents: 4 (4.1 WAR)
Trades: 7 (23.6 WAR)
Waivers: 2 (0.1 WAR)

On the one hand, the Cards struck at just the right moment to acquire NL MVP candidates Paul Goldschmidt (7.8 WAR) and Nolan Arenado (7.9 WAR) in trades. On the other, the Cardinals may have won the NL Central on the strength of 13 different drafted players, one more than Cleveland for most in the playoffs. No one else has more than seven. Tommy Edman (6.3) and closer Ryan Helsley (2.7) are perhaps the biggest names there, but young players Brendan Donovan (4.1) and Lars Nootbaar (2.2) did their parts to keep the wheel turning in St. Louis. Notably, Albert Pujols -- he of the 1999 13th round -- counts as a free agent for these purposes since he returned to the Cardinals for the first time in 11 years last offseason. But if you want to count the 703-homer hitter as a homegrown talent, who are we to stop you?

PADRES (48.5 WAR, T-5th out of 12 teams)

Homegrown: 3 (0.6 WAR)
• Draft: 2 (0.6 WAR)
• International: 1 (0.0 WAR)
Free agents: 7 (14.4 WAR)
Trades: 16 (33.5 WAR)

Let’s get this out of the way -- three homegrown players may not seem ideal, and the fact that none of the three (Luis Campusano, Adrian Morejon, Steven Wilson) have a WAR above 1.0 makes it even less so. Do you know what is ideal? Acquiring Juan Soto (and Josh Bell) at the Trade Deadline. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that general manager A.J. Preller has relied heavily on trades to build this NL contender, highlighted by that August blockbuster, and the 15 traded players are the most among all postseason clubs this year. The team’s four best starters (Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Mike Clevinger) were all acquired in separate deals. MVP candidate Manny Machado remains the gold standard for San Diego’s free-agent additions and continues to come good on the 10-year, $300 million contract he signed in 2019.

PHILLIES (45.2 WAR, 10th out of 12 teams)

Homegrown: 10 (17.2 WAR)
• Draft: 8 (13.3 WAR)
• International: 2 (3.9 WAR)
Free agents: 6 (11.3 WAR)
Trades: 10 (16.7 WAR)

That free agent WAR total would obviously be much higher had Bryce Harper been healthy all year. As a result, that group is led by Zack Wheeler (5.0 WAR). J.T. Realmuto, who obviously has since re-upped as a free agent, came via trade from the Marlins and leads the 11 acquisitions with his 6.5 WAR. The Phillies are one of four teams with double-digit homegrown players, and while the group as a whole hasn’t put up huge numbers, 2014 first-rounder Aaron Nola does have a WAR of 6.0. The international contingent’s contributions have been modest, but Ranger Suárez has stepped up to play a vital role in the rotation this year while producing 2.4 WAR.