LAS VEGAS -- If you are the Phillies or Astros or Dodgers. If you are the Braves or Rockies or White Sox. What's next? Has the Hot Stove gotten any hotter?This week's Winter Meetings produced a flurry of deals that added a bit of focus to the offseason puzzle. But
LAS VEGAS -- If you are the Phillies or Astros or Dodgers. If you are the Braves or Rockies or White Sox. What's next? Has the Hot Stove gotten any hotter?
This week's Winter Meetings produced a flurry of deals that added a bit of focus to the offseason puzzle. But virtually every team still has a lengthy to-do list.
Baseball executives start to get really nervous when there's heavy lifting remaining after December, and that's almost certain to be the case for a bunch of teams this year.
Let's look at seven clubs most likely to make a move, and soon:
No team had a more ambitious offseason agenda, and the signing of outfielder Andrew McCutchen is a big step in the right direction. But the Phillies want another bat, a starting pitcher and a reliever. They're in on pretty much every name you've read about, including the two biggest -- Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. There's still time to check off every box.
Names to consider: OF Harper, SS Machado, LHP Dallas Keuchel, LHP Zach Britton
The Astros also have a lengthy shopping list, and while there's a much lower sense of urgency, there are very real needs: a veteran starting pitcher to line up behind Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh; a designated hitter; and perhaps an outfielder and/or a catcher. With Verlander and Cole under contract for only one more season, the Astros understand their window could close a bit after 2019.
Names to consider: DH Nelson Cruz, RHP Sonny Gray
If the Dodgers hadn't done a single thing, they'd still have a very deep, very talented team capable of going to a third straight World Series. Signing veteran right-hander Joe Kelly deepens a pitching staff that was already deep, and adding a catcher is probably No. 1 on president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman's list. But because of all that depth, Friedman appears to be considering all sorts of other options, including possibly Harper. Stay tuned.
Names to consider: Harper
The Yankees have done exactly what they set out to do by adding a pair of veteran starters in James Paxton and J.A. Happ. What's next, you ask? Almost everyone in the industry is asking the same question. Wasn't it about this time last year that the Yankees were the surprise winners in the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes? Until both Harper and Machado are off the market, it's fair to envision one -- or both -- of them in pinstripes.
Names to consider: Harper, Machado
To sign both Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann is a great start to the offseason. In a lot of divisions, that would be enough. But in the National League East arms race, it's not enough. So GM Alex Anthopoulos is still thinking big in his pursuit of a corner outfielder, a top-of-the-rotation starter and possibly a reliever.
Names to consider: OF Michael Brantley, Keuchel, Britton
With RHP Tanner Roark in the fold, the Reds would like to acquire at least one more starting pitcher and a center fielder. They've discussed a variety of options, including Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto is a possible trade acquisition, despite the presence of Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Names to consider: Puig, Realmuto, RHP Matt Harvey
7. White Sox
The White Sox appear capable of turning a big corner in 2019 thanks to a Minor League system flush with talent. To speed that process along, they're shopping for an array of veterans, including Harper and Machado. Acquiring right-hander Ivan Nova from the Pirates will allow some of the young pitchers more time to develop.
Names to consider: Harper, Machado
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.