Certain teams usually define an offseason, and that probably is true again this year. Here’s what’s different: The list of potential teams is a lengthy one and includes everything from 2019 division champions to teams hoping to turn a corner in 2020.
Not all of the action will revolve around free agency, as some big names could find themselves on the trade block. These dynamics could make for a fascinating few months.
Here are seven teams to watch.
It’s fair to say that the Phillies defined the 2018 offseason, signing Bryce Harper to a record contract, then signing outfielder Andrew McCutchen and closer David Robertson while trading for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. But despite all that, they only improved by one game, suggesting there is more work to be done. The Phillies have made clear that they’re going to be aggressive again, and although signing both Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole probably isn’t going to happen, the Phillies are going to be linked to a bunch of names, including those.
Are the Dodgers ready for a shakeup? Although they generally carry a large payroll, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman seldom acquired superstars from outside the organization during the Dodgers’ streak of seven straight National League West titles. Now he’s believed to be ready to change the mix a bit, and reports say he's interested in making a run at Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. The Dodgers are one of the few teams with the Minor League depth to make this trade happen. Friedman is likely to talk to all the major free agents, including Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon.
The Rangers would like to give themselves a housewarming gift as they move across the street to Globe Life Field. Anthony Rendon, a native of Houston, would be ideal, and so would third baseman Josh Donaldson. Texas could also make a run at right-hander Zack Wheeler, and lefty Dallas Keuchel could be a nice fit.
4) Red Sox
Chaim Bloom takes over the baseball operations of a club facing a long list of decisions: Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are a year from free agency, JD Martinez could opt out of his contract, and his pitching staff needs upgrades. If the Red Sox listen to offers for Betts, it would become the biggest story of the offseason and affect the market for every free agent.
The Yankees are on this list because they are the Yankees. They’ve resisted the big splashy acquisition in recent seasons, but they also haven’t been to the World Series since 2009. That would make Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon ideal fits, along with Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner and reliever Will Smith. The Yankees would surprise no one by making an under-the-radar run at Rendon and perhaps JD Martinez if he becomes available.
Even if Gerrit Cole decides to pitch for his hometown team, the Angels need more pitching than that and apparently are prepared to make upgrades across the board. No matter how smart it was to hire Joe Maddon to manage, that’s just the first step for a team that has made the playoffs once in the last 10 seasons. To add some combination of Cole, Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler would close the gap on the Astros in the American League West. It’s time to give Mike Trout the supporting cast he deserves.
7) White Sox
The White Sox have done an excellent job of accumulating young talent, and some see them as a potential breakout team for 2020. What’s needed now are veterans to make the transition easier for the youngsters as well as give the team a better chance to snap a streak of 11 straight seasons without a playoff appearance. Nicholas Castellanos would be a perfect fit in right field, and Mike Moustakas could play second. Yasmani Grandal would provide a big upgrade at catcher.