1 thing each team can accomplish at Winter Meetings

December 5th, 2022

The Winter Meetings have historically been when the Hot Stove season truly kicks into gear each offseason. With this year's Meetings set to begin Sunday in San Diego, we asked each MLB.com beat reporter to give us their analysis on what their club needs to do before the meetings conclude next Wednesday.

With the likes of Aaron Judge, Carlos Rodón and a heavy-hitting group of shortstops headlining this year's free-agent market, it could be a wild four days in Southern California. As the baseball world turns its attention there, here's what each club should be looking to accomplish.

AL East

Blue Jays: Identify the best use for their biggest trade chip(s)
Between Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno, the Blue Jays have three young, talented catchers whom half the league should be after. This is a rare opportunity for this organization, and while starting pitching and an outfielder remain top priorities, dealing one of these catchers might be the easiest way to cross one off the list. Doing so is no small decision, given the value each holds, but this would allow the Blue Jays to acquire a potentially major piece without spending any cash. That would allow them to re-enter free agency more aggressively, focusing their remaining available payroll on whichever need remains. -- Keegan Matheson

Orioles: Identify best way to upgrade rotation
The O’s want to add a starting pitcher who can slot into one of the top three spots in their rotation in 2023. They could look to sign a free agent such as Chris Bassitt or Nathan Eovaldi (or somebody else who is below the Justin Verlander/Carlos Rodón top tier). Or they may seek a trade partner and deal from their position-player depth. The Orioles don’t have to leave San Diego with a new starter on their roster, but they should have a better idea of how they’re going to fill their biggest need. -- Jake Rill

Rays: Figure out who’s on first
The Rays need at least one quality left-handed bat to bolster their lineup. They also need a regular first baseman. They could address both needs at once by signing someone like Josh Bell or Brandon Belt. They could acquire a proven lefty hitter at another position (Brandon Nimmo? Michael Brantley?) and shuffle around their current infielders -- whether it’s Yandy Díaz, Brandon Lowe or someone else -- to fill the first-base job from within. It doesn’t have to get done in San Diego, but some clarity on that front would help put everything else in order. -- Adam Berry

Red Sox: Bring back Bogaerts
On the day after the regular season ended, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said that his top priority was to re-sign Xander Bogaerts. That was almost two months ago. The time is getting close to when the Red Sox need to find out if bringing back their leader of the past several seasons is realistic, or if the cost is going to be too high. Agent Scott Boras is understandably fielding a lot of inquiries on Bogaerts. If the Red Sox can’t find common ground with Bogaerts, there are three other star shortstops on the market in Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson. Shortstop is such a key position that it will serve the Red Sox well if they know who will be holding the spot down by the end of the Winter Meetings. -- Ian Browne

Yankees: Re-sign Aaron Judge
The Yankees have other items on their agenda, of course -- looking for a left fielder, monitoring the starting pitching market and aiming to improve the bullpen -- but nothing is nearly as important as re-signing the American League’s Most Valuable Player. Judge has been considering a substantial offer from the Bombers, reported to be eight years and at least $300 million, and many in the industry believe Judge will eventually return to the Bronx. The Yanks would love to remember these Winter Meetings as the venue where a Judge deal was struck. -- Bryan Hoch

AL Central

Guardians: Figure out top catching targets
The Guardians don’t need to make a trade in San Diego to make this trip successful; they just need to start having critical conversations with other clubs to lay the groundwork to acquire a catcher. Maybe Cleveland just re-signs free agent Austin Hedges to bridge the gap behind the plate until the club's No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Bo Naylor, is ready to take on the everyday role. However, bringing some immediate help (both offensively and defensively) with players like Sean Murphy or Alejandro Kirk could be a big boost for this lineup. The blueprint of those potential trades could start to be mapped out in San Diego. -- Mandy Bell

Royals: Establish the groundwork for acquiring pitching
It’s no secret the Royals are looking to acquire pitching this offseason, whether it’s from the free-agent or trade market. They also would like their new pitching coach, Brian Sweeney, to be part of those discussions. The Winter Meetings are a great chance for the Royals to connect with agents and other officials in person to gauge interest and begin working toward adding a starter or two, as well as a reliever or two. Having a veteran starter locked into their rotation will help the young Royals pitchers continue their development at the Major League level in 2023. -- Anne Rogers

Tigers: Find hitters
The Tigers need bats after finishing at or near the bottom of the league in many offensive categories in 2022. New president of baseball operations Scott Harris probably can’t address all of that at the Winter Meetings, but he can get started on his wish list of a right-handed-hitting outfielder, a left-handed-hitting infielder, catching help and a replacement for Jeimer Candelario at third base. Plate discipline is considered essential. -- Jason Beck

Twins: Get more clarity on the Correa situation
It feels likely that the direction of Minnesota’s offseason will hinge on what eventually comes of Carlos Correa’s free agency. If the Twins can outbid the competition, they’ll need to work around that contract as they ponder their other moves. If they can’t keep up, they’ll quickly need to pivot to other ways to make meaningful additions to their roster -- and the market has already started moving. Will that mean another shortstop? A focus on impact pitching help? Productive bats in the outfield and elsewhere? A more sizable commitment at catcher? The outcome of the Correa situation could help some of that come into focus. -- Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: Add in the outfield
Second base also could be a target for the White Sox, but the team has internal options via Romy Gonzalez, Lenyn Sosa and Leury Garcia. There are four outfielders currently on the team’s 40-man roster, but only Luis Robert actually will play there full time. Left-handed-hitting Oscar Colas, the team’s No. 2 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, figures to take over in right field. But the White Sox need another left-handed-hitting bat among the outfielder or two they should add. General manager Rick Hahn could approach the outfield need via trade or free agency. -- Scott Merkin

AL West

Angels: Improve the bullpen
The Angels have been active early this offseason, signing lefty Tyler Anderson to join the rotation, while also trading for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and infielder Gio Urshela. But the bullpen is now the top priority, especially after the Angels traded closer Raisel Iglesias to the Braves at the Trade Deadline. The Angels would like to find an established closer, but could settle for adding a few veteran arms to supplant their current group of relievers. -- Rhett Bollinger

Astros: Find a left fielder
Yordan Alvarez started 57 games in left in 2022 and will continue to DH quite a bit going forward. So the Astros are seeking an outfield bat who can play left when Alvarez is at DH. That role was held last year by Michael Brantley, who missed the second half of the season with a right shoulder injury and had surgery. Brantley is a free agent and the team is taking a wait-and-see approach with him. Another name to watch: Michael Conforto. -- Brian McTaggart

Athletics: Assess the Sean Murphy market
The list of teams reportedly interested in Murphy only seems to grow with each day as the Hot Stove begins to heat up. With Murphy’s name sure to come up in discussions at the upcoming Winter Meetings and the A’s seeking to address several needs on their rebuilding roster, GM David Forst will have a chance to field offers from clubs and determine if there’s a package out there worthy of giving up the 28-year-old catcher, who finished 2022 a finalist for Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards and is under team control through the ‘25 season. -- Martín Gallegos

Mariners: How else can they bolster their lineup?
Before even arriving in San Diego, the Mariners have already crossed off two major boxes on their offseason checklist, acquiring a run-producing corner outfielder (Teoscar Hernández in a trade with Toronto) and a more consistent-hitting second baseman (Kolten Wong in a trade with Milwaukee). Yet GM Justin Hollander indicated that the club is not done, saying, "We'll continue to look for ways in which we can lengthen our lineup and deepen our offense.” Hollander didn’t rule out adding more pop at the corners -- in both the infield and outfield, where they have established players. That said, with this creative front office, nothing can be ruled out. -- Daniel Kramer

Rangers: A big middle-of-the-order bat
The Rangers addressed one of their biggest needs when they signed Jacob deGrom to a five-year, $185 million deal on Friday, but the club still has holes. Depth in the rotation will continue to be a point of emphasis, but after the addition of deGrom, Texas would do good to add more to the offense. Adolis García has proved to be an everyday big leaguer, but the club no doubt needs another home run hitter in the middle of the order behind (or between) the core four of Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Nathaniel Lowe and García. -- Kennedi Landry

NL East

Braves: Find or at least target a left fielder
Most of the attention will be on Dansby Swanson’s future, but he may remain a free agent until fellow shortstops Trea Turner and Carlos Correa sign. If Swanson exits, the Braves may best account for his removal from the lineup by adding a left fielder. But even if Swanson returns, it would be best to find somebody to play left field on an everyday basis or at least share the position with Eddie Rosario, who provided little power, even after he returned from laser eye surgery this past season. -- Mark Bowman

Marlins: Begin upgrading the lineup
If the GM Meetings were a chance to discover what organizations need and are willing to part with, then the Winter Meetings are a time to link up and make moves. Eight years ago, the Marlins acquired Dee Strange-Gordon in San Diego. Is another blockbuster on the way? In 2022, Miami scored the third-fewest runs in MLB. Considering the organization's starting pitching depth, going the trade route seems more likely than free agency. -- Christina De Nicola

Editor's note: The Mets made a free-agent splash on Monday, agreeing to a two-year, $86 million deal with Justin Verlander, according to a source. The club has not confirmed.

Mets: Sign someone to join Scherzer atop rotation
Jacob deGrom may have been the Mets’ top priority, but now that he has signed a five-year deal with the Rangers, they can’t dwell on his departure. They can now take a more serious look at Carlos Rodón, Justin Verlander or Kodai Senga to become the No. 2 in their rotation behind Max Scherzer. Whether they add one of those starters or someone else, the Mets badly need pitching. The Winter Meetings will give them a forum to address that need. -- Anthony DiComo

Nationals: Address starting pitching needs
The Nationals have only two starters who finished this past season healthy on the roster for 2023 -- Patrick Corbin and Josiah Gray -- after non-tendering Erick Fedde. While Cade Cavalli and MacKenzie Gore are expected to return from injury and be in the rotation next season, that still leaves a vacancy for a fifth starter. The Nats could turn to Paolo Espino or Cory Abbott, who started and pitched in relief, but having another dedicated starter would enhance their rotation. -- Jessica Camerato

Phillies: Zero in on a shortstop
The Phillies don’t have to reach an agreement with a free-agent shortstop at the Winter Meetings, but they need to get down the road with one, much like they did with the Blue Jays regarding Roy Halladay at the 2009 Winter Meetings and Cliff Lee at the 2010 Winter Meetings. Not that the Phillies can’t do more than one thing at once, but knocking out shortstop will fill their most pressing offseason need, and allow them to focus on rounding out the rotation and bullpen. -- Todd Zolecki

NL Central

Brewers: Get a jump on the pitching market
Most of the free-agent pitching remains on the market, waiting for Justin Verlander, who agreed to a deal with the Mets, and Carlos Rodón to land. The Brewers are almost certainly all over the arms in the tier below that, seeking to add depth to an already talented rotation and fortify the team’s clear strength. If they can add a solid innings-eater, it would help them to manage the innings of a pitcher like Freddy Peralta coming off injuries, and to use Aaron Ashby in the sort of hybrid role they believe he’s very valuable in. The Winter Meetings are a chance to get a good feel for the cost of available arms, since the Brewers have other needs at catcher and in the bullpen. -- Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: Lay the groundwork to acquire a catcher
With the retirement of Yadier Molina, the Cardinals are shopping for a catcher for the first time in more than two decades. Undoubtedly, their top priority in these Winter Meetings is finding a path to acquire their next everyday catcher -- whether that’s via a free-agency signing or a trade. Willson Contreras is the most accomplished catcher on the market, but he will come with a costly price tag. Trading for Oakland’s Sean Murphy or Toronto’s Alejandro Kirk or Danny Jansen will likely cost only young players, but the Cardinals should resist dealing Nolan Gorman or Dylan Carlson. -- John Denton

Cubs: Identify top priority among shortstop options
It’s no secret that the Cubs are in the market for one of the big-ticket shortstops: Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts or Dansby Swanson. That quartet of stars has also been waiting for the first domino to drop in that part of the marketplace. At the Winter Meetings, the Cubs can continue to narrow their focus behind the scenes, determining which shortstop should be atop their wishlist (or which of the four is the most realistic to pursue). One way or another, the North Siders should hope to leave San Diego a few steps closer to reeling someone in. -- Jordan Bastian

Pirates: Add a left-handed pitcher
The Pirates come into the Winter Meetings without a single left-handed pitcher on their 40-man roster. No starters. No relievers. The Winter Meetings present Pittsburgh with an opportunity to address that need. Whether it be signing a free agent or selecting a southpaw in the Rule 5 Draft, the Pirates will have an opportunity to leave San Diego with a lefty or two on the 40-man roster. -- Justice delos Santos

Reds: Sign an outfielder
Center fielder Nick Senzel is injury prone and coming off a poor offensive season and will have to re-earn his spot this spring. Left-handed bats Jake Fraley and TJ Friedl emerged nicely in the second half of 2022 but are not established yet as everyday players. Cincinnati could use an outfielder who produces offense against both lefty and righty pitchers. -- Mark Sheldon

NL West

Editor's note: The Dodgers missed out on Justin Verlander, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Mets, according to a source.

Dodgers: Sign Justin Verlander or another solid starter
The Dodgers have zeroed in on Verlander as their top target and the two sides had a good meeting over Zoom earlier this week. Both New York teams will also be involved with Verlander, making this quite the race for the likely Hall of Famer. But the Dodgers are in desperate need of starting pitching and it doesn’t get much better than Verlander. -- Juan Toribio

D-backs: Figure out which outfielder they need to trade
While the D-backs don’t have to trade one of their four young outfielders -- Corbin Carroll, Daulton Varsho, Jake McCarthy and Alek Thomas -- it would make sense to do so if they could fill one of their other roster needs. Teams have been told that the D-backs are not going to move Carroll, and how the club prioritizes the other three is not certain. If they haven’t done so already, then by the time the meetings are over, the D-backs should have a good feel for what each would bring in return and what makes the most sense. -- Steve Gilbert

Giants: Sign a star
With deep pockets and a restless fanbase, the pressure will be on the Giants to fill their superstar void and land a big name who can help draw fans back to Oracle Park next year. Aaron Judge will be Plan A, but if he opts to re-sign with the Yankees, the Giants could delve more aggressively into the shortstop market and try to target another elite player such as Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson or Xander Bogaerts. -- Maria Guardado

Padres: Home in on a starting pitcher
Predicting GM A.J. Preller’s next move is a fool’s errand, but the Padres have an obvious hole at the bottom of the rotation. The Padres are among many teams pursuing Japanese free agent Kodai Senga, but if Senga signs elsewhere, then Preller might turn to the trade market after gathering intel at the Winter Meetings. -- Shaun O’Neill

Rockies: Obtain immediate help while protecting their prospects
The Rockies need offensive help, but there are increasing indications they are more likely to seek a short-term signing (Cody Bellinger, Kevin Kiermaier or Andrew Benintendi) than a big expenditure (Brandon Nimmo). They need pitching, as always, but it's likely to come through an under-the-radar trade or signing. With the Rockies having modest acquisition aspirations and not wanting to deal their top prospects, they may not be making much news in San Diego. -- Thomas Harding