MLB offseason power rankings: Yankees enter winter in best position

Welcome to the first edition of theScore’s MLB offseason power rankings where our editors rank each team’s current roster on Nov. 11 heading into the offseason:

1. New York Yankees

The Yankees sit atop the rankings because despite losing Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Gardner to free agency, the core of the roster remains intact. There is a need in the rotation, but the front office has the financial flexibility to land a top-line starter like Stephen Strasburg or Gerrit Cole. Even if the Yankees don’t make a move this offseason, their current roster is one of the strongest in the majors, and there’s no better place to be heading into the winter.

2. Houston Astros

With Cole hitting the open market, the Astros have work to do to repair the starting rotation. Ageless wonders Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke remain excellent options, Lance McCullers Jr. is returning to the fold, and young guns Jose Urquidy and Forrest Whitley are promising. But losing the best pitcher in the game is a problem. The unchanged offensive core is poised to be as terrifying as ever, which allows the team’s focus to stay on pitching.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

It could be a busy offseason for the Dodgers even with relatively little roster churn happening early on. Lefties Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill are free agents, so adding another arm alongside Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler will be the top priority. That may not be enough. The pressure in L.A. is mounting after seven consecutive division titles – and consecutive trips to the World Series – have failed to yield a single championship. The Dodgers have been linked to a trade for Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, which, if it happens, would result in great fanfare while demonstrating that the club isn’t satisfied by mere regular-season dominance. The ring is the thing, after all.

4. Atlanta Braves

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Braves head into 2020 with back-to-back NL East titles while boasting a core that few teams in the majors can rival. Atlanta has three reigning Silver Sluggers in Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Ozzie Albies. The third is only 22 years old, while the 21-year-old Acuna looks like a perennial MVP candidate. Re-signing Josh Donaldson would make the lineup even more potent. In terms of pitching, look for the team to add a veteran front-end starter to a young – but impressive – rotation led by Rookie of the Year finalist Mike Soroka. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner is rumored to be a priority for the club in free agency after losing Dallas Keuchel and declining Julio Teheran’s option.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

After nearly upsetting the juggernaut Astros in the ALDS, the Rays are in good position to have another great season in 2020. Most of Tampa Bay’s roster is returning and its starting rotation and bullpen should be strengths once again. The Rays don’t have many weaknesses, but one area general manager Erik Neander wants to address this offseason is scoring runs without sacrificing run prevention. Neander could take a look at DH types like Encarnacion, Eric Thames, or Justin Smoak with the hope of increasing his club’s home run output – Tampa’s 217 homers ranked 21st in the majors.

6. Chicago Cubs

Yu Darvish wound up being a bright spot after an incredible second half, but it wasn’t enough to push the Cubbies into the postseason. There have been rumblings that Kris Bryant and/or Willson Contreras could get moved via trade. That wouldn’t necessarily signal a rebuild, but after ending a storied World Series drought in 2016, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan. Since Jason Heyward’s contract – four years and $86 million remaining – is virtually unmovable, the Cubs may wind up turning to more drastic measures to shake up the roster.

7. Boston Red Sox

There’s no shortage of questions that need to be answered in Boston: Will Mookie Betts be traded? How much salary – if any – are they going to cut? Is Chris Sale going to be ready for Opening Day? There’s no debate that Chaim Bloom has his hands full and will need to show creativity this offseason, but he is also inheriting an enormously talented roster with a core of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, and Betts.

8. Oakland Athletics

Bob Levey / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Even before any major offseason transactions, the A’s will likely feature an improved starting rotation to kick off the 2020 season. Sean Manaea will presumably be 100 percent after missing most of 2019 coming back from shoulder surgery. A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo spent their brief time last season coming out of the bullpen and could transition into starting roles. If Frankie Montas can even be close to his pre-suspension self, the A’s would have a formidable rotation (on paper) entering the new year. And that’s not accounting for Mike Fiers, Jharel Cotton, or Daniel Mengden. The offense will return intact, and Billy Beane doesn’t have to do much to make up for his club’s limited free-agent losses.

9. New York Mets

Starting pitching isn’t going to be an issue for the Mets heading into next year. The trio of Jacob deGrom, Noah Synergaard, and Marcus Stroman will lead the best rotation in the division if Strasburg decides to leave the Washington Nationals. New York also has enough depth to deal with the potential departure of free-agent righty Zack Wheeler. GM Brodie Van Wagenen isn’t afraid to swing for the fences with a blockbuster deal after acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz last offseason, and Stroman at the trade deadline. Don’t be surprised if BVW makes a big move or two to help an offense led by Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso.

10. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies entered 2019 with World Series aspirations after spending “stupid money” acquiring Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, and David Robertson while also trading for Jean Segura and J.T Realmuto. They didn’t come close to their goal, missing the playoffs completely and barely improving upon their record from a season prior. With Gabe Kapler fired and new manager Joe Girardi at the helm, the Phillies are in “win now” mode and should be active participants in free agency with their sights set on improving a pitching staff that was a trouble spot.

11. St. Louis Cardinals

Paul Goldschmidt alone was not the answer, especially as the inconsistent offense floundered when it was needed most in the NLCS. If Marcell Ozuna walks, St. Louis may turn to highly-touted prospect Dylan Carlson sooner rather than later in the outfield. After Matt Carpenter went from MVP candidate to punchless bench bat, the Cardinals are also in need of infield assistance, unless they view Tommy Edman as the answer. John Mozeliak and the front office could revisit the idea of signing Donaldson or Mike Moustakas after being linked to them in the past. As for the pitching staff, there are a ton of question marks after ace Jack Flaherty, particularly in regards to Carlos Martinez’s starter status and Alex Reyes’ health.

12. Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers have a lot of work to do. Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal – two of the most significant contributors after Christian Yelich – are free agents. The starting rotation is one of the club’s biggest issues. After not addressing the thin rotation last offseason, it would be foolish to take the same approach a year later. Maybe the Brewers can’t realistically enter the Cole or Strasburg sweepstakes, but something has to be done to bolster the starting pitching in free agency or via trade.

13. Cleveland Indians

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Will Lindor still be on the Indians’ roster come Opening Day 2020? The all-world shortstop could end up being the best player traded this offseason. The 25-year-old has two years left of team control, but will require a hefty raise in arbitration over the next two seasons and will command a monster multi-year contract if he ever becomes a free agent. Cleveland’s cost-conscious front office could explore dealing Lindor to maximize its return. The team’s outfield depth will also have to be addressed with Yasiel Puig entering free agency.

14. Washington Nationals

It didn’t take long for the Nationals to get smacked with a dose of reality after winning their first World Series title. Strasburg and Anthony Rendon both hit free agency, along with fellow notables Howie Kendrick, Brian Dozier, Asdrubal Cabrera, Daniel Hudson, Ryan Zimmerman, and Yan Gomes. There’s a solid base with Juan Soto, Max Scherzer, and Patrick Corbin, but there’s considerable holes around the diamond, at the back of the rotation, and in the bullpen. Luckily, there should be some additional revenue following the championship run to help fill holes.

15. Minnesota Twins

It will be tough for the Twins to build off an impressive 101-win season when considering the number of key contributors hitting free agency. Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Kyle Gibson, Martin Perez accounted for 630 1/3 innings in 2019 and made 114 starts. With no player earning more than $12 million in 2020, the front office has the funds available to reacquire pitching help, though it could prove difficult to add that many quality arms in just one winter.

16. San Diego Padres

While the Padres showed improvement last season, the organization’s front-office brass was certainly expecting a better result than another last-place finish after dishing out $300 million to Manny Machado a year after acquiring Eric Hosmer for $144 million. There are a lot of bright spots on the Padres – Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack to name a couple – but it might be time for San Diego to start dealing some players in its elite farm system for guys who can help now because the higher-ups are beginning to grow impatient.

17. Cincinnati Reds

The Reds haven’t given a free agent more than $3 million per season since they inked Jonathan Broxton to a three-year, $21-million deal (h/t to Bobby Nightengale of Cincinnati.com) in 2013. They also haven’t had a winning season – or appeared in a playoff game – since 2013. The Reds have made some interesting deals on the trade front like acquiring Puig from the Dodgers last offseason and then flipping him in a move that brought Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati. The rotation is actually in pretty good shape with Bauer, Sonny Gray, and Luis Castillo forming a strong top three. Signing – or trading for – a big bat will be the club’s top priority.

18. Arizona Diamondbacks

After trading Goldschmidt to St. Louis in the offseason, the D-Backs appeared poised to enter a rebuild. However, they stayed relevant in the playoff race, even after dealing Greinke to the Astros at the deadline. They finished 85-77 with a plus-70 run differential and only finished four games back of the second wild-card spot. They aren’t suffering any major losses to free agency (Jarrod Dyson, Adam Jones) but questions abound about whether Eduardo Escobar and Ketel Marte will sustain their successes. The pitching staff, as currently constructed, doesn’t look like it will be competitive. The D-Backs proved their doubters wrong in 2019, though, so it’s not out of the question.

19. Los Angeles Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Angels are facing a big offseason with the club looking to put behind a tough 2019 campaign that included the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs and a subsequent investigation that put the whole organization’s image in question. Los Angeles will count on new manager Joe Maddon to turn the team around on the field, while GM Billy Eppler tries to convince Cole to come home to California. Should the Angels land the right-hander, they would create a dynamic one-two punch with Cole and a healthy Shohei Ohtani at the top of the rotation. The team also has some guy named Mike Trout – he’s pretty good.

20. Chicago White Sox

Rebuilds can only last so long and the timing is right for the White Sox to take the next step. With Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada beginning to look like the bona fide superstars everyone expected them to be, and a good mix of youth and veteran leadership – especially if Jose Abreu returns – the South Siders might only be a few pieces away from competing in one of baseball’s weakest divisions. An incredibly flexible payroll – Chicago has about $48 million in current payroll obligations – gives GM Rick Hahn plenty of options this offseason.

21. Colorado Rockies

Already in a bit of a jam financially with $88 million committed to Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Wade Davis, and Ian Desmond next season, the Rockies don’t have a lot of wiggle room to add players. The front office received little relief with only Yonder Alonso and Drew Butera hitting free agency. With ownership unlikely to commit more resources, the Rockies will either have to try to get creative or face entering 2020 with virtually the same roster that bombed out in 2019.

22. Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays’ top prospects have all arrived and now it’s time for the front office to get to work. The lineup doesn’t possess a single player over 30 following Smoak’s departure, so a veteran could be brought in to help the young guys out. The pitching staff is in severe need of improvement, but don’t expect ownership to spend on the big-name starters. With no shortage of needs and a considerable amount of payroll flexibility, expect Toronto to be one of the more active teams this offseason.

23. Texas Rangers

For a stretch in 2019, Texas overachieved and was in the thick of the wild-card race. This evaporated, and the Rangers suffered through a third consecutive losing season. With a new ballpark and a hole at third base, making a run at Rendon would go a long way toward expediting a rebuild. Additionally, the rotation needs a marquee name to go alongside the surprising Lance Lynn and Mike Minor. Cole and Strasburg may be too pricey (if they target Rendon), but they don’t want to come up empty.

24. San Francisco Giants

Joe Sargent / Getty Images

Is it the end of the Madison Bumgarner era in San Francisco? If the free agent does indeed sign elsewhere, he will depart under the best of terms. He was a key contributor for three World Series championship runs over his tenure and established himself as a franchise legend. The Giants are in a much different position now than when they completed their championship trifecta, attempting to navigate a rebuild with a sub-par farm system and an aging roster without many impact players. However, should both Bumgarner and closer Will Smith reject their qualifying offers, the Giants will gain a pair of compensatory picks in next year’s draft that would improve their outlook down the road.

25. Pittsburgh Pirates

No team in the majors was as dysfunctional as the Pirates in 2019. Accordingly, Pittsburgh fired its president, GM, and manager. The club is still looking to fill the vacant GM job and skipper position with new president Travis Williams calling the shots. Josh Bell, Kevin Newman, and Bryan Reynolds are nice pieces to build around. However, the team needs more from its pitching staff in 2020. The Chris Archer trade with the Rays continues to look like a disaster if the right-hander can’t return to his All-Star form.

26. Kansas City Royals

With new skipper Mike Matheny entering the picture and Salvador Perez expected to be back after missing all of 2019, the Royals are certainly going to eclipse the 59 wins they achieved in 2019, right? That’s not a sure thing, even in their division. Whit Merrifield continues to perform at an elite level and Kansas City has some nice pieces in Jorge Soler and Adalberto Mondesi, but this still looks like a team destined to be one of the league’s worst. Some adequate starting pitching – Royals starters combined to record a 5.30 ERA and 5.13 FIP – might help them avoid another 100-loss campaign, but this team is still in its development stage.

27. Seattle Mariners

Felix Hernandez is a free agent, and his time in Seattle looks like it’s over. If this offseason is anything like the last, GM Jerry Dipoto will be wheeling and dealing before the winter meetings. Kyle Seager is a prime trade candidate and almost no one will be safe. If Dipoto can find a trade partner for the likes of Dee Gordon, Mallex Smith, or Domingo Santana, expect him to pull the trigger. Even Mitch Haniger, who hasn’t even hit arbitration yet, may be moved if the haul is massive; he’d be the most coveted position player on the roster, even after being limited to 63 games in 2019 due to injury.

28. Miami Marlins

Lewis Brinson’s failings at the major-league level have stalled the Marlins’ rebuild and deflated much of the hope that remained after the fire sale of the 2017-18 offseasons. Of the pieces received in exchange for Giancarlo Stanton, Ozuna, J.T. Realmuto, Yelich, and Gordon, only Jorge Alfaro, Sandy Alcantara, and Jordan Yamamoto have made big-league impressions. Right-hander Zac Gallen looked promising, but the Marlins sent him to Arizona for infield prospect Jazz Chisholm at the deadline. However, one reason to be excited is touted prospect Sixto Sanchez, who could graduate to Miami at some point in the upcoming campaign.

29. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles gain some addition by subtraction with Mark Trumbo’s contract coming to an end. With only $35 million committed to 2020’s roster – Chris Davis and Alex Cobb account for all of it – Baltimore is in a good place financially, but likely won’t be spending big as the rebuild has only just begun. With so much flexibility, it might be time to approach Trey Mancini about a possible long-term extension.

30. Detroit Tigers

Losing 114 games should be the low point of the Tigers’ rebuild. Detroit could trade left-hander Matt Boyd for a package of prospects if a team seeking pitching help can’t land any through free agency. Miguel Cabrera’s mammoth contract still hangs over the club with $124 million guaranteed remaining through the 2023 season. The 36-year-old hit just 15 home runs in 174 games over the last two campaigns. On a positive note, 2020 will likely bring the debuts of top pitching prospects Casey Mize and Matt Manning.

Copyright © 2019 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.