Welcome to theScore’s MLB offseason team needs, in which we’ll break down every club’s roster and its key free agents, along with how holes could be filled in free agency. We finish with the NL West.
AL EAST I NL EAST I AL CENTRAL I NL CENTRAL I AL WEST I NL WEST
2018 Record: 82-80 (3rd)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $123.5M
Key free agents: Clay Buchholz, Patrick Corbin, Jorge De La Rosa, Randall Delgado, Daniel Descalso, Jake Diekman, Jon Jay, Jeff Mathis, A.J. Pollock
Team needs: Starting pitcher, catcher, center field/outfield
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It’s still unclear how the Diamondbacks will react to their September collapse. If they decide not to blow it up, adding another top-tier starter to replace Corbin – or, for that matter, simply re-signing Corbin – should be first on the agenda this offseason in order to stay afloat in the competitive NL West. Should they elect to go the other way, then just about everything is on the table, including trades of high-priced star Greinke (who’s reportedly being shopped aggressively) and Goldschmidt, whose own free agency is fast approaching. Whatever direction they choose, there are holes that need filling on this roster.
2018 Record: 91-72 (2nd)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $130.5M
Key free agents: Drew Butera, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, DJ LeMahieu, Adam Ottavino, Gerardo Parra
Team needs: Right field, second base, starting pitching
The Rockies’ most pressing need (besides the constant desire for pitching) is in right field, where it appears the Carlos Gonzalez era is finally coming to an end. Entering 2019 with Tapia, who was worth exactly 0.0 WAR in limited action last season, as their starting right fielder would not be ideal, so it would behoove general manager Jeff Bridich to upgrade that position. First base is another spot where they’d probably like to improve, but the reality of Desmond’s cumbersome contract may prevent that.
Of course, the Rockies could chart a different course this offseason, though trading franchise face and soon-to-be free-agent Nolan Arenado the year before he hits free agency isn’t one that fans in Denver want to think about. But the possibility of an Arenado trade will loom over Colorado throughout this winter, and if it happens then the team’s outlook and needs may change dramatically.
Los Angeles Dodgers
2018 Record: 92-71 (1st)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $198.9M
Key free agents: Brian Dozier, Yasmani Grandal, Manny Machado, Ryan Madson
Team needs: Second base, catcher, infield, right-handed starters
Depth remains an area of strength for the Dodgers, who employ a bevy of utility-type players that could all help fill a variety of positions. Still, the two-time defending NL champions could look to upgrade at a few positions, including behind the plate. Although they obviously have the financial wherewithal to land a big-time free agent or even trade for a big contract this winter (regardless of luxury-tax concerns), they don’t necessarily have to splurge on free agents given the organization’s internal depth. Top prospects including Alex Verdugo and familiar names who’ve returned to health (Julio Urias and Corey Seager) are among those who might be leaned on heavily in 2019. A young player like Verdugo, or even the established Pederson, could also be theoretically dangled as trade bait.
San Diego Padres
2018 Record: 66-96 (5th)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $74M
Key free agents: A.J. Ellis, Freddy Galvis
Team needs: Starting pitching, catcher, middle infield, outfield
The perpetually rebuilding Padres have a litany of holes to fill as they look to take the next step, but don’t expect A.J. Preller and Co. to be overly busy this winter. With some top prospects, including catcher Francisco Mejia and infielder Fernando Tatis Jr., now knocking on the door, there’s less of a need to search for bats outside the organization. Where they might want to look for outside help would be on the pitching front; in addition to mining for relievers, adding a veteran innings-eater to a relatively young rotation wouldn’t hurt. Perhaps there’s a match for a Greinke trade if the Padres are willing to take on his salary – and they do have plenty of payroll room for another big-time addition.
San Francisco Giants
2018 Record: 73-89 (4th)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $130.5M
Key free agents: Gregor Blanco, Chase d’Arnaud, Derek Holland, Nick Hundley, Hunter Pence, Kelby Tomlinson
Team needs: Outfield, starting pitching, relief pitching
Farhan Zaidi’s got some tough decisions to make in his first offseason running the Giants. He’s inheriting a veteran club with several holes on the big-league roster and a weak farm system to boot. The Giants can try to prop this up by throwing money at Bryce Harper, hoping they can continue to win while Zaidi rebuilds the minors, but there’s no guarantee he’ll accept the cash. Pitching remains a major concern for this team because Johnny Cueto’s already lost for 2019 and there’s no guarantee Bumgarner will stick around beyond next season – assuming he’s not traded in the interim. This will be a fascinating winter in San Francisco.