Offseason-mode is fully active across Major League Baseball with every award handed out, the games long over and every team looking at what to fix before next season.
Let’s take a look at some offseason transactions that each MLB team needs to make before 2021 Spring Training. This week, we’ll feature the 15 American League teams, with the remaining National League squads to follow next week.
Baltimore Orioles: Pitching, pitching, pitching.
The Orioles have a young lineup with decent upside. However, this script has played out before, and its pitfall is pitching. Baltimore’s starting rotation was abysmal last year and will not begin to improve until they bring in someone who can at least pitch at an average level.
Boston Red Sox: Rehab Chris Sale with kid gloves
The Sox seem to be in line for an arduous rebuild. Much of their core has been traded away or is underperforming. Veterans like Alex Verdugo, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. avoided these fates, but Boston’s downfall was pitching. This is all the more reason to bring back ace lefty Chris Sale as delicately as possible. Between his talent and his paycheck, he cannot go down again.
Toronto Blue Jays: Find a No. 2 starter
Toronto needs to stay on course with the development of its young hitting core. However, just like with Baltimore and Boston, that development will only be hindered by lack of good pitching. The Jays possess a good enough bullpen, but their rotation was awful last year behind Hyun Jin Ryu. They need to add someone who didn’t have an earned run average above 4.50 or pitch less than five innings per start last season.
New York Yankees: Keep DJ LeMahieu, trade Gary Sanchez
The Yankees need to ensure that LeMahieu gets whatever he wants delivered right to his doorstep. The MVP of the team over the last two seasons cannot be let go. The opposite can be said of Sanchez. His inept offensive production lost him his job in October, and his defense is just as poor. The Yankees need pitching help for sure, but bringing back LeMahieu and showing Sanchez the door are even more important.
Tampa Bay Rays: Fix Austin Meadows, sign a veteran starter
Very little critique can be given to the team that finished as the No. 1 seed in the American League and made it to the 2020 World Series. Firstly, the Rays need to get Meadows’ hitting back on track. With their outfield depth and his subpar defense, poor hitting will cost him at-bats. Secondly, they need a backup plan if Charlie Morton retires or signs elsewhere. The veteran provided much-needed guidance for the young pitching staff.
Chicago White Sox: Find a new designated hitter
The White Sox seem to have the perfect mix of youngsters and veterans in the batting lineup, pitching rotation and bullpen. Other than replacing 37-year-old DH Edwin Encarnacion, who was awful in 2020, this team has no issues to resolve before 2021.
Cleveland Indians: Trade Francisco Lindor before Opening Day, or not at all
The only relevant story about the Indians is whether they trade Lindor, the team’s superstar. With many teams possessing the need for his services and the capital to get him, Cleveland may feel inclined to trade him. However, they did finish 35-25 last season and make the playoffs, and they still have strong pitching. If they don’t get the deal they like, keep him.
Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals: Nothing
These two teams are lumped together because they sit in very similar positions of being terrible with absolutely no way to achieve success in the near future. Salvador Perez was the only good hitter on the Royals. He will likely sign elsewhere if the money is there, and their pitching is either too inexperienced or too washed up to be taken seriously.
Detroit has a few decent hitters and many good prospects, but nothing can help their horrendous pitching staff.
Minnesota Twins: Re-sign Nelson Cruz
The Twins do not possess much financial flexibility this offseason due to the many massive contracts that have locked them in place. The one move they can and need to make is re-signing the ageless Cruz. The ‘Boomstick’ has still got it, and remains the beating heart of that lineup.
Los Angeles Angels: Trade Mike Trout
This is obviously a joke! No one would take his albatross contract, and the Angels would never trade away their best player. Their lineup is not great, and no pitcher they bring in sustains success. Something needs to change in L.A., but I have no idea what that is.
Oakland Athletics: Fix the pitching!
The As still need to find budget-friendly options for the pitching staff. Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk are still very young and need to develop slowly. Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas appear to not be enough, and their bullpen needs younger reinforcements behind Liam Hendriks. If this gets done, losing Marcus Semien will sting a lot less.
Texas Rangers: Blow it up
This team will not contend in the near future. They had one hitter with at least 50 at-bats post an on-base-plus slugging percentage of more than 0.750 in Derek Dietrich, and Lance Lynn captained a pitching staff with a straight-downward trajectory. They should trade Lynn, Joey Gallo and others while they can, and begin the long rebuild.
Seattle Mariners: Nothing
The Mariners are a young team with many prospects in the pipeline. This team’s pitching is not horrifying, and neither is the lineup. They are incredibly “meh.” As such, let the rebuild continue without adding too many unnecessary new pieces to the mix.
Houston Astros: Nothing
George Springer and Michael Brantley are free agents. Justin Verlander needs at least half of 2021 to recover from Tommy John surgery, Jose Altuve’s struggles increased in 2020 and Carlos Correa has one season to go before free agency. Their pitching might still be decent, but their lineup has taken too many hits for this team to seriously contend next year.