On Monday, the free agency frenzy begins in MLB. For now, MLB Insider Mark Feinsand is breaking down every team in baseball’s biggest need over at MLB.com.
Therefore, I picked a few of the teams I like to write about or watch right now, and I will react to what he says for each.
Free agency preview: Here is every team’s biggest need https://t.co/HrwqNk5kwo
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 1, 2019
First, Feinsand starts with the Blue Jays. Furthermore, he says they need a starter. I could see Toronto entertaining either of the names he mentions. Both Rick Porcello and Wade Miley fit that bill of veteran innings eater that they will pay for one too many years to go get shelled while a young rotation takes shape north of the border.
Toronto Blue Jays: Starting pitching
Toronto will likely tinker with the bullpen and look to bolster its young, talented lineup, but starting pitching will be the focus. The Blue Jays used 21 different pitchers to start games in 2019 (including openers) and only one pitcher (Trent Thornton) topped the 150-inning mark.
Potential FA targets: Rick Porcello, Wade Miley
Next up is an exciting one. Indeed, what will the Los Angeles Angels finally do to surround Mike Trout with some talent? What if they signed both Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg? Then what? I might make that some kind of bold, pre-offseason prediction before it happens.
Los Angeles Angels: Starting pitching
The Angels already have the best player in the game (Mike Trout) as well as the most interesting player (Shohei Ohtani), but GM Billy Eppler must address a rotation whose 5.64 ERA ranked 29th in the Majors. There will be plenty of speculation about Gerrit Cole and a celebrated homecoming, though the Angels will face stiff competition for his services.
Potential FA targets: Cole, Stephen Strasburg
Then, Feinsand has the Braves going after a catcher who can hit a little bit. Grandal seems to be a good fit there.
Atlanta Braves: Catcher
Brian McCann has retired and both Francisco Cervelli and Tyler Flowers are headed for free agency, assuming the Braves don’t pick up Flowers’ $6 million option, leaving a vacancy behind the plate. Whether to bring back third baseman Josh Donaldson will be the biggest decision Atlanta has to make, though Austin Riley can step in and fill the position. But there’s no such answer at catcher as Shea Langeliers and William Contreras, the Braves’ Nos. 5 and 8 prospects, respectively, per MLB Pipeline, aren’t expected to be ready for at least another year.
Potential FA targets: Yasmani Grandal, Martín Maldonado
Now that the Mets have landed Carlos Beltran – and remember they have some weapons on the roster – Feinsand has them just shoring up relievers.
New York Mets: Relief pitching
The Mets’ 4.95 bullpen ERA ranked 25th in the Majors, thanks largely to the struggles of Edwin Díaz and Jeurys Familia. Those two will return in 2020, but GM Brodie Van Wagenen needs to add an arm or two in order to lengthen the relief corps and give his new manager more late-inning options.
Potential FA targets: Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler
Certainly, things could have changed a little bit now that Strasburg has officially opted out. I assume Washington keeps one of Strasburg or Rendon in the end. But as Feinsand says, if they lose both these guys; they’re definitely in trouble. That’s a lot of Wins Above Replacement to just go and make-up.
Washington Nationals: Relief pitching
This, of course, assumes that the club is able to re-sign free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon and that World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg doesn’t opt out and sign elsewhere. Because if Rendon and Strasburg both leave, the club has bigger issues than relief pitching. That said, it is unlikely Strasburg is playing anywhere else next year, and the Nats are as likely as anyone to sign Rendon.
As for the bullpen… Sean Doolittle will return at the back of it, but Daniel Hudson is a free agent. Though Washington won the World Series, the rest of the relief corps under-performed throughout the regular season, as its 5.68 ERA ranked 29th among big league bullpens, ahead of only Baltimore.
Potential FA targets: Will Smith, Will Harris
Next up are the Brewers – who will be sporting the classic uniforms in 2020. Can you imagine if they add a bat like Donaldson in the middle of that lineup on a one or two year deal?
Milwaukee Brewers: Third base
Mike Moustakas is headed for free agency, while Travis Shaw is a non-tender candidate coming off a brutal season in which he hit just seven home runs with a .551 OPS in 86 games. The Brewers might decide to re-sign Moustakas to take over at the hot corner, because the free-agent crop is top heavy (Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson) but relatively shallow.
Potential FA targets: Moustakas, Donaldson
Finally, my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Relief pitching
The Dodgers boasted the lowest rotation ERA in the Majors (3.11), and while their 3.78 bullpen ERA ranked fourth in the league, it appears to be the area most in need of a boost this offseason. Kenley Jansen should return as the closer, but adding an arm or two to help get him the ball would improve the 106-win team.
Potential FA targets: Will Smith, Dellin Betances
In closing (no pun), if all the Dodgers do is bring in a Will Smith or Dellin Betances; they can forget winning a title since the last time in 1988. Simply put, the Dodgers need to make a splash this offseason.