With free agency looming, I thought I’d take a look at what each teams’ needs are going into free agency. My team needs will depend on the teams’ salary and current win curve position to a certain extent. For instance, to use a Cardinal example, three Tyler O’Neills on the Royals would mean OF was not a need for them, but three Tyler O’Neils on the Cards constitutes OF as a team need. Get it? Well hopefully because I’m jumping straight in. Oh yeah and I am completely ignoring bullpen, because they are too random and I am very unfamiliar with the inner workings of most teams’ bullpens.
Team Needs - 2B, OF
In a very limited sample, Ketel Marte was an excellent defensive CF, so he should probably stay in CF. Even so, they probably need another outfielder. David Peralta is solid, but Steven Souza has the injury proneness of a pitcher and they don’t want to rely on either Tim Locastro or Josh Rojas. Or I wouldn’t. The rest of the infield is good, but 2B as of now is between Ildemaro Vargas (0.0 fWAR in 211 PAs) or Domingo Leyba (30 total MLB PAs). They could probably use another starter; they do have five solid guys, but three of them are essentially Mike Leake types, including Mike Leake himself, so lots of room for improvement.
Team Needs - SS/3B, OF
I don’t suspect the Braves will do anything about these team needs - they seem to be all aboard signing relievers right now. But the left side of their infield could use someone a little more proven/good. Dansby Swanson will be playing in his fourth full season and still has yet to be an above average player. It might not happen. And Austin Riley was quite bad last year, though young. The Braves also seem content with Nick Markakis as their third outfielder which, good luck with that one.
Team Needs - SP, 1B, 3B, OF
When I play OOTP with a rebuilding team, I have different goals for my positions than if I were competing. Instead of wanting a good player at every position, I at least want a player of value at every position, even if that value is prospective. So catcher, technically a need, is not a need by the rebuilding terms, because they have Chance Sisco. Rio Ruiz at 3B is not the answer, they should just release Chris Davis at this point. John Means was their best starter last year and he had a 5.48 xFIP.
Team Needs - 1B, 2B, SP
The Red Sox actually have a good core of players, though less so of one if they actually trade Mookie Betts. But their needs are nearly black holes right now. Their apparent 1B right now is Michael Chavis, who was a well-regarded prospect, but had a 96 wRC+ with a .347 BABIP and a 33.2 K%. Their second baseman is... Dustin Pedroia? Marco Hernandez? Actually it might be Chavis. He played half his innings at 1B and 2B. But that leaves 1B to Sam Travis, who had 62 wRC+ last year. As for starter, they have a good top 3, but Rick Porcello left and nobody else last year had greater than 0.1 WAR.
Team Needs - SP, OF
With Cole Hamels departing, the Cubs are going to rely on Adbert Alzolay, who only pitched 81.1 IP last year, including a quite bad sample of 12.1 IP in the majors. I bet they prefer someone more reliable than that. As far as their outfield, pretty limited upside there. I definitely wouldn’t call it a weakness, but both Jason Heyward and Albert Almora appear to be below average, and not sure I’d expect Ian Happ or Tony Kemp to be any better. Kyle Schwarber is good, but is a career 76 wRC+ against lefties, so again the theme here is limited upside.
Team Needs - SP, 2B, OF
Depending on where you think the White Sox are on the win curve, you can throw in catcher here. Much like my explanation for the Orioles, they have Zack Collins, a walk heavy catching prospect. At starter, they’re not that bad thanks to the renaissance of Lucas Giolito and the returning Michael Kopech. But Carlos Rodon is still on their five man, who pitched 32 games... the past three years combined. And OF, I’m not entirely sure who they’re putting by Eloy Jimenez, but none and I mean none of their current options are good. No idea if they’re interested in Jose Martinez, but this would in theory be a team that Mo should be calling.
Team Needs - SS, OF
With the departure of Scooter Gennett, it is probably safe to say Nick Senzel is the 2B for now. He only had a 90 wRC+ so you can put 2B on here if you want. At SS, whether they go to Freddy Galvis or Jose Peraza, neither are good. And the OF could use more certainty. Jesse Winker now has a career high of PAs of 384 and appears to give back a lot of his hitting value with his glove. The projections do not believe in Aristides Aquino nor Phillip Ervin.
Team Needs - SP, 2B, OF
The Indians finally have more than three above replacement level players in the OF. While they beat the low bar they’ve set in past years, they should still seek an improvement for their current options. And their starters as a whole is maybe not a need, but with Corey Kluber throwing only 35 IP and Carlos Carrasco throwing 65, not to mention Danny Salazar being perpetually injured, they need some help with the 4th, 5th spots. And 2B is either Mike Freeman (99 wRC+ with .388 BABIP) or Christian Arroyo (68 wRC+ in 251 career PAs).
Team Needs - SP, C, OF
I have Jon Gray, German Marquez, and Kyle Freeland listed as their starters. I have no idea who their 4th and 5th options will be. At catcher, they won’t make improvements because they appear to believe in Tony Wolters, whose career line is worse than Mike Matheny. And the third OF spot is between -0.9 fWAR Ramiel Tapia and -0.3 fWAR Ian Desmond, which was his best WAR in three years yes you read that right.
Team Needs - SP, C, 2B, OF
At catcher, they do have Jake Rogers, but they also gave over 200 PAs to Greyson Greiner, who rewarded them with a 45 wRC+. Rogers had a little over 100 PAs and was worse, but he’s at least an interesting prospect. At starter, they’re not as bad as you’d think but still gave Edwin Jackson - yes Edwin Jackson - eight starts. And the departure of Nick Castellanos makes their OF picture bleak as hell. There’s Victor Reyes, with the .384 BABIP needed for a league average line, Jacoby Jones with -0.2 fWAR, and the rest of the options had an 80 wRC+ or worse.
Team Needs - C, SP
They don’t really need a starter that badly, but they’ll see an enormous drop off with the loss of Gerrit Cole. Even then they’re relying on two very old pitchers in Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke plus the healthy return of Lance McCullers. At catcher, both Robinson Chirinos and Martin Maldanado are free agents, so that’s definitely a real team need.
Kansas City Royals
Team Needs - 1B, OF, SP
At first base, Ryan O’Hearn had -1.0 fWAR in 105 games. Thanks to his 2018, his career line is a 95 wRC+, but it seems like him as the future Royals 1B is over. Then again, he’d be truly the next Eric Hosmer if he were to bounce back next year. At starter, they have Brad Keller and then the below average (Jakob Junis, Danny Duffy), and a bunch of cross your fingers and hope he works guys. In the outfield, when Whit Merrifield plays there, they have one good outfielder, especially if Jorge Soler is the DH. I mean they gave 197 PAs to Bubba Starling, who now has a 47 wRC+ for his career.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Team Needs - SP, C, 1B, OF
Albert Pujols is the starting 1B so there’s nothing that’s going to be done about that. At catcher, Kevan Smith has the special ability to be negative WAR with a 91 wRC+ so apparently his defense is hilariously awful. At starter, they gave starts to Trevor Cahill (-0.8 fWAR), Jaime Barria (-0.6 fWAR), Matt Harvey (-0.3 fWAR), and Dillon Peters (-0.5 fWAR). They used the opener a lot so not sure how many “starts” that is, but they combined for 316.2 IP, which is just brutal. In the outfield, they have 83 wRC+ Steamer projected Brian Goodwin and Justin Upton (-0.2 fWAR) taking up two of the three spots right now.
Team Needs - ?
They need... nothing really. Will Smith and Austin Barnes is a fine catching tandem. They’ve got Chris Taylor as a superfluous option, which means he’ll play all around the field. They could maybe use a starter with both Hyun Jin-Ryu and Rich Hill leaving, but there’s still Dustin May, Julio Urias, and Ross Stripling, all of whom pitched well in the few starts they had.
Team Needs - SP, SS, OF
The Marlins are a bleak, bleak team. They are filled with players that would need an upgrade if they were a competing team, but who are fine for the moment since they’re rebuilding. Not listed among the needs but that are technically needs are the late blooming 1B who hopes to be Justin Bour and the late blooming 3B with 287 career PAs who is about to turn 30. Miguel Rojas is technically better than Isan Diaz at 2B right now, but Diaz has a theoretical future, Rojas shouldn’t be starting on any team. I don’t know if they’re still giving Lewis Brinson a go, but 26-year-old Austin Dean is bad too.
Team Needs - 1B, 3B, SP
Maybe there’s some grander plan here, but it’s not a good sign that two of your weaknesses were entirely of your own doing. I mean yes, I’d still put SP as a weakness with Chase Anderson, but is Brent Suter taking his place? And I guess they’re putting Ryan Braun at 1B? I truly don’t know. His tenure at 3B was so bad I doubt he’s a good fielder at 1B and he didn’t play an inning there in 2019. At 3B, for the moment, they’re counting on Travis Shaw rebounding immensely and he was always a guy whose ascendance looked too good to be true.
Team Needs - SP, SP, SP
Literally every hitter on the Twins last year hit well. I think we’re going to see some huge dropoffs from them in 2019, but the Twins have limited resources and need to use it all on their starters. Because everyone left. Kyle Gibson, Michael Piñeda, and Martin Perez are all free agents. Jake Odorizzi accepted the qualifying offer and they still have Jose Berrios, but you still need five bodies and they have two right now.
Team Needs - IF, OF
For a team that has and will fly under the radar as a threat... they have surprisingly few holes. Wilson Ramos is perhaps not quite as good as you’d like for a guy who played in 141 games, but otherwise they have a good starting 8. If they stay healthy. Which they never do because it’s the Mets. They definitely need another infielder with Robinson Cano being the weakest starter of the bunch and all of their OFers got hurt last year except Michael Conforto. It’s ridiculous how long it took the Mets to buy into this guy. They don’t deserve him.
Team Needs - ???
They’re kind of set? The Yankees are well set up because they had an absurd amount of random guys play amazing for them: Mike Ford (134 wRC+), Giovanny Urshela (3.1 fWAR), Mike Tauchman (2.6 fWAR), I mean what the hell they got a 127 wRC+ out of Cameron freaking Maybin. If a Yankees fan ever complains about Stanton or Andujar being hurt, tell them to shut up.
Team Needs - SP, C, OF/DH
I put SP down, but they had a spare parts rotation work just fine for them in 2019, so who knows. At catcher, they gave the majority of PAs to Josh Phegley, a perfectly fine backup who should not be starting. And between the disappointing seasons of Stephen Piscotty and Khris Davis, they need another OFer if neither has a bounce back season. Robbie Grossman appears to be the backup plan and that’s not great.
Team Needs - SP, 2B, OF
Cesar Hernandez had a brief run as a very good player, but seems to be below average at this point. I don’t know if they’re keeping him or not, but he does have a high floor at least. As far as outfield, I believe the 3rd OFer is Jay Bruce right now. And they have a strong top 4 so starting pitcher isn’t a huge need, but I have no idea who the 5th guy is.
Team Needs - SP, C, 3B
Appearing in 101 games, Elias Diaz was absolutely dreadful with -1.5 fWAR, Francisco Cervelli is now gone, and Jacob Stallings doesn’t look like anything special (his SSS defense numbers are insanely good though). Fun fact: the Pirates 7th most valuable hitter was pitcher Steven Brault, who had a 105 wRC+ in 50 PAs. The Pirates second most valuable starter last year was Mitch Keller, with 1.3 fWAR in 11 starts. And holy hell guys just give up on Colin Moran already.
Team Needs - 1B, OF
Garrett Richards is apparently the plan for one of the starters, so good luck with that. Honestly their other four are strong enough that they don’t need Richards to throw many innings. Yes, I do have 1B listed, and yes that need will not be addressed. OF also includes a position that will not be addressed thanks to a bad contract. Ian Kinsler falling off a cliff is unfortunate, as was the slow start by Luis Urias. Urias though had a 137 wRC+ in AAA and is 22, so I think he’ll be alright.
Team Needs - SP, SS, OF
The majority of players on this team seem to be players the Giants are waiting to play out their contract so they can get on with the next phase. Some of them are still valuable, but catcher, 1B, SS, 3B, and two of the starters are all highly paid. Brandon Crawford isn’t going anywhere but just had a 0.4 fWAR season and wasn’t even hurt. The only interesting future guy in the rotation is Logan Webb, and I’d recommend trying to get more of those.
Team Needs - SP, MI, OF
Between Dee Gordon (77 wRC+) and JP Crawford (86 wRC+), I would like to get another middle infield to rotate with them. In the outfield, you have the hilariously awful defender in Domingo Santana, who is a career -12 corner outfielder somehow (and was -22 this year) . At starter, Yusei Kikuchi was a complete disappointment and I’m not entirely sure who all five members of their rotation will be.
Team Needs - C
Travis d’Arnaud became a free agent and Mike Zunino was quite bad last year. Quite bad. Aside from that, they have no holes. Kevin Kiermiaer, of all people, is their weak spot because he doesn’t hit anymore and gets injured a lot. DH could be filled by Nate Lowe or Jesus Aguilar or they could platoon the two. Not a lot of holes here.
Team Needs - SP, C, 1B, 2B
Rougned Odor has been around forever and is still just going to be 26 next year. He sandwiched a 2.4 fWAR season in 2018 with a -1.4 fWAR season and 0.3. Either way, he’s still got three years left on his deal. Catcher for the Rangers was just unimaginably bad. Jeff Mathis had a 2 wRC+ with -2.1 fWAR and his backup Isiah Kiner-Falefa had a 57 wRC+ and -1 fWAR. Their probable is 25 but now has 723 PAs of an 84 wRC+ hitter. And besides Lance Lynn and Mike Minor, two other guys had more than 10 starts - 2!
Team Needs - SP, OF
The Blue Jays are the perfect rebuilding team. Next year they’ll have 25-year-old Cavan Biggio, 22-year-old Bo Bichette, 25-year-old Danny Jansen, 21-year-old Vlad Guerrero, 25-year-old Reese McGuire and 25-year-old Rowdy Tellez. That’s their entire infield. Tellez is the only one of the bunch who does not look like he’s going to hit, but he’s going to get at least one more year. They are pretty weak in the outfield and at pitcher though. Really weak.
Team Needs - SP, 1B, 3B
For a returning champ, they sure start the offseason with some massive, crater-sized holes. Carter Kieboom is likely taking over at 2B and he’s a big enough prospect that I’m not calling that a hole, but I don’t know what the plan is for 3B or 1B, and they still have two rotation spots to fill. They’ll likely re-sign at least one of their guys, so that will solve some issues, but they’ll have some struggles.
And that’s all 29 teams. I am sure, absolutely sure I am wrong about something here. It’s inevitable. This is just a rough look, looking at ESPN depth charts. I started writing this before the 40 mans were announced so players I mention may not be on the roster anymore, it’s just too late for me to fix it at this point.