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While the baseball world awaits decisions from Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, we continue to inch ever closer to the start of spring training, with pitchers and catchers now roughly a month from reporting.
As such, it’s time for an updated look at our leaguewide power rankings, which were last shuffled on Dec. 14 in the wake of the winter meetings.
As with any offseason power rankings, these took into account how complete the roster is and how active the team is expected to be, as well as the overall direction the franchise is headed.
With that, here’s an updated look at where all 30 teams stand:
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The Boston Red Sox still need to make a decision on who will be closing games in 2019, but a full season with Nathan Eovaldi in the rotation and all the major pieces back from the highest-scoring offense in baseball is enough to keep them perched in the top spot.
The New York Yankees and Houston Astros will be their biggest competition for the AL pennant.
The Yankees moved quickly to address their starting rotation, and they’ve shored up the infield with the additions of Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu. It still feels like there’s a big move to be made if they so desire. If not, they’re still good enough to be in the title hunt.
Meanwhile, the Astros have added Michael Brantley to the mix since these rankings were last updated. Acquiring another starting pitcher and pulling the trigger on a trade for J.T. Realmuto might be enough to vault them into the No. 1 spot, but for now, their outlook is still bright.
On the National League side of things, the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers still have the two most talented rosters despite an offseason devoid of impact additions.
The Dodgers cleared their outfield logjam by sending Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig to the Reds in a cost-cutting move, presumably clearing a path for top prospect Alex Verdugo in the process. The Cubs really need a bullpen arm or two but, overall, seem to be banking on better seasons from their incumbent talent more than anything.
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While the Dodgers remain the clear favorite in the NL West, the Cubs have some serious competition in the NL Central.
There’s no denying that a lot went right for the Milwaukee Brewers on their way to the division title last season. That said, they’re still a talented team and their juggernaut bullpen will again be a major factor. Trading for Madison Bumgarner, whom they’ve been linked to in trade talks throughout the offseason, would be a game-changer. Getting Yasmani Grandal on a one-year deal was inspired.
Not to be forgotten, the St. Louis Cardinals have made the biggest offseason splash of any NL Central club with the acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt. They also added Andrew Miller to the bullpen, though another experienced late-inning arm would still be welcome.
The NL East is also shaping up to be quite the battle.
Even with the potential departure of Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals look dangerous. Adding Patrick Corbin to the starting rotation and plugging Victor Robles into a spot in the outfield could make this a better team post-Harper.
The Atlanta Braves are the defending champs, and they’re not going anywhere. A top-of-the-rotation starter would be nice, but there’s a wave of prospect talent on the way, most of which resides on the pitching side of things.
And then there’s the New York Mets, who have made it clear they’re all-in on the 2019 season by holding on to their trade chips and adding Wilson Ramos, Jed Lowrie, Jeurys Familia and J.D. Davis on top of the blockbuster trade to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.
The Cleveland Indians also belong in the contender category as clear favorites in a weak AL Central. They’ve done nothing to improve this offseason, though, and still have significant holes to fill in the outfield and at the back of the bullpen.
Teams on the Fringe
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The Tampa Bay Rays won 90 games last season on the strength of an innovative pitching approach. The addition of Charlie Morton, a full season of Tyler Glasnow and a healthy Brent Honeywell stand to make that group even better in 2019. Now if they could just find a middle-of-the-order run producer.
A quiet winter from a Philadelphia Phillies team that promised to spend “stupid money” at the start of the offseason leaves them in danger of falling behind the pack in an active NL East. There’s money to spend and plenty of in-house talent, so there’s still time for their outlook to change. For now, they reside squarely on the fringe.
The Colorado Rockies and Oakland Athletics were surprise postseason teams last season, but they have some glaring holes.
The Rockies stand to lose their best reliever in Adam Ottavino, and last season’s plus-35 run differential—the lowest of any playoff team by a wide margin—speaks to a team that played over its head a bit during a 91-win campaign.
As for the A’s, re-signing Mike Fiers was a nice move, but they’re still at least a couple of proven starting pitchers away from a viable starting staff. They’ll likely wait it out and pick through the remaining scraps on the market in February.
Beyond that group lies four clubs that are tough to project—the Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins and Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Pirates traded for Chris Archer and Keone Kela last summer with an eye toward contending in 2019, while the Angels have bolstered their rotation with the additions of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill and signed Jonathan Lucroy to handle the staff as they try to make the most of the final two years of Mike Trout’s contract.
The Twins were a playoff team in 2017 and have added Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron to what was already a dangerous offense. The Diamondbacks stopped short of blowing things up after trading Paul Goldschmidt and still have enough talent to make a run at .500, though an eventual rebuild seems inevitable.
With 11 teams in the “front-runner” and “contender” sections, these eight teams face an uphill battle trying to push their way into the postseason picture.
Teams on the Rise
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The Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres are three teams looking to climb out of the non-contender category this season.
The Reds made upgrading the starting rotation a priority after finishing 25th in the majors with a 5.02 starters’ ERA. Newcomers Tanner Roark and Alex Wood will join Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle and Anthony DeSclafani, though another outside addition remains a possibility.
The White Sox are still in the mix for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, which should tell you all you need to know about their current mindset. Even if they don’t land one of the free-agent superstars, the additions of Ivan Nova, Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay, along with the eventual arrival of Eloy Jimenez and others from the farm system, should make this a better team.
Finally, the Padres have the best farm system in baseball and money to spend. Ian Kinsler will be a nice veteran addition to a young clubhouse, and rolling the dice on a rehabbing Garrett Richards could pay major dividends down the road. With a clear hole at third base, don’t be surprised if Mike Moustakas joins former teammate Eric Hosmer in San Diego.
If there’s an out-of-nowhere playoff team like Oakland was a year ago, there’s a good chance it will be one of these three clubs.
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The Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Miami Marlins all began rebuilding prior to this offseason and will be looking to avoid 100-loss seasons in 2019.
The Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays are two more teams that appear destined for a retooling period, though the arrival of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will provide plenty of excitement in Toronto.
That leaves the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners.
The Giants dragged their feet on a rebuild last offseason with ill-advised trades for Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, and they’ve made no movement toward blowing things up this winter, either. Ace Madison Bumgarner will be the first domino to fall once they come to their senses, which might not be until midseason.
As for the Mariners, their current projected 25-man roster features 11 newcomers, so it’s hard to know what to make of this group. Even with the addition of Yusei Kikuchi, they’re light on pitching, and losing Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Jean Segura takes an undeniable bite out of the offense. They might still be competitive, but it’s hard to envision them contending.
Top Remaining Free Agents
As a preview of what’s to come this offseason, let’s take a quick look at the top remaining free agents at each position.
- C: Martin Maldonado, Devin Mesoraco, Nick Hundley, Matt Wieters
- 1B: Wilmer Flores, Mark Reynolds, Logan Morrison
- 2B: Josh Harrison, Logan Forsythe
- 3B: Mike Moustakas, Yangervis Solarte
- SS: Manny Machado, Jose Iglesias, Freddy Galvis, Adeiny Hechavarria, Alcides Escobar
- OF: Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Melky Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Avisail Garcia, Denard Span, Carlos Gomez
- UT: Marwin Gonzalez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Derek Dietrich, Daniel Descalso
- DH: Evan Gattis, Matt Davidson, Hanley Ramirez
- SP: Dallas Keuchel, Wade Miley, Gio Gonzalez, Derek Holland, Clay Buchholz, Jeremy Hellickson, Marco Estrada, Edwin Jackson
- RHRP: Craig Kimbrel, Adam Ottavino, Cody Allen, Shawn Kelley, Bud Norris, Greg Holland, Brad Brach, Sergio Romo, Ryan Madson, Adam Warren
- LHRP: Jorge De La Rosa, Jake Diekman, Justin Wilson, Jerry Blevins, Tony Sipp, Dan Jennings
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.