MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Predictions: Pitchers

Welcome to my 2nd annual MLB free agency predictions.  Last off-season, things took a long time to get going due to a relatively dull free agent market.  This year, that is not the case.  We might have the best MLB free agent class in the history of my blog, and it’s bound to get going any minute now.  That’s why I’m releasing my predictions in November and December this year rather than January.  I wanted to get these out before the Winter Meetings, where a lot of big moves could occur.

Today, I will be sharing my predictions for free agent pitchers.  Feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Below is my tentative schedule for my 2018-19 MLB free agency coverage.

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MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Coverage – Tentative Schedule

Week of November 19: MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Predictions: Pitchers

Week of November 19 or 26: MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Predictions: Catchers & Infielders

Week of November 26 or December 3: MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Predictions: Outfielders & Trade Ideas

Week of December 3 or 10: Baseball Bits #11: Big Free Agent Contracts

Starting Pitchers

Top Tier

Note: These were made BEFORE the James Paxton trade

The Jays have a lot of infield prospects on the rise.  But their starting rotation needs some help if they want to contend.  They will surely go after the market’s top starters.  They are open to bringing back J.A. Happ, but I think Dallas Keuchel and Ervin Santana fit their mold better.  Keuchel will serve as Toronto’s ace, where they will need an upgrade with Marco Estrada leaving.  Santana isn’t what he used to be, but will still boost their rotation, especially if he rebounds fully from his injury in 2018.  Meanwhile, Happ will head to the Angels to provide stability in an injury prone rotation that will be without Shohei Ohtani.  The Yankees will pursue a younger starter like Patrick Corbin to upgrade the rotation in the long term, and an older starter to supplement the rotation until younger Yankees pitchers are ready to take over.

Jerry Dipoto had intended to rebuild this off-season.  But they have too much talent on the rise to just start over now.  It would be a Marlins-like move to rebuild now.  I think it would be smarter for them to add a mid to high tier starter such as Gio Gonzalez or Nathan Eovaldi and an outfielder or two to supplement the young talent.  Charlie Morton will leave Houston for and sign with the Nationals, who could use a #3 starter to replace Gio Gonzalez and add depth to the rotation.

High to Mid-Tier Starters

Shields will return to the White Sox.  They will seek to be led by young talent, but need Shields back for depth.  The Padres will also bring back their veteran starter, Tyson Ross for similar reasons.  I could also see them adding Garrett Richards among other veterans as future investments to guide their return to contention.  Richards will miss 2019, but hopefully, he’ll come back as a better pitcher in 2020.  I think Jason Hammel is a good veteran fit for the Yankees.

If the Rays want to make the playoffs, their “committee day” in their rotation isn’t going to fly.  They’ll need to add rotation depth, and Estrada seems like a good fit for them.  He has experience in the AL East, and a mid-tier starter or two is just what Tampa needs.  The Orioles could also use another starter.  They aren’t signing anyone too expensive as they start a rebuild, but Yovani Gallardo has been on the team before and could be a good bargain signing for them.

Mid to Low Tier Starters

Eovaldi really boosted his free agent profile in the playoffs.  But I think the Red Sox will be willing to offer him a long term contract after his playoff performance.  The Rays will add Derek Holland as another option for the rotation.  Holland, Tyler Glasnow, and Brent Honeywell will likely fight for the final two spots in the rotation.  I think Ryan Yarbrough fits best as a long reliever.  Similar to the O’s, the Royals and Tigers will look for affordable rotation depth.  I think Lynn and Santiago are good fits.  I could see Chris Tillman joining the Braves, who may seek a veteran starter to fill in until their pitching prospects are ready.  I think the Giants should sign a lower tier starter, such as Jaime Garcia to give them options if young starters Chris Stratton, Tyler Beede, and Ty Blach struggle.

Relief Pitchers

Top Tier Closers and Late-Inning Relievers

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Kimbrel after he turned down the qualifying offer, but I think he will return to the Red Sox.  He just wanted a longer term deal.  The teams that were in the running for Kimbrel such as the Angels and Phillies will settle for other top closers such as Mark Melancon and Zach Britton.  I think Jeurys Familia, another top closer will go to the White Sox as they try to take steps toward contention.  I could see the Mariners keeping active in the free agent market by adding another bullpen arm in Miller.  The Reds could also use a bullpen arm to replace Drew Storen, and Brach seems to be a good fit.  He can close or set up, and he and Raisel Iglesias could make a strong veteran-younger player late-inning combo.

Mid-Tier Closers

Pittsburgh’s #1 hole right now is their bullpen.  They’ll look to add multiple quality relievers.  As they rebuild, they are not in the running for the market’s top closers.  But Herrera is a reasonable closing option for them.  Some other rebuilding teams who need closers, such as the O’s, Royals, and Rangers, will have to settle for lower-tier closers such as Tyler Clippard and Cody Allen.  Meanwhile, I see veteran closer Greg Holland headed to Tampa, hoping to rebound from a rough 2018.  Holland is an affordable option for a Rays team that wants to make the jump from mediocre to playoff contender.  Storen, another seasoned veteran, could make for a good duo with fellow late-inning reliever Addison Reed for Minnesota.

Low Tier Closer-Mid Tier Set-Up

Herrera isn’t quite enough to fill Pittsburgh’s late inning hole.  Romo could be a good fit.  The Brewers could also use another late inning arm.  They don’t need a top tier guy, but someone like A.J. Ramos or Santiago Casilla could definitely help.  I think Casilla will return to the A’s though, and Zach McAllister, another mid-tier reliever, will return to Detroit, where he spent just about a week in his final MLB stint of 2018.  The Rockies could resign Adam Ottavino, but I think they will go for a slight upgrade, Justin Wilson, with the Indians adding Ottavino to supplement Brad Hand and replace Andrew Miller.

Low Tier Late Inning Relievers

The Braves have been a rumored suitor to bring back Craig Kimbrel, but they should trust Arodys Vizcaino as their closer and add a lower tier late inning reliever to support him (I see them adding Maurer).  The White Sox will sign Tony Sipp as a slight upgrade over Jeanmar Gomez, who I have going to Detroit.  Gomez and McAllister will set up closer Shane Greene.  The Royals will also look for an affordable bullpen arm.  They should be set in the late-inning department with the duo of Clippard and Boone Logan.  The Mets will be active in this free agent market, and they need late-inning help.  Aaron Loup is a good addition, but I don’t have them adding a closer. Jenrry Mejia is eligible to return in 2019, and the Mets should be hopeful he can close.  Duke will play a similar role in Toronto, setting up closer Ken Giles.

High Tier 7th Inning Relief

If the Red Sox bring back Kimbrel, they should be fine to let Carson Smith and maybe even Joe Kelly test the market.  I think Smith will find a destination despite his injury, as the Twins sign him to supplement the late-inning duo of Storen and Reed.  The Angels, who will still look for more bullpen help beyond Britton, will sign Kelly.  If he’s having a good year, Kelly can become the full-time set up man in LA over Cam Bedrosian.  Norris, a former starter, can provide the Rays with a trustworthy 7th inning arm.  Jake Diekman should play a similar role in San Francisco.  The O’s and Reds could also use bullpen help, but cannot afford the top guys in the market.  They will settle for Axford and Warren, respectively.

That’s all for Part 1 of my MLB FA Predictions.  Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will evaluate the catcher market and the infield market.  This comes in good timing, as Kurt Suzuki just signed in Washington, and J.T. Realmuto trade rumors are reaching their peak.

Note: I think the Marlins will end up trading Realmuto to Atlanta with Kurt Suzuki off the table.  The Marlins should sign another catcher to supplement Chad Wallach.

Ranking The Teams 30-25, My Version: Who’s In The Basement?

Each year since 2014, David Schoenfield has ranked all 30 teams in tiers during the preseason.  For the fourth year straight, I am creating my own version.  Throughout the week, I will be posting my rankings.  However, I started a little late this year due to the MLB’s slow off-season.  Today they start with the bottom 6.

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Boston Sports Mania MLB Pre-Season Power Rankings

Friday, March 23: Ranking The Teams 30-25, My Version: Who’s In The Basement?

Friday, March 23: Ranking The Teams 24-19, My Version: Teams That Will Struggle

Saturday, March 24: Ranking The Teams 18-13, My Version: The Middle of the Pack

Saturday, March 24: Ranking The Teams 12-7, My Version: Who Will Contend in 2018?

Sunday, March 25: Ranking The Teams 6-1, My Version: How The Best of the Best Line Up*

*I will also have my latest Baseball Bits coming this Sunday or sometime next week.

 

 

30. miami-marlins Miami Marlins

Off-Season Review

Image result for marlins outfield trades

The Marlins underwent a complete overhaul this off-season.  They traded four key pieces from their lineup last year: Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon.  Those guys were leaders for the Marlins.  They could have gone on to contend with that group, but after no success making the playoffs in recent years, they decided to fully rebuild.  Rather than signing a couple pitchers and going for an NL East title, they decided not to sign too many pitchers and to make the series of trades they made.  In these trades, they added members of their future core, such as Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, and Magneuris Sierra.  They also acquired Starlin Castro to play second and signed a veteran or two including Cameron Maybin to be placeholders in the new look outfield.  These trades further advanced teams like the Yankees, Cardinals, and Brewers as well.

The Case for the Marlins

The Marlins have no intention of contending in 2018.  This year, expect to see veteran placeholders make up the lineup alongside their more seasoned prospects like J.T. Riddle and Lewis Brinson.  In the meantime, the Marlins will be getting their next generation of players ready to play at a big league level.  Starlin Castro was only acquired as a veteran mentor, don’t think he’s a sign that the Marlins aren’t ready to rebuild yet.  They are in full rebuild mode.  But did they rebuild too early?  Could they be contending down the stretch rather than sitting in the basement of the NL East, waiting for their prospects to further develop, and carrying around a bunch of older veterans who are past their prime?

The Bright Spot

Image result for justin bour and jt realmuto

The Marlins may have overhauled most of their lineup, but they still have a couple strong pieces in catcher J.T. Realmuto and first baseman Justin Bour.  Their lineup will remain their strong point in 2018, especially the very core of it.  Their rotation needs work.  They may have a couple good pitchers, but they need to find guys within their system who can lead the next generation of pitching in Miami.  They have plenty of hitting/fielding prospects already making their way towards the majors.

Best Case Scenario: The veterans Miami has signed are consistent and show signs that they still have what it takes to be as successful as they were earlier in their career, and Miami’s prospects get called up quickly and thrive in the majors, leading the Marlins just over 70 wins in Year 1 of a rebuild.

Worst Case Scenario: Miami’s top prospects struggle at the major league level, and their veteran leaders fail to find momentum, as the Marlins lose 100+ games.

Projected Finish: 64-98, 5th in NL East

 

29. chicago-white-sox Chicago White Sox

Off-Season Review

Image result for welington castillo white sox

As they plan to let a strong group of prospects lead the team in 2018, the White Sox were relatively quiet this off-season.  They added Wellington Castillo after several young catchers failed them, and they added a few guys to their bullpen.  They also signed Hector Santiago to top off the rotation.  But for the most part, they are happy with their young roster.  Sure, they could’ve added a veteran leader in the outfield or at third, or even added a new ace, but they can manage with the roster they have, especially if their younger players begin to break out.

The Case for the White Sox

Image result for lucas giolito white sox

After a rebuild, the White Sox are ready to take steps back towards contention.  They will start off slow, but they will improve over the next few years, slowly but surely.  Guys like 2B Yoan Moncada, SS Tim Anderson, and CF Adam Engel are hoping to have strong seasons and help lead the team.  Meanwhile, guys like Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, and Lucas Giolito are looking to make an impact at the big league level.  This year will be about finding young leaders to help lead the team in the future alongside veteran 1B Jose Abreu.  I could see Giolito and Engel having strong seasons.

The Bright Spot

It’s younger players who are looking to become the new faces of the team.  But in the meantime, the White Sox have some strong veteran leaders.  Expect Jose Abreu to build upon a strong season.  I could also see James Shields bouncing back to lead the pitching staff and become a mentor for young pitchers like Kopech and Giolito.  Also, keep an eye out for younger breakout players.  Who do you think will emerge as a star on the White Sox in 2018?

Best Case Scenario: Chicago’s strong group of prospects are successful in the majors very quickly and lead the White Sox to a decent year in the AL Central alongside their veteran influences, who have very strong seasons.  In this scenario, they would come in 3rd over Kansas City and Detroit.

Worst Case Scenario: Jimenez, Kopech, and others fail to succeed at the major league level, and Abreu and Shields begin to decline quickly as the White Sox crumble.

Projected Finish: 66-96, 5th in AL Central

 

28. detroit-tigers Detroit Tigers

Off-Season Review

Image result for jeimer candelario victor martinez miguel cabrera

The Tigers started off 2017 expecting to contend.  But injuries and old age caught up with them, and they ended up trading away their older players and heading into rebuild mode.  They still held onto Miguel Cabrera, Nick Castellanos, Jose Iglesias, and Victor Martinez though.  Those four will mentor the younger players taking over, like Jeimer Candelario and Dixon Machado.  They could’ve used another veteran infielder, but instead, Candelario and Machado will start full time, and the only major free agent signings by Detroit were signing OF Leonys Martin and SP Mike Fiers, both of which they got done much earlier in the off-season than most of the free agent signings occurred.  Meanwhile, veterans Jordan Zimmermann, Francisco Liriano, and Mike Fiers, as well as younger starters Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris, will headline the new look rotation.

The Case for the Tigers

Image result for jeimer candelario victor martinez miguel cabrera

The Tigers don’t have any blatant holes on their roster, but their roster lacks upside.  They have a lot of average players, but no clear superstar.  Even Miguel Cabrera’s numbers have taken a dip from dominant to average.  The question is, can Miggy rebound and lead this young team in 2018?  The Tigers will need someone to step it up and emerge as a true leader.  They have a good amount of veteran mentors, but nobody who can carry the team.  Who will break out and emerge as a star for them?

The Bright Spot

Like I said, it’s hard to name one leader or bright spot on this mediocre team, and mediocre teams with a lack of a leader and few experienced players are known to struggle.  I see Miggy and Victor Martinez rebounding for strong seasons and emerging as leaders.  Once the Tigers can find themselves a leader, they could be going places, as the younger players follow in their footsteps and help bring the Tigers back to the playoffs a couple years down the road.

Best Case Scenario: Detroit’s young roster gets off to a hot start, the well-balanced rotation thrives and Miguel Cabrera bounces back to lead the team as the Tigers jump right back into third place in Year 2 of a rebuild.

Worst Case Scenario: The rotation cannot find an identity, Detroit’s younger players struggle and disappoint, Miggy continues to struggle, and nobody else steps up to lead as they end up in the American League basement.

Projected Finish: 69-93, 4th in AL Central

 

27. pittsburgh-pirates Pittsburgh Pirates

Off-Season Review

In 2016 and 2017, the Pirates found themselves stuck in the middle.  They had a strong, but declining lineup and a rotation that was beginning to collapse.  This off-season, they made a definitive choice to begin a rebuild, and they started by trading Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, their best hitter and their best pitcher.  After that, their off-season was very quiet, and Spring Training will be focused on getting their young prospects ready to play every day in the MLB.  They got some of those prospects as a return from the Astros (who acquired Cole) and the Giants (who acquired Cutch).  That group includes RHP Kyle Crick, RHP Joe Musgrove, and 3B Colin Moran.

The Case for the Pirates

Image result for austin meadows

The Pirates have made it clear what direction they’re headed in, and they will not contend in 2018.  They have some nice pieces that will help them alongside their top prospects in the coming years, but right now, the veterans are just there to keep the Pirates playing at a major league level (at the very least).  In the meantime, the Pirates will focus on getting their prospects ready.  Expect to see a lot of Austin Meadows, Colin Moran, Jordan Luplow, Josh Bell, Bryce Brentz and Max Moroff in the Pirates lineup.  All those guys are potential leaders for the next generation in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, their biggest need is a successful young pitcher.  They have yet to find one, but as soon as they do, expect to see him up in the majors getting a chance to prove himself.  The Pirates still have a decent lineup, so if they can get a few young hitters ready and fix up their rotation, expect to see them back in the playoffs in a few years.

The Bright Spot

Image result for gregory polanco and starling marte

The Pirates still have a great group of guys in the outfield.  Not only do the Pirates have some good defense out there, but these guys will continue to lead the Pirates lineup.  Despite trading away Cutch, they have brought in Corey Dickerson, another power hitting outfielder to replace him.  They also have plenty of prospects who will see time back there including top prospect Austin Meadows.  Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco will also continue to serve as leaders on this team.  Their rotation may need work, and the infield has yet to find their starting mix, but this Pirates outfield is all set.

Best Case Scenario: Pittsburgh’s prospects crack the majors and make an impact quickly, Polanco and Marte continue to serve as leaders and mentors, and the young rotation looks a little better as the Pirates get right above the 70-win line.

Worst Case Scenario: Injuries and struggles plague the Pirates rotation, Pittsburgh’s veterans decline, and the prospects are forced to lead the team and fail to handle the pressure as Pittsburgh collapses in Year 1 of their rebuild.

Projected Finish: 67-95, 5th in NL Central

 

26. san diego-padres San Diego Padres

Off-Season Review

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Last season I said the Padres were in a horrific rebuild after making a mistake in signing a bunch of veterans past their prime to lead the 2016 team and some of you disagreed, saying that the Padres have talent that will anchor their next generation.  Whoever said that is correct because now that the Padres have gotten their top prospects MLB ready, they are ready to take steps back toward contention mode.  Manuel Margot and Fernando Tatis Jr. are some of the young guns who can help lead this team, and the Padres have added a couple veterans to further boost the roster.

They may have made the biggest signing of the off-season when they added 1B Eric Hosmer.  They also acquired SS Freddy Galvis and 3B Chase Headley (who was here to start his MLB career) after giving up infielder Yangervis Solarte.  Wil Myers will also continue to be a veteran mentor as he returns to the outfield.  He will allow San Diego’s younger outfielders to platoon, and they will not be pressured to perform like everyday starters.

The Case for the Padres

After a brief rebuild, the Padres are headed back in an upward direction.  But legitimate playoff contention will take a year or two.  This year, their young roster will continue to develop as their veterans lead the team in an upward direction.  Once guys like Carlos Asuaje and 19-year old prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. are ready to contend alongside Hosmer, Myers, and co., the Padres will be going places.

The Bright Spot

In my opinion, Hosmer will emerge as a leader, star, and mentor on his new team.  With the Royals, Hosmer was never a sole leader or the face of the team, but he was on the brink of stardom as he continued to thrive in Kansas City.  In San Diego, he will emerge as one of the league’s premium position players as he leads the team and emerges as a superstar.  He is already an All-Star Game regular, but he hasn’t received the love and respect he deserves.  Now that he’s arguably the best player on his new team, he will completely breakout, and the league will recognize that.

Best Case Scenario: With an upgraded, well-balanced roster, the Padres will get off to a fast start and compete in the NL West.  However, in what’s arguably the toughest division in the league, they will not see the playoffs quite yet.

Worst Case Scenario: San Diego’s prospects disappoint in their first years, and the Padres fail to find leaders and mentors in their veterans, which will further affect the young guns as the Padres end up in dead last after they cannot handle the pressure of their division.

Projected Finish: 69-93, 5th in NL West

 

25. oakland-a's Oakland Athletics

Off-Season Review

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Oakland did not do much this off-season, as many of their younger players are finally ready to become everyday players.  But they did make a few moves to enhance the roster.  They added young OF Stephen Piscotty to take some pressure off rookie CF Dustin Fowler.  Now Boog Powell and Jake Smolinski will be able to back Fowler up.  They also signed SP Trevor Cahill when Jharel Cotton lost his 2018 season to Tommy John Surgery.  Now the rotation will look something like this:

  1. Kendall Graveman RHP
  2. Sean Manaea LHP
  3. Andrew Triggs RHP
  4. Trevor Cahill RHP
  5. Paul Blackburn/Daniel Mendgen*

* A.J. Puk could eventually snag this rotation slot

Other than that, Oakland was pretty quiet this off-season, and it will not hurt them.  They didn’t need to do much to keep the roster in good shape.  But they will not contend yet.  That all depends on when guys like Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and A.J. Puk breakout.

The Case for the Athletics

Image result for matt chapman

Like I said, the A’s are on the brink of contention, but they need a breakout star or two first.  They have a lot of great young pieces, and they are headed in an upward direction now.  They have a home run hitter too.  But they need a couple younger players to lead the A’s if they want to get back to the playoffs.  I don’t care who.  It could be Matt Olson, Sean Manaea, Matt Chapman, Andrew Triggs, anyone.  I could personally see Manaea or Triggs breaking through, and I also like Olson and Chapman.  A.J. Puk is also a breakout candidate.  Although I do not have the Athletics contending this year, they could be in a great position by Opening Day 2019.

The Bright Spot

Image result for khris davis

The A’s may not be contending yet, but if they can combine rotation and lineup consistency with the power hitting core they already have, they can make a run at the playoffs.  Khris Davis was one of the Top 5 HR hitters of 2017 (the top three are now all part of the AL East).  Yes, only Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and J.D. Martinez hit more.  I see Davis repeating this over the next couple years, and combining that with Oakland’s flurry of young talent on the brink of a breakout could make for great things.  The future is very bright in Oakland.

Best Case Scenario: Davis continues to keep up with the best in the power-hitting department, many of Oakland’s younger players break through, and the A’s jump right back into contention with a record around .500, putting them in great shape for 2019.

Worst Case Scenario: Davis drops off, the rotation is plagued by injuries, and nobody emerges as a leader/star as the A’s disappoint and bore many in 2018.

Projected Finish: 68-94, 5th in AL West*

Note: Although I see a lot of potential here, they need to prove themselves before I can rank them too much higher.

 

That’s all for this article.  Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon.  I will also have my preseason Baseball Bits up before the regular season begins next week.  On a side note, I was unable to finish my March Madness previews, but my bracket is busted anyway, and you can click here for my second chance picks.  Also, stay tuned for my update on NFL free agency.

MLB 2016 Preview: Cubs, Red Sox Among Most Improved

MLB 2016 Preview

 

There’s just one week till spring training, so its just about time for my MLB 2016 Preview.  Below is a video that has some of what I’ll be looking at, but this post is more detailed than the video.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1454716309&f=i3wsqO8iPHL12x2paS1hvw&d=0&m=p&r=360p&volume=100&start_res=360p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

By the way, I actually have the Dodgers winning the world series, but I wanted to show my Red Sox fandom on my Animoto account.

 

Alright, let’s dig in.

Projected Records

AL East

  1. boston-red-sox Boston Red Sox 92-70
  2. Toronto_Blue_Jays Toronto Blue Jays 89-73
  3. new-york-yankees New York Yankees 85-77
  4. Tampa_Bay_Rays Tampa Bay Rays 83-79
  5. Baltimore-Orioles-Logo Baltimore Orioles 74-88

 

I have the Red Sox bouncing back from an ugly season and going from worst to first once again.  The Red Sox were even bolder than they were last off season, acquiring Craig Kimbrel from the Padres, despite giving up former #3 and #7 prospects Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra.  Then they signed AL Cy Young runner up David Price to a seven year, 217 million dollar deal.  They also signed Chris Young to a two year deal and traded Wade Miley for relievers Roenis Elias and Carson Smith.  They now have a strong rotation front and a top closer, along with the powerful lineup the 2015 Red Sox provided.

David Price Red Sox
David Price signing a 7 year, 217 million dollar deal with the Red Sox.

Meanwhile I think the Blue Jays will stay strong even without their 2015 ace and closer (David Price & LaTroy Hawkins).  They still have a strong lineup and some amazing prospects, and they acquired some new starters like J.A. Happ and Jesse Chavez, plus closer/set-up man Drew Storen.  I think they still have some playoff relevance.

The Yankees meanwhile have done majority of their moves via trade.  They acquired Starlin Castro for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan, plus star closer Aroldis Chapman from Cincy.  Having Chapman in New York will heat up the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry as the Sox acquired Kimbrel.  The Yanks should be competitive in the division.

The Rays upgraded their pretty empty offense with Logan Morrison and Brad Miller.  Centerfielder Desmond Jennings also will return from injury this season.  Alex Cobb will also return.  I think the Rays are still a little washed up in their lineup, but they have good defense and pitching.

... photo desmond jennings desmond jennings 8 of the tampa bay rays makes
Desmond Jennings returns to the lineup after spending 2015 on the DL.

Meanwhile I don’t think the Orioles’ acquistions are efficient.  Mark Trumbo is not a full time starter, Hyun-Soo Kim might not be as good in America, and they still have a serious hole in the rotation.  They already had a pretty bad team last year, they just made it a lot worse.  The Orioles are by far the worst team in this division.  Besides maybe the Rays, every other team in this division will still be in the playoff race at the beginning of September.

 

AL Central

  1.  detroit-tigers Detroit Tigers 93-69
  2.  chicago-white-sox Chicago White Sox  89-73
  3.  kansas-city-royals Kansas City Royals  89-73
  4.  minnesota-twins.png Minnesota Twins  73-89
  5.  cleveland-indians.jpg Cleveland Indians  68-94

This division’s teams have made many impact transactions but not every team that made an impact in free agency can do well, especially all in the same division.

The Tigers have really improved their pitching game and outfield to match the rest of their good teams.  They signed Justin Upton, Mark Lowe, Mike Pelfrey and Jordan Zimmermann and have acquired Cameron Maybin and Justin Wilson via trade.  They only gave up Ian Krol to trade and Alfredo Simon and Rajai Davis to free agency.  Even after a bad season, I think that the top prospects and star players will combine to make a bad team in 2015 a great, powerful team that will make an impact in 2016.

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After several signings, the Detroit Tigers’ rotation is looking good.

Meanwhile the White Sox have also been very active in the hot stove.  They’ve revamped their infield by trading for both Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie.  Lawrie was a third baseman like Frazier but will play at second to make room for Todd Frazier.  They still have a hole at shortstop though.

The Royals are still good, but are once again lacking a rotation.  They also have a hole in the outfield unless Jarrod Dyson can step it up.  So, they’ll compete, but they aren’t necessarily make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, I don’t think the Twins’ youth plus Byung-Ho Park is enough to bring a good season in the Twin Cities.  The Indians haven’t done enough by getting Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis.  So there are teams in the Central that aren’t competitive as well.

 

AL West

  1. texas-rangers.png  Texas Rangers  90-72
  2. seattle-mariners-logo.png   Seattle Mariners  87-75
  3. houston-astros.jpg  Houston Astros  79-83
  4. oakland-a's.png  Oakland Athletics  78-84
  5. la-angels-of-anaheim.png   Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 71-91

I have the Texas Rangers at the top of this division.  Look at their rotation.  Personally, I think that both Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish are serious Cy Young candidates.  The two ace-like pitchers are joined by wing man Derek Holland.  They also have a powerful lineup with some guys like Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder who have a ton of potential.

Yu Darvish threw bullpen session yesterday - iFreePress iFreePress
Yu Darvish is ready to bounce back after missing nearly two full seasons.

The Mariners also made a lot of impact trades.  Despite giving up Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Roenis Elias and Carson Smith, they traded for Wade Miley, Joaquin Benoit, Jonathan Aro, Nathan Karns, Adam Lind, Leonys Martin and Luis Sardinas.  They also signed closer Steve Cishek, outfielder Norichika Aoki and resigned King Felix’s trusty wing-man, Hisashi Iwakuma.  So this is a pretty revamped team.

The Astros are also still a somewhat powerful, young team.  Guys like Carlos Correa really stepped it up last year, and they signed some strong veterans like Doug Fister.  Some veterans, like Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez, are also playing their first full season in Houston and others like Brad Peacock are returning from injury this year.  The Astros have a lot of potential but aren’t quite as good as the Mariners and Rangers.

There are teams worse than that though.  The Athletics made some minor moves as usual, and they’ve recovered from some injuries to players, so they will be better, just not enough to make an impact.  Jarrod Parker returns from Tommy John surgery, and hopefully the former star Coco Crisp can bounce back.

The Los Angeles Angels also will get C.J. Wilson back, but this team is in need of some serious luck.  Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava must create an efficient platoon in left, the rotation is full of people who are either feast or famine or fresh off a breakout, and they still have serious problems at second.

So the AL West is competitive, but there is a wide division between the good teams, decent teams and bad teams.

NL East

  1. washington-nats Washington Nationals 93-69
  2. new-york-mets New York Mets 87-75
  3. miami-marlins Miami Marlins 77-85
  4. philadelphia.phillies Philadelphia Phillies 75-87
  5. atlanta-braves.jpg Atlanta Braves 66-96

The Nationals continue to improve their team.  They got solid second baseman Daniel Murphy.  They also got Ben Revere for their second unneeded closer Drew Storen.  The Jays did need him.  They already had a good team, now they have a great and healthy one built off Bryce Harper and star pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.

The Mets also resigned Yoenis Cespedes and signed Asdrubal Cabrera for the first time.  They additionally traded for Neil Walker. They have a strong rotation but still lack power in their lineup.  They should be good, but not necessarily a playoff contender as there are much better wild card candidates in the NL.

The Marlins also have improved their pitching to match the lineup they revamped in 2015.  But some of the guys like shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, utility Derek Dietrich and first baseman Justin Bour are still developing.  At least they have Martin Prado and Don Kelly in the infield, and a pretty powerful, but somewhat old outfield.

The Phillies have gotten better as well.  They’ve really improved their rotation, including the acquisition of veterans Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Brett Oberholtzer and Vincent VelasquezBobby LaFramboise, Jerad Eickhoff, Luis Garcia and Jeanmar Gomez will lead the bullpen.  They also have acquired Peter Bourjos to join Odubel Herrera and Cody Asche in the outfield.  They have a stronger, more developed lineup and rotation, but still aren’t above .500 material.

Meanwhile, the Braves are much worse.  They have some serious holes in the infield, despite acquiring Erick Aybar.  Their pitching is worse, even more devastated despite signing minor league players Kyle Kendrick, Alexi Ogando and David Holmberg.

 NL Central

  1. Chicago_Cubs Chicago Cubs 96-66
  2. St_Louis_Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals 91-71
  3. pittsburgh-pirates Pittsburgh Pirates 88-74
  4. cincinnati_reds_logo Cincinnati Reds 79-83
  5. milwaukee-brewers Milwaukee Brewers 65-97

The Cubs already had a good team last year with Kris Bryant and some other dominant young stars making it to the majors.  This off season, the really stacked up.  They already had Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, they inked John Lackey to a deal too.  Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward also got deals in Chicago.  This team now looks to be one of the most powerful MLB teams while still having a starting lineup that’s almost 50% MLB rookies or sophomores.

Offseason moves increase pressure on 2016 Cubs to live up to the hype
Jason Heyward is just one major signing the Cubs made this off season.

The Cardinals still have power in the division, but were fed on just like the 2014-15 Tigers were fed on by the Nationals.  What I mean is that without any trades, one team is taking a lot of the Cardinals’ top 2015 free agents, that team is their division rival the Cubs.  Their rotation is shorthanded without Lance Lynn and there outfield will miss Jason Heyward, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos.  Even Matt Holliday will hit free agency next season.  However they have picked  up Jedd Gyorko and Seung-Hwan Oh, and got some good insurance in Brandon Moss and Jonathan Broxton at the 2015 trade deadline.  They also could still sign a big bat like Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson or Ian Desmond.

The Pirates are clearly at loss after losing Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, but with A.J. Burnett retiring, they stacked up on some pitchers.  They acquired Jon Niese, A.J. Schugel and Kyle Lobstein, and signed Ryan Vogelsong.  yet they still have thriving prospect Tyler Glasnow. Man, their pitching staff is stacked.  They additionally signed slugger John Jaso.  But in the end, compared to the Cards and Cubs, they aren’t too good.

The Reds even have some potential.  I see potential in this rotation.  Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen is who I think will make up the rotation.  They could also sign a veteran like Tim Lincecum and let Finnegan or Lorenzen rest after Bailey’s return from Tommy John surgery.  If not, Keyvius Sampson or John Lamb will have to start until then, unless Robert Stephenson is in the Opening Day rotation.  This team also has some serious holes, and needs some better hitting from Billy Hamilton, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips.  They desperately need a third baseman and an outfielder, and may have a ton of last minute signings if they don’t want to suck.  Hey, maybe Scott Schebler takes the outfield, Jose Peraza platoons at third with Ivan DeJesus efficiently, and Homer Bailey comes back early and shines.  Or they snag the older guys like Juan Uribe last minute.

Homer Bailey Homer Bailey #34 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during ...
In his return from Tommy John Surgery, Homer Bailey should be able to bounce back in 2016.

The Brewers don’t look any better.  Right now, Matt Garza and Wilin Peralta are their best pitchers, Will Smith is their closer, and they need some serious help in certain other positions.  What are they going to do?  Suck is what.

NL West

  1. los-angeles-dodgers.png Los Angeles Dodgers 94-68
  2. san diego-padres.png San Diego Padres 91-71
  3. arizona-dbacks.png Arizona Diamondbacks 88-74
  4. sanfran-giants.png San Francisco Giants 84-78
  5. colorado-rockies.png Colorado Rockies 67-95

This division may surprise you a lot.  The Giants put so much money into this off season, and they only go 84-78.  The Padres have the season they were expecting a year ago.  The D-Backs and Giants both miss the playoffs and are short of a 90-win season after acquiring or signing a combined four top 50 pitchers in the MLB, two apiece. The Dodgers still rule the division after all that drama.  Finally, despite a strong rebuild, the Rockies still suck.

The Dodgers however also acquired some good pitchers in Kenta Maeda and Scott KazmirHyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy will also return this season.  They have a secure lineup with very few holes and a strong rotation.

Kenta Maeda Pictures - Los Angeles Dodgers Introduce Kenta Maeda ...
The Dodgers won a tight race for Japanese star Kenta Maeda.

 

But what happened to the even year luck in San Francisco?  Pablo Sandoval brought it to Boston.  Oh well, Giants, all that hard work and my Red Sox still get all the glory, with little to pay up at all.

The D-Backs are also looking better but do you honestly think they can win a  division title with the lineup they have?  Not happening.

MLB 2016 Postseason

 

FullSizeRender(6).jpg
My MLB 2016 Playoff Bracket.  I have the Dodgers over the Red Sox in the World Series

Okay, okay, I might be getting a little carried away with the Padres doing so well, because the Cubs wouldn’t lose to them likely.  Well here’s something I’ll throw at you, even though I have the Dodgers winning the World Series, I nearly considered the Nats to beat them in the NLDS.  Bryce Harper is primed for a bigger breakout than even last year’s.  I know I always overrate the Nats, and again, I could be wrong with the Nats even making the playoffs.  The Mets could take their spot or San Diego’s.  You may have actually noticed that I had the Sox over LA in the Animoto video, I was just showing my Red Sox fandom.  But lets be honest here, the Dodgers rotation is by far better than the Red Sox’s.  They also have a slight edge with their outfield.

Alright, now the AL.  Again, I may be exaggerating with the White Sox, I did say the Tigers are ready to bounce back.  Now I don’t have them winning a single playoff game.  That’s up for debate.  But especially if Chicago signs Ian Desmond, think about it.  Jose Abreu, Brett Lawrie, Ian Desmond and Todd Frazier all in one infield.  Not bad.  I see potential for both sides.  Again, Red Sox-Rangers could also be debatable, I just believe the Sox have a slight edge in the match-up and will simply win 3-2 in the ALDS.  Besides that, I think I agree with my original instinct.  What do you think?

MLB Awards

Now its time to make my predictions for some MLB Awards in 2016.

AL MVP

Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays

Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista, 2016 Projected AL MVP

This is just going to make Bautista way more valuable.  Well, what’s my case?  Bautista was injured for a good amount of 2015, and played through some of it.  He had unsatisfactory results for much of the season.  But 2016 is the year for Jose Bautista to bounce back.  He didn’t have terrible results last year, but he definitely has room for improvement.  When he gets heated up, he reaches MVP level.

 

Honorable Mentions

Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley, Carlos Beltran, Xander Bogaerts

 

NL MVP

Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals

Bryce Harper, 2016 Projected NL MVP

I almost considered Joey Votto for MVP, but I just think that his team won’t support his relevance well enough.  But Harper, he’s ready to dominate.  Harper is fresh off a breakout season, and the 23-year old superstar is ready for another one.  I also have him winning a very special award, which I’ll surprise you with at the end.

 

Honorable Mentions

Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Gonzalez, Jason Heyward

 

AL Cy Young Award

David Price, Red Sox

... David Price ‘Going To Get Even Better’ With Red Sox | Boston Red
David Price, 2016 Projected AL Cy Young Winner

Price has a seven year deal with the Red Sox, so he’s pressured to do amazing.  Besides, there aren’t many other good choices.  Cole Hamels, maybe Dallas Keuchel.  Guys like that don’t match up to Price at his best, which he wasn’t last year.  I don’t think Detroit was the right fit for Price.  Boston or Toronto, that’s another story.  Price is ready to dominate this year.

 

Honorable Mentions

Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Chris Archer, Yu Darvish

 

NL Cy Young Award

James Shields, Padres

james shields padres
James Shields, 2016 Projected NL Cy Young Winner

You might say Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw will win the NL Cy Young, but where’s the love for James Shields?  Especially if the Padres have their long-awaited breakout year, Shields will be a legitimate competitor for the Cy Young.  He put up stellar stats for the Royals, he just hasn’t really fit in to the Padres’ system, but I think he’s found a spot as their ace.  He is ready to go back to all star form after only a subpar 2015.

Honorable Mentions

Zack Greinke, Kenta Maeda, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw

 

AL Rookie Of The Year

Byron Buxton, OF, Twins

Byron Buxton’s game-changing speed will be a vital asset to the ...
Byron Buxton, 2016 Projected AL Rookie Of The Year

I’m not as big of a believer in Buxton as most people, but look at the other options in the AL.  Byung-Ho Park is typically someone who would be too old to typically be a ro0kie.  But Buxton really is a prospect, he’s a typical rookie, he plays like a young rookie.  He’s actually one of the best at it in the AL, and I admire that.  Plus, I have some serious issues underrating Buxton.

Honorable Mentions

Byung-Ho Park, Sean Nolin, Blake Snell, Gary Sanchez, Dylan Bundy

NL Rookie Of The Year

Corey Seager, SS/3B, Dodgers

Corey Seager will bat third in his first postseason game. (Hans ...
Corey Seager, 2016 Projected NL Rookie Of The Year

Unlike Buxton, I see off the charts potential for this guy.  He’s the younger brother of a star third baseman in the league, and he proved himself byputting up great numbers while playing in the majors for the end of last season.  There has been so much hype for this kid and I believe it.  If there was one Rookie Of The Year for all of the MLB, it would be Seager all the way.

 

Honorable Mentions

Steven Matz, Tyler Glasnow, Trayce Thompson, Jose Peraza

 

AL Comeback Player Of The Year

Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers

Yu Darvish threw bullpen session yesterday - iFreePress iFreePress
Yu Darvish, 2016 Projected AL Comeback Player Of The Year

Darvish has spent nearly two full seasons on the DL.  Two years before even that, he was a great new MLB pitcher fresh out of Japan’s best bunch.  Darvish put up outstanding stats in 2012 and 2013. I know he’ll never be able to do that again, he’s too old and crippled, but can he at least return to All Star form?  I am a firm believer in Darvish and I’d like to see him try.

 

Honorable Mentions

Justin Verlander, Pablo Sandoval, Jarrod Parker,  Desmond Jennings

 

NL Comeback Player Of The Year

Matt Kemp, OF, Padres

Matt Kemp Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation on Padres of ...
Matt Kemp, 2016 Projected NL Comeback Player Of The Year

Kemp was a superstar with the Dodgers.  He’s old, but if he can do the same in San Diego, that would greatly benefit them.  Right now, he’s just a washed up outfielder forced to start.  But as the season progresses, I think he has potential to put up some all star stats.

 

 Honorable Mentions

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Jon Niese,  Travis Wood, Bartolo Colon

Triple Crown Award (NL)

Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals

... Bryce Harper Edition - Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy, The Fake
Bryce Harper, 2016 Projected NL Triple Crown Winner

This is the big surprise we’ve been waiting for.  Surprise, surprise, we have a Triple Crown winner!  Guess who it is?  Red hot, young Bryce Harper, already claiming the NL MVP.  Harper is fresh of a long-awaited breakout and is ready to become an all time great in the MLB.  A Triple Crown would really help his relevance, and I think he’s good enough to snag it at only age 23.

So that’s all for my MLB 2016 Preview.  Comment with your thoughts.

In Detail: San Diego Padres

This is my 4th post in my MLB in detail post series this April.  The Padres may be the most challenging team I try to analyze this season.  Much like the Astros I previously analyzed, they have many good options, but none of them are superstars.  Well, besides James Shields, who will really help the team.  The rotation is decent, they have a much improved outfield, and the infield is decent.  Plus, they have a decent catcher.  Well, I made all my positive comments for now.  Now let’s talk about possible weaknesses.  First, the bullpen is currently pretty empty.  They need some much better relievers in there.  Also, the infield could be better.  Maybe add a few backups better than the ones they currently have.  They also could use a backup catcher, just anybody.  Their current backup catcher is on the 60 day disabled list.  Otherwise, the other aspects of the team aren’t bad.  The Padres might be better than I’m expecting.  Oh.  That reminds me, I still need to make my predictions for San Diego.  My prediction for the Padres is 5th place in the NL West, having a 68-94 record and being ranked 27th overall.  I know, those of you who saw my last post know I’m out of order.  The thing is, I don’t see much of a difference between how the Padres will do and how the Astros will do.  They have similar strengths and weaknesses that lead to a very similar outcome.  So, it isn’t too far out of order.  For those of you who still care, I started looking at previous rankings for the rest of the calendar, which I’m using as a reference to help me remember what team to post about on what day, since in some cases, my memory is bad, but in others, it’s amazing, so it’s just in case this is a bad time for my memory.  Don’t worry, from here on out, I can go in order.  Back to the topic of the Padres.  That was way too much off topic.  Look, here I go again talking about what I did wrong.  So, the Padres may have to walk away saying they have no chance, but I disagree.  They have a chance to get 90 wins, for heavens sake.  I don’t really have much of an idea of how they’ll do, but I’ve said what my strongest opinion is.  So they’ll be better than I thought they would be after trading Chase Headley to the Yankees, which was to stink, but they won’t go that far from it.