clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The biggest remaining hole on every American League roster

There's still time for each AL team to fix its roster. Here's what they should consider.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It's too early to close the door on the 2015-2016 MLB offseason. Justin Upton hasn't signed. Yoenis Cespedes is still out there. Chris Davis is waiting for both of them, unless both of them are waiting for Chris Davis. If there's a team with a hole in left field or first base, there's still time to fill it. If your team needs a shortstop, it's still possible that the GM will read the six-team, 23-player proposal for Carlos Correa you posted on Reddit. Don't panic about the moves not yet made.

That written, it's time to look at the holes every team still has around baseball, along with the ability of the team to fix the problem this late in the offseason. We'll start with the American League and finish with the National League later in the week.


Biggest hole

Left field is an easy answer, but the Angels committed to a very A's platoon out there. Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava combine to form an intriguing, low-cost pair, which is apparently what they're comfortable with, considering they're still paying Josh Hamilton scores of millions to play for a division rival.

So we'll stick with second base. Johnny Giavotella was once proof that the Royals were dumb and impatient and never going to win anything again, but now he's a complementary player who should start only if something else has gone wrong. He was fine for the Angels last year, but he isn't a long-term solution. He might not even be a short-term solution.

Time and resources to fix it?

The second base market contains a bevy of old friends like Maicer Izturis, and Alberto Callaspo, and Howie Kendrick if the Angels don't want to think too hard. But they can also use Yunel Escobar at second and target third base, possibly by bringing David Freese back.


Biggest hole

The biggest problem for the A's last year was either bad luck or bad relievers, or possibly a combination of both. They finished nine games below their expected record based on runs scored and allowed, and they had to stink an awful lot in September to get that close.

The bullpen might not be fixed, but the A's made four noteworthy moves to shore everything up behind Sean Doolittle. The lineup isn't without its competent hitters, which leaves the back of the rotation as the biggest hole. A team counting on Jesse Hahn and Rich Hill to stay healthy, as well as Chris Bassitt and Sean Nolin to be productive, is hoping for an awful lot.

Time and resources to fix it?

The money probably isn't there, and there isn't a trade target out there who would be worth the prospect capital at this point. It's not a bad strategy to wait for Henderson Alvarez and Jarrod Parker and hope to get lucky in the interim.


Biggest hole

When a team's first baseman is projected to hit seventh or eighth, that either means the team is loaded beyond belief, or that they should take a close look at their first baseman. Jon Singleton is still just 24, and there's a lot of time for his contract to be a steal instead of a modern-day Jose Tabata deal. But the Astros should be in a close division race, which means it might be more practical to go with cost certainty over raffle tickets and long-term projects.

Time and resources to fix it?

The Astros are a big-market team coming off a postseason run, and their payroll is currently under $100 million. They should have the resources to spend on the right player.

And if you picture the Astros' braintrust as mad scientists in a '50s B-movie, you can also picture Chris Davis lumbering off the operating table, groaning and thrashing about, their most diabolical creation ever. He is the personification of the Astros and their dingers-or-nothing lineup construction. Like Chris Carter, but at the low cost of maybe well over $150 million.

Blue Jays

Biggest hole

The fifth starter is either Aaron Sanchez or Drew Hutchison, both of whom come with serious concerns. Sanchez has had issues throwing strikes and missing bats for most of his professional career, and Hutchison had some of the freakiest home/road splits in baseball history.

Time and resources to fix it?

With Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista scheduled to be free agents after the season, the Blue Jays shouldn't be in the business of paying someone like Ian Kennedy just because. They have to keep the future in mind, even as they're all in for the present.

I would assume the Jays are still on the phone right now, though, trying to pry a young pitcher away from all of the other 29 teams in baseball. Even without Alex Anthopoulos, they still might be the most restless team in baseball, especially considering the uncertainty of the roster after this season.


Biggest hole

That would be either right field or third base, as detailed here earlier in the week. The Indians have a huge opportunity to capitalize on pitching they're not used to.

Time and resources to fix it?

The players are out there, but I'm not looking at the financial tables and revenue projections. If they can't afford Justin Upton, they should consider sending kids around the neighborhood to sell boxes of chocolate and wrapping paper because, goodness, Upton would be a fine fit for this roster.


Biggest hole

Catcher. I know they acquired Chris Iannetta, but he's going to hit three homers with a .012 OBP. It is the Mariners' way. It's all a long con leading up to their master plan. You'll see.

Since Kenji Johjima's last above-average season in 2007, Mariners catchers have hit .217/.268/.353 in 4,976 plate appearances. But, you know, best of luck, Chris. You can't predict baseball, and all that.

As to the best hole the Mariners still might use resources to fill? It's possible that a surprise signing or trade could push Seth Smith into the fourth-outfielder role that he's probably best at.

Time and resources to fix it?

The Mariners still probably have a little money to spend if the right deal comes along, and Jerry Dipoto has to be running out of trade methadone. It's hard to imagine them convincing a hitter to play in Safeco without a monster deal, though.


Biggest hole

Other than losing their best hitter and best pitcher, this offseason has been a smashing success.

I suppose they could use another outfielder and/or a pitcher, though.

Time and resources to fix it?

Pretty sure it's time to stop analyzing what's going on with the Orioles at this point. They shocked the world with a Ubaldo Jimenez/Nelson Cruz combo a couple years ago, but they're generally the most boring team of every offseason, even though they waited almost two decades to be relevant again.

They'll almost certainly do something. It's just an open question whether that something will be as helpful as Chris Davis, who didn't exactly propel them to an AL East title with an excellent 2015 season. They need more help than any one player can provide.


Biggest hole

They should probably re-roll for better luck. Other than that, they're just waiting for Yu Darvish to come back, mostly.

While a mostly free Josh Hamilton would make for a hilarious story if he reclaims a fraction of his ability, an additional corner outfielder would probably make a lot of sense.

Time and resources to fix it?

If you're Justin Upton, and you got stuck playing in Petco Park during your walk year, wouldn't you at least consider a reasonable contract -- under nine figures, maybe -- to play in Texas if you had a couple of opt-outs built into the deal?

The same applies to Yoenis Cespedes. Of all the teams so far, the Rangers have the right combination of mystery team and need.


Biggest hole

A new stadium in a location that people can actually get to easily. Until that happens, they'll be judged on a curve, and they're doing a fine job patching together a roster that should contend.

Of course, they sure are starting James Loney and hitting him in the middle of the lineup again. Seems like we've been saying that for a while, now. If the Rays could find a reliable, low-cost slugger for either first base or DH, their lineup would look much, much better.

Time and resources to fix it?

They could still find help from the same box with question marks they usually pull players like Logan Forsythe out of. They'll probably just hang out and hope that their rotation and defense makes up for the sins of the lineup.

It's a defensible strategy. Matt Moore might be their fifth starter, you know. They have a secretly outstanding rotation.

Red Sox

Biggest hole

There's really nothing they can do to get rid of Hanley Ramirez and/or Pablo Sandoval, at least not in a way that would make sense. But there's a chance -- a strong chance -- that by May, Red Sox fans will be mighty sick of a 5-6-7-8-9 that runs Ramirez, Sandoval, Rusney Castillo, Blake Swihart and Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Maybe three or four of them have fine seasons after all, but the collective risk has to make them nervous. One more hitter, like Upton or Davis, would certainly help their forecasts.

Time and resources to fix it?

Probably not. David Price likely tapped them out, and instead of signing Chris Davis and making Ramirez the surliest, most expensive benchie in baseball, they probably want to see which of those five hitters disappoints first instead of proactively guessing.


Biggest hole

It's a mostly complete roster, but is that Omar Infante starting again? I thought they put traps out for him.

Time and resources to fix it?

The Royals got a fine deal on Alex Gordon, but that doesn't mean he was free. They might be out of scratch, even after accounting for the extra revenue a World Series win brings.

Of all the team and player combinations so far, nothing makes more sense than Howie Kendrick and the Royals. He wouldn't require a mega deal, and the defense-and-average paradigm would remain intact. If the Royals want a second baseman to keep the line moving, he's still out there, and all he would take is money and a late-first-round pick.


Biggest hole

Left field. Even if Tyler Collins rallies for another 732 OPS -- which was better than his career numbers in the minors, by the way -- the metrics are split on his defensive value. The Tigers can't afford to punt a position defensively and offensively, not while they're still experimenting with Nick Castellanos.

Time and resources to fix it?

"It's been close right along, we've had good teams ... last year was a goofy year ... where did they come up with that garbage? But we've been close every year, four or five years we won the pennant ... as I mentioned, going to the World Series two times, you get frustrated and I get a little upset too, and I'm saying, 'Al, get out there, get me more!'"

Mike Ilitch - December, 2015

If they don't get Upton, Davis or Cespedes, it will be a serious upset.


Biggest hole

Probably the rotation, but the problem is that they have a lot of pitchers who make too much money to jettison for a marginal upgrade. Other than that, the players they have in the lineup should be there, whether because they make too much to replace, or they're young enough to improve. It's rotation or bust.

Time and resources to fix it?

There's probably room in the budget to upgrade on Tommy Milone, I guess? I'm not sure if there's a more Ian Kennedy team left on the market. I'm not sure if that answers the question.

Barring a substantial, unexpected stunner of a deal for someone like Tyson Ross, though, they're probably done.

White Sox

Biggest hole

From November:

If there's anything preventing a reload instead of a rebuild, it's the daunting task of finding a third baseman and a shortstop and a second baseman. And maybe a catcher. And probably another starting pitcher. All on a mid-level payroll. It would sure be easier to grab the basket of prospects, run to the cellar and hang out for a couple years.

Since then: Brett Lawrie, Alex Avila and Todd Frazier have come over in separate deals. Not bad. That leaves shortstop as the remaining hole if you want to give Avisail Garcia the benefit of the doubt, which you probably don't.

Time and resources to fix it?

Both shortstop and the outfield are easy fixes ... so long as the White Sox spend, which they might be wary of doing after last offseason. Ian Desmond and Upton would complete the transformation of one of baseball's most miserable lineups into a potential strength.

It's up to someone to convince Jerry, though.


Biggest hole

They could probably use one more power arm in the bullpen. You know, just in case. Barring that, the Yankees are mostly set. They have seven players in the lineup who are over 30 and making more than $10 million, with two 20-somethings in the other two spots making up something of a youth movement.

If they're going to replace a pitcher, it would have to be someone better than Nathan Eovaldi, and I'm not sure if the Yankees have any interest in spending the money or prospects to find them. I'm not sure they should have any interest.

Time and resources to fix it?

There's time left. There probably isn't a lot of money left. We're getting closer to the roster apocalypse of a post-A-Rod world. The Yankees will be offseason bullies again. You'll see.

It'll be a shame for Bryce Harper to cut off that hair, you know.


Get all kinds of MLB stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans in your inbox every day.