It’s been a frenzied offseason across the Majors so far this winter, with many teams substantially changing their look — and their potential outlook — for 2023.
At the same time, there are plenty of clubs that could benefit from making another move or two before pitchers and catchers report next month. Whether it’s a result of being relatively quiet to this point in the offseason or simply needing to do more to make up ground on fellow title contenders, here’s a look at seven teams that might want to consider making one more splash in the coming weeks.
Biggest need(s): Another bat
To be clear, the Dodgers are still one of the top World Series contenders entering 2023 — and even remain a slight favorite in the National League West. But that gap is significantly smaller than entering previous seasons. After all, Los Angeles lost superstar shortstop Trea Turner in free agency, as well as veterans Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger. Justin Turner was an All-Star as recently as 2021 and, despite turning 38 in November, still posted a 116 OPS+ in 2022. Bellinger, meanwhile, has fallen off drastically on the offensive side over the past few years, but he still provided excellent defense last season, leading to a 1.7 fWAR.
Though the Dodgers re-signed Clayton Kershaw and more recently added 35-year-old designated hitter J.D. Martinez, it’s fair to wonder if they’ve done enough to offset those losses. Per FanGraphs, the Dodgers lost 21.3 WAR from 2022 to free agency — and they’ve added only 6.9. That drop-off of 14.3 WAR is by far the most in the Majors. As it stands, Los Angeles is set to enter the season with James Outman and Trayce Thompson starting alongside Mookie Betts in the outfield, with Gavin Lux set to fill Turner’s shoes at shortstop. Though the 25-year-old Lux made strides with his bat last season, it remains to be seen whether he’s ready to be the everyday shortstop on a title-contending club.
Biggest need(s): Corner infielder, bullpen depth
This is more about the other teams the Mariners are trying to catch than anything they’ve done (or haven’t done) this offseason. Though Seattle has been almost silent in free agency — veteran reliever Trevor Gott is the club’s lone signing — it has added two-time Silver Slugger winner Teoscar Hernández and two-time Gold Glove winner Kolten Wong via trades. That should offset the losses of Mitch Haniger, Jesse Winker, Carlos Santana and Kyle Lewis, but the corner infield spots are lacking depth at the moment.
The Mariners are set to enter 2023 with Ty France at first base and Eugenio Suárez at third. That’s far from a weakness, but the question becomes who fills in for either of those players in the event of an injury. It’s not the biggest problem to have, and an outfield duo of Hernández and Julio Rodríguez should provide plenty of pop, but another bat and some veteran arms in the bullpen certainly wouldn’t hurt. Especially since the Mariners, who snapped their 21-year postseason drought last season, now have their sights set on dethroning the Astros, the team that swept Seattle out of the ALDS in October.
Biggest need(s): Rotation depth
The Blue Jays traded away Teoscar Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. this offseason, but acquired promising outfielder Daulton Varsho to take over in the outfield. They also lost starter Ross Stripling, but added veteran righty Chris Bassitt. So it’s safe to say Toronto hasn’t gotten worse from the team that won 92 games last year before being swept by Seattle in the AL Wild Card Series — but has it done enough to leapfrog the rival Yankees?
While Bassitt steps in as a reliable No. 3 starter, there are still some questions about the Blue Jays’ starting staff. Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman provide a formidable one-two punch atop the rotation, but José Berríos is a major question mark after putting up a 5.23 ERA in 2022. A bounceback is far from a guarantee, considering he had a 5.11 xERA in 2022. In fact, Berríos has had a sub-4.00 xERA just once in his seven-year career (2018). Yusei Kikuchi also struggled, putting up a 5.19 ERA before being moved to the bullpen, and it’s unclear when, or if, Hyun Jin Ryu will be able to return from left elbow surgery.
Biggest need(s): Starting pitcher, another bat
This has been a disappointing offseason for the Giants, from coming up short in their pursuit of Aaron Judge to reaching an agreement with Carlos Correa, only to have it fall apart after reviewing the medicals. Add in the departures of Carlos Rodón, Tommy La Stella, Evan Longoria and the possibility of free agent Brandon Belt leaving as well, and it’s clear the Giants — despite adding Mitch Haniger, Michael Conforto, Ross Stripling and Sean Manaea — are worse off than the 81-81 team from a season ago.
Biggest need(s): Second baseman, rotation depth
Aside from the Dodgers, no team has lost more fWAR via free agency departures and additions this offseason than the White Sox. The addition of Andrew Benintendi helped ease the loss of José Abreu offensively, plus Chicago is hoping that its disappointing 81-81 record last season was simply an aberration. A case can be made that the White Sox are still the team to beat in the AL Central — despite the Guardians claiming the crown in 2022 — but another bat or an arm to provide insurance behind Mike Clevinger certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Biggest need(s): Bullpen depth
It’s hard to find a true weakness on the Brewers’ roster. Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff once again headline a rotation that could be one of the best in the Majors. The additions of William Contreras and Jesse Winker should help a lineup that checked in as slightly above league average in 2022. Devin Williams moved seamlessly into the closer role following the shocking midseason trade of Josh Hader last season.
And while the Cardinals haven’t done much themselves outside of adding Contreras’ brother — three-time All-Star Willson Contreras — it’s still fair to ask if Milwaukee has done enough in the wake of 2022’s late-season collapse.
Biggest need(s): Starting pitcher
The Orioles surprised many with their 83-win season last year — a 31-win improvement from 2021. While there was no question they had a promising young roster, their sudden rise to contention for an AL Wild Card berth was considered a bit ahead of schedule. It’s reasonable to expect another step forward in 2023 when the O’s will get a full season of Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson for the first time, but Baltimore could have put itself squarely in the postseason mix by adding a starter like Rodón. Instead, the Orioles’ only veteran starter addition to this point is Kyle Gibson.
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