Spring Training is less than a month away, but there are still plenty of moves left to be made. As is often the case in early January, most teams have addressed their most significant needs on their roster. However, some teams still have glaring holes in their roster. Some teams will address these needs before Spring Training; others will begin the season without doing much more to improve their roster. These are the 10 most glaring needs of contenders for the remainder of the offseason.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Starting Pitcher
The Diamondbacks have made plenty of moves this offseason to improve their bullpen, but they are still lacking in the rotation. They have an above-average rotation overall, but lack a true ace and have multiple pitchers with serious injury concerns, especially Brandon McCarthy. They have been in talks for David Price and Jeff Samardzija and are looking to go all out to sign Masahiro Tanaka. They have the Farm System to acquire an ace via trade, but it is unclear if they are willing to give up some of their top prospects.
Atlanta Braves – 2nd Baseman
Dan Uggla slashed just .179/.309/.362 for the Braves last season. He still has a large sum of money left on his contract and it is unlikely that the Braves will be able to find a trade partner to take him. Either way, they will need a new 2nd Baseman, as their other internal options are not very impressive. They will have to make the addition through a trade, as the Free Agent market is very weak on productive 2nd basemen.
Baltimore Orioles – Starting Pitcher
The Orioles have had a very quiet offseason thus far, which has drawn lots of criticism from fans. After voiding their deal with Grant Balfour, they still have a need at Closer. However, that is a much easier hole to plug from within than the hole in their rotation. Their rotation was tied for the worst FIP in baseball last season, which suggests their ERA will take a substantial step back this season. If they do not bring in another starter, it is still unclear who their 5th starter will be. Plenty of options remain on the open market. The best fit seems to be Bronson Arroyo, as he is not linked to draft pick compensation and will not cost as much as Matt Garza.
Cincinnati Reds – Centerfielder
The Reds seem prepared to enter the season with Billy Hamilton as their starting Centerfielder; however, it is unclear how productive he will be in the MLB. After transitioning from Shortstop, it is doubtful that he will be a strong defender at an up-the-middle position. Not only will the Reds employ Hamilton in Centerfield, but they are also likely to use him as their leadoff hitter. Hamilton slashed just .256/.308/.343 in Triple-A last season, which is likely to get worse as he is challenged at the MLB level.
New York Mets – Shortstop
The Mets continue to wait for Ruben Tejeda to develop into the great Shortstop they expected he would become. However, Tejeda is now 24 years old and still has not come close to those expectations. In 2013, he slashed just .202/.259/.260. The Mets have been connected to Stephen Drew, but are reportedly unwilling to go beyond 2 years for him. Drew is still the best fit for the Mets, as they do not have many in-house options.
New York Yankees – Starting Pitcher
The Yankees have brought in 7 position players so far in Free Agency, but just 2 pitchers, including Hiroki Kuroda, who was in their rotation last season. They have likely been waiting for Masahiro Tanaka to be posted, and now that he has been posted, they will likely be all-in to sign him. If the Yankees are unable to land Tanaka, they are likely to turn to Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana.
Oakland Athletics – 2nd Baseman
The Athletics have plenty of depth throughout their team, especially in the infield. With Eric Sogard, Alberto Callaspo and Nick Punto on the roster, the A’s have plenty of options to play 2nd, but no really strong answer. All three of these players are best for being part-time players because none are particularly strong offensively. The Free Agent market is weak on offensive 2nd basemen, so the A’s would need to make a trade to improve this hole.
Pittsburgh Pirates – 1st Baseman
The Pirates are unlikely to sign a big-time player to fill this hole, but there are still plenty of options. They have been involved in the trade market, but thus far have been unwilling to meet any team’s asking price. The best fit for the Pirates is Ike Davis or Lucas Duda, both of the Mets. They are both left-handed, which makes them ideal candidates to platoon with Gaby Sanchez, who is the Pirates internal candidate for the 1st base job.
Seattle Mariners – Starting Pitcher
Many people within the industry feel that the Mariners will go all-in for Tanaka. They have a great 1-2 punch at the top, but little else in the rotation. They spent $240 Million on Robinson Cano, but still need more improvements to be real contenders in 2014. If they fail to sign Tanaka, then the best fit is likely one of the top remaining Free Agent starters. However, the Mariners also have the Farm System to pull off a big trade.
Toronto Blue Jays – Starting Pitcher
The Blue Jays have had a quiet offseason, but they have few holes other than in the rotation. They have one of the best lineups in the MLB and a strong bullpen, but the rotation projects to be a huge weakness. They battled injuries throughout the rotation last season, which is unlikely to change with similar personnel. They do not seem like a good fit for Tanaka, however, because they do not like to give out long contracts for pitchers. Their best fit is Bronson Arroyo, who is incredibly durable and will sign for a shorter deal than other Free Agents.