Here’s what the final group of teams still needs going into the New Year:
Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies have already made a big splash with the Halladay acquisition which was followed with a hefty extension. It works out well that Philadelphia doesn’t have much money left, because there aren’t many holes to fill either. Another lefty in the bullpen wouldn’t hurt because J.C. Romero has had some struggles staying on the field.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates should try to unload catcher Ryan Doumit and his extension, though it isn’t too large. Rumors for a Rick Ankiel signing makes sense because it would add some more power and a strong arm to help in the deep gaps of Pittsburgh’s field. A player like him can be a one year stop-gap until top prospects Jose Tabata and/or Gorkys Hernandez are able to assume full-time roles. Besides these ideas, there aren’t many reasons for additional moves given their slim chances of contending.
San Diego Padres: While contending next year is possible, it’s not extremely likely. Their best bet would be to add a middle level starter to hold down a rotation spot. Losing catcher Henry Blanco via free agency will have a significant impact, just ask the Cubs. Though it’s overdue, the Padres need to trade one of Chase Headley or Kevin Kouzmanoff. They waited too long and their values have both dropped. Also, test the market and see if there is still any interest in middle infield prospect Matt Antonelli as David Eckstein will block his path for the second year in a row.
San Francisco Giants: Though the Giants were able to compete last year, they have a lot to do. Travis Ishikawa, Fred Lewis and Nate Schierholtz cannot all be in the lineup at the same time. Apparently the team is close on both Mark DeRosa and Juan Uribe, which would move Pablo Sandoval to first and Ishikawa out of the lineup. A cheap outfielder would at least allow for a platoon with Lewis or Schierholtz. Buster Posey needs a mentor behind the plate and the bullpen needs more proven arms. As I said, they have a lot of work ahead.
Seattle Mariners: Speaking of lots of work, the M’s have already done that and surely have more moves on the horizon. A first baseman is necessary and Russell Branyan is the best fit. The rotation is very strong with two Cy Young candidates already there but depth is needed. A lefty in the bullpen is also very important.
St. Louis Cardinals: Will the team re-sign Matt Holliday? They should. Holliday has proven to be hard to sign in the past and Scott Boras has already shrugged off huge offers in the first half of the off-season. If not Holliday, someone else must be brought in because their depth in left field is horrible right now. The team claims to be happy with David Freese at third base but I doubt it.
Tampa Bay Rays: The lineup is interesting to look at from the trading-block standpoint. The team has already moved Akinori Iwamura, tried vigorously to move Pat Burrell, almost non-tendered Dionner Navaro, and has been rumored to at least listen to offers for B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford. The team has to decide upon their direction but I only foresee Pat Burrell getting moved while Matt Joyce, Willy Aybar and Fernando Perez gets his at-bats.
Texas Rangers: After a failed trade for Mike Lowell, look for the team to pursue Vladimir Guerrero to play DH. He played great down the stretch last year and, for whatever its worth, hits like the second-coming of Babe Ruth in Texas. Another top starter is necessary to win the division. Signing a catcher may be in store because Jarrod Saltalamacchia got hurt during winter ball, Taylor Teagarden hasn’t proven himself yet, and Max Ramirez has been in trade rumors for the past two years.
Toronto Blue Jays: The new GM has gotten off to a great start in his rebuilding process. The team has needed it for a while but the relations between ownership and former GM J.P. Ricciardi wouldn’t really allow for it. Trading Roy Halladay has been a must for two years. Did they really think they would compete? Even after Tamba Bay passed them? Continuing this process will include attempts to move Vernon Wells, Jeremy Accardo, and Edwin Encarnacion.
Washington Nationals: Last but not least, the Washington Nationals. Their off-season is honestly pretty much done. However, one thing that still needs some attention is the middle infield. Ian Desmond came up at the end of the year and did fine at shortstop leading to attempts to persuade Christian Guzman to play second base. Guzman initially met it with hesitance but his range has dropped and second should be a little less physically demanding. He would fit well there and can swing the bat so it would work for the team. If he really demands to be moved, the Nationals have always been intrigued by Orlando Hudson who could replace him at second.
Now we just have to wait and see what the coaches, GMs and owners really have planned for their teams.