Major League Baseball spring training is in full swing and teams are, for the most part, finished constructing their roster for the 2019 season. But there are still moves they can make to deepen their rosters before opening day. Here is one signing every American League team could still make.
Boston Red Sox: Backend Reliever
The defending World Series champion Red Sox project to be in contention for the AL pennant once again this season, but they’re not a flawless ballclub. With right-hander Joe Kelly signing a three-year, $25 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and closer Craig Kimbrel still on the open market, an underwhelming 2018 Red Sox bullpen is now an alarming issue. With the majority of the big-name relievers off the board, Boston needs to act quickly to address their bullpen before it’s too late.
New York Yankees: Long Reliever/Sixth Starter
The Yankees have arguably the most well-rounded roster in the sport, but there is still doubt about their starting rotation performing well in the postseason. While they’ve established a deep bullpen, the presence of a pitcher who can serve as a starter and/or a long reliever would be beneficial for a rotation that struggles to pitch deep into games. Chad Green and Jonathan Holder are better off serving as long relievers than taking the hill for five-to-six innings an appearance.
Tampa Bay Rays: Long Reliever
The Rays have adopted the bullpen day strategy and built a staff of pitchers who thrive in multiple situations. With that said, no matter how deep and talented they may be, this strategy can’t have enough depth. While the Rays have the likes of Morton, 2018 Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow, signing another proven starter, or long reliever, can only help the Rays.
Potential Candidates: Warren, Jackson, Clay Buchholz
Toronto Blue Jays: Reliever
The Blue Jays pitching staff is an enormous question mark this season, but their starting rotation is still young, and management is likely going to stay committed to that aspect of their ballclub. For the meantime, they can look to improve their bullpen. The Blue Jays are mostly set around the diamond and have young starters such as Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez who could propel their rotation with bounce-back seasons; they need a reliable pen.
Baltimore Orioles: Starting Pitcher
The Orioles are coming off a disastrous 47-win season, and they may very well finish with 100-plus losses for a second consecutive season. Sure, this is a rebuilding franchise, but no matter what situation an MLB team is in, you need pitching. Maybe Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, and Dylan Bundy will pitch to their capabilities in 2019, but the Orioles could still use another starting pitcher.
Cleveland Indians: Backend Reliever
The Indians bullpen was their biggest weakness in 2018. Brad Hand is one of the best relievers in MLB, and Adam Cimber is a reliable late-inning option, but the void created by Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s departures still haven’t been filled and worsen an already shaky pen. While they’re the favorites to win the AL Central this season, an offseason of turnaround and another season of bullpen inconsistency could open the door for the rest of the division.
Potential Candidates: Kimbrel, Vincent, Johnson
Minnesota Twins: Starting Pitcher
Jose Berrios is one of the most promising young pitchers in the sport, but the Twins sport an inconsistent starting rotation. While Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi are proven right-handers, they’re each free agents after this season, so signing a starter to a long-term deal would pay dividends. The Twins are a playoff threat in 2019, but if they want to enhance their odds, they should add more pitching.
Potential Candidates: Gonzalez, Santana, Dallas Keuchel
Detroit Tigers: Outfielder
The Tigers have finished with 64 wins in back-to-back seasons and are in the midst of a rebuild. Their outfield rotation features some young players, but few proven commodities. Plus, with Nick Castellanos supposedly wanting out of Detroit, the Tigers will need to, at some point, fill the void created by the potential departure of their most consistent player. Adding a reliable outfielder would boost the Tigers depth chart.
Chicago White Sox: Outfielder
The White Sox have a number of young and/or proven players in their lineup, and their outfield features Adam Engel and Jon Jay. At the same time, they would benefit from the presence of another outfielder, especially considering how their franchise may be nearing a turning point with its youth. The White Sox have some blossoming young pitchers, making beefing up their lineup the best course of action for the time being.
Kansas City Royals: Starting Pitcher
The Royals appear to be multiple years away from competing for the playoffs, but with a lineup of productive bats, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The Royals won back-to-back pennants earlier this decade with a deep bullpen. Letting their young arms grow, in both the major and minor leagues, while building a deep bullpen will set the Royals up for success when their positional core comes into its own.
Potential Candidates: Buchholz, Keuchel, Miguel Gonzalez
Houston Astros: Backend Starting Pitcher
The Astros are still an AL powerhouse, but with Lance McCullers likely to miss 2019 with an elbow injury and Morton and (potentially) Keuchel leaving Houston in free agency, the Astros greatest asset (their starting rotation) has taken a significant step back. Right-handers Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are free agents after this season, and their potential departures could take the Astros out of playoff contention. Wade Miley was a plausible signing, but the Astros need another veteran starting pitcher to win the pennant.
Potential Candidates: Buchholz, Jackson, Gonzalez
Oakland Athletics: Starting Pitcher
Sure, the A’s were one of the biggest surprises in the sport last season, winning 97 games, but their starting rotation needs improvement. They’ll be without left-hander Sean Manaea in 2019 due to a shoulder injury, and they lost Trevor Cahill and (potentially) Jackson to free agency. No matter how promising their starting lineup may be, the A’s will struggle to return to the playoffs if they don’t, at the very least, add depth to their pitching staff.
Potential Candidates: Buchholz, Gonzalez, Santana
Seattle Mariners: Backend Reliever
The Mariners have been the busiest team in MLB this offseason when it comes to trading away significant players, one of them being closer Edwin Diaz — who was an All-Star in 2018. The Mariners have a deep lineup and a respectable starting rotation that can keep them competitive this season, but trading Diaz removes an essential arm from their bullpen; without a reliable pen, it could be a long year for the transforming Mariners.
Potential Candidates: Kimbrel, Clippard, Johnson
Los Angeles Angels: Reliever
The Angels have a young starting rotation, and they agreed to one-year deals with Cahill and Matt Harvey, but new manager Brad Ausmus‘s bullpen could use fine-tuning. It’s not to say that their pen is an Achilles heel that’ll prevent them from making a postseason push, but the Angels lineup and starting rotation are set for 2019; they might as well bolster a bullpen that was in the middle of the pack in production last season.
Potential Candidates: Sipp, Johnson, Ryan Madson
Texas Rangers: Starting Pitcher
The Rangers have been in MLB’s cellar over the last two years, and it’s partially due to their starting rotation. If they’re going to return to prominence with their core, they need to add reliable starting pitchers, and there are still individuals available who fit the bill. Plus, with the AL West becoming less potent, the Rangers’ window to get back to the playoffs isn’t as small as it was last season.
Potential Candidates: Santana, Keuchel, Gonzalez