Opening day is rapidly approaching but that shouldn’t stop the GMs of all 30 clubs from continuing to pursue upgrades between now and then. Let’s take a look at one move each team could and should still make before April 1st.

 

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Few teams can match what the Yankees have atop their rotation in superstar ace Gerrit Cole, but after that, the Bombers have question marks. They traded for Cole’s former Pittsburgh teammate Jameson Taillon who has talent and upside, but he’s made only seven starts since the beginning of 2019 due to injury. Corey Kluber is an interesting addition but injuries have prevented the two-time Cy Young winner from being a force since 2018. Domingo German is not exactly being welcomed back with open arms after a domestic violence suspension, Jordan Montgomery has been inconsistent at best, and Luis Severino is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Deivi Garcia is an exciting young arm that will undoubtedly get opportunities, but the Yankees should bring another veteran pitcher in to compete. Cole Hamels, Mike Leake, Jeff Samardzija, Rick Porcello, and Anibal Sanchez are all still available on the free-agent market, and New York should try to bring one down to Tampa to compete. 

 

Boston Red Sox: Add to the bench

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Boston struggled badly a year ago, finishing with the 3rd worst record in the American League, but they have high hopes of rebounding in 2021. Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is the only notable starter the team lost from their everyday line-up, and at some point this spring/summer they will welcome Chris Sale back to their rotation. The concern looking at Boston’s roster is a lack of depth. Right now their bench leaves a lot to be desired. Veteran free-agent catchers Matt Wieters and Tyler Flowers could at minimum push incumbent Kevin Plawecki for the back-up catcher job. And veteran bats like Matt Adams, Josh Reddick or Yasiel Puig would all be upgrades over Christian Arroyo, who is currently projected to be the last man on the bench.

 

Toronto Blue Jays: Take a flyer on more power

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Toronto has been one of the most active teams in the game this winter, and they’ve assembled a club that appears poised to seriously pressure New York and Tampa Bay in this division. The ‘Jays added significant firepower to their already strong line-up with the free-agent signings of George Springer and Marcus Semien, and imported veteran arms Steven Matz, Kirby Yates, David Phelps, and Tyler Chatwood to their pitching staff. There aren’t many areas that jump out as positions of need for Toronto, but bringing a veteran free-agent power hitter like Edwin Encarnacion or Yoenis Cespedes to see if they can turn back the clock as their DH against left-handed pitching would be fun. 

 

Tampa Bay Rays: Sign another starting pitcher

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The defending American League champs always seem to find a way, but 2021 is going to prove to be quite a challenge even for them. Their top two starting pitchers from the past few seasons, Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, are now in San Diego and Atlanta respectively. The Rays attempted to retool their rotation with the signings of veteran free-agents Chris Archer, Rich Hill, and Michael Wacha but every single one of them comes with question marks. Adding another arm from the group of Cole Hamels, Jeff Samardzija, Anibal Sanchez, Mike Leake, or Rick Porcello — even just on a minor league deal to provide depth in AAA–seems like a good idea. 

 

Baltimore Orioles: Convince Nick Markakis to come back to Baltimore

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The O’s are extremely young, with only five players on their currently projected opening day roster over the age of 30. In the outfield, they are particularly youthful, with DJ Stewart, Austin Hays, and Anthony Santander projected to play every day. Veteran outfielder Nick Markakis recently announced he plans to retire, but if I were in the Orioles front office I’d try to get him to come back to Maryland to finish his career in Charm City. The 37-year-old played the first nine years of his career with the O’s, and his leadership and experience would prove useful even in a low-intensity bench role. 

 

Cleveland Indians: Trade Amed Rosario

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Diehard Indians fans may never get over the team’s blockbuster deal that sent franchise icon Francisco Lindor to the Mets. The trade signified the start of a significant rebuilding process in eastern Ohio, but the most interesting part of the package that came back to Cleveland was the redundancy of two of the acquisitions. New York had two young big league caliber shortstops in Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario, and it was surprising the Indians wanted both. Gimenez is three years younger, better defensively, and plays with a high baseball IQ making him more likely to win the job long term. If he does, flipping Rosario to a shortstop needy team like Cincinnati or Oakland in exchange for help at a different position would make a world of sense. 

 

Minnesota Twins: Add a reserve outfielder

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Provided top prospect Alex Kirilloff begins the season in the Majors, unexperienced Jake Cave, and Brent Rooker will serve as Minnesota’s two reserves out on the grass. The free-agent options for this sort of role are pretty barren at this stage in the game, but the Twins could get lucky late in March when teams start making their final cuts. Someone like Mallex Smith who is in camp with the Mets or Juan Lagares with the Angels could potentially become available late, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Minnesota pounce.  

 

Chicago White Sox: Bring in a DH

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The White Sox have been a team on the rise for a couple of years now, and in 2021 the Southsiders may really introduce themselves on the national stage. Chicago is loaded offensively, boasts a strong rotation that was boosted by the winter addition of Lance Lynn, and a deep bullpen led by their new closer Liam Hendriks. The biggest question mark on their team is the DH position, whereas of now 2016 1st round pick Zack Collins is slated to start most days. The young left-handed hitter has taken only 120 at-bats at the big league level though, and despite his struggles a year ago, bringing back Edwin Encarnacion would make a lot of sense. 

 

Kansas City Royals: Sign a second baseman

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Kansas City has quietly been very busy this winter, bringing in three established everyday players in Andrew Benintendi, Carlos Santana, and Michael A. Taylor, and adding left-hander Mike Minor to their starting five. But they still need more help if they’re going to compete with Minnesota and Chicago in their division. Star prospect Bobby Witt Jr. is an option. So is signing an experienced second baseman like Neil Walker to offer leadership and potentially supplant incumbent Nicky Lopez would not be a bad idea. 

 

Detroit Tigers: Sign a cheap veteran

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The Tigers are unlikely to compete in their division, and their focus should be on bringing in veteran placeholders that they can then potentially trade-off in July. Names such as Zack Cozart, Jedd Gyorko, Logan Morrison, and Neil Walker would all make sense as cost-effective options. 

 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Sign Josh Reddick

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Reddick knows the Halos division after spending the past four seasons in Houston, and while he struggled a little last year, he’s still a valuable veteran left-handed hitter. Which is something the Angels need more of. Obviously, Mike Trout and Justin Upton are going to play almost every day, but it’s worth noting they both swing from the right side. Right fielder Dexter Fowler is a switch-hitter. And not a single member of LA’s projected opening day bench swings left-handed. Bringing in Reddick would give manager Joe Maddon a weapon to deploy late in games and provide much-needed depth to this roster as a whole. 

 

Oakland Athletics: Sign Tyler Flowers

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The A’s love Sean Murphy as their starting catcher–and for good reason–but they don’t have any real protection behind him. This is a problem, especially after Murphy was forced to start camp late due to an offseason collapsed lung. Former Giants 2nd round pick Aramis Garcia is projected to be Murphy’s back-up on opening day and there aren’t any real other options in the organization. Flowers struggled with the bat in the truncated 2020 campaign, but he’s strong defensively and has some pop, two qualities you want in a reserve backstop. 

 

Texas Rangers: Find a starting catcher

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Like their division rivals in the Bay Area, the Rangers need help behind the plate. They have options in the organization, but do any of Jose Trevino, Jonah Heim, Drew Butera or John Hicks really inspire you? The aforementioned Tyler Flowers is obviously available, but switch-hitter Matt Wieters is arguably the better option. The veteran is quite clearly not the player that once made four all-star teams and won two gold glove awards, but he still has enough upside and some power.

 

Seattle Mariners: Add a bat

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Seattle hasn’t made the playoffs since 2001 and while their drought is unlikely to end in 2021, adding more offense to a line-up that needs it would help. Sure top prospect Jarred Kelenic will make a difference when he’s called up, but this team’s projected DH is unproven Ty France. Bringing in a veteran hitter from the group we’ve discussed already–Yoenis Cespedes, Edwin Encarnacion, Yasiel Puig, Matt Adams, or even Ryan Braun if he wanted to play in 2021–would make the line-up deeper and more dangerous. 

 

Houston Astros: Bring in another starting pitcher

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For the first time in a long time, the Astros are not the slam dunk favorite to win the American League West. Losing superstar outfielder George Springer to Toronto in free agency was a massive blow to one of the AL’s powerhouses, but the fact that ace Justin Verlander is probably going to miss all of 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery is an even bigger problem. Houston’s rotation still features Zack Grienke and Lance McCullers and signing Jake Odorizzi last week will help, but after that, there’s quite a drop-off. Taking a low-risk flyer on someone like righty Homer Bailey could prove beneficial. 

 

New York Mets: Sign Shane Greene

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The Steve Cohen led Mets look primed to storm back into relevancy in 2021, and while both their offense and rotation are stacked, one area jumps out as a huge potential stumbling block. New York’s bullpen is anchored by closer Edwin Diaz whom Mets’ fans do not have a ton of confidence in. Adding Trevor May in free-agency will help, but with Seth Lugo due to miss the early portion of the season, the rest of this relief corps is questionable. Veterans Jeurys Familia and Dellin Betances both struggled a year ago, and Robert Gsellman was inconsistent and then injured. Bringing in a proven set-up man like Greene– who is somehow still available on the open market–makes far too much sense for this team.

 

Atlanta Braves: Bring in more catching depth

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Atlanta does not have any glaring holes on a roster that should again be one of the best on the senior circuit. But they could stand to have more protection behind the plate. Their starter, Travis d’Arnaud, is looking like a late bloomer who has blossomed into a dynamic player with the Braves, but behind him, the club’s depth is a little lacking. Alex Jackson is slated to be d’Arnaud’s back-up with young William Contreras starting the year in AAA. Bringing back veteran Tyler Flowers would make sense, but some other veterans in camp on minor league deals with other clubs could conceivably become available late in March. Names like Tony Wolters and Jeff Mathis fit that potential description. 

 

Washington Nationals: Sign Jedd Gyorko

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Publicly the Nationals have not expressed any qualms about starting young Carter Kieboom at the hot corner, but privately they have to have at least some concerns. The 23-year-old has slashed just .181/.309/.232 in 44 Major League games, and if he struggles again the Nats could use a back-up plan. Enter Gyorko. The right-handed swinger spent last season in Milwaukee and If nothing else he’d be a useful bench bat with the potential to slide into the starting line-up if needed. 

 

Philadelphia Phillies: Bring in more starting pitching

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The biggest area of concern for the Phillies for several years now has been starting pitching, and 2021 will be no different. Sure Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler are a strong duo atop the rotation, but after that, there are no sure things. Righty Zach Eflin is their #3 but his career ERA is 4.63. Vince Velasquez is talented but the Phillies have been waiting for him to truly breakthrough at the game’s highest level for several years now and he’s spoken openly this spring about understanding this could be his last chance. They added lefty Matt Moore over the winter but the veteran has appeared in only two games since the beginning of 2019. The current crop of free-agent starters is not deep, but bringing in any of Rick Porcello, Mike Leake, Anibal Sanchez, or perhaps most exciting to fans in the City of Brotherly Love, Cole Hamels, would be well received. 

 

Miami Marlins: Sign Brad Peacock

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Miami has struck pay dirt on several low-risk/high-reward additions recently–think Jesus Aguilar and Corey Dickerson–and former Astros’ righty Brad Peacock could be a likely candidate to follow in their footsteps. A shoulder injury pretty much wiped out the veteran’s entire 2020 campaign, but prior to that, he had been a strong member of Houston’s pitching staff for four years running. Inserting him into the Marlins bullpen would make the group much deeper, and an experienced hurler with postseason success under his belt would do nothing but help the young pitchers this team is trying to develop. 

 

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Chicago Cubs: Bring in David Robertson on a low risk minor league pact

Chicago Cubs: Bring in David Robertson on a low risk minor league pact

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Robertson hasn’t pitched in a big-league game in nearly two calendar years thanks to Tommy John surgery that included a setback in his recovery. But he’s thrown two showcases for teams in the last month and scouts came away impressed. The Cubs bullpen is not overly intimidating–particularly with a struggling Craig Kimbrel at the back end of it–and adding someone with Robertson’s career track record on a virtually no-risk contract is well worth the flyer. 

 

St. Louis Cardinals: Find another outfielder

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The Redbirds are primed to feature a starting outfield of Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, and Dylan Carlson, but of the three only Bader has played in anything close to a full big league season and none of them have a career batting average over .234. Projected 4th outfielder Justin Williams has taken only six Major League at-bats. The Cardinals simply need to add to the group they have patrolling the outfield grass, and enigmatic Yasiel Puig would be the perfect fit. 

 

Cincinnati Reds: Trade for a real shortstop

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The Reds spent all winter trying to bring in a shortstop but they were ultimately unable to land any of Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, or even Jonathan Villar who at one point it seemed they had an agreement with. Last season’s starter Freddy Galvis is now in Baltimore, and Cincinnati is now in a serious bind. Publicly they’re trying to talk up super-utility man Kyle Farmer’s ability to handle the position, but the former Georgia bulldog has started more games at catcher than shortstop in his career. Youngsters Jose Garcia and Alfredo Rodriguez are both exciting prospects, but this team needs a stopgap at a crucial spot on the diamond. Swinging a deal to acquire someone like Willy Adames from the Rays or Amed Rosario from the Indians should absolutely be on their radar. 

 

Milwaukee Brewers: Bring in Logan Forsythe

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Forsythe has not been an overly impressive big-league player really since leaving Tampa Bay, but with Travis Shaw poised to start at the hot corner at Miller Park despite back-to-back poor seasons, the Brewers could use more depth. A veteran right-handed hitter like Forsythe could potentially start some games at third against left-handed pitching. 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates: Sign Ariel Jurado

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At this point in the Pirates rebuild, they are not expected to be anything other than the worst team in the National League, and they should be throwing as much at the wall as they can in hopes something sticks. The right-handed Jurado has struggled tremendously across 45 big league appearances since 2018, but prior to that, he had an extensive track record as a successful starting pitching in Texas’ system. Bringing him in on a no-risk minor league deal to see if he can turn out to be a late bloomer is well worth the effort for a team with zero in the way of postseason aspirations. 

 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Sign Juan Nicasio

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The defending champs are simply stacked in every way, and they’re prepared to go into 2021 with what they have. If they had to add somewhere it would probably be relief pitching depth, where after their projected opening day bullpen they have several experienced big leaguers in camp on minor league invites. Nicasio could add to that group, and the righty is someone the club knows well after he pitched pretty reliably out of their bullpen in 2015. 

 

San Diego Padres: Add another bullpen arm

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Like their rivals slightly to the north, the Padres look poised to be one of baseball’s best teams in 2021. They created a potentially dominant rotation with the offseason additions of Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove added to their position player depth substantially and handed out an astronomical extension to superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. But like so many other clubs, the bullpen is a potential area that could do them in. The group is top-heavy with Drew Pomeranz, Mark Melancon, and Emilio Pagan leading the charge, but they could use more in the middle. Taking a flyer on someone who could become available later this month when other teams make their cuts, from a group that could include veteran names like Arodys Vizcaino, Nate Jones, or Bryan Shaw would be a good idea. 

 

San Francisco Giants: Bring back Jeff Samardzija

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The Giants are stuck in a division where two of the premier teams in the entire sport appear poised to dominate, putting them in a difficult position. On paper, San Francisco does have talent, but it’s unclear how much of a push they’ll really be able to make. Three spots in their starting rotation have been overhauled with the winter additions of Aaron Sanchez, Anthony DeSclafani, and Alex Wood, but all three come with question marks. The veteran Samardzija was limited to only 16.2 innings in 2020 by a shoulder injury, but in ’19 he was the Giants best pitcher. If they brought him back and he had a good first half, it’s conceivable they’d be able to trade him to a rotation needy team in July. 

 

Colorado Rockies: Trade Charlie Blackmon

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When the Rockies sent superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado to St. Louis a few weeks ago it fully announced to the rest of the league they plan to undergo a full rebuild. Immediately attention turned to their next two best players, outfielder Charlie Blackmon and shortstop Trevor Story and their potential availability. As we approach opening day they both are still in Denver, but the question is for how long? Story is a free-agent at years’ end and it’s highly unlikely he’ll want to re-up in Colorado to be part of a rebuild. Blackmon could also depart after this season, although his contract does include player options for 2022 and 2023. At 34-years-old though he, too, will not want to start over and should look to join a contender. The Rockies should really do the right thing for both him and themselves and send him to an outfield needy team and in turn, open up playing time for their own young players. 

 

Arizona Diamondbacks: Bring in another starting pitcher to compete

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Righty Zac Gallen broke out in a big way in the truncated 2020 season, and the Snakes rotation still has Madison Bumgarner. But after that there are questions. Luke Weaver worked to a 6.58 ERA in 12 starts last year. Merrill Kelly pitched well but made only five starts due to a shoulder impingement. And lefty Caleb Smith served up a ridiculous 33 home runs in his only full big league season in 2019. Add Arizona to the list of clubs that should try to sign one of the still available veteran free-agent starters.