MLB power rankings: Astros, Yankees, Braves lead the way heading into spring training

With most of the offseason moves made and spring training right around the corner, it’s a good time for power rankings. Here’s how I view the respective strength of the 30 MLB teams after taking stock of their trades, free-agent signings, incoming prospects and rosters overall.

The Astros lost American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander in free agency and said goodbye to veteran first baseman Yuli Gurriel. Their biggest offseason acquisition was José Abreu, who replaced Gurriel in a significant middle-of-the-order upgrade. Abreu slashed .304/.378/.446 last year, and he hit at least 25 home runs and drove in at least 100 RBIs in six of his nine seasons with the White Sox. Even without Verlander, the Astros’ rotation of Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia and José Urquidy is still one of the best and deepest in the majors — and that’s before factoring in the potential of rookie right-hander Hunter Brown. The Astros’ lineup is loaded with established superstars such as Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker plus 25-year-old World Series MVP Jeremy Peña. They have arguably the best combination of power, speed and defense in the league. There’s no doubt: The defending world champions are the best overall team on digital (I can’t say paper anymore) heading into spring training.

The Yankees accomplished their top offseason goal — bringing back AL MVP Aaron Judge — but their next-biggest move, the Carlos Rodón signing, likely gives them the best rotation they’ve had under manager Aaron Boone. Right-hander Luis Severino’s health and performance will be a key to their season. The Yankees enter spring training with questions in left field, at shortstop and at third base that they’ll need to figure out by Opening Day, or maybe even by the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Another key to their season could be the emergence of rookie infielders Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe, with the latter expected to arrive in the majors by late summer and the former expected to be in the starting lineup on Opening Day.

The Braves have won the National League East for five consecutive seasons and are coming off a 101-win campaign, the most wins they’ve had since the 2002 and 2003 teams won the same number of games. Shortstop Dansby Swanson left in free agency to the Cubs, but the Braves believe a combination of 22-year-old Vaughn Grissom and veteran Orlando Arcia can handle the position. Their biggest move this offseason was acquiring catcher Sean Murphy from the A’s in a blockbuster trade that also included the Brewers. Murphy is an elite defensive player and a top-five overall catcher in the sport. The Braves also lost Kenley Jansen in free agency, but traded for Joe Jiménez, who is expected to be the right-handed setup man in front of new closer Raisel Iglesias. I expect a huge bounce-back season from Ronald Acuña Jr., who will be another year removed from ACL surgery. I expect Michael Harris II to replicate his Rookie of the Year season (but this time, Atlanta will enjoy his talents from the start of the year). Austin Riley and Matt Olson should combine for 70 to 80 homers on the infield corners. But the key for the Braves to win a top-heavy NL East will be their rotation: Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton and Mike Soroka. Can Morton deliver consistently at 39 years old? Can Soroka return from all of the injuries and be a Comeback Player of the Year candidate? And finally, will the Braves get enough production, offensively and defensively, from left field? If the Braves answer those three questions positively, they should win the division again. If not, they’ll still make the playoffs as a wild-card team.

Trea Turner (Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)

The defending NL champions are even stronger after a terrific offseason highlighted by the signing of Trea Turner, who was worth 4.9 WAR (Baseball-Reference) last season with 21 home runs and 27 stolen bases. He’ll be a difference-maker atop the Phillies lineup, especially with the new rules to encourage base stealing. Turner might hit 25 homers and steal 35 bases in his first season with Philadelphia. The Phillies bolstered their bullpen, trading for lefty Gregory Soto and signing righty Craig Kimbrel and lefty Matt Strahm. They improved their rotation by adding veteran Taijuan Walker, and will benefit from the emergence of rookie right-hander Andrew Painter, who is talented enough to win a Cy Young Award someday and is expected to make the big-league team out of spring training. The Phillies will play about half their season without Bryce Harper, who underwent Tommy John surgery in November, but they learned last year they could win without him. I expect a bounce-back year from right fielder Nick Castellanos, and perhaps even a breakout type season from either third baseman Alec Bohm or center fielder Brandon Marsh. This team is solid from top to bottom: It will have three potential aces in the rotation (Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Painter), power throughout the lineup (led by NL home run champ Kyle Schwarber) and a special mix of veteran and young players.

The Mets did an excellent job of retaining most of their roster while replacing key departed free agents with equal or better players. They re-signed closer Edwin Díaz to a five-year, $102 million contract and brought back outfielder Brandon Nimmo on an eight-year, $162 million deal. They replaced departed players such as ace Jacob deGrom with another ace, Justin Verlander, and signed starters Kodai Senga and José Quintana to replace Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker. The Mets’ one disappointment this offseason was the Carlos Correa situation. They didn’t like the star infielder’s medical reports, so their decision to back away after agreeing to a 13-year, $315 million deal is understandable, but Correa was the one available player who would have catapulted the Mets over the Braves and Phillies in the NL East. They’ll be right in the mix, though, and a key factor, by the end of the year, could be the development of two rookies, catcher Francisco Álvarez and third baseman Brett Baty. The Mets are a playoff team; the only question is whether it’ll be as a division winner or a wild-card entry.

Juan Soto (Bill Streicher / USA Today)

The Padres have been the best at playing checkbook baseball the past couple of years and this offseason was no exception, as they were in the mix for big-name free agents and landed shortstop Xander Bogaerts with an 11-year, $280 million contract. That signing will lead to significant position changes as Ha-Seong Kim moves to second base and Jake Cronenworth heads to first base (where he played 13 games last season). With Manny Machado at third, it should be the best defensive infield in the NL. The Padres outfield is expected to have Juan Soto in right, Gold Glove Award winner Trent Grisham in center and, to start the season, some combination of José Azocar, Adam Engel and Matt Carpenter in left. Fernando Tatis Jr. is eligible to return from his performance-enhancing drug suspension on April 20, and he’ll then be the everyday left fielder, or the Padres could move him to right field and Soto to left field, which I think would be the best defensive alignment. I’m most excited to watch Soto, Tatis and Machado hitting back-to-back-to-back each night; opposing pitchers won’t be able to pitch around any of them and all three can hit the game’s best pitchers’ best stuff. The top of the Padres rotation, with righties Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish and lefty Blake Snell, is also special. However, the key to success for this team will be the back of the rotation, where Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo must step up and perform at their career best for the Padres to finish ahead of the Dodgers. Their bullpen is strong and deep, with closer Josh Hader and set-up man Robert Suarez waiting in the late innings. I still think the Padres need to trade for another starting pitcher between now and the trade deadline, but this team is capable of winning the World Series.

The Dodgers have won the NL West in nine of the past 10 seasons, but for the first time since Mark Walter bought the team in 2012, they didn’t spend significant money in the offseason nor make any major trades. They lost a lot of key players in free agency, including shortstop Trea Turner, third baseman Justin Turner and center fielder Cody Bellinger. They added a trio of veteran free-agent position players — designated hitter J.D. Martinez, infielder Miguel Rojas and outfielder Jason Heyward (minor-league deal) — but in all three cases, their best days are behind them. I did like the acquisition of Noah Syndergaard, and I’m curious about the plan their pitching coaches and analytics department have put together to try to make him a top starter again. Rookie Miguel Vargas will get an opportunity to be the everyday second baseman and Gavin Lux will finally get to play his best position, as he replaces Turner at shortstop. The Dodgers are hoping for healthy years from right-handers Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May, and that could end up being the key to their season. This is a playoff team, but unlike last season’s romp to the division title, it should be an exciting race for first place all season long between the Dodgers and Padres.

The Blue Jays had a strong offseason in which they added quality arms to their bullpen and rotation and much-needed left-handed bats to their lineup. They also improved their defense. Their biggest acquisition was signing starter Chris Bassitt, who fits nicely in their rotation behind Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman and José Berríos. Righty reliever Erik Swanson, whom they got in the Teoscar Hernández trade with the Mariners, gives them an elite set-up man in front of closer Jordan Romano. They improved their outfield defense and lineup balance with the trade for left fielder Daulton Varsho and the signing of center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, both of whom are left-handed hitters. I also liked their depth play, signing veteran first baseman Brandon Belt to a one-year deal. The key for the Blue Jays is keeping right fielder George Springer and Kiermaier healthy enough to play 140 games. I expect first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and shortstop Bo Bichette to be in the AL MVP conversation. I’m curious to see how the changes to Rogers Centre’s outfield dimensions and walls will affect Toronto’s offense and run prevention.

The Cardinals made only one significant offseason move: signing All-Star catcher Willson Contreras to a five-year, $87.5 million contract. They will miss Yadier Molina’s leadership and game calling behind the plate, but offensively, Contreras should be a significant upgrade. The Cardinals are an impressive defensive team, led by their infield corners, all-world third baseman Nolan Arenado and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, last year’s NL MVP. Their rotation is solid but not special, with 41-year-old Adam Wainwright returning for an 18th season in St. Louis and Jack Flaherty hoping to overcome his injuries and regain his form from 2019, when he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting. The rest of the rotation, including Miles Mikolas, Jordan Montgomery and Steven Matz should keep them in most games. The key to the Cardinals’ season might end up being Jordan Walker, who I think is the best prospect in the sport. He moved from third base to the corner outfield because St. Louis has Arenado at third, and as soon as Walker proves he can handle the new position, look for him to become a top Rookie of the Year candidate. It might happen as early as Opening Day.

The Brewers were wheeling and dealing this offseason, lowering their payroll and strategically adding offense. Their biggest trade was the three-team deal with the Braves and A’s that landed catcher William Contreras, who was the starting DH for the NL All-Star team last year and isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2025. They acquired outfielder Jesse Winker in a trade with the Mariners hoping that he will bounce back from back and neck injuries and be the player he was with the Reds in 2021, when he hit .305 with 24 home runs and 71 RBIs. They traded soon-to-be free agent Hunter Renfroe to the Angels in a move that cut their payroll and brought back three young pitchers, but none of them have significant upside. As usual, the key for the Brewers will be their dominant rotation, led by Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, and Eric Lauer. Three of the four will be free agents after the 2024 season (Peralta’s contract includes team options for ’25 and ’26), so this could be the Brewers’ last run with this group. They’ll need a stronger season from left fielder Christian Yelich and contributions from rookie outfielders Sal Frelick and Garrett Mitchell if they’re going to overtake the Cardinals in the NL Central.

Teoscar Hernández (Dan Hamilton / USA Today)

The Mariners had an impressive offseason, adding middle-of-the-order power in the trade with the Blue Jays for right fielder Teoscar Hernández and improving their defense up the middle in the trade with the Brewers for second baseman Kolten Wong, a two-time Gold Glove winner. They also added AJ Pollock, a veteran right-handed-hitting outfielder who can platoon with Jarred Kelenic in left field or get some at-bats as the designated hitter. The Mariners’ rotation is strong with Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby and Marco Gonzales, and they have a dominating bullpen that includes set-up reliever Andrés Muñoz and closer Paul Sewald. Julio Rodriguez, 22, is the face of their franchise and has a chance to have a Hall of Fame type career. This team has power throughout the lineup, strong defense up-the-middle and a playoff pitching staff. The Mariners haven’t caught the Astros yet, but they’re the second-place team in the AL West and should make the postseason for a second consecutive season.

The Guardians tied a franchise record last year when 17 players made their major-league debuts — on a division-winning team no less — and they should be the favorites to repeat in the AL Central. Their pitching staff is special, led by Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie at the top of the rotation and the league’s best closer, Emmanuel Clase, at the back of a shutdown bullpen. The Guardians didn’t make a lot of offseason moves, but signing Josh Bell was a key acquisition as the switch hitter will add much-needed power and balance to their lineup. Catcher Mike Zunino is an offensive upgrade over Austin Hedges, whom they didn’t re-sign, and could provide even more power if he can stay healthy. Left fielder Steven Kwan won a Gold Glove in his rookie season and was worth 5.5 bWAR. Second baseman Andrés Giménez (7.4 bWAR) made his first All-Star team, won a Gold Glove, hit 17 homers and stole 20 bags in 23 attempts. José Ramírez is always in the AL MVP conversation (five top-six finishes in the past six years) and Terry Francona won his third Manager of the Year award. Cleveland’s front office, led by president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, is one of the most resourceful and best in the sport. The Guardians also have the “it” factor in the clubhouse, thanks to their leadership and team culture.

No organization in baseball has done a better job over the past two decades of winning games while getting the most out of their player payroll. Every year, the Rays field a contending team that can pitch and play defense. Like many of their past teams, offense will again determine how far they go in 2023. Their rotation of Shane McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow, Drew Rasmussen, Zach Eflin and Jeffrey Springs is the deepest they’ve had in recent years, and it should reduce the number of times they start games with an opener. Their bullpen is dominant at the back end with Pete Fairbanks and Jason Adam, the most underrated reliever in the game. The offense is led by Wander Franco, who should be ready to have his breakout season, and Randy Arozarena, who in his third full year with the Rays should be primed to reach another level, too. Veteran Yandy Díaz will add on-base percentage (.401 last season) and will benefit from the shift ban. A healthy Brandon Lowe should provide more left-handed power to a lineup that missed it last year when he was injured. This team has outstanding speed and defense plus a tremendous manager in Kevin Cash, but its lack of lineup depth concerns me, which is why the Rays didn’t make the top 10.

The White Sox were one of the most disappointing teams in MLB last year. They dealt with a slew of injuries to key players and never seemed to come together as a team. However, they now have a new manager, Pedro Grifol, who should be a respected leader in their clubhouse. The White Sox made two significant moves this offseason and the most important one was signing left fielder Andrew Benintendi to a five-year, $75 million deal. Benintendi will provide Gold Glove caliber defense in left field while being a much-needed left-handed-hitting table setter at the top of their lineup. Their other key signing was right-hander Mike Clevinger, who has never successfully rebounded from his Tommy John surgery in 2020 and is now under investigation by Major League Baseball following allegations of domestic violence and child abuse. The White Sox have the most talented lineup in the AL Central, featuring center fielder Luis Robert, shortstop Tim Anderson, designated hitter Eloy Jiménez and first baseman Andrew Vaughn. That’s a strong nucleus with tremendous upside. Their rotation, led by Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech, is strong. Their bullpen, led by Kendall Graveman and Aaron Bummer, is solid. Their closer, Liam Hendriks, will start the year on the injured list as he battles non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This team could finish anywhere between first and third in the AL Central.

Carlos Correa (Rick Osentoski / USA Today)

The Twins stayed in touch with free agent shortstop Carlos Correa and his agent, Scott Boras, this offseason, and when his deals with the Giants and Mets were nixed because of concerns over his medical reports, they were ready to pounce. Eventually, they re-signed Correa to a six-year, $200 million contract. Their best trade of the offseason netted them right-handed starter Pablo López (and two prospects) from the Marlins, which significantly improved their rotation. I loved their signing of catcher Christian Vázquez (three years, $30 million) because he’s one of the best game callers and defensive catchers in the league, which will be more important this year given all the rule changes. They also added power by signing outfielder Joey Gallo, who has the versatility to play all the infield and outfield corners.

16. Los Angeles Angels

The Angels’ goal was to add needed depth this offseason after they failed miserably last year when they were hit with significant injuries. They acquired infielder Gio Urshela in a trade with the Twins, then signed infielder-outfielder Brandon Drury, giving them depth all over the diamond. They signed lefty starter Tyler Anderson to give them rotation depth and inked righty reliever Carlos Estévez to bolster the bullpen. I liked their trade with the Brewers for Hunter Renfroe because he’ll add even more power to the bottom of their lineup. The key for the Angels will be whether their starting pitchers can replicate their second-half production from last year and whether their stars — Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon — can all stay healthy for a full season. I don’t know if the Angels are a playoff team, but they have a good chance of winning more games than they lose in 2023.

The Rangers’ new brain trust, GM Chris Young and manager Bruce Bochy, wasted no time in rebuilding their rotation, landing Jacob deGrom (five years, $185 million), Nathan Eovaldi (two years, $34 million) and Andrew Heaney (two years, $25 million) and bringing back Martín Pérez, who accepted the one-year, $19.65 million qualifying offer. They also acquired veteran starter Jake Odorizzi in a trade with the Braves. The Rangers have a strong top of the lineup with Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis García, but they could still use an upgrade in left field between now and Opening Day, and they’re actively pursuing one in free agency or via trade. If their rotation, led by deGrom, can stay healthy, the Rangers could finish as high as second place in the AL West, but it’s more likely they’ll be battling the Angels for third and fourth place.

The Orioles were the biggest surprise in baseball in 2022, reaching contender status a year or two earlier than expected thanks to significant contributions from across the roster, including rookie catcher Adley Rutschman, who finished 12th in the AL MVP voting. Rutschman and rookie infielder Gunnar Henderson are key building blocks for the Orioles, who are strong up the middle with Rutschman behind the plate, Jorge Mateo at shortstop and Cedric Mullins in center field. They have power on the corners with Ryan Mountcastle at first, Anthony Santander in right and Austin Hays in left. They weren’t as active in free agency as expected but did sign veteran right-hander Kyle Gibson, who should eat up important back-of-the-rotation innings, and second baseman Adam Frazier, who gives them positional flexibility because he can also play right field and left field. The Orioles also traded for left-hander Cole Irvin, who should be solid at the back of the rotation. Righty sensation Grayson Rodriguez profiles as a future ace and is expected to make the big-league team out of spring training, and several other Orioles youngsters are projected to debut this year, including outfielder Colton Cowser. The Orioles are still probably a year away from being legitimate contenders, but with their loaded farm system, they’re not far off.

The Marlins made an excellent hire in selecting Skip Schumaker as their new manager in October, then had a busy offseason in both free agency and the trade market. In free agency, they signed third baseman Jean Segura and starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. In trades, they landed the AL batting champion, second baseman Luis Arraez, from the Twins, and their future shortstop, Jacob Amaya, from the Dodgers. Those moves allowed them to move their best young player, Jazz Chisholm Jr., from second base to center field, where he claims he’ll eventually win a Gold Glove, and he’s certainly athletic enough to make the transition. The Marlins need bounce-back years from last year’s free-agent busts, power hitters Avisaíl García and Jorge Soler, if they’re going to score enough runs this year. Their starting pitching is the best part of the team, a group that includes NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara and fellow righties Cueto and Edward Cabrera plus lefties Jesús Luzardo and Trevor Rogers and their top pitching prospect, Eury Pérez, who’s been invited to major-league spring training. The Marlins probably can’t overcome the heavy spending of the big-market Braves, Phillies and Mets, but they do have the pitching to either contend for the final wild-card spot or, at least, play a spoiler role.

Dansby Swanson (Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

The Cubs front office felt the pressure from ownership to improve their major-league team this offseason, and they responded by making significant upgrades up the middle with the signings of shortstop Dansby Swanson, center fielder Cody Bellinger and two-time Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart. Those additions, along with the decision to move Nico Hoerner to second base, have in short order made the Cubs elite defensively in the most important part of the field. They added a couple of veteran hitters, Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer, who will help them at first base and DH. And they improved their rotation by signing Jameson Taillon to a four-year deal. The Cubs should be able to contend in the NL Central, but they’re still the third-best team behind the Cardinals and Brewers.

The Red Sox had a bizarre but entertaining offseason as they said goodbye to their team leader, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who signed with the Padres, and another key leader, their designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, who signed with the Dodgers. They also moved on from right-hander Michael Wacha, who had one of his best seasons last year, and is still unsigned as he seeks a multi-year deal. Boston’s biggest offseason move was signing Masataka Yoshida to a five-year, $90 million deal. The 5-foot-8 Japanese outfielder is known for his plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills, but he’s never faced major-league pitching so it’s unclear how his skills will translate. The Red Sox made a slew of other moves, including signing ex-Dodger Justin Turner, who is expected to mostly DH for them; outfielder Adam Duvall, who provides power and Gold Glove caliber defense; and trading for speedy shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, an oft-injured player who is one of the league’s best base stealers when he’s healthy. They improved their bullpen considerably by adding closer Kenley Jansen, righty Chris Martin and lefty Joely Rodríguez. They added veteran Corey Kluber, a quality back-of-the-rotation starter. But the Red Sox will really miss Bogaerts, and with Trevor Story expected to miss considerable time following elbow surgery, they will have difficulty contending with the Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays, and probably will end up battling the Orioles for fourth place in the division.

The Diamondbacks had a productive offseason, highlighted by their trade with the Blue Jays that landed top catching prospect Gabriel Moreno and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., along with their under-the-radar trade with the Mariners for oft-injured outfielder Kyle Lewis, the 2020 AL Rookie of the Year. Their offense will be led by center fielder and leadoff hitter Corbin Carroll, the top-ranked prospect in Keith Law’s new rankings, who can hit for average and power. Christian Walker won the NL Gold Glove last year at first base, Ketel Marte is solid at second base and outfielder Jake McCarthy has 30-stolen base potential. (He stole 23 bases in 26 attempts last season.) The speedy and athletic Diamondbacks are expected to run wild this year and stand to benefit from the rule changes that reward those attributes. Their rotation, led by Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, is underrated. Their bullpen features one of MLB’s best left-handed relievers, All-Star Joe Mantiply.

The Giants had a disappointing offseason if you focus on the fact that they couldn’t sign Aaron Judge and then nixed their deal with Carlos Correa for medical reasons. However, I thought they rebounded well and made smart moves in signing several free agents to shorter-term deals, including outfielders Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto, and Joc Pederson, who accepted the qualifying offer. They also improved their pitching staff with the additions of starters Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling and relievers Taylor Rogers and Luke Jackson, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Still, the Giants are miles away from the Dodgers and the Padres.

Oneil Cruz (Charles LeClaire / USA Today)

The Pirates are carefully building their organization through player development and scouting, and it’s starting to pay off with a farm system that’s top five in the sport and filled with prospects, including catchers Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis, second baseman Termarr Johnson, and pitchers Quinn Priester, Luis Ortiz and Michael Burrows, among others. Their big-league team has a strong, young core led by center fielder Bryan Reynolds (though, it should be noted, he asked to be traded before the Winter Meetings); shortstop Oneil Cruz, who has ridiculous tools; and third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who provides flashy, Gold Glove caliber defense. The Pirates added a trio of veteran bats, bringing back fan favorite Andrew McCutchen and a couple of first base/DH types, Ji-Man Choi and Carlos Santana. After two consecutive 100-loss seasons, the Pirates will be more competitive this year, but they are still a year or two away from contending. They’re making progress though, slowly but surely.

The Rockies were relatively quiet this offseason outside of making a few minor trades and signing a couple of inexpensive free agents. They must hope that Kris Bryant can stay healthy and be a Comeback Player of the Year candidate and that shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, a defensive whiz, can put together a Rookie of the Year campaign. With the way they are constructed, they don’t look like a team that can contend — or even reach .500.

The Royals have exciting young position players, including shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., catcher-outfielder MJ Melendez and first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino. However, their rotation is the key to a competitive season. It could be anchored by three starters who are more than 30 years old — Zack Greinke, Jordan Lyles and Ryan Yarbrough — and two emerging middle-rotation types, Brady Singer and Brad Keller, who are 26 and 27, respectively. Their bullpen will be strong again, led by closer Scott Barlow and the power arms of Dylan Coleman and Josh Staumont.

The Tigers hired Scott Harris as president of baseball operations in September, and he basically had to start from scratch. He made a couple of smart trades by dealing away two of his best relievers. First, he dealt righty Joe Jiménez to the Braves for two prospects, with the headliner being outfielder Justyn-Henry Malloy, who can flat-out hit. Then, he traded lefty closer Gregory Soto (and utilityman Kody Clemens) to the Phillies for infielder Nick Maton and outfielder Matt Vierling, who were extras in Philly but are versatile and expected to start for the Tigers. The key for Detroit will be the health of its young starting pitchers and the development of future stars such as outfielder Riley Greene and first baseman Spencer Torkelson.

The Nationals improved on the infield corners this offseason by signing first baseman Dominic Smith and third baseman Jeimer Candelario. But overall, in terms of position players, this year is all about the continued development of catcher Keibert Ruiz and shortstop CJ Abrams, and on the pitching side, right-hander Josiah Gray and lefty MacKenzie Gore. The Nationals have one of the best farm systems in baseball thanks to the windfall they received in the Juan Soto trade with the Padres last summer. They are several years away from contending, but they have a plan in place and have proven they know how to rebuild, which will include several years of finishing near the bottom of the standing and drafting in the top 10 — and that shouldn’t be a problem in the near future.

The Reds are rebuilding the right way through scouting and player development and have done an excellent job since the trade deadline of dealing for high-end athletic prospects while bringing along a bunch of young pitchers in the pipeline. They are loaded with middle-infield prospects, and it will be interesting to see where they play them all, or if they end up making prospect-for-prospect trades to improve other areas of their roster. This year will be another painful one in the win-loss column, but the future looks bright — it’s just going to take a lot of patience and time.

The A’s have focused on speed and athleticism in their rebuild. They’ve made two key trades this offseason, sending catcher Sean Murphy to the Braves in a three-team deal that included the Brewers and netted them outfield prospect Esteury Ruiz, who’s one of the fastest players in the game, and dealing lefty Cole Irvin and a minor-league pitcher to the Orioles for second baseman Darell Hernaiz, who is another special base stealer. The Murphy trade brought back four other players in addition to Ruiz. They’ve also signed several free agents, including infielder Aledmys Díaz, righty Trevor May, righty Shintaro Fujinami, righty Drew Rucinski, utilityman Jace Peterson and first baseman Jesús Aguilar, but it’s not enough. The A’s need to secure a new stadium in either Oakland or Las Vegas this year so they can get the revenue it takes to compete year in and year out; in the meantime, another 100-loss season awaits.

(Illustration: Eamonn Dalton / The Athletic / Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

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