Posts tagged major league baseball
35th & Addison ep. 1: It's Early

It's the debut episode of 35th and Addison! Pierce (@HennyOmega) & Scott (@Scott_CEOofSUH) bring you thoughtful, hilarious analysis on Chicago baseball all throughout the 2018 MLB season.

This week, the boys discuss the Cubs' slow start, the growing pains of the young White Sox during their rebuild, what's going on down in the Sox farm system, and Anthony Rizzo's call for a shortened season. Plus, Giancarlo's historically bad start at the dish, Shohei Ohtani-Mania in Orange County, and slumping starts by many of last year's playoff teams.

2018 MLB Season Preview

It’s that time again! Baseball is in full swing (no pun intended) and as the days of spring training are winding down, everyone can’t wait for opening day. To pass some time, here’s a preview of the 2018 MLB season and my postseason and award predications.

Before I get into each individual team and their projected rotation, key bullpen pieces, projected lineup and outlook, here’s how I see the standings and postseason shaping out.

*= Wild Card
Teams with homefield advantage in bold

NL East

1. Washington Nationals
2. New York Mets
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Miami Marlins

AL East

1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox*
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Tampa Bay Rays

NL Central

1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Cincinnati Reds

AL Central

1. Cleveland Indians
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Detroit Tigers

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. Colorado Rockies
4. San Francisco Giants
5. San Diego Padres

AL West

1. Houston Astros
2. Los Angeles Angles*
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Oakland Athletics
5. Texas Rangers

A.L. Wild Card game: Red Sox over Angels
N.L. Wild Card game: Cardinals over Diamondbacks

ALDS: Astros over Indians, Yankees over Red Sox
NLDS: Cubs over Nationals, Dodgers over Cardinals

ALCS: Yankees over Astros
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers

World Series: Yankees over Cubs


AL East

Scott Engel/AP

Scott Engel/AP

New York Yankees

Projected rotation: Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Jordan Montgomery
Key bullpen pieces: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, David Robertson
Projected lineup:OF Brett Gardner, DH Aaron Judge, OF Giancarlo Stanton, C Gary Sanchez, 1B Greg Bird, SS Didi Gregorius, 2B Neil Walker, OF Aaron Hicks, 3B Brandon Drury

Outlook: It’s pretty much a two-headed race in the A.L. East between the Yankees and the Red Sox with one of the teams winning the division and the other securing a wild card berth likely. The Yankees and the Red Sox are pretty even this season. Both have first-year managers, both acquired a big-time bat in the offseason, both have stacked lineups but I give the Yankees the edge just because of their bullpen. The Yankees have three closers in their bullpen in Chapman, Betances and Robertson, it’s not even fair.

Boston Red Sox

AP

AP

Projected rotation: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright
Key bullpen pieces: Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree
Projected lineup: OF Mookie Betts, OF Andrew Benintendi, 1B Hanley Ramirez, DH J.D. Martinez, 3B Rafael Devers, SS Xander Bogaerts, OF Jackie Bradley Jr, C Christian Vazquez, 2B Dustin Pedroia/Eduardo Nunez

Outlook:The Red Sox have the offensive firepower to win them 90+ games but my concern with them is their bullpen. Aside from Kimbrel and Kelly, they don’t have much to show for in their bullpen but if the offense shows up, they really won’t need the bullpen as they would already run the score up on teams. Seven out of nine batters in the lineup are capable of hitting 20+ homers a season.

Baltimore Orioles

Projected rotation: Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, Kevin Gausman, Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman
Key bullpen pieces: Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Mychael Givens
Projected lineup: 3B Tim Beckham, 2B Jonathan Schoop, SS Manny Machado, OF Adam Jones, DH Mark Trumbo, 1B Chris Davis, OF Trey Mancini, C Caleb Joseph, OF Colby Rasmus

Outlook: I love the Orioles going out and bolstering their rotation by plucking Alex Cobb off the free agent market as well as Andrew Cashner. The starting pitching has always been a problem for the Orioles ever since they broke through back in 2012 and that limited them from going anywhere in the playoffs. It will be hard for them to retain Machado in this upcoming offseason and it seems like Machado will walk as he made the position change to SS to appear more versatile in the market.

Toronto Blue Jays

Projected rotation: Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Jaime Garcia, Aaron Sanchez
Key bullpen pieces: Roberto Osuna, Seung Hwan Oh, Aaron Loup
Projected lineup: OF Curtis Granderson, 2B Devon Travis, 3B Josh Donaldson, 1B Justin Smoak, DH Kendrys Morales, SS Troy Tulowitzki, C Russell Martin, OF Randal Grichuk, OF Kevin Pillar

Outlook: The Toronto Blue Jays (otherwise known as the St. Louis Cardinals of the north) befriended the redbirds this offseason and made not one, but two deals with them as they acquired OF Randal Grichuk in one trade and SS Aledmys Diaz in another. They also signed relief pitcher Seung Hwan Oh in free agency, previously on the Cardinals and also signed starter Jaime Garcia (who was a longtime Cardinal before he was traded to the Braves last offseason). These are nice moves but I don’t see them putting the Blue Jays over the top and into the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Rays

Projected rotation: Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Andriese
Key bullpen pieces: Alex Colome, Dan Jennings, Daniel Hudson
Projected lineup: OF Denard Span, 3B Matt Duffy, OF Kevin Kiermaier, OF Carlos Gomez, C Wilson Ramos, 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Brad Miller, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, OF Mallex Smith

Outlook: It’s no secret that the Rays are in rebuild mode. After trading away, the greatest player ever to grace a Rays uniform, Evan Longoria, the Rays will once again be at the basement of the A.L. East. Starter Chris Archer and closer Alex Colome will be flying around trade rumors as the trade deadline gets closer and it’s a bit of a surprise that they weren’t traded this offseason after a non-busy offseason. Kevin Cash is going to do something interesting this season as he’s going with a four-man rotation. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

AL Central

(Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press)

(Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press)

Cleveland Indians

Projected rotation: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, Mike Clevenger
Key bullpen pieces: Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Zach McAllister
Projected lineup: SS Francisco Lindor, 2B Jason Kipnis, 3B Jose Ramirez, DH Edwin Encarnacion, 1B Yonder Alonso, OF Michael Brantley, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, C Yan Gomes,OF Tyler Naquin

Outlook: The Indians are once again heavy favorites in a weak A.L. Central. They’ve improved the lineup by adding Yonder Alonso and their rotation is as good as ever. Like the Red Sox, I have some concerns with their bullpen but other than that, their lineup is lethal. Francisco Lindor is an MVP candidate and Corey Kluber is always a threat to win the Cy Young.

Minnesota Twins

Projected rotation: Jose Berrios, Lance Lynn, Ervin Santana, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson
Key bullpen pieces: Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney, Ryan Pressley
Projected lineup: 2B Brian Dozier, 1B Joe Mauer, 3B Miguel Sano, OF Eddie Rosario, DH Logan Morrison, OF Byron Buxton, OF Max Kepler, SS Eduardo Escobar, C Jason Castro

Outlook: After going from dead last in 2016 to earning a wild card berth in 2017, the Twins showed that they are a wild card of a team and that you don’t know what team you’re going to get. They have a young core and made some nice moves to add to a subpar rotation by getting Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi. The bats are still the same but look for Miguel Sano to win a Silver Slugger this year.

Chicago White Sox

Projected rotation: James Shields, Carlos Rodon, Miguel Gonzalez, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer* (Rodon is projected to be back by June after he had left shoulder surgery in September)
Key bullpen pieces: Joakim Soria, Nate Jones, Hector Santiago
Projected lineup: 2B Yoan Moncada, SS Tim Anderson, 1B Jose Abreu, OF Avisail Garcia, C Wellington Castillo, DH Matt Davidson, OF Ryan Cordell, 3B Yolmer Sanchez, OF Adam Engel

Outlook: I wouldn’t call it a “make or break” year for the White Sox young core of Moncada, Giolito, Lopez and Anderson but they need to show improvements from last season and I think they do that. While the wins might not come this year, the White Sox are totally set for the future and be on the lookout for them to make some noise next season.

Kansas City Royals

Projected rotation: Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Jake Junis, Nate Karns
Key bullpen pieces: Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Maurer, Wily Peralta
Projected lineup: OF Jon Jay, 2B Whit Merrifield, 3B Mike Moustakas, C Salvador Perez, 1B Lucas Duda, OF Alex Gordon, DH Jorge Soler, SS Alcides Escobar, OF Paulo Orlando

Outlook: It’s hard to believe that just three seasons ago, the Royals were World Series champs and now, they’re a shell of their former selves. The rotation is not good, the lineup is okay, decent at best and they’re in serious trouble for the future as they have one of the worst farm systems in the MLB. Get used to seeing the Royals pick in the top 10 of MLB drafts in the near future.

Detroit Tigers

Projected rotation: Jordan Zimmerman, Michael Fulmer, Francisco Liriano, Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris
Key bullpen pieces: Shane Greene, Alex Wilson, Warwick Saupold
Projected lineup: OF Leonys Martin, 3B Jeimer Candelario, 1B Miguel Cabrera, OF Nick Castellanos, DH Victor Martinez, C James McCann, OF Mikie Mahtook, SS Jose Iglesias, 2B Dixon Machado

Outlook: Like the Royals, it’s crazy to see how far the Tigers have fallen off. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez don’t have much left as they are in the twilight of their hall-of-fame careers. The Tigers farm system is pretty good but expect for the next three or so years for them to be at the bottom of the division.

AL West

Brent Coomer/Houston Chronicle

Brent Coomer/Houston Chronicle

Houston Astros

Projected rotation: Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton
Key bullpen pieces: Ken Giles, Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski
Projected lineup: OF George Springer, 3B Alex Bregman, 2B Jose Altuve, SS Carlos Correa, OF Josh Reddick, 1B Yuli Gurriel, C Brian McCann, DH Evan Gattis, OF Jake Marisnick

Outlook: The Astros will look to defend their World Series title this season as they bring back virtually the same team as last season’s. There are very few weak links in the rotation or lineup, if any but like most teams, their bullpen can be an issue for them. Altuve, Correa, Springer and Bregman is a dangerous core to mess with and with the addition of Gerrit Cole this offseason, the Astros are without a doubt a favorite to win the World Series once again.

Los Angeles Angels

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Projected rotation: Garrett Richards, Shohei Otani, J.C. Ramirez, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs
Key bullpen pieces: Cam Bedrosian, Blake Wood, Blake Parker
Projected lineup: 2B Ian Kinsler, OF Mike Trout, OF Justin Upton, DH Albert Pujols, OF Kole Calhoun, SS Andrelton Simmons, 3B Zack Cozart, 1B Luis Valbuena, C Martin Maldonado

Outlook: The Angels weren’t messing around this offseason as they acquired Ian Kinsler from the Tigers, re-signed Justin Upton, signed Zack Cozart and signed versatile Japanesesuperstar Shohei Otani. Finally, Mike Trout has a legit team to play with.

Seattle Mariners

Projected rotation: James Paxton, Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake, Marco Gonzales, Erasmo Ramirez
Key bullpen pieces: Edwin Diaz, Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent
Projected lineup: OF Dee Gordon, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, 1B Ryon Healy, OF Mitch Haniger, C Mike Zunino, OF Ben Gamel

Outlook: The Mariners have the bats but they need consistent pitching from both the rotation and the bullpen. Felix Hernandez isn’t what he once was but James Paxton is a stud. I love the move acquiring Juan Nicasio in free agency to add more depth to the bullpen. I’d say Seattle has a top 10 lineup in all of baseball.

Oakland Athletics

Projected rotation: Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, A.J. Puk, Trevor Cahill, Daniel Mengden
Key bullpen pieces: Blake Treinen, Yusmeiro Petit, Santiago Castilla
Projected lineup: SS Marcus Semien, DH Matt Joyce, 2B Jed Lowrie, OF Khris Davis, 1B Matt Olson, OF Stephen Piscotty, C Jonathan Lucroy, 3B Matt Chapman, OF Dustin Fowler

Outlook: The Athletics are on the come-up. There is a lot of power in that lineup but the pitching needs work. Losing Jherel Cotton for the season thanks to Tommy John is a tough blow for the Athletics as him and A.J. Puk will be a nice 1-2 punch down the road.

Texas Rangers

Projected rotation: Cole Hamels, Mike Minor, Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Martin Perez, Jesse Chavez
Key bullpen pieces: Alex Claudio, Matt Bush, Tim Lincecum
Projected lineup: OF Delino DeShields, 1B Joey Gallo, OF Nomar Mazara, 3B Adrian Beltre, SS Elvis Andrus, DH Shin-Soo Choo, 2B Rougned Odor, C Robinson Chirinos, OF Drew Robinson

Outlook: The thing that jumps out at me about the Rangers is the first two spots in the lineup. Manager Jeff Bannister said that batting Gallo second is “a real possibility”, which is odd because he is seen as a four-hole hitter. The thing with Gallo is that teams play a shift on him as he is a heavy pull hitter but with him batting second and speedy leadoff man Delino Deshields getting on base and steals second, teams can’t play the shift as Deshields can walk to third base. With him in scoring position and with Gallo at the plate, that can be a very dangerous combination and the Rangers can get runs up early and often. Bannister is also going with a six-man rotation this year so that will be something to look out for as well.

NL East

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Washington Nationals

Projected rotation:Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, A.J. Cole
Key bullpen pieces: Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson
Projected lineup: OF Adam Eaton, SS Trea Turner, OF Bryce Harper, 2B Daniel Murphy, 3B Anthony Rendon, 1B Ryan Zimmerman, C Matt Wieters, OF Michael Taylor

Outlook: Will this finally be the year that the Nationals get out of the NLDS? The Nationals have been to the playoffs four times in the last eight years and every time they have lost in the NLDS. Maybe new manager Dave Martinez can do it? The Nationals have solid hitters up and down the lineup and the starting pitching is there as well but even with all this talent on the roster, I still think the Nationals are one piece away, whether that’s in the lineup or in the rotation.

New York Mets

Projected rotation: Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler
Key bullpen pieces: A.J. Ramos, Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak
Projected lineup: OF Michael Conforto, OF Yoenis Cespedes, OF Jay Bruce, 3B Todd Frazier, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, C Travis d’Arnaud, SS Amed Rosario

Outlook: The Mets are in a weird spot. They have one of the best rotations in baseball yet, their lineup is pretty underwhelming. Cespedes and Bruce are probably the best hitters on the team but it will be interesting to see if their pitching will keep them afloat.

Philadelphia Phillies

Projected rotation: Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Vincent Velasquez, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta* (Pivetta will be filling in for Jerad Eickhoff who will be out until at least May with a lat strain)
Key bullpen pieces: Hector Neris, Pat Neshak, Luis Garcia
Projected lineup: 2B Cesar Hernandez, OF Odubel Herrera, 1B Carlos Santana, OF Rhys Hoskins, 3B Maikel Franco, OF Nick Williams, SS J.P. Crawford, C Jorge Alfaro

Outlook: I’m drinking the Phillies Kool-Aid this season. I love the hiring of their 42-year-old manager that looks like he’s 28, Gabe Kapler. I think his zany nature reminds me a lot of former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly in that he’s all about his culture. Now we all know what happened to Kelly but I see Kapler as a better version of Kelly as he probably can connect with his players more than Kelly did because Kapler is a former major leaguer. Add that with a young core of Hoskins, Crawford, Nola and Williams as well as veteran pitcher Jake Arrieta and I think the Phillies can be a sneaky wild card team.

Atlanta Braves

Projected rotation: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir (editors note: Scott Kazmir has since been released by Atlanta)
Key bullpen pieces:
Arodys Vizcaino, Sam Freeman, Peter Moylan
Projected lineup: OF Ender Inciarte, 2B Ozzie Albies, 1B Freddie Freeman, C Tyler Flowers, OF Nick Markakis, OF Preston Tucker, SS Dansby Swanson, 3B Rio Ruiz

Outlook: Stay patient Braves fans. Your time is coming soon, just wait. Top prospect Ronald Acuna should be in the majors this year and the Braves already have a pretty young lineup with Albies and Swanson in the middle infield. Don’t expect the Braves to do much this season in terms of winning as this season will probably be a stepping stone season to get the young guys some time.

Miami Marlins

Projected rotation: Jose Urena, Justin Nicolino, Jacob Turner, Wei-Yin Chen, Dan Straily
Key bullpen pieces: Brad Ziegler, Adam Conley, Kyle Barraclough
Projected lineup: OF Lewis Brinson, OF Derek Dietrich, 2B Starlin Castro, 1B Justin Bour, C J.T. Realmuto, 3B Martin Prado, OF Cameron Maybin, SS Miguel Rojas

Outlook: I feel like the most underrated stat in sports is the playoff drought that the Marlins have been on. The last time they made the postseason was in 2003 when they won the World Series, but that was 15 years ago and it might be another 15 years until the Marlins make the postseason again because what is going on in the 305? Just a few years ago, the Marlins looked like a team on the come up, ready to take over the National League. But after the tragic and untimely death of two-time All-Star and 2013 N.L. Rookie of the Year, Jose Fernandez back in 2016 and after trading away cornerstone players such as 2017 MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Marlins, Christian Yelich to the Brewers and Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, the Marlins are going to be the worst team in baseball not just this year, but potentially years to come.

NL Central

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Chicago Cubs

Projected rotation: Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood
Key bullpen pieces: Brandon Morrow, Carl Edwards Jr, Justin Wilson
Projected lineup: OF Ian Happ, 3B Kris Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Willson Contreras, OF Kyle Schwarber, SS Addison Russell, OF Jason Heyward, 2B Javier Baez

Outlook: The Cardinal fan in me is going to hate this but I think the Cubs get over their “World Series hangover” this year and get back to their domination of the National League. Darvish is a much better pitcher than Arrieta, you know what you’re going to get with Lester, Hendricks, Quintana and Chatwood are quality pitchers, the Cubs rotation 1-5 is very good and could spell trouble for N.L. Central hitters. Ian Happ is really coming into his own after bursting onto the scene last season and the duo of “Bryzzo” Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo will be lethal.

St. Louis Cardinals

Twitter

Twitter

Projected rotation: Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, Miles Mikolas
Key bullpen pieces: Luke Gregerson, Dominic Leone, Tyler Lyons
Projected lineup: 1B Matt Carpenter, OF Dexter Fowler, OF Tommy Pham, OF Marcell Ozuna, C Yadier Molina, SS Paul DeJong, 3B Jedd Gyorko, 2B Kolton Wong

Outlook: Non-biased, I think the Cardinals are a top 10 lineup in baseball. There’s a lot of pop in that lineup with six, maybe seven guys capable of hitting 20+ home runs a year. The addition of Ozuna was much, much needed after the Cardinals went without a true four-hole hitter since Albert Pujols left. I think the bullpen makes strides this season after struggling, and that all depends on Mike Matheny’s bullpen management as well but everything this season comes down to the rotation which is wildly inconsistent aside from Martinez. You never know what you’re going to get from Adam Wainwright or Michael Wacha every start, Luke Weaver is still young and I don’t know anything about Miles Mikolas as the Redbirds signed him from Japan. Alex Reyes will also be a factor this year after missing last year recovering from Tommy John. It will be interesting if the Cardinals want to use him as a starter, his natural position, or a guy in the bullpen, like they did in his first year in the majors.

Milwaukee Brewers

Projected rotation: Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Jhoulys Chacin, Junior Guerra, Brent Suter/Jimmy Nelson
Key bullpen pieces: Corey Knebel, Jacob Barnes, Jeremy Jeffress
Projected lineup: OF Christian Yelich, OF Lorenzo Cain, 3B Travis Shaw, 1B Ryan Braun, OF Domingo Santana, SS Orlando Arcia, C Manny Pina, 2B Jonathan Villar

Outlook: I’ve said it many time about the Brewers and I’ll say it again, the thing that limited them from making the playoffs last year was starting pitching and it might do them in again this year. They’ve made big moves acquiring Yelich and Cain but they’ve done little to anything to their rotation and they’re hoping for another quality year out of Chase Anderson but that won’t be enough to launch them into the playoffs but they will certainly be a pest for the Cardinals and the Cubs in the division this year.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Projected rotation: Ivan Nova, Chad Khul, Trevor Williams, Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove
Key bullpen pieces: Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, Michael Feliz
Projected lineup: 2B Josh Harrison, OF Corey Dickerson, OF Starling Marte, 1B Josh Bell, OF Gregory Polanco, C Francisco Cervelli, 3B Colin Moran, SS Jordy Mercer

Outlook: The Pirates are in rebuild mode after trading away Andrew McCuttchen and Gerrit Cole this past offseason. Don’t expect a ton of wins at PNC Park this year as their rotation lacks dominant pitchers, although it is nice to see Jameson Taillon back after he battled testicular cancer last season. Their lineup is okay as Josh Bell, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte are pretty solid.

Cincinnati Reds

Projected rotation: Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Anthony DeSclafani, Tyler Mahle
Key bullpen pieces: Rasiel Iglesias, David Hernandez, Michael Lorenzen
Projected lineup: OF Billy Hamilton, OF Jesse Winker, 1B Joey Votto, 3B Eugenio Suarez, 2B Scooter Gennett, SS Jose Peraza, OF Scott Schebler, C Tucker Barnhart

Outlook: I’m going to be honest here. I’m a huge baseball fan, I love it, it’s my favorite sport, I love the MLB and I follow it heavily. With that being said, I want to congratulate Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani for doing something good enough for me to remember them because aside from those two, I had no idea who the other three pitchers in the rotation were. Did they pick them up off the street? Who are these guys? After doing some research, Luis Castillo is actually a decent pitcher and I even picked him up for my fantasy team but me not knowing most of the Reds rotation says pretty much everything you need to know about the 2018 Cincinnati Reds.

NL West

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Los Angeles Dodgers

Projected rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu
Key bullpen pieces: Kenley Jansen, Ross Stripling, Pedro Baez
Projected lineup: OF Chris Taylor, SS Corey Seager, 3B Justin Turner* 1B Cody Bellinger, OF Yasiel Puig, OF Matt Kemp, C Yasmani Grandal, 2B/3B Logan Forsythe, 2B Chase Utley* (Forsythe will move to 3B while Justin Turner recovers from a fractured wrist, Utley will start at 2B during that time)

Outlook: The Dodgers took a pretty big hit to their lineup (no pun intended) after star 3B Justin Turner fractured his wrist after getting hit by a pitch in Spring Training. The good thing about the Dodgers though is that they have depth and a lot of versatile players who can play a lot of positions should any player go down with injury. Enrique Hernandez burst onto the scene last postseason as more than just a utility guy and of course, Clayton Kershaw will go back to being his dominant himself this year.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Projected rotation: Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Zack Greinke, Zack Godley, Patrick Corbin
Key bullpen pieces: Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano, Andrew Chafin
Projected lineup: OF David Peralta, OF A.J. Pollock, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 3B Jake Lamb, OF Steven Souza, C Alex Avila, 2B Ketel Marte, SS Nick Ahmed

Outlook: After making the postseason last season, I think the Diamondbacks go back to the postseason this year again. The bats are there, the bullpen is there, the rotation is pretty consistent. The thing that makes them a wild card team though is the Dodgers as they are just too good of a team and I don’t think the Diamondbacks are quite ready to compete for that divisional crown. If they kept onto J.D. Martinez, yes, I think they would be a legitimate threat to break the Dodgers streak of five straight division titles.

Colorado Rockies

Projected rotation: Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Chad Bettis, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez
Key bullpen pieces: Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee
Projected lineup: OF Charlie Blackmon, 2B D.J. LeMahieu, OF Carlos Gonzalez, 3B Nolan Arenado, SS Trevor Story, 1B Ian Desmond, OF Gerardo Parra, C Chris Iannetta

Outlook: I cannot remember the Rockies ever having a true “Ace” of a pitcher. Even when they went to the World Series in 2007, their best pitcher was Jeff Francis. Jeff friggin Francis. The Rockies are a weird team honestly. Coors Field giveth and Coors Field taketh away. The hitting numbers at Coors Field are inflated thanks to the altitude which makes their offense so much better than it already is but then their pitching numbers are inflated as well as the mix of a mediocre rotation and Coors Field is not a good mix.

San Francisco Giants

Projected rotation: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Ty Blach, Derek Holland, Jeff Samardzija
Key bullpen pieces: Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland, Tony Watson
Projected lineup: 2B Joe Panik, 1B Brandon Belt, OF Andrew McCutchen, C Buster Posey, 3B Evan Longoria, SS Brandon Crawford, OF Hunter Pence, OF Austin Jackson

Outlook: I’m not buying the Giants hype this year, I don’t care that it’s an even year. Their core is getting older, there isn’t that much young talent on this team, sure they might be contending for a Wild Card spot come September but I think they’re going to fizzle out once they have to face teams such as the Rockies twice, the Mets, the Brewers on the road, the Cardinals on the road and the Dodgers.

San Diego Padres

Projected rotation: Clayton Richard, Dinelson Lamet, Luis Perdomo, Bryan Mitchell, Robbie Erlin
Key bullpen pieces: Brad Hand, Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates
Projected lineup: OF Manuel Margot, 3B Chase Headley, OF Wil Myers, 1B Eric Hosmer, OF Jose Pirela, C Austin Hedges, SS Freddy Galvis, 2B Carlos Asuaje

Outlook: Just like the Braves, be patient Padres fans. Your time will come and it will come soon. They have the top farm system in all of baseball, they just secured slugger Eric Hosmer for seven years, they have nice, young pieces such as Manny Margot, Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe and Corey Spangenberg, the Padres will be a very good team within the next 3-5 years, this season though, will be a rebuilding year and the main focus will be to develop the younger guys, both in the MLB and in the minors.

Ranking the 30 MLB Farm Systems

30. Kansas City Royals

Top 100 prospects: None

After winning the World Series back in 2015 and failing to make the postseason the last two seasons, the Royals are looking to rebuild and will do so without Lorenzo Cain and potentially Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. The tough part about this rebuild is that the Royals farm system is very thin with talent. Having no prospects inside the top 100, the top guy in the Royals system is 1B Nick Pratto. Pratto, a first round in the 2017 First-Year player draft, who hit .247 with four dingers and 34 RBI’s in 52 games of rookie ball

29. New York Mets

Top 100 prospects: None

Oddly enough, the Royals opponent in the 2015 World Series also has a very weak farm system as the New York Mets take a hit in their 2018 prospect rankings. Due to former top prospects Ahmed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Robert Gsellman and Brandon Nimmo all making it up to the big league squad, the Mets don’t have much left in the minors in terms of top talent. The only players worth noting in the farm system are a pair of starting pitchers. Southpaw David Peterson and righty Justin Dunn all show potential to be quality pitchers in the big leagues in the future.

28. Chicago Cubs

Top 100 prospects: None

The final team to have zero prospects in the top 100 are the 2016 World Series champs. While the Cubs have a bunch of young talent at the major league level, they could’ve had a much better farm system had they not traded top prospects such as Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez. At the end of 2017, eight of the Cubs’ top 10 prospects were pitchers.

27. Seattle Mariners

Top 100 prospects: OF Kyle Lewis (70)

Had the Mariners not traded Tyler O’Neill to the St. Louis Cardinals last July, he’d probably be the clear cut top prospect in their system, but they did and now Kyle Lewis is the M’s top prospect. The 2016 1st round selection played in 49 games last season, batting .257 with 7 homers and 31 RBI’s.

26. San Francisco Giants

Top 100 prospects: OF Heliot Ramos (63)

After the Giants traded Christian Arroyo to Tampa, the door has opened up for 18-year-old outfielder Heliot Ramos to become the franchise’s number one prospect. The Giants used their first round pick on Ramos in 2017 and he has only played in 35 games in rookie ball, batting .348 with six home runs and 27 RBI’s.

25. Arizona Diamondbacks

Top 100 prospects:RHP Jon Duplantier (73), 1B Pavin Smith (91)

The Diamondbacks are coming off their first playoff appearance since 2011 and are in good hands with Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and Zack Greinke leading the way at the big league level. In terms of the minors, the Diamondbacks have two prospects inside the top 100. RHP Jon Duplantier was absolutely lights out last season in the minors with a record of 12-3, an ERA of 1.39 and striking out 165. 1B Pavin Smith who was the D-Backs first round selection in 2017, hit .318 and knocked in 27 RBI’s in the D-Backs short season “A” squad.

24. Boston Red Sox

Top 100 prospects: 3B Michael Chavis (79), LHP Jay Groome(85)

Like the Diamondbacks, the Red Sox are very talented at the major league level but at the minor league level, they have a very little abundance of talent. With two players landing in the Top 100, the Red Sox could’ve had many more had they not traded away a lot of their top prospects like Anderson Espinoza. 3B Michael Chavis is on the cusp of making the big leagues as he was a non-roster invite to spring training and rightfully so. He finished the year hitting .282 with 31 dingers and 94 RBI’s. LHP Jay Groome struggled last season with a 5.69 ERA but has a very high ceiling.

23. Baltimore Orioles

Top 100 prospects: OF Austin Hays (23), 3B Ryan Mountcastle(98)

The Orioles are in a tough, tough spot. Not that great of a farm system and the big league team is just mediocre. With that said, OF Austin Hays is a stud. After hitting .329 with 32 homers and 95 RBI’s, Hays earned a call-up to the majors and played in 20 games, finishing the year with a .217 average, one home run and eight RBI’s. Aside from having one of the best last names in baseball, 3B Ryan Mountcastle is a very solid hitter. Mountcastle smashed 18 home runs, 62 RBI’s and hit for .287 last season.

22. Texas Rangers

Top 100 prospects: OF Leody Taveras (34), OF Willie Calhoun (53)

The Rangers, just like the Orioles, have an okay big league club and an okay minor league system. The Rangers though, have two potential cornerstone outfielders in Leody Taveras and Willie Calhoun to pair with NomarMazara and DelinoDeShields. The 19 year old Taveras swiped 20 bags last season while hitting .247 in “A” ball. Calhoun hit an even .300 while smacking 31 home runs and 93 RBI’s. His performance last season earned him a call-up to the Rangers where he hit .265 with one home run and 4 RBI’s.

21. Milwaukee Brewers

Top 100 prospects: 2B Keston Hiuras (56), RHP Corbin Burnes (69), RHP Brandon Woodruff (96)

The Brewers would’ve been higher on this list had they not traded top prospect outfielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison to the Miami Marlins in a deal for Christian Yelich. However, they still have some solid pieces in the system with a pair of righty’s and a quality 2nd baseman landing in the top 100. Keston Hiurais a great contact hitter and posted a .371 BA with 4 home runs and 33 RBI’s in his first professional season. Right-handed pitcher Corbin Burnes has great control on his pitches. With an ERA of 1.67, the 23-year-old righty can be a nice piece for a Brewers team lacking pitching talent in the rotation. RHP Brandon Woodruff got his feet wet in the majors this year with a record of 2-3 record with a 4.81 ERA.

20. Miami Marlins

Top 100 prospects: OF Lewis Brinson (27), OF Monte Harrison (71)

The Miami Marlins farm system got a huge boost thanks to the trades of Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna that netted outfielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison from the Brewers and RHP Sandy Alcantara from the Cardinals. Brinson is ready to make a splash in the majors after playing in 21 games with the Brewers last season, where he hit a very bad .106 in the majors but hit .331 in triple-A. Monte Harrison is a very athletic fielder who makes great contact on the ball as he hit .272 last season.

19. Cleveland Indians

Top 100 prospects: C Francisco Mejia (11), RHP Triston McKenzie (24)

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Although the Cleveland Indians only have two prospects landing in the top 100, those two prospects are very, very talented as both are inside the top 25. Catcher Francisco Mejia is a great defensive catcher with a great arm behind the plate and a solid bat as well. Mejia hit for .297 last season in the minors and earned a call-up to the bigs where he hit .154 in 11 games for the Tribe. McKenzie had a decent year in high A ball where he went 12-6 with a 3.46 ERA. Other than their two standout prospects, the Indians don’t have very much talent inside the minors.

18. Colorado Rockies

Top 100 prospects: SS/2B Brendan Rodgers (15), IF Ryan McMahon (41), RHP Riley Pint (100)

(Photo by Bill Mitchell)

(Photo by Bill Mitchell)

The Rockies could potentially have a problem at the shortstop position, a good problem at that. Brendan Rodgers was an absolute machine last season, hitting .336 with 18 home runs and 64 RBI’s, the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 draft could get the call-up to the bigs this season. That is, if Trevor Story struggles or goes down with injury. After taking a small step back in his sophomore season, Story could potentially be on a tight leash if he struggles this year. It also doesn’t help that the Rockies have absolute studs all over the field so having one of the two shortstops changing position won’t help much. The only question the Rockies have is at 1B where Ryan McMahon is currently atop the depth chart after playing in only 17 games and having 19 AB’s.

17. Pittsburgh Pirates

Top 100 prospects: RHP Mitch Keller (16), OF Austin Meadows (45), RHP Shane Baz (67)

After dealing away star players Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, it’s very clear that the Pirates are in total rebuild mode. But the returns on those two players weren’t that appealing, not even landing any prospects inside the top 100. It would’ve helped their ranking if the Pirates could’ve got some good prospects in return but they still got a decent return. RHP Mitch Keller can bring the heat and has strong command, leading to his 116 K’s last season and OF Austin Meadows will be called up this season after spending most of the year in AAA last season, hitting .250.

16. Washington Nationals

Top 100 prospects: OF Victor Robles (6), OF Juan Soto (29), SS Carter Kieboom (90)

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

If Bryce Harper decides to bolt the nation’s capital after this season for a new team, the Nationals certainly have the players to replace him. OF Victor Robles is one of the best prospects in all of baseball and OF Juan Soto is a nice talent as well. Robles, who finished out his season with the big league club, playing in 13 games with 24 AB’s. Prior to getting the call, the speedy Robles hit for a .300 average and stole 27 bags. Soto is also a nice contact hitter, finishing out the year with a .351 average.

15. Houston Astros

Top 100 prospects: RHP Forrest Whitley (9), OF Kyle Tucker (17), RHP J.B. Bukauskas (76)

(Julio Cortez / AP)

(Julio Cortez / AP)

While having a talented big league roster, the reigning World Series champions’ farm system is not too shabby either, having two prospects land inside the top 20. RHP Forrest Whitley is on track to be called up next season, maybe even this season as he is zooming through the minor league system, playing in three different levels last season. OF Kyle Tucker could be called up at around the same time Whitley gets the call as both finished the year at the AA level.

14. Los Angeles Dodgers

Top 100 prospects: RHP Walker Buehler (13), OF Alex Verdugo (33), C Kiebert Ruiz (52)

The Dodgers have always had a very talented farm system with young players like Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger in the minor league system within the last five seasons. RHP Walker Buehler is a top 15 prospect in the MLB after having an impressive 2017 season that got him called up to L.A. OF Alex Verdugo had a nice season in AAA ball, hitting for a .314 average with 62 RBI’s. His performance also got him called up later in the year.

13. Toronto Blue Jays

Top 100 prospects: OF Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3), SS/2B Bo Bichette (14), OF Anthony Alford (47)

The Athletic

The Athletic

If Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is anything like his Hall of Fame father was, the Blue Jays have the same on their hands. Guerrero Jr. is just 18 years old and is already destroying high-A ball pitching, hitting .333, with six home runs and 31 RBI’s in only 168 AB’s. Another Blue Jays prospect with a former All-Star dad is Bo Bichette. His father Dante was a four time All-Star in the 90’s for the Colorado Rockies. Bo is also in the high A level with a .323 average with 23 RBI’s in 164 AB’s.

12. Minnesota Twins

Top 100 prospects: SS Royce Lewis (20), RHP Fernando Romero (68) , RHP Stephen Gonsalves (78), SS/2B Nick Gordon (80)

The Twins shocked everyone last season as they went from the worst record in baseball in 2016, to earning the second A.L. wild card spot in 2017. Their last place status in 2016 gave them the first overall pick in the 2017 draft, which they used to select SS Royce Lewis. Lewis hit for a respectable .279 average with 27 RBI’s in his first professional season. They also have a pair of righties in Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves who will be key pieces if the Twins want to continue this run of success.

11. Detroit Tigers

Top 100 prospects: RHP Franklin Perez (39), RHP Matt Manning (55), RHP Alex Faedo (59), RHP Beau Burrows (77)

The Tigers aren’t a good baseball team. Plain and simple. Who will be the face of the team once Miguel Cabrera leaves? The talent on the Tigers is very scarce but they have some decent right-handed arms in the system. Franklin Perez, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows all have good potential to be very serviceable major league pitchers.

10. Oakland Athletics

Top 100 prospects: LHP A.J. Puk (32), LHP Jesus Luzardo (60), SS/2B Franklin Barreto (66), SS/OF Jorge Mateo (72)

The Oakland A's are on the rise and have some nice, young talent at the big league level and even more down in the minors. Southpaw A.J. Puk is not quite ready for the bigs just yet as he is only in high A ball but within the next two seasons, expect to see Puk donning an Oakland uniform soon. SS/2B Franklin Barreto still has potential to be a great middle infielder as he was one of the top prospects last season and SS/OF Jorge Mateo is a nice piece acquired in the Sonny Gray deal from the Yankees.

Jae C. Hong/AP

Jae C. Hong/AP

9. Los Angeles Angels

Top 100 prospects: RHP/OF Shohei Ohtani (1), OF Jo Adell (62), SS Kevin Maitan (87), OF Jahmai Jones (93)

The Angels are in a great spot in 2018. After acquiring Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart, the Angels are ready to win now and still have a quality farm system led by the top prospect in all of baseball, the Japanese Babe Ruth, Shohei Ohtani. He's a wild card. Will he play the outfield? Will he be a pitcher? Will he DH on days he isn’t pitching? Who knows but Ohtani’s talent in both positions make him the top prospect in all of baseball. Aside from Ohtani, the Angels have quality prospects in outfielders Jo Adell and Jahmai Jones and a nice SS in Kevin Maitan.

8. St. Louis Cardinals

Top 100 prospects: RHP Alex Reyes (18), RHP Jack Flaherty (38), C Carson Kelly (46), OF Tyler O’Neill (94

After trade rumors for Giancarlo Stanton swirled around involving names like righties Alex Reyes and Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals ended up getting another outfielder from the Miami Marlins in All-Star Marcell Ozuna for RHP Sandy Alcantara. Keeping Reyes and Flaherty were huge for the Redbirds as they got to hold onto potential aces of their staff. Reyes is an interesting case though; he went down with an elbow injury in spring training and missed the year after Tommy John surgery. If catcher Yadier Molina sticks out the rest of his contract (which ends in 2020) and continues to put up All-Star numbers, Carson Kelly will pretty much be stuck behind Yadi for the rest of his career. Kelly can also play a little bit of third base, which the Cardinals are pretty thin at so expect to see Kelly get some reps there.

7. Philadelphia Phillies

Top 100 prospects: RHP Sixto Sanchez (26), 2B Scott Kingery (35), SS J.P. Crawford (37), RHP Adonis Medina (86), Mickey Moniak (88), Adam Haseley (95)

After six straight losing seasons, the Phillies could actually break through this season. With young stars in 1B/OF Rhys Hoskins, OF Nick Williams, RHP Aaron Nola and INF J.P. Crawford, the Phillies could have something brewing for years to come. Add that talent to what they have in the minors and the Phillies could potentially have a new core on their hands. Sixto Sanchez is moving his way up quickly through the minors, Scott Kingery could get called up this season and Mickey Moniak is a former 1st overall selection.

(Julio Cortez / AP)

(Julio Cortez / AP)

6. Cincinnati Reds

Top 100 prospects: 3B Nick Senzel (7), RHP Hunter Greene (21), OF Taylor Trammell (43), OF Jesse Winker (82), RHP Tyler Mahle (84)

The Reds have a pretty decent team offensively but their main problem is pitching. That is probably why they went with RHP Hunter Greene in the 2017 draft at 2nd overall. The main guy to watch is Nick Senzel who could be called up this season. Last year, Senzel hit .321 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI’s. Taylor Trammell is a very speedy outfielder who stole 41 bases last season at the A level. Jesse Winker got a bit of MLB action last year as well as Tyler Mahle.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. New York Yankees

Top 100 prospects: INF Gleyber Torres (5), OF Estevan Florial (44), LHP Justus Sheffield (48), 3B Miguel Andujar (65), RHP Albert Abreu (74), RHP Chance Adams (75)

The Yankees are in the best possible spot a baseball team could be in: a young team that is ready to win now with an abundance of minor league talent. We all know about Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Luis Severino, the very talented bullpen and their new star, Giancarlo Stanton, but that’s for a later date. Here, we’re focusing on the “baby bombers” and there is much to be focusing on.

INF Gleyber Torres, the Yankees top prospect, missed most of last season after Tommy John surgery but could reach the majors this season. Not too far behind him is Estevan Florial, who is currently in the AA level and still has a bit of ways to go. Miguel Andujar donned the pinstripes for a bit this season and has a ton of pop, and lefty Justus Sheffield and righty Chance Adams can all make an impact on the Yankees this season. With all of young this talent in the organization, we could see another Yankees dynasty in the works.

4. Tampa Bay Rays

Top 100 prospects: RHP Brent Honeywell (12), SS/2B Willy Adames (22), 1B/LHP Brendan McKay (25), OF Jesus Sanchez (57), OF/1B Jake Bauers (64), 3B/SS Christian Arroyo (81)

Expect the Tampa Bay Rays to take a step back this season from their 80-82 record last season after trading away Evan Longoria to the Giants. While they still have Chris Archer, he is not immune to trade talks as he’s been for the past few years. Lucky for them, they have a real solid farm system full of talented prospects. RHP Brent Honeywell could start the year with the Rays after impressing last season at the AAA level going 12-8 and striking out 152 with a WHIP of 1.30. Middle infielder Willy Adames could also start his season in Tampa as last season he hit .277 with 62 RBI’s in AAA. Brendan McKay is in a Shohei Otani situation where he can play both the field and pitch as well.

3. Chicago White Sox

Top 100 prospects: OF Eloy Jimenez (4), RHP Michael Kopech (10), OF Luis Robert (28), RHP Alec Hansen (54), RHP Dylan Cease (61), RHP Dane Dunning (92), OF Blake Rutherford (99)

Denis Poroy / Getty Images

Denis Poroy / Getty Images

The White Sox have a really balanced blend of top prospects in their system with three outfielders and four pitchers landing inside the top 100. Leading the way is outfielder Eloy Jimenez, acquired from the cross-town Cubs in the Jose Quintana deal. Jimenez has the potential to be a really good hitter in the big leagues as he finished last season hitting .312 with 19 home runs and 65 RBI’s. RHP Michael Kopech came along in the Yoan Moncada deal and could make an impact with the White Sox this upcoming season. Luis Robert is a newly acquired piece from Cuba who has insane potential.

Jeff Morris

Jeff Morris

2. Atlanta Braves

Top 100 prospects: OF Ronald Acuna (2), RHP Kyle Wright (30), RHP Mike Soroka (31), LHP Luiz Gohara (49), RHP Ian Anderson (51), LHP Koby Allard (58), LHP Max Fried (83), 3B Austin Riley (97)

The Atlanta Braves has the most prospects landing inside the top 100 with eight. Their best prospect, Ronald Acuna, could possibly be the most well-rounded prospect in all of baseball. After hitting .325 with 21 home runs, 82 RBI’s and 44 SB last season, Acuna could make his debut with the Braves this season after impressing in AAA. There’s a bit of a fall off after Acuna with Kyle Wright landing at number 30 and Mike Soroka at 31. It’s pretty clear that the Braves will be building around Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte and Acuna.

(Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune

(Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune

1. San Diego Padres

Top 100 prospects: SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (8), LHP Mackensie Gore (19), 2B/SS Luis Urias (36), RHP Cal Quantrill (40), RHP Michael Baez (42), LHP Adrian Morejon (50), RHP Anderson Espinoza (89)

While the Braves may have had more prospects inside the top 100, the Padres had the most inside the top 50 with six of their seven best prospects earning that acclaim. SS Fernando Tatis Jr. is the top guy in the system but isn't expected to make an impact with the Padres until 2019. Mackensie Gore is another player who will make his impact felt in San Diego later on, expected in 2020.

You could see middle infielder Luis Urias playing at Petco Park this season after impressing in AA by hitting .296. RHP Cal Quantrill, son of former pitcher Paul Quantrill, is expected in 2019, same with RHP Michael Baez and left Adrian Morejon. Basically, the San Diego Padres will not be good this season, they’ll get a top 5 pick and they are about two years away from being two years away from being a potential contender in the National League.

Hot stove predictions: free agents

It's January, and Jake Arrieta is still a free agent. So is Eric Hosmer, Yu Darvish and J.D. Martinez.

A slow start to offseason hot stove action is directly tied to the decisions by Shohei Ohtani to sign with the Angels and the Marlins trading Giancarlo Stanton and 59 home runs to the Yankees for a chopped cheese and a bag of takis. So far, the relievers are off the board, but for the most part baseball has been quiet since the World Series.

That'll change soon. Once the first big name signs, teams will scramble to get their guys before spring training begins next month. Here's my predictions for where some free agent dominos will fall. Tomorrow, we will examine trade possibilities.


J.D. Martinez

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

J.D. tore through the National League after a midseason trade from Detroit, hitting .302 29 HRs 65 RBIs 1.107 OPS and 2.6 WAR for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-Backs made the playoffs a year early, and with Paul Goldschmidt there this is their window to compete in a tough NL West. He's the most coveted slugger, and the right-handed hitter has no shortage of suitors to choose from.

The Red Sox look to turn two first-round embarrassments around under new manager Alex Cora. They want Martinez to DH for them and spell the trio of Benintendi-Bradley Jr.-Betts from time to time, but they re-signed Mitch Moreland to a two-year deal to play first, and Hanley Ramirez is a below-average hitter making $22.75 million this year who can't really play anywhere in the field except for first.

The Giants outfield is trash. Pure absolute basura. Denard Span is mid, Hunter Pence is still lounging out there, I think Angel Pagan is boating in McCovey Cove waiting for a contract. The Giants went from wild card to worst, and San Francisco struck out on Giancarlo Stanton AND Marcell Ozuna. They need to move on heavy hitters in the outfield quickly if they're gonna catch some 'even year magic' in 2018.

Prediction: Boston will move one of their young outfield trio - either Benintendi or Bradley - and create some space for Martinez. Martinez to Red Sox, 6 years, $144 million, $24m AAV


Jake Arrieta

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The 2015 Cy Young winner made it known from the start he wants the Brinks truck. That hasn't come yet, and it may open up the doors for a reunion in Chicago for Arrieta. He became a star with the Cubs under pitching coach Chris Bosio's guidance, but he's gone now, and with the Boras client out for some M's, he might price himself out of the Cubs' budget.

Their NL Central rivals are chomping at the bit to steal him from the Cubs. The Cardinals need a splash to get back in the race, and the Brewers need an ace to guide the ship. Arrieta also has Boras ties in Washington, where the Nats try to reverse years of NLDS heartbreak all while convincing Bryce Harper to stay in the District.

But Jake's home is down in Texas, where the reigning champion Astros are in the market for another star atop their rotation. The Rangers could also get in the Arrieta race after seeing the team in Houston finally win it all.

Prediction: The Astros will push hard for Arrieta, but in the end he heads back to Chicago. Arrieta says with Cubs, 4 years, $105 million, $26.25m AAV w/ player opt-out after year 2


Eric Hosmer

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The homegrown Kansas City Royal brought the city its second World Series in 2015. He could be as big as George Brett in that town if he stays, but odds aren't leaning in their favor.

St. Louis is looking to gut their rival to the west and add a leader to the clubhouse. The San Diego Padres want that kind of guy as well, thinking ahead to when their young prospects are ready to compete for division crowns.

Then there's them damn Yankees. Hosmer is a Scott Boras client, and Boras once got an 8-year megadeal out of Brian Cashman for Mark Teixeira. He could do the same and add a solid lefty bat to take aim at the short porch in right.

Prediction: The Yankees will be on Hosmer's doorstep until the final decision, but Hosmer is from Miami, and sees beautiful weather and a future building in San Diego. Padres sign Hosmer, 7 years, $149 million, $21.3m AAV


Yu Darvish

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Darvish was exposed in the World Series after the Astros revealed he was tipping his pitches. they teed off on the Japanese export in Game 7, and that hurt Darvish's value on the market. He could still return to the Dodgers, but they're trying to stay under the luxury tax and any sign would require another move to go down.

The Cubs are a name that's been closely attached lately. Theo Epstein loves him and made a pass at him when he came over to the states years ago, and new pitching coach Jim Hickey could solve those tipping issues. The Astros are also an option, as is his old team in the Texas Rangers, who know him best.

Prediction: Cubs choose Arrieta over Darvish, sending Yu back to Texas. Rangers sign Darvish, 6 years, $151 million, $25.2m AAV

Other predictions:

Alex Cobb to Brewers; 4 years $62 million $11.5m AAV
Lorenzo Cain to Giants; 4 years $65 million $16.25m AAV
Mike Moustakas to Mets; 5 years $80 million $16m AAV
Jay Bruce to Blue Jays; 4 years $58 million $14.5m AAV
Greg Holland to Astros; 3 years $45 million $15m AAV