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TOP 5 MLB teams who have the most work to do post-lockout

Written by PJG203

The few weeks between the Winter Meetings, and New Years are often quiet in Baseball. This year, however, is a little different. This year, to the dismay of myself and all of the other fans, it is radio silence. With the lockout upon us and the MLB and MLBPA waiting until January to start core economic matters, it is going to remain quiet for a couple more weeks.

Whenever the lockout ends however, there will be a relatively short amount of time in which teams must wrap up all their offseason business before spring training. Some teams, quite obviously, have more work than others. Not every club was active during the insane pre-lockout frenzy. That all being said, here is my Top 5 teams that have THE MOST work to do post-lockout due to needs, the fan base, and a couple of other factors.

5. Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays may have the biggest upside of any team in all of MLB. The Blue Jays have a mammoth of an offense, four good to great starting pitchers, deep pockets, and a deeper than most farm system. They were arguably the third best team in the AL in 2021 led by perennial MVP phenom, Vlad Guerrero Jr.

They were not able to re-sign MVP candidate, Marcus Semien, and replacing production like that is not easy and often not realistic. They may not be convinced to go for a big money long-term deal for a Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, or Trevor Story with extensions looming for stars Vlad, Bo Bichette, and potentially Teoscar Hernandez but the trade market could be in their favor with guys like Jose Ramirez, Ketel Marte, and Matt Chapman potentially on the trade block and the versatility of their affordable contracts, and both Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal, it could all work.

With both the Yankees and Red Sox hamstringing themselves with luxury-tax games and the shoestring operation that is the Rays will keep a clear path to AL East supremacy open for the Blue Jays. Adding an impact infielder, and solidifying the back end of their rotation could put them in a position to bully the rest of the AL East in 2022.

4. Seattle Mariners

The team with the longest playoff drought in Baseball (20 years) is certainly going to find itself near the top of lists like this because of the desperation factor, as well as their good showing early in the year and promising players either already on the pro roster, or on their way. Pre-lockout, the Mariners landed reigning AL Cy Young Winner, Robbie Ray. He joins Chris Flexen, Logan Gilbert, and Marco Gonzales to form a promising top four. Post-hype youngsters Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield are still around and prospects like Matt Brash, Emerson Hancock, and George Kirby.

Even with all of that depth, the Mariners still want more proven rotation depth. They don’t need an ace or even a high end number 2 starter, just someone to solidify the back end and reduce how much the club would have to rely on the younger unproven arms. A reunion with lefty Tyler Andersen would make sense.

The Mariners also could use a legitimate middle of the order bat. They already made a deal for Adam Frazier, but need someone with more pop to fill the DH spot or third base. With intradivision trades always being tricky, you could still see the A’s in the midst of their fire sale, sending Matt Chapman and potentially Sean Manaea to Seattle. Kris Bryant and Trevor Story shouldn’t be ruled out either.

Another name to look at would be a reunion with journey-man DH extraordinaire, Nelson Cruz. He’d fill that DH spot and provide a middle of the order type bat. Plus the impact in the locker room, and his history with the organization could be a perfect match as the M’s look to end their postseason drought.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Like another team that will end up on this list, the Phillies in large part, sat out the pre-lockout portion of the offseason, much to the dismay of their fanbase. With their only move being Corey Knebel on a one year deal, and the season they just had, it is hard to see the Phillies running it back with Didi Gregorious and Alec Bohm back out at shortstop and third base, respectively. They also are without a left or a center fielder as well.

Filling all four of those positions in a meaningful way will be difficult given the expected time crunch post-lockout. Teams may only have a few weeks between the end, and the start of spring training. Sticking with Bohm (and maybe moving him to left field? would be serviceable given his pedigree as a top prospect and draft pick.

It is very clear though, that the Phillies need to improve their defense on that left side of the infield and they have to do it with several big money contracts already on their books. Those three reasons, Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, and Zack Wheeler, are also the reasons why the Phillies hung around the postseason race in 2021 and can use some help.

Prior to the lockout, the Phillies were connected to long time Bryce Harper buddy, Kris Bryant, as well as Kyle Schwarber and Kevin Kiermaier. Spending money would be preferable to them, than giving up prospects but with he time crunch and the many needs they have, the Phillies face one of the more difficult post-lockout scenarios especially in the Philadelphia market.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

After losing both Max Scherzer, and Corey Seager during the pre-lockout frenzy, the Dodgers are as the kids say, “down bad”. Leaving the team that seemed to have too much pitching last spring is now in need of depth behind Walker Buehler and Julio Urias. Clayton Kershaw’s return is not a given, with his hometown Rangers being seen as a legitimate threat o sign him, but even if he were to return, it’s difficult to know how much he’ll contribute. He twice dealt with forearm issues in 2021, a potential precursor to Tommy John surgery and is expected to wait and see how his arm responds this offseason before making a decision.

With a low level signing of Andrew Heaney, the best available free agent starter is Carlos Rodon, a better version of Heaney who would fit in well. Signing both Rodon and Kershaw would likely be seen as a perfect world scenario but is not at all a certainty.

The bottom line for the Dodgers, is they need more rotation depth, re-signing or potentially replacing Kenley Jansen also figures to be on their agenda. The Dodgers find their way to this second spot thanks in large part to their major losses so far this offseason, as well as their rabid fanbase that at this point only accepts championship contenders and NL West winners.

1. New York Yankees

If this one wasn’t obvious, you clearly don’t know what that other team from New York did pre-lockout. After looking like the little brother for a change as Uncle Stevie opened up his wallet over in Queens, Yankees fans all over the world/country were and rightfully so, up in arms. Not only that but this Yankees team is FULL of needs that will again, be a little more difficult post-lockout due to the timing.

Shortstop, once manned by one of the most famous Yankees to ever do it, is now arguably their most glaring need. They literally do not have a shortstop as of this typing. Unless you count utility man, Gio Urshela, that’s about it. Given their financial might and watching the New York Mets make the moves they did, the most likely scenario seems to be them signing either Carlos Correa or Trevor Story as their big money signing that will undoubtedly please the masses.

Seemingly set on moving on from Luke Voit, that would open up a need for a first basemen, as well as more lefty bats. A reunion with perhaps the most perfect “Yankee” since Jeter, Anthony Rizzo, seems like a logical but not for sure fit. Aaron Hicks’ injuries create a need in the outfield, and another starter in the rotation to knock Nestor Cortes Jr, and Domingo German down a peg would also be nice. Add in an upgrade from Gary Sanchez behind the plate, which appears to be difficult in the current catching market, is something the Yankees have been exploring as well.

The main question comes down to this. How much money are the Yankees willing to pony up. Are they ok with allowing the New York Mets be the financially dominant team in New York? Or will the ‘Evil Empire’ return? With ownership seemingly prioritizing staying under the luxury tax, the Yankees are the CLEAR cut team to watch post-lockout and have the most yet to do.

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PJG203