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With Major League Baseball’s offseason officially underway, front offices of teams all around the league are already in pursuit of free agents and negotiating trades to help improve their ball clubs ahead of the 2017 campaign.
Teams at the top of the food chain (including the World Series champion Chicago Cubs) as well as bottom dwellers (such as the Atlanta Braves) have holes to fill and are working hard to find solutions.
Here are the five National League teams who could use some help to fill their areas of weakness:
New York Mets – OF, RP, C
The New York Mets managed to make the postseason for a second consecutive season, but their biggest offensive weapon may be saying goodbye. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes opted out of his contract and should generate plenty of interest on the free-agent market, so they’ll need to find someone to replace his big bat if he departs. The Mets have reportedly inquired about Jose Bautista as a potential replacement. New York is also in need of help in its bullpen and behind the dish. Closer Jeurys Familia will likely face a domestic violence-related suspension, and the Mets don’t have much else aside from Addison Reed. At catcher, the Mets plan to roll with internal options Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, but general manager Sandy Alderson’s mind may change if he stares at the .607 OPS Mets catchers produced last season for too long.
San Francisco Giants – OF, 3B, RP
The even-year streak came to an end for the San Francisco Giants after a ninth-inning collapse from the team’s bullpen against the Cubs in the NLDS eliminated them from the postseason. With the willingness to spend and holes at the back end of their ‘pen and in left field, the Giants are in a prime position to go after Cespedes, as well as one of Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, or Mark Melancon to close. Acquiring the versatility of Eduardo Nunez at last season’s trade deadline gives the Giants a player who can play left field or third base, which means they’d only need to fill one of the positions via free agency or trade.
Chicago Cubs – SP, RP
Even the World Series champions have holes to fill. Chapman was a rental for the Cubs, and with his asking price reportedly reaching $ 100 million, he may be too pricey for anyone, including the North Siders. This means the Cubs may need to shop around the open market for a closer such as Jansen or Melancon, let one of Carl Edwards Jr. or Hector Rondon take over the role, or else find a trade partner. Lefty Travis Wood may also be hard to hold on to after a stellar season, so they may need to find a suitable replacement for him as well. After declining the option for Jason Hammel, Mike Montgomery would be the team’s fifth starter entering spring training, but if an opportunity arises to find someone better, Theo Esptein most certainly wouldn’t hesitate to make a move, especially with a lot of organizational depth to trade.
Los Angeles Dodgers – 2B, 3B, RP
The Los Angeles Dodgers head into the offseason with a number of holes to fill in their lineup after coming up short in the NLCS against the Cubs. L.A. is in need of a second and third baseman, as well as someone to close out games. The team’s front office is reportedly interested in re-signing Chase Utley, Jansen, and Justin Turner, but they’ll have a lot of competition for the latter two, who could chase the dollar signs rather than stay loyal to their most recent home. If Jansen and Turner were to depart, or if the Dodgers prefer someone else, the team could continue its reported pursuits of Chapman and Tampa Bay Rays hot-corner holder Evan Longoria.
Miami Marlins – SP, RP, SS
The Miami Marlins suffered through the tragic loss of right-hander Jose Fernandez as the 2016 season came to a close, finishing third in the NL East – and below expectations – with a 79-82 record. Miami’s talented roster headlined by Giancarlo Stanton and the resurgent Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich are a few pieces away from a playoff spot. With Fernandez’s passing, the Marlins will be hard-pressed to find someone in a thin free-agent market to replace him, but they could work out something via trade by offering up top prospect Braxton Garrett as bait. Miami could also upgrade at shortstop and the bullpen. Adeiny Hechavarria is an outstanding defender, but his .594 OPS was dead last in the NL among shortstops, while the Marlins’ relief corps – which no longer includes Fernando Rodney – posted a 3.63 ERA, good for 8th in the NL last season.