It’s the holiday season, and it’s not too late for gifts. (I would like a robot butler. Thank you.) There’s no actual need for MLB teams to rush to get what they want by the holiday; frankly, considering how slowly things are going so far, it’s obvious no one’s in much of a rush to do much of anything. The holiday is just another deadline to blow past.
That said, every team has all sorts of items on their wishlist, and because it’s the holidays, we might as well go ahead and point out what those are. Some of these are specific players, some of them are positional needs, some of them are just theoretical concepts. But every team has made a list and has checked it … well, hopefully at least twice. Here’s what’s atop each one.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays — A third baseman: Sure, Vlad Jr. can play there and is saying all the right things, but they moved him to first base for a reason, and it seems unlikely he’ll go back to the hot corner. Getting someone locked in there, via free agency or trade, would solidify a promising lineup for years to come.
Orioles — A couple more years of patience: Probably just a couple more, though. The tiny step forward last year may be followed by a larger step back, but this organization is already in such a better place than it was two years ago.
Rays — Innings: The Rays still have top-shelf starters, but the back half of their rotation looks incredibly unreliable. Just getting someone to buy them some innings until the younger starters are ready would go a long way toward getting them back to the World Series.
Red Sox — Any starting pitcher, anywhere: Chris Mazza might be this team’s fifth starter right now. The Red Sox rotation made 2020 a non-starter in terms of competitiveness. They haven’t fixed that yet, not in the slightest.
Yankees — DJ LeMahieu: This isn’t complicated: He might be the best and most important lineup piece they have, and their margin for error if they lose him is thinner than you might think.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Indians — Some Francisco Lindor resolution: If they’re going to trade him, they need to do it. If they aren’t, they need to be able to plan accordingly. This has already hung over them too long.
Royals — Bullpen help: The Royals have been impressively aggressive so far, and the additions of Carlos Santana and Mike Minor really do make them look better. But a wobbly bullpen could tank everything they’re trying to do.
Tigers — Professional hitters: The Tigers have the pitching coming, but it’s tough to develop pitchers if they don’t trust their team to score more than three runs a game.
Twins — Health: Health for Josh Donaldson and Byron Buxton, at the very least, and better luck around the whole lineup. With Nelson Cruz and Eddie Rosario both free agents and uncertain to return, they can’t afford to lose both Donaldson and Buxton for very long.
White Sox — Good vibes with the new manager: For all the scrutiny about the hiring of Tony La Russa, he is one of the winningest managers of all time. There is so much talent here. If they can make this work, they’ll have the best of both the old school and the new school. If they can make it work.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels — Help! I know, I know, every team needs help. But, again: Mike Trout is in his prime and has never won a playoff game. It should be a national emergency to get him reinforcements.
A’s — Matt Chapman’s health: Anybody ready for Chapman to have the full-bore MVP season we’ve all been waiting for him to have? Now’s as good a time as any, but he needs to make sure he’s recovered from the hip injury that derailed his 2020 season.
Astros — A clear direction: The Astros have their entire 2020 outfield on the free-agent market and everything seemingly coming to a head at once. They are at a clear pivot point for their whole franchise. What happens next?
Mariners — Continued kismet: Was last year the most enjoyable year in recent Mariners history? Sure, they didn’t finish .500, but there was excitement — there was hope. Can they keep the party going?
Rangers — Joey Gallo to be Joey Gallo: He looked like a budding superstar, and then he suddenly didn’t. The team needs to know what he is, for certain, before they figure out what to do with him.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves — Another shot at the Dodgers: They were this close last year. This team is deep and talented and emergent. But the Dodgers still stand in their way.
Marlins — Marcell Ozuna: The Marlins have all that exciting pitching, but they won’t return to the playoffs without offensive improvement. So hey, let’s think big this holiday season: Bring back the Big Bear!
Mets — Unchecked enthusiasm: The excitement of Mets fans has been refreshing this winter. Eventually, Mets fans will be sad because that’s what history dictates. But in the meantime, let the good times roll as long as they can.
Phillies — J.T. Realmuto: Now that he’s not going to the Mets, the Phillies need to make Bryce Harper happy by keeping his buddy — and an All-Star catcher — around.
Nationals — Stras to be Stras again: Is any pitcher more important to their team’s 2021 hopes than Stephen Strasburg is to the Nationals’?
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers — Christian Yelich to remember he’s Christian Yelich: It remains absolutely absurd that the 2018 NL MVP (and ’19 runner-up) hit .205 last year, albeit with the caveat of unprecedented circumstances. This isn’t just a holiday wish for the Brewers — we should all want Yelich back.
Cardinals — The return of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina: This is going to be a transitional year for the Cardinals, albeit one when they should still compete. At least one more year with their two franchise legends would help the fans get through it.
Cubs — Decisions on all the impending free agents, and soon: The Cubs could shake up baseball more than any other team, depending on what they do with Javier Báez, Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel. The rest of baseball wants to know as badly as Cubs fans do.
Pirates — Ke’Bryan Hayes to provide some hope: This team is just starting a rebuild, and the fans need someone to rally around. Hayes is an easy player to root for, and he can at least point to a better future.
Reds — The return of Eugenio Suárez: Suárez wasn’t terrible last year, but many thought he had MVP potential. It would help out a great deal if they were right.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs — Madison Bumgarner’s return: It actively hurt watching Bumgarner’s struggles in 2020. Even a slight step toward his former self would ease a lot of hearts.
Dodgers — Hey, how about another title? The thing about winning the World Series is it just makes you want to go out and win another one.
Giants — The return of Buster Posey: The Giants made some nice steps forward in 2020, but it didn’t quite feel like the Giants without Posey. Maybe he can ease the transition to Joey Bart and bring back some of his old spark as well.
Padres — The next step forward: They might not catch the Dodgers yet — though if you’re ever going to do that, doing so the year after they’ve just won the World Series might not be the worst time. But the Padres announced their joyous presence to the baseball world in 2020. Now we get to see what comes next.
Rockies — Nolan Arenado clarity: Will he be traded? Will he be here forever? It does feel like the Rockies have been asking these questions for a while now.