1 potential upgrade for each team before camp

Detroit Tigers

Spring Training is drawing ever closer, with pitchers and catchers beginning to report in about three weeks. But there remains much to be determined when it comes to what rosters will look like before that happens.

What might each team do to improve its roster before Spring Training gets underway in Arizona and Florida next month? Here’s a look at one thing each club can accomplish in that regard as the offseason winds down:

Blue Jays: Find a DH
The Blue Jays need more than just one bat, but the DH spot is a fine place to start. Brandon Belt’s bat was very valuable to this lineup at times in 2023, and this market still offers several options, from Jorge Soler to J.D. Martinez, Rhys Hoskins and others. Forget the versatility and roster construction — a DH should be a simple, straightforward way for the Blue Jays to improve their lineup. — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: Add a frontline starter
It’s no secret that Baltimore has been searching for a starting pitcher, ideally one who can slot closer to the top of its rotation than the bottom. General manager Mike Elias has repeatedly expressed his desire to acquire one, including during last month’s Winter Meetings. But the O’s haven’t dipped into the pricey free-agent starter market, and they haven’t yet been willing to part with a large package of prospects to fill their need in the rotation. Before Spring Training arrives, the Orioles need to figure out a way to add another strong starter into their mix. — Jake Rill

Rays: Upgrade behind the plate
There is just one catcher on the Rays’ 40-man roster: René Pinto, who has all of 63 games and 466 1/3 innings of Major League experience behind the plate. They believe in the 27-year-old’s defensive ability after what he showed down the stretch last year, and he’s produced an .844 OPS in Triple-A over parts of three seasons. But this is still an obvious area in which to add, given Pinto’s lack of experience, and their only other Opening Day options behind Pinto appear to be non-roster invitees Alex Jackson and Rob Brantly. — Adam Berry

Red Sox: Another starting pitcher
At the outset of the offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow was clear about his mission to improve the starting rotation. However, the team couldn’t land their top target in Yoshinobu Yamamoto and hasn’t come up with a true Plan B. So far, the Sox added an inconsistent righty with a high ceiling in Lucas Giolito and subtracted the oft-injured Chris Sale. Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell remain available on the free-agent market, but the Red Sox seem more likely to add pitching via trade. Breslow has said numerous times he’d like a trade acquisition to come with multiple years of club control. — Ian Browne

Yankees: Add to the bullpen
The most likely avenue to upgrade between now and Opening Day appears to be in the bullpen, especially considering the Yanks parted with seven pitchers in their trades for Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo. They have serious interest in right-hander Hector Neris, who notched a 1.71 ERA in 71 appearances for the Astros last year. New York has also maintained contact with left-hander Wandy Peralta and righty Keynan Middleton, who are both currently free agents after concluding the 2023 season in their bullpen. — Bryan Hoch

Guardians: Acquire a bat
The Guardians’ roster has somehow become overcrowded in areas — especially the infield — but it’s still missing an external bat that could take this offense to the next level. Right now, Cleveland is counting on Josh Naylor to have the same output as last year, Gabriel Arias to settle in at shortstop and tremendous development in its outfielders. For an offense that ranked 30th in homers, 29th in slugging percentage and 28th in RBIs in 2023, it could use a reliable external bat to come in and shift the momentum back in Cleveland’s favor. — Mandy Bell

Royals: Add another bat
The Royals have made several moves to upgrade their pitching staff, and they added to their offense by signing outfielder Hunter Renfroe this offseason. They have young players set at most positions, but competition isn’t a bad thing. Adding another bat to further upgrade the offense, whether it be a bench infielder or outfielder or someone who can play several positions, would give manager Matt Quatraro more options as the Royals try to find the best lineup and defense to run out there in 2024. — Anne Rogers

Tigers: Another bat on a low-risk deal
The Tigers still want No. 2 prospect Colt Keith to have an opportunity to earn a spot in the Opening Day lineup at second or third base, and for Justyn-Henry Malloy (No. 9) to potentially crack the roster. But that doesn’t mean Detroit can’t create some more competition for them. A short-term deal or camp invite for a hitter or two could provide more options for manager A.J. Hinch, especially if Keith struggles in Spring Training. — Jason Beck

Twins: Find another starting pitcher
Gone are Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda, leaving two spots open from the starting rotation that proved to be the bedrock of the Twins’ success for much of the 2023 season. Chris Paddack is back after Tommy John surgery (with a great playoff cameo under his belt) and Louie Varland can build on his rookie campaign, but the Twins would be well-served with another solid rotation option to initially keep Varland as a depth or bullpen piece. — Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: Solidify right field
Figuring out the Dylan Cease situation would be another choice here — actually keeping the ace right-hander with two years of control and not trading him for less than Chicago’s asking price helps the team in the short term. The White Sox have struggled to fill right field for a number of years, and while there are internal options in Gavin Sheets and Oscar Colas, general manager Chris Getz said recently a decision on right had not yet been made and the team is still looking. — Scott Merkin

Angels: Acquire a frontline starter
The Angels reportedly made a significant upgrade to their bullpen by reaching a deal with right-hander Robert Stephenson on Friday. But the starting rotation could use an upgrade, too. After missing out on right-hander Marcus Stroman and left-hander Shōta Imanaga, the Halos remain in contact with other available free-agent starters such as Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery. As it currently stands, the Angels have Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers, Chase Silseth, Tyler Anderson, Griffin Canning, José Suarez and Zach Plesac in the mix for their five-man rotation. — Martín Gallegos

Astros: Maybe another reliever?
The Astros addressed their biggest offseason need in a big way Friday by agreeing to a five-year deal with All-Star closer Josh Hader. Houston was already down three key bullpen arms from last year — free agents Hector Neris, Phil Maton and Ryne Stanek — before it was announced that Kendall Graveman would miss the 2024 season after undergoing shoulder surgery. There’s probably space for one more relief pitcher to further solidify the bullpen. — Brian McTaggart

Athletics: Add a veteran starter
The A’s would like to add a proven veteran starter who can provide mentorship and stability for a young and inexperienced rotation that struggled to find consistency in 2023 — Oakland utilized 24 starting pitchers, which tied the Major League record for most in a season. As the roster currently stands, right-hander Paul Blackburn and left-hander JP Sears appear to be the only rotation locks. — Martín Gallegos

Mariners: Add another bat
Seattle’s roster probably is all but buttoned up, and after a slow start to the offseason, the club has filled its lineup holes formidably via the additions of Mitch Haniger, Mitch Garver and Luke Raley. Yet even with a crowded infield and platoon setups all over their outfield, the Mariners still feel short at least one impact bat, if not more. — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: Add rotation depth
In the second half of the 2024 season, the Rangers will have the ability to add Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and the recently signed Tyler Mahle to the rotation. But before then, the depth of experienced starting pitching is looking pretty thin. Nathan Eovaldi is likely the Opening Day starter, with Andrew Heaney, Dane Dunning, Jon Gray and Cody Bradford behind him, but the Rangers could use another veteran starter or two who can eat innings, while also adding more cushion for a potential injury. — Kennedi Landry

Braves: Add a backup outfielder
Jarred Kelenic is going to have a chance to prove he can be the team’s everyday left fielder for many years to come. But the Braves could benefit from the addition of a right-handed-hitting outfielder who could occasionally spell Kelenic and play either of the other outfield spots when necessary. Kevin Pillar seems like a perfect fit, but it remains to be seen whether he wants to serve as a backup outfielder for a second straight season. The addition of a right-handed-hitting outfielder will likely complete this winter’s roster reconstruction. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: Lock down Arraez
Though two-time batting champion Luis Arraez is under team control for two more seasons, it couldn’t hurt for the Marlins to sign the All-Star second baseman to an extension. Arraez and Miami did not come to an agreement at the arbitration deadline, but Arraez has publicly stated that he is more than open to extension talks. Last year was a big season for Arraez, who dominated out of the gate and was only slowed by an ankle injury at the end of the season. Adding him as a franchise player would go a long way for Miami. — Paige Leckie

Mets: Find bullpen pieces 
The bullpen was inconsistent during the 2023 season. It didn’t help that closer Edwin Díaz missed the entire season because of a right knee injury suffered during the World Baseball Classic last March. Díaz is healthy now, but he needs a better supporting cast. Of the relievers remaining from last year’s roster, only Brooks Raley was a model of consistency. The team added free agents — Jorge López and Mike Tonkin — this offseason, but neither were at the top of their game last year. The Mets were never in the running for a top reliever like Josh Hader, so they most likely have to make additional trades to get better by Opening Day. — Bill Ladson

Nationals: Add another bat
One of the Nationals’ offseason goals was to add power to the lineup. Among NL teams in 2023, Washington finished last in home runs and had the fourth-lowest slugging percentage. The Nats have space on their roster for another bat — Joey Meneses, last season’s designated hitter, is expected to spend time at first base as well, leaving the opportunity for another player to share the DH role. Identifying a left-handed hitter would be a bonus, too. — Jessica Camerato

Phillies: Find some pitching depth
The Phillies arguably need another outfielder to protect themselves in case rookie Johan Rojas struggles in center field, but they maintain their biggest need is rotation depth. At the moment, they have Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suárez, Taijuan Walker and Cristopher Sánchez. It’s a top-five rotation. But behind them? It’s Dylan Covey, Nick Nelson and probably No. 2 prospect Mick Abel. The Phillies need to better protect themselves from injury. — Todd Zolecki

Brewers: Upgrade at first base
With Rowdy Tellez lost to free agency, the Brewers are in need of an everyday first baseman. They traded for Jake Bauers, but is he the answer? How about Tyler Black, their No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline? Maybe, but Black is a natural third baseman with only a few games of experience at first in the Minors. A reunion with Carlos Santana is possible, but far from guaranteed. The first base market isn’t robust, but good veteran options are available, like Rhys Hoskins, Trey Mancini, Luke Voit, Brandon Belt and Ji Man Choi. Milwaukee might well try to sign one before camp opens. — Joe Trezza

Cardinals: Add another reliable bullpen arm
The Cardinals addressed their starting pitching issues this offseason by signing veterans Sonny Gray, Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn. They also added to the bullpen, but the relief corps is still somewhat thin and filled with mostly unproven arms. Landing Andrew Kittredge from the Rays might go down as the best move of the offseason. The Cardinals still need at least one more reliable veteran out of the ‘pen. Veterans such as Ryan Brasier, Matt Moore, Robert Stephenson, Hector Neris or Phil Maton would make the unit significantly stronger. — John Denton

Cubs: Sign Cody Bellinger
Bellinger, who resurrected his value during his lone season on the North Side of Chicago, was the talk of the Cubs Convention last weekend despite his absence. Fans made it clear they wanted the free agent back, as did some teammates. The Cubs have been relatively quiet this offseason, have a need for a big bat and appear to have room to spend — making the conditions ripe for extending Bellinger’s stay. — Mark Sheldon

Pirates: Bring in another starting pitcher
The Bucs have already added veteran left-handers Marco Gonzales and Martín Pérez to a rotation that features Mitch Keller at the top, but while there will be some competition for the fourth and fifth slots, Pittsburgh could certainly use more certainty with another experienced arm — especially given the recent injury and consistency concerns with Gonzales and Pérez. Given that the Pirates reportedly showed interest in Shōta Imanaga, who signed with the Cubs, as well as Yariel Rodríguez before he reportedly agreed to a deal with the Blue Jays, perhaps they are willing to spend some to augment the rotation. But the options are dwindling, even on the trade market. — Manny Randhawa

Reds: Shore up the bench 
President of baseball operations Nick Krall has addressed just about every area of Cincinnati’s roster — the rotation, bullpen and infield — during a productive offseason that has seen the club spend $108.25 million on free agent signings. But perhaps the Reds can make one more move that gives them an added bat for punch off the bench. Several hitters remain on the free-agent market, including a familiar one in Joey Votto. Of course, the team icon would have to accept a part-time role and significantly smaller salary than the $25 million he had been making per year. Therefore, it still seems unlikely that the Reds will extend the 40-year-old Votto’s stay one more season. — Mark Sheldon

D-backs: Get rotation depth
After the World Series ended, the D-backs had two legitimate starting pitchers, right-handers Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Arizona helped itself this offseason by adding left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the fold, but who will be the team’s fourth and fifth starters? There are no guarantees. Adding a starter or two may be wise. Right-hander Brandon Pfaadt had a productive postseason, allowing eight runs in 22 innings with 26 strikeouts, but will it carry over into the regular season? Left-hander Tommy Henry is also listed on the depth chart as one of the rotation pieces, but he missed the final two months of last season because of elbow inflammation. — Bill Ladson

Dodgers: Bring in another back-end starter
After an embarrassing performance in the postseason by their starting pitching, the Dodgers did a tremendous job this winter in fortifying that area of the team, outspending everyone for Yoshinobu Yamamoto and pulling the trigger on a trade for Tyler Glasnow. The Dodgers’ rotation should be much improved, especially when Walker Buehler is fully healthy. But with some uncertainties with how Yamamoto will adapt to the Majors and Glasnow’s long list of injuries, the Dodgers could benefit from adding one more starter to give the a star-studded team even more depth.— Juan Toribio

Giants: Add an infielder or two
Following the addition of Jordan Hicks, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said the team is turning its attention from adding pitching to upgrading the infield. There’s an obvious fit: third baseman Matt Chapman, one of the top position players still on the market. A two-time Platinum Glove Award winner, Chapman has shown some decline at the plate but would provide an instant boost for San Francisco’s infield defense. Additionally, the Giants could look to add a veteran to back up rookie Marco Luciano at shortstop. — Sonja Chen

Padres: Add outfielders
Replacing Juan Soto will be no easy task. But the Padres need to at least do something to fill the void in their outfield. When the dust settled on the deal that sent Soto and center fielder Trent Grisham to the Yankees, Fernando Tatis Jr. and José Azocar were the only remaining outfielders on the team’s 40-man roster. That won’t do. Azocar is a serviceable enough backup, and the Padres have intriguing prospects like Jakob Marsee, the reigning Arizona Fall League MVP. But even if you add those two onto the roster, this is a team that still needs two outfielders — probably two starters. And if they’re left-handed hitters to replace Soto and Grisham, all the better. — AJ Cassavell

Rockies: Add outfield help
Arguments could be made for additions all around the field, but the Rockies received help from their farm system last season and see more help on the horizon. But they don’t have an outfielder who can play all three spots, with the idea of playing center when Brenton Doyle’s Gold Glove Award-winning defense is not in the lineup. The way the current roster is structured, it’s better if that player bats left-handed. On the free-agent market, there are switch-hitting Aaron Hicks, whose finish with the Orioles last season suggests regular playing time wherever he signs, and lefty-swinging Jackie Bradley Jr. There are multiple right-handed-hitting options as well. — Thomas Harding

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