Bernie on the Scene: My MLB Offseason Power Rankings

Bernie on the Scene: My MLB Offseason Power Rankings

This article is part of our Bernie on the Scene series.

As we hopefully move closer to a new season, here is how I rank every MLB club.

I am writing and filing this on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, for Monday publishing, Four days before the MLB Basic Agreement expires. I have no idea if things will change by Monday. Free agent signings are starting to trickle in. The Basic Agreement expires December 1, and now we wait.

Obviously, roster moves in the offseason will impact these rankings. However, as we head to the heart of "Hot Stove" time, here is where I think every team ranks.

No. 30: Pittsburgh Pirates

I still see little current improvement for the club. However, I have seen some organizational improvement, with hope coming in an improved farm system. They will likely not prosper until ownership changes. Keep an eye on what they do with Bryan Reynolds. Do they trade him?

No. 29: Texas Rangers

There will be some hope if they can sign shortstop Trevor Story or another of the top shortstop free agents. Even with a shortstop upgrade, they're an abysmal franchise. They look to spend money this winter, but will they make good decisions? They can't hit and they can't pitch. Other than that, they have a nice stadium. Keep an eye on Leody Taveras.

No 28: Arizona Diamondbacks

I have no idea how they get out of the hole they dug with bad decisions the past two years. However, Ketel Marte is still on the club. If they trade

As we hopefully move closer to a new season, here is how I rank every MLB club.

I am writing and filing this on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, for Monday publishing, Four days before the MLB Basic Agreement expires. I have no idea if things will change by Monday. Free agent signings are starting to trickle in. The Basic Agreement expires December 1, and now we wait.

Obviously, roster moves in the offseason will impact these rankings. However, as we head to the heart of "Hot Stove" time, here is where I think every team ranks.

No. 30: Pittsburgh Pirates

I still see little current improvement for the club. However, I have seen some organizational improvement, with hope coming in an improved farm system. They will likely not prosper until ownership changes. Keep an eye on what they do with Bryan Reynolds. Do they trade him?

No. 29: Texas Rangers

There will be some hope if they can sign shortstop Trevor Story or another of the top shortstop free agents. Even with a shortstop upgrade, they're an abysmal franchise. They look to spend money this winter, but will they make good decisions? They can't hit and they can't pitch. Other than that, they have a nice stadium. Keep an eye on Leody Taveras.

No 28: Arizona Diamondbacks

I have no idea how they get out of the hole they dug with bad decisions the past two years. However, Ketel Marte is still on the club. If they trade him, they can restock at several positions of need. Keep an eye on Daulton Varsho and Carson Kelly. Both can play.

No. 27: Baltimore Orioles

Help is on the way in the form of C Adley Rutschman — he's the real deal. And I am a huge believer in Cedric Mullins, Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander and Trey Mancini. I hope they make some trades to get some pitching, because they have none. Keep an eye on the rise of pitcher Grayson Rodriguez

No. 26: Washington Nationals

My, how the mighty have fallen. They deserve far more criticism than they receive for tearing apart a solid franchise. Yes, they got old. But still, the ownership has tons of money, but they have sewn their wallets shut. I'd like to see them trade Josh Bell and Patrick Corbin. Keep an eye on Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz; they represent the future.

No. 25: Colorado Rockies

Trevor Story will be gone and probably Jon Gray as well. What's left? An aging and declining Charlie Blackmon? I do like C.J. Cron and Ryan McMahon, but little else. This is a franchise that totally refuses to spend money and has not made significant trades to improve. Pitchers still can't consistently succeed in Coors. Keep an eye on Zac Veen, but he's still years away from making his MLB debut. I think Kyle Schwarber ends up in Colorado. That would help.

No. 24: Chicago Cubs

The once storied franchise is a mere shadow of its past. As hard as I try, I really can't find any significant players on the roster. Cubs fans should be outraged at how a family with the money of the Ricketts could let a franchise crumble and rot. There is little hope for their future, because they have horrible farm system depth. Keep an eye on prospect Brennen Davis. He'll be coming to Wrigley soon.

No. 23: Oakland Athletics

The fire sale should begin soon; just in time for other teams to get their Oakland Athletics Christmas presents early. Ownership really doesn't want to cough up the money to stay in downtown Oakland. They have a real problem, but, cutting payroll is their answer. Say goodbye to Elvis Andrus, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson. Probably some pitching as well. What's left? Not much, but more empty seats at home games. Keep an eye on A.J. Puk, if he's healthy, he could move up in importance.

No. 22: Minnesota Twins

Gone from the club are Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda. Kenta Maeda has had Tommy John surgery after ruining all of my fantasy teams. Their pitching is putrid, and yes, pitching still matters. I would guess oft-injured Byron Buxton will be traded. The offense is in decline, and I don't know if guys like Miguel Sano, Alex Kirilloff and Brent Rooker will ever hit. I'm not a fan of this team, but keep an eye on Royce Lewis. He's a solid athlete, and they need him sooner rather than later.

No. 23: Kansas City Royals

Unlike other clubs in this lower range, at least the Royals are trying to improve. But they don't have much talent on the major league roster. I never believed in Adalberto Mondesi, even when he was at full health. I still don't. Their pitching staff is young and needs experience. But they'll improve as the season progresses. I think they should trade Whit Merrifield and get a solid return to improve the club. Keep an eye on Bobby Witt, if he finally get his chance.

No. 20: Cincinnati Reds

I see another round coming where the Reds cry poor and deplete their roster of any player close to making any real money. Color players like Eugenio Suarez and Luis Castillo gone. Maybe Sonny Gray as well. They still need a shortstop, and they are woefully short on pitching — again. I just don't see this team improving at all. Keep an eye on pitcher Hunter Greene. They'll need him to step up.

No. 19: Miami Marlins

I think they want to play with the big boys, but it isn't quite happening yet. They do have solid pitching, but they should trade an arm or two for some offense. Jazz Chisholm is an exciting player, and they have a few solid guys. But overall, the hitting needs a jolt. Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers and the rest of the rotation are really very solid. They aren't far away from contending, but they need bats. Badly. If they trade a Max Meyer or Sixto Sanchez (which they won't), they could really stock up. Keep an eye on prospect JJ Bleday. He's close, IMO.

No. 18: New York Mets

Owner Steve Cohen may try to buy his way into contention, and he may be able to do that. Holes abound on this club. The starting pitching is paper thin. Mr. Cohen got taken to the cleaners by one Francisco Lindor, and he'll probably open the checkbook for more mistakes before it's all over. The offense is meh, and they have to find a way to sustain a winning streak by scoring more runs. I'm not sure signing Mark Canha is the answer. Keep an eye on prospect Brett Baty, whom they will rush to the big leagues if they can't buy help on the free agent market.

No. 17: Detroit Tigers

They're trying, but they aren't quite there yet. I credit manager A J Hinch with their improvement last year. He has them playing hard. The good, young pitching staff could be the focal point for their future. And now, ownership is willing to spend money. I think they'll find their free agent shortstop and more. Spencer Torkelson should take over at 1B, and there are some good hitters in the lineup. I love their future. Unlike many clubs, they are willing to spend money to improve. But they aren't there yet. Keep an eye on Riley Greene, who is close to making the big club in centerfield.

No. 16: Seattle Mariners

Yes, they have an outstanding young outfield. On paper. It remains to be seen if Kyle Lewis can stay healthy and if Jarred Kelenic can ever hit big league pitching. But this is a young, talented offense. The problem is on the mound. Other than Chris Flexen, I have little faith in the rotation. They need to get Logan Gilbert and Justin Dunn going. Or make trades to shore up their pitching depth. I'm not a big fan of the bullpen either. But I think the Mariners will spend money this winter, and free agents may want to come to Seattle. Keep an eye on prospect Julio Rodriguez. He could be a huge presence for Seattle.

No. 15: Cleveland Guardians

They can't score runs. The outfield offense is woeful. And the pitching staff remains unproven. They do have good arms, but is Shane Bieber healthy? Can Triston McKenzie figure it out? I like the rotation, but they have to find at least two corner outfielders and a first baseman if they want to compete in the AL Central. Keep an eye on prospect George Valera. They need him sooner rather than later, but they'll be patient with the young corner outfielder.

No. 14: Philadelphia Phillies

I really do like MVP Bryce Harper. And I do like Rhys Hoskins and a couple other position players. But I think they should trade Hoskins and get some pitching help. I'm bullish on Zack Wheeler, but I have real issues with inconsistent Aaron Nola and the rest of a mediocre rotation. I'm not convinced the Phillies will play in the free agent market, but they should. They are a big market club that wishes they didn't have to spend money to win. Keep an eye on Alec Bohm. I see him as a much better hitter than we've seen so far.

No. 13: Los Angeles Angels

The team with Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani hasn't won a thing. They are counting on Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell to step up. I see it with Marsh. I see lots of swings and misses with Adell. But their biggest need remains starting pitching. They paid a boatload of money to get the ever-injured Noah Syndergaard for one year. That should help. But they still need two more rotation starters. Arte Moreno needs to step up and spend more money to fix the rotation. The offense should score runs. Keep an eye on P Patrick Sandoval, who may surprise.

No. 12: San Diego Padres

The most important thing the franchise has done recently is the hiring of Bob Melvin as the new manager and add pitching coach Ruben Niebla. Both were terrific hires. The worst thing they have done is give a cell phone to general manager A J Preller. There isn't a trade he doesn't want to make. He has traded away an All Star team of talent. Now they need to trade Wil Myers and get another solid, healthy starter. Darvish. Snell. Clevinger. Paddack. All are injury prone, but that's their rotation. Good if healthy. A disaster if they can't lift their arms. Keep an eye on Luis Campusano, their catcher of the present and future.

No. 11: San Francisco Giants

Okay, I was wrong. I picked them to finish below the Dodgers and Padres last season. But I wasn't alone. Here's my question: Who will pitch for the Giants in 2022? Other than Logan Webb and the returning Anthony DeSclafani, the cupboard looks pretty bare to me. If they can't add at least three starters, I think they could be doomed. Posey has retired. Who knows who will provide the offense on the club? But they still have Brandon Crawford. He should have gotten MVP consideration. I don't like the Giants lack of youth in a young game, but it worked for them last year. Their pressing their luck. Keep an eye on Joey Bart. He could take over behind the plate and be solid.

No. 10: Boston Red Sox

No, I don't believe. I don't believe in Chris Sale anymore. I hope I'm wrong. They lost lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, which is huge. Their pitching remains very, very thin, at best. Yes, the offense is very solid. Hernandez, Devers, Bogaerts, Martinez and Verdugo form a great top to the lineup. I get that. But if you have to pitch to win, and I think you do, that leaves the Red Sox out in the cold in the AL East. They can't compete with stronger clubs in their division. Keep an eye on Triston Casas, who I think takes over at first base for Boston. He's a strong and promising guy.

No. 9: St. Louis Cardinals

This team is never out of a pennant race. Next year should see more of the same from them. The Cardinals always find a way to win. Goldschmidt, O'Neill and Arenado in the middle of the lineup is formidable. I like their big hitters, but the outfield still seems one guy shy to me. Any team with Adam Wainwright, Steven Matz and Jack Flaherty at the top of the rotation can avoid a long losing streak. But the back end of the rotation needs a small jolt. The Cards spend some money on Matz to shore up the pitching. I admire that. The bullpen is solid. Keep an eye on prospect Juan Yepez. The guy is strong, and he can hit coming off the bench.

No. 8: New York Yankees

I expect the Yankees to have a new shortstop and at least one or two new starters before the season starts. If not, they are doomed to be looking up at the Rays and Blue Jays in the AL East. They could sign Carlos Correa or Corey Seager. Or any shortstop they want. They'll spend money, but they need to look at the rotation. They lose a mediocre Corey Kluber but gain a full year of Luis Severino. Who knows what he has in his tank? And of course, they'll get the starting pitcher they overpay for. Any team with Judge and Stanton can be dangerous. Keep an eye on prospect pitcher Deivi Garcia. His off-speed pitches may play in the AL East.

No. 7: Chicago White Sox

I was much more bullish on the White Sox going in to 2021 than I am heading to 2022. Why? I worry that the starting pitching will falter. They will not have Carlos Rodon. Dallas Keuchel was a mess. Michael Kopech has never been a big league starter before. Lance Lynn is another year older, with a big body that I think will cause him problems. So the pitching worries me. Getting another bullpen arm in Kendall Graveman was nice, but that's not where they need help. I am also waiting to see if Eloy Jimenez can hit consistently. I don't believe in Yoan Moncada. But Luis Robert and Tim Anderson both give me hope for the offense. They need a right fielder. And a second baseman. And one more starter. Keep an eye on Andrew Vaughn. I think he'll be important.

No. 6: Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers starters were amazing. Can they repeat? Can Burnes, Woodruff, Peralta, Hauser and Lauer get them to the postseason again? Maybe. But it really is tough to get top performances from an entire rotation in consecutive years—-especially without injury.

My biggest concern about the Brewers? If a player or pitcher goes down, the farm system can't offer much help. The organization is thin on depth. That's an issue. They need another big bat and of course, they have to have a return to form from Christian Yelich. That's crucial to success. Will a new hitting coach help? Not if he can't swing due to a barking back. Keep an eye on Luis Urias. He and Yelich have to hit for them to stay afloat.

No. 5: Atlanta Braves

I just don't see lightning striking again. They won the World Series with great pitching and very timely hitting from guys who shouldn't be counted on to do it again. They do get Ronald Acuna back. Will they have Freddie Freeman? Austin Riley is the real deal. With Acuna and others, watch out. What if they don't sign Freeman? Can they pitch with the Dodgers? I'm not sure the rotation is deep enough to repeat another miracle or two. And Charlie Morton might be pitching on fumes. But I do like the team. A great deal. I do worry about the outfield depth and players like Cristian Pache and Johan Camargo. I don't see them helping much. Keep an eye on Drew Waters. I think he could break out next year and really help the outfield depth.

No. 4: Los Angeles Dodgers

Never, ever think the Dodgers won't win the NL West. They're too good. And they can overcome any hole by buying a player or trading for an expensive contract. That's where their endless financial support helps. They can buy their way out of a mistake. They have too many impact players and pitchers to fade away quietly into the Pacific Ocean. I like the rotation because of Walker Buehler and Julio Urias at the top. And I think they'll re-sign Max Scherzer. This is a club that's totally into statistics. Stats and metrics drive their every move. Manager Dave Roberts just moves the pieces. Betts, Turner, Muncy and a new swing from Bellinger are enough to convince me that they will score plenty of runs. Keep an eye on new starter Andrew Heaney. He could be the next Robbie Ray and find himself with his new team.

No. 3: Tampa Bay Rays

I just don't get it. I don't buy into the pitching metrics they use. They went to the opener to save money on starting pitching. I'm convinced of that. They started using the shift more than any other club. They have a great front office. They're innovative. Creative. But I don't think they have anywhere close to the hitting or pitching they will need to fend off other clubs like Toronto or Houston. I'm not even sure they're better than the Dodgers of Braves, but maybe they are. I need to see it again with this new, lighter, even cheaper edition of the Tampa Bay Rays. Keep an eye on Vidal Brujan. I like his entire game, and he fits perfectly alongside newly extended Wander Franco. And yes, I was shocked the Rays stepped up to pay Franco. But, he probably settled for a little less than I thought he would get.

No. 2: Houston Astros

Dusty Baker fell short of a World Series title once again as a manager. I do think he has a very tough club to beat. I really can't describe the impact of Yordan Alvarez. He's one scary dude with a bat in his hand. He and Brantley, Altuve, Bregman, Gurriel, Tucker, etc., form an incredible group of hitters that may score a zillion runs. And the team can pitch. I like the rotation. This is one of the few teams who should stand pat and play with who and what they have. The rotation of Verlander, McCullers Jr., Valdez, Garcia and Urquidy may be the best in baseball. Keep an eye on Korey Lee, a catcher on the brink of making it to the big leagues.

No. 1: Toronto Blue Jays

I have them here because I think they will spend lots and lots of money on pitching. No pitching, no title for them. They have to sign Robbie Ray. And then they have to go after every solid free-agent starter or trade for two solid starters. I do like Berrios, Ryu and Manoah, but they need more. The pen is fine, but they could use another arm there, as well. But man, can this club hit. Springer, Bichette, Guerrero Jr., Hernandez, Gurriel, Grichuk, Biggio. I love to watch them get after it. They'll score plenty of runs, and they'll be playing in their own home park for an entire season. Keep an eye on C Gabriel Moreno. He has an amazing line-drive bat. He's still very young, but he isn't far away.

HEADING HOME:

When you read Bernie on the Scene next week, we may have entered a lock out. In simpler terms, the owners may have loaded the gun, placed it on the table and continue to prepare to shoot themselves and the players in the head — ending the game of baseball we know and love for quite a while. I sure hope that isn't the case. But we could have a lengthy work stoppage/standoff in our future.

Yes, I think a lock out could be a long and potentially deadly decision. Why? If billionaire owners and millionaire players can't agree on money issues with the time they have had to settle their basic agreement differences, what makes them think they can get a deal done before Spring Training begins in February? Why then and not now? So the longer a lockout goes on, the greater the number of baseball fans who throw in the towel and give up the game. Some will return when the game returns. Many won't.

The demographics for baseball fandom are shrinking. There are many other sports competing for time and money. Life has many other options than watching baseball games on television. And going to a game in person is beyond the financial means of many fans.

I'm not very bullish on a quick settlement. I hope I'm wrong. 

Thank you for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff

I'll probably return to prospect analysis next week, unless there is major news.

Have a great week.
 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernie Pleskoff
Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
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