- The return of Madison Bumgarner’s velocity.
- More home runs.
- An improved bullpen.
For the Diamondbacks, the item atop the wish list is clear. Year 1 of Bumgarner’s five-year contract was a disaster (31 runs in 41 2/3 innings) and that was the cheap year on his deal ($6 million salary before proration). His velocity was a good 3 mph south of where it normally sits. Bumgarner may never be a slam-dunk ace again, but the D-Backs need him to be something better than awful to contend during the life of his deal. More power — Arizona hit only 58 homers in 2020, second fewest in baseball — and a better bullpen are the secondary asks from Santa.
- A Freddie Freeman extension.
- The rotation living up to the hype.
- A better bench.
Freeman, the reigning NL MVP, is entering the final season of the eight-year, $135 million extension he signed in 2014. He turned only 31 in September and I imagine Paul Goldschmidt’s five-year, $130 million deal will be the starting point for extension talks. Freeman is one of those players who should spend his entire career with one team and getting that extension squared away now rather than having his free agency hang over the 2021 season would be swell. Beyond Freeman, the team’s high-upside starters (Charlie Morton, Drew Smyly, Mike Soroka, etc.) staying healthy and producing next year is an obvious wish list item, ditto improving a bench that currently includes, uh, Jack Mayfield and Abraham Almonte? It’s a good sign when the bench makes the wish list. It means there aren’t many obvious needs.
- A healthy and productive Trey Mancini.
- Steps forward for the young arms.
- A Chris Davis dead cat bounce.
There is nothing in this post I wish for more than Mancini coming back strong in 2021. He missed the entire 2020 season following surgery and subsequent treatment for Stage 3 colon cancer, but he’s healthy now and plans to play next season. That’s awesome. I hope he has a monster season. He deserves it. Beyond Mancini, the O’s are surely wishing some of their young arms (Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer, Bruce Zimmermann, etc.) take steps forward in 2021 and emerge as pieces of the next contending Orioles team. Some of their pitching staffs the last few years have been downright embarrassing. And finally, why not use the final wish list spot on Davis? He’s a genuinely good dude and it’s been no fun watching him struggle as much as he has the last few years. Davis turning back the clock and hitting 40 homers in 2021 would be fun. The O’s are going to be bad again. Might as well at least be fun.
- Healthy returns for Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale.
- A J.D. Martinez bounceback season.
- More pitching.
Rodriguez and Sale both missed 2020 with health problems, though the circumstances were very different. Sale had Tommy John surgery, which sometimes comes with the territory in this sport, while Rodriguez had a heart issued related to COVID-19.. Both lefties getting healthy and having strong 2021 seasons would be a welcome development (Sale is not expected back until midseason). Martinez just had his worst season since his 2014 breakout, and getting him on track is imperative to contend. So too is acquiring more pitching because my goodness, Boston’s staff was abysmal this past season. Top to bottom, it was terrible. Rodriguez and Sale returning will help but they alone won’t be enough.
I know the Cubs are in the process of breaking up their core but Baez is incredibly fun and beloved in Chicago, and signing him long-term would be a smart move. When he hits, he’s a superstar given his defense and baserunning. If you can’t build a winning team around a player like Baez, the problem is you, not him. Bryant is firmly on the trade block and I’m not 100 percent certain the Cubs will trade him this winter, but, if they do, the wish is they get a great return and not some underwhelming salary dump package. Get two or three good young players who can be part of the next contending Cubs team. Kimbrel’s two seasons in Chicago have been shaky and the return of the lockdown Kimbrel, the guy who appeared to be heading to the Hall of Fame, would solve a lot of bullpen problems next year.
It seems unlikely the White Sox will splurge to sign Springer at this point, but that doesn’t mean we can’t include him on our wish list, right? Right. I have a PlayStation 5 on my holiday wish list even though I know I’m not getting one anytime soon. Chicago could use another outfielder and Springer would look splendid in the outfield and in the lineup. If not Springer, then what about Marcell Ozuna? The White Sox could also use a lockdown closer and Hendriks is the best available. Bump Aaron Bummer back into the eighth inning and Evan Marshall into the seventh. Perfect. I think a full season of Kopech, who missed 2019 with Tommy John surgery and opted out of 2020, trumps a closer though, so he gets the No. 2 spot on the wish list. He’s still among the top pitching prospects in the sport and having him emerge an impact starter in 2021 would be a game-changer.
- A bounceback season for the offense.
- Continued NL Central mediocrity.
- A major league caliber shortstop.
Aside from Jesse Winker, just about everyone in the Reds lineup underperformed in 2020. Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Eugenio Suarez, Joey Votto, etc. All fell short of expectations and the result was, well, zero runs in 24 Wild Card Series innings. The Reds have talent on offense. Now they just need it to live up to the hype. The NL Central is the weakest division in the sport, so a resurgent offense and continued good pitching (even with the expected loss of Trevor Bauer) would give the Reds a chance to win the division in 2021. It’s there for the taking. Getting a legitimate major league shortstop would go a long way. Francisco Lindor would be ideal, but even someone like Didi Gregorius or Andrelton Simmons would represent a significant upgrade.
- A great trade return for Francisco Lindor.
- A major league caliber outfield.
- More pitching development success.
I wish it weren’t true, Cleveland fans, but a Lindor trade is coming, so it only makes sense to use the top wish on a knockout return. Something along the lines of the Chris Archer trade or the Mark Teixeira trade, where a team moves a big-name player for a haul that sets the franchise up for years. Also, Cleveland badly needs a new outfield. Their outfielders have collectively hit .239/.306/.389 in over 2,600 plate appearances the last two years and that is straight up unacceptable. Do better, Cleveland. On the bright side, they remain the sport’s premier pitching development organization. My money is on Logan Allen for their 2021 breakout pitcher.
It seems the Rockies and Arenado have reached the point of no return. He’s unhappy they’re not doing more to contend and the team is cutting costs. I’m not sure Colorado will get much in return given his enormous contract and the fact his full no-trade clause limits their leverage (see: Giancarlo Stanton trade), so using the top wish list spot on a great trade package is a no-brainer. Three or four good young players who will be part of the next contending Rockies team. Sound good? Story is a star and only one year away from free agency. Locking him up is definitely on the wish list. So too is getting continued quality pitching. Did you know Colorado’s rotation was six percent better than league average this past season once you adjust for ballpark? That put them in the top half of the league. Do that again and maybe they can make a run at a wild card spot in 2021.
- Steps forward for the young arms.
- A Matthew Boyd bounceback season.
- A Miguel Cabrera late-career resurgence.
Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal are two of the best pitching prospects in the game and I’m willing to give them a mulligan on their disappointing 2020 debuts (46 runs in 60 1/3 innings combined) given the unusual circumstances. It would be nice to see them take steps forward next year and solidify themselves as members of the next contending Tigers team, however. It’s time to make some progress with this rebuild, you know? Boyd rebounding, even if only to boost his trade value, would be a welcome development as well. I’m sure there are better ways to use the third wish list spot given the state of the roster, but I’m cool with using it on Cabrera, an all-time great hitter nearing the end of the line. A Nelson Cruz-like finish to his career would be cool.
- Fans that are forgiving.
- A capable outfield.
- A healthy Forrest Whitley.
The Astros got off pretty easy following the sign-stealing scandal. The circumstances were terrible, of course, but the fact remains the Astros did not hear a chorus of boos in every road city all season in 2020. Commissioner Rob Manfred said the players would be punished via public shame and that couldn’t happen. With any luck, fans will be allowed to attend games in 2021, and you can be sure Houston’s players hope those fans have sign-stealing (and pandemic) fatigue, and let them off the hook. As for the on-field wish list, replacing George Springer and Michael Brantley with capable big leaguers is a good start — the two outfield spots alongside Kyle Tucker are up in the air — and Whitley staying healthy and reaching the big leagues would be appreciated as well. His last two years have been rough.
The Royals have been very busy this offseason. The most active team in baseball, really. They’ve signed four free agents to major league contracts (Greg Holland, Mike Minor, Carlos Santana, Michael Taylor), thus whittling down their own wish list. A Mondesi breakout season is an easy call for the top spot. He is loaded with talent and athleticism — it’s so easy to dream on him — yet he has not been able to put it all together at the MLB level. If Mondesi ever figures out, he’ll be a star, and I can’t think of anything Royals fans would want more than that. Zimmer is another player with obvious talent who is easy to dream on. He’s been sabotaged by injuries throughout his career and I’d love to see what he could do in a fully healthy season. Zimmer has the stuff to be the next great shutdown reliever. As for Soler, he has been a comfortably above-average hitter the last three seasons and he will become a free agent next winter. Keeping him around isn’t imperative — designated hitters aren’t that hard to replace — though it would be cool to see him be part of the next contending team in Kansas City.
- A postseason berth.
- Trevor Bauer.
- A huge Albert Pujols farewell season.
Three games. The Angels have played three games in the postseason in the Mike Trout era, all losses to the Royals in the 2014 ALDS. That’s unforgiveable. A postseason berth in 2021 is an easy call atop the wish list and Nos. 2 and 3 on the list will help make No. 1 possible. The Halos clearly need more pitching and Bauer is the best starter on the market. He’d give the team their first true ace since Jered Weaver was in his prime. The Angels could use more pitching beyond Bauer, but he’d be a start. As for Pujols, his contract expires next year and it will likely be the final season of his career. A big farewell season would be pretty, pretty cool.
What do you get the team that has everything? Another World Series title, of course. The Dodgers finally got over the hump and won a championship in 2020, and now it’s time to get greedy and start thinking dynasty. They’re certainly set up well to do it, or at least set up better than any other recent champion. Seager, the reigning World Series MVP, is an important part of their core and he is a year away from free agency. Locking him up definitely belongs on the wish list. So does re-signing Turner, a heart and soul player even as he enters his late 30s. His value to the Dodgers transcends what he does on the field, and of course he’s still a pretty darn good player.
How has Puig not been a Marlin yet? It is meant to be. The Marlins could fit him into their outfield and his game — the flashiness and verve — is so perfectly Miami. There are so few free agent/team pairings that make this much sense. Get it done, Kim Ng. Alfaro lost his starting catcher’s job late last year but he has exciting raw tools, including huge power and a rocket arm, and it’s time to get the show on the road. This will be Alfaro’s fourth MLB season and it’s time to turn those tools into consistent production. Alfaro breaking out would be a massive step forward for the rebuild. And finally, I’m being a bit of a jerk with the third wish list item, because Miami went 10-4 in seven-inning games and 21-25 in all other games this past season. Shorter games give them a better chance to pull upsets over more talented teams though.
- A bounceback season for the offense.
- Continued NL Central mediocrity.
- A major league caliber third baseman.
If this wish list looks familiar, it’s because it’s more or less the same as the Reds. The Brewers offense badly underperformed this past season and they need bounceback seasons from basically everyone, including the great Christian Yelich. The NL Central is so wide open and winnable — will any team in that division make a move to improve this offseason, or are all five going to continue cutting back? — that an offense that performs as expected could make Milwaukee the division favorites in 2021. Third base is an obvious weak spot and a position they can upgrade. Maybe that upgrade comes from Luis Urias having a fully healthy season. That would be cool. Seems to me there’s an opportunity to go out and get someone who really moves the needle though.
I don’t mean to pick on the Twins but my goodness, 18 straight postseason losses? It’s the longest postseason losing streak in North American pro sports history, and if you assume a 50/50 chance of winning each game, the odds of losing 18 straight are roughly one in 262,144. Winning a postseason game has to be atop the wish list right now, followed closely by re-signing Cruz, who fits Minnesota so perfectly. Buxton staying healthy is one of those things I will continue to wish for every year until it happens. He is so, so fun. The game is more exciting when he’s on the field.
- George Springer.
- Trevor Bauer.
- DJ LeMahieu.
It has already been a great offseason for the Mets (Trevor May, James McCann, Steve Cohen, etc.) and it’s time to get greedy. Springer would look splendid running down balls in center field at Citi Field, Bauer would be a heck of a No. 2 behind the great Jacob deGrom, and LeMahieu … well, why not? Robinson Cano’s suspension opened second base and there are plenty of ways to get LeMahieu and Jeff McNeil into the lineup regularly. In all seriousness, LeMahieu is probably overkill for the Mets. Springer and Bauer address more pressing needs, and the Mets have spent the winter making smaller yet sensible moves that set them up for the big splash. It’s time to make it.
- The return of DJ LeMahieu.
- More pitching behind Gerrit Cole.
- Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton staying healthy.
For a team as good as the Yankees, they sure do have lots of wish list fodder. Re-signing LeMahieu tops the list for obvious reasons. He’s excellent and the engine that drives their offense. The rotation behind Cole is loaded with question marks (Deivi Garcia? Domingo German? Jordan Montgomery?) and in clear need of an upgrade, and gosh, I think everyone wants to see what Judge and Stanton can do when they’re together in the lineup for a full season. Those two have combined to play only 441 of 768 possible games the last three years. Other wish list candidates include a Gary Sanchez bounceback season and Luis Severino returning from Tommy John surgery without a hitch.
- An ALDS win.
- A healthy A.J. Puk.
- A new ballpark (or at least steps in that direction).
The Athletics have gone to the postseason six times in the last nine years yet they have not made it out of the ALDS since way back in 2006. Barry Zito was their ace that year. Yeah, it’s been a while. Oakland has been a very successful regular season team this last decade and it’s time to turn that regular season success into postseason success. I won’t get greedy and wish for a pennant. Just give the A’s an ALDS win and they can take their chances from there. Puk has incredible upside but did not pitch at all in 2020 because of shoulder trouble. Keep him healthy in 2021 and he could emerge as the team’s ace. As for the ballpark, well, that is long overdue now, and I’ll use my last wish on the A’s finally gaining traction on a new stadium. No more renderings that will never come to pass. Let’s get the ball rolling on a new ballpark for real this time.
- The return of J.T. Realmuto.
- A bullpen that isn’t historically awful.
- Scott Kingery figuring it out.
Easy call here, right? The Phillies desperately want to bring Realmuto back and the fact the Mets moved on and signed James McCann is good news. That’s one fewer suitor for Realmuto. I don’t think the Phillies hired Dave Dombrowski to cut costs. That’s not his M.O. It hasn’t happened yet, but I think things are trending toward Realmuto returning to Philadelphia. As for the other wish list items, it would be difficult for the bullpen to be that bad again, but I don’t even want to see them try. Kingery flashes potential every now and then but not consistently. Three years into his career, it’s time to put it all together.
It has been nearly two years since Taillon last stepped on an MLB mound because of his second Tommy John surgery, but his rehab has gone well and he is expected to be part of the 2021 Opening Day rotation. Taillon has been very good when healthy and, if nothing else, good health would make him a quality trade chip next season. Preferably, the Pirates would keep him long-term and build around him, but one thing at a time. Bell had a miserable 2020 and, truth be told, he hasn’t been all that good since the 2019 All-Star break. Bell returning to his 2019 first half form in 2021 would be a welcome sight. As for Hayes, he’s a budding star and the next cornerstone player in Pittsburgh. He won’t be that good again next year because no one does what he did this past September across a full season, but a man can dream. Or wish, in this case.
- Francisco Lindor.
- More home runs.
- A Matt Carpenter dead cat bounce.
I contend no team needs Lindor more than the Cardinals. He’d improve a shaky post-Kolten Wong infield defense, add power to a lineup that finished dead last in home runs in 2020, and he wouldn’t cost them anything they’d miss. St. Louis has outfielders and pitching to spare in trade talks. Get Lindor, make the team significantly better and more fun, then go out and win a division seemingly no one wants to win. Getting more homers beyond a Lindor addition — the Cardinals hit 51 homers in 2020! — and Carpenter having a big bounceback season are two things all Cardinals fans want next year.
- The Dodgers having a World Series hangover.
- A Fernando Tatis Jr. extension.
- A Chris Paddack bounceback season.
If you could buy stock in a team’s next five years, which team would it be and why would it be a team other than the Padres? They are loaded with talent, both at the MLB level and in the minors, and it feels like the only thing standing in their way is the Dodgers. The Padres share a division with the sport’s juggernaut franchise and the Dodgers are an obstacle that is not going away. Los Angeles spending too much time celebrating their title this winter and schlepping their way through 2021 would be a welcome development for San Diego. A Tatis extension would be swell too, though he is four years from free agency, so it’s not that urgent. Paddack rebounding from a tough sophomore campaign makes sense to round out the wish list.
- One last postseason with this core.
- Another Mike Yastrzemski.
- Francisco Lindor.
The Giants have not been to the postseason since 2016 and several core players are on expiring contracts (Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Buster Posey), many of whom were part of the 2010-14 mini-dynasty. Going on one last run with that core group in 2021 would be a lot of fun. A farewell postseason, essentially. Yastrzemski has been one of the best players in the sport the last two years and San Francisco got him for nothing. Digging up another one of him in 2021 would be really neat. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has a knack for finding hidden gems. As for Lindor, hey, why not? He could be the centerpiece of the next great Giants team. He’s a star player with an infectious personality who is really easy to love. That’s someone worth building around. Trade for him now and sign him to an extension, Giants. Do it.
Squint your eyes and you can see the makings of the next contending Mariners team. White is a top of the line defender at first base but he hit a ghastly .176/.252/.346 with a 41.6 percent strikeout rate as a rookie. His bat will never be as good as his glove — that’s an impossible standard — though how about league average offense? Can he muster that? If he does, White will be a star. Kikuchi’s ran into some bad luck last year (59.9 percent strand rate, well below the 71.8 percent league average) but had strong underlying numbers. Putting it all together in 2021 would be a nifty development. And finally, I think we all want to see Haniger back on the field following his various (and unpleasant) injuries the last few years. He’s an All-Star level player when on the field.
Arozarena just had maybe the greatest postseason in baseball history, and while I doubt anyone believes he’s truly that good, what else are we supposed to wish for? Few things in this sport are as exciting as a young player blossoming into a superstar. That also applies to Franco, the consensus No. 1 prospect in the game. He is only 19 but he is likely to make his MLB debut next season, and all indications are he will be a true franchise player. And finally, we wrap up our wish list with good health, because the Rays lost an awful lot of pitchers to injuries in 2020. Their replacements filled in admirably, no doubt, but there’s no way Tampa wants to go through that again.
- A successful changing of the guard on the infield.
- A Willie Calhoun breakout season.
- Fans in the ballpark.
The Rangers are all-in on a rebuild — they traded away Lance Lynn and Rafael Montero while bringing in youngsters David Dahl and Nate Lowe this offseason — . Nick Solak and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are taking over at second and short, respectively, pushing stalwarts Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus into reserve roles. A seamless transition to Solak and Kiner-Falefa would solve a lot of problems in 2021. So too would that long-awaited breakout season for Calhoun. He’s been good — very good — at times as a big leaguer, but injuries and inconsistency have hampered him. A fully healthy and productive season would be a welcome development. As for the ballpark, the Rangers got a raw deal in 2020, with their new stadium opening in the middle of a pandemic that kept fans away. I hope they can play in front of full crowds and really enjoy the place in 2021, for many reasons.
- Trevor Bauer.
- George Springer.
- Francisco Lindor.
The Blue Jays are believed to be one of the few teams with money to spend this offseason, so why not populate their wish list with big names? The names on the wish list are ranked in order of how much I think Toronto needs them. Pairing Bauer with Hyun-Jin Ryu would give the Blue Jays a dynamite 1-2 punch — imagine facing those two four times in a best-of-seven series — and there is clearly room in the outfield for Springer. He’d help their offense as well as their defense, which can be adventurous at times. Lindor is the best player of the three, I think, but he’d cost more than money and require moving Bo Bichette to another position. Lindor is so good that you figure out a way to make it work. He just isn’t a perfect and obvious fit the way Bauer and Springer are.
Not-so-controversial opinion: Soto should be a career National. The Nationals aren’t afraid to let stars walk (Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon) and there are times letting a star leave makes sense, but that is not the case with Soto. He’s a generational hitter and they should want him in their uniform the rest of his career. Turner isn’t Soto but he is very good, and he’s only two years away from free agency. Above-average shortstops are hard to find and Turner is one of the most dynamic players in the sport. Keep him around long-term. As for third base, Year 1 post-Rendon went horribly — Washington’s third basemen hit .204/.325/.250 in 2020 — and finding a legitimate major league third baseman under the tree would be swell.
– MLB Sports
Holiday wish list for all 30 MLB teams: More hot stove signings, contract extensions, blockbuster trades, more
https://www./mlb/news/holiday-wish-list-for-all-30-mlb-teams-more-hot-stove-signings-contract-extensions-blockbuster-trades-more/ Holiday wish list for all 30 MLB teams: More hot stove signings, contract extensions, blockbuster trades, more