The MLB offseason was full of big trades, signings and extensions. Spring training is now in full swing. This is the third of six editions of predictions for each division for the 2017 baseball season.
Cleveland: We all know what the Indians are capable of after their World Series run last year. Infielders Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis are now considered stars, and the term “Relief-ace” was coined by MLB Network analyst and former closer himself Dan Plesac after relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen shut the door on the Blue Jays in the ALCS and the first four World Series games against the Cubs. Despite losing first baseman Mike Napoli and outfielder Rajai Davis to free agency, the Indians upgraded their offense by acquiring powerful designated hitter (DH) Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion has proved to be one of the best hitters in baseball, and with former Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz retired, many consider Encarnacion the best at the position in baseball, routinely hitting 35-40 homers and driving in 100+ RBI. Don’t forget about the pitching, though. Former Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber completes a stellar rotation along with Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. that will compete with the Cubs, Nationals and Mets for the best rotation in baseball. We will see the Indians in the postseason granted everyone stays healthy.
Detroit: Rumor has it recently that the New York Mets are trying to acquire outfielder JD Martinez from the Tigers, along with threats of first baseman Miguel Cabrera and closer Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez being shipped too, but for now they’re all on the Tigers’ team and look to compete against the Indians and make a surprise run. The Tigers still have arguably the best hitter in baseball, Cabrera, and one of the best DHs in Victor Martinez. The only problem is that the Tigers made no significant moves this offseason and still have one of the worst minor league systems in baseball, with the only talked about prospect in the system being outfielder Steven Moya. We all know about the pitching rotation, though, especially after model Kate Upton expressed her disappointment about her fiancé, former 2012 MVP and Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander, barely lost the Cy Young award last year to former teammate Rick Porcello, now with the Red Sox. Don’t forget about the Rookie of the Year pitcher Michael Fulmer and pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, who looks for a comeback year.
Kansas City: The Royals are in a pickle right now with most of their big stars in the final year of their contract, including first baseman Eric Hosmer, outfielder Lorenzo Cain, closer Kelvin Herrera and third baseman Mike Moustakas. It’s make or break for the Royals this year because of that. Cain and Moustakas are rumored to be traded by the trade deadline, and Hosmer says that if he does not get a contract extension by Opening Day, he will test free agency. Of course the Royals can’t resign everyone, they don’t have a massive budget like the Dodgers and Yankees, but being good this year and challenging the Indians and Tigers could be a plus into keeping some of their big stars.
White Sox: The White Sox are in a rebuilding stage right now after big subtractions such as starter Chris Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton. The positive is that the White Sox got big-name prospects in return, like infielder Yoan Moncada and starters Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. The White Sox are still shopping notable players such as starter Jose Quintana and closer David Robertson. The Rangers, Mariners and Yankees are still in on Quintana, and the Nationals are working their way to acquire Robertson, but we should know that the White Sox, despite it being Spring Training, are not done making moves.
Twins: The biggest question of the offseason for Minnesota was whether second baseman Brian Dozier would be traded. The Dodgers, Nationals and Cardinals were all in on Dozier, but because of the high price tag, the move never happened.There are definite future stars on the offensive side with third baseman Miguel Sano and outfielder Max Kepler poised to have big seasons. The Twins’ pitching will be the problem, with unproven young players in the bullpen, along with veteran starters decreasing in production and taking up budget space. If starters like Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes can find their mechanics again, and if the offense breaks out, the Twins can be at most a third place team.