The Kansas City Royals head into this winter after a very successful 2014 season that left them just short of their first World Series championship since 1985. In attempts to push them over the hump, the Royals have signed right-handed pitcher Kris Medlen, who is coming off Tommy John surgery. The benefits of the signing will not be immediate, though, as Medlen is not expected to return until after the All-Star break.
The Oakland Athletics head into the winter looking to add some finishing touches to a team that won 88-game and secured a wild card playoff spot. Although they lost in the Wild Card Game, the A's were excellent all season, ranked fourth in runs scored and third in ERA. On the injury front, Stephen Vogt should be ready for Opening Day, despite being slightly behind in his rehab from foot surgery.
The Miami Marlins won 77 games this past season and finished near the middle of the pack in runs scored and ERA. One move that should improve the Marlins was the signing of Dee Gordon. On the injury front, backup infielder Derek Dietrich injured his ankle and ended his Winter League season on Tuesday.
The Cleveland Indians head into the winter coming off an 85-win season, good for third in the American League Central. At 11th in the league in runs scored and 14th in ERA, the Indians look to improve in both areas to help them reach the post season in 2015. One player who needs to step up is second baseman Jason Kipnis, who underwent finger surgery and should be ready for the start of next season.
The Tampa Bay Rays look to improve this winter on a team which won 77 games this past season. At 27th in the Major Leagues in runs scored, offense is the major area of concern. The Rays were solid on the mound, ranked 13th in ERA. On the injury front, left-handed reliever Jake McGee will miss the start of the season following elbow surgery. It's a key early season loss for the Rays, as McGee was excellent in 2014.
York Mets won 79 games this past
season behind a pitching staff that was ninth in the Major Leagues in
ERA. Although improving the offense this winter should be a priority,
the Mets are spending the early stages of this off season considering
the the health of Matt Harvey, who is looking to return to form following Tommy John
surgery which cost him all of 2014. It appeared a few weeks ago that
Harvey would be put on an innings limit next season, but now that will
not be the case.
The Pittsburgh Pirates head into the off
season after a successful 88-win season and an appearance in the
National League Wild Card game. At 10th in the Major Leagues in runs
scored and eighth in ERA, the Pirates have plenty to build on. One young
player who could have an impact at some point next season is pitcher Jameson Taillon, who has made progress following surgery this past April and should be ready to throw off a mound in January.
The Texas Rangers look ahead this winter to improving the club which won just 67 games this past season. Injuries played a major part in the brutal season, as only four players appeared in over 120 games and no pitcher made 30 starts. One pitcher who lost most of the season was Matt Harrison. The good news is that he's hoping to throw in January and should contribute next season.
The Washington Nationals head into the winter coming off a 96-win season and an advancement to the NLDS. At ninth in runs scored and first in ERA, the Nationals appear to need little this off season to improve the club. On the injury front, outfielder Nate McLouth expects to be ready for spring training after undergoing shoulder surgery in August.
The Atlanta Braves are coming off a
79-win season and finished a distant 17 games behind the Washington
Nationals in the National League East. The pitching staff appears to be
solid for next season, but the Braves need to improve on an offense that
was 29th in runs scored. One move that may help the Braves is the
signing of outfielder Nick Markakis, pictured below with the Orioles. The bad but unsurprising news is that Markakis will undergo neck surgery tomorrow.
The Los Angeles Angels lead the league in runs scored this past season en route to a 98-win season, best in the Major Leagues. One area the team may look to improve this winter is the pitching staff which was 16th in the league in ERA. On the injury front, right-handed starter Garrett Richards will be out until May as he continues to recover from a torn patellar tendon.
The Los Angeles Dodgers head into the winter coming off a 94-win season and a loss in the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals. At sixth in the Major Leagues in both runs scored and ERA, the Dodgers appear well equipped heading into next season, barring injuries. On the injury front, shortstop Miguel Rojas dislocated his finger in a winter league game.
The New York Mets look forward to the 2015 season coming off a 79-win season that tied them for second in the National League East. Pitching is a strength for the Mets, who were ninth in the Major Leagues in ERA. One pitcher who will bolster the staff even further is Bobby Parnell, who is likely to start the season on the disabled list. The good news is that Parntell should be ready to pitch sometime early in the season and the Mets have suitable replacements until he's ready to go full force.
The Arizona Diamondbacks struggled to 64 wins this past season and finished 30 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West. At 25th in runs scored and 26th in ERA, the Padres struggled both at the plate and on the mound. Injuries also took their toll, as only two players appears in 130 or more games and only one pitcher made 30 or more starts. There is some good news on the injury front, as Chris Owings is recovering nicely from shoulder surgery and should be ready for the start of next season
The Baltimore Orioles had a very
successful 2014 season in which they won 96 games before being swept by
the Kansas City Royals in the ALDS. Manager Buck Showalter
received AL Manager of the Year honors. Looking to bolster their roster this winter, the Orioles also look to be healthy come spring
training. One player who is progressing nicely is veteran catcher Matt Wieters, who continues to recovery from elbow surgery. He has a good shot at beginning the season behind the plate for the Orioles.
The San Francisco Giants are coming off their third World Series title in the past five seasons, despite finishing the regular season just 12th in runs scored and 10th in ERA. Although not many moves appear to be on the horizon for the Giants this winter, there is some news on the injury front. Matt Cain, who is coming off elbow surgery, is expected to start throwing next week.
The Detroit Tigers won 90 games this past season and made a playoff appearance before losing in the ALDS to the Baltimore Orioles. At second in the Major Leagues in runs scored this past season, the Tigers can focus on improving the pitching staff this winter through free agency. On the injury front, All-Star Miguel Cabrera has been making strides in his recovery from ankle surgery and is no longer in a walking boot.
The Cincinnati Reds struggled to a 76-86
record this past season in large part to an offense that was 28th in the
Major Leagues in runs scored. Looking ahead, the Reds may look to free
agency or trades this winter to improve the offense in 2015, but a big factor could
be the health of first baseman Joey Votto. The good news is that his rehab is going well and he is expected to start Spring Training on time.
The Atlanta Braves are coming off a 79-win season and finished a distant 17 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East. The pitching staff appears to be solid for next season, but the Braves need to improve on an offense that was 29th in runs scored. One move that may help the Braves is the signing of outfielder Nick Markakis, pictured below with the Orioles. The bad news is that Markakis could have surgery on a bulging disc and miss up to three months.