Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Mookie Betts, Josh Donaldson, Yasmani Grandal, Hyun-jin Ryu, Corey Kluber, Zack Wheeler, Didi Gregorius, Cole Hamels, Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas were among baseball's stars that changed teams this offseason.
Though the New York Yankees appear to be the World Series favorites after adding Cole, fans of all teams feel excited around this time of year as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training ahead of a new MLB season. After so much turnover this winter, the chance to see players in their new threads will be especially exciting this spring.
As teams begin to open their camps this week, here are RADIO.COM's first 2020 MLB Power Rankings:
1. New York Yankees
A season ago, Gerrit Cole cemented himself as baseball’s best pitcher, and perhaps the best player in the sport outside of Mike Trout. Adding him onto a team that’s already reached the ALCS twice in the last three years makes the Yankees the favorites to win the 2020 World Series.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Losing National League Cy Young runner-up Hyun-jin Ryu in free agency hurts, but landing Mookie Betts, a generational talent, makes that relatively easy to forget about. Under Andrew Friedman’s regime, the Dodgers have continued to develop talent with a high success rate, meaning they are in position to make a major trade for another starting pitcher if they choose to do so this summer.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Even though they play in the same division as the Yankees, the Rays are a legitimate World Series contender. The trio of Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton makes them set up well for a postseason series. Of course, winning the American League East - and not having to play in the one-game Wild Card playoff - would set the Rays up with a much better chance to win their first World Series title in franchise history.
4. Atlanta Braves
Sure, they lost Josh Donaldson, but their lineup still includes Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies. They added Marcell Ozuna on a one-year prove-it deal, the same type they had success with Donaldson on last year. Ditto for former World Series MVP Cole Hamels. Over the past year, the Braves have built what may be baseball’s best bullpen, including signing Will Smith to a lucrative free-agent deal this past winter. What’s more, the Braves have a farm system capable of competing in just about any trade sweepstakes this summer. They are set up to have prolonged success, and are the favorites to win their third consecutive National League East title.
5. Houston Astros
It’s crazy to think that losing Gerrit Cole has become an afterthought heading into the 2020 season, but here we are. After one of the biggest scandals in baseball history, new manager Dusty Baker will be left to pick of the pieces this season. Fortunately for him, those pieces are still pretty impressive, as the Astros still employ Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley. Whether the cloud that’s going to loom over them the whole season ultimately proves to be too much to overcome remains to be seen, but the Astros still have an elite roster.
6. Minnesota Twins
In 2019, the Twins had five players - Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler - hit over 30 home runs. They rode that power to 101 regular season wins. All they did this winter was add former American League MVP Josh Donaldson to an already loaded lineup. We’ll see if they have enough pitching to compete for a World Series, but it’s hard not to view a team that added Donaldson after winning over 100 games last season as a World Series contender.
7. Oakland Athletics
No team is better positioned to capitalize on a potential scandal hangover from the Houston Astros than the A’s, who have won 97 games in each of the past two seasons. Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman headline an impressive lineup, one that could become even scarier if Khris Davis is able to bounce back in 2020.
8. New York Mets
Something always seems to go wrong for the Mets, but at a minimum they should win one of the two Wild Cards in the National League in 2020. Two-time defending National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom headlines a deep rotation. Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil emerged as cornerstones for the Mets in 2019. And with the addition of Dellin Betances - and the hope for a bounce-back season from at least one of Edwin Diaz or Jeurys Familia - the bullpen can’t possibly be worse than it was a season ago. The Mets, quietly, won 86 games in 2019. They should win 90 plus in 2020.
9. Washington Nationals
The Nationals probably aren’t going to fall off a cliff in 2020, but they appear primed to take a step back. Superstar third baseman Anthony Rendon departed in free agency, making you wonder how many pitches Juan Soto will see this season. Stephen Strasburg re-signed, but he hasn’t regularly been able to sustain the workload that he did en route to a World Series title last season. Max Scherzer started to show some cracks physically in the second half of 2019. The Nationals feel more likely to win 85 games than 95 this season.
10. Cleveland Indians
Cleveland probably didn’t get comparable value when they traded Corey Kluber this past offseason, and Francisco Lindor may very well be entering his final season with the Tribe. Still, the Indians won 93 games in a down year in 2019, and return an extremely deep starting rotation. The guess here is Jose Ramirez is in line for a major bounce-back season as well. If they don't sell at the deadline, the Indians should be a legitimate playoff contender.
11. St. Louis Cardinals
They may have been swept, but the Cardinals did reach the NLCS a season ago. That acknowledged, they lost Marcell Ozuna in free agency and didn’t make any notable additions this offseason. The National League Central has four legitimate playoff contenders. Jack Flaherty will sit atop what should be one of the sport’s best starting rotations, but the Cardinals have their work cut out in what’s going to be an ultra-competitive division.
12. Philadelphia Phillies
Certainly, the Phillies improved by adding Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius in free agency this offseason. They’ll get Andrew McCutchen back from a torn ACL that cost him much of the 2019 season. The question isn’t whether the Phillies have a good enough roster to enter September in the thick of the playoff race. The question is whether in Joe Girardi’s first season they will have enough pitching - both starting and relieving - to avoid a third consecutive September collapse.
13. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds may not compete for a lot of Gold Glove Awards, but in adding Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas to a lineup that already included Eugenio Suarez and Aristides Aquino, they have built a lineup that has quite a bit of thump. Imagine what their lineup will look like if former National League MVP Joey Votto, now 36, has a bounce-back season after a disappointing 2019 campaign. In any event, the trio of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer should give the Reds one of the better pitching rotations and baseball, and could help propel them to their first postseason appearance since 2013.
14. Milwaukee Brewers
Though they lost Moustakas in free agency, the Brewers haven’t gotten noticeably worse. However, in a division where the Reds improved - and a National League flush with legitimate Wild Card contenders - the Brewers needed to make noticeable starting rotation improvements this offseason. We’ll see if adding Brett Anderson and Josh Lindbloom is enough with superstar Christian Yelich returning to the lineup.
15. Chicago White Sox
We’ll stick the White Sox here for now, but this could prove to be too low. This offseason, the White Sox added veterans Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Encarnacion and Steve Cishek to a budding young core that includes Eloy Jiminez, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson and Luis Giolito. The White Sox only won 72 games in 2019, but they figure to make a major jump in 2020.
16. San Diego Padres
The Padres may still be a year away, but they are set up to be one of baseball’s most successful teams this decade. They’ll hope for a full season from Fernando Tatis Jr., along with a bounce back from Manny Machado. Kirby Yates has been one of baseball’s best closers the past two seasons, and the Padres added Drew Pomeranz and Emilio Pagan to the bullpen this offseason. Chris Paddack isn’t going to be on an innings limit in 2020, as he was in an impressive rookie season a year ago. Plus, the Padres possess an elite farm system, one they can use to continue to supplement the team with young talent and/or trade for established veteran stars.
17. Arizona Diamondbacks
Despite trading Zack Greinke to the Houston Astros before the July 31 trade deadline, Torey Lovullo’s squad still managed to win 85 games in 2019. This offseason, the Snakes added Madison Bumgarner, Starling Marte and Kole Calhoun. Ketel Marte is perhaps the most underrated star in the game. From here, the Diamondbacks will probably find themselves on the outside looking in on the postseason in 2020, but they’re likely to be in contention into the final weeks of the season.
18. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels’ pitching may limit them to a slightly above average record, but they figure to be a fun team to watch in Joe Maddon’s first year at the helm. In addition to three-time American League MVP Mike Trout, the Halos added World Series hero Anthony Rendon in free agency. Shohei Ohtani will make his return to the mound in 2020, in addition to DHing. Again, the Angels will be fun, at a minimum.
19. Boston Red Sox
What’s there to say? The Red Sox fired Alex Cora this offseason after his involvement in baseball’s sign-stealing scandal. They also traded Mookie Betts, one of the more accomplished players in franchise history, along with David Price as they attempt to cut costs. Just two years after winning 108 games and the World Series, the Red Sox don’t feel like they are in the same zip code as the Yankees or Rays.
20. Chicago Cubs
Rather than adding to their roster this offseason, the Cubs allowed Cole Hamels to walk in free agency and at least weighed the possibility of trading former National League MVP Kris Bryant. Perhaps a change in manager will energize the Cubs' core, but after winning 84 games a season ago, the Cubs feel like they are headed for a fourth place finish in their own division.
21. Texas Rangers
The Rangers will struggle to compete in a crowded American League West in 2020, but should have strong starting pitching in their first season in Glove Life Field. In addition to Lance Lynn and Mike Minor, the Rangers acquired two-time American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber from the Indians. If their rotation stays healthy, the Rangers should at least post a winning record.
22. Toronto Blue Jays
It's not the Blue Jays' time yet, but they should improve quite a bit on the 67 wins they posted in 2019. The Blue Jays have a budding young core of position talent that includes Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio. By adding veterans Hyun-jin Ryu and Tanner Roark, the Blue Jays have improved their starting rotation, even if they aren't ready to compete in the American League East yet. The guess here is that the Blue Jays show enough in 2020 to make them a trendy playoff pick at this time next year.
23. Colorado Rockies
It's hard to feel too excited about the future of the Rockies. Less than a year after signing franchise icon Nolan Arenado to a long-term extension, the seven-time Gold Glove Award winner appears to have some irreconcilable differences with the organization. Even with him in the fold, the Rockies won just 71 games in 2019, a number that doesn't figure to get much better with three playoff contenders in the National League West.
24. Miami Marlins
No one's saying the Marlins are going to compete for the postseason in 2020 - or even that they won't finish last in the National League East - but they do appear to be heading in a somewhat positive direction. They added veterans Corey Dickerson, Jesus Aguilar and Jonathan Villar this offseason. Sandy Alcantara was very effective for the Marlins across nearly 200 innings a year ago, and No. 1 prospect Sixto Sanchez leads a group of young arms that could join him at the major league level at some point this season.
25. San Francisco Giants
In his first year as Giants' manager, Gabe Kapler has his work cut out. The Giants probably overachieved in winning 77 games in 2019, and they lost franchise icon Madison Bumgarner in free agency this offseason. For as kind as the 2010s were to the Giants, the first few years of this decade project to be pretty lean by the bay.
26. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners have sold off most of their notable position talent over the last few seasons, and their best remaining piece, outfielder Mitch Haniger, had core muscle surgery in February and may not be ready to start the season. A step forward from Justus Sheffield and/or J.P. Crawford would be a silver lining in what isn't likely to be an enjoyable campaign.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates
Josh Bell produced at an elite level in the first half of 2019, propelling him to an All-Star Game appearance. However, the power-hitting first baseman hit just .233 with a .780 OPS after the All-Star Break. The Pirates will hope for a complete season from the 27-year-old in 2019, because there's not a ton else to look forward to in Derek Shelton's first season as skipper.
28. Kansas City Royals
The Royals probably aren't the worst team in their own division, but they would be in just about any other division. Whit Merrifield is a very valuable player and it's encouraging that Salvador Perez will return after missing the 2019 season, but it's hard to feel very positive about a rotation set to be anchored by Danny Duffy and Brad Keller.
29. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have lost well over 100 games in each of the past two seasons, a streak that doesn't appear especially likely to be snapped this season. Orioles' general manager Mike Elias is attempting to follow the same plan that that the Houston Astros did when he was in their front office - bottom out for a bunch of seasons, and then hit on high draft picks. He better hope the Orioles have as much success at drafting and developing talent as the Astros did.
30. Detroit Tigers
A season ago, the Tigers lost 114 games. Things don't project to get a whole lot better in 2020. Jordan Zimmerman - who went 1-13 with a 6.91 ERA in 23 starts last season - is probably going to start in the team's first series of the season. Miguel Cabrera is a future Hall of Famer, but one that's been sapped of his power and is still owed $124 million over the next four seasons. Niko Goodgrum has some tools that make him an interesting player to watch, but the Tigers as a team will continue to be brutal to watch for at least another season.