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MLB Teams That Could Now Be Facing Nightmare Scenarios This Offseason

Published by Bleacher Report on Sat, 20 Dec 2014


With nearly two months of the Major League Baseball offseason gone by, some teams have already put their best-laid plans into action and gotten us all riled up talking about how clever they are.But we're not here to talk about them. We're here to talk about the teams that haven'tput their best-laid plans into action, forcing us to talk about how screwed they might be.Granted, not many teams match this description right now. Though there are still a couple months between now and spring training, most teams have either upgraded for 2015 or stocked up to contend at a later date. This is to say most teams know what they are.But there are teams that are still trying to figure things out. And if we focus on the ones mired in sticky situations bordering on nightmare situations, we find...The Cincinnati RedsFor the most part, the Reds have been operating like a rebuilding team this winter. Notably,MLB Trade Rumors' arbitration projections says they cleared about $20 million in payroll space by tradingMat Latos, Alfredo Simon and Chris Heisey and non-tendering Logan Ondrusek.Thing is, though, the Reds aren't actually rebuilding.Pieces have been shed, yes, but Johnny Cueto, Joey Votto, Aroldis Chapman, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco and Billy Hamilton are still around. As much as the Reds might seem like an empty husk coming off a 76-win season and in the midst of a payroll cut-down, they still have a solid core.And yet, it's obvious the Reds need more. Their core may be solid, butFanGraphs' projectionshave them pegged as the worst team in the NL Central right now. That's not changing until the Reds at least patch up the back end of their rotation and find a new left fielder.And that will be easier said than done.General manager Walt Jocketty insisted to C. Trent Rosecrans of theCincinnati Enquirerthat the team is "probably looking more at trades" to find a left fielder, but options there are limited with Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Saunders, Justin Ruggiano and Justin Upton off the block.Also, Cincinnati's free-agent possibilities are pretty much down to Colby Rasmus and Nori Aoki.Beyond all this is the fact that the Reds are still in a tight spot with their payroll even after shedding some pricey players. With$75.5 million already committed to 2015 (perCot's Baseball Contracts) and another $30 million due in arbitration, the Reds are close to last year's $114.2 million payroll.All told, the Reds have the look of a team that's trying to move forward but is just plain stuck.The Philadelphia PhilliesWhile the Reds are a team that arguably should be rebuilding, the Phillies are a team thatis rebuilding.At least, that was the plan, anyway. According to a report by Chris Seidman for CSN Philly, interim CEO Pat Gillick said as much in October. But two months later, the Phillies still look resistant to rebuilding rather than committed to it.Sure, longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins and left-hander Antonio Bastardo have been traded. But noticeably still in town are ace lefty Cole Hamels and slugging right fielder Marlon Byrd. Though there's demandfor them, the Phillies are seemingly overestimating it.Matt Gelb of thePhiladelphia Inquirernoted recently that the rumbling within baseball is that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. wants too much for his veteran players. He called that a "bunch of malarkey," but indications are it could be a bunch of, well, not malarkey.Jim Salisbury of CSN Phillyreported last month that the Phillies want at least three top prospects for Hamels. Put that on top of the $100 million he's still owed, and that's ahuge asking price.As for Byrd,Roch Kubatko of MASN Sportsreported thatthe Phillies insisted on including Ryan Howard in a trade that would have sent Byrd to the Baltimore Orioles.Yes, the same Ryan Howard who's still owed $60 million and, as Joe Sheehan ofSports Illustrated noted last month, has been largely useless since tearing his Achilles in 2011:If all this is true, the Phillies need to start getting realistic.As much as they may think they do, the Phillies don't hold all the cards with Hamels and Byrd.David Murphy of thePhiladelphia Daily News is right in thinking that there aren't enough suitors for Hamels to spur a bidding war, and the number of outfield bats already moved in trades limits Byrd's market too.To boot, hanging on to these guys isn't wise.Byrd's value will decrease with every game he plays for the Phillies in 2015. And the longer they wait to deal Hamels, the more teams will be inclined to wait for Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, David Price and Doug Fister to hit the open market next winter.So though the Phillies are acting like there's no sense of urgency with their rebuild, here's the truth: There is.The San Francisco GiantsThe last time we saw the Giants on the diamond, they were beating the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. That made it three in five years, and all was dreamy.Their offseason, however, has been a brutal wake-up call.The last few days have seen the Giants make a series of needle-moving additions, re-signing Sergio Romo and Jake Peavy and trading for Casey McGehee to be Pablo Sandoval's replacement at third base. But though these are solid deals, they're disappointments next to moves the Giants have tried to make.AsGrant Brisbee of SB Nation recapped:Jon Lester took the Cubs' offer, even if the Giants might have been offering more. Pablo Sandoval apparently wanted the heck out of San Francisco from the moment he caught the last out of the 2014 season. Yasmany Tomas didn't tickle them quite enough. Chase Headley wasn't their bag because they didn't want to go past three years. Ervin Santana spurned them for the Twins.You can also add Justin Upton to the list. Bob Nightengale ofUSA Today reported the slugging left fielder was Plan B for the Giants after they missed out on Lester, but the Atlanta Braves traded him to the San Diego Padres instead.That Padres team, by the way, is suddenly pretty good. It already had lots of pitching, and now it has an offense that includes Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Derek Norris. Meanwhile up the road, the Los Angeles Dodgers have retooled into a team that will kill the opposition with pitching and defense.Though the Giants are more of a complete product than they were a few days ago, they haven't upgraded to the degree that the Padres and Dodgers have. That's concerning even despite their status as the champs, as their championship roster produced a meager 88 wins in the regular season.If there's a bright side, it's that the Giants still have a lot of money left to spend. Also, there are stillat leastsome upgrades*cough cough* Max Scherzeravailable to them.There's no ignoring that the Giants' options are dwindling faster than they're making upgrades, though. The longer that keeps up, the more hopeless their 2015 title defense will become.Baltimore OriolesThe Baltimore Orioles won 96 games in 2014, and will be returning most of their core in 2015. You know, guys like Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Chris Tillman, Chris Davis, Steve Pearce and Zach Britton, with Manny Machado and Matt Wieters returning from injury to boot.But that's not the story of their offseason. The story of their offseason is the guys they've lost.The Orioles have lost three big-name free agents: Andrew Miller, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. And while it looks like the Orioles may have dodged a bullet in not re-signing Markakis, these departures still leave them without a stud lefty reliever, a steady right fielder and a middle-of-the-order slugger.That's not to mention two vital components of the team's clubhouse culture, as MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reported:To replace these parts, the Orioles have signed a decent lefty reliever in Wesley Wright and...well, that's it.This would seem to put the Orioles in the same boat as the Giants, but a main difference is that the rumor mill has had a lot less to say about the Orioles. That has to do with the other main difference between them: the Orioles are lacking in excess cash.At present, the Orioles have $53.8 million committed to 2015. But that's next to $56.9 million in projected arbitration payouts, bringing Baltimore's projected 2015 payroll to over $110 million. That's already an increase over last year's $108 million Opening Day payroll. That means they have much talent to add, and less cash for the job.After being the best team in the AL East in 2014, FanGraphs currently has the Orioles projected as the worst team in the division as things stand now. Of the teams we've discussed, that makes them the only one whose slow-developing offseason could push them from first to worst.If that's what happens, it will be the latest reminder of a lasting truth: Though games can't be won in the offseason, they can certainly be lost.Note: Stats courtesy ofBaseball-Reference.comunless otherwise noted/linked.If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.
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