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MLB power rankings: Best teams entering MLB offseason

Sportsnaut
Sportsnaut
 12 days ago

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The Atlanta Braves are World Series champions and the 2021 MLB season is in the books. With that in mind, it’s time to look ahead to the winter, the 2021-’22 offseason and our latest MLB power rankings.

It’s expected there will be a few moves before December when the collective bargaining agreement expires. With plenty of teams slashing payroll and others focused on contending, there should be plenty of movement this offseason.

We’ll update our MLB power rankings after every big move. With that in mind, let’s examine where each team stands.

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30. Pittsburgh Pirates

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates, at least two years away from any shot of competing, must decide what they’ll do with Bryan Reynolds this offseason. The All-Star outfielder (.912 OPS in 2021) is likely at his peak value and trading him, along with Colin Moran, might be best for a rebuild in its early stages.

29. Texas Rangers

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers spent the last year cleaning house, now the rebuild begins. Top prospect Josh Jung should make his MLB debut in 2022 and young starting pitcher A.J. Alexy displayed promise late in the year. Texas could surprise by spending on young talent in free agency, but that seems unlikelier than tanking.

28. Colorado Rockies

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and likely Jon Gray are all gone. That leaves Germán Márquez, Ryan McMahon, Brendan Rodgers and Antonio Senzatela as the only real intriguing players on the Colorado Rockies roster. With the Rockies keeping Bill Schmidt as general manager, there are reasons for concern about the future.

27. Baltimore Orioles

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Baltimore Orioles’ No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman eyes the bases during his Delmarva Shorebirds’ debut on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. Adley 6

The only thing the Baltimore Orioles should care about in 2022 is top prospect Adley Rutschman. He should be ready for the show in April 2022 and putting him into a lineup with Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays is at least reason for some hope in Baltimore.

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26. Arizona Diamondbacks

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks should be excited about Daulton Varsho, who boasts the ability to play in the outfield or at catcher and his bat plays nicely anywhere. There’s also reason for excitement with the upcoming prospects, with some nearing the majors. But we’ll be watching Arizona to see if it trades Carson Kelly or Ketel Marte this offseason.

25. Chicago Cubs

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After trading Javier Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, All-Star catcher Willson Contreas is likely the next candidate to be moved. He’ll attract plenty of interest this winter and with the Chicago Cubs looking for a few more ways to trim payroll and strengthen the farm system, a blockbuster deal is best for everyone.

24. Washington Nationals

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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Soto is going to make an incredible case for NL MVP and recognition as the best player in MLB in 2022. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough talent surrounding him for the Washington Nationals to do much better than this. Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz and Carter Kieboom will show flashes, but the Nats are destined for a sub-.500 record.

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23. Kansas City Royals

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Kansas City Royals Bobby Witt Jr., rounds the bases on an error, inside the park home run, which was misplayed by Cincinnati Reds left fielder Errol Robinson in the eighth inning of the MLB Cactus League Spring Training game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Kansas City Royals at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Ariz., on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The Royals won 5-3 in a nine-inning game. Kansas City Royals At Cincinnati Reds Spring Training

The presence of top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. makes the 2021-’22 MLB offseason interesting for the Kansas City Royals. Suddenly, All-Star infielder Whit Merrifield becomes available and moving him could help Kansas City net more of the pitching it needs. One thing is for certain, Witt Jr. will be the favorite for Rookie of the Year in 2022.

22. Philadelphia Phillies

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Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper posted phenomenal numbers in 2021 and the Philadelphia Phillies still fell short of the postseason. While Rhys Hoskins will return, questions in the bullpen and regarding the overall depth of the Phillies’ lineup prevent them from being considered a serious playoff contender.

21. Miami Marlins

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A majority of MLB teams, including World Series contenders, would love to have the Miami Marlins rotation. Keep in mind, this doesn’t even include top pitching prospects like Max Meyer and Sixto Sanchez. Miami needs to use its wealth of arms to acquire impact hitters, the lineup desperately needs it.

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20. Cincinnati Reds

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David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds already announced they will shed payroll this offseason. After letting Wade Mley go for nothing in return, except financial relief, it’s fair to rule out Nick Castellanos returning and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Sonny Gray or Luis Castillo is traded this winter.

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19. Minnesota Twins

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Pretty much everything that could go wrong for the Minnesota Twins did in 2021. Fortunately, they’ll get a healthy Alex Kiriloff, Trevor Larnach, Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco and Mitch Garber in 2022. That still leaves a shaky, young rotation with little experience, but Minnesota will be competitive.

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18. Los Angeles Angels

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Getting Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon back, plus a full season of Jared Walsh and Jo Adell, means great things for the Los Angels Angels lineup. Of course, this team also boasts a star like we’ve never seen in Shohei Ohtani. But the Angels pitching, outside of Ohtani, can’t be trusted. There is a ton of risk with the Noah Syndergaard contract, but the potential reward is undeniable. With that said, more starting pitching is needed.

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17. Detroit Tigers (22)

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers young rotation trio (Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning) provide excellent building blocks for the 2022 MLB season. Detroit will also likely promote Spencer Torkelson before long, strengthening this lineup. Adding Eduardo Rodriguez strengthens this promising rotation even further and we have every reason to believe Detroit isn’t finished spending this offseason. Frankly, this won’t be the last offseason bump up the MLB power rankings for the Tigers.

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16. Oakland Athletics

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Melvin left the Oakland A’s for a reason, ownership wants to slash payroll. At least one of Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea will be dealt away this offseason. It’s also likely that All-Star first baseman Matt Olson or slugger Matt Chapman gets traded. Once a top-10 team in our 2021 MLB power rankings, the descent is imminent for the Athletics.

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15. Cleveland Guardians

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries decimated the Cleveland Guardians rotation in 2021. But if Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale and Triston McKenzie can stay healthy, Cleveland becomes a playoff threat once again. The team’s ceiling would be even higher if the front office operated with a bigger payroll, but at least the Guardians will be more fun to watch next season.

14. Seattle Mariners

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s fair to say the Seattle Mariners record in 2021 (90-72) was likely a fluke, considering the (-51) run differential. But the Mariners are clearly ahead of schedule in their rebuild and it’s evident the organization wants to add more impact, young talent via free agency or trade. With an aggressive front office, Seattle can replace the A’s as a perennial playoff contender and a thorn in the Houston Astros’ side.

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13. New York Mets

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, there are plenty of reasons to view the New York Mets as a legitimate contender in 2022. But just look at the ongoing search for an executive, everyone is turning down a huge title in an incredible market with passionate fans because no one wants to work for Sandy Alderson. Factor that in with the usual Mets’ chaos and it outweighs a talented roster.

12. St. Louis Cardinals

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Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Getting Jack Flaherty back in 2022 is huge for the St. Louis Cardinals. While Adam Wainwright pitched like a Cy Young candidate, it’s unlikely we see the 40-year-old repeat that success. Moving him into the No. 2 starter role with Flaherty the ace and Miles Mikolas as the No. 3 helps round out this team nicely.

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11. San Francisco Giants

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Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Buster Posey retirement makes the offseason more complicated for the San Francisco Giants. Joey Bart suddenly needs to be ready for an everyday role for a team that will see more than half of its rotation hit the open market. San Francisco boasts one of the best front offices in MLB and it will be aggressive in free agency, but the current roster leave some concerns.

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10. San Diego Padres

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Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Landing Bob Melvin is huge for the San Diego Padres. There was never a question about the team’s collection of talent, but the Padres lacked the leadership and management to handle issues that arose. With one of the best managers in MLB and a full offseason to address needs, the Padres could be a 2022 World Series contender.

9. Boston Red Sox

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox must find pitching this offseason. A thin starting rotation and some questions in the bullpen proved costly in October, but executive Chaim Bloom will have the resources to fix that this winter. If he accomplished his goals, Boston can be the best team in the American League.

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8. New York Yankees

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The decision to keep skipper Aaron Boone isn’t all that surprising, given the risk that comes by hiring an unknown manager to replace him. We have no doubt the New York Yankees have the talent to reach the MLB postseason next year, but we haven’t seen them deliver in October. Adding a Corey Seager or Willson Contreras would help, but the questions about getting it done in the playoffs won’t go away.

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7. Tampa Bay Rays

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Wander Franco is going to be at the front of a discussion for an AL MVP before long, maybe by 2023. He figures to take a huge step forward next year, helping solidify one of the best lineups in MLB. But until the Tampa Bay Rays display a willingness to spend, there’s nothing to suggest the front office will address pitching the way it needs to for us to view Tampa Bay as one of the top teams in baseball.

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6. Houston Astros

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Correa isn’t coming back and that creates a massive void in the Houston Astros lineup and infield. The starting rotation remains outstanding and the batting order should still produce plenty of runs, but Correa’s departure moves Houston down a few spots in our MLB power rankings.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer, Corey Seager. Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Chris Taylor. The Los Angeles Dodgers will only be able to retain some of their stars this offseason. We have no doubt that a talent-rich farm system and a lineup with multiple MVP candidates still make this team a World Series threat. But until we know who returns, the Dodgers enter the offseason a bit lower in MLB power rankings.

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4. Toronto Blue Jays

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Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Every playoff team was thankful the Toronto Blue Jays fell just short of reaching the playoffs. If Toronto keeps Marcus Semien and adds some more talent to its bullpen, this could be the team to beat in the American League.

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3. Milwaukee Brewers

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers are viewed in a similar light as the Yankees, at some point we need to see them come through in playoff moments. But a majority of this roster, including an outstanding starting rotation and bullpen is returning next season. Given the Brewers’ payroll is reasonable, there’s also room to add more talent.

2. Chicago White Sox

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Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

If Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal and José Abreu stay healthy in 2022, along with progression from Andrew Vaughn, the Chicago White Sox could post the best MLB record in 2022. The bullpen needs some work, but what will really determine if Chicago chokes in the postseason is the decision-making of Tony La Russa.

1. Atlanta Braves

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The World Series champions deserve the No. 1 spot in our MLB power rankings. Facing extreme odds, the Atlanta Braves reached the postseason and somehow won it all without one of the best hitters in MLB. Ronald Acuña Jr. will return early next season and it would be stunning if Freddie Freeman wasn’t in the Braves’ lineup.

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