Which teams have the most talent locked up? Ranking all 30 MLB cores

Which teams have the most talent locked up? Ranking all 30 MLB cores post thumbnail image

The concept of talent cores and competitive windows has been discussed a lot of late, with the Braves’ run of extensions to young players and the Padres selling the farm for Juan Soto and Josh Bell. So I used this as inspiration for a new way to rank talent by teams’ cores.

The rules are simple: Only players under control this year, next year, and 2024 can count. If a player has an opt out they are likely to exercise after this year or next, they don’t count, such as Xander Bogaerts, Jacob deGrom and Carlos Correa. If they have said they won’t leave their current team — Nolan Arenado, probably with an extended/bigger deal — I’ll include them. Age and salary don’t matter, but age is a decent tiebreaker as we are projecting a little over two years in the future, so being close to age 40 isn’t great for a multi-year projection.

I broke players into three tiers to make this easier to digest:

  • Elite — Think five-plus WAR players, or pitchers with that level of impact in a playoff series

  • Above Average — Think three-to-five WAR players, or regular All-Star types

  • Solid — Think two-to-three WAR players, or the best role players/setup men

There’s some subjectivity here, and with the best young stars in the league, I tend to round up — assuming they’ll be better in 2024 than they currently are, averaging together their quality across this window.

I consulted with league executives when ranking each team. Each tier is listed in rough order of preference for value over the two-plus-year window, which is why most teams’ “solid” tier ends with a reliever having an unexpectedly good season. (I have no idea if they’ll be good in 2024, but they are right now.)

Prospects with a chance to be solid regulars (i.e. the “solid” tier or better) by mid-2024 are counted, which basically means the upper minors, and a handful of players currently in Class A ball. Only a handful of players with no big league service time are above the “solid” tier: Corbin Carroll, Gunnar Henderson and Anthony Volpe, the top three prospects in the game.

The basic idea is that this will show which teams have the strongest starting hands going into free agency this winter. The Padres are good right now, but Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger, Josh Bell, Drew Pomeranz, Sean Manaea and Josh Hader aren’t under control long enough to be included in this exercise. So, GM A.J. Preller has to rearrange the deck chairs in a big way soon while Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos does not. If we knew for sure what each team’s payroll would be through 2024, we could include payroll space remaining as a factor, but that’s not the aim here (and we don’t know the future).

Elite: Ronald Acuna Jr./CF, Austin Riley/3B, Max Fried/LHS

Above Average: Matt Olson/1B, Ozzie Albies/2B, Michael Harris II/CF, Spencer Strider/RHS

Solid: Vaughn Grissom/2B, Travis d’Arnaud/C, Mike Soroka/RHS, A.J. Minter/LHR, Kyle Wright/RHS, Raisel Iglesias/RHR, Ian Anderson/RHS, Collin McHugh/RHR

This may have been the first team you thought of when you read the rules for this piece. After extending Acuna, Riley, Olson, Albies and Harris, in addition to having an outside shot to go 1-2-3 in NL Rookie of the Year voting this year (Harris, Strider, Grissom), there’s been a lot of headlines about this group of young players. As if the World Series last year wasn’t enough, this was the unanimous top choice for everyone I spoke with in the industry.

Kudos to the front office, led by Anthopoulos, for putting this group together. I also wanted to draw attention to some of my former coworkers from the previous Braves regime who were behind acquiring Acuna, Riley, Fried, Albies, Soroka, Minter, Wright and Anderson in the roughest parts of the rebuild. Every decision takes a lot of good work and good people (and luck, honestly), so it’s good to see some of our biggest decisions work out this well.


Elite: Yordan Alvarez/DH, Alex Bregman/3B, Jose Altuve/2B, Kyle Tucker/RF

Above Average: Framber Valdez/LHS, Jeremy Pena/SS

Solid: Lance McCullers Jr./RHS, Chas McCormick/CF, Luis Garcia/RHS, Cristian Javier/RHS, Ryan Pressly/RHR, Jose Urquidy/RHS, Hunter Brown/RHS, Hector Neris/RHR, Colin Barber/CF, Korey Lee/C, Bryan Abreu/RHR

I was a little surprised to see them this high, but having four perennial All-Star-type position players under long-term control is a hell of a way to build a team. If not for the crazy AL Rookie of the Year group (Adley Rutschman, Julio Rodriguez, Bobby Witt Jr., Steven Kwan) and his own injury, Pena would be a leading candidate for hardware. The homegrown pitching depth was a standout in last year’s World Series run and likely will be the foundation of another run this fall.


Elite: Mookie Betts/RF, Freddie Freeman/1B

Above Average: Will Smith/C, Tony Gonsolin/RHS, Walker Buehler/RHS

Solid: Gavin Lux/2B, Chris Taylor/LF, Blake Treinen/RHR, Dustin May/RHS, Brusdar Graterol/RHR, Evan Phillips/RHR, Miguel Vargas/3B, Diego Cartaya/C, Bobby Miller/RHS, Gavin Stone/RHS, Michael Busch/1B, Andy Pages/RF, Ryan Pepiot/RHS

Yawn. The Dodgers are really good, and they have a really good farm system, too. Buehler’s surgery certainly throws a wrench into things, but the last seven players listed are all Top 100-type prospects sitting in the upper minors waiting for a chance to play. Those top three players listed are among the best in the game, just as the Dodgers pitching depth is perennially one of the best. They might not win the title this year, but they’ll get close.


Elite: Nolan Arenado/3B, Paul Goldschmidt/1B

Above Average: Tommy Edman/2B, Ryan Helsley/RHR, Dylan Carlson/RF, Nolan Gorman/2B

Solid: Jordan Walker/3B, Brendan Donovan/3B, Masyn Winn/SS, Tyler O’Neill/LF, Steven Matz/LHS, Andre Pallante/RHS, Giovanny Gallegos/RHR, Ivan Herrera/C, Alec Burleson/RF, Matthew Liberatore/LHS, Zack Thompson/LHS, Gordon Graceffo/RHS, Cooper Hjerpe/LHS

Somewhat lost in the buzz before the Soto trade is how much the Cardinals had to offer in a potential deal because their farm system, and specifically their drafts, have been so good over the last few years. Other than trading for the two players in the “elite” tier, almost this whole list is homegrown, while the prospects listed are almost all in the upper minors. In a weak NL Central, the Cards may leave their competition in the rear view for a while.


Elite: Kevin Gausman/RHS, Vladimir Guerrero Jr./1B

Above Average: George Springer/CF, Bo Bichette/SS, Alek Manoah/RHS, Alejandro Kirk/C

Solid: Jose Berrios/RHS, Gabriel Moreno/C, Orelvis Martinez/3B, Ricky Tiedemann/LHS, Danny Jansen/C, Santiago Espinal/2B, Yimi Garcia/RHR, Cavan Biggio/2B, Jordan Romano/RHR

The Jays won’t be losing much to free agency this year but are set to lose Matt Chapman, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. next year. However, overall, they’re keeping much of the band together throughout this two-plus year window. They’ve put together a group that can compete in the AL East without going up to the luxury tax threshold. If one of Moreno, Martinez or Tiedemann turns out to be a star, that could send them over the top.


Elite: Juan Soto/RF, Manny Machado/3B, Fernando Tatis Jr./SS

Above Average: Joe Musgrove/RHS, Jake Cronenworth/2B

Solid: Ha-Seong Kim/SS, Trent Grisham/CF, Luis Campusano/C

The Padres were the hardest team to place because they have the single best top three in the majors but also the shortest list, while Tatis’ suspension is an odd wild card to consider. After polling a number of industry contacts, we agreed they belonged somewhere around here. It’s fascinating that the Preller-led brief build up, then quick teardown, followed by the asset collection era has now led to a barren, 30th-ranked farm system and a team of players largely not under long-term control. All the chips are in the middle for the next three pennant runs.


Elite: Francisco Lindor/SS, Max Scherzer/RHS

Above Average: Pete Alonso/1B, Jeff McNeil/2B, Starling Marte/CF

Solid: Francisco Alvarez/C, Brett Baty/3B, Mark Canha/RF, Eduardo Escobar/3B, Daniel Vogelbach/DH, Luis Guillorme/2B, David Peterson/LHS, Tylor Megill/RHS, Ronny Mauricio/SS, Mark Vientos/3B

Like the Phillies below, the Mets are a bit top-heavy, but their top is a little bigger. Sure, Scherzer is 38, Marte is 33, and McNeil is 30 while Alonso, Alvarez and Baty are big sluggers without a ton of speed and defensive value right now. You can find some weakness if you look hard enough, but those big boys mash, and I’m not betting against Scherzer when it matters. As I mentioned earlier, deGrom doesn’t count since he’ll opt out this winter, but I’d imagine he’ll return since we still haven’t found the bottom of owner Steve Cohen’s wallet yet. And I think he likes winning.


Elite: J.T. Realmuto/C, Bryce Harper/RF, Zack Wheeler/RHS

Above Average: Kyle Schwarber/LF

Solid: Alec Bohm/3B, Ranger Suarez/LHS, Andrew Painter/RHS, Mick Abel/RHS, Seranthony Dominguez/RHR, Brandon Marsh/CF, Nick Castellanos/RF, Griff McGarry/RHS, Johan Rojas/CF, Connor Brogdon/RHR

This concludes the run of teams with multiple guys in the “elite” tier. It’s hard to ignore those four guys at the top; that’s the heart and soul of the team. Baseball is more of a team sport than basketball or even football, and beyond that top group of four, it gets harder to be sure that this is a top-10 team in a few years. RHP Aaron Nola and 1B Rhys Hoskins will be free agents after next year, while Castellanos just got $100 million and has been terrible this year. The farm system is solid, but it is headlined by two young right-handers, the riskiest demographic to project. If they keep spending like this, they’ll probably be fine, but there are some warning signs.


Elite: Jose Ramirez/3B

Above Average: Shane Bieber/RHS, Andres Gimenez/2B, Emmanuel Clase/RHR

Solid: Triston McKenzie/RHS, Steven Kwan/LF, Daniel Espino/RHS, George Valera/RF, Brayan Rocchio/SS, Tyler Freeman/2B, Gavin Williams/RHS, Josh Naylor/1B, James Karinchak/RHR, Logan Allen/LHS, Myles Straw/CF, Tanner Bibee/RHS, Trevor Stephan/RHR, Angel Martinez/SS, Bo Naylor/C, Nolan Jones/RF

The Guardians have a lot of depth to their farm system in the upper minors, making up about half of the “solid” tier. Those first six players listed are real, right-now contributors to the big league club, followed by one of the top pitching prospects in the game. There’s a chance this group turns into one of the most feared in the game by 2024, and Cleveland is already in first place in the AL Central right now.


Elite: Julio Rodriguez/CF

Above Average: Robbie Ray/LHS, Eugenio Suarez/3B, J.P. Crawford/SS, George Kirby/RHS

Solid: Cal Raleigh/C, Ty France/1B, Logan Gilbert/RHS, Andres Munoz/RHR, Matt Brash/RHS, Dylan Moore/SS, Erik Swanson/RHR, Paul Sewald/RHR

The Mariners, the new kids on the block in the “going for it” neighborhood, have got to be grinning ear-to-ear right now on the heels of the Luis Castillo trade and Rodriguez extension. The plan was for this wave of talent to come up and for payroll to rise and complement the group. It’s working really well right now, even if the first name mentioned in that wave for years was Jarred Kelenic.


Elite: Wander Franco/SS

Above Average: Shane McClanahan/LHS, Brandon Lowe/2B, Yandy Diaz/3B

Solid: Curtis Mead/3B, Shane Baz/RHS, Manuel Margot/CF, Randy Arozarena/LF, Drew Rasumussen/RHS, Xavier Edwards/2B, Taj Bradley/RHS, Brooks Raley/LHR, Jeffrey Springs/LHS, Pete Fairbanks/RHR, Jason Adam/RHR, Luis Patino/RHS

It’s almost boring how good the Rays are at this ballin’ on a budget thing. Franco and McClanahan were both right on the border of the “elite” tier, and I think they’ll probably both get there by 2024. The rest of the crew is really good, but more underappreciated, underrated, underdrafted types that are solid, good players rather than stars. The Rays just keep putting together complete teams of players that are this good every year for the last decade, despite having one third the budget of some of their competition.


Elite: Corbin Burnes/RHS

Above Average: Brandon Woodruff/RHS, Willy Adames/SS, Devin Williams/RHR, Freddy Peralta/RHS

Solid: Christian Yelich/RF, Aaron Ashby/LHS, Jackson Chourio/CF, Luis Urias/SS, Sal Frelick/CF, Esteury Ruiz/CF, Rowdy Tellez/1B, Tyler Black/2B, Joey Wiemer/RF, Brice Turang/SS

The Brewers just keep turning underappreciated players into good big leaguers. Their pitching development is the key quality that keeps everything moving, turning out stars every couple years. The hitter development department has been either hit-and-miss or stitching together some veterans; but, that being said, Chourio has a shot to be the top prospect in baseball at this time next year.


Elite: Adley Rutschman/C

Above Average: Gunnar Henderson/3B, Cedric Mullins/CF

Solid: Grayson Rodriguez/RHS, Ryan Mountcastle/1B, Jorge Mateo/SS, Austin Hays/CF, Ramon Urias/3B, Anthony Santander/RF, John Means/LHS, Colton Cowser/CF, Felix Bautista/RHR, Coby Mayo/3B, Jordan Westburg/SS, Tyler Wells/RHS, Cade Povich/LHS, D.L. Hall/LHS, Kyle Stowers/RF, Connor Norby/2B, Drew Rom/LHS

For me, Baltimore is the most intriguing team to consider in this exercise. They are tied at the top with the longest list of players, since so many of them are prospects in the upper minors or ones that just got to the big leagues. The big league team is sneaky good right now, constructed with spare parts and wide-eyed youngsters, but it’s fun to imagine what this team could be in 2024 when all the kids listed above will have shown up. I didn’t include the top pick of this year’s MLB Draft, SS Jackson Holliday, since I think he’ll show up in the latter stages of 2024 (at the earliest), but he also may show up then and be an instant star.


Elite: Corey Seager/SS

Above Average: Marcus Semien/2B, Jonah Heim/C, Adolis Garcia/CF

Solid: Josh Jung/3B, Jon Gray/RHS, Evan Carter/CF, Nate Lowe/1B, Ezequiel Duran/3B, Josh Smith/2B, Jack Leiter/RHS, Owen White/RHS, Justin Foscue/2B, Brock Burke/LHR, Cole Winn/RHS, Dustin Harris/1B, Aaron Zavala/RF, Kumar Rocker/RHS, Luisangel Acuna/SS, Jose LeClerc/RHR

The retooling continued this season with longtime president Jon Daniels leaving after a $500 million splash in free agency last winter hadn’t moved the needle as much as some had hoped. The system will really bear fruit next year when Jung, Duran, Smith and some pitching will show up for full-season looks to supplement Seager and Semien, even if that’s too many infielders. The system depth beyond them has really improved, and the cornerstone types are in place, but they need more help.


Elite: Dylan Cease/RHS

Above Average: Tim Anderson/SS, Luis Robert/CF

Solid: Yoan Moncada/3B, Eloy Jimenez/DH, Lance Lynn/RHS, Liam Hendriks/RHR, Andrew Vaughn/1B, Michael Kopech/RHS, Garrett Crochet/LHR, Oscar Colas/RF, Reynaldo Lopez/RHR, Aaron Bummer/LHR, Colson Montgomery/SS, Bryan Ramos/3B

The White Sox are in a tough spot with an underperforming team right now. Their farm system is improving but still is in the bottom third with a handful of potential impact players, mostly coming in 2024 or 2025. The manager spot has been a problem, and a number of players have regressed while they are running the seventh-highest payroll in baseball, with lots of players over 30 on multi-year deals. The impact talent in the top two categories is floating them right now, but there’s not much margin for error here.


Elite: None

Above Average: Gerrit Cole/RHS, DJ LeMahieu/2B, Nestor Cortes/LHS, Anthony Volpe/SS

Solid: Giancarlo Stanton/RF, Oswald Peraza/SS, Gleyber Torres/2B, Clay Holmes/RHR, Jose Trevino/C, Everson Pereira/RF, Austin Wells/C, Scott Effross/RHR, Aaron Hicks/CF, Michael King/RHR

This one was surprising, too. They have $70-plus million coming off the books this year but about half of that would be earmarked for Aaron Judge, if he stays with the Bombers (I explored this in May). Ballparking that potential Judge deal means the Yankees would be paying over $125 million next season to Cole, Stanton, Judge and Josh Donaldson, which is a little over half of what they spent on the whole team this year. Having Volpe and Peraza about to show up, Cortes turning into a real starter, and adding via the depth of the system at the deadline are all key factors to improving an aging core. However, the Joey Gallo trade (Ezequiel Duran, Josh Smith, and Glenn Otto are all now big leaguers) and rental of Anthony Rizzo (50 games in exchange for Top 100 CF Kevin Alcantara) last summer weren’t necessary and ended up costing a ton of prospect depth that could really help right now.


Elite: Byron Buxton/CF

Above Average: Luis Arraez/2B

Solid: Jorge Polanco/2B, Max Kepler/RF, Joe Ryan/RHS, Jose Miranda/3B, Jorge Lopez/RHR, Brooks Lee/3B, Jhoan Duran/RHR, Ryan Jeffers/C, Trevor Larnach/RF, Emmanuel Rodriguez/RF, Royce Lewis/SS, Chris Paddack/RHS, Alex Kirilloff/LF, Austin Martin/CF, Caleb Thielbar/LHR

Buxton is and will be the cornerstone of this team for years to come, while the rest of what’s listed here is more solid than spectacular. Correa is a wild card and has an opt-out this year or next, which he seems very likely to use. Minnesota is a well-run org from top to bottom that can put a team together well but doesn’t spend enough to do more than supplement a core.


Elite: Sandy Alcantara/RHS

Above Average: Jazz Chisholm Jr./SS

Solid: Pablo Lopez/RHS, Jose Luzardo/LHS, Eury Perez/RHS, Trevor Rogers/LHS, Edward Cabrera/RHS, Peyton Burdick/CF, Max Meyer/RHS, Nick Fortes/C, Jose Salas/SS, J.J. Bleday/RF, Braxton Garrett/LHS, Jake Eder/LHS, Jacob Berry/RF, Dax Fulton/LHS, Sixto Sanchez/RHS, Avisail Garcia/RF, Jesus Sanchez/RF

I mentioned two winters ago that the Marlins had an embarrassment of prospect riches in the upper minors, to the point that the 40-man crunch would be real in addition to there not being enough big league playing time for those players to continue progressing. They’ve traded a number of mid-tier prospects and seen some stick at the big-league level while others have stagnated. But the calling card is the potential rotation at this point next year. Alcantara, Lopez, Luzardo and Rogers have all shown what they can do in the big leagues to varying degrees, Perez is one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, and they have plenty of starting pitcher depth to fill in any holes that materialize. Chisholm is the cornerstone of the lineup, which causes some question marks.


Elite: None

Above Average: Jonathan India/2B, Tyler Stephenson/C

Solid: Hunter Greene/RHS, Elly De La Cruz/SS, Edwin Arroyo/SS, Nick Lodolo/LHS, Graham Ashcraft/RHS, Noelvi Marte/3B, Spencer Steer/2B, Matt McLain/2B, Mike Siani/CF, Chase Petty/RHS, Kyle Farmer/SS, Allan Cerda/RF, Christian Encarnacion-Strand/3B, Jake Fraley/CF, Alexis Diaz/RHR, Lucas Sims/RHR

The Reds have been under .500 for seven of the last nine seasons and are in the midst of a full-fledged teardown right now. India and Stephenson look like keepers but haven’t had great 2022 seasons. Ashcraft has been a nice surprise while Greene and Lodolo have shown flashes of mid-rotation potential they were touted to have. Much of the rest of the group listed here is in the minors, either from recent trades or picks. The Reds don’t have a dollar committed past 2023, so I’d expect 2024 is when they’ll start spending to supplement a core that’s arrived in the big leagues.


Elite: None

Above Average: Corbin Carroll, CF, Daulton Varsho/CF, Merrill Kelly/RHS, Ketel Marte/2B

Solid: Zac Gallen/RHS, Christian Walker/1B, Alek Thomas/CF, Jordan Lawlar/SS, Brandon Pfaadt/RHS, Geraldo Perdomo/SS, Josh Rojas/3B, Ryne Nelson/RHS, Blake Walston/LHS, Joe Mantiply/LHR, Drey Jameson/RHS

Arizona is rounding the corner of a rebuild, as Carroll, Varsho, Thomas and Perdomo have gotten there in the last year while Lawlar and 60% of a rotation will be showing up in the next year. Carroll, Lawlar, and (one year too far away to be included) CF Druw Jones have a chance to be cornerstone types, so you can see how the Snakes could turn into contenders in a tight NL West.


Elite: Mike Trout/CF

Above Average: David Fletcher/SS

Solid: Anthony Rendon/3B, Taylor Ward/RF, Max Stassi/C, Patrick Sandoval/LHS, Reid Detmers/LHS, Logan O’Hoppe/C, Zach Neto/SS, Edgar Quero/C, Ky Bush/LHS, Jose Suarez/LHS, Jo Adell/RF, Sam Bachman/RHS, Jeremiah Jackson/2B

Shohei Ohtani notably isn’t eligible here, and Trout is looking a little more human due to some fragility in recent years. Beyond those two, this is a pretty typical team in this area of the rankings, with a handful of solid vets and a group of intriguing prospects they are hopeful can fill some holes so that they don’t have to go make a team in free agency.


Elite: None

Above Average: Nico Hoerner/SS

Solid: Pete Crow-Armstrong/CF, Marcus Stroman/RHS, Seiya Suzuki/RF, Christopher Morel/3B, Brennen Davis/CF, Kevin Alcantara/CF, Patrick Wisdom/3B, Jordan Wicks/LHS, Cade Horton/RHS, Nick Madrigal/2B, Justin Steele/LHS, Caleb Kilian/RHS, D.J. Herz/LHS

I slightly prefer the Cubs to the Red Sox in this exercise — in large part because things are moving along well with the stated plan in Chicago. There are another half dozen prospects that could be included, but they are either merely good role player types or will just get to the upper levels in 2024 rather than being counted on to make real big league contributions. There’s plenty of room to spend and supplement this core and there’s no crippling long-term deals, so a couple positive surprises on the player development side could speed the path to contention.


Elite: None

Above Average: Ke’Bryan Hayes/3B, Bryan Reynolds/CF

Solid: Oneil Cruz/SS, Henry Davis/C, Liover Peguero/SS, Endy Rodriguez/C, Quinn Priester/RHS, Ji-Hwan Bae/2B, Michael Burrows/RHS, J.T. Brubaker/RHS, Nick Gonzales/2B, Roansy Contreras/RHS

The Pirates are in the midst of their fourth straight season of last-place finishes. The big league team still isn’t good, but their top-10 farm system continues to improve. The key pieces of the rebuild are also in the upper minors or big leagues now, in addition to a couple potential impact types a year too far away to be included in 2B Termarr Johnson and RHP Bubba Chandler.


Elite: None

Above Average: Trevor Story/2B, Chris Sale/LHS

Solid: Marcelo Mayer/SS, Brayan Bello/RHS, Nick Pivetta/RHS, Triston Casas/1B, Garrett Whitlock/RHR, Alex Verdugo/LF, John Schreiber/RHR, Christian Arroyo/2B, Ceddanne Rafaela/CF, Jarren Duran/CF, Nick Yorke/2B

Bogaerts will likely opt out this winter to join J.D. Martinez and Nathan Eovaldi in free agency, while Rafael Devers is set to hit free agency after next year, making this one look even worse than I expected. Sale and Story are the two best long-term core pieces on the team and are set to make a combined $47.5 million next year, while former Red Sox star Betts will make just over $25 million next year. Counting on hits in free agency, re-signing Devers and/or Bogaerts, and getting quick returns from Mayer, Bello and Casas has to be the plan, but that’s still not a strong hand to be holding relative to their rivals.


Elite: None

Above Average: Tarik Skubal/LHS, Riley Greene/CF

Solid: Spencer Turnbull/RHS, Eduardo Rodriguez/LHS, Javier Baez/SS, Austin Meadows/LF, Spencer Torkelson/1B, Colt Keith/3B, Casey Mize/RHS, Matt Manning/RHS, Jackson Jobe/RHS, Wilmer Flores/RHS, Dillon Dingler/C, Reese Olson/RHS, Alex Lange/RHR

This year in Detroit has had big yikes energy, culminating in the firing of long-time GM Al Avila. Turnbull turned a corner then blew out last year, while buzzy offseason acquisitions Rodriguez, Baez and Meadows haven’t lived up to expectations. Cornerstone prospects Torkelson, Mize and Manning have all been hurt or underperformed. Skubal and Greene look like keepers, and there’s some decent supporting types, but Detroit has not turned the corner: This will be their sixth consecutive losing season.


Elite: None

Above Average: Sean Murphy/C

Solid: Ramon Laureano/RF, Tyler Soderstrom/C, Shea Langeliers/C, Ken Waldichuk/LHS, Zack Gelof/3B, Max Muncy/SS, Gunnar Hoglund/RHS, J.T. Ginn/RHS, Seth Brown/1B, Dany Jimenez/RHR, Zach Jackson/RHR, Cristian Pache/CF

The teardown has been torn down. Murphy and Laureano have hung around since they’re cost-controlled through 2025 but could’ve both netted a nice return. The 2021 draft was really strong, led by Muncy and Gelof while Langeliers (acquired in the Olson trade), Hoglund (Chapman), Ginn (Chris Bassitt) and Waldichuk (Frankie Montas) were the headliners of the recent big trades. Oakland’s brain trust has successfully done an entire roster cycle a number of times, so I have some confidence in them pulling it off again.


Elite: None

Above Average: Bobby Witt Jr./SS

Solid: Vinnie Pasquantino/1B, Salvador Perez/C, Nicky Lopez/2B, Brady Singer/RHS, M.J. Melendez/C, Kyle Isbel/RF, Daniel Lynch/LHS, Nick Pratto/1B, Nick Loftin/CF

Somewhat similar to the Nationals, the Royals’ core here is basically just the last few years of the top of their good-not-great prospect list. Witt is the cornerstone, and I think Pasquantino is a keeper. A few others may get to that level, but this is simply not enough to show for being bad five straight years. There are not many sleepers that took a giant step forward in the last few years, while only Salvador Perez is left from the better clubs of yesteryear.


Elite: None

Above Average: Logan Webb/RHS

Solid: Alex Cobb/RHS, Marco Luciano/3B, Kyle Harrison/LHS, Joey Bart/C, Austin Slater/RF, Mike Yastrzemski/RF, Thairo Estrada/2B, Camilo Doval/RHR, Luis Matos/CF, Patrick Bailey/C, Anthony DeSclafani/RHS

This one was shocking. The Giants were the darlings of the industry last year, with a midas touch on free agent pitchers, a standout coaching staff, and a “how did this happen?” level surprise record with underlying performances to match. It now looks like that was more than a bit lucky, with the team currently performing at the level everyone thought they would last year. Webb is a legit scouting and development success story and I’d bet at least Luciano or Harrison will be another, but the Giants will need to spend in free agency to bolster this core (and I bet they will).


Elite: None

Above Average: None

Solid: Keibert Ruiz/C, Stephen Strasburg/RHS, C.J. Abrams/SS, James Wood/RF, Robert Hassell/CF, MacKenzie Gore/LHS, Josiah Gray/RHS, Cade Cavalli/RHS, Victor Robles/CF, Brady House/SS

This was even worse than I expected. The 2019 World Series champs are in a rebuild with the notable pieces being the two recent big trade hauls (for Scherzer/Trea Turner and Soto) and the last few years of draft and international signing periods, with only Strasburg and Robles left over from the glory days. Lefty Patrick Corbin is due over $60 million and isn’t good enough to make the list.


Elite: None

Above Average: Ryan McMahon/3B

Solid: Kris Bryant/LF, Zac Veen/RF, Ezequiel Tovar/SS, Brendan Rodgers/2B, Drew Romo/C, German Marquez/RHS, Daniel Bard/RHR, Antonio Senzatela/RHS, Kyle Freeland/LHS, Elehuris Montero/3B, Tyler Kinley/RHR

Colorado has consistently been the most directionless franchise in the league, and that’s still the case. Bryant is a signing that continues to make zero sense, and most of the big league arms have regressed this year, but a resurgent top tier of the farm system is helping a bit.



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