The MLB season has returned to fans after an interesting offseason, and while some teams are currently in a comfortable position, others are in a situation where a potential rebuild could be on the verge. In this piece, I’ll display five teams that need to enter a rebuild. This will not include franchises that are currently in the midst of a rebuild stage.
5. Kansas City Royals (80-82 last season)
Since winning the World Series in 2015, the Kansas City Royals seemed to have a roster that was a legitimate threat. However, this club has missed the playoffs every year since, remaining at a consistent .500 record.
With their core aging and the bullpen averaging a 4.21 ERA in 2016 and 4.61 ERA in 2017, these numbers are less than ideal. I believe that the Royals should look into bringing more youth to their bullpen, while also looking into trading away aging pieces who have proven to be regressing (Paulo Orlando, Alex Gordon to name some) while they still have value. Although it was enjoyable to see this squad reel in a World Series, they need to go back to the drawing board.
4. Seattle Mariners (78-84 last season)
The Mariners in the last handful of seasons have had a ton of hype correlated to their brand. The roster always seems solid, as the franchise looks to compete with the likes of the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels in the AL West, but alas, they almost always fall short of the playoffs. Last year, the Mariners finished fourth place in the division behind the World Series winning Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, and the Texas Rangers.
This roster has plenty of room for improvement. Their top players consist of second baseman Robinson Cano, ace James Paxton, and right fielder Nelson Cruz. Both Cano and Cruz are getting close to the twilight of their career, with Cano being 35 and Nelson Cruz at 37. While Paxton is 29-years old, he should be capable of producing for years to come. Outside of these three stars, Seattle has plenty of holes. This team is not in terrible shape, but I don’t see them being a consistent playoff threat until they look into a potential rebuild.
3. Toronto Blue Jays (76-86 last season)
The AL East seems to be owned by the powerhouses that are the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. The Toronto Blue Jays, who are not a terrible team by any means, are led by superstar Josh Donaldson, who provides a great sense of leadership. In addition, Roberto Osuna has proven to be a deadly closer as well. Outside of that, I wouldn’t say this team is mediocre, but nothing jumps out on paper.
The rotation seems to have a solid blueprint laid out with Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez being young and having some potential, but Toronto would benefit from having one or two more pitchers who can hold down the mound. As far as the bullpen goes, some serious adjustment is needed.
The Blue Jays do not have a pitcher younger than 28 on their MLB Roster, and have very little potential in their farm system to work with. In the mix of the depth chart, RF Randal Grichuk could pan out to be solid, and 31-year old 1B Justin Smoak still has a ton of talent, putting up a .270 batting average with 38 HRs in 2017.
2. Baltimore Orioles (75-87 last season)
Another AL East team on this list belongs to Baltimore. With SS Manny Machado entering the final year of his deal and likely wanting to hop ship to a contender, the Orioles are looking dead ahead at the rebuild button.
To be blunt, this roster isn’t exactly gushing potential. In fact, 2B Jonathan Schoop and LF Trey Mancini are the top players on this roster not named Machado, and teams can’t win with that given system. Included in the infield is 1B Chris Davis, who has been on a steady decline since his career years in 2013 and 2015. In addition, while Tim Beckham is consistent, he doesn’t generate a ton of fire power to this roster.
Although young, the rotation could develop into something in coming years, as Dylan Bundy and Gabriel Ynoa are 25 years or younger. In the back of the bullpen, 35-year old Darren O’Day is the top option, tossing for a 3.43 ERA and a WHIP at a respectable 1.08 last season. He is currently followed by Mychal Givens, who went for a 2.75 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 2017. Outside of these two, the only hope is within the farm system, as the Orioles currently are developing 25-year old Paul Fry.
1. Detroit Tigers (64-98 last season)
Unfortunately for Tigers fans, I think the window for a World Series has come to a close. There is some upside to this roster, but outside of the beloved Miguel Cabrera and ace Michael Fulmer, this team lacks much of anything.
The current rotation lacks youth, with only one pitcher under age 30 not named Fulmer. For this potential rebuild, bringing youth to the rotation should be a focus. With some key prospects such as Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez coming up, this may not be a gigantic issue. As far as the bullpen goes, Detroit needs a complete revival. This will need to be a free agency focus if the Tigers desire any shot in competing after this rebuild is complete.
As far as the skill positions, there isn’t too much to look at. In terms of players to lean on for years to come, Detroit can look into relying on 28-year old SS Jose Iglesias and 26-year old RF Nick Castellanos. This Detroit roster is need of a rebuild, and the sooner they begin the process, the better.
Image From Keith Allison