Free Agency, Team Needs and Top Prospects - 2013 MLB Offseason (AL)

The MLB off season is now in full stride and if you're anything like me, you're excited about the upcoming hot stove.  I love seeing what teams and General Managers do to re-form their rosters.  Here's a quick look at what the AL General Managers might be thinking about with regards to key roster decisions heading into the 2013 season.

Free Agents: Maicier Izturis, Torii Hunter, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana (* - option exercised), LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Isringhausen
Prospects In Waiting: None
Needs: With three starting pitchers on this list, it's clear that the Angels have to target starting pitching.  They'll also be in the market for relief help but they have some chips to work with - expect the Angels to be active this off season.
Note- Santana was subsequently traded to the Royals for a young bullpen arm

Prospects In Waiting: None
Needs: The A's need help in their infield... specifically, the left side of their infield.  They have a wealth of good young pitchers - Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Dan Straily, Tom Millone and A.J. Griffin all spent time in the rotation this past season and all performed well enough to warrant consideration to begin the 2013 season in the rotation.  Their outfield is set so the A's will undoubtedly be looking for help on the left side of the diamond where Drew and Inge are set to hit free-agency.   

Blue Jays
Top Prospects in Waiting: Travis D'Arnaud (C), Adeiny Hechavarria (IF)
Needs: The Blue Jays aren't sure who will be their ace at this point and have questions marks at many positions - 1B, 2B, SS and LF to name a few.  Their best prospect is a catcher and they've committed to J.P. Arencibia so there is even a question mark surrounding what to do there.  The Blue Jays need to grow up - someone needs to step up and lead that team in the right direction.  There are far too many players with potential for them to be sitting in the basement of the AL East year after year.

Top Prospects in Waiting: None
Needs: The Indians can now officially move on from the Grady Sizemore era - beginning anew with new manager Terry Francona.  They started off the 2012 campaign looking like they could be poised to compete but quickly succumbed to expectations finishing the season with 68 wins.  The Indians will need help in the rotation and at the corner infield spots and at least one corner outfield position but the good thing is that they have a lot of flexibility because their payroll should be well below the 2012 payroll mark after they've dealt with their free agent options.

Top Prospects in Waiting: Danny Hultzen (P), Taijuan Walker (P), Nick Franklin (IF)
Needs: The Mariners are on the cusp of a major youth movement.  In Hultzen and Walker they have two of the best young arms that the minor leagues has to offer and Franklin could provide the Mariners with some added depth in the infield.  They also had Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley and Erasmo Ramirez playing at the big league level last season so there is a lot of young talent.  They could use a third baseman or a first baseman that they could count on and maybe one outfielder.  Chone Figgins is still on the books and so is Franklin Gutierrez but both are in the final years of their contracts so the Mariners have some talent to deal and the flexibility to be active if they want to.  

Top Prospects in Waiting: Dylan Bundy (P)
Needs: The Orioles surprised everyone with their finish this season and the future looks bright but the Orioles have a few pending free agents that they need to address (namely McLouth and Saunders).  Depth will be immensely important for this young ballclub.  They could look for help in the infield - Mark Reynolds (whose option was declined) and Brian Roberts leave much to be desired on the right side of the diamond - but I would look for them to stay the course and add depth.

Top Prospects in Waiting: Jurickson Profar (SS)
Needs: The Rangers have a lot of question marks heading into the 2013 off season.  First and foremost, they will have to find a way to replace Josh Hamilton's production if he doesn't re-sign with the Rangers.  They also have to figure out a way to make room for top prospect Jurickson Profar as shorstop is blocked by Gold Glove winner Elvis Andrus and second base is blocked by Ian Kinsler.  They need depth in their rotation and their bullpen but the pressing issues are Hamilton and Profar/Kinsler/Andrus.  

Top Prospects: Hak-Ju Lee
Needs: The Rays have needs to fill and starting pitching to burn so they could look to move James Shields for help but something tells me that won't happen.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Hak-Ju Lee as the opening day shortstop for the Rays.  They have already picked up an option that they had on Jose Molina so it looks like they're happy employing him as their starting catcher.  Same goes for Rodney. 

Red Sox
Top Prospects: Xander Bogaerts (SS), Matt Barnes (P)
Needs: The Red Sox unloaded salary this season and are seemingly in full-on reconstruction mode - next year, they are only obligated to pay five returning players (the rest are either free agents or still with options).  So the good thing is that they should have plenty of money to play with but they also have lots of holes to fill.  They'll definitely need to find a first baseman.  They will definitely need to find some depth in the rotation and in the outfield.  This team has been decimated... Bogaerts is seemingly blocked by Pedro Ciriaco so maybe they can move one of Ciriaco/Bogaerts/Will Middlebrooks to first or in the outfield.  I don't know and your guess is as good as mine.

Top Prospects: Wil Myers (OF), Bubba Starling (OF), Jake Odorizzi (P), Mike Montgomery (P)
Needs: Another team on the precipice of a major youth movement, the Royals have already started the process of crafting a winning team by promoting Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.  Unfortunately, the results weren't great but it's easy to see what the Royals are doing.  With so much talent on the farm, you have to think that the Royals are heading in the right direction.  Veteran depth will be important but they could also look to trade a guy like Billy Butler or any of the aforementioned youngsters for a starting pitcher to compliment the arms they've got.

Top Prospects: Nick Casterllanos (3B)
Needs: The Tigers are set to lose three key components to their AL Pennant winning team this offseason.  Sanchez was great for them and it's likely that the Tigers will look to bring him back but they might not have to (one of the strengths of this team is the depth in their rotation).  It's rare that you'll find a 27 year-old free agent... as such, Delmon Young is set to make a lot of money somewhere else.  Victor Martinez will be back next season so the only real concern in the is what to do with that corner outfield spot.

Top Prospects: Miguel Sano (SS), Byron Buxton (OF)
Needs: The Twins need starting pitching and lots of it.  They also need to figure out which light hitting speedster(s) they really to keep because keeping all of them is not conducive to winning... Alexi Casilla, Ben Revere and Denard Span are essentially the same player, aren't they?  

White Sox
Top Prospects: None
Needs: The White Sox will have a lot of decisions to make heading into this off season.  They've already addressed two holes by bringing back Peavy and Floyd but they really need to find an anchor in that rotation and find a mix that can compete in the AL Central.

Needs: The Yankees have to find a backstop, they need depth in their rotation, they need to replace Swisher and they need to figure out if they can afford to live without Alex Rodriguez (because patience is wearing thin).  Other than that, there's not much.


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