It’s Now or Never: Teams That Need to Win Now!
Every year, most teams enter Spring Training thinking they could make the playoffs and then, the World Series. A few teams are definitely rebuilding, but as we’ve seen in the era of expanded playoffs, almost any team has a chance to eke out 85 to 90 wins and make the playoffs.
Many teams look toward now and the future. They want to be sure they have talent for the upcoming years AND currently compete. Some of these teams will throw in the towel, for sure, but as last year’s Yankees show, a team could ‘give up’, and somehow get better.
However, there’s a subset of those teams that are built for the short term. If they don’t win this year, it could take a while for them to compete again even if they don’t decide to strip down and rebuild.
So what are the teams that need to win, or else?
- Baltimore – They have 18 guaranteed contracts this year, and 12 of those players are 30 and over. Their big thumpers – Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo, are 31, and could be headed for heartbreaks soon. Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, Dylan Byers and Manny Machado are getting to their prime, but there’s not a lot of youth there backing up the oldsters. This is the year, or they’re going to have to start over. (I believe they know this, with only four fully guaranteed contracts next year.)
- Toronto – The Red Sox and Yankees have a blend of youth and experience, but the Blue Jays don’t have that youth thing in their lineup. Pitching, they have some kids like Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, and Marcus Stroman (at 26 he’s got a lot of life ahead of him). But their lineup: Tulowitzki, Russ Martin, Melvin Upton, Kendrys Morales, Donaldson, Bautista, Pearce, Smoak, and Barney, among others, are 30 and over and even the ‘kids’ like Kevin Pillar are in their late 20’s. They owe Tulo and Russ Martin a LOT of money for the next few years, so they may not have a lot of flexibility moving forward.
- Detroit – It always seems the Tigers are on the precipice of having to rebuild. Justin Upton is 29. JD Martinez is 29. Nick Castellanos is 25. The rest of the main crew are old. hurt, or old and hurt. How long can Miguel Cabrera keep it up? They’re going to have to get contributions from some vets that are definitely on the downslope.
- Seattle – The Mariners only have a few more years left in the King Felix era, and while Robinson Cano is still tremendous, but he’s 34. Nelson Cruz is 36 as well, and he’s pretty much limited to DH now. The best indicator that they’re gunning to win now is their trade for Jean Segura, giving up a younger shortstop in Ketel Marte for someone in their prime.
- Washington – Let’s put it this way. Bryce Harper is arbitration eligible next year. Anthony Rendon is too. They have $83.5 million tied up in six players for 2018 besides them. The only real young-in besides Harper is Trea Turner. This may be it before the tear down begins.
I thought about San Francisco or Los Angeles, but they have enough young talent to re-load. As for Miami, every year is a win-now lest Loria Loria’s the team.
What happens with the above teams after this year? Pay close attention to the White Sox. They stripped down and players like Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Derek Holland, and Jose Abreu could be had for prospects. Perhaps David Robertson, too, even though he’s due $13 million in 2018.
So, fans of those five teams, pay close attention to the standings this year, especially starting July 1st. You may need to root more for the laundry than the players.