By: Chris Larson
With the arrival of the Hot Stove season, comes plenty of heightened expectations for a number of different clubs and front office staffs around the league. This offseason is no different and you could make the argument that this season more front office staffs around the game are going to be under more pressure, given where some clubs stand and the urgency to win that is there, in front of those respective teams.
A lot of the pressure that these five teams will face come from their respective fanbases, who expect their entire teams front office staff, to do whatever possible to put their team in the best position to win and compete everyday that the team takes the field. Although that might not necessarily result in each respective team competing for the division, it does make a difference when it comes to who is able to lock down a postseason berth and who enjoys October from home.
With all of that being said, here are the five teams with the most pressure this offseason.
1. San Diego Padres - San Diego Padres General Manager, A.J. Preller, might be under the most pressure of any General Manager around the game this offseason. After investing $144 million dollars into first baseman, Eric Hosmer, two years ago and signing shortstop/third baseman, Manny Machado, to a ten-year, $300 million dollar deal last offseason, the time to win for the Padres is now. At the conclusion of the 2019 regular season, it was easy to see the dissatisfaction on the face of the Padres ownership group and anything that results in San Diego not competing for a postseason berth during the 2020 regular season, will likely result in a failure for the entire organization and potential firings among the front office staff. Therefore, the San Diego Padres need to be committed and focused this offseason in an attempt to make the necessary upgrades to ensure that, the 2019 second half of the season collapse, doesn't happen again come 2020. By adding to the starting rotation, locking down the bullpen with another reliable reliever, and acquiring a left-handed outfield bat, the Padres would be taking a huge step in the right direction this offseason. Furthermore, with a rookie manager in Jayce Tingler, the Padres are going to have their work cutout for them and Tingler is going to face plenty of pressure himself, but it's up to A.J. Preller and the entire San Diego Padres front office staff to do everything possible to give Tingler and his entire coaching staff the necessary pieces to win now. If not, "heads will roll" as San Diego Padres co-owner, Ron Fowler, stated at the conclusion of the regular season.
2. Chicago White Sox - After the last few years, the 2020 season is going to be a critical one for the Chicago White Sox because they need to prove to their entire fanbase and the rest of baseball that they can build a winner and that all of the hype about their farm system, over the last couple of seasons, was real. Chicago White Sox Vice President and General Manager, Rick Hahn, is going to have quite the to-do list this offseason and it's important that he accomplishes each of the tasks set out in front of him. Most importantly, the White Sox need to figure out their starting rotation and try to find a top of the rotation arm, could certainly use an upgrade offensively at a position like third base or in right field, and have a need at catcher as well. Additionally, the White Sox could afford to add another bullpen arm or two especially if they want to compete for a postseason berth. With all of those needs, Rick Hahn & Company will need to make smart decisions this offseason and ensure that everything is done to fill those holes in some regard. Over the past few weeks, the White Sox have been heavily linked to a couple of different free agent third baseman in Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, and Mike Moustakas and have been rumored to be interested in right fielder, Mookie Betts, as well should the Boston Red Sox elect to trade him. The good news is that the White Sox projected payroll of just under $48 million dollars for the 2020 regular season so there should be plenty of cash to spend on the Southside this offseason.
3. Los Angeles Angels - Heading into this offseason, the Angels have plenty of pressure riding on their shoulders as many of their fans and people around the game of baseball expect the team to have a big offseason. After bringing in a new manager in Joe Maddon, revamping the coaching staff, and investing $428 million dollars into superstar centerfielder, Mike Trout in earlier this year in March, the time to win is now for the Angels. Better yet, you could say that the time for the team to take a giant step forward and finally get Mike Trout back into the postseason is now and that means that this offseason is going to be a critical definition of what type of team the Angels will field come 2020. While the Angels don't have to necessarily win the American League West, a Wild Card spot would do them justice and allow for there to be plenty of excitement out in Anaheim. In regard to potential transactions the Angels could complete this offseason, there are a number of different directions the team could go, but they would be best suited to spend a majority of their budget on starting pitching. For the last few seasons, the Angels have fielded a very competitive offensive team, but have struggled in the starting pitching department especially when it comes to keeping their starters healthy and on the mound. Therefore, the team would be wise to invest heavily in one, most likely two, reliable arms this winter and potentially add further depth to their starting rotation by signing a third, among the lower tiered starting pitching free agents or on the trade market. Regardless, the Angels might have a Halo symbol on their hats, but the time is now to make a couple of big splashes to really solidify the teams chances of competing for a postseason berth come next season.
4. Minnesota Twins - The Twins might be a small market team, but that doesn't mean that they are exempt from pressure by any means. As it stands right now, Minnesota needs to be focused on improving their pitching staff every way possible this offseason especially in the starting rotation. If the season were to start today, the Twins would have one starting pitcher on their team in right-hander, Jose Berrios. While Jose Berrios is talented in his own regard and has the capability of being a top of the rotation starting pitcher, the Twins need a lot more than just him, if they want to build off of the success of the 2019 regular season. As a result, there is pressure for Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and the entire Twins front office to address the rotation in some way possible, but most of that pressure points towards the team needing to add at least two notable arms in free agency and another through the trade market. The good news for the Minnesota Twins is that there are a number of different free agent starting pitchers available headlined by the likes of two right-handers in Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. Although the Twins likely won't be able to land either of those two individuals, there are several other options including three left-handers in Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, and Hyun-Jin Ryu as well as a potential reunion with right-hander Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi and the Twins had a great relationship last season so a reunion is certainly possible between both parties. Regardless, this offseason the Twins will have plenty of pressure coming from them in regard to addressing their starting rotation with impactful arms that can help them capture another American League Central title in 2020.
5. New York Mets - When a team plays in a large market like New York City, everything the team does is going to constantly be looked at under a microscope and watched very closely. This offseason is going to be no different for the New York Mets and it's time for the organization to show their fanbase and the rest of baseball that they are committed to winning now and bringing a World Series Championship back to Queens for the first time since 1986. General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, is entering his second offseason with the Mets and is going to have to make some upgrades from the outside, if the team wishes to be competitive amid an increasingly competitive National League East during the 2020 regular season. One area of need for the New York Mets is at third base, but from reports coming out of the General Manager Meetings currently going on in Scottsdale, Arizona, it sounds like the Mets are more content with internal options at that position compared to options through the free agent or trade markets. Someone like Anthony Rendon would look awfully good in a New York Mets uniform, but it's highly unlikely that Brodie Van Wagenen or the Mets ownership group will want to invest the money necessary to make a deal happen. As a result, upgrades can be made in other areas of the team including at the back end of the starting rotation, in the bullpen, and in the outfield with the addition of another bat. The only problem with that is the fact that the New York Mets currently have a projected payroll of $162.1 million dollars for the 2020 regular season which would be the sixth highest payroll amount in the league.