30. Detroit Tigers (64-98)
Well, well, well. The end of an era. Detroit was one of the best MLB teams for a long stretch starting in 2006, but after a 98-loss season in 2017, their run is clearly over. Gone is Justin Verlander. Gone is J.D. Martinez. Gone is Justin Upton. Gone is Kate Upton. It’s Miggy, Kinsler, and a bunch of nothing. Doesn’t seem any reason to me not to go whole hog and start turning as much of their current roster as possible into future talent. Victor Martinez is probably unmovable at $18 million, but I would go ahead and flip Kinsler. I think if they do that they basically guarantee themselves a top three pick in the 2019 draft, which they’ll add to their top overall selection in 2018. Otherwise, I think they can use some of their newly open payroll for two things: sign a few reliable veterans to one-year deals so you can flip them for mid-level prospects in July; and see if you can acquire minor leaguers by absorbing dead money.
29. San Francisco Giants (64-98)
Acquiring Giancarlo Stanton would still leave the Giants behind the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in their own division. Still, there’s something to them leaning into it and acquiring as much talent as they can while Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner are still in their primes. They could easily upgrade in the outfield, but also have a hole at third base. The rotation is solid, but could use some depth as well. It’s not easy for SF to upgrade without going over the luxury tax, so they might be limited in their moves. Part of the problem is that there is very little in the way of impact players coming up through the farm system. That doesn’t appear likely to change very soon, though maybe their #2 pick in the June 2018 draft will be a building block.
28. Philadelphia Phillies (66-96)
Is it possible for one player to totally change the mood of a season for a franchise? I believe so, and I believe Rhys Hoskins is that man. The Phils were bad in 2017, but they are finally starting to see the light at the end of the rebuilding tunnel. Along with Hoskins’ insane homer barrage, Philadelphia saw Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro excel in the majors. That’s serious progress. If J.P. Crawford can make the leap in 2018, the Phils will have an enviable crop of young position players. On the pitching side, they’ve got Aaron Nola. And that’s about it. Jerad Eickhoff was about an average starter, but he projects as a back-end guy. They should buy low on any starting pitching that seems to be undervalued in the market. They won’t be ready to compete in 2018, but it makes sense to sign a starter who will be a part of their 2019 team, which should be aiming for the NL East crown.
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