MLB Odds NL Central Hot Stove Preview
The St. Louis Cardinals have a decision to make as far as trying to re-sign free agent outfielder Jason Heyward. His offense isn’t that impressive, especially for a corner outfielder, but his defensive skill and his age make him desirable anyway for the team and their MLB Odds fans, and he could get a long-term deal worth over $150 million.
Taking a Closer Look at the MLB Odds NL Central Hot Stove Preview
The Cards will at least extend him a qualifying offer so that they can get a draft pick if he leaves. John Lackey pitched for the minimum plus incentives this year, and he was terrific, posting an ERA of 2.77 over a staff-high 218 innings. The Cardinals also need to fill holes at backup catcher, right field and in their bullpen.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have two solid starting pitchers in Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano, but they need more support at the back end of the rotation. They could trade closer Mark Melancon, who is likely to pick up a $10 million salary in arbitration, but re-sign Joakim Soria to take over the closer role. The Pirates also have infield problems with Jung Ho Kang likely to be out even after Opening Day. The Pirates have to make their way on a small budget, and they have succeeded, qualifying for the wild card three straight years.
Dexter Fowler is a free agent question that the Chicago Cubs will have to answer. He hit well (.250, 17 HR) and ran well (20 SB) but on defense he is a bit of a liability. Even so, he will get a multi-year contract from someone, and so the Cubs will extend him a qualifying offer. Trevor Cahill was a pleasant surprise in the bullpen, posting a 2.12 ERA in 17 IP in relief appearances. The Cubs will be looking to shore up their bullpen and replace Fowler with a better defensive center fielder, as manager Joe Maddon is all about pitching and defense first.
The only free agent on the Milwaukee Brewers’ roster is pitcher Kyle Lohse. His 2015 was awful; he toiled through 152.1 innings, but his ERA was an unsightly 5.85. He has been in the major leagues for 15 seasons, and it may just be time for him to consider retirement. The Brewers are looking for a catcher, a center fielder and a third baseman. Hernan Perez and Elian Herrera are not strong options at the hot corner, and Martin Maldonado is not a good backup catcher. Domingo Santana is not a true center fielder, so the Brewers have plenty of places to start adding.
The Cincinnati Reds collapsed in the second half, and as one might expect after an outcome like that, the team has quite a few spots to fill. There are gaps in the starting rotation, the bullpen and the corner outfield spots. The Reds dealt Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto away at the trade deadline, leaving five rookies in the starting rotation. Some of them are promising, but the team also needs some veteran presence to eat up innings when the development becomes a problem. The Reds could also trade closer Aroldis Chapman to bring in some more assets.