5 MLB Teams That Will Be Better Off By Andrew Gardner
Spring training was in full swing before the corona virus threw a wrench in the MLB season and all other sports seasons for that matter. With the season currently up in the air, there are a lot of questions being asked such as; "What will the MLB look like when this is all over?" It seems that almost anything is an option at this point and it will be very intriguing to see how the players perform after having a possibly canceled 2020 season. There are many factors that can come into play with how teams turn out in 2021, which include, free agents, aging players, and player regression. In this blog I want to look at 5 teams that would be least affected/ in better shape is no 2020 season. I will post the other half of the list tomorrow, with the most affected teams. I also want to clarify that it has been rumored that any player with one year left on their contract will still be eligible for free agency in 2021, regardless if there is a 2020 season or not.
Let's start with the 5 teams that will be least affected/ in better shape from a canceled 2020 season. They are in order with 1 being the least affected and in best shape because of the shutdown.
- Houston Astros
Is there a team that is any more grateful of the possibility of no 2020 season? Absolutely not. This past off-season the 2017 World Series Champions were handed out punishment for their sign stealing scandal that occurred during that 2017 season. Even though they had one of the best chances to win the crown in 2020, seeing as they were only win away in 2019, they are still going to benefit from a canceled season. The Astros would have faced an unbelievable amount of heckling from both fans and opposing teams. There were already predictions streaming in for how many times each Astros would get hit by a pitch and how many ejections there would be for pitchers facing the Astros. The team still has most of its top players tied up for the 2021 season includign Jose Altuve, Zack Greinke, Alex Bregman, and Justin Verlander so the will still be in good shape coming into next season. The team will have to face the task of re-signing their leadoff hitter in George Springer who will be a free agent going into the 2021 season. All in all the Astros will stay face heckling for years to come but it won't nearly be as bad as it would have been this season. They still have a great product to put on the field in 2021 and would be my pick for the top team in the MLB who would benefit from a voided 2020 season.
- Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox find them selves in a similar situation as the Houston Astros as they had a very messy off-season leading into 2020. I won't be talking about the Red Sox so called "sign stealing scandal" as I'll save that for another blog in its entirety. With that being said the Red Sox would greatly benefit from the 2020 season being canceled for a plethora of reasons. The main reason being that their already thin pitching rotation would have been missing their ace in Chris Sale. Sale received Tommy John in late march and would have been out for the season regardless if there was one or not. The team also fired their manager Alex Cora after it was found he had been involved with the Astros sign stealing scandal in 2017. Cora is suspended for the time being but can return to the MLB even if there isn't a 2020 season. The Red Sox haven't closed the door on rehiring their former manager for the following season and having him back would help the team greatly. The team would also have the chance to re-sign the 2018 Al MVP in Mookie Betts who they traded away this off-season to the Dodgers for financial reasons. Betts is set to become a free agent and has yet to be seen if he would stay in LA after 2020. Along with a few smaller injuries to players such as new acquisition Alex Verdugo and a thin free agent class heading into 2021, the Red Sox would find themselves in a much better state in 2021.
- Tampa Bay Rays
Kevin Cash did a phenomenal job with the roster he was given in 2019, leading the team to the ALDS, along with 96 wins in a tough AL-east division. The Rays were destined to compete during the 2020 season and were viewed as a top 3 team in the American League. However, that doesn't mean that they're not set up for a very successful run in the near future. The team has the most top 100 prospects in the majors with 6, including the leagues top prospect in Wander Franco. The team also has control of many of their top players for the foreseeable future, including Kevin Kiermier, Charlie Morton, and Blake Snell. The roster is mostly compromised of players under the age of 32 most of which have many promising years ahead of them. The Rays may miss out on would could be a very succesful season, but there fans should be highly optimistic for a team that should be contending for the next 3-5 years. Their players may not be playing actual games in 2020 but if they workout and stay in shape this team will be a powerhouse.
- San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres find themselves in a similar boat as the Rays, with a very young promising MLB roster and a loaded farm system. The reason I put the Padres lower then the Rays is because they haven't yet proved themselves as a contender in the MLB. They certainly have the talent to do so in the future especially with a shifting power in the NL-West. The Padres main core include Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, and Fernando Tatis Jr. who are all under the Padres control until the 2025 season. The Padres pitching staff could use a little bit of improvement but they could end up having one of the most potent offenses in the National League when the 2021 begins. Look for the Padres to make big steps in the 2021 season as I think the NL West could be up for grabs at that time.
- Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamdbacks are a little bit of a wildcard here and have an interesting future as a team. The team traded away their franchise centerpiece in Paul Goldscmidt after the 2018 season, a sure sign of rebuilding. The team surprisngly finished the 2019 campaign with a record of 85-77 good enough for second place in the NL East. The team only dipped 3 games below .500 at their worst point in the season and overall were a fairly steady and consistent team. The Diamondbacks certain seems to be unclear especailly now that the Padres and Dodgers seem to be the strongest teams in the NL West. With that being said I think a 2020 season cancelation wouldn't hurt the Diamondbacks that bad. The team has most of their starters locked up through 2021 excluding Robbie Ray and Jake Lamb, who become free agents but are replaceable. That being paired with the fact that they have a lot of good young talent including Ketel Marte, Luke Weaver, and Christian Walker along with a solid group of veterans highleted by newly acquired ace Maddison Bumgarner and outfielder David Peralta. Although the Diamondbacks were set to contend this year, they wouldn't have had a strong enough team to make a deep run into the postseason. The Dodgers have a lot of question marks going into the 2021 season so look for Diamondbacks to take ahold of that opportunity.