6. Cincinnati Reds
Off-season moves: LHP Wade Miley, RHP Pedro Strop, OF Shogo Akiyama, OF Nick Castellanos
Prospects to watch on the 60-man roster: IF Jonathan India, IF Jose Garcia, C Tyler Stephenson
I had a very hard time putting the Reds here versus the White Sox because they were one of the more active teams in the off-season in terms of who the Tigers are facing but they have slightly better pitching than Chicago. Adding Wade Miley to an impressive rotation of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Trevor Bauer. Miley’s best season was in 2018 when he was in Milwaukee under then pitching coach Derek Johnson. Johnson is now with the Reds so that may help Miley return to form.
You expect former Tiger Nick Castellanos to be motivated when he takes on Detroit. He will certainly help the Reds’ team batting average, which was near the bottom of the NL. Strop’s K-rate was good but gives up too many home runs. If he can return to some semblance of what he was, the Reds could have a steal in free agency. Akiyama has produced offense in Japan but there are defensive concerns. The Reds should be a fun team to watch in 2020.
5. Cleveland Indians
Off-season moves: OF Domingo Santana, 2B Cesar Hernandez, OF Franmil Reyes
Prospects to watch on the 60-man roster: C Bo Naylor, SS Tyler Freeman, OF George Valera, 3B Nolan Jones, 2B Aaron Bracho, RHP Triston McKenzie, RHP Ethan Hankins, RHP Daniel Espino
First rounders Espino (2019) and Hankins (2018) made the 60-man roster but not likely they will see the majors. Domingo Santana, who I wanted Detroit to go after, was having a great season in Seattle before his injuries made him limited in the second half of the season. Despite what may look like minimal moves by the front office, this team did win 93 games behind strong starting pitching with Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger and Brad Hand leading the bullpen.
You should expect Francisco Lindor to continue to garner attention for a tradeline trade based if he can put up some big numbers in a short season. Of course, the trade rumors for Lindor have become a cliche as it customary to trade a player’s salary demands exceed what you may give him. They are still dangerous and may challenge for a Wild-Card spot again.
4. Chicago Cubs
Off-season moves: OF Steve Souza Jr, 2B Jason Kipnis, Uti Hernan Perez, RHP Jeremy Jeffress
Prospects to watch on the 60-man roster: C Miguel Amaya, RHP Adbert Alzolay, 3B Christopher Morel.
The Cubs are doing something different. They are putting 11 players at Four Winds Field, home of their low Single-A affiliate, South Bend Cubs as those players will be working out separately from the rest of the roster that is reporting at Wrigley Field. There are 10 spots still missing, however, so the higher end names on their prospect list still could fill the void.
Regardless, the Cubs are still very good, as new manager David Ross takes over a veteran squad. They have a talented offensive trio in Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez. Albert Almora Jr was having a sizzling spring before the shutdown so if he can continue his progress and the rotation can stay healthy, they could contend for a wild card spot.