Spring training games are officially underway as teams are beginning to start their schedules to gear up for Opening Day.
After a busy, late-evolving offseason that is not quite over yet, there were some significant additions (and subtractions) that have impacted the outlook for the 2021 season.
As the calendar turns to March and Opening Day just around the corner, we take a look at the power balance across MLB and where each team stands early in spring training:
Dodgers, Padres set up wild, wild west
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Diego Padres
3. New York Yankees
4. Atlanta Braves
5. New York Mets
The rich got richer this offseason as the defending World Series champs added NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer to their long list of pitchers including Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Julio Uria and David Price.
Yet, the Padres are not far behind, adding aces Yu Darvish and Blake Snell to their staff in addition to locking up star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to a long-term deal in what should be an epic showdown all year long between these two NL West squads.
The Yankees are the lone AL team to crack the top-five after retaining DJ LeMahieu and adding low-risk, high-reward pitchers Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon to a questionable rotation.
Then there's the Mets, who also crack the top five despite not making the playoffs last year. The addition of Francisco Lindor was one of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason and the inclusion of Carlos Carrasco in the trade was no throw-in as he adds to an already impressive Mets rotation.
White Sox, Blue Jays on the rise
6. Chicago White Sox
7. Minnesota Twins
8. Toronto Blue Jays
9. Houston Astros
10. Tampa Bay Rays
The Chicago White Sox took a huge step forward last season, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They’ve added Lance Lynn behind Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel and have a strong core with AL MVP Jose Abreu and rising young star Luis Robert.
The Blue Jays, on the other hand, are an intriguing team to watch, as the team to win the George Springer sweepstakes, adding him to a lineup that can go toe-to-toe with the Yankees in the AL East. The Rays, despite winning the AL pennant last year, slip behind Toronto after losing Blake Snell and Charlie Morton out of their rotation. Don't sleep on their ability to get the most out of the additions of Chris Archer and Collin McHugh, though.
While the Astros may have lost Springer but they’ve reached the ALCS in each of the last four seasons so certainly still deserve some respect, especially with Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman still comprising of the core in Houston.
Arenado a difference-maker for Cardinals
11. St. Louis Cardinals
12. Washington Nationals
13. Oakland A’s
14. Milwaukee Brewers
The Cardinals are the unquestionable favorites in the NL Central after trading for Nolan Arenado this offseason — a move that gives them a much-needed power bat behind Paul Goldschmidt in the middle of their lineup. The Nationals hope to bounce back with a healthy Stephen Strasburg this season and the addition of Josh Bell to the lineup and Brad Hand in the bullpen.
While Cleveland continues to trade away central pieces of their team, they still ought to be a tough team with Shane Bieber atop the rotation and MVP candidate Jose Ramirez in the lineup.
Will Phillies finally click?
16. Los Angeles Angels
17. Philadelphia Phillies
18. Chicago Cubs
19. Boston Red Sox
20. Cincinnati Reds
The Phillies re-signed J.T. Realmuto, their top priority, and Didi Gregorius while adding Archie Bradley to a suspect bullpen. Yet, Realmuto may not be ready for Opening Day as he already has a broken thumb, which he insists is not a big deal. Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler are a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation which should, on paper, make the Phillies a playoff contender.
The Angels brought in some veterans to their rotation Jose Quintana and Alex Cobb but still lack a true ace on the staff. As do the Cubs, who dealt Yu Darvish to the Padres this offseason and lost Jon Lester in free agency, making their rotation suspect in a weak NL Central.
The Red Sox are returning from a dreadful 2020 season, but should at least be better with Eduardo Rodriguez expected back in the rotation and Chris Sale returning from Tommy John surgery at some point.
Can Marlins keep up success?
21. San Francisco Giants
22. Miami Marlins
23. Seattle Mariners
24. Kansas City Royals
25. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Marlins surprised many last season by making the playoffs amid the COVID drama they experienced throughout the season, but they may have been the biggest beneficiaries of the shortened season. They have some nice, young talent but it will be tough to replicate last year’s success.
The Royals have had a quietly busy offseason, highlighted by a trade for Andrew Benintendi, while the Mariners could be a team that surprises this year as more players from their loaded farm system get called up.
All eyes on A.J. Hinch in Detroit
26. Detroit Tigers
27. Texas Rangers
28. Baltimore Orioles
29. Colorado Rockies
30. Pittsburgh Pirates
Do not expect any of these teams to sniff contention this year, especially the Pirates and Rockies as they continue to sell off pieces of their team. The Tigers are perhaps the most interesting to watch, after hiring A.J. Hinch as their manager this offseason. Could the disgraced former Astros manager turn the ship around in Detroit?