I still have hope for this season, despite how completely awful the Buccos have looked recently. But I thought it might be interesting to think about what the team might look like next year and where the roster could use some upgrades. So these are just my opinions, please give me your thoughts as well. I will rank them in order of importance and give some possible options.
1. Catcher - Its time to cut ties with Barajas. Seems like a good guy, but can't reach the Mendoza line and can't throw anyone out. So I'm thinking we need a starting catcher with good defensive skills and someone who can at least hit over .200 and we can play the Fort about as much as we do now, or split time with the new guy.
Minors options - Tony Sanchez - I'm not sold on him offensively or defensively. We need a better option, imo.
If I was Neil, I'd go hard after Laird, Martin or Shoppach. There are other options out there, but, in my opinion, they won't sign with the Bucs or they just aren't a good match for various reasons. Laird is considered very strong defensively and probably wouldn't cost too much. I love Russell Martin. But I think he may sign in a bigger market. And I love Shoppach and think he might be a perfect platoon partner for the Fort.
2. Shortstop - It would be great if Barmes would progress back to the mean next year with his batting average because he is soooooo stellar defensively. But I think this team can actually contend next year and I hate to just hope Barmes figures things out. I would make a huge push for Elvis Andrus. He will be on the market this offseason because the Rangers can afford to trade him with the top prospect in all of baseball, Jurickson Profar, being ready to come up. Andrus is one of the best shortstops in all of baseball, but Profar projects to be even better and they really have nowhere to put Andrus if they commit to Profar. 2b is held down by Ian Kinsler and 3b is covered by Adrian Beltre. I think Andrus will be traded, and the return will be pretty big for the Rangers because Andrus is really good and he has two years of control left at only around $11 mil total for both years.
Organization Options - Darnaud, Mercer, Holt - I like Holt, but I don't think his D is good enough to play everyday at SS, he would be an excellent utility infielder though, and get him plenty of ABs because he should hit for a high average. I don't think Darnaud is an option at all, and Mercer is still a big question mark.
Trade Candidates - Andrus, Yunel Escobar - I also could live with Escobar. It seems like Neal has a good trading relationship with Toronto and he has been on the market, so this could be an option as well.
Viable Free Agents Options - Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta - there isn't much of any value in the SS market this offseason. I could live with either of these guys over Barmes, but it doesn't seem like much of an upgrade imo. And both guys actually have club or mutual options, so its possible neither of them will even be available.
Everywhere else - I think we are set everywhere else. I wouldn't think we would look to be upgrading the outfield at all, with Marte, Cutch, and Jones-Snider-Tabata to cover RF. I would actually move Marte to CF and put Cutch in LF if it were me, but that might be a hard sale to get Cutch to move. I also think we have enough pitching to feel comfortable with for next year. I think the Rotation should have A.J., J. Mac, Wandy, as locks and then the 4-5 spots can be filled with some combination of Karstens, Locke, McPherson, Vandenhurke, Leroux, Wilson. With a few of those guys going into the bullpen if they don't win rotation spots out of Spring Training.
Wild Card - It is possible that Pedro could get moved to 1b and we could go after a good 3b like Headley or Youkilis. But Youk could also play 1b and Headley could also play RF if need be. But I see these as low possibility options and really don't see them as moves we would make out of need. We have plenty of options to fill these positions right now and I just don't see the need to make a move here.
My best case scenario roster:
1. Elvis Andrus - SS
2. Neil Walker - 2b
3. Andrew McCutchen - LF
4. Garret Jones- 1b
5. Pedro Alvarez - 3b
6. Starling Marte - CF
7. Travis Snider - RF
8. Russell Martin - C
Brock Holt - IF
Josh Harrison - IF/OF
Gaby Sanchez - 1b
Alex Presley - OF
Michael McKenry - C
1. A.J. Burnett
3. Jame McDonald
4. Jeff Locke