2016 MLB preview: A team-by-team capsule, including key additions and losses

By Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange  |  March 30, 2016 at 2:03 PM
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The Kansas City Royals made back-to-back World Series and are defending the title for the first time in 30 years.

The Chicago Cubs are suddenly a trendy pick to win their first championship in more than a century.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, a laughingstock for decades, are now a postseason regular.

All of the recent turnarounds must give hope to all 30 major league teams that anything is possible.

Here is a capsule look at each team, listed alphabetically within each division:

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

2015 record: 79-83 (third in NL West)

Key additions: RHP Zack Greinke, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Tyler Clippard, SS Jean Segura.

Key losses: OF Ender Inciarte, 2B Aaron Hill, RHP Chase Anderson, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, RHP Jhoulys Chacin.

2016 skinny: Adding Greinke and Miller could be enough to make the Diamondbacks contenders. They have a good offense. The onus now is on the rest of the rotation, the bullpen and the middle infield.

COLORADO ROCKIES

2015 record: 68-94 (fifth in NL West)

Key additions: LHP Jake McGee, RHP Jason Motte, OF Gerardo Parra, RHP Chad Qualls, INF/OF Mark Reynolds.

Key losses: OF Corey Dickerson, 1B Justin Morneau, C/INF Wilin Rosario, RHP John Axford, RHP Tommy Kahnle.

2016 skinny: The Rockies added to their bullpen, but the youthful rotation is a work in progress. They do not figure to contend this season. They traded away the face of the franchise, SS Troy Tulowitzki, last season and shored up their prospect base but in the process are stuck with Jose Reyes.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

2015 record: 92-70 (first in NL West)

Key additions: LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Kenta Maeda, RHP Joe Blanton, INF Micah Johnson, OF Trayce Thompson.

Key losses: RHP Zack Greinke, SS Jimmy Rollins, RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Joel Peralta.

2016 skinny: Greinke's departure as a free agent means the rest of the rotation must pick up the slack behind ace LHP Clayton Kershaw. Dave Roberts begins his managing career, replacing Don Mattingly. Just winning the division will not be enough. Roberts also must avoid the kind of early postseason exit that has plagued the Dodgers. Greinke's absence makes that more difficult.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

2015 record: 74-88 (fourth in NL West)

Key additions: RHP Fernando Rodney, SS Alexei Ramirez, CF Jon Jay, LHP Drew Pomeranz, C Christian Bethancourt.

Key losses: LF Justin Upton, RHP Craig Kimbrel, RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Joaquin Benoit.

2016 skinny: The Padres went all out for last season and flopped. Now they have pulled back and are rebuilding their minor league system. They figure to miss the postseason for the 10th year in a row. Their biggest offseason acquisition was Ramirez, 34, who is coming off a sub-par season.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

2015 record: 84-78 (second in NL West)

Key additions: RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP Jeff Samardzija, OF Denard Span.

Key losses: RHP Tim Lincecum, RHP Mike Leake, RHP Tim Hudson, OF Nori Aoki, RHP Ryan Vogelsong, LHP Jeremy Affeldt, RHP Yusmeiro Petit.

2016 skinny: The Giants shored up their rotation and improved their defense up the middle. This is a well-rounded team as it tries to continue its trend of winning the World Series in alternate years -- 2010, 2012, and 2014 -- while missing the postseason in the next season. The Giants have a chance to keep it going this season.

{b: NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL}

CHICAGO CUBS

2015 record: 97-65 (third in NL Central, wild card)

Key additions: OF Jason Heyward, RHP John Lackey, INF/OF Ben Zobrist, RHP Adam Warren.

Key losses: 2B Starlin Castro, OF Austin Jackson, RHP Jason Motte, RHP Fernando Rodney, OF Chris Coghlan, RHP Tommy Hunter, RHP Dan Haren.

2016 skinny: A rotation led by RHP Jake Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner, backed by LHP Jon Lester and RHP John Lackey makes the Cubs strong contenders to go to the World Series. They were able to sign Heyward and Lackey away from division rival St. Louis. Winning the offseason is one thing, however, and winning the season is another.

CINCINNATI REDS

2015 record: 64-98 (fifth in NL Central)

Key additions: RHP Alfredo Simon, OF Scott Schebler.

Key losses: 3B Todd Frazier, LHP Aroldis Chapman, C Brayan Pena, RHP Burke Badenhop, LHP Manny Parra, INF/OF Skip Schumaker.

2016 skinny: The Reds are a rebuilding team, and they have a long way to go after shedding some good players. They would do well to reduce their loss total from the 98 they had last season.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

2015 record: 68-94 (fourth in NL Central)

Key additions: 1B Chris Carter, RHP Blaine Boyer, INF Aaron Hill, RHP Chase Anderson, SS Jonathan Villar, OF Rymer Liriano, 3B Will Middlebrooks, OF Eric Young Jr., LHP Franklin Morales.

Key losses: 1B Adam Lind, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, SS Jean Segura, RHP Kyle Lohse, OF Khris Davis, INF Jason Rogers.

2016 skinny: The Brewers are rebuilding. They will not contend this season in a division that had both wild cards last season. The best they can look forward to is the eventual promotion of prospects such as SS Orlando Arcia.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

2015 record: 98-64 (second in AL Central, wild card)

Key additions: LHP Jon Niese, INF David Freese, 1B John Jaso, RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Neftali Feliz, INF Jason Rogers.

Key losses: 1B Pedro Alvarez, 2B Neil Walker, RHP A.J. Burnett, RHP Charlie Morton, LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Joakim Soria.

2016 skinny: It could be a struggle for the Pirates to keep up with the Cardinals and Cubs in the division after losing Alvarez, Walker and Happ to free agency. They still have RHP Mark Melancon closing, and the bullpen will be the key.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

2015 record: 100-62 (first in AL Central)

Key additions: RHP Mike Leake, RHP Seung Hwan Oh, SS Ruben Tejada, C Brayan Pena, INF Jedd Gyorko

Key losses: RF Jason Heyward, RHP John Lackey, RHP Carlos Villanueva, RHP Matt Belisle, RHP Steve Cishek.

2016 skinny: The Cardinals are well-equipped to fend off the challenge of the Cubs in the division, bolstered by the acquisition of Leake. They also will have C Yadier Molina for Opening Day as he returns from thumb surgery, and RHP Adam Wainwright will be available from the opening of the season after missing almost all of last year due to a torn Achilles tendon.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

ATLANTA BRAVES

2015 record: 67-95 (fourth in NL East)

Key additions: OF Ender Inciarte, SS Erick Aybar, RHP Bud Norris, RHP Jim Johnson, C Tyler Flowers, LHP Alex Torres, RHP Alexi Ogando.

Key losses: SS Andrelton Simmons, OF Cameron Maybin, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Edwin Jackson.

2016 skinny: The Braves are in a rebuilding program. and this year should be more of the same. Their main threat at the plate is 1B Freddie Freeman, and their rotation is filled with questions.

MIAMI MARLINS

2015 record: 71-91 (third in NL East)

Key additions: LHP Wei-Yin Chen, INF Chris Johnson, RHP Edwin Jackson.

Key losses: RHP Henderson Alvarez.

2016 skinny: Don Mattingly takes over as manager, and Barry Bonds takes over as hitting coach to help boost a struggling offense. Chen adds consistency to a rotation led by RHP Jose Fernandez, but Miami might need more to contend.

NEW YORK METS

2015 record: 90-72 (first in NL East)

Key additions: SS Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B Neil Walker, LHP Antonio Bastardo.

Key losses: 2B Daniel Murphy, LHP Jon Niese, SS Ruben Tejada, RHP Tyler Clippard.

2016 skinny: Armed with baseball's best rotation and a good enough offense, the Mets are more than a one-year wonder. One pressing question is how to get the ball to their dominant closer, RHP Jeurys Familia, a weakness exposed during the 2015 postseason.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2015 record: 63-99 (fifth in NL East)

Key additions: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Charlie Morton, RHP Vince Velasquez, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, OF Peter Bourjos, OF Tyler Goeddel, RHP David Hernandez, RHP Andrew Bailey, OF Will Venable, OF David Lough.

Key losses: RHP Ken Giles, OF Domonic Brown, RHP Aaron Harang, RHP Jerome Williams, LHP Cliff Lee.

2016 skinny: The Phillies could rebound from their dismal 2015 to offer some hope to their fans. They have some talent on the way. Meanwhile, they will have to find a closer and a way to overcome some outfield injuries. 3B Maikel Franco was a home run machine at spring training.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

2015 record: 83-79 (second in NL East)

Key additions: 2B Daniel Murphy, CF Ben Revere, INF Stephen Drew, RHP Trevor Gott, RHP Shawn Kelley, LHP Oliver Perez, RHP Yusmeiro Petit.

Key losses: RHP Jordan Zimmermann, SS Ian Desmond, RHP Drew Storen, CF Denard Span, 3B Yunel Escobar, RHP Doug Fister.

2016 skinny: The Nationals failed to live up to expectations last year, and they underwent several changes in the offseason, including hiring Dusty Baker as manager. The rotation is led by RHP Max Scherzer and the offense is keyed by RF Bryce Harper, so Washington cannot be counted out.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

HOUSTON ASTROS

2015 record: 86-76 (second in AL West, wild card)

Key additions: RHP Doug Fister, RHP Ken Giles.

Key losses: 1B Chris Carter, LHP Brett Oberholtzer.

2016 skinny: The rotation that features the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, LHP Dallas Keuchel, will open the season without promising RHP Lance McCullers, who has a sore shoulder. The lineup can hit, and Carlos Correa, the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year, will be the shortstop from the outset. The Astros are a potential World Series team.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

2015 record: 85-77 (third in AL West)

Key additions: 3B Yunel Escobar, SS Andrelton Simmons, RHP Al Alburquerque, C Geovany Soto.

Key losses: SS Erick Aybar, 3B David Freese, OF David Murphy, C Chris Iannetta, RHP Trevor Gott, OF Matt Joyce.

2016 skinny: CF Mike Trout leads the offense and DH Albert Pujols should chip in as he returns from offseason surgery on his right foot. The acquisition of Simmons brings superb defense to a team that could make a run at the postseason.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

2015 record: 68-94 (fifth in AL West)

Key additions: OF Khris Davis, RHP Ryan Madson, INF Jed Lowrie, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, RHP John Axford, RHP Liam Hendriks, RHP Henderson Alvarez.

Key losses: 3B Brett Lawrie, RHP Jesse Chavez, LHP Fernando Abad, LHP Drew Pomeranz, RHP Evan Scribner, 1B Ike Davis.

2016 skinny: Oakland was out of the money last season after three straight postseason appearances, and the Athletics' chances are not bright this season. The bullpen, one of the worst in the majors last season, was bolstered, but there remain questions about the rotation beyond RHP Sonny Gray.

SEATTLE MARINERS

2015 record: 76-86 (fourth in AL West)

Key additions: C Chris Iannetta, 1B Adam Lind, 1B Dae-Ho Lee, OF Nori Aoki, OF Leonys Martin, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Steve Cishek, RHP Nathan Karns, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Evan Scribner.

Key losses: 1B Logan Morrison, SS Brad Miller, OF Austin Jackson, 1B/OF Mark Trumbo, RHP Carson Smith, LHP Roenis Elias, LHP Joe Beimel.

2016 skinny: The Mariners are unlikely to make their first postseason appearance since 2001, the longest drought in the majors, despite improvements to a rotation led by RHP Felix Hernandez and a rebuilt bullpen. They will improve on 2015, however.

TEXAS RANGERS

2015 record: 88-74 (first in AL West)

Key additions: INF/OF Ian Desmond, RHP Tony Barnette, RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, OF Justin Ruggiano.

Key losses: OF Leonys Martin, 1B Mike Napoli, RHP Yovani Gallardo.

2016 skinny: RHP Yu Darvish is expected to return from elbow surgery in May, and LHP Cole Hamels will be in the rotation from the beginning of the season, which can only be positive. The outfield could be thin. Free agent signee Desmond, a veteran shortstop, is being converted to left field with Josh Hamilton injured.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

2015 record: 76-86 (fourth in AL Central)

Key additions: 3B Todd Frazier, 2B Brett Lawrie, SS Jimmy Rollins, OF Austin Jackson, RHP Mat Latos, C Dioner Navarro, C Alex Avila.

Key losses: DH/1B Adam LaRoche, SS Alexei Ramirez, RHP Jeff Samardzija.

2016 skinny: The White Sox made some key moves in the offseason to try to end a run of three losing seasons. The story now is whether the controversy about LaRoche's retirement over an attempt to limit his son's presence will lead to a fractured clubhouse and undo the positive effects of the offseason work.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

2015 record: 81-80 (third in AL Central)

Key additions: 3B Juan Uribe, 1B Mike Napoli, OF Rajai Davis, RHP Joba Chamberlain, OF Marlon Byrd.

Key losses: OF Ryan Raburn, RHP Ryan Webb

2016 skinny: Once again, Cleveland will open its season brimming with promise based on a strong rotation. Success will depend on how well the Indians hit. SS Francisco Lindor will be on the team from the start this season, and that should help if he continues to display the form he demonstrated in the second half last year.

DETROIT TIGERS

2015 record: 74-87 (fifth in AL Central)

Key additions: LF Justin Upton, RHP Jordan Zimmermann, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Mark Lowe, CF Cameron Maybin, LHP Justin Wilson.

Key losses: C Alex Avila, OF Rajai Davis RHP Alfredo Simon, RHP Joe Nathan, RHP Al Alburquerque.

2016 skinny: The Tigers fell to last after winning the AL Central for four years running as their vaunted rotation faltered. The starters should rebound and the offseason additions will help. The bullpen remains a question mark despite moves to strengthen it.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

2015 record: 95-67 (first in AL Central)

Key additions: RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Joakim Soria.

Key losses: RHP Greg Holland, 2B/OF Ben Zobrist, RHP Johnny Cueto, RF Alex Rios, RHP Ryan Madson, LHP Franklin Morales, RHP Jeremy Guthrie.

2016 skinny: A deep and talented bullpen again should be the key to the Royals' success, although the rotation also has talent. The re-signing of LF Alex Gordon, who was a free agent, leaves the offense mostly intact and gives Kansas City a chance to repeat as World Series champions.

MINNESOTA TWINS

2015 record: 83-79 (second in AL Central)

Key additions: DH Byung Ho Park, C John Ryan Murphy, LHP Fernando Abad.

Key losses: RF Torii Hunter, CF Aaron Hicks, RHP Blaine Boyer, RHP Mike Pelfrey, LHP Brian Duensing.

2016 skinny: The Twins were considered a surprise last season mainly because the rotation exceeded expectations. With a better season from RHP Phil Hughes and a full season from RHP Ervin Santana, the starters should be good again. If Park makes the adjustment to the majors and 1B Joe Mauer has a better season, Minnesota will be a team to watch.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

2015 record: 81-81 (third in AL East)

Key additions: OF Hyun Soo Kim, OF/1B Mark Trumbo, RHP Yovani Gallardo, DH Pedro Alvarez.

Key losses: LHP Wei-Yin Chen, OF Gerardo Parra, 1B Steve Pearce, C Steve Clevenger.

2016 skinny: The Orioles will hit home runs and score plenty of runs. They need their pitching to step up to contend. They added the serviceable Gallardo to their rotation, but the consistent Chen departed.

BOSTON RED SOX

2015 record: 78-84 (fifth in AL East)

Key additions: LHP David Price, RHP Craig Kimbrel, OF Chris Young, RHP Carson Smith, LHP Roenis Elias.

Key losses: LHP Wade Miley, LHP Craig Breslow, RHP Alexi Ogando.

2016 skinny: The addition of free agent Price and the trade for closer Kimbrel strengthened the Red Sox at both ends of the pitching staff and thrust them into a contenders' role. Other pitchers will need to improve this season, however, and the defense should be better than it was last year.

NEW YORK YANKEES

2015 record: 87-75 (second in AL East, wild card)

Key additions: LHP Aroldis Chapman, 2B Starlin Castro, OF Aaron Hicks.

Key losses: RHP Adam Warren, LHP Justin Wilson, OF Chris Young, 2B Stephen Drew.

2016 skinny: The Yankees' strength is the back of the bullpen, especially when Chapman returns from suspension, but the weakness appears to be the rotation. The offense depends on injury-prone older players, but the middle-infield defense is improved over last year.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

2015 record: 80-82 (fourth in AL East)

Key additions: OF/DH Corey Dickerson, SS Brad Miller, 1B/OF Logan Morrison, OF/INF Steve Pearce, RHP Ryan Webb, RHP Danny Farquhar.

Key losses: LHP Jake McGee, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, 1B/DH John Jaso, RHP Brandon Gomes, RHP Nathan Karns.

2016 skinny: The Rays should continue with their trademark strong pitching and defense, although the throws of SS Brad Miller were an early spring training concern. The hitting might improve enough for the Rays to contend. The bullpen will be tested early with closer Brad Boxberger out until mid-May after having abdominal surgery during spring training.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

2015 record: 93-69 (first in AL East)

Key additions: LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Drew Storen, RHP Jesse Chavez, RHP Gavin Floyd, OF Darrell Ceciliani.

Key losses: LHP David Price, RHP Mark Lowe, OF Ben Revere, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Liam Hendriks, C Dioner Navarro.

2016 skinny: The offense is potent and, with Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop from the start of the season, the defense is solid. The bullpen should be good whether Storen or RHP Roberto Osuna closes for a team that should make a strong run at a division repeat. The question is the rotation, beginning with the Opening Day starter, RHP Marcus Stroman, a brilliant talent who has not pitched a full major league season.

Topics: Aaron Harang, Justin Ruggiano, Zack Greinke, Brad Miller, Tyler Clippard, Jeremy Hellickson, Gerardo Parra, John Axford, Alexei Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins, Don Mattingly, John Lackey, Fernando Rodney, Austin Jackson, Joaquin Benoit, Jose Reyes, Scott Kazmir, Joe Blanton, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Joel Peralta, Starlin Castro, Clayton Kershaw, Neil Walker, Dave Roberts, J.A. Happ, Brayan Pena, Jon Jay, Chris Carter, Blaine Boyer, Adam Lind, Francisco Rodriguez, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt, David Freese, John Jaso, Joakim Soria, Ruben Tejada, Ian Desmond, Chris Coghlan, Dan Haren, Erick Aybar, Alexi Ogando, Cameron Maybin, Edwin Jackson, Skip Schumaker, Joe Nathan, Asdrubal Cabrera, Daniel Murphy, Kyle Lohse, Neftali Feliz, A.J. Burnett, Chris Iannetta, Ryan Madson, Carlos Villanueva, Matt Belisle, Yadier Molina, Logan Morrison, Adam Wainwright, Dioner Navarro, Alex Avila, Adam LaRoche, Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson, Barry Bonds, David Hernandez, Oliver Perez, Dusty Baker, Chris Young, David Murphy, Matt Joyce, Albert Pujols, Jed Lowrie, Joe Beimel, Felix Hernandez, Josh Hamilton, Juan Uribe, Marlon Byrd, Ryan Raburn, Alex Rios, Jeremy Guthrie, Torii Hunter, Ervin Santana, Joe Mauer, Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle, LaTroy Hawkins, Aaron Hill, Alex Gordon, Alfredo Simon, Andrew Bailey, Brian Duensing, Bud Norris, Chad Qualls, Charlie Morton, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Craig Breslow, Craig Kimbrel, Cy Young, David Price, Denard Span, Doug Fister, Franklin Morales, Geovany Soto, Ian Kennedy, Ike Davis, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jeff Samardzija, Jesse Chavez, Jim Johnson, Joba Chamberlain, Johnny Cueto, Jon Lester, Justin Morneau, Justin Upton, Justin Wilson, Manny Parra, Marc Rzepczynski, Mark Lowe, Mark Melancon, Mark Reynolds, Mark Trumbo, Mat Latos, Max Scherzer, Mike Leake, Mike Napoli, Mike Pelfrey, Pedro Alvarez, Phil Hughes, Rajai Davis, Ryan Murphy, Stephen Drew, Steve Pearce, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Tommy Hunter, Troy Tulowitzki, Will Venable, Yovani Gallardo, Yunel Escobar, Yusmeiro Petit, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants
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