There’s no right answer to any of this. Things may look totally different six months from now. Baseball’s best general managers say roster building happens in three phases: offseason, the end of Spring Training and Trade Deadline.
Analysis is ongoing. What did we miss? What can we do? The Boston Red Sox are looking at their roster and projecting Pablo Sandoval to be their third baseman. Problem is, they can’t know what to expect from someone two years removed from a productive season.
But the Red Sox don’t want to sign someone to a long-term commitment that might block one of their best young prospects.
Six or seven months from now, the answer might be clearer and a reminder that building a championship team is as much an art as a science.
Let’s look at eight teams and the discussions they could be having:
The move: Royals left-hander Danny Duffy (trade)
Pros: One more quality starting pitcher might be the difference in the Yankees making or missing the playoffs. And their farm system is deep enough that general manager Brian Cashman could deal for almost any potentially available starter, including Jose Quintana or Chris Archer.
Con: Slow down. The Yankees have the best farm system in the game, including a handful of highly regarded starters who are on the cusp of the majors (Justus Sheffield, Dillon Tate, James Kaprielian). The Yankees may already be good enough without making a move. Regardless, they shouldn’t deal any of the kids general manager Brian Cashman has worked so hard to acquire.
The move: Quintana (trade)
Justice on Astros’ chances of landing Quintana
MLB.com columnist Richard Justice analyzes whether the Astros should make a move for Jose Quintana
Pro: To acquire a top-of-the-rotation 27-year-old left-hander signed for four more seasons would complete a terrific offseason and cement Houston’s status as one of the American League’s three best teams.
Con: If Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers are healthy, the Astros are already good enough to win 90-plus games. To get Quintana, the Astros almost certainly would have to give up one, if not both, of their two best prospects (pitcher Francis Martes and outfielder Kyle Tucker). As tempting as it would be, it’s not worth it.
The move: Archer (trade)
Justice on if Archer could fit with the Rangers
MLB.com columnist Richard Justice discusses how Chris Archer could be the missing piece to the Rangers’ rotation
Pro: To put Archer into a rotation with Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish would give the Rangers a potentially devastating October staff. He would also provide a safety net in case Darvish, who has made 30 starts just once in his career, needs a break in his first full post-Tommy John season.
Con: The Rays likely will not make this deal unless the Rangers include outfielder Nomar Mazara and perhaps third baseman Joey Gallo. Tampa Bay executives have shown they’re willing to wait until they get what they consider equal value. For the Rangers, this price simply is too high.
The move: White Sox closer David Robertson (trade)
Pro: Only the Cardinals have won more games than the Nationals over the last five seasons. But Washington hasn’t won a postseason series, and with Bryce Harper two seasons from free agency, the clock is ticking. Robertson would provide stability for those final three October outs.
Robertson could be good fit for Nationals
MLB.com columnist Richard Justice weighs the pros and cons of the Nationals going after closer David Robertson
Con: The Nationals have three quality arms capable of pitching late in games — Shawn Kelley, Sammy Solis and Koda Glover. Problem is, none of them have done it. General manager Mike Rizzo has already thinned out his Minor League system in acquiring center fielder Adam Eaton. The cost of trading another bundle of prospects is too much.
The move: Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (trade)
Pro: The Dodgers probably already have the National League’s second-best team and the one most capable of keeping the Cubs from a second straight World Series. Adding Dozier (42 home runs, .886 OPS) could be the finishing touch on an already productive offseason.
Con: The Dodgers are already the best team in the NL West and have free-agent Chase Utley as a nice secondary option. Dozier would cost the Dodgers at least one of their best young arms, and in the end, a quality arm is more valuable than another bat.
The move: Free-agent outfielder/first baseman Mark Trumbo (free agent)
Pro: He hit 47 home runs in 2016, and the Cardinals need power. He could also play first base, his best position. He would make a good lineup potentially one of the best in the NL.
Could the Cardinals pursue Mark Trumbo?
MLB.com columnist Richard Justice examines the possibility of the Cardinals signing free agent slugger Mark Trumbo
Con: Matt Carpenter was told to prepare to play first base and that he would no longer be asked to move all over the diamond. Acquiring Trumbo would mean moving Carpenter back to third, which Jhonny Peralta is now projected to play. Peralta will be paid $ 10 million in 2017 whether he plays or not.
The move: Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez (trade)
Pro: He would be an upgrade over Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker, who probably will compete for, or share the job in 2017. In the last three seasons, Martinez’s .898 OPS is the fifth-highest among all Major League outfielders. He’s seventh in doubles (98), ninth in home runs (83).
Con: The Giants would have to dig deep into their farm system for a player one year removed from free agency. If the Giants are already good enough to make the playoffs (and they may be), they can wait a year and sign Martinez in free agency.
The move: Free-agent outfielder Jose Bautista (free agent)
Pro: He’s one of the best players of his generation. In the last seven seasons, he has averaged 25 doubles, 36 home runs and a .929 OPS. For a club trying to fill the hole created from Trumbo’s departure, Bautista would more than do the trick.
[email protected] Gm1: Bautista launches three-run homer
Jose Bautista delivers a three-run home run to left-center, increasing the Blue Jays’ lead to 10-0 in the 9th inning
Con: He probably would cost at least $ 17 million even on a one-year deal, and with Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Brad Brach in their arbitration years, the Orioles are already pushing their payroll envelope.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.