KEY ADDITIONS: MGR Joe Maddon, LHP Jon Lester (above), C Miguel Montero, OF, Dexter Fowler, INF Tommy La Stella, RHP Jason Hammel, OF Chris Denorfia, RHP Jason Motte, C David Ross. BIGGEST LOSSES: 3B Luis Valbuena, RHP Dan Straily, RHP Carlos Villanueva, C John Baker, LHP Wesley Wright, OF Justin Ruggiano. COMMENT: The Cubs have had the biggest offseason of any team in the NL Central, landing Lester in free agency and hiring Maddon as manager. Lester is a legitimate ace at the top of the rotation. Montero is an upgrade at catcher, while Fowler will likely be the Opening Day CF. Chicago's only real hole is at third base, unless the Cubs are willing to hand the job to top prospect Kris Bryant. Combine the additions of Lester, Maddon and Montero with the young talent on the roster, and the Cubs will be a popular pick to win the division.
Getty ImagesDavid Banks
Cincinnati Reds (2014 record: 76-86)
KEY ADDITIONS: OF Marlon Byrd (above), RHP Anthony Desclafani, SS Eugenio Suarez. BIGGEST LOSSES: RHP Mat Latos, RHP Alfredo Simon, OF Ryan Ludwick, INF Ramon Santiago, 1B Jack Hannahan, RHP Logan Ondrusek. COMMENT: With four starting pitchers set to be free agents following the 2015 season, the Reds opted to trade Latos and Simon. Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake gives Cincinnati a solid top three, but the Reds will need Tony Cingrani and Desclafani to step up at the back end. The addition of Byrd will help what was one of the worst offenses in baseball. Cincinnati is counting on Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce to stay healthy and return to form. Outside of Aroldis Chapman, the bullpen is a question mark.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY SportsBill Streicher
Milwaukee Brewers (2014 record: 82-80)
KEY ADDITIONS: 1B Adam Lind (above), RHP Corey Knebel, SS Luis Sardinas. BIGGEST LOSSES: RHP Francisco Rodriguez, RHP Yovani Gallardo, 1B Mark Reynolds, LHP Zach Duke, LHP Tom Gorzelanny, 2B Rickie Weeks, 1B Lyle Overbay, RHP Marco Estrada. COMMENT: Outside of two trades, it has been a relatively quiet offseason thus far for the Brewers. Milwaukee acted fast to address its biggest need, acquiring Lind from Toronto. Lind is an upgrade offensively at first base and will add a left-handed bat to the lineup. Trading Gallardo opens up a rotation spot for Jimmy Nelson. The Brewers could still opt to re-sign Rodriguez, as they are still in search of bullpen help. Money saved in the Gallardo trade will likely be put to use to acquire a reliever or two, but don't rule out the Brewers addressing their lack of starting pitching depth.
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY SportsNick Turchiaro
Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74)
KEY ADDITIONS: SS Jung-ho Kang (above), RHP A.J. Burnett, C Francisco Cervelli, 2B Sean Rodriguez, LHP Antonio Bastardo, 1B/OF Corey Hart. BIGGEST LOSSES: C Russell Martin, RHP Edinson Volquez, 1B Gaby Sanchez, 1B Ike Davis, SS Clint Barmes, RHP John Axford, LHP Justin Wilson. COMMENT: It's hard to overstate the impact Martin had on the Pirates. His production and influence in the clubhouse will be hard to replace. Pittsburgh traded for Cervelli, an injury-plagued catcher who lacks the pop Martin has. The Pirates brought Kang over from Korea on a four-year, $11 million contract butwill have to beat out Jordy Mercer to earn the job at shortstop. A.J. Burnett returns to Pittsburgh's rotation after a tough year in Philadelphia. Pittsburgh lost both its starting first basemen from last season. Pedro Alvarez could fill the void.
Getty ImagesChung Sung-Jun
St. Louis Cardinals (90-72)
KEY ADDITIONS: OF Jason Heyward (above), 1B Mark Reynolds, RHP Matt Belisle. BIGGEST LOSSES: RHP Pat Neshek, RHP Shelby Miller, C A.J. Pierzynski, RHP Justin Masterson, RHP Jason Motte, SS Daniel Descalso, 2B Mark Ellis, OF Shane Robinson. COMMENT: The tragic death of Oscar Tavares left the Cardinals with a void in right field. St. Louis used its starting pitching depth to send Miller to the Braves for Heyward, a Gold Glove outfielder who will add power and speed to the lineup. Neshek was an important part of the St. Louis bullpen, but the Cards still bring back plenty of bullpen arms. St. Louis returns starters at seven of eight positions and has seven options for five rotation spots. While the Cubs might be the popular pick, St. Louis should be the division favorites again.