NL West Winter Meetings wish list: Pitching in high demand this offseason
Los Angeles Dodgers: 1. Right-handed starter
As it stands now, the Dodgers' rotation is comprised of Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson, and Alex Wood, all of whom are left-handed. Hyun-jin Ryu, also a lefty, is coming off surgery on his throwing shoulder, and righty Brandon McCarthy is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The uncertainty in the Dodgers' rotation beyond ace Kershaw makes it imperative that the Dodgers find a way to bring back righty Zack Greinke, who opted out of his contract after finishing second in the NL Cy Young Award voting in 2015.
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Los Angeles Dodgers: 2. Middle relief
Los Angeles needs to beef up its bullpen in general if it wants to make a deep postseason run and overcome its hump of falling out of the playoffs in the NLDS in two straight seasons, and its biggest priority in the 'pen is to acquire sturdy middle relievers who can provide a bridge to closer Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers have a few steady left-handed relievers in J.P. Howell and Luis Avilan, but they are in major need of having reliable right-handers in middle relief, which is why they have already been linked to one of the best right-handed relievers in the game in free agent Darren O'Day. Chris Hatcher asserted himself as a serviceable set-up man this past postseason and Jansen has proven he can handle the closer role over the years, but middle relief has been a clear weak spot the past few seasons.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
San Francisco Giants: 1. Starting pitching.
Due to free agency, retirement, and injury, the Giants' starting rotation will take on a new look in 2016. Beyond ace Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco only has young right-hander Chris Heston and veteran Matt Cain lined up for the rotation as of now. The Giants are unsure of what to expect from Cain amid his inconsistency after returning from injury; Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong are now free agents; and Tim Hudson has retired. Thus, San Francisco needs not just one but a handful of starters. In addition to being in hot pursuit for Zack Greinke, the Giants are also said to have their eye on righties Jeff Samardzija, John Lackey, and Mike Leake, the latter of whom they picked up at the trade deadline. They are also reportedly open to trading for starters as well.
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San Francisco Giants: 2. Outfield depth
At the moment, the Giants don't have many outfielders beyond their starting lineup of Hunter Pence in right field, Angel Pagan in center field, and Gregor Blanco in left field. They didn't pick up options on neither Nori Aoki nor Marlon Byrd and are now without veteran Justin Maxwell as well. Up-and-coming prospect Jarrett Parker displayed major potential as a September call-up this past season, but he'll likely begin the season in the minors, and infielder Kelby Tomlinson has expressed willingness to learn to play the outfield with Joe Panik reclaiming his starting spot at second base. Nonetheless, San Francisco needs to acquire a couple established major-league outfielders who can take on reserve roles for them.
Getty ImagesRick Yeatts
Arizona Diamondbacks: 1. Starters
The D-backs have one of the most underrated offenses in the National League, but in order to contend with the division-champion Dodgers and Giants, they need starting pitching. Due to their payroll restrictions and general unwillingness to dole out major deals, Arizona will have to be creative in its hunt for starters. The front office has already displayed how serious it is about acquiring a talented starter by reportedly offering Johnny Cueto a six-year, $120-million deal. He declined the deal, but the D-backs sent a message to their fan base by extending him the offer. Ultimately, Arizona might be better off signing a pair of second-tier starters, such as Jeff Samardzija or Mike Leake, or using their surplus of talented position players to land a young starter like Shelby Miller through a trade.
Getty ImagesJustin Edmonds
Arizona Diamondbacks: 2. Bullpen
While the D-backs have been tied to Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman for some time now, they'd be better off focusing their attention on bolstering the bullpen as a whole and not on acquiring a dominant closer, particularly when veteran righty Brad Ziegler proved he's capable of holding the role. Arizona's bullpen ranked eighth in the NL in ERA (3.56) and 10th in WHIP (1.30), which isn't shabby, but if they want to take their success to the next level and supersede the best in the West, they'll have to strengthen their bullpen, particularly with a mediocre rotation in place at the moment.
Getty ImagesNorm Hall
San Diego Padres: 1. Back-end relief
After dealing closer Craig Kimbrel and parting ways with veteran righty Joaquin Benoit, the Padres need to figure out how they'll stack up the back end of their bullpen. San Diego might opt to promote an internal candidate to closer, but they'll need at least a pair of relievers to add to their bullpen this offseason if they truly want to contend in 2016 as they aspire to.
Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres
San Diego Padres: 2. Starting pitching
It's unclear yet whether Drew Pomeranz, whom the Padres recently picked up in a trade with the Oakland A's, will pitch in a starting or relief capacity in San Diego. Regardless of his role on the staff, though, the Padres need to acquire at least another starter. As it stands, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and James Shields are on the Padres' rotation, but they are reportedly trying hard to deal Shields, who is owed $63 million over the next three seasons. After losing Ian Kennedy to free agency, San Diego needs to land another starter to remain competitive in the heavy-hitting NL West.
Getty ImagesAndy Hayt
Colorado Rockies: 1. Headline starters
As they continue their rebuilding effort, the Rockies will be very diligent about how they approach this offseason, but the highest priority on their list is starting pitching. While Colorado has talent and potential on its current rotation and hopes prospect Jon Gray will be able to contribute to the major-league club in 2016, injuries and inconsistency have resulted in lackluster performance from the rotation in the past few years. Whether the Rockies would prefer to add starters through the free-agency market or by parting ways with outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is unknown, but either way, they need to add at least a pair of starters in order to remain competitive as their rebuilding project takes place in the background.
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Colorado Rockies: 2. Bullpen
It wasn't just the Rockies' starters that prevented them from having any kind of success in 2015; their bullpen was equally responsible. Colorado's 'pen held the highest ERA (4.70) and WHIP (1.48) in all of MLB, which suggests it needs some major overhauling in the relief department. What further solidifies that notion is that the Rockies scored the most runs in the NL last season (737), yet only won 68 games. Pitching in Coors Field is an art form, which makes it imperative that the Rockies pursue relievers that are well-suited to pitch in the thin air of their home stadium: sinker-ball pitchers who can induce groundballs or electric relievers who can keep the ball out of play.