MLB: Three Teams That Still Have Position Needs

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The offseason is a time for MLB teams to reevaluate their rosters and fill the voids they have with trades, free agents or prospects. Nearing the start of Spring Training games, some teams still need to fill a position.

Teams take different approaches during the MLB offseason. Some teams jump on free agents right away or make an immediate impact trade. Other teams delay this process a bit and see if they can get a player cheaper.

When a team starts the season with all positions filled, it’s a confidence builder. The two defending league champions (Cubs and Indians) have their positions ready to go for the season. Many other teams have their positions figured out, as well.

With full MLB Spring Training games starting Friday, teams still have time to fill any holes in the lineup, rotation or bullpen. It’s never too late to pick up a key piece for the roster. Just on Tuesday, the Nationals signed catcher Matt Wieters to a two-year deal. Although they already have Derek Norris, Wieters is a much better hitter and fills what most would consider a void.

Teams can sign a player during the season for a position need. That’s a risky move, though.

Here are three teams that still have a position need heading into the 2017 regular season.

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San Francisco Giants – Left Field

The Giants filled their biggest need in the offseason when they signed closer Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62 million deal. San Francisco looks poised to compete for the NL West title but they have a large position gap. The Giants are missing an everyday left fielder.

Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan, both part of the Giants’ 2012 and 2014 championship teams, are no longer with the club. Pagan remains a free agent and Blanco signed a minor-league deal with the Diamondbacks.

The remaining outfielders include veterans Hunter Pence and Denard Span, along with Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker and Gorkys Hernandez. Span and Pence fill center and right field, respectively. That leaves Williamson, Parker and Hernandez fighting for left.

All three players contributed for the Giants last season. None played more than 63 games for the club. Parker has the highest career average at .267 in a small partial two-year sample. MLB.com predicts Williamson as the starting left fielder for the Giants in 2017.

The Giants could also use first baseman Brandon Belt in left field. Belt has some experience in the outfield. They could move Buster Posey over to first base and use recently signed catcher Nick Hundley behind the dish.

Not too many everyday outfielders remain on the free agent market. The Giants should take a chance with free agent outfielder Coco Crisp. Crisp is a switch-hitter and hits for contact over power. Gap-to-gap hitters tend to succeed at AT&T Park.

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Seattle Mariners – Right Field

Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto made multiple moves in the offseason to improve the club. He traded for shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Jarrod Dyson and pitcher Drew Smyly.

The right field position remains a weak spot for Seattle. Mitch Haniger, Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia are fighting for the starting spot. All three outfielders have little MLB experience. MLB.com has Haniger slated to start in right field for the Mariners in 2017.

Haniger played in 34 games for the Diamondbacks in 2016. He hit .229 with five home runs in his first big-league season.

The Mariners could also go with Nelson Cruz in right field, but DH is a better spot for him. Nelson’s defense has never been his strong suit (just look up the ninth inning in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series).

Free agent outfielder Sam Fuld could fit well in the Mariners’ lineup. The 35-year-old missed the entire 2016 season with a shoulder injury.

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Washington Nationals: Closer

With plenty of closers on the free-agent market in the offseason, it’s a bit of a surprise that the Nationals didn’t sign a deal with any of them. The team has a good shot at battling for the pennant this season but as the Giants proved last season, it’s tough to win without a closer.

After losing Mark Melancon to free agency, the Nationals could use either Blake Treinen or Shawn Kelley as their closer in 2017.

Kelley is more than likely the go-to guy in the ninth inning as of now. He has 11 saves in his career. Last season, Kelley carried a 2.64 ERA and 80 strikeouts through 58 innings pitched. Treinen is a possible ninth-inning pitcher too. In 2016, he struck out 63 batters and had a 2.28 ERA in 67 innings of work.

Rumors continue to tie the Nationals with White Sox closer David Robertson. No move has occurred yet. The Nationals did make a move with the White Sox during the Winter Meetings. Washington acquired Adam Eaton from Chicago. Clearly, the two teams possess a good rapport.

The Nationals need a lockdown closer in order to win in 2017. They need to make a move for Robertson.

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