The holidays are upon us and this is usually the slow time of the offseason. The few weeks between the Winter Meetings and New Years are often quiet. This year there is radio silence. The owners' lockout has halted all meaningful hot stove activity, and seeing how MLB and the MLBPA aren't expected to discuss core economic matters until January, it will remain quiet another few weeks.
Whenever the lockout ends, there will be a relatively short period of time in which teams must wrap up all their offseason business (that includes arbitration signings and the Rule 5 Draft in addition to any trades and free-agent deals) before spring training. Some teams have more to do than others. A lot more. Not every club was active during the pre-lockout free agent frenzy.
With that in mind, here are the 10 teams with the most work to do once MLB and the MLBPA agree to a new collective bargaining agreement, ending the lockout. The 10 teams are ranked in order of just how much work they have to do, and how much that work will impact their 2022 season outlook.
1. New York Yankees
Biggest needs: Shortstop. Also the outfield, first base, rotation, and maybe catcher
The Yankees sat out the pre-lockout portion of the offseason and as a result have a full to-do list waiting for them once the lockout ends. Shortstop is the most glaring need because the Yankees literally do not have one at the moment, unless you count third baseman Gio Urshela, who played short after the team pulled the plug on Gleyber Torres at the position in August.
Given their financial might, the Yankees should just sign Carlos Correa, a 27-year-old who is one of the 2-3 best players in the world at his position. If not Correa, then Trevor Story. The shortstop options beyond those two are unappealing glove-first stopgap types who would not move the needle much for a team that ranked 10th in the American League in runs scored in 2021.
New York's needs do not end there though. The Yankees seem set on moving on from Luke Voit in an effort to diversify their lineup with more lefty bats. That means first base is an open question. Aaron Hicks' injuries create a need in the outfield, and another starter to knock Nestor Cortes Jr. and Domingo Germán down a peg on the depth chart would be nice too. Upgrading on Gary Sánchez behind the plate will be difficult given the catching market, though that's something they've explored as well.
How much will the Yankees spend? That part is unclear. Ownership has prioritized staying under the luxury tax in recent years and the team's pre-lockout inactivity suggests the Yankees are waiting to see what the new CBA does to the sport's economic structure before committing future dollars. Either way, New York's post-lockout shopping list is the longest among contenders.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Biggest needs: Rotation depth
It is still a bit stunning the Dodgers let Max Scherzer leave given how excellent he was down the stretch, at least until he got worn down come postseason time. Scherzer's contract with the Mets is exorbitant (three years and $120 million) but it's not like the Dodgers couldn't afford it. Now the team that appeared to have too much pitching last spring is in need of depth behind Walker Buehler and Julio Urías.
Clayton Kershaw's return is not a given — his hometown Rangers are seen as a legitimate threat to sign him — but, even if he does return, it's difficult to know how much he'll contribute. He twice dealt with forearm issues in 2021, a common precursor to Tommy John surgery, and Kershaw reportedly wants to see how he responds this offseason before making a decision about his future.
The Dodgers signed Andrew Heaney to a low cost one-year deal early in the offseason and he fits their mold as an upside guy, even if he won't necessary pitch deep into games. Carlos Rodón, the best available free agent starter, is a (much) better version of Heaney and would fit as well. Signing Rodón and re-signing Kershaw would be the perfect world scenario, I think. Los Angeles has the prospect depth to swing any trade (Luis Castillo?), so that's another possibility.
Bottom line, the Dodgers need more rotation depth with David Price best suited for the bullpen at this point in his career (and there's no sense in counting on Trevor Bauer). Re-signing or replacing Kenley Jansen also figures to be on the offseason agenda, and the Dodgers will at least need to think about how they'll handle the universal DH once the new CBA makes it permanent.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
Biggest needs: Left side of the field, center field
Similar to the Yankees, the Phillies more or less sat out the pre-lockout portion of the offseason, with a one-year contract for righty reliever Corey Knebel their only move of note. Given the seasons they just had, it's hard to see the Phillies running Didi Gregorius and Alec Bohm back out there at shortstop and third base, respectively. They don't have left or center fielders either.