Whit Merrifield

Whit Merrifield

2B - TOR
Height: 6-1
Weight: 195 lbs
Age: 34
College: South Carolina
Toronto Blue Jays

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The ScoreAL East team needs heading into winter meetings

theScore's MLB offseason team needs series breaks down every club's roster and key departures, along with how holes could be filled in free agency ahead of the Dec. 4-7 winter meetings. Division previews will roll out Nov. 25-30, starting with the AL East.Baltimore Orioles Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty2023 record: 101-61 (1st in AL East)Projected 40-man payroll: $92MKey departures: Jack Flaherty, Adam Frazier, Shintaro Fujinami, Kyle Gibson (STL), Aaron HicksNeeds: Starting pitcher, fourth outfielder, relief pitcherWhere the lineup stands ORDER PLAYER POSITION fWAR 1 Gunnar Henderson (L) 3B 4.6 2 Adley Rutschman (S) C 5.1 3 Anthony Santander (S) RF 2.6 4 Ryan O'Hearn (L) 1B 1.4 5 Austin Hays LF 2.2 6 Cedric Mullins (L) CF 1.8 7 Ryan Mountcastle DH 1.7 8 Jackson Holliday (L) SS Rookie 9 Jordan Westberg 2B 1.1 The Orioles shocked everyone last season by winning 101 games and the AL East title for the first time since 2014. The core is loaded and primed to contend for many years, and there are a number of prospects waiting in the wings. There's no clear place for Baltimore to spend this winter outside of potentially upgrading at first base. However, it'll be interesting to see if general manager Mike Elias makes Santander available on the trade market with the slugger projected to earn almost $13 million next campaign. Expect the shortstop job to be Holliday's to lose heading into 2024.How the rotation looks Alika Jenner / Getty Images Sport / Getty ROLE PITCHER THROWS fWAR 1 Kyle Bradish R 3.8 2 Grayson Rodriguez R 1.8 3 John Means L 0.2 4 Dean Kremer R 1.5 5 Cole Irvin L 0.5 The rotation also exceeded expectations in 2023. Bradish looks like a legitimate building block. The Orioles will count on Rodriguez to take a big step forward after showing flashes across 23 starts in his rookie campaign. This group could use at least one marquee addition to solidify things.Boston Red Sox Rich Gagnon / Getty Images Sport / Getty2023 record: 78-84 (5th)Projected 40-man payroll: $172MKey departures: Adam Duvall, Corey Kluber, Adalberto Mondesi, James Paxton, Luis Ur as (SEA)Needs: Starting pitchers, second base, outfielderWhere the lineup stands ORDER PLAYER POSITION fWAR 1 Jarren Duran (L) CF 2.4 2 Rafael Devers (L) 3B 3.1 3 Triston Casas (L) 1B 1.7 4 Masataka Yoshida (L) DH 0.6 5 Trevor Story SS 0.2 6 Alex Verdugo (L) RF 2.0 7 Enmanuel Valdez (L) 2B 0.3 8 Wilyer Abreu (L) LF 0.6 9 Connor Wong C 0.5 The Red Sox return the bulk of a lineup that finished ninth in OPS and 18th in home runs last season. The team needs more power, especially from the right side of the plate, as the current group features too many left-handed bats. With new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow expected to be aggressive in reshaping the roster, it appears Devers, Casas, Yoshida, and Story are the only locks come Opening Day. Verdugo is most likely the odd man out in the outfield, and Breslow could opt to package away youngsters Valdez or Abreu in a deal for a veteran bat.How the rotation looks Paul Rutherford / Getty Images Sport / Getty ROLE PITCHER THROWS fWAR 1 Chris Sale L 2.1 2 Brayan Bello R 1.6 3 Nick Pivetta R 1.9 4 Kutter Craword R 2.4 5 Tanner Houck R 1.2 Significant upgrades to the rotation are needed if the Red Sox wish to get out of the AL East basement. Sale is set to enter the final year of his extension. While the 34-year-old showed flashes of his old All-Star self last season, he can no longer be counted on as an ace. Bello is the only arm in the projected rotation that is a lock long term. Pivetta, Craword, and Houck could all slide into the bullpen should Boston add starters. The Red Sox rotation ranked 27th in innings pitched in 2023, which put too much stress on a solid relief core.New York Yankees Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty2023 record: 82-80 (4th)Projected 40-man payroll: $237MKey departures: Jake Bauers (MIL), Domingo Germ n, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Frankie Montas, Wandy Peralta, Luis Severino, Lou TrevinoNeeds: Outfielder, starting pitcher Where the lineup stands ORDER PLAYER POSITION fWAR 1 DJ LeMahieu 3B 1.1 2 Aaron Judge RF 5.3 3 Anthony Rizzo 1B 0.9 4 Gleyber Torres 2B 3.2 5 Giancarlo Stanton DH -0.8 6 Anthony Volpe SS 1.9 7 Everson Pereira LF -0.5 8 Jose Trevino C 0.9 9 Estevan Florial (L) CF 0.2 The Yankees showed how thin the lineup was beyond Judge when the 2022 MVP missed almost two months with a toe injury. Stanton's contract is a major issue for general manager Brian Cashman. New York has been linked to a trade for Padres star outfielder Juan Soto, which would be about as perfect of a fit as any move could be. This lineup needs a jolt.How the rotation looks Daniel Shirey / Major League Baseball / Getty ROLE PITCHER THROWS fWAR 1 Gerrit Cole R 5.2 2 Carlos Rod n L -0.2 3 Michael King R 2.2 4 Clarke Schmidt R 1.8 5 Nestor Cortes Jr. L 0.8 Rod n had a disastrous first season in New York. The left-hander battled through injuries and struggled when he took the mound. The pressure is on for Rod n to prove the six-year, $162-million contract he received last offseason wasn't a mistake. King effectively transitioned from a swingman role to being a full-fledged starter. The Yankees wasted a Cy Young winning season from Cole.Tampa Bay Rays Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport / Getty2023 record: 99-62 (2nd)Projected 40-man payroll: $150MKey departures: Christian Bethancourt (CLE), Chris Devenski, Jake Diekman, Robert Stephenson, Raimel Tapia Needs: Shortstop, catcher, starting pitcherWhere the lineup stands ORDER PLAYER POSITION fWAR 1 Yandy Diaz 3B 4.7 2 Randy Arozarena LF 3.3 3 Josh Lowe (L) RF 3.8 4 Isaac Paredes 3B 4.3 5 Brandon Lowe (L) 2B 2.8 6 Jose Siri CF 2.7 7 Luke Raley (L) DH 2.6 8 Taylor Walls (S) SS 1.0 9 Ren Pinto C 0.7 A lot of what the Rays might do this offseason could revolve around Wander Franco's status moving forward. If he's not part of the picture in 2024, Tampa Bay will need to add a shortstop to pair with Walls. The Rays waived Christian Bethancourt and must find a capable option at catcher before Opening Day.How the rotation looks Julio Aguilar / Getty Images Sport / Getty ROLE PITCHER THROWS fWAR 1 Tyler Glasnow R 3.2 2 Zach Eflin R 4.8 3 Zack Littell R 1.1 4 Aaron Civale R 2.5 5 Shane Baz R - Glasnow is set to earn $25 million next season in his final year under contract with the Rays before he's scheduled to hit free agency. The talented 30-year-old has already been tied to trade rumors, and it would rate as a moderate surprise if he's still wearing a Rays uniform by Opening Day. With Shane McClanahan out for the season and Glasnow's future uncertain at best, Tampa should look to add another pitcher to help offset the potential loss of two excellent arms. The club will open next season with an All-Star rotation on the IL.Toronto Blue Jays Mark Blinch / Getty Images Sport / Getty2023 record: 89-73 (3rd)Projected 40-man payroll: $213MKey departures: Brandon Belt, Matt Chapman, Adam Cimber, Jordan Hicks, Kevin Kiermaier, Whit Merrifield, Hyun Jin RyuNeeds: Outfielder, second base, designated hitter, starting pitcherWhere the lineup stands ORDER PLAYER POSITION fWAR 1 George Springer RF 2.2 2 Bo Bichette SS 3.8 3 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1B 1.0 4 Danny Jansen DH 2.0 5 Cavan Biggio (L) 3B 1.0 6 Davis Schneider 2B 2.0 7 Daulton Varsho (L) CF 2.1 8 Alejandro Kirk C 1.6 9 Nathan Lukes (L) LF 0.0 The Blue Jays regressed offensively in 2023. The team was middling in numerous offensive categories, most notably home runs. With just two years of team control remaining on Guerrero and Bichette before free agency, the pressure is high on general manager Ross Atkins to make the roster better. His top priority should be adding a slugger to provide the lineup with much-needed pop. Figuring out what to do at third base is also on the checklist for Atkins.How the rotation looks Mark Blinch / Getty Images Sport / Getty ROLE PITCHER THROWS fWAR 1 Kevin Gausman R 5.3 2 Jos Berr os R 3.0 3 Chris Bassitt R 2.6 4 Yusei Kikuchi L 2.6 5 Alek Manoah R -0.4 The big wild card for 2024 is what the Blue Jays can expect out of Manoah. The 2022 Cy Young finalist struggled mightily last season and was optioned to the minors twice. It wouldn't be unthinkable for Toronto to move him by Opening Day. Even if it decides to keep Manoah, the team needs to add depth in case any of the starting pitchers go down to injury or struggle next campaign. Toronto could also flip Bassitt or Kikuchi in a deal to acquire offense.Copyright © 2023 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Source: The Score
Saturday, Nov 25, 2023


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