Let’s face it: there are only certain teams that purely have the roster, the star power, the organizational credibility, and the aggressiveness where winning the World Series is the ultimate goal and anything otherwise would be considered a bust. Based off of RIGHT NOW, these are the teams with that goal: the Astros, Braves, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Giants, Padres, Mets, Cardinals, and Brewers.

So where does that leave the other teams? Is there not something else for the other 18 teams to root for all season? Some teams are already blatantly tanking. Some teams have no shot when looking around at the competition in their division. Let’s give an alternative goal that each team and their fans should want to accomplish by the end of the year should they not end up having a realistic shot at a ring in 2022.

Phillies and Mariners- Snap the Streak FIRST

Yes, the Phillies and the Mariners are two of the most-improved franchises this offseason and have the star power to be two of the best teams in the league. And YES, we have seen miraculous runs in sports where teams go from missing the playoffs consistently to winning titles. BUT, these are the two teams with the longest-active playoff droughts in MLB- Seattle at 20 seasons and Philadelphia at 10. Their additions present the case that they want to win now, but getting rid of the heavy baggage first should be the realistic stepping stone.

Twins- Win Enough to Where Carlos Correa Wants to Stay

The Twins were another one of the aggressive teams this offseason, wheeling and dealing with the Rangers, Reds, Yankees, and Padres, but this is a Twins team that sort of sold off assets just last year! The addition of the crown jewel of the offseason, Carlos Correa, was a huge step, but he has an opt-out after every single season. The Twins essentially have to prove to be a competent contender enough to where Correa wants to stay so that they can build a contender going forward. If he goes out and looks like an MVP, Byron Buxton is healthy, and the vibes are good in Minnesota, some pitching additions if he decides to stay can propel them to contention status.

Royals- Hope that Bobby Witt Jr. is the Superstar He’s Touted to be

The Royals didn’t make many financial additions this offseason and were 4th place in the division last year. The ceiling isn’t that high, but they did call up Bobby Witt Jr., the #2 overall shortstop prospect that’s the son of a former big leaguer. His speed, web-gem

Photo: Mike Axisa / USA TODAY Sports

fielding ability, and pop in his bat has been highly-touted for years, and now we get to see it for a full season from day one. This year might not consist of a lot of winning, but you get to watch Bobby Witt Jr. make highlight plays every night, and you get to dream he’s the cornerstone of the league wearing powder blue for the next two decades.

Guardians- Win Enough to Buy at the Deadline to Build Around Jo-Ram

The Guardians took a big step this offseason by doing something they never do: spend money. They extended Emmanuel Clase and gave Jose Ramirez, an MVP candidate, a massive bag of cash to keep him in Cleveland for the foreseeable future. The Guardians are a well-enough run franchise to where they can win without spending, but maybe they’ll take a look in the mirror, realize they have something, and decide to spend even more and actually go for it.

Tigers- The Spending Around the Youth Looks Worth it

After a season where the young talent outperformed their timeline, with Turnball, Mize, and Manning all looking like shutdown starters all under the age of 25, and having #1 overall prospect Spencer Torkelson in their back pocket, they decided to spend now. They went out and got an ace, a shortstop, a catcher, an outfielder, a reliever, and tried to get Correa, too. Whether they had enough talent for all of the new additions to look worth the price or not, we’ll see. There are a lot of new faces that weren’t necessarily cheap in Motown, and they believe in their young superstars, so you want to root for all of these new cogs to come together at once and work well together.

Nationals- The Surrounding Talent Looks Good Enough to Convince Juan Soto to Stay

The Nationals absolutely tanked their 2019 World Series Champion team and sold off all of their major pieces except Stephen Strasburg and Juan Soto- who could potentially be the next coming of Ted Williams and is only 23. They reportedly offered Soto a 13-year, $350 million extension before the lockout that he turned down, so Soto clearly thinks he can capitalize and make more. Other high-payroll teams are going to be willing to shell out that kind of money and more given what Soto is, and he’s already won a World Series there. If you’re a Nats fan, you want to show that all these prospects you’ve acquired to build around a once-in-a-generation talent at just 23 is enough to convince him that you’re doing what it takes to capitalize on his ceiling to keep him long-term.

Angels- Actually Having Pitching to Build a Contender Around, oh I don’t know, the Two Best Players in Baseball

Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout deserve to be in the postseason, and the Angels going into this year knew that the missing piece was getting them pitching support of any kind. They used every single draft pick on pitchers, they added bullpen help, and signed Noah Syndergaard. They didn’t make many other acquisitions outside of those moves to put them in contention, so the success and failure of the season is essentially in the hands of how well the pitching staff performs since Trout, Ohtani, and Rendon are expected to put up superstar numbers offensively. Syndergaard looked solid and healthy in his return, but it is going to be a failure on the front office’s behalf if the pitching moves they made aren’t enough as Mike Trout’s prime is starting to dwindle.

Rangers- Develop Pitching Support of ANY Kind

The Rangers went on a spending spree this offseason, including a half a billion dollars invested into the infield of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager. Two superstar bats is a start, and they just came off a series against Toronto in which the offense was high-flying. All of that spending is going to be irrelevant if they can’t develop pitching of any kind, which has been a tale as old as time in Texas. Outside of the early days of Yu Darvish, they have never been able to develop pitching and have never invested in it either. Top prospect Jack Leiter is in the minors right now, and he’s projected to be a phenom out of Vanderbilt, but there are so many recent pitchers, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, or Corey Kluber, for example, that just leave the organization and get better. All of the offensive acquisitions that they signed for the long-term rebuild can’t be the only investment made, so you have to hope that Jon Gray was a good signing, Taylor Hearn develops, and Leiter is all he is projected to be down the line.

Rockies- Kris Bryant Puts Up Enough Offense to Look Worth It

The Rockies have no idea what they’re doing in the front office. One season removed from giving Nolan Arenado one of the largest contracts ever, they traded him away to the Cardinals and are paying him $50 million to play for them. Then, they decided against trading away Jon Gray and Trevor Story to get anything back for them even though they decided against re-signing them, and gave Kris Bryant, a LESSER third baseman than Nolan Arenado, a 7-year $182 million contract. He better prove to be worth it and get the Rockies out of this cesspool of despair.

Marlins- You’re a Pitching Factory Already. Now Develop Offense

The Marlins consistently have been developing young, talented arms and clearly have one of the best pitching coach crews in the league. Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Sixto Sanchez, Jesus Lazardo, and Trevor Rogers are all pitchers with extremely high trajectories and are all under the age of 30. The problem has been developing hitting talent. Jazz Chisholm has shown he can be one of the future stars, but all of their bats they had in their system that they’ve acquired through trades haven’t been able to grow in the same way their youthful pitching has. They had the 28th best offense last season, and that’s before they traded away Starling Marte. The Marlins need to put up runs to give their incredible staff some help.

Cubs- Win So Much With This Roster That You’re Motivated to Spend More and do Something

The Cubs are one of the largest market teams in baseball. Just two years ago, they had the third-highest payroll, but after they tore down the core that brought them their World Series through trades, they’re now below the league average. However, they didn’t go FULL rebuild- they just took a half measure to try and stay competitive for cheap. The Cubs and the Ricketts clearly have the money to spend if they choose to do so. The reality is that they think Cubs fans will come out to Wrigleyville win or lose, but after breaking the curse in 2016, there is an expectation amongst the fan base. If this team of scrappy Cubs full of prospects like Madrigal and Hoerner and Suzuki can field a competent young team to build around, that will bring with it the push for the Cubs to face the music and spend and get a revamped roster competing for the Central. 

A’s, Pirates, Reds, Orioles, Diamondbacks- Get Assets to Get Prospects, I Guess!

All of these teams have completely gutted and traded away their valuable veteran assets in order to cut payroll, rebuild, acquire prospects, everything BUT field a winning team. The Pirates at least gave Ke’Bryan Hayes a hefty extension to build around him and decided to make him the face of Pittsburgh, as did the Diamondbacks with Ketel Marte, but the goal this season unfortunately for this crop of bottom-of-the-barrel teams is going to be hope that the youthful prospects pan out in the losses and hope that trade deadline moves of veterans sent to contenders results in the acquiring of even more promising prospects later in the year. Oakland could still deal Frankie Montas, the Orioles could get a haul for John Means, Cedric Mullins, or Trey Mancini, but it’s so unfortunate that fans have to watch teams that are blatantly trying to lose games from the very beginning. At the very least, each team has a high-ceiling young star to keep an eye on to get attached to before he (hopefully) is not dealt.

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