Skip to content

AL Central team needs heading into winter meetings

Getty Images

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 daily through Nov. 30.


*Bolded names are players traded this offseason

Chicago White Sox

Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty Images Sport / Getty

2023 record: 61-101 (4th in AL Central)
Projected 40-man payroll: $136M
Key departures: Tim Anderson, Elvis Andrus, Mike Clevinger, Liam Hendriks, Yasmani Grandal, Trayce Thompson
Needs: Infielder, starting pitcher, reliever

Where the lineup stands

1 Andrew Benintendi (L) LF 0.0
2 Andrew Vaughn 1B 0.3
3 Luis Robert Jr. CF 5.0
4 Yoán Moncada (S) 3B 1.2
5 Eloy Jiménez DH 0.4
6 Oscar Colás (L) RF -1.3
8 Paul DeJong SS 0.3
8 Nicky Lopez 2B 1.1
9 Korey Lee C -0.7

New White Sox general manager Chris Getz admitted in early November that he didn't like the roster and that it wasn't "well-rounded." The White Sox appear willing to listen to calls for anyone on the roster, and it wouldn't be surprising if Jiménez is wearing another uniform come Opening Day. Robert should require a massive return, but Getz wouldn't be doing his job if he wasn't willing to see what the market is for a star of that caliber coming off a career year. DeJong was brought in as a much cheaper alternative to Anderson.

How the rotation looks

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
1 Dylan Cease R 3.7
2 Michael Kopech R -0.9
3 Touki Toussaint R 0.5
4 Michael Soroka R -0.4
5 Jared Shuster L 0.1

The White Sox are hoping a fresh start can help Soroka pitch closer to what he showcased in 2019 before a slew of injuries derailed his career with the Atlanta Braves. Acquiring Soroka, Shuster, and a few other pieces for a reliever was a heady move considering where the White Sox are heading in 2024. The Dodgers are one team reportedly showing interest in Cease, and the time could be right to maximize the return on a pitcher who has registered a 3.7 fWAR in each of the past three seasons.

Cleveland Guardians

Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

2023 record: 76-86 (3rd)
Projected 40-man payroll: $94M
Key departures: Kole Calhoun, Enyel De Los Santos (SD), Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López (ATL), Cal Quantrill (COL), Mike Zunino
Needs: Reliever, outfielder, shortstop

Where the lineup stands

1 Steven Kwan (L) LF 2.9
2 Andrés Giménez (L) 2B 3.6
3 José Ramírez (S) 3B 5.1
4 Josh Naylor (L) DH 2.5
5 Ramón Laureano RF 0.7
6 Bo Naylor (L) C 2.4
7 Kyle Manzardo (L) 1B Rookie
8 Brayan Rocchio (S) SS -0.6
9 Myles Straw CF 0.4

The Guardians took a major step back in 2023 after a surprising run to an AL Central title the season before. Cleveland still struggles to score runs and hit home runs, an area the front office should be aggressively trying to upgrade this winter. Manzardo has tremendous potential and could help solve some of the offensive issues if he can emerge at first base in 2024.

How the rotation looks

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
1 Shane Bieber R 2.1
2 Triston McKenzie R 0.2
3 Tanner Bibee R 3.0
4 Logan Allen L 1.7
5 Gavin Williams R 1.1

New manager Stephen Vogt's rotation is stocked with homegrown pitchers. McKenzie will hope to rebound from an injury-riddled 2023. The emergence of Bibee, Allen, and Williams could increase the chance of a Bieber trade. With just one year of club control remaining, the Guardians should aim to trade the 2020 AL Cy Young winner if they don't feel they can work out an extension.

Detroit Tigers

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

2023 record: 78-84 (2nd)
Projected 40-man payroll: $74M
Key departures: Matthew Boyd, Jose Cisnero, Austin Meadows, Eduardo Rodríguez, Jonathan Schoop, Spencer Turnbull
Needs: Second base, third base, catcher

Where the lineup stands

1 Parker Meadows (L) CF 1.0
2 Riley Greene (L) RF 2.3
3 Spencer Torkelson 1B 1.4
4 Kerry Carpenter (L) DH 2.2
5 Mark Canha LF 1.6
6 Matt Vierling 3B 1.2
7 Zach McKinstry (L) 2B 1.2
8 Javier Báez SS 0.8
9 Jake Rogers C 2.2

The Tigers finished a surprising second in the division thanks in large part to key contributions from homegrown talent like Greene, Torkelson, and Carpenter. The trio appear to be franchise cornerstones to build around in the lineup moving forward. Báez unsurprisingly decided to opt in to the remaining five years of a contract that isn't showing much upside. Detroit seems committed to spending again this winter and could aim to take advantage of a weak division.

How the rotation looks

Brace Hemmelgarn / Getty Images Sport / Getty
1 Tarik Skubal L 3.3
2 Kenta Maeda R 1.5
3 Matt Manning R 0.6
4 Reese Olson R 1.5
5 Casey Mize R DNP

Detroit's rotation has endured numerous injuries over the past few years. It's hard to know what Mize might provide coming off a long-term absence. The Tigers inked Maeda to a two-year, $24-million contract and will hope the veteran right-hander can help replace Rodriguez's production. Detroit has surprisingly been among the teams reportedly showing some interest in free-agent right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto. His age (25) and skill set would be an ideal fit for the Tigers and a great complement to Skubal atop the rotation.

Kansas City Royals

Ed Zurga / Getty Images Sport / Getty

2023 record: 56-106 (5th)
Projected 40-man payroll: $71M
Key departures: Matt Duffy, Zack Greinke, Brad Keller, Jackson Kowar (ATL), Josh Staumont, Nick Wittgren
Needs: Starting pitcher, outfielder, reliever

Where the lineup stands

1 MJ Melendez (L) LF 0.0
2 Bobby Witt Jr. SS 5.7
3 Salvador Perez C -0.3
4 Vinnie Pasquantino (L) 1B 0.0
5 Nelson Velázquez RF 0.7
6 Michael Massey (L) 2B 0.5
7 Edward Olivares DH 0.4
8 Kyle Isbel (L) CF 1.1
9 Maikel Garcia 3B 1.9

Witt enjoyed a breakout sophomore season, emerging as one of the game's brightest young stars. The Royals and Witt have engaged in some long-term contract discussions this offseason, and locking him up should be general manager J.J. Picollo's top priority. Pasquantino's expected return from a season-ending shoulder injury should provide a nice boost to a Royals lineup looking for talent to put around Witt. Kansas City ranked 24th in OPS and 26th in home runs last season, so upgrades are needed at almost every position.

How the rotation looks

Vaughn Ridley / Getty Images Sport / Getty
1 Cole Ragans L 2.4
2 Brady Singer R 1.9
3 Jordan Lyles R 0.2
4 Daniel Lynch L 0.3
5 Angel Zerpa L 0.1

Ragans' emergence after being acquired from the Texas Rangers was one of the few bright spots in another dreary season in Kansas City. Beyond Ragans, there are major question marks in the rotation, as has often been the case over the past few seasons. The Royals should be aiming higher than a floor-raising move like the signing of Lyles last offseason. This is a rotation in dire need of legitimate impact.

Minnesota Twins

David Berding / Getty Images Sport / Getty

2023 record: 87-75 (1st)
Projected 40-man payroll: $125M
Key departures: Joey Gallo, Sonny Gray (STL), Kenta Maeda (DET), Tyler Mahle, Emilio Pagán, Donovan Solano, Michael A. Taylor
Needs: Outfielder, starting pitcher, infielder

Where the lineup stands

1 Edouard Julien (L) 1B 2.8
2 Royce Lewis 3B 2.4
3 Jorge Polanco (S) 2B 1.5
4 Carlos Correa SS 1.1
5 Max Kepler (L) RF 2.6
6 Byron Buxton DH 0.7
7 Matt Wallner (L) LF 1.9
8 Ryan Jeffers C 2.7
9 Willi Castro (S) CF 2.5

The Twins entered the offseason with some momentum after winning a first playoff series in more than two decades. That optimism appears to be short-lived, however, with president of baseball operations Derek Falvey confirming the club will look to trim payroll with uncertainty surrounding its television broadcast rights. A lot is riding on Buxton's ability to bounce back from persistent knee trouble to return to center field after not appearing at that position in 2023. The club will likely seek outfield insurance once again.

How the rotation looks

Daniel Shirey / Major League Baseball / Getty
1 Pablo López R 4.5
2 Joe Ryan R 2.2
3 Bailey Ober R 2.4
4 Chris Paddack R 0.1
5 Louie Varland R 0.1

Minnesota will be hard-pressed to replace Gray's All-Star contributions. It's crystal clear that free-agent starting pitchers will be in high demand, which will make life difficult for Falvey and general manager Thad Levine if they're unable to open the checkbook. If the Twins can't look externally for rotation improvements, it will be incumbent on Ober, Paddack, and Varland to take the baton and run with it, or the 2023 success could prove to be fleeting.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox