Will the AL Central produce any World Series contenders in 2023? Unlikely.
With the MLB offseason around its midway point, it's a good time to see where teams are at heading into 2023. Here are my thoughts on each team in the AL Central.
Chicago White Sox PG Score: 7/10
The White Sox splurged on their biggest free agent deal in franchise history when they signed Andrew Benintendi to a 5-year, $75 million deal. That was about all they've done this offseason, while also letting one of their core pieces, albeit an older one in Jose Abreu, walk to the defending champions. I understand 2022 was a year of underperformances and injury, but who's to say 2023 will not be the same? The White Sox simply have not done enough to improve this team, and even in the worst division in the league, I still do not think this team has any shot at a special 2023.
What should they do now? With Andrew Vaughn filling in for Abreu at first, the only bright side to letting him walk is that White Sox fans do not have to sit through Vaughn and Gavin Sheets struggling in the outfield, as long as they play their cards right. The hopes and prayers of outfielders Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez staying away from the IL this season are unlikely to be answered, and this team is desperate for outfield depth. Signing Chad Pinder on a free agent deal may answer many questions, as he would fill in as the fourth outfielder that this team will need once one of their studs inevitably goes on the IL. Pinder has a strong glove and is not worthless on offense either. To have him sitting in the wings in case of an emergency would be huge for this team in 2023.
I was disappointed in the Southside boys in 2022. I really am pulling for them in 2023, but making miniscule moves and not filling in major holes is not the way to approach this offseason.
Cleveland Guardians PG Score: 8.25/10
The Guardians did not really go out and make any blockbuster moves for any of the superstars of the 2022-’23 free agent class. They did, however, pick up a solid switch hitter in Josh Bell. This move alone represents more money spent than we thought we would see with this team this offseason.
What move should they make next? After typing it out for the Cubs analysis, I really like the idea of the Guardians trading from their elite pitching depth to secure Ian Happ. In a weak division like the AL Central, which the Guardians won in 2022, two bats could legitimately launch this team into another tier. Seriously, two bats can separate this team tremendously in this sorry division.
The Guardians made a decent run in the 2022 postseason before ultimately getting eliminated by the Yankees in the ALDS. They really showed off the strength and depth of their pitching staff during that run. There is no doubt this team could put together a package for Ian Happ, but depending on what they give up, that deal is going to have to come with an extension waiting for Happ on the other side. I am not sure this cheap franchise will muster that up.
The Guardians have done a good job improving their offense this offseason. If they can make a move for another consistent bat before Opening Day, they could really become a well-rounded team. This grade could be moved way up or way down depending on their moves leading up to April.
Detroit Tigers PG Score: 6.25/10
This is a franchise that had a lot of hype entering 2022 after acquiring Javier Baez, Austin Meadows, and Eduardo Rodriguez, while also assuming top prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson would come up and make an immediate impact. Well, not a single one of those things worked out and the team was in shambles before June even began. Baez was one of the worst qualified hitters in MLB, Eduardo Rodriguez was MIA for over half the season, and Torkelson made a return to Triple A by mid-July.
I'm not really sure what I wanted the Tigers to do in the 2022-’23 offseason, or if they even knew what they wanted to do, but after spending a lot of money on two big free agents last offseason, it seemed like a perfect time to move some players around or try and strike for another big player this offseason. The Tigers did clean house, seemingly letting all of their exclusive free agents walk, most without even a qualifying offer. We will see if 2023 allows the Tigers to diagnose where they truly rank, and when they may actually see the window opening up.
Kansas City Royals PG Score: 7/10
The Kansas City Royals are going to be a sneaky fun team offensively in 2023, with Bobby Witt Jr., MJ Melendez, and Adalberto Mondesi all forming a solid young lineup core and looking to make a serious breakout in 2023. They also added Ryan Yarbrough to lock up the second or third slot in the rotation. Yarbrough fits more as an opener or a long-relief arm than an actual starter, and I'm sure this will continue in KC.
What move should they make next? KC is built to be a fun team in the near future, and they have built a solid farm system to solidify that come up. However, this team has little to no pitching at the Big League level and cannot seem to turn out a starting pitching product of their own. It would be really nice if they could put together some kind of package to bring in a young established starter to follow Brady Singer in the rotation, then follow that move by adding a good arm in the 2023-’24 free agency period. If things like that happen, we could see this team competing as early as 2024.
Minnesota Twins PG Score: 6/10
Another losing team this offseason, the Minnesota Twins added Joey Gallo and Christian Vazquez to the squad. Although not officially, the Twins have more than likely lost out on star shortstop Carlos Correa, and adding high strikeout players like Gallo to the lineup is not a very good look. With Luis Arraez seemingly on the block as one of the few contact hitters on this team, it seems inevitable that the Twins will not only lead the league in strikeouts once again, but also might set the record most strikeouts in a season. Not a record you want.
What do they do now? The Twins cannot afford to lose out on Luis Arraez, and even if he shows a little regression in 2023, it is not worth losing a guy who has some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the game.
The Twins have a solid rotation and could honestly find themselves at the top of the worst division in baseball, but only because of other teams being bad. If I were a Twins fan, I would not have high expectations for this team in 2023. I'd look to their moves next offseason to really see what direction the team is going.
Check the Peanut Gallery tomorrow for my NL West offseason grades!