We all know that the Los Angeles Dodgers are a real threat to acquire Bryce Harper. They have the cash to do it and a real need in the outfield. Their off-season has been one of negative growth so far, but based on Fangraphs projections they are still on top of the NL with a projected 93 wins.
The Dodgers not only lost their second World Series appearance the last two years, they also lost many key players and front office personnel. They lost their star shortstop Corey Seager to an elbow injury last season, All-Stars Yasmani Grandal and Manny Machado to free agency, and they traded Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Alex Wood. While Seager should return to form, the rest of their team has some big holes, and their analytics department is minus two key leaders as Director of R&D, Doug Fearing left the team and Ehsan Bokhari took the Director’s job at Houston. Additionally, long-time Dodgers third base and infield coach Chris Woodward was named manager of the Texas Rangers, Turner Ward went to the Cincinnati Reds as hitting coach, the Philadelphia Phillies hired Minor League hitting coordinator Paco Figueroa, and general manager Farhan Zaidi with the rival San Francisco Giants.
Besides the Dodgers lack of movement this off-season, the Chicago Cubs have also been stagnant, and they have fallen back to a tie with the Cardinals who seem to be the only team in the NL Central to make any moves adding Paul Goldschmidt to their infield and Andrew Miller to their bullpen. The Milwaukee Brewers have done nothing after being so active last year in the off-season, and they are actually projected for last place in the NL Central behind the Cincinnati Reds.
With so many teams doing so little in the National League this winter, maybe it is time for the Washington Nationals to take advantage and fill their remaining needs at second base, fifth starting pitcher, and the bullpen. There are so many players the Nationals could add for depth that the hope is general manager Mike Rizzo makes the last few moves to finish off the roster regardless of what the new plan is for Bryce Harper.
In these projections of standings, with 30-teams and 162-games, the projections split up a pie of 4,860 games. The wins are not exactly split between the leagues because of inter-league records. In the end though, it is a zero-sum game pie with a finite number of wins and losses. With each game there is always one winner and one loser. As one team gains, other teams must lose an equal amount. The wins always add up to 2,430 in the majors and the losses add up to that same 2,430 if all teams play those 162 games without permanent postponements. The chart below shows the remaining top free agents with their projected WAR. Which team will get a larger share of the pie? There are only 21 free agents with WARs over +1.0 which leads to few who can move the needle. The team that gets Machado, Harper, Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, A.J. Pollock, Mike Moustakas, Brian Dozier, D.J. LeMahieu, Jed Lowrie, and Asdrubal Cabrera are teams to watch and compare their standings before-and-after.