How Do MLB Teams Rank as Potential Free-Agent Destinations?

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2013

How Do MLB Teams Rank as Potential Free-Agent Destinations?

0 of 30

    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The MLB offseason has begun, and this year's free-agent class is already mulling over potential suitors in an effort to find the best fit to call home in 2014 and beyond.

    A number of different factors go into determining how attractive each team is to free agents, from the city and its fans to the short- and long-term outlook of the team. What follows is a ranking of all 30 MLB teams to decide which team is the best free-agent destination.

    Now, no free agent is of interest to all 30 teams, and every team can't offer up the same amount of money to each player. However, for the sake of this article, we are assuming that Player X has received the same offer from all 30 teams and has to decide which is the best based on the following factors:

    Fanbase (1-5): Looking at recent attendance numbers, and simply the reputation of each fanbase, each team received a 1-5 score for its fans.

    Payroll Situation (1-5): Deciding where to sign is not always about how much money a team can give you. It's also about how much more money the team has to work with when it comes to building a legitimate contender. Each team received a 1-5 score based on its current and future payroll outlook.

    2014 Outlook (1-10): Looking strictly at the 2014 season, each team got a score from 1-10 on its chances of winning this coming season.

    Long-Term Outlook (1-10): Looking ahead at each team's farm system, core of big league talent and future payroll freedom, each team received a score from 1-10 on its long-term chances of success.

    With those four areas in mind, here is a look at which MLB team is the best free-agent destination. In case of a tie, the teams were ranked subjectively with a brief explanation of why they trump teams with the same score.

     

    *Note: All payroll information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

30. Chicago White Sox

1 of 30

    SP Chris Sale
    SP Chris SaleJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        2/5          4/5       2/10           5/1013/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Chicago White Sox did a nice job shedding some salary at the trade deadline, but that is likely just the first step in what could be a lengthy rebuilding process on the South Side.

    Chris Sale is a great cornerstone for a rebuild, but with a thin minor league system, it could be a number of years before the White Sox are in position to contend again.

29. Miami Marlins

2 of 30

    SP Jose Fernandez
    SP Jose FernandezMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        1/5           5/5       1/10           7/1014/30

     

    Team Overview

    The future is bright in Miami, as the Marlins did a great job hitting the reset button last offseason and have stocked up on young talent. Jose Fernandez fronts a rotation that should be a strength moving forward, but there is still a ways to go.

    Attendance has been dismal since the Marlins opened their new stadium, and this team is still at least a few years away from a return to relevance, so for now, it will likely stick to low-cost veterans to plug holes.

28. Milwaukee Brewers

3 of 30

    CF Carlos Gomez
    CF Carlos GomezMike McGinnis/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
         3/5          2/5        4/10           6/1015/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Milwaukee Brewers saw their playoff window close almost as quickly as it opened. While there is still a good deal of talent on their roster, they don't have the payroll flexibility to add the two or three big pieces they need to be legitimate contenders.

    The Brewers' immediate future hinges on how their young rotation comes together, but with a thin farm system and little in the way of payroll flexibility, they'll likely stand pat for the most part.

27. San Diego Padres

4 of 30

    SP Andrew Cashner
    SP Andrew CashnerDenis Poroy/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        2/5           3/5        4/10            7/1016/30

     

    Team Overview

    The San Diego Padres have been patiently rebuilding since they won 90 games in 2010. While they don't have any marquee prospects, they have one of the deeper farm systems in all of baseball and a good young core already establishing themselves at the big league level.

    Adding a few arms behind Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy could be enough to make the Padres a .500 team this coming season, but it will take some of their in-house talent taking a big step forward for them to be legitimate contenders, as they're not likely to spend big.

26. Cleveland Indians

5 of 30

    2B Jason Kipnis
    2B Jason KipnisJason Miller/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        1/5          2/5       7/10          6/1016/30

     

    Team Overview

    The 2013 season was a perfect storm for the Cleveland Indians—their veteran offense came together quickly under new manager Terry Francona, and their starting rotation far exceeded expectations. Despite their run to the postseason, though, they ranked next to last in MLB in attendance this past year.

    The reality of the Indians' situation is that they have one of the thinner farm systems in all of baseball and don't have the money to re-sign their own top free agent, Ubaldo Jimenez, let alone add any more big pieces. They could explore a move on the trade market, but a return to the playoffs looks to be a long shot.

     

    16/30 Tiebreaker (SD vs. CLE)

    The Indians get the nod over the Padres not only because they made the postseason last year, but also because of Francona.

25. Houston Astros

6 of 30

    C Jason Castro
    C Jason CastroScott Halleran/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        3/5           5/5        1/10            8/1017/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Houston Astros have endured three straight 100-loss seasons as they continue to rebuild from the ground up, but it may not be too much longer before they start to see the fruits of their labor.

    This is a team that had a payroll as high as $102 million as recently as 2009, but it trimmed that down to $26 million this past season, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. It may not be this coming offseason, but the Astros have money to spend once they decide to, and they have the high-end, in-house talent to put together a sustained run of success within the next couple years.

24. Tampa Bay Rays

7 of 30

    3B Evan Longoria
    3B Evan LongoriaAl Messerschmidt/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        1/5          1/5       7/10            8/1017/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Tampa Bay Rays continue to find ways to win despite the payroll constraints of being one of the smaller-market teams in all of baseball. However, they'll feel the full force of those limitations next season, with a trade of ace David Price all but a certainty, as he's priced himself out of Tampa Bay.

    The Rays have found ways to overcome losses in the past, and it's hard to bet against them at this point, but keeping pace in the AL East without Price could be hard in 2014. Throw in a weak fanbase and a terrible stadium, and the Rays are not the most attractive free-agent destination, even if they did have big-market money.

     

    17/30 Tiebreaker (HOU vs. TB) 

    The Rays are the more attractive option at this point thanks to their recent run of success. The Astros are headed in the right direction but could still be in for at least a couple more last-place seasons.

23. Colorado Rockies

8 of 30

    LF Carlos Gonzalez
    LF Carlos GonzalezJustin Edmonds/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        3/5          3/5       6/10            6/1018/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Colorado Rockies were surprise contenders through the first half of 2013, but their lack of starting pitching caught up to them once again, and they fell off from there. Their staff improved over the 2012 version though, thanks to healthy seasons from Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa.

    The Rockies have Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez both locked up long-term and a handful of solid young players, led by Nolan Arenado and top prospects Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler, but it will still take a lot breaking right for them to be a playoff team, and they're not likely to spend big.

22. Philadelphia Phillies

9 of 30

    SP Cliff Lee
    SP Cliff LeeHunter Martin/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        5/5          2/5        6/10           5/1018/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Philadelphia Phillies have seen the core of superstar talent that made them perennial title contenders just a few years ago age very quickly over the past few years, and they simply have not had enough young talent emerging alongside their superstars to sustain their run of success.

    The team has opted to extend guys like Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley as opposed to shedding salary and rebuilding, and it looks like it will spin its tires and play around .500 baseball the next few seasons.

    The Phillies do still have some of the best fans in all of baseball, though.

21. Toronto Blue Jays

10 of 30

    1B Edwin Encarnacion
    1B Edwin EncarnacionChristian Petersen/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        3/5            2/5      7/10           6/1018/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Toronto Blue Jays went all-in last offseason, pulling off a pair of blockbuster deals and thinning what was one of the best farm systems in all of baseball for a chance to make a run at a title now. The result was a one-win improvement over the 2012 season and a lot of disappointment.

    There is certainly plenty of talent on the roster, and the Blue Jays could look to add an arm to their rotation, but they're more or less locked in to the core they have in place. After that, they will feel the effects of dealing a number of top prospects, as the future is cloudy at best.

     

    18/30 Tiebreaker (TOR vs. PHI vs. COL)

    Despite a disappointing season, the Blue Jays still earn the nod here, as they have the talent to get back on track in 2014 and make a run at the playoffs. The Phillies with their rabid fanbase and core of superstar talent check in just ahead of a Rockies team that has always had a hard time luring free-agent pitchers to Coors Field, and that remains their biggest need.

20. Kansas City Royals

11 of 30

    SP James Shields
    SP James ShieldsTom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
         3/5          3/5        6/10            7/1019/30

     

    Team Overview

    A late-season run kept the Kansas City Royals in the hunt for a playoff spot until the final days of the season, and they'll look to get over the hump and reach the playoffs for the first time since 1985 this coming year.

    Losing Ervin Santana in free agency will hurt, and they remain a relatively small-market club with a payroll just over $80 million last year, so they'll rely on their homegrown core moving forward. They are a talented team; they just don't have the payroll room to make a splash.

19. Minnesota Twins

12 of 30

    C Joe Mauer
    C Joe MauerSteve Mitchell/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        4/5         4/5       2/10          9/1019/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Minnesota Twins trotted out the worst starting rotation in baseball last season, pitching to the tune of a 5.26 ERA, and improving that rotation will be step one in returning to relevance.

    With a great fanbase, a nice new ballpark and one of the best farm systems in baseball—fronted by Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton—the Twins will likely become more and more attractive as a free-agent destination in the years ahead. They have money to spend with their payroll trimmed down to $82 million, but they'll likely wait a couple years until they're ready to contend to do that.

18. Los Angeles Angels

13 of 30

    CF Mike Trout
    CF Mike TroutMike McGinnis/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        4/5           2/5       7/10            6/1019/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Los Angeles Angels have painted themselves into a corner with their recent free-spending approach, as they have to win now to justify the contracts they gave Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. They may not be able to add the pieces they need in the rotation because of their bloated payroll.

    Locking up Mike Trout will be another major expense at some point, and with the foursome of Pujols, Hamilton, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson set to make a combined $73.1 million in 2014, one has to wonder just how far they'll stretch the payroll. The AL West is a tough division as is, and the Mariners and Astros are only getting better.

     

    19/30 Tiebreaker (LAA vs. MIN vs. KC)

    Much like the Blue Jays, the Angels remain a talented team capable of turning things around after a disappointing 2013, so they earn the top spot. Behind them, the Royals may be the better team right now, but the Twins are an attractive landing spot thanks to their talented farm system and payroll flexibility.

17. Oakland Athletics

14 of 30

    3B Josh Donaldson
    3B Josh DonaldsonNick Laham/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        2/5          2/5        8/10            8/1020/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Oakland A's continue to do more with less than perhaps any other team in baseball, winning their second straight AL West crown this past season with a payroll just north of $60 million. They have mastered the art of trading young talent just before it becomes expensive for more young talent and get the most out of their 25-man roster.

    A weak fanbase and awful stadium certainly work against them when it comes to luring free agents to Oakland, but the A's tend to be bargain hunters on the free-agent market anyway. No one is going to sign with the A's for a huge payday, but they should continue to be major players in the AL postseason picture.

16. Baltimore Orioles

15 of 30

    CF Adam Jones
    CF Adam JonesJeff Gross/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
       3/5         3/5      7/10            7/1020/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Baltimore Orioles made a surprise run to the postseason in 2012, and they were right in the thick of things in the AL East once again in 2013, though they came up short due to a lack of starting pitching. The Orioles have never been big spenders in the offseason; they've tried to avoid getting bogged down by big contracts and instead have focused on in-house player development.

    They'll likely rely on that in-house talent to remedy the pitching issues, as top prospects Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are still expected to front the staff long-term even after they failed to take a step forward in 2013.

    Expect the Orioles to add some secondary pieces in free agency, but nothing major, which is par for the course in Baltimore.

     

    20/30 Tiebreaker (BAL vs. OAK)

    In a matchup of two teams that have a ton of talent but generally don't spend much in free agency, the Orioles get the nod thanks to a far superior fanbase and stadium.

15. Arizona Diamondbacks

16 of 30

    1B Paul Goldschmidt
    1B Paul GoldschmidtDustin Bradford/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        3/5           3/5       7/10             8/1021/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Arizona Diamondbacks looked like the class of the NL West through the first half of 2013, but they took a step back after the break, while the Los Angeles Dodgers caught fire. They finished 81-81 and a distant second place in the NL West.

    Locking up Paul Goldschmidt on a five-year, $32 million deal was a stroke of genius, and they really don't have a glaring weakness on the roster for 2014 or long-term. Chances are that if they make a splash move, it won't come via free agency.

14. Seattle Mariners

17 of 30

    SP Felix Hernandez
    SP Felix HernandezOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        2/5           4/5      6/10        9/1021/30

     

    Team Overview

    The future has looked bright in Seattle for several years now. The Mariners had built up arguably the best farm system in baseball entering the 2013 season, and a number of guys who look to be core pieces moving forward made their debut this past year.

    They have money to spend and are in the market for a big bat in the outfield, among other things. If the pitching trio of Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton can all pan out and the Mariners can land a top bat this winter, they could be challenging for the AL West title in the very near future.

     

    21/30 Tiebreaker (SEA vs. ARI)

    The Diamondbacks are in a position to win now, but the Mariners are a team on the rise and one capable of being a serious contender if they can add a few key pieces and their young players reach their potential. It's close, but the edge goes to Seattle here.

13. Cincinnati Reds

18 of 30

    1B Joey Votto
    1B Joey VottoAndy Lyons/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        3/5          2/5        9/10            8/1022/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Cincinnati Reds have trotted out essentially the same roster the past two seasons, with the major exception this past year being the addition of Shin-Soo Choo via trade. There will be some change this coming season with Choo and rotation stalwart Bronson Arroyo hitting free agency, but in-house options Billy Hamilton and Tony Cingrani look ready to step into those roles.

    As it stands, the team does not have much in the way of payroll flexibility. Chances are, if it does spend any significant money, it will be to lock up the likes of Mat Latos and Homer Bailey. However, the Reds should be in a position to win for the foreseeable future and will need complementary parts in the year ahead.

12. San Francisco Giants

19 of 30

    C Buster Posey
    C Buster PoseyBrian Bahr/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        5/5          4/5       7/10          6/1022/30

     

    Team Overview

    After winning two titles in three years, the San Francisco Giants took a major step backward in 2013, finishing just two wins ahead of the Rockies to avoid a last-place finish in the NL West. The pitching that had carried them in previous seasons faltered, and the offense was not nearly strong enough to pick up the slack.

    The Giants are another team that has relied on homegrown talent more than big free-agent moves over the years, though they did cough up a five-year, $90 million deal to re-sign Hunter Pence. With little in the way of minor league reinforcement outside of Kyle Crick, don't be surprised if they spend a bit more freely this offseason in an effort to get back on track.

11. New York Mets

20 of 30

    3B David Wright
    3B David WrightEzra Shaw/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        3/5           5/5       5/10            9/1022/30

     

    Team Overview

    The New York Mets have posted five straight losing seasons and have not reached the playoffs since 2006. But that may soon change, as they have a big offseason ahead of them. A payroll that was as high as $149 million in 2009 was down to $93 million in 2013 and now has another $40 million-plus coming off the books this offseason.

    Losing Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery hurts the team's 2014 outlook, but with a handful of talented young arms and David Wright locked up to anchor the lineup, this is a team that could turn things around quickly with a big offseason of free-agent signings.

     

    22/30 Tiebreaker (NYM vs. SF vs. CIN)

    The Mets will always play second fiddle to the Yankees in New York, but with a ton of payroll room and a good young core of arms to build around, they've quickly become an attractive option. The Giants are just a year removed from their second title in three years, and with some tinkering they could be right back in the title hunt, so they edge out the Reds.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates

21 of 30

    CF Andrew McCutchen
    CF Andrew McCutchenBrian Kersey/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        4/5           2/5       8/10            9/1023/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Pittsburgh Pirates are far from a big-market team—they added $15 million to their payroll last year to raise it to $66 million—but they have done a fantastic job cultivating in-house talent and hitting on the free-agent signings they did make, like Francisco Liriano and Russell Martin.

    Ownership will now need to decide if it's willing to expand the payroll further in an effort to make a serious run at a title. The team needs to add offense at first base and in right field, and if A.J. Burnett opts to retire or sign elsewhere, it will need another starter—so the payroll situation looks to be the biggest factor moving forward.

9. Texas Rangers

22 of 30

    SP Yu Darvish
    SP Yu DarvishAl Messerschmidt/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        3/5           4/5       8/10           8/1023/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Texas Rangers missed out on signing Zack Greinke and re-signing Josh Hamilton last offseason, but they'll likely be in the running for some of the top names on the market once again this winter. 

    They mortgaged a good deal of their farm system to trade for Matt Garza at the deadline and could be active on the trade market again as they attempt to figure out the middle infield logjam. But significant additions in free agency are a real possibility and could put the Rangers right back in the running for another AL pennant.

8. Chicago Cubs

23 of 30

    1B Anthony Rizzo
    1B Anthony RizzoJeff Gross/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
         5/5           5/5       4/10           9/1023/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Chicago Cubs have long been a good free-agent draw, thanks to a diehard fanbase and the appeal of playing 81 games in Wrigley Field. They've spent the past two seasons rebuilding and will likely be also-rans again in 2014, but they have built up a farm system that should allow them to make a legitimate run at sustained success by 2015.

    With that in mind, the Cubs could start spending this coming offseason—and they have a ton of money to spend. The payroll was down from $144 million in 2010 to $106 million this past year and will be well under $100 million as things stand now. The big draw now is, what player doesn't want to be a part of the Cubs team that finally brings a title to Chicago? It could happen in the not-too-distant future.

     

    23/30 Tiebreaker (CHC vs. TEX vs. PIT)

    Though they're not in a position to win in 2014, the Cubs have always been an attractive free-agent landing spot, and with their talented farm system, players could have a chance to be a part of something special in the years ahead. From there, the Rangers edge out of the Pirates thanks to their vastly superior payroll flexibility.

7. Detroit Tigers

24 of 30

    SP Justin Verlander
    SP Justin VerlanderEzra Shaw/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        5/5          2/5       10/10            7/1024/30

     

    Team Overview

    With three players already pulling in an annual salary over $20 million and their payroll of $148 million last season expected to climb with arbitration raises alone, the Detroit Tigers don't have much room to add salary in the years ahead.

    Their window to win is right now, as they have as much talent on their roster as any team in baseball. As their core of stars starts to age, the team could find itself in a position similar to that of the Phillies right now. But for the time being, the Tigers have as good a chance of winning it all as anyone.

6. Atlanta Braves

25 of 30

    RP Craig Kimbrel
    RP Craig KimbrelMike Zarrilli/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        3/5         3/5       9/10           9/1024/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Atlanta Braves ran away with the NL East in 2013, thanks in part to a disappointing season from the Washington Nationals, and they should be in a good position to defend that title in 2014. Veteran right-hander Tim Hudson and catcher Brian McCann will be big free-agent losses, but the Braves have the in-house pieces to overcome them.

    The team does have some bad contracts to deal with in Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton and will need to start thinking about locking up some of its young core in the years ahead, but in a position to contend for a title now, the Braves could still spend in the right situation.

     

    24/30 Tiebreaker (ATL vs. DET)

    The Tigers are the better team right now, but they could wind up having their hands tied by all of their major contracts in the not-too-distant future. The Braves, on the other hand, have a terrific young core and could get better in the years ahead.

5. Washington Nationals

26 of 30

    SP Stephen Strasburg
    SP Stephen StrasburgJennifer Stewart/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        3/5          4/5        9/10           10/1026/30

     

    Team Overview

    The Blue Jays and Angels may have something to say about it, but it wouldn't be out of line to call the Washington Nationals the biggest disappointment of 2013. They were pegged by many to win the NL pennant with perhaps the most complete team in baseball entering the year.

    Luckily, they will return essentially the same core of players, with their only real need (aside from avoiding another slow start to the season) being another starting pitcher. Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren have filled the No. 4 starter spot on one-year deals the past two years, but the Nats could look to make a splash this time around in bolstering the staff.

4. New York Yankees

27 of 30

    SP CC Sabathia
    SP CC SabathiaJared Wickerham/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        5/5          5/5        8/10           8/1026/30

     

    Team Overview

    The 2013 season saw the New York Yankees miss the playoffs for just the second time since 1994. This offseason will be a big one as far as the future of the franchise is concerned.

    Re-signing Robinson Cano is their top priority, but it looks like that will be far from their only move this winter.

    According to ESPN's Andrew Marchand, the team is planning a "$300 million shopping spree" that includes not only bringing back Cano on what will likely approach a $200 million deal, but also signing Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka and one of either Brian McCann or Carlos Beltran.

    With that type of money being thrown around, a return to contention for a team that has always been a top free-agent draw seems likely.

     

    26/30 Tiebreaker (NYY vs. WSH)

    The Yankees have always been major players on the free-agent market, and if they are in fact ready to open up their wallets once again this offseason, they could turn things around in a big hurry.

3. St. Louis Cardinals

28 of 30

    C Yadier Molina
    C Yadier MolinaRonald Martinez/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
       5/5          4/5     10/10          10/1029/30

     

    Team Overview

    The St. Louis Cardinals get a 4/5 for their payroll situation not because they can't afford to add a big contract, but because they really don't need to given their ability to develop talent in-house. As a result, they won't look to make a free-agency splash.

    With Carlos Beltran potentially gone in free agency, they could certainly look to add a right fielder, but the more likely move will be slotting Allen Craig in right and moving Matt Adams into the everyday lineup.

    Shortstop is the team's one area of need, and it will likely turn to the trade market to improve there, with the free-agent options limited to Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta. In the years ahead, expect the Cards to spend on locking up their own guys.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

29 of 30

    SP Clayton Kershaw
    SP Clayton KershawDilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
         5/5           5/5        10/10            9/1029/30

     

    Team Overview

    It would appear that the Los Angeles Dodgers have an infinite supply of money with which to improve the team given what they have done since the new ownership group took over. A year after signing Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and a handful of others, they could be busy once again.

    According to Peter Gammons, the team is eyeing both Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (likely to cost $100 million-plus with posting fee) and Rays trade chip David Price (likely to come with an extension north of $150 million) in an effort to put together what would be a super rotation.

    At this point, it looks like the Dodgers will spend until they win it all. The only thing that keeps their long-term outlook from being a 10 is a lack of impact prospects and the inevitable backlash from all of these long-term deals when those guys start to get old.

     

    29/30 Tiebreaker (LAD vs. STL)

    The Cardinals' run of sustained success makes them an appealing option for any free agent, but the seemingly bottomless pool of money the Dodgers are working with right now earns them the No. 2 spot.

1. Boston Red Sox

30 of 30

    DH David Ortiz
    DH David OrtizElsa/Getty Images

     

    FanbasePayroll Situation2014 OutlookLong-Term OutlookTotal
        5/5          5/5     10/10          10/1030/30

     

    Team Overview

    In the course of a year, the Boston Red Sox went from a 93-loss team riddled with bad contacts to World Series champions, thanks in large part to their August blockbuster with the Dodgers in 2012 that rid them of Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett.

    They turned the salary room freed up in that deal into Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster and David Ross via free agency, and it could not have worked out better.

    Looking ahead, the Red Sox don't have much in the way of long-term commitments, have one of the best farm systems around and will continue to boast one of the largest payrolls in the league. There's no reason to think they won't keep making impact additions, and they look like the team to beat in the AL for the foreseeable future.