AL West team-by-team Hot Stove preview 

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
12:09
PM ET
With the World Series under way, there are 28 other teams in the major leagues already looking ahead to 2015 in hopes that they might be playing for a championship next year at this time. Free agency doesn't officially kick in until five days after the champagne has been sprayed, but the rumor mill is already buzzing with potential moves that might help those clubs watching on television this year become the center of attention next October.

Our snapshot of each of the six MLB divisions and what teams might have in the works this offseason continues today with a look at the American League West.


Houston Astros

Big decisions: Naming A.J. Hinch as the team's new manager was likely the biggest move this team will make in the offseason. After having stripped the team down to the barest minimum in payroll back in 2013, Houston's roster simply doesn't have any financial urgency for turnover in the same way franchises with a lot of high-priced veterans do.

Team needs: The Astros could use a little more stability in their outfield, with 10 different players starting in left field at one point or another during the season and Robbie Grossman's .233 batting average being the most turned-to option there. A free agent such as Colby Rasmus could be in their price range, depending on how much money they end up spending on Dexter Fowler's expected arbitration case; he's due a raise from the $7.35 million he made in 2014. … Additionally, as Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes, "The Astros are going to need at least two proven, healthy arms to add to a bullpen that was last in the American League in ERA and first in blown saves with 25."

Early buzz: Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes that owner Jim Crane is open to increasing the team's payroll by another $20 million for 2015, after a similar increase last season, but warns that "the chances of the Astros making a tremendous push this winter, however, seem slim no matter what."


Los Angeles Angels

Big decisions: Making sure C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton will both be healthy for next season is a priority, but both players have huge contracts that make them impossible to move even if they were both guaranteed to be at 100 percent strength next April. … The team has a $7 million option on reliever Huston Street that they're likely to exercise, which also probably indicates that free agent Jason Grilli will be allowed to shop his services elsewhere.

Team needs: ESPN.com's Jim Bowden doesn't hesitate when discussing the first move the Angels need to make going forward when he states "there is no doubt Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto's top priority this offseason will be to find an upgrade or two for their starting rotation." He lists Jon Lester, Francisco Liriano and Brandon McCarthy among the options the team should explore.

Early buzz: There's simply not a lot of flexibility for the Angels in both 2015 and beyond, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times laments: "On Opening Day 2016, Albert Pujols will be 36, Hamilton 34, Wilson 35, Jered Weaver 33. The Angels have all four under contract for 2016, for a total of $98 million. Add another $40 million for Mike Trout, Erick Aybar and pitchers Garrett Richards and Joe Smith, and there's your core. It is painfully apparent, then, that the Angels are likely to go as far as Trout, Pujols and Hamilton will take them."


Oakland Athletics

Big decisions: Adam Dunn is likely to retire, but the large free-agent exodus that the Athletics will have to prevent against includes a laundry list of names. Jon Lester, Jason Hammel, Luke Gregerson, Geovany Soto and Jonny Gomes are among the many decisions that general manager Billy Beane will have to make once the World Series is over.

Team needs: The A's will pick and choose their holes, based upon which free agents they ultimately choose to keep. However, after trading away top prospect Addison Russell, if they don't come to terms with Jed Lowrie on a new deal -- or if he turns down a potential qualifying offer -- there aren't any real answers currently in the organization at shortstop. As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, "Prospect Daniel Robertson played at Class A Stockton and is considered a possibility for 2016, and Andy Parrino has not shown he can hit at the big league level."

Early buzz: According to John Hickey of the San Jose Mercury Press, the A's could choose to turn to Cuba for some middle-infield help: "Hector Olivera, 29, is a second baseman who hit .316 with a .412 on-base percentage before leaving Cuba this season. Yoan Moncada, 19, who plays short and second, is a switch-hitter who played in the same Cuban junior leagues as Dodgers star Yasiel Puig. It would be a huge risk to ask a 19-year-old to play in the big leagues, but the A's are not averse to taking chances." … Lester is going to field a ton of offers, and with the New York Yankees likely to get involved in the conversation, the price tag may escalate way beyond what the A's are willing to give him.

With Sizemore in, is Brown out? 

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
11:40
AM ET
In a move that prevented Grady Sizemore from entering the free agent market, the Philadelphia Phillies announced Thursday that they have signed the outfielder to a one year, $2 million contract that includes performance bonuses.

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Could Cuddyer come to New York? 

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
10:23
AM ET
The New York Mets tried to fill a hole in their lineup with Chris Young in 2014, and that failed experiment ended mid-season with the outfielder's release. That hole still remains for 2015, and it may well be filled by Michael Cuddyer.

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Jays intent on keeping Cabrera? 

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
9:53
AM ET
After having hit .301 with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, Melky Cabrera's chances of remaining with the team going forward seem to lie in the outfielder's own hands.

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Will Lind be back in Toronto? 

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
12:43
PM ET
Because of Adam Lind's "team-friendly contract" which allows the Toronto Blue Jays to retain his services for 2015 at a $7.5 million price tag, it's expected that picking up his option is exactly what the team will do.

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What position is in Russell's future? 

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
11:49
AM ET
While it's only one game, the fact that shortstop prospect Addison Russell is getting looks at a new position may be the first step towards figuring out the Chicago Cubs plans for their 2015 infield.

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According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cleveland Indians have indeed decided to "exercise Mike Aviles' $3.5 million club option for 2015," a move that was very much in doubt due to the team's desire to keep their payroll -- which in 2014 was at its highest point since 2001 -- in check.

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Soria to return for Tigers? 

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
9:15
AM ET
The Detroit Tigers dealt away two prospects for Joakim Soria in July, but his performance for the team following the deal (4.91 ERA in the regular season, 45.00 ERA in the playoffs) makes his return for 2015 a little bit uncertain.

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AL Central team-by-team Hot Stove preview 

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
12:20
PM ET
With the World Series under way, there are 28 other teams in the major leagues already looking ahead to 2015 in hopes that they might be playing for a championship next year at this time. Free agency doesn't officially kick in until five days after the champagne has been sprayed, but the rumor mill is already buzzing with potential moves that might help those clubs watching on television this year become the center of attention next October.

Our snapshot of each of the six MLB divisions and what teams might have in the works this offseason continues today with a look at the American League Central.


Chicago White Sox

Big decisions: With Paul Konerko retiring and reliever Matt Lindstrom's contract over and done with, the team has a lot of payroll flexibility for 2015. They could get even more should they choose to non-tender Ronald Belisario and Dayan Viciedo, both arbitration-eligible.

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Updated Tomas sweepstakes 

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
12:05
PM ET
Free agent Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas is still getting courted by several major league teams, but there may be a frontrunner emerging from the interested pack.

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Yankees pitching staff in flux? 

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
11:26
AM ET
The New York Yankees have $168 million in salary dedicated to just 10 players going into 2015, and that's before they make any free agent signings to replace the likes of Derek Jeter in their lineup for next season.

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Burnett to return for 2015? 

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
10:27
AM ET
While retirement may yet end up the option that pitcher A.J. Burnett chooses to take, the door still remains open for the 37-year-old to return to the Philadelphia Phillies for the 2015 season.

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Braves OF on the move? 

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
12:33
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In 2014, the Atlanta Braves outfielders -- led primarily by the trio of Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward -- ranked 17th in the league in total bases and just 25th in batting average. That's probably not nearly what the team expected from the over $32 million in salary the three players collectively received last season.

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Could Price end up with Dodgers? 

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
11:22
AM ET
Last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers named former Tampa Bay Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman as their new president of baseball operations. He was the man responsible for trading away David Price to the Detroit Tigers prior to the trade deadline, a move born of financial necessity.

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Cards to use young arms in pen? 

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
10:19
AM ET
The St. Louis Cardinals seem fairly confident in their returning rotation for next season, which is why some of their younger pitchers who project to be starters at some point down the road may end up pitching out of the bullpen in 2015, rather than biding their time in a Triple-A rotation.

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