MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Three teams poised to be 2015 Mets

Arizona, Boston, Seattle set for turnaround season in '16

Three teams poised to be 2015 Mets

So which team can be next year's Mets? Who can go from below .500 in 2015 to a World Series player in the New Year?

The question can actually be broader than that, given that the 2014 Giants and the '13 Red Sox won the World Series coming off losing seasons.

So, sure, it's a small sample size, but there's enough there for managers of the 14 teams that won fewer than 81 games last season to emphasize the possibility when players report for Spring Training.

As for now, winning the World Series isn't the craziest of New Year's resolutions for every executive, coach or player in the game, with just a few National League teams (Phillies, Reds, Braves and Rockies) serving as exceptions.

But everything in life is relative, especially opportunity. So as we head seriously toward 2016, here are the three teams most likely to turn it around on a dime:

1. Diamondbacks
Who saw this coming a month ago? The D-backs accomplished some nice things in the first season under manager Chip Hale, beating expectations to win 79 games. Paul Goldschmidt and center fielder A.J. Pollock combined for 16.2 WAR, making them the most productive tandem of hitters in the Major Leagues.

A lot of people noticed, including managing general partner Ken Kendrick and team president Derrick Hall. They had been passively observing the tug of war between the Dodgers and the Giants for Zack Greinke until the morning of Dec. 4, when the D-backs jumped in with a call to agent Casey Close. By the end of the afternoon, they'd agreed to a deal that guarantees Greinke $206.5 million over six years.

Kendrick, Hall and the front-office combination of Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart were so pumped about adding Greinke that they traded defensive wizard Ender Inciarte and two of their most highly regarded prospects, 2015 first overall Draft pick Dansby Swanson and right-hander Aaron Blair, to the Braves for Shelby Miller.

In Greinke, Miller, Goldschmidt and Pollock, the D-backs have four players who combined for 29.1 WAR last season. That's better even than the Cubs, who added Jason Heyward (6.5) to a core that had NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta (8.6), Anthony Rizzo (6.3) and Kris Bryant (6.0).

The question becomes Arizona's depth. But the D-backs return almost all of the lineup that outscored every NL team except the Rockies last season, and Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas underproduced in his first season in the Majors. Young infielders Nick Ahmed and Jake Lamb appear to be settling in as solid regulars and Chris Owings has shown himself to be an effective fielder, if his bat hasn't quite caught up to his glove.

Oh, 26-year-old lefty Patrick Corbin is healthy again after Tommy John surgery, and there's a lot of young pitching coming. This is an intriguing team that is very capable of hanging with the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West.

La Russa on D-backs' busy winter

2. Red Sox
Dave Dombrowski put the Red Sox back in business again after the 71- and 78-win seasons that followed the out-of-nowhere World Series win in 2013. He filled the club's two biggest needs early in the Hot Stove season, signing David Price for $217 million over seven years -- an offer that blew away the competition -- and trading four prospects to the Padres for closer Craig Kimbrel, who had been an All-Star in four consecutive seasons before missing the cut in 2015.

One thing Dombrowski hasn't done is trade away any of the young players whom Boston fans fell in love with during the two down seasons -- outfielders Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr.; catchers Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez (who missed the 2015 season to undergo Tommy John surgery) and first baseman Travis Shaw. Add in shortstop Xander Bogaerts and utility man Brock Holt, and the Red Sox have a core that will be fun to watch in David Ortiz's farewell season.

But Dombrowski still has some old business on his hands that he inherited from his predecessor, Ben Cherington. He hasn't found a market for third baseman Pablo Sandoval or the man without a position, Hanley Ramirez.

Their conditioning and play will hang over Spring Training. Manager John Farrell, who is expected to return after having treatment for lymphoma, did wonders with his patched-together roster in 2013, so maybe he can get Sandoval and Ramirez (currently listed as the top first baseman) clicking alongside Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz and their younger teammates.

Much will depend on what the Red Sox get from Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello. Both have a lot of upside left, and 2016 would be a great time for that to surface.

Price on signing with Red Sox

3. Mariners
New general manager Jerry Dipoto has been working at a frenzied pace, adding nine players who seem in position to be on the Opening Day lineup (headlined by first baseman Adam Lind, center fielder Leonys Martin and pitchers Nathan Karns, Wade Miley, Steve Cishek and Joaquin Benoit). But his most beneficial move might be one nobody saw coming.

When Hisashi Iwakuma's agreement with the Dodgers collapsed before becoming official, Dipoto swept in to bring the Japanese right-hander back to Safeco Field, where he's spent four seasons as Felix Hernandez's wing man.

These moves follow a tough 2015 season that cost GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon their jobs. But the Mariners still have most of the players who were generating so much optimism last March and April: Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and 23-year-old right-hander Taijuan Walker, who would move the needle in a big way if he could turn in a breakout season.

Iwakuma returns to the Mariners

It's going to be fascinating to watch Scott Servais manage this combination of intriguing newcomers and old hands. Servais has never managed but has a lot of experience on his coaching staff, including bench coach Tim Bogar and third-base coach Manny Acta.

Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.