MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Who needs what? A primer to the Meetings

Who needs what? A primer to the Meetings

The Collective Bargaining Agreement is done and the Hot Stove season, which has already seen aggressive action on the parts of the Astros, Braves, Mets and others, is free to proceed unfettered by labor strife.

With the Winter Meetings set to begin Monday in National Harbor, Md., these are the 10 biggest holes contending teams still need to fill this offseason.

Hot Stove Tracker

MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. ET.

1. Dodgers: Right-handed bat

There are multiple places the Dodgers can fulfill this need -- second base, third base or possibly the outfield. But fill it they must. Even if they re-sign Justin Turner at the hot corner, there's a need to find somebody to lend a (right) hand elsewhere, because the Dodgers' .623 OPS against lefties last season was dead last in baseball.

Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun, Todd Frazier, Ian Kinsler and Brian Dozier are among the trade possibilities here. And, of course, the Dodgers could also stand to land a rotation arm and need multiple bullpen pieces. They'll be busy.

2. Nationals: Closer

The "host" team at the Winter Meetings is going to be a fascinating one to watch. As has been widely reported, they've talked to the Pirates about McCutchen, whose arrival would allow Trea Turner to go back to shortstop. One way or another, they're likely to add an outfielder. And they addressed the loss of Wilson Ramos with the acquisition of Derek Norris. They've even been linked to Chris Sale to upgrade an already strong rotation. But just because of the way things were going for this club in the ninth inning before Mark Melancon arrived last summer, we'll put closer as their biggest need now that Melancon is on the open market.

Manager Dusty Baker would certainly love to reunite with Aroldis Chapman. Kenley Jansen is out there, as well as Melancon. Wade Davis and Alex Colome are among the trade possibilities.

3. Giants: Closer

The sting of that ninth-inning collapse against the Cubs in Game 4 of the National League Division Series and manager Bruce Bochy's helpless look as he tried reliever after reliever in a futile attempt to prevent the inevitable still lingers. It ended a legendary even-year run and it wasn't terribly surprising, given that the Giants' bullpen had a league-high 30 blown saves in 2016.

A pretty glaring need here, and the Giants could look to fill it with one of the ninth-inning names mentioned above. But with multiple needs in the back end, they could reunite with Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo or Javier Lopez and investigate the markets for the likes of Junichi Tazawa, Neftali Feliz, Boone Logan, Brad Ziegler and Mike Dunn.

4. Rangers: A bat

They're hoping Andrew Cashner can emerge as the No. 3 rotation weapon they need behind Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. Whether or not that's the case, Texas definitely has holes to fill in the lineup, with Prince Fielder long since retired and Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gomez, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland all having reached free agency.

The Rangers can go about this any number of ways, landing a surefire center fielder (McCutchen? Dexter Fowler? Bringing back Desmond or Gomez?) or perhaps somebody who can assist in right field on occasion to keep the oft-injured Shin-Soo Choo off his feet or going the first base/DH route (Beltran still makes sense here). Maybe they'll bring Mike Napoli back to Texas. However the means, the Rangers need a run producer as they try to fend off the improved Astros and others.

5. Angels: Second baseman

Maybe not a clear contender, coming off an 88-loss season, but any team with Mike Trout enters the year hoping/expecting to be competitive, and perhaps full seasons from Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs would improve the rotation. But somebody has to play second base.

With a stretched budget and a farm system not considered to be replete with trade chips, it's going to take creativity on the part of general manager Billy Eppler and Co. to fill that spot. Chase Utley, Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson and Gordon Beckham are free-agent options of varying appeal.

6. Orioles: Catcher

Wieters is a free agent, and his 2016 backup, Caleb Joseph, somehow managed to become the first player in history to log 100 or more at-bats in a season without accruing a single RBI.

So yeah, something tells us that an Orioles team that must also address the potential departures of Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez from its high-powered offense is going to have to solve the catching spot this offseason some way, somehow. If the O's don't re-sign Wieters, free-agent options include Alex Avila, Ryan Hanigan, Chris Iannetta and one-time Oriole Nick Hundley.

Baltimore is also on the hunt for starting depth.

7. Cardinals: Center fielder

The Cards took a big step back defensively last season and could stand to inject some speed into their offense, too. With Matt Carpenter moving to first and Jedd Gyorko likely to handle the bulk of at-bats at third, their infield is seemingly set, which means the outfield is the key place to improve in these areas.

Swiping Fowler from the rival Cubs would be the "easy" fix, but GM John Mozeliak took a measured approach a year ago when everybody thought the Cardinals were going to use money to solve every problem, so it wouldn't be a shock to see him do something more nuanced or shorter-term here. It's certainly worth talking to the cross-state Royals about Lorenzo Cain or Jarrod Dyson.

8. Indians: First baseman

This figures to be a quiet Winter Meetings from the defending AL champs because 1) they rarely make noise in this environment and 2) in addition to hopefully getting Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar back healthy, they are returning the bulk of their World Series roster.

But Napoli's free agency after a 34-homer year threatens to sap some strength from the lineup, and so the Indians will make an effort to re-sign him or find a value buy that they hope works out as wonderfully as Napoli's one-year, $7 million contract did. Matt Holliday, Chris Carter, Steve Pearce, Moreland, Trevor Plouffe and old friend Luis Valbuena are free-agent options.

9. Red Sox: Bullpen help

Obviously, this team just lost an elite middle-of-the-order presence with David Ortiz's retirement, and that's a hole that needs filling. But the Red Sox are operating in a market deep on sluggers, and, sexy or not, they do have the option of filling the DH slot internally with a rotating cast that involves Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. So while the need is present, it might not necessarily be defined as pressing.

The bullpen, though, is team president Dave Dombrowski's long-established bugaboo, and, coming off a year in which the back end of the 'pen was entirely too inconsistent, he'll have to upgrade it in a highly competitive market that has already seen some surprises (a four-year deal for Brett Cecil and a two-year deal for Marc Rzepczynski). Doubtful the Sox will be signing a Chapman or Jansen, but some of the lower-profile 'pen arms mentioned earlier would qualify here.

10. Astros: Frontline starter

GM Jeff Luhnow hasn't wasted any time addressing his roster in the wake of a disappointing '16, having signed Josh Reddick and Charlie Morton and traded for Brian McCann. The Astros are expected to land another impact run producer (possibly Edwin Encarnacion) in free agency, and there's some thought that they might be piling up the veteran bats in an effort to free themselves up to move a young guy (Alex Bregman?) in a swap for a big-time starter (Sale? Jose Quintana? Justin Verlander? Chris Archer?).

In any event, the rotation currently sizes up as an iffy one, and while the offseason action so far has been impressive, you'd feel better about the Astros living up to those World Series championship expectations if they added a durable and dependable starting arm.

Some other candidates for this list:

• The Blue Jays need a corner-outfield bat.
• The defending World Series champion Cubs need a closer.
• The Mariners need a starting arm, particularly with Taijuan Walker's upside shipped elsewhere.
• The Marlins, gutted by the untimely loss of Jose Fernandez, need a top-end starter.
• The Yankees have DH at-bats to fill and want another back-end arm, but their biggest key to competitiveness in 2017 would be a dependable starter.
• The Rockies need a first baseman and a frontline starter.
• The D-backs, who still have a lot of talent on paper, need bullpen help.
• The Pirates need starting pitching.
• The Royals need a DH and starting depth if they're going to capitalize on their core's closing window.
• The Mets need bullpen help.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.