MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

7 contenders in good shape for beyond '17

7 contenders in good shape for beyond '17

On Sept. 23, 1949, with the defending World Series champion Indians having been officially eliminated from a chance to repeat, Bill Veeck held funeral services in the outfield at Cleveland Stadium for the '48 pennant.

What was humorous at the time has become a frustration for the franchise and its fans.

The Indians haven't won a World Series since. And with the Cubs beating the Indians in seven games in last fall's World Series, the Tribe now has gone longer without a World Series championship than any other Major League team.

Is the struggle about to end?

The exclamation point to the Indians' statement of belief is apparent with their roster. They not only have a team that is expected to make a run at a World Series championship this year, but they are positioned to be a factor beyond 2017.

The Cubs, meanwhile, have a young lineup, but only five players on their roster are signed to contracts for next season and only seven will be arbitration-eligible. Meanwhile, they have seven potential free agents, including projected starting pitchers John Lackey, Jake Arrieta and Brett Anderson and closer Wade Davis.

Here are seven teams with roster control that bodes well for this season and beyond.

1. Indians
They opened the season with a 25-man roster on which there are only three potential free agents next fall: reliever Bryan Shaw, DH/first baseman Carlos Santana and outfielder Austin Jackson. The Tribe has 12 players under contract for next year, and eight who will be arbitration-eligible, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Santana's leadoff home run

2. Red Sox
Boston did suffer a Spring Training blow when left-hander David Price was sidelined with an elbow injury in the second year of a seven-year, $217 million contract. But the Sox have him for five more years after this season, along with six other players signed for next year, and 14 players who will be arbitration-eligible. The only potential free agents next offseason are outfielder Chris Young, first baseman/DH Mitch Moreland and left-hander Fernando Abad.

3. Marlins
They are poised to surprise in the National League East. Yes, the Marlins have suffered six consecutive losing seasons, but Don Mattingly, in his second year at the helm, has a roster with eight players signed to contracts for next year and 13 others who will be arbitration-eligible. Catcher A.J. Ellis and pitcher Dustin McGowan are the only potential free agents.

4. Dodgers
They have not won a World Series championship since 1988, but the Dodgers have advanced to the postseason 10 times during that drought, including finishing in first place in the NL West the past four years. Not shy to spend money, they have 12 players signed to contracts for next year and nine others eligible for arbitration. Their only three potential free agents are reliever Sergio Romo, outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and second baseman Chase Utley.

5. Cardinals
St. Louis is so respected that an 86-win season can be considered a disappointement. But the Cards have won 86 or more games the past 10 years, they are looking to challenge the division-rival Cubs for the NL Central title and have roster stability for the future. The Redbirds have 10 players signed for next year and seven who will be arbitration-eligible. The potential free agents are Jhonny Peralta, who was moved from shortstop to third, and pitchers Lance Lynn, Zach Duke and Jonathan Broxton.

Cards on Lynn's extension

6. Astros
This team is young, and the roster is under control. The Astros have seven players on multiyear contracts that include next season and 10 who are arbitration-eligible, and they still have five years of control of shortstop Carlos Correa. Their potential free agents after this season are outfielder/DH Carlos Beltran and reliever Luke Gregerson.

7. Giants
They have won three World Series in the past seven years. Could another be on the way? The Giants do have 11 players signed for next season and seven others arbitration-eligible. Their only potential free agents are third baseman Eduardo Nunez, backup catcher Nick Hundley and reliever George Kontos.

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