Watch Now: 2020 Summer Camp Checklists For Teams (1:57)

Major League Baseball is on the way back. Spring training 2.0, henceforth known as "summer camp," opened last week and the 60-game regular season is scheduled to begin July 23. Teams will play 60 games in 66 days before the standard 10-team postseason. The COVID-19 pandemic threats to shut MLB down at any moment, but, for now, they're going to try to play.

It has been more than three months since MLB shut down spring training because of the pandemic and the sport's landscape has changed since then. It has certainly changed economically -- teams have lost billions during the shutdown -- but also competitively. Players who were injured in spring training are healthy now and expected to be on the Opening Day roster, for example.

With that in mind, here is an updated look at each team's top storyline heading into the abbreviated 2020 season. Some involve individual players, some involve the team as a whole. Let's get to the shortened season's No. 1 storylines for al 30 clubs.


A dangerous team in a short season. The teams with the most to lose this year are the small- to mid-market clubs that put their eggs in the short-term basket, like the Diamondbacks. They signed Madison Bumgarner to a back-loaded contract -- his full season salary jumps from $6 million in 2020 to $19 million in 2021 -- and traded two very good prospects for two years (technically one year plus one club option year) for Starling Marte. Over a full 162-game season, the D-Backs would be a serious postseason contender given their talent and depth. In a 60-game season though? Who knows. A hot start would make an NL West title that much more attainable. Arizona could be a real handful in a short season.

Can they win a postseason series? The Braves have not won a postseason series since the 2001 NLDS -- they've been to the postseason nine times in 18 seasons since -- and wow did their 2019 season end in ugly fashion. The shutdown means fans and the organization had to dwell on that 10-run first inning in Game 5 of the NLDS that much longer. The Braves are incredibly talented and they made a series of smart one-year signings this winter to bolster their roster. It's time to win a postseason round. Even in a weird 60-game season that will never quite feel legitimate, it's time.

Will they win 10 games? I mean, probably. The Orioles' worst 60-game stretch the last two seasons was 14-46 early last year, but that team had Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, Trey Mancini, and Jonathan Villar. This one won't. (Mancini will miss 2020 as he undergoes treatment for colon cancer.) The O's are still very early in their rebuild and Austin Hays, John Means, and Anthony Santander give fans a reason to pay attention, but yeah, this team figures to be extremely bad. ZiPS projects the O's to have the toughest schedule in baseball (.525 opponent's winning percentage) so the double-digit wins watch is on. Anything more than 10 is gravy.

So is this a rebuild or what? A retooling is probably the best way to describe it. You can't trade away Mookie Betts (and David Price) and say your top priority is winning in 2020, even when you get a talented young player like Alex Verdugo in return. The Red Sox made nothing more than minor free agent additions (Martin Perez, Kevin Pillar, etc.) and Chris Sale's Tommy John surgery doesn't help matters either. That said, the Red Sox still have Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. J.D. Martinez remains a middle of the order masher. Eduardo Rodriguez broke out last year. It's not a rebuild. This also isn't a team laser focused on winning in 2020. Short season weirdness could put them in the postseason race anyway. 

The end of the core as we know it? Kris Bryant (and Willson Contreras, reportedly) were on the trade block all offseason for luxury tax payroll reasons and that was long before COVID-19 forced baseball to shut down for more than three months. The Cubs appear ready to dismantle the 2016 World Series core to get their payroll in order and that likely means 2020 will be this group's chance to win another title together. At a minimum, Jon Lester and Jose Quintana will be free agents after the season, so the rotation will have a new look in 2021. The Cubs may look very, very different one year from now.

A delayed breakout season. The White Sox are good roughly once every 10 years and two of the last three times they were good, the season was cut short. In 1994, it was the work stoppage. In 2020, it was COVID-19. At least they were able to sandwich a World Series title in there in 2005. In all seriousness, the White Sox have a dynamite young core (Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert, etc.) and they supplemented it with sensible free agent additions (Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, etc.) over the winter. This was supposed to be a breakout season on Chicago's south side and it still could be. A step forward in 2020 with an eye on contention in 2021 would equal a successful season.

Opportunity abound in the NL Central. Give them credit, the Reds are going for it. They've spent a lot of money on free agents the last two offseasons and they traded a top prospect for Trevor Bauer, and the result is a well-rounded ballclub with an opportunity to win a weak division. There's no powerhouse team in the NL Central and small sample size will wreak havoc in a 60-game season. The Reds, maybe moreso than any other team that came into 2020 as a fringe contender, are poised to jump out to a hot start and run away with a very winnable division. There's a clear path to the postseason now.

Lindor's future. There's no way around it at this point. Francisco Lindor was on the trade block all winter and he will be a free agent after next season. It's unlikely the Indians can afford to keep him long-term, especially after the financial hit of the shutdown, making a trade that much more likely. Do the Indians keep Lindor and try to make one last run in 2020, and risk getting a relatively small trade package over the winter? Or do they move him at the deadline to recoup as much talent as possible? Keep in mind teams can only trade players on their 60-man roster this year, limiting who the Indians can receive in return. Quite the pickle in Cleveland.

The ongoing Arenado drama. Prior to the shutdown franchise player Nolan Arenado said he felt "disrespected" by the Rockies, specifically their inactive offseason following a 71-win season in 2019. He signed a long-term deal last spring and wants to win, not sit through a rebuild. There was plenty of Arenado trade speculation before the season was put on hold. The financial ramifications of the shutdown make it less likely Arenado will be traded, so the two sides will have to figure out a way to coexist. An unhappy franchise player is no way to go through life and certainly no way to contend.

The young pitching arrives. Even before the shutdown it was likely one or all of top pitching prospects Matt Manning, Casey Mize, and Tarik Skubal would make their MLB debut this season. The Tigers are loaded with high-end arms and the expanded rosters means we should see them at some point this year, even if only for spot-start duty. Anything can happen in a 60-game season, sure, but the Tigers are not expected to be good. For them, a successful season involves those prized young arms getting their feet wet and ready to assume a larger role in 2021.

So, about that whole sign-stealing thing. Kinda easy to overlook now, isn't it? The shutdown will give the Astros a bit of a reprieve as a)  there are more important things going on, and b) there won't be any fans in the park to boo them, at least initially. The Astros won't even have to face the media every day (there will be no pre- or post-game clubhouse media access in 2020). Houston remains a very good ballclub, but the team is perhaps more vulnerable now than at any point in the last 2-3 years given the ages of their top two starters. What if they come out of the gate struggling offensively? The sign-stealing question will be asked. You all know it.  

Introducing the young pitching. Similar to the Tigers, the Royals have a pitching-heavy farm system led by Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, and Brady Singer. Kowar and Singer were in position to debut this season even prior to the shutdown and now it feels inevitable with expanded rosters. Lynch is a little behind them developmentally but could debut as well. Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler are in their primes right now, so the sooner the young arms arrive and take that next step, the better it'll be for Kansas City. Giving those top young pitchers a taste of the show during this abbreviated season will help them in 2021 and beyond.

Ohtani's return as a pitcher. Lots of great Angels storylines this season. Mike Trout's continued climb into the inner circle of the inner circle, Anthony Rendon's debut season in Anaheim, Albert Pujols continuing to chase history, so on and so forth. Personally, I can't wait to see Shohei Ohtani back on the mound and doing the two-way thing again. He's a .286/.351/.532 hitter in nearly 800 MLB plate appearances and he had a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings before his elbow gave out in 2018. Ohtani's an impact player and the Angels need someone like him in the rotation to make a serious run at a postseason berth in 2020.

60 games of Mookie. It is hardly a lock COVID-19 will allow the 60-game 2020 season to be completed, but, for right now, let's assume it will be played safely. The Dodgers traded for one season of Mookie Betts, a former MVP and arguably the best best player in baseball, and the pandemic has reduced their return to 60 games. The thing is, the Betts trade was never about the regular season. It was about getting over the hump in October and winning the World Series. Fair or not, the trade will be judged on whether Betts helps Los Angeles wins a title. The 60-game season will create some weirdness but make no mistake, there is real pressure on the Dodgers to win a championship in 2020.

Which top prospects will arrive? Last year's trade deadline machinations brought the Marlins three of their best prospects in first baseman Lewin Diaz, shortstop Jazz Chisholm, and outfielder Jesus Sanchez. All three had success at Double-A last season and could debut this year depending what the Marlins do with their veteran incumbents at each position (Jesus Aguilar, Miguel Rojas, Corey Dickerson and Jonathan Villar, respectively). The Marlins have a sneaky-good rotation and some of their better position player prospects will arrive soon. We're going to get a 60-game glimpse at the light at the end of the rebuilding tunnel in 2020.

Embrace the DH. I'm not sure any National League team benefits from the universal DH as much as the Brewers. Coming into the season the plan was to have Ryan Braun and Justin Smoak share first base, with Braun also playing the outfield here and there. Now the Brewers can have Braun and Smoak in the lineup at all times, and rotate outfielders in at DH to give them an occasional breather. That's a good thing with Lorenzo Cain now 34 and Christian Yelich coming off a major knee injury. Ultimately, the pitching staff -- the "out-getters" as manager Craig Counsell calls them -- will determine whether the Brewers reach the postseason for the third straight season. The universal DH is an obvious plus though. 

Can they win a postseason game? Thanks to last year's ALDS sweep, the Twins have lost a North American pro sports record-tying 16 straight postseason games. It's them and the 1975-79 Chicago Blackhawks. The Twins added Josh Donaldson to what was already a very good roster over the winter, so they're clearly going for it. Gotta get to the postseason before you can worry about winning a postseason game, sure, but the 16-game postseason losing streak is something Minnesota desperately wants to snap this year. Once that happens, the Twins can set their sights on the big prize.

DeGrom's pursuit of Cy Young history. Hall of Famers Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux are the only pitchers in history to win three consecutive Cy Young awards (they both won four straight) and Mets ace Jacob deGrom will try to join them this year. It's a short season and a slow start would crush his chances -- deGrom was sitting on a good but not Cy Young level 3.71 ERA through 11 starts last year, remember -- but deGrom is as good a pick as anyone for the award. The Mets went 45-25 in their final 70 games last year, the fourth best record in baseball, so honorable mention goes to a pretty talented roster trying to keep up that pace this season (without Noah Syndergaard).

Can they stay healthy? Early on in spring training, the answer was no. Luis Severino had Tommy John surgery, James Paxton had back surgery, Giancarlo Stanton hurt his calf, and Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge were still dealing with injuries that carried over from last season. All would've started the original March 26 Opening Day on the injured list. Now everyone except Severino figures to be on the July 23 Opening Day roster. The Yankees won 103 games last season despite putting a record 30 different players on the injured list. In a 60-game season, I doubt they want to push their luck again. The Yankees need their best players to stay on the field to have a shot at a title in 2020.

What will Luzardo and Puk bring? The Athletics won 97 games in 2018 and 2019, and lost in the AL Wild Card Game both years. That's a bummer. Marcus Semien will be a free agent this offseason, so there's a good chance these 60 games will be the last run for one of the game's best infields (along with Matt Chapman and Matt Olson). Top pitching prospects Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk are poised to get more innings in 2020 -- Luzardo, however, recently reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 and his status for the beginning of the season is unclear -- and they have true impact potential. Also, the short season means the A's won't have to sweat their workloads. They can be difference-makers.

Is this the year they break through? Back-to-back seasons of 80 wins and 81 wins isn't good enough for a Phillies team that has invested heavily in veterans the last two offseasons, including replacing the eccentric Gabe Kapler with the no-nonsense Joe Girardi this past winter. The universal DH gives them an extra bat and at some point top pitching prospect Spencer Howard should join the rotation this year. Even with the caveat that weird things can -- and will -- happen during a 60-game season, it's time for the Phillies to return to serious contention. Sitting around .500 again won't cut it.

Early stages of the rebuild. The Pirates traded away Starling Marte over the winter and closer Keone Kela, an impending free agent, will likely be moved at some point as well. Maybe Joe Musgrove too. New GM Ben Cherington is in the early stages of putting together the next great Pirates team and that means youngsters like Mitch Keller, Kevin Newman, and Cole Tucker figure to get long looks in 2020. Right now, only Bryan Reynolds is locked in as a long-term piece seeing how Josh Bell is a Scott Boras client and less than three years from free agency. The Pirates aren't expected to be good this season. Their 60-game season will be about collecting information for the future.

One last chance for an aging core? The Cardinals were unceremoniously swept out of the NLCS last season and it's not crazy to think it was their last chance to win a title with this core. Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, Yadier Molina, and Adam Wainwright are near the end of their time as productive big leaguers and Paul Goldschmidt was good but not great in Year 1 as a Cardinal. At the same time, the Cardinals have a very good young talent base, led of course by Jack Flaherty. Paul DeJong, Tommy Edman, Tyler O'Neill, and top prospect Dylan Carlson are in that group. There is a changing of the guard taking place in St. Louis and these 60 games might be the veteran core's last ride together.

Will we see Gore and Patino? Last season the Padres carried Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack on their Opening Day roster rather than manipulate their service time. They may not do that with top prospects MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino this year, especially after the shutdown, but we could see them make their MLB debuts at some point thanks to expanded rosters and the general weirdness of 2020. Honorable mention here goes to All-Star closer and impending free agent Kirby Yates. Do the Padres trade him if they're out of it? Probably, but what if they're in the race?

Yaz's follow up season. The Giants rebuilt their outfield on the fly last season and struck scrap heap pickup gold with Mike Yastrzemski. Carl's grandson was stolen away from the Orioles and turned in a .272/.334/.518 batting line with 21 home runs in 107 games. San Francisco is in a quasi-rebuild and they have a veteran position player core -- Yastrzemski turns 30 in August, so even he's not young -- so any signs of better days ahead are welcome. Yastrzemski is one of the few players on the roster who could be part of the next contending Giants team.

What if they end the postseason drought this year? It would be an extremely Mariners way to do it. Seattle has the longest postseason drought in North American sports -- they haven't been to the playoffs since Ichiro Suzuki's rookie season in 2001 -- and ending it during a 60-game season would be a wholly unsatisfying way to do it. The best-case scenario is getting to the postseason this year, then getting there again next year to show it was no fluke. With prospects like Logan Gilbert, Jarred Kelenic, and Julio Rodriguez (and Emerson Hancock) on the way, maybe they can swing it. The Mariners ending the postseason drought this year would be very weird though. 

An ideal roster for a 60-game season. The Rays are loaded with depth. Their position players can play seemingly anywhere, their bullpen is about nine guys deep, and their rotation top three (Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton, Blake Snell) is as good as it gets. And they have the best farm system in baseball, meaning quality replacements are a phone call away. I am willing to hear arguments depth won't be as important this year because the season is shorter, but I think it will be of paramount importance. The shutdown and short season creates workload concerns and perhaps heightened injury risk, and there's also the COVID-19 threat. Few teams have as much quality depth as Tampa.

The brand new ballpark. The Rangers positioned themselves to contend -- or at least stay in the race into September -- in Year 1 of Globe Life Field this season. They're missing out on the usual new ballpark windfall, though maybe they'll get to enjoy that next season. More than anything, this year is about a) making a run at a postseason spot, and b) finding out how the new ballpark plays. Joey Gallo has taken batting practice on the field and says it plays big -- "It's definitely going to be a pitcher's park. We are trying to get those fences moved in a little bit. It's a little deep, I am not going to lie. It's a little deep out to center. Us hitters are getting a little nervous about that," he told reporters, including Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, in May -- and that would be a big change from their old digs.

Can the pitching match the bats? The Blue Jays are going to be a real headache for opposing teams this year. I'm not sure they'll actually be good, but they won't be a pushover. Toronto added competent pitching (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, etc.) to their high-end young bats (Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., etc.), and they have arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball knocking on the door (Nate Pearson). The AL East is a difficult division and 2020 might be a year too early for this group, but strange things happen in 60-game samples. If the bats develop as hoped and the pitching holds up its end of the bargain, the Blue Jays could make a surprise run to the postseason.

Defending the World Series championship. There has not been a repeat World Series champion since the 1998-2000 Yankees. The Nationals will try to repeat this season without Anthony Rendon and after (mostly) doubling down on older players over the winter. The shutdown means their starters, who were worked heavily last October, got an extended break and that could really help them this year. Washington overcame a lot of adversity to win its first ever championship last season. This year the Nats will have to navigate the weirdness of a 60-game season to repeat.