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A little more than one week ago, the Atlanta Braves beat the Houston Astros to clinch their first World Series championship since 1995, and only their second since moving to Atlanta in 1966. The parade was appropriately memorable and chaotic.

The early days of the 2021-22 offseason have been slow, which is not unusual. Like the regular season, the baseball offseason is a marathon, not a sprint. Rarely do we see a rush of moves in the early days of free agency. This offseason is also complicated by the collective bargaining agreement, which expires Dec. 1. All signs point to no deal being reached and a lockout occurring.

Lockout or no lockout, every team has business to handle this offseason, some more significant business than others. With that in mind, here is the biggest question facing each team this winter.

Is it time to trade Marte? The Diamondbacks lost 110 games in 2021 and the NL West is a brutal division. Arizona does not seem poised for a quick turnaround even with quality building blocks like Zac Gallen, Ketel Marte, and Daulton Varsho. The D-Backs resisted trading Marte at the deadline and they'll be tempted again this offseason. His trade value may never again be as high as it is right now given his production and long-term control. With contention seemingly so far away, the D-Backs would be smart to go into Marte trade talks with an open mind. Otherwise this team needs upgrades all over the field and on the mound. They need more help than they could reasonably get in a single offseason.  

Will they re-sign Freeman? I would bet the farm on the answer being "yes," though St. Louis once let Albert Pujols walk right after a World Series win, so we can't etch it in stone. As the Braves went through their rebuild in the mid-2010s, Freddie Freeman was the one core player they refused to trade and instead built around, so it was fitting he recorded the final put out in the World Series clinching Game 6. Freeman turned 32 in September and decline years are coming, but he's also in "retired number" territory for the Braves, and has built most of a strong Hall of Fame case. A reunion along the lines of Paul Goldschmidt's contract (five years and $130 million, also signed at age 32) is sensible enough. Now it just has to happen.

Will they trade Mancini? Trey Mancini's return from Stage 3 colon cancer was the feel-good story of the season. Alas, this is a business, and Mancini turns 30 in spring training and is a year away from free agency. Baltimore is still so far from contention in the deep AL East that it's difficult to see Mancini as part of the next great Orioles team. On one hand, trading him this winter is the way to go from the cold-blooded "baseball decision" perspective. On the other hand, the Orioles have lost at least 108 games in their last three 162-game seasons, and Mancini is one of the few things their fans can feel good about. I'm not sure Mancini's trade value is all that high because he's good rather than great, and he has just one year of control with a projected $8 million or so salary through arbitration. Keeping him and building some goodwill with the fan base rather than flipping him for a Grade B prospect or two wouldn't be a terrible idea. 

How will they build the rotation? Chris Sale will be further away from Tommy John surgery next year and he'll join Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta in the rotation. Tanner Houck has earned a longer look next season after riding the shuttle between Triple-A and the big leagues this summer, leaving the No. 5 spot up for grabs. Stalwart Eduardo Rodriguez is a free agent and re-signing him would be smart, though it isn't a lock. The Red Sox could be tempted to move Garrett Whitlock into the rotation, though his arsenal and issues with lefties suggest the bullpen is where he belongs. Another reliable, innings-eating arm to protect against Houck's (and Whitlock's and Connor Seabold's and whichever other young pitchers the Red Sox cycle through) workload limitations feels necessary.   

How much do they believe in the second half offense? The Cubs have obvious questions about their rotation -- claiming Wade Miley off waivers was fine work -- though the more interesting question to me is the offense. Following the deadline purge Chicago got good work from fill-ins Frank Schwindel and Rafael Ortega (and Patrick Wisdom, who was around most of the year). Good enough to pencil them into the lineup next season? Or is this a "thanks for those fun few weeks, but we're going to look for someone with a longer track record" situation? Schwindel's promising blend of above-average contact rates and high-end exit velocities is worth a longer look in 2022, I believe.

What happens with Kimbrel? As expected, the White Sox picked up their $16 million club option for Craig Kimbrel prior to Sunday's deadline. It's difficult to see Kimbrel opening next season with the ChiSox, however. He was ineffective and just a poor fit after joining the club at the trade deadline, so a trade seems likely. Kimbrel was an All-Star just this season. You don't have to look back far at all to see the last time he was an elite closer. That said, he did struggle following the trade, and the $16 million price tag won't be easy to move. Contenders with a clear opening in the ninth inning (i.e. teams willing to let Kimbrel closer rather than try him as a setup man like the White Sox) and money to spend figure to be the most aggressive trade suitors.

How much more will they cut payroll? The first few days of the offseason have been ominous, The Reds traded the perfectly cromulent Tucker Barnhart to the Tigers for a non-prospect, then let Wade Miley go on waivers. Both moves were clearly designed to cut payroll, which is not something a team that was in the postseason race much of the year should be doing. They should be adding to Barnhart and Miley, not subtracting them. If the cost-cutting continues, Sonny Gray is an obvious trade candidate. If it ends here, the Reds can salvage a rough first week of the offseason and put a contending roster together for 2022.

How can they improve the outfield? Really, the question is how much can the front office spend, because Cleveland has aggressively cut payroll the last two offseasons. Picking up center fielder Myles Straw at the trade deadline was a nifty little move. Now the club needs to upgrade the outfield corners, where they've struggled to field even average big leaguers since letting Michael Brantley leave as a free agent. If they can add even a moderate amount of payroll, finding quality outfield bats won't be too difficult. If the front office can only spend a little (or not at all), then Cleveland may again struggle to generate offense and contend in 2022.

What will happen behind the scenes? Look, there's very little chance the Rockies will contend in the NL West next year. The division is too strong even if the D-Backs throw in the towel and completely rebuild. Realistically, there is no series of moves that can make Colorado a contender in 2022. In that case, the focus needs to be on the behind the scenes work. Interim GM Bill Schmidt was given the job permanently a few weeks ago. What is he doing to improve the club's front office infrastructure? The perception within the game is the Rockies are behind the times analytically. It's time to get up to speed, and also modernize the scouting and player development systems. That's the priority this winter. Any questions about the team on the field are secondary.

Can they land a big shortstop? The Tigers are a sleeper team this offseason. They have no money on the books long-term other than Miguel Cabrera, and their top prospects are either in the big leagues (Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal) or are knocking on the door (Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, etc.). Detroit took some nice steps forward this year and the team has already made one sensible, low-cost upgrade in catcher Tucker Barnhart. The question now is can they land one of the big free agent shortstops to be the veteran centerpiece as they transition from rebuilder to contender, similar to the Nationals signing Jayson Werth? The Carlos Correa-A.J. Hinch connection is difficult to ignore.

Will they re-sign Correa? They obviously should. Carlos Correa is a franchise player and he turned only 27 in September, so he still has an awful lot of peak years ahead of him, plus he's a beloved homegrown player. I mean, if you're going to tank so you can draft this guy No. 1 overall and then not sign him long-term, why would fans expect you to sign anyone long-term? I'm not saying re-signing Correa will be cheap -- he's made the Astros far more than money than they've paid him, and now it's his turn to cash in -- but it should be a no-brainer. The Astros are very good and their window to win a title will remain open in 2022. Let Correa walk and that window doesn't close completely, but it definitely closes quite a bit.

How will they sort out the infield? The Royals have a good problem on their hands. Their middle infield is stacked: Nicky Lopez had a breakout season at shortstop, Whit Merrifield was an All-Star at second base, and Adalberto Mondesi is one of the most physically gifted players in the sport. Kansas City also has an elite shortstop prospect knocking on the door in Bobby Witt Jr. Perhaps this question has an easy solution: Lopez and Witt as the double play combination, Merrifield moves back to the outfield, and Mondesi assumes a part-time super utility role given his inability to avoid the injured list. That said, it could be time to put Merrifield and Mondesi on the trade market and look to address other needs (pitching, mostly) that way. 

Will they land top-tier pitching? The question is the same as it ever was with the Angels. Shohei Ohtani pitches at an ace level when he starts, though he only started 23 games this year because the club must limit his workload as a two-way player. Patrick Sandoval had a breakout year, maybe José Suarez too, otherwise the rotation is a mess. There is no Gerrit Cole sitting in free agency, that in-his-prime ace, though guys like Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, and Marcus Stroman represent significant upgrades to a pitching staff that needs significant upgrades. The health of Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon is a question too, though that's not really something the Angels can answer in the offseason.

What happens with all their free agents? There's a chance the Dodgers will look very different when spring training rolls around in a few months. Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, and Chris Taylor are all free agents after serving as cornerstone players the last six-plus years, and other short-term Dodgers like Corey Knebel and Max Scherzer are free agents as well. I have a hard time seeing Jansen or Kershaw in different uniforms, but gosh, who really knows at this point? Even if they re-sign those two, it feels like Los Angeles is heading for an offseason of significant change.

Will they trade a pitcher? The Marlins have built enviable rotation depth. Sandy Alcantara is a legitimate ace and maybe the least talked about great pitcher in the sport. Trevor Rogers and Pablo López are above-average starters as well, Sixto Sánchez and Jesús Luzardo (and Edward Cabrera) bring big upside, and others like Braxton Garrett, Elieser Hernandez, and Nick Neidert serve as depth. Miami is loaded with pitching but short on offense, and trading a pitcher for a bat is worth considering. Assuming Alcantara is off-limits, López makes the most sense as a trade chip. He's into his money-making arbitration years and would bring a hefty return, and the Marlins can replace him internally. 

Will they finally trade Hader? Josh Hader is no stranger to the trade rumor mill. He's been on the block for a few years now, yet he remains with the Brewers, and he just had his best season. At the same time, Hader is only two years away from free agency and his 2022 salary will be in the $10 million range through arbitration. That's pricey for a small-market team that churns out quality relievers seemingly at will. If the Brewers are going to trade Hader, this is the time to do it, because an injury or a subpar season would sink his value (and maybe even turn him into a non-tender candidate next offseason). Flipping Hader for a package built around a young first or third baseman would be ideal, though when you're trading a player like this, get as much talent back as possible regardless of position, and sort it out later.

Who's pitching for this team in 2022? José Berríos was traded at the deadline, Kenta Maeda had Tommy John surgery in September, and Michael Pineda is a free agent. So, right now, the Twins rotation is Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and I guess Randy Dobnak? Others like Griffin Jax and Drew Strotman shouldn't be Opening Day rotation locks, and top prospects Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran have five career games at Triple-A combined (all by Duran). The AL Central is hardly a powerhouse division and you don't have to try too hard to see Minnesota making a run in 2022. They badly need rotation help though. At least two starters, I'd say. Maybe even three, and ideally they add at least one frontline guy who wouldn't look out of place starting Game 1 of a postseason series.

Will they find someone to take over their baseball operations? This should -- should -- be the most desirable front office job in baseball, maybe even in all of sports. The Mets are a big-market club with a beautiful ballpark, an owner willing to spend, a dedicated fan base, and they have talent on the roster (Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Jacob deGrom, etc.) and in the farm system (Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, etc.). And yet, the Mets keep getting turned away by their top candidates, several of whom have straight up declined to interview. That's ... troubling. How bad must the franchise's reputation be for candidates to pass on this opportunity? Eventually someone will join the Mets as their general manager. There are only 30 of these jobs, after all. Clearly though, the Mets won't be getting one of their top candidates. They might not even get one of their second-tier candidates.

How will they address shortstop? The Yankees pulled the plug on Gleyber Torres at shortstop in August and will now look to fill the position this winter. Opening the wallet and spending on Carlos Correa or Corey Seager would be the easiest, most Yankee-like move. They need a shortstop and there are two 27-year-old franchise shortstops sitting in free agency, so sign one. That said, there are other viable options (Javier Báez, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story), and it's unclear whether the Yankees will even spend big after ducking under the luxury-tax threshold in 2021. Freddy Galvis, José Iglesias, and Andrelton Simmons represent the free agent bargain bin. Nick Ahmed and Paul DeJong look to be the best the trade market has to offer.

How deep will the cost-cutting get? The early signs are troubling. The Athletics let Bob Melvin, arguably the best manager in the game, go to the Padres for no compensation even though he had a year remaining on his contract. They then declined the very reasonable $4 million club option in Jake Diekman's contract. It's not a question of will the A's cut payroll, but how much will they cut it? So much that stalwarts like Chris Bassitt, Matt Chapman, Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea, and Matt Olson find themselves on the trade block? All except Montas are projected to earn north of $8 million through arbitration in 2021. This is shaping up to be a painful offseason for A's fans as the club continues to haggle over a new ballpark.

What happens on the left side of the infield? The Phillies also have needs in center field and in the bullpen, though the left side of the infield stands out as the biggest weakness. Shortstop Didi Gregorius is one year into a two-year contract, but he was one of the least productive players in baseball in 2021, and third baseman Alec Bohm might be best suited for left field. Moving Jean Segura to third base, where he played 24 games in 2020, is one option, but that just moves the question from third to second. My guess is Gregorius will get another crack at the shortstop job in 2022. Even then, they still need to figure out third base. In a perfect world, the Phillies would upgrade both positions on the left side of the infield this winter rather than take a "we hope things will be better in 2022" approach.

Will they trade Reynolds? The Pirates are still fairly early in their rebuild, so it's no surprise they received calls about All-Star outfielder Bryan Reynolds at the trade deadline. They had a high asking price -- Pittsburgh reportedly wanted top prospect Julio Rodríguez from the Mariners -- and understandably so. Reynolds is a soon-to-be 27-year-old All-Star who won't become a free agent until after 2025. Keeping him and building around him would be ideal. That said, the Pirates will again be bombarded with trade calls this winter. Will any offers be good enough to seriously consider trading Reynolds? At this point in the rebuild, nothing can be off the table, though it would have to be a Godfather package to get me to part with this guy. You can't just keep trading your good players away and rebuilding forever.

Will they sign a top free agent? Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright are returning for one more season and it would make sense for the Cardinals to go all-in on 2022 and try to get them another ring. You could envision them signing one of the top shortstops (Paul DeJong has fallen out of favor and Edmundo Sosa is a nice player who shouldn't stand in the way of an upgrade) or a top starting pitcher (hello St. Louis native Max Scherzer). Heck, why not both? The sheer numbers indicate one of those top free agent shortstops will get squeezed into a one-year contract. How about reuniting Trevor Story with Nolan Arenado on a one-year "prove yourself" contract, and bringing Scherzer home as well? That would be fun. 

What's next for Tatis? First things first: Fernando Tatis Jr. will not have shoulder surgery this offseason, reports Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He will instead go through a rehab program designed to strengthen the shoulder. That answers one major question. The second: where will Tatis play in 2022? He has spent most of his career at shortstop, but he did play about a month in the outfield this past season to protect the shoulder. Either way, shortstop or the outfield, the Padres have to make a decision about Tatis' defensive home, and that decision will help shape their offseason.

How will they spend all that money? It's not often a franchise player like Buster Posey can retire and the team's biggest offseason question isn't "how will they replace him?" but top prospect Joey Bart softens the blow for San Francisco. Instead, we'll ask how the Giants are planning to spend all that money. Posey, Brandon Belt, Johnny Cueto, and Kevin Gausman are all free agents after making a combined $77.3 million in 2021. Belt and Gausman must be replaced (Cueto too), though that is still a ton -- a ton -- of money to play with this winter, and that's even before we consider a possible payroll increase after a 107-win season and a division title. The Giants are smart and they have money to spend. All signs point to this team having an incredibly impactful offseason.

How much will payroll increase? That should be the question, not "will payroll increase?" The Mariners ran a payroll in the $140 million to $160 million range every year from 2016-19, then chopped it down to $73 million in 2021. With young talent all over the roster (Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, etc.) and more coming (Julio Rodríguez, Emerson Hancock, etc.), and the club staying in the postseason race right down to the final day of the regular season, Seattle should be a major player this offseason. They need help at second and third base, behind the plate, and in the rotation. Ownership has no good reason to pinch pennies this offseason after the year the team just had (and given their recent demonstrated payroll capacity).

Which veteran will be traded? Last offseason it was Blake Snell, the offseason before that it was Tommy Pham, and two offseasons before that is was Evan Longoria. Trading veterans for prospects to keep payroll down and replenish the pipeline is at the center of the Rays' team-building process, and they're very good at it, although it can be painful for fans to see their favorite players shipped out constantly. This offseason's trade candidates include Kevin Kiermaier and the injured Tyler Glasnow, plus others like Austin Meadows, Joey Wendle, and Yandy Díaz. Given everything we know about how Tampa operates, the question is not will they trade a veteran, but which one(s) will they trade.

Will they open their wallets for a big free agent? Trevor Story grew up in Dallas and he's been speculated as a potential target for the Rangers for that reason for over a year now. Truth be told, Texas needs help everywhere, so they're a possible match for just about every big free agent. Starting pitcher? Outfielder? Shortstop? Sure. The Rangers could make it all work. This team lost 102 games in 2021, so they're not one big free agent away from contention, but a few top prospects should debut in 2022 (Josh Jung, Cole Winn, maybe even Jack Leiter) and the money-printing new ballpark is two years old. Signing a top in-his-prime free agent is rarely a bad idea.

How will they replace Ray and Semien? The answer could very well be "by re-signing Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien." That would be the way to go, though I don't think saying thank you for the MVP-caliber season, then letting Semien walk and taking the compensation draft pick would be completely insane. It really depends what happens next after that. If the Blue Jays pivot and sign, say, Corey Seager or Trevor Story, then yeah, letting Semien go would be defensible. Either way, replacing Ray atop the rotation and Semien in the middle of the lineup are the biggest questions in Toronto this offseason. This is a team on the rise and they should have money to spend.

Will they lock up Soto? The Nationals recognized they were going nowhere fast this summer, then shipped Max Scherzer and Trea Turner (and Yan Gomes, Brad Hand, Josh Harrison, Daniel Hudson, Jon Lester, and Kyle Schwarber) away at the trade deadline. This is not a full blown rebuild, though Washington does not appear to be a team that is a move or two away from contention. So, the biggest question this offseason is whether they'll lock up franchise player Juan Soto. This is the franchise that did not lock up Turner, Bryce Harper, or Anthony Rendon, but gosh, not making Soto a National for life feels like it would be a colossal mistake. Soto turned only 23 (!) in October and Fernando Tatis Jr.'s 14-year, $330 million contract is the obvious benchmark. Keep in mind Soto is only three years away from free agency though. Tatis was four years away from free agency when he signed his deal, so Soto has a little more leverage and can thus command a larger payday.