The Winter Meetings, baseball's annual four-day hot stove extravaganza, are underway at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. These are traditionally the busiest days of the offseason. With executives and agents from around the league all in the same place, the Winter Meetings are when the biggest signings and biggest trades typically go down, not to mention dozens of other smaller deals.
Needless to say, some teams feel more pressure to act during the Winter Meetings than others. How do you define pressure? It's very subjective, but you know it when you feel it. Some teams are coming off down years and need to so something to change the direction of the franchise. Others need to improve to capitalize on a closing championship window.
Here now are our authoritative rankings of the teams facing the most pressure to act at the Winter Meetings. Keep in mind this is not necessarily a good thing. Feeling pressure to make a move has led to many regrettable trades and free agent signings over the years.
I'm not entirely sure the Yankees realize it, but their fans are capital-F capital-U Fed Up, and chairman Hal Steinbrenner's seemingly empty promises of "Cody Bellinger, Juan Soto, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto in recent weeks. Either the Yankees do something to significantly improve their 82-80 roster this offseason and get back on the fan base's good side, or things could get very toxic at Yankee Stadium in 2024. There is still lots of offseason to go after the Winter Meetings, though this feels like a pretty important week for the Yankees. They have to figure out how to win games on the field and also win back a fan base that is angry and, perhaps worse, growing apathetic." haven't helped matters. The Yankees need help all over the roster -- rotation, bullpen, third base, left field, center field, bench -- and have been connected to
Is this the offseason the Giants will finally land a star? To be fair, they did agree to a monster contract with Carlos Correa last offseason, though that fell apart over medical concerns. Perhaps it was for the best. Regardless, the Giants badly need a jolt of energy. has ranked eighth, eighth, and tenth in the National League in attendance the last three seasons. San Francisco has a new manager (Bob Melvin) and it kinda sorta maybe feels like they could have a new head baseball operations executive in a year if Farhan Zaidi doesn't re-energize the fan base and get the Giants back to the postseason in 2024. There are needs in the rotation and all over the position player group, so Zaidi has no shortage of avenues to improve his roster.
It's not quite Shohei Ohtani or bust -- the Dodgers could pivot to the excellent Yoshinobu Yamamoto -- though it does feel like Ohtani or bust for the Dodgers and head honcho Andrew Friedman. They have spent the last 2-3 years aligning their payroll and roster in such a way that allows them to blow Ohtani away with an offer and show just how badly they want him. The thing is, the Dodgers need more than Ohtani. He won't pitch in 2024 and geez, who is going to take the mound for the Dodgers? They have Walker Buehler returning from his second Tommy John surgery, impressive rookie Bobby Miller, and ... that's really it as things stand. I don't think they want Ryan Pepiot, Emmet Sheehan, and Ryan Yarbrough in their rotation on Opening Day. Ohtani is the headliner here but the Dodgers need more than him. The Winter Meetings are time to get down to business.
4. Chicago Cubs
The Cubbies already made one big splash this offseason when they hired manager Craig Counsell away from the NL Central rival Milwaukee Brewers. It seems increasingly unlikely they will seriously pursue a reunion with Cody Bellinger, which means they need to replace his bat in addition to further upgrading the roster. They've been connected to trade candidates like Shane Bieber and Tyler Glasnow in recent days, and of course they're interested in Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani. The Cubs missed the postseason by one game in 2023 and hiring Counsell -- and firing erstwhile manager David Ross to make it happen -- is the surest sign they intend to take a big step forward in 2024. The roster needs upgrades for that to work and it's time to make it happen. Counsell was only Step 1 of many.
For better or worse, the Mets have made themselves the center of attention thanks to Steve Cohen's wallet and the long-awaited David Stearns hire. The Mets had the highest payroll in MLB history in 2023 (more than $450 million between player salaries and competitive balance tax penalties) and had a very disappointing season, though at least they accepted reality and pivoted to selling at the deadline. There are three wild-card spots per league now. The Mets absolutely can return to the postseason next year -- here is where I remind you the 2023 World Series champion Texas Rangers went 68-94 in 2022 -- though Stearns must upgrade the roster beyond . The Mets feel the pressure because teams in this market and with these resources always feel pressure.
The next five
6. Toronto Blue Jays. The whole has been less than the sum of the parts the last few years and Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are suddenly only two years away from free agency. They've reached now or never time with this era of Blue Jays baseball.
7. Seattle Mariners. There are indications the Mariners have already bowed out of the Shohei Ohtani race even though he is pretty much exactly what they need: an impact left-handed bat and a second star to pair with Julio Rodríguez. Teoscar Hernández is unlikely to return and Eugenio Suárez has been traded. GM Jerry Dipoto has his hands full after missing the postseason by one game.
8. San Diego Padres. All the talk this offseason has been about subtraction, most notably a potential Juan Soto trade but also the expected free agent departures of Josh Hader and Blake Snell. That's a major bummer for a fan base that set the Petco Park attendance record this past season. The Padres can contend in 2024. The roster needs help though. (Also, GM A.J. Preller surely feels pressure to nail a potential Soto trade.)
9. Boston Red Sox. With a new head of baseball operations (Craig Breslow) comes the expectation of ... something. Chaim Bloom's slow build-up was apparently too slow for ownership, so it seems likely Breslow will be expected to upgrade the 2024 roster in a meaningful way this offseason. That starts at the Winter Meetings.
10. Baltimore Orioles. Rebuild's over, guys. Time to spend a little money and/or trade a few prospects to add to a rotation that was 11th in ERA and 16th in WAR in 2023, and allowed 13 runs in eight innings in three postseason games.