April will see the resumption of action on the baseball field, with the MLB season set to start up once again.
Whilst the Dodgers, Yankees and White Sox will all be hoping to claim the top prize at the end of the campaign, there are a group of teams going through a period of rebuilding. These are teams who did not make the playoffs in 2020, who did not sign or trade for an elite player over the winter and who many feel are outsiders for the new season. These are the un-fancied sides who are going through a period of transition, a rebuild if you like, as they look to instigate the next step in their team’s history.
Sometimes, those teams surprise a few fans and pundits, and we have picked four who might just be on the right track when it comes to a rebuild for the new era.
The Mariners are currently on the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports history, but their squad is showing strong signs of development. For so long, the Mariners have been stuck between not being bad, but not being good, but the signs are an aging squad is being turned over nicely. Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez are two of the game’s most interesting outfield prospects, and whilst the Mariners are unlikely to break their tradition of never having won a World Series, they could be on the playoff hunt for the first time since 2001.
The Diamondbacks will not be amongst those being tipped for glory this season, after ending the last campaign with a losing record for the first time since 2016. They are rank outsiders with Bwin for the National League West, behind the Giants and the Padres, as well as the highly fancied Dodgers, and perhaps rightly so, but there are signs they will bounce back quickly. Zac Gallen and Ketel Marte are high-quality big-league players, whilst Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll have the potential to impact the team positively. They have assembled and maintained a good farm system too, so should not be discounted in the NL West this season.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals could be a surprise package, as Dayton Moore has focused on pitching as part of their recruitment strategy. They have a lot of young arms coming into the side, such as Asa Lacy and Jackson Kowar. Their evolution has been slow but focused and they are packing some big hitters too, not least Bobby Witt Jr. His father pitched 16 years in the big leagues, and the 21-year-old is one of the big hopes for the Royals this season. From the outside looking in, the Royals are going backwards, but they have the right blend to surprise a few when they step up to the plate in April.
San Francisco Giants
With three World Series wins since 2010, Giants fans could be forgiven for thinking their team is in a slump. They have not featured in the playoffs since 2016 and with an aging, expensive roster, they were going nowhere when Farhan Zaidi took over as President of Baseball Operations. The rebuild has been slow, maybe tortuously slow for fans, but there are green shoots of recovery evident. Joey Bart and Patrick Bailey look set to contribute in the future, whilst Marco Luciano has real star quality, too. It might be a season or three before they can talk about being challengers again, but they should at least have a winning season ahead of them.