With the July 31 trade deadline now comfortably in our rearview mirror, we can now begin looking ahead to 2013.
Over the next two days we will take a look at each team's projected 2013 Opening Day lineup, with a breakdown of strengths, weaknesses and potential holes to fill. And before you get started, there are a few things to keep in mind.
For starters, we did not attempt to place free agents, as that is almost impossible to predict. Therefore, if a player is set to be a free agent, we replaced him in the lineup with the best internal solution. In some case, that "solution" will almost certainly not be the Opening Day starter at that position, but that's the point, as it will further illustrate the biggest areas of concern for each club.
We included 2013 salaries in our projected lineups, and for players who are not eligible for free agency, we took our best guess based on service time and the recent history of arbitration awards given to similar players.
When it comes to contract options, we took our best guess. If it's a good player with a reasonable club option, we kept them in the lineup for 2013. If it's a good player with a modest player option, we assumed they opt for free agency.
Teams are listed in order of the current standings. (American League projections coming Friday.)
Note: Because the Astros will join the AL West in 2013, and we are looking ahead to 2013, they will be listed with that division, which is why you do not see them here.
Full National League lineup projections:
Having the luxury of retaining nearly every core player from this year's impressive squad, the Reds could choose to stand pat this offseason. The pitching staff, which has been one of the best in baseball, returns the entire starting rotation and all but trade deadline acquisition Jonathan Broxton is under contract among the relievers. A healthy Nick Masset should make up for that loss. They could also choose to bring back would-be closer Ryan Madson, who has an $11M club option, after he missed the season because of Tommy John surgery.