Midwinter power rankings: Beasts of the East

Noah Syndergaard can bring the heat and Bryce Harper, despite his down 2016, is still only one year removed from winning the NL MVP. Icon Sportswire

Even though the 2017 free-agent class is one of the weaker groups in recent memory, Major League Baseball has experienced a busy offseason filled with blockbuster trades, including the Chris Sale deal to the Red Sox, the Adam Eaton deal to the Nationals and the Brian McCann deal to the Astros.

There were also a slew of significant free-agent signings, including Edwin Encarnacion joining the Indians, Yoenis Cespedes re-upping with the Mets and Ian Desmond surprisingly landing in Colorado to play, of all positions, first base.

All of these transactions, along with the continued development of young players and the expected emergence of a new rookie class, means the balance of power, as usual, is changing in both the American and National Leagues.

Here are my power rankings and a brief breakdown of where all 30 teams stand to start the new year, with the good and the bad for each.

1. Chicago Cubs

What’s good: Everything! The Cubs have the best team in baseball on paper even after the free-agent departures of Dexter Fowler and Aroldis Chapman. The Cubs should get a boost in ’17 with the return of Kyle Schwarber and the continued development of Javier Baez and Willson Contreras. They also acquired Wade Davis, who should be a solid replacement for Chapman if he can stay healthy and pitch to his potential.

What’s bad: Fowler's departure leaves a huge hole in the leadoff spot in their lineup. The Cubs will hope Ben Zobrist and his high on-base percentage will fill the void despite his lack of speed.