We’re just a few short weeks away from the start of spring training, and for all the activity this winter, there are teams that still have major questions that need answers. Who has the biggest problems left to solve before pitchers and catchers report, and what are their potential fixes?
Possible solutions: Signing free agent Greg Holland; trading for Dave Robertson (White Sox), Alex Colome (Rays), Ryan Madson (Athletics) or Trevor Rosenthal (Cardinals).
The Washington Nationals’ closers carousel continues. They’ve gone from Chad Cordero to Rafael Soriano to Tyler Clippard to Drew Storen to Jonathan Papelbon to Mark Melancon. So it’s no surprise that the Nationals opened this offseason with finding yet another closer as their biggest need.
They quickly jumped into the sweepstakes for the best relief aces on the free agent market, including Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Melancon. They bid on all three, including an $85 million offer to Jansen. But all three pitchers turned them down, and the Nationals find themselves still looking for a closer in late January.
These Wildcats are averaging 75.1 possessions per game, 11th-highest nationally, up seven per game over last season (68.2), when they ranked 220th. The latter is far more in line with Calipari’s typical style at UK; the former has unlocked a truly frightening offensive machine that generates points at a pace most teams simply can’t match. South Carolina, though? The Gamecocks — who boast the nation’s most efficient defense in their own right, and usually force opponents to grind out lengthy, hard-fought half-court possessions — might have a chance.
As such, the Bruins, and Ball and Leaf specifically, have hoovered up most of the 2016-17 Pac-12’s available oxygen. Only lately, as Dillon Brooks and the preseason favorite Oregon Ducks have reasserted themselves with a strong start to conference play (including an 89-87 win over UCLA in Eugene), has any league foe challenged Alford’s team for sheer mindshare.