The champagne bottles are empty, the confetti has been swept up. New Year’s Day has come and gone, the glow of the holiday break giving way to the light of a new year. It’s officially time to get cracking on 2024 — and time to really put those New Year’s resolutions into practice, whether you’re an average Joe just looking to get to the gym a little bit more often (solidarity!) or an MLB front office looking to gear up for a World Series run in the new year.
Sure, MLB teams aren’t officially declaring their resolutions for the year to come, but the turning of the calendar brings a new sense of promise all the same. That’s where we come in, with a collection of resolutions for 10 of the league’s most notable teams. Whether they, you know, satisfy those resolutions is up to them (mostly), but that’s not a concern for the Grand Assigner of Resolutions. Let’s get to it.
MLB’s New Year’s resolutions for 2024
Dodgers: Get everyone to October healthy
Okay, so this isn’t about a move the Dodgers should or shouldn’t make; between signing Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto and trading for Tyler Glasnow, Los Angeles has packed several years’ worth of offseason activity into the last few weeks. There are still some holes to fill — another outfielder, a bullpen arm — but right now, it seems like the thing most likely to undo the Dodgers in 2024 is simple: health, particularly in its starting rotation.
Shohei Ohtani, of course, won’t pitch until 2025. Walker Buehler hasn’t stepped on a big-league mound since early 2022 due to Tommy John surgery. Tony Gonsolin almost certainly won’t pitch this upcoming season, and Dustin May likely won’t be back from his own TJ surgery until well into the stretch drive. Franchise icon Clayton Kershaw remains a free agent, and even if he does return to L.A., he’s got shoulder rehab of his own to get through. Glasnow’s ceiling is as high as anyone’s, but that upside comes with plenty of durability concerns.
Thanks to their star-laden lineup and rotation upside, the Dodgers are mortal locks to return to the postseason for a 12th straight year. The bar, though, is set far higher: winning their first full-season World Series since 1988. (2020’s flag will still fly forever, but it’s understandable if plenty of people look a little bit askance at it, considering the COVID-related circumstances.) If Los Angeles has Yamamoto, Glasnow, Buehler and Co. healthy come October, they should be favorites to win it all. That’s a big, big if, though.
Yankees: Don’t fall into the Blake Snell trap
Missing out on Yamamoto let some wind out of the sails of what had been an exciting offseason for Brian Cashman and Co. But with Juan Soto set to hit free agency next winter and Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole not getting any younger, New York can ill afford to slow down. If they hope to erase the stain of their disappointing 2023 season, they still need lots of rotation help behind Cole — so why wouldn’t they pivot to the next best starting pitcher available?
Snell’s ceiling is undeniable; he just won his second career Cy Young Award, after all. But with that upside comes several glaring red flags: The lefty just turned 31 in December, and his durability and command issues make him an iffy bet to make good on the megadeal he’s inevitably going to land at some point this winter. Snell is one of the league’s elite strikeout artists, but just two of his eight Major League seasons to date have featured an ERA+ higher than 113 and more than 128 innings — those two aforementioned Cy Young seasons. When it’s all clicking and Snell is able to both stay on the mound and near the strike zone, he’s an ace. When he’s not, though, he can be maddening, and the latter seems at least as likely as the former as he heads into his mid-30s. The Yankees could hand Snell the bag, or they could use that same money to land, say, Jordan Montgomery and Japanese lefty Shota Imanaga, filling multiple holes with guys who come with less downside risk.
Mets: Extend Pete Alonso
Despite matching the Dodgers’ offer for Yamamoto, Steve Cohen missed out on his big offseason target. Yamamoto’s age (just 25) and ace upside made him a perfect fit for any competitive timeline, but with the righty off the market, new president of baseball operations David Stearns is likely to shift focus toward contending in 2025 rather than making a splash move this winter. He inherits an uneven New York roster that’s more than one move away from meaningful contention, and turning on the money cannon for someone like Snell or Cody Bellinger won’t move the needle enough while compromising future flexibility.
Which makes priority No. 1 this offseason simple: Lock Alonso up for the long haul. Analytics-inclined executives like Stearns don’t love paying big money for righty-hitting first basemen, and sluggers like Alonso do tend not to age all that well. But the 29-year-old is an elite middle-of-the-lineup force, and figures to remain such for some time. He’s also the current face of the franchise, beloved by both fans and teammates, and all reports seem to indicate that he wants to stay in Queens. If the Mets do have designs on loading up for 2025, keeping Alonso around — rather than risking letting him walk next winter — is a must.
Cubs, Giants and Blue Jays: Go get Cody Bellinger
All three of these teams are in win-now mode entering 2024 — the Cubs having poached Craig Counsell, the Blue Jays staring at free agency for Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Giants needing a jolt after two straight moribund seasons — but all three have been frustratingly quiet so far this winter. (Although not for lack of trying.) All three also happen to be in the market for an impact bat. But with Ohtani officially in L.A., there’s only one of those left on the free-agent market: Bellinger, who would be an ideal fit for each of these teams but can sign with just one of them. A reunion with Chicago seems like the most likely outcome at this juncture — he knows the North Side, and the Cubs have both money to burn and a contention-ready roster to offer — but lack of supply could make this bidding war get crazy before all is said and done.
Astros: Don’t let this season pass you by
We should know by now to never, ever count this iteration of the Astros out, but things are likely to look a lot different in Houston come 2025. Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve are both entering the final years of their contracts, and it seems like the team only has the money to keep one of them around. Justin Verlander has a vesting option for next year, but he’s about to turn 41 in February — who knows how many innings he has left in his Hall of Fame right arm. After a crushing ALCS loss to their in-state rivals last October, Houston should be extra motivated to do everything they can to capture another World Series title in 2024 ... and yet, their name has been scarcely mentioned in connection with the top available free agents, catcher Victor Caratini their lone addition so far this offseason. Of course, there’s more than enough incumbent talent to make a lot of noise in the AL, but GM Dana Brown risks getting passed by in what’s shaping up to be a critically important year.
Rangers: Re-sign Jordan Montgomery
Also quite so far this winter? The defending world champs. Of course, winning the World Series buys you quite a bit of good will, but Chris Young still needs to get to work on filling out Texas’ rotation if he hopes to have them back in the Fall Classic in 2024. The Rangers should once again boast one of (if not the) best offenses in the sport this year, but the starting pitching comes with tons of injury questions — Jacob deGrom and Tyler Mahle will miss significant chunks of the upcoming season as they recover from Tommy John surgery, and Max Scherzer could miss the first half of 2024 after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk. Throw in the departure of useful swingman Martín Pérez, and Texas needs some help to keep them ahead of their AL competition.
Fortunately, they already have the perfect guy on speed dial: veteran left-hander Jordan Montgomery. Monty stabilized a beleaguered Rangers rotation when he came over at last season’s deadline, and his ability to produce lots of innings and plus run prevention remains exactly what this team so sorely needs. The competition for his services promises to be fierce — with both of his other former teams, the Cardinals and Yankees, also in the fray — but Texas has money and a ring to throw at the lefty.
Cardinals: Trade for Dylan Cease
John Mozeliak has already done considerable work rebuilding a rotation that kneecapped the team’s chances in 2023, signing Sonny Gray, Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn thus far. But while that raises this pitching staff’s floor, St. Louis still lacks upside — specifically, the ability to miss bats. Few teams have been more contact-oriented in recent years than the Cardinals, a tendency that came back to bite them big time last season. Luckily for them, one of the league’s elite swing-and-miss artists is reportedly available for trade, as the White Sox embark on another rebuild under new president Chris Getz. Cease checks every box for the Redbirds, and they have the position-player depth to make Chicago a very compelling offer. Get a deal done here — or with, say, the Mariners or Marlins for one of their cost-controlled pitchers — and St. Louis starts to look awfully threatening in a wide-open NL Central.
Orioles, Mariners and Reds: Don’t take your window for granted
It can be a hard thing, balancing short-term aggression with long-term stability — especially if you don’t have a ton of money to spend each year, as is the case for all three of these teams. (Whether all three, particularly Baltimore and Seattle, have imposed that cost-consciousness on themselves is another matter.)
So I can certainly understand the reticence to sacrifice too much of tomorrow for today. But while all three of these teams boast promising, young, cost-controlled cores — cores that figure to have them in contention for years to come — I’d like to caution them against playing things too safe. Baltimore, Seattle and Cincy just watched their trade-deadline tepidness short-circuit promising seasons in 2023, and they’re running the risk of making the same mistake twice as they largely sit out this offseason.
The Orioles have less than $44 million currently committed to their 2024 payroll and a team that just won an AL-best 101 games in 2023. The Reds have the best young infield in the sport getting dragged down by what was one of the league’s worst starting rotations last season. The Mariners have a superstar in Julio Rodriguez, and elite rotation and ... not a whole lot else, especially after trading away Eugenio Suarez and Jarred Kelenic for spare parts. All three of these teams should be loading up for a division title this season; instead, they’re sitting on their hands, afraid to take a risk.
Your competitive window is a delicate thing. No matter how bright the future looks, nothing in baseball is guaranteed, and if you’re not getting better, you’re falling behind: Just look at the Cubs’ supposed dynasty, one that was supposedly set for the long haul but largely fizzled out after 2016. Seizing your moment when it comes is the point. The D-backs were on the fringes of the NL Wild Card race in 2023, only to double down by adding a terrific closer in Paul Sewald and a solid outfielder in Tommy Pham at the deadline; they reached the World Series and have followed that up with an aggressive offseason. Baltimore, Seattle and Cincy have done the hard work of team-building, but they’re about to fritter all that effort away.
Angels: Trade Mike Trout (and finally tear it all down)
It’s time, everyone. The Trout (and Trout/Ohtani) era of Angels baseball has been a spectacular failure, one that indicts both owner Arte Moreno and everyone in GM Perry Minasian’s front office. This is a team with both no real path to short-term contention and also precious few building blocks for the future. The only way forward is to tear things down and start again, and the Halos can kick-start that process by ripping off the bandaid and trading Trout while he still carries some value. Of course, this would also require Trout to waive his no-trade clause, but wouldn’t the 32-year-old legend be motivated to get back to the postseason for just the second time in his historic career? He’s not getting any younger, with injuries beginning to pile up, and the Angels don’t seem to stand a chance of making that happen any time soon. Trout needs a change of scenery, and Los Angeles needs young talent and financial flexibility. A deal makes sense for both sides, even if the return won’t be a jaw-dropping as it would’ve been, say, two or three years ago, thanks to Trout’s recent health issues and his mammoth contract.