When Mariah Carey said, "[Stuff] happens," after her New Year's Eve disaster, she wasn't talking about the Hot Stove. Because not much has been happening lately.

That's bound to change. Mike Napoli is going to sign soon, likely with the Rangers. The Twins are due to make a decision on whether to trade or keep Brian Dozier. And a variety of moves gaining momentum just before the holidays will be nailed down in the coming days and weeks.

Every club is still active, of course, but here are six contending teams with some heavy lifting left to do this offseason.


The O's did make a move at catcher, letting Matt Wieters walk and replacing him with Welington Castillo. Even if that's a wash (and it just might be, considering Castillo has a career .255/.318/.416 slash with a 97 OPS+, while Wieters is at .256/.318/.421 with a 98 OPS+), but Baltimore still has a ton of offense to repeat or replace with Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez still on the open market. Those two combined for 69 homers in the O's homer-reliant lineup last year.

The Draft pick compensation issue could help Baltimore retain Trumbo, but the two sides have been far apart in contract talks thus far. The Orioles have right field and DH at-bats to offer, and lefty bats like Michael Saunders and Brandon Moss could appeal to them in the name of lineup balance.

Beyond all of the above, general manager Dan Duquette is always on the lookout for low-profile, late pitching pickups in the lead up to spring camp.


Shut out on Chris Sale and the three prominent free-agent closers, they made that eye-opening trade for center fielder Adam Eaton on the heels of the addition of catcher Derek Norris. Though attempts have been made to tie them to the Wieters market, the Nats are set in their starting lineup. But they certainly still have a big issue to address in the back end of their bullpen. Shawn Kelley could close, but he's had Tommy John surgery twice and is coming off a career-high 58 innings. Koda Glover and Trevor Gott are intriguing young arms, but they're unproven.

The Nats could be the team that takes a shot on Greg Holland post-surgery, or they could swing a trade for a ninth-inning arm or they could just pile up on depth. But for now, the 'pen currently rates as incomplete.

Furthermore, the Eaton trade robbed the Nats of valuable rotation depth (Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez), which is a bit of a concern given the injury issues that affected Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross last season. So the Nats could and probably should seek to add some insurance there. And the trade that sent Danny Espinosa to the Angels created a need for an infield bench bat, which could lead to a Stephen Drew reunion.


As of now, the Mets have four corner outfielders, which means somebody (namely, Jay Bruce) is about to be moved in a trade or dispatched to work at the Shake Shack concession. There are doubts about the plans to use Curtis Granderson as the regular center fielder, given that he hasn't played more than 36 games at the position in a single season since 2012 and nobody's played at least 100 games in center at age 36 or older since 2009. But for now, that's the Mets' intent.

The internal hope is to move Bruce for bullpen help. The reality is that the Mets' best hope in a swap would be to shed some salary that would allow them to sign someone else. However the Bruce situation shakes out, the 'pen is a pressing area of need, given the likely suspension looming for closer Jeurys Familia.

The injury wave that struck their 2016 rotation means the Mets would be well-served to have a bullpen capable of relieving workload pressures on Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey, all of whom are coming off surgery. They need help from both the right- and left-hand sides.

Blue Jays

They basically closed the door on one signature free-agent slugger when they pivoted away from Edwin Encarnacion, who turned down their four-year, $80 million offer, and acted swiftly on Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce. It remains to be seen what happens with their other free-agent star, because Jose Bautista hasn't been met with much of a market for his services and might possibly be had on a short-term, value-building deal.

Whether it's Joey Bats or not, the Jays do have a need to upgrade their corner outfield depth chart -- currently fronted by Melvin Upton Jr., Ezekiel Carrera, Pearce and Dalton Pompey -- with a more legitimate everyday presence or presences. This could be the club that takes a shot on Bruce.

Toronto also needs bullpen help. That unit currently feels flimsy with Brett Cecil having departed for the Cardinals and the possibility that right-handed setup man Joe Biagini gets stretched out as a starter in camp.


Well, it's been nearly a month, and Ian Desmond is still penciled in as the starting first baseman. So for now, the speculation about a Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez trade and a Trumbo signing that allows the newly signed Desmond to go back to the outfield is nothing more than speculation. The Rockies were not very good defensively at first last season (their minus-5 defensive runs saved mark was third-worst in the NL at that spot) and, until further notice, the team seems to value the athleticism and adaptability Desmond provides there.

But there's still a familiar need -- pitching -- if the Rockies really are going to be upstarts in the NL West. Their bullpen ERA was a mile high last year, and, while the signing of veteran lefty Mike Dunn helps, they can't stop there. The Rockies need a reliable right-handed setup man in front of Adam Ottavino. And while the young starting quartet of Chad Bettis, Tyler Chatwood, Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson has a lot of potential, there's a clear need for a stable veteran innings-eater, if not a marquee addition like Jose Quintana (and the Rox, for the record, do have the prospects to pull off such a swap) here.

Basically, if you're going to throw $70 million at Desmond, you're obviously serious. So let's see what the Rockies have in mind for their next move.


Speaking of serious, the Astros came sprinting out the gates at the start of the offseason with the moves for Josh Reddick, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Charlie Morton, all of which were completed before the Winter Meetings.

But since then? Crickets.

That's not criticism, because the Hot Stove has generally come to a crawl. But you'd feel a lot better about the Astros' chances of upending the Rangers in the AL West if they could lend more stability to a rotation ravaged by injury in the front end last year (Dallas Keuchel had shoulder issues and Lance McCullers had elbow issues). They were just unwilling or unable to meet the White Sox asking price for Sale. Maybe something happens on the Quintana front, or perhaps the Astros work something out with a club like the Rays that has pitching to deal.

Maybe Jeff Luhnow just lets it ride with what he's got and will reassess things midseason. But the 2016 rotation was oversold, and the Astros, who also have a clearly defined need for left-handed relief help, can't run the risk of another poor start compromising their effort. They started this offseason with a bang. Perhaps they'll finish it with another flourish.


Anthony Castrovince is a Sports on Earth contributor and MLB.com columnist. Follow him on Twitter @Castrovince.