2. San Francisco Giants
2016: 87-75, lost in first round to Cubs
Significant additions: RP Mark Melancon, 3B Jae-gyun Hwang, C Nick Hundley
Significant losses: RP Sergio Romo, RP Javier Lopez, RP Santiago Casilla, LF Angel Pagan, OF Gregor Blanco
Clubhouse catalyst: C Buster Posey
The season is a success if: they don’t blow 32 saves again. That, more or less, was what cost them the division title in 2016 — well, that and a 30-42 record in the second half — and it was that same inability to lock down a lead that sent them packing in the Division Series, when they were three outs from forcing a decisive Game 5 against the Cubs, only to blow a three-run lead. Melancon, who cost the Giants a whopping $62 million over four years, should shore up that unit. But unlike the Dodgers, whose depth borders on overkill, the Giants don’t have the manpower to withstand a rash of injuries, which is a little worrisome with a starting eight that averages 30.1 years of age and a rotation that averages 30.2 on Opening Day.
3. Colorado Rockies
Significant additions: 1B Ian Desmond, RP Greg Holland, RP Mike Dunn, IF/OF Alexi Amarista, OF Chris Denorfia
Significant losses: SP Jorge De La Rosa, RP Boone Logan, C Nick Hundley, OF Ryan Raburn, IF Daniel Descalso
Clubhouse catalyst: 3B Nolan Arenado
The season is a success if: they can figure out how to pitch at altitude. Yeah, right. How long have the Rockies been singing that tune? Their collection of position players rivals that of any team in the league, but pitching in the mile-high air has always perplexed the Rockies and has limited their options on the open market. Their latest strategy is to develop their own, and in 2017 they could run out four starting pitchers (Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Tyler Chatwood and Jeff Hoffman) who came up through their farm system. Getting Holland to sign on as closer will also help, although who knows if he will ever return to his 2013-14, pre-injury form. Bottom line: The Rockies were 16 games behind the Dodgers in 2016, and it’s hard to see how they can make it all up, or anywhere close, in 2017.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
Significant additions: SP Taijuan Walker, C Chris Iannetta, RP Fernando Rodney, RP Tom Wilhelmsen, RP J.J. Hoover, C Jeff Mathis, IF/OF Daniel Descalso,
Significant losses: 2B Jean Segura, C Welington Castillo, RP Daniel Hudson
Clubhouse catalyst: 1B Paul Goldschmidt
The season is a success if: they stay under the radar and get themselves closer to future contention. The D’backs are still digging out from the disaster of two winters ago, when they signed SP Zack Greinke to a $206.5 million deal and made an awful trade that brought them SP Shelby Miller but cost them franchise SS Dansby Swanson. The fallout from those deals led to an organizational bloodletting and the eventual hires of Mike Hazen as GM and Torey Lovullo as manager. This winter has been less flashy, but more productive — highlighted by the trade of Segura, which brought them Walker and IF prospect Ketel Marte. But with a barren farm system and little depth, this is a team a long way from contending.
5. San Diego Padres
Significant additions: SP Jered Weaver, SP Jhoulys Chacin, SP Trevor Cahill
Significant losses: C Derek Norris, SP Tyson Ross, OF Jon Jay, SP Edwin Jackson, RP Carlos Villanueva
Clubhouse catalyst: 1B Wil Myers
The season is a success if: they remain patient and turn the corner on their rebuild. After a decade without a postseason appearance, the Padres finally faced the inevitable last summer and commenced a fire sale in which James Shields, Andrew Cashner, Matt Kemp, Fernando Rodney, Drew Pomeranz and Melvin Upton Jr. were traded away. The result was painful and will be again in 2017, but at least the Padres should get a good look at youngsters such as C Austin Hedges, CF Manuel Margot and RF Hunter Renfroe. As bad as 2016 was, this year could be even worse, when it comes to wins and losses, but at least there appears to be a plan now.
NL Central: Yes, the Chicago Cubs could win it again
Fancy Stats: Kershaw is a unicorn; Nats have two thoroughbreds
Fancy Stats: The Rangers could go from first to worst in AL West