MLB Offseason Moves NL Central Contenders Need to Make for 2020 Season

Mike Esposito
St Louis Cardinals  v Chicago Cubs
St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The NL Central was one of the most tightly contested division races in 2019 and boasted two MLB postseason representatives in the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers. Unfortunately, both teams were bounced from the postseason by a World Series-bound Washington Nationals team. Since the Chicago Cubs made the playoffs in 2018 and won the division in 2017, they have to be considered NL Central contenders again in 2020.

With that in mind, here is a key move each of those NL Central contenders should make to get back into the playoffs next season.

3. Chicago Cubs: Sign Dallas Keuchel

The Cubs finished seven games back in the NL Central in 2019 and if they want to turn things around next season, investing in starting pitching could be the answer this offseason. Chicago could lose up to two starting pitchers, if Yu Darvish (player option) and Cole Hamels decide to test the free agent waters. There are a plethora of starters available this offseason, and while Gerrit Cole will likely be atop every team's wish list, the Cubs could instead target Dallas Keuchel. The 2015 Cy Young Award winner isn't in the same stratosphere as Cole, but his ability to induce ground balls (58.9 percent career ground ball rate) would be effective in hitter-friendly Wrigley Field.

2. Milwaukee Brewers: Sign Hyun-Jin Ryu

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The Milwaukee Brewers have a tremendous amount of offensive firepower, but starting pitching remains the club's Achilles heel. Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Lyles are slated for free agency, leaving Milwaukee in need of a quality starter or two. Signing a 2019 Cy Young Award contender in Hyun-Jin Ryu could get the Brewers back atop the NL Central next season. The 32-year-old is coming off his best season in the Bigs, tallying a 14-5 record along with an MLB-best 2.32 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Ryu would give the Brew Crew the frontline starter they'll likely need to make a deep playoff run in 2020.

1. St. Louis Cardinals: Re-Sign Marcell Ozuna

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St. Louis had one of the worst offenses in the Majors in 2019, sporting a collective .737 OPS (No. 22 in MLB) and .245 batting average (No. 23 in MLB) while scoring just 764 runs (No. 19 in MLB). Marcell Ozuna was one of the Cardinals' few bright spots at the plate this past season, smacking 29 home runs and 89 RBI to go along with an .800 OPS. He'll likely get a big contract this offseason and it would make lots of sense for the Cards to offer him just that. Adding a potent bat would clearly go a long way for the Cardinals, but keeping one of their best offensive weapons could be another part of the solution next season.

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Mike Esposito is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Esposito also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username espo6891. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.