The MLB offseason was full of big trades, signings and extensions. Now we’re close to Spring Training. This is the first of six editions of predictions for each division for this baseball season.
Boston: With the new acquisitions of all-star starter Chris Sale and first baseman Mitch Moreland, manager John Farrell has a team full of stars. The team has MVP runner-up right fielder Mookie Betts, infield all-stars in shortstop Xander Bogaerts and second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Cy Young award winners in Rick Porcello and David Price. The only questions are whether their veterans, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and designated hitter (DH) Hanley Ramirez, will be productive the upcoming season, and how the loss of popular DH David Ortiz will affect the team.
Toronto: Toronto took a huge step back this offseason, losing first baseman Edwin Encarnacion to Cleveland and outfielder Michael Saunders to the Phillies. The Blue Jays still have former MVP Josh Donaldson producing and a strong young rotation featuring Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. The Blue Jays are looking to be either a really good team, or this year will be a
disaster in the Great White North.
Baltimore: The Orioles had a pretty boring offseason, not filling their needs of getting a power outfielder and an elite starter, and not improving the front end of the bullpen. Third baseman Manny Machado and outfielder Mark Trumbo are coming off their best seasons, but first baseman Chris Davis and outfielder Adam Jones are exiting their prime and will lose production. The Orioles better hope rookies Christian Walker and Trey Mancini will be productive. There’s no need to worry about the bullpen, as Zach Britton, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach should be productive as late-inning men. Sadly, for the Orioles, starter Chris Tillman will start the year on the DL. Will it be starters Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy being the guy to step up in the rotation?
New York: The Yankees are a much younger team than in recent years with almost all the team from the 2009 World Series having left or retired. Catcher Gary Sanchez and first baseman Greg Bird are set to play their first full seasons. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees will manage their DH role with Matt Holliday and Chris Carter competing for that spot. The pitching is still a concern. Outside of relievers Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, there isn’t a reliable reliever if one goes down. The starters are also inconsistent. They are going to have to have career years to help the Yankees get back in the postseason.
Tampa Bay: The Rays signed established players this offseason, including catcher Wilson Ramos and outfielder Cory Rasmus. The Rays aren’t expected to do much, but there will be some bright spots and they could be an under-the-radar team. Second baseman Brad Miller can have a productive year again after breaking out last year, and starter Chris Archer could end up being traded sometime this season by the deadline. The Rays won’t have Ramos for a while; however, as he is out until July with his torn ACL he suffered in September at Nationals Park.