The American League East has been one of baseball’s most competitive divisions over the past decade. Each team has laid claim to a division title since 2010, and all have experienced postseason baseball in that time.
The division, which features some of baseball’s most bitter rivalries, will certainly provide an entertaining season. Every year, there’s an expectation of multiple AL East teams making the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Rays
2017 Record: 80-82, 3rd Place AL East
Notable Additions: 1B CJ Cron, IF Ryan Schimpf, IF Christian Arroyo, OF Denard Span, OF Carlos Gomez, RP Daniel Hudson, RP Sergio Romo (Re-Signing)
Notable Subtractions: 1B Logan Morrison, 1B Lucas Duda, 3B Evan Longoria, OF Steven Souza, OF Corey Dickerson, SP Jake Odorizzi, SP Alex Cobb, RP Tommy Hunter, RP Steve Cishek
Tampa had quite the roster turnover this offseason. They managed to lose their franchise leader in nearly every single offensive category, and two-fifths of the starting rotation. Not to mention nearly 100 combined home runs between Morrison, Dickerson, and Souza.
They added much of nothing, and are willing to rely on in-house options such as Matt Duffy, Mallex Smith, Jacob Faria, and others to fill any roles necessary. A complete teardown seems inevitable at this point, but as long as they have Archer and Snell atop the rotation, they shouldn’t be completely embarrassing.
Losing Brent Honeywell to Tommy John was a dagger. He was finally ready to fill a rotation spot, but will instead miss the entire 2018 season. Tampa always seems to quietly outperform expectations, but I would bet heavily against them this season.
1. Chris Archer
2. Blake Snell
3. Jacob Faria
4. Nathan Eovaldi
5. Matt Andriese
CL: Álex Colomé
SU: Sergio Romo
RP: Daniel Hudson
C: Wilson Ramos
1B: CJ Cron
2B: Brad Miller
3B: Matt Duffy
SS: Adieny Hechavarria
OF: Carlos Gómez
OF: Kevin Keirmaier
OF: Mallex Smith
DH: Denard Span
Prediction: 69-93, 5th Place AL East
Toronto Blue Jays
2017 Record: 76-86, 4th Place AL East
Notable Additions: IF Yangervis Solarte, SS Aldemys Diaz, OF Curtis Granderson, OF Randal Grichuk, SP Jaime Garcia, RP Seung-Hwan Oh
Notable Subtractions: 2B Darwin Barney, SS Ryan Goins, OF Jose Bautista, SP Francisco Liriano, RP Dominic Leone
The Blue Jays seem to be in a halfway in, halfway out situation when it comes to seriously competing. They have one of the best farm systems in baseball, featuring Vlad Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, and Anthony Alford. But, their Major League roster is riddled with aging veterans and mixed and matched pieces.
They added veterans Jaime Garcia and Curtis Granderson on 1-year deals, who likely won’t produce any better than the minor league or depth alternatives that they already have. Their middle infield was ravaged by injuries and non-performers in 2017.
They added depth in Solarte and Diaz, and they hope to have Tulowitzki available at some point early in the season. It appears Donaldson is all but finished in Toronto, as he states he expects to test free agency when his contract is up. This could make for an interesting deadline, when Toronto is out of the playoff race — which they will be.
The rotation hinges on the health and performance of Aaron Sanchez, who only appeared in 8 games in 2017. The ‘pen, which is mediocre at best, did not get any better, and most likely will not be any better. Toronto should tread water, keeping its head afloat, just enough to keep the fans interested for most of 2018. Regardless, a retooling appears to be on the horizon north of the border.
1. Marcus Stroman
2. Aaron Sanchez
3. JA Happ
4. Marco Estrada
5. Jaime Garcia
CL: Roberto Osuna
SU: Ryan Tepera
RP: Sueng-Hwan Oh
C: Russell Martin
1B: Justin Smoak
2B: Devon Travis/Yangervis Solarte
3B: Josh Donaldson
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
OF: Randal Grichuk
OF: Kevin Pillar
OF: Curtis Granderson/Steve Pearce
DH: Kendrys Morales
Prediction: 75-87, 4th Place AL East
2017 Record: 75-87, 5th Place AL East
Notable Additions: SP Andrew Cashner, SP Chris Tillman (Re-Signing)
Notable Subtractions: C Welington Castillo, SS JJ Hardy, IF Ryan Flaherty, OF Seth Smith, SP Wade Miley, SP Ubaldo Jimenez, SP Jeremy Hellickson
The Orioles appear to be relying on a bit of an addition by subtraction plan. It would be difficult to argue against their removal of Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jiménez from the roster. The duo managed to start 57 games, somehow winning 14 of them, and (only) losing 26.
Through nearly 300 innings (299.1), these two Major League pitchers, who took home over $20MM combined, allowed 348 hits, 58 home runs, walked 151 batters, and managed to make it through the season without being DFA’d.
In order to be more than a .500 team, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will need to take another step forward and anchor the rotation even more than they did in 2017. Cashner will certainly provide valuable innings, and is a definite upgrade from anyone the Orioles trotted out in the 3, 4, and 5 spots last season. Tillman, assuming his health is in order, will occupy the 4th spot, with a bunch of Rule 5 picks, and AAAA arms vying for the 5th spot.
Zach Britton’s injury shortens up the bullpen, thrusting Brad Brach into the closer’s role. It’ll also force Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day into set-up duties. The offense, though, has never been a problem for Baltimore. They should have no issues scoring runs again with one of the best power-hitting infields in the game, and two future everyday regulars in Chance Sisco and Austin Hays.
1. Kevin Gausman
2. Dylan Bundy
3. Andrew Cashner
4. Chris Tillman
CL: Brad Brach
SU: Michael Givens
RP: Darren O’Day
C: Caleb Joseph/Chance Sisco
1B: Chris Davis
2B: Jonathan Schoop
3B: Tim Beckham
SS: Manny Machado
OF: Trey Mancini
OF: Adam Jones
OF: Austin Hays/Anthony Santander/Colby Rasmus
DH: Mark Trumbo
Prediction: 85-77, 3rd Place AL East
Boston Red Sox
2017 Record: 93-69, 1st Place AL East
Notable Additions: 1B Mitch Moreland (Re-Signing), UT Eduardo Nunez (Re-Signing), OF JD Martinez
Notable Subtractions: OF Chris Young, SP Doug Fister, RP Addison Reed
Boston finally landed J.D. Martinez after months of speculation and media drama. That was their answer to the Yankees’ acquisition of Stanton. The re-signing of Núñez shores up the infield, pending the return of the injured Dustin Pedroia.
Rafael Devers’ development will be key, as any bumps in the road could create a less than ideal infield situation. The outfield features arguably the best defensive trio in the league with Betts, Bradley, and Benintendi. However, Boston has a few concerns heading into the regular season.
Starters Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright are not expected to be ready for season opener, leaving candidates such as Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez to fill the 5th spot. Additionally, the bullpen lacks an elite arm outside of closer Craig Kimbrel, and could use a legitimate lefty.
The Red Sox will need to count on David Price for a full season, and improvement from 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, to repeat for the division title.
1. Chris Sale
2. David Price
3. Rick Porcello
4. Drew Pomeranz
5. Eduardo Rodriguez (when healthy)
CL: Craig Kimbrel
SU: Matt Barnes
RP: Joe Kelly
C: Christian Vazquez/Sandy Leon
1B: Mitch Moreland/Hanley Ramirez
2B: Dustin Pedroia/Eduardo Núñez
3B: Rafael Devers
SS: Xander Boegarts
OF: Mookie Betts
OF: Jackie Bradley
OF: Andrew Benentendi
DH: JD Martinez
Prediction: 88-75, 2nd Place AL East
New York Yankees
2017 Record: 91-71, 2nd Place AL East
Notable Additions: OF Giancarlo Stanton, 2B/3B Brandon Drury, SP CC Sabathia (Re-Signing)
Notable Subtractions: 3B Todd Frazier, DH Matt Holliday, SP Jaime García, SP Michael Pineda
The Yankees made the biggest acquisition of the offseason, landing Giancarlo Stanton in a dead giveaway from Miami. Along with his enormous contract comes monumental power. Between him and Judge, 100 home runs seems very possible in New York’s bandbox.
Offensively, New York seemingly has no weaknesses, aside from high strikeout totals from their thunderous outfielders. Greg Bird’s injuries have taken away the latter parts of his past two seasons. This year, he should finally get the chance to play everyday, and is a potential breakout candidate.
Gleyber Torres will contend for Rookie of the Year status should he near 500 at-bats, depending on where New York plays Drury, and if they decide to go with Torres or Andujar in the majors. The bullpen features flamethrower after flamethrower, with dominant arms and experienced closers at every turn. The rotation will be the same as 2017 with the return of CC.
While they will get a full season of Sonny Gray, this could be where things go awry. Tanaka’s elbow appears to be a ticking time bomb, and his production showed that in 2017. Severino and Montgomery will both need repeat seasons for New York to keep pace. Even if they don’t, the offense should be able to carry them.
1. Luis Severino
2. Masahiro Tanaka
3. Sonny Gray
4. Jordan Montgomery
5. CC Sabathia
CL: Aroldis Chapman
SU: Dellin Betances
RP: David Robertson
C: Gary Sanchez
1B: Greg Bird
2B: Brandon Drury/Gleyber Torres/Tyler Wade
3B: Brandon Drury/Miguel Andujar
SS: Didi Gregorius
OF: Brett Gardner
OF: Aaron Hicks/Jacoby Ellsbury
OF: Aaron Judge/Giancarlo Stanton
DH: Aaron Judge/Giancarlo Stanton
Prediction: 90-72, 1st Place AL East
How do you think the AL East will shake out? Comment below.