We’re but a few short months away from spring training, and while there still are a great many free agents available and a few big trades away from wrapping up the winter, we generally know where every team stands for the upcoming season. We’ll make predictions on the best and worst case scenario for every AL East team.
The Orioles fill the several holes they still have before the start of spring training, and they come back with one of the league's highest scoring offenses, once again in 2017. Adam Jones replenishes some of his waning value, while Manny Machado has an MVP season. The team gets mediocre pitching, up to the trade deadline, when the team can go all-in on a rental ace. With an explosive offense and a dominant bullpen, the Orioles make some noise in the playoffs.
The Orioles fail to fill holes in right field and in the rotation. Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy take steps back, and the staff suffers. Adam Jones depletes his value even further, and Chris Davis has another one of his off years, and the Orioles treading of water depends entirely on the health of Manny Machado. The team stays somewhat in the hunt, and instead of cashing out some assets, they spend more prospects going for it one last time. By the time the offseason rolls around and the Orioles look to trade players, their value is depleted and the market is silent.
Boston Red Sox
Best Case Scenario:
Mookie Betts repeats his season and this time wins the MVP. Chris Sale completes his quest to win an AL Cy Young, but he has to edge out reigning champ Rick Porcello. David Price returns to the pitcher he was in Tampa and Detroit. The Red Sox have the best rotation and lineup in the game. They cruise to an AL East title, and push their way to a the World Series. Once there, anything can happen.
Chris Sale doesn’t get along with his new teammates in Boston, and the Red Sox fans have a new superstar to hate. Rick Porcello’s cutter goes back to normal, and he fades back into the background. David Price continues his usual work as a Boston Red Sock. The absence of David Ortiz looms large, as no one steps into the role of run producer. With a disappointing rotation and an underachieving lineup, they allow themselves to get caught by an upstart Yankees team who arrives ahead of schedule.
New York Yankees
The Yankees arrive ahead of schedule. A full year with no A-Rod, Texiera, Beltran or McCann helps the young guys keep things fun and adventurous. Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge cut down on their strikeouts and provide the run production in the middle of the order. Gary Sanchez proves 2016 was no fluke making his first all-star appearance. The team makes a big splash at the trade deadline for an ace to pair with Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees sneak up on the Red Sox and steal the division crown right out from under them.
The abscense of some veterans looms in the Bronx. Aaron Judge fails to cut down his strikeout rate and hits .220 in his first full season. Gary Sanchez fails to reproduce the spark that got Yankees' fans so excited in 2016. The rotation goes through more injury woes and the front office sits tight at the deadline, forcing the Yankees' fanbase to practice a paradoxical trick called patience.
Tampa Bay Rays
The front office owns the 68 in the win column in 2016 and acts accordingly. The Rays get a massive return for Chris Archer, filling their system with a franchise caliber player and plenty other high upside prospects. They put some nice pieces around them by selling Drew Smyly as well. The Rays find some good fits for veterans like Corey Dickerson or Logan Forsythe as well. The Rays start 2018 with one of the best farm systems in the league.
The Rays get super competitive and strive for a .500 record in 2017. Worst part. They get it. The team fails to unload any significant assets in a hard-headed attempt to avoid rebuild-land. Some prospects experience arm troubles, and the Rays are left hoping that they had a good draft in 2017.
Toronto Blue Jays
Once again in 2017, the Jays front office prove they know how to plug holes at low cost, as Kendrys Morales holds down the DH position instead of Encarnacion. Russell Martin bounces back, and with Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, the Jays get back to being the best offense in baseball. Aaron Sanchez comes back without innings limits, and picks up where he left off, holding down the best ERA in the AL again. J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada show how innings eating is done, and the Jays stay in it all the way till the end, where they can take the division, or sneak in through the Wild Card again, and put on another show in the playoffs.
The Jays’ signings bust and instead they look cheap for passing on Encarnacion and Bautista. The Jays’ inexplicably affective rotation explicably takes a step back in 2017 and the team’s bullpen is revealed to be light. The injury bug catches Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin again, and the offense suffers, as suddenly Josh Donaldson is forced to do too much in games where the Jays find themselves down four runs early on against tough AL East opponents.
Who do you have topping the AL East? Let us know why in the comments!