As the season is approaching rapidly, we look back at a solid offseason. In this recap, we will rank the AL East teams and from the best transactions to the worst. This was a very weak year for the AL East division.
The Yankees have been overlooked this year because of the acquisitions of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson by the Angels. The Yankees haven’t made a major splash in the free agent market, and they actually haven’t signed anyone big that wasn’t on the Yankees last year. Why did the Yankees have such a great offseason then? They could’ve lost their start starter CC Sabathia in the free agency pool but GM Brian Cashman smartly resigned the Yankees dominant ace. Other key pickups were the team options of Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano, two of the Bronx Bombers biggest offensive threats. The Yanks are primed for another October run.
The Rays have had a great offseason so far, even though they’ve been under the radar. They had two huge pickups for relatively little money. Kyle Farnsworth’s option was picked up for 3.3 million dollars, and he was a solid closer for the Rays last year. Their best pickup was the workhorse of their staff, ace James Shields. The league leader in complete games, his option was picked up for 7.5 million dollars! Compare this to Rafael Soriano who makes 12 million dollars in a setup role. Enough said. Andrew Friedman impresses the baseball world once again with another extension signing of a great prospect in Matt Moore. This kid has a ton of potential and signing him to a five year deal is a great deal if he can stay healthy for that whole time. If Longoria is healthy, the Rays will have a great chance at making the playoffs with Desmond Jennings in his sophomore season and all this pitching prospects reaching their potential.
We find ourselves putting these three teams at the top every offseason ever since the Rays clicked and the big three in the East was formed. Even though the Red Sox lost their [arguably] elite closer to the Phillies, they still strengthened their bullpen with the acquisition of 2009 AL ROY Andrew Bailey. If Daniel Bard can control of his 100 mph fastball, the Red sox will have him, Bailey and also a newcomer, Mark Melancon who came over from the Astros in a December trade. This would give them a large number of young, talented relievers, which other teams will envy. An underrated signing for the Red Sox was catcher Kelly Shoppach, who will be a capable backup for Jarrod Saltamachia. If Carl Crawford can figure out what’s wrong with him, the Red Sox will be a major threat deep in the year, but only if they can hold onto the lead.
The Jays had a terrible offseason so far but look for them to make a splash later on as there are still free agents on the table. They did make one good trade and that was for Sergio Santos, who was above average last year for the White Sox and has unbelievable upside. They also traded for former Phillie Ben Francisco, which is an OK trade as Francisco could be a solid pinch-hitter. The Jays need better corner infielders because Edwin Encarnacion is just not going to cut it. The future is bright for the powerful Blue Jays (Bautista, Arencibia, Lawrie) but this year could be more of a developmental year in Toronto.
The Orioles best signing was Endy Chavez and some guy from Japan that hasn’t proven anything (no it wasn’t Yu Darvish). Period. They will not improve whatsoever in the coming season, because what they really needed was better pitching, both bullpen and starting. Now, with that said, they have a young rotation that needs a couple more years to develop. Between Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz, this rotation can becoming one of the best in the league. The hitting will come for the Orioles, as they have some talent with Jones in center (gold glove also), Markakis in right, Roberts at second, and a great prospect in Wieters at catcher. Look for the orioles and their great shortstop prospect, Manny Muchado, to be strong in a couple of years.
The AL East made some nice strides this season, but were probably average to below-average compared to others.
Nick Greco is Khandyman’s head MLB analyst, and is continuing his series entailing the offseason transactions in the majors, going division-by-division.