AL East teams at the start of spring training
A team-by-team look at the American League East entering spring training, including key players each club acquired and lost, and dates of the first workout for pitchers and catchers, and the full squad:
Boston Red Sox
Manager: John Farrell (fifth season).
2016: 93-69, first place, lost to Cleveland in ALDS.
Training Town: Fort Myers, Florida.
Park: JetBlue Park.
First Workout: Feb. 14/17.
He’s Here: LHP Chris Sale, RHP Tyler Thornburg, 1B Mitch Moreland.
He’s Outta Here: DH David Ortiz, 3B Travis Shaw, RHP Clay Buchholz, RHP Koji Uehara, RHP Junichi Tazawa, RHP Brad Ziegler, C Ryan Hanigan, C Bryan Holaday, 3B-2B Aaron Hill.
Going campin’: Things will be a little different in Florida as the Red Sox begin their first spring training in 14 years without Ortiz, who retired after a monstrous 2016 send-off. They might not be able to replace Big Papi’s presence in the clubhouse, but they should continue to get plenty out of a young core that features All-Stars Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts. The pitching rotation also will get a talent injection after Sale arrived in a blockbuster trade. He joins reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and 2012 winner David Price to form one of baseball’s top trios. At a minimum it should help lessen the burden on Price , who had an up-and-down Boston debut after signing a seven-year, $217 million contract prior to last season. Boston also has high hopes for OF Andrew Benintendi. The 22-year-old played 34 games as a rookie in 2016, hitting .295 with an .835 OPS. In addition, 3B Pablo Sandoval returns to action after missing all but three games last season before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. His weight was an issue entering the spring a year ago. But he’s slimmed down and kept the weight off, which should help him recover from a lackluster 2015 debut with the Red Sox.
Toronto Blue Jays
Manager: John Gibbons (fifth season).
2016: 89-73, tied for second place, wild card, lost to Cleveland in ALCS.
Training Town: Dunedin, Florida.
Park: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 15/18.
He’s Here: DH Kendrys Morales, INF-OF Steve Pearce, LHP J.P. Howell, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, INF-OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., RHP Glenn Sparkman.
He’s Outta Here: 1B-DH Edwin Encarnacion, OF Michael Saunders, LHP Brett Cecil, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP R.A. Dickey, RHP Scott Feldman, C Dioner Navarro, C Josh Thole.
Going campin’: A potent offense was the primary catalyst for Toronto’s playoff successes in 2015 and 2016, when the Blue Jays made consecutive losing appearances in the ALCS. Josh Donaldson is still at third base, and free agent outfielder Jose Bautista returned on a one-year contract – but Toronto lost its most consistent slugger when Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million deal with rival Cleveland. Toronto did pursue Encarnacion, who might have regrets about turning down a reported offer of $80 million over four years. When he declined, the Blue Jays quickly moved on by signing Morales to a three-year, $33 million deal and giving utilityman Pearce $12.5 million over two years. Toronto has one of the league’s deepest rotations, anchored by AL ERA leader Aaron Sanchez and 20-game winner J.A. Happ. There’s little drop-off to the remaining trio of Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman and Francisco Liriano. Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna and setup man Jason Grilli hold down the key roles at the back of the bullpen, but Toronto needs a replacement for Cecil, who signed a four-year, $30.5 million deal with St. Louis.
Manager: Buck Showalter (eighth season).
2016: 89-73, tied for second place, lost wild-card game to Toronto.
Training Town: Sarasota, Florida.
Park: Ed Smith Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 14/17.
He’s Here: C Welington Castillo, OF Seth Smith, RHP Logan Verrett, OF Aneury Tavarez, OF Anthony Santander, RHP Gabriel Ynoa.
He’s Outta Here: C Matt Wieters, DH-3B Pedro Alvarez, RHP Yovani Gallardo, OF Steve Pearce, LHP Brian Duensing, OF Nolan Reimold, RHP Vance Worley, OF Michael Bourn, RHP Tommy Hunter, OF Drew Stubbs.
Going campin’: The Orioles hope the formula for success they employed last season will work again in 2017. They brought back major league home run leader Mark Trumbo to anchor a lineup that led the bigs in long balls. The trade for Smith (16 HRs, 0 steals with Seattle in 2016) only hammers home the point that Baltimore intends to power its way into the playoffs for the fourth time in six years. The bullpen, most notably closer Zach Britton, is the team’s strong suit. The maturation of former No. 1 picks Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy should improve a starting rotation that last season received little help from the late addition of Wade Miley (2-5, 6.17 ERA in 11 starts). Objectives for spring training include getting Castillo and the pitching staff familiar with each other, making Trumbo comfortable at first base and improving the outfield defense.
New York Yankees
Manager: Joe Girardi (10th season).
2016: 84-78, fourth place.
Training Town: Tampa, Florida.
Park: Steinbrenner Field.
First Workout: Feb. 15/19.
He’s Here: LHP Aroldis Chapman, OF-DH Matt Holliday, 1B-DH Chris Carter, INF Ruben Tejada, C Wilkin Castillo, INF Pete Kozma.
He’s Otta Here: 1B Mark Teixeira, C Brian McCann, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, RHP Kirby Yates, RHP Nick Goody, INF Dustin Ackley, OF Billy Butler, OF Eric Young Jr.
Going campin’: The Yankees began their youth movement last August, bringing up catcher Gary Sanchez, outfielder Aaron Judge and first baseman/outfielder Tyler Austin after trading Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran. Chapman returned during the offseason as a free agent, and Holliday and Carter are the chief additions, both right-handed bats to balance a lefty-dependent batting order. Unable to find starting pitching at an affordable price, the Yankees enter spring training with a competition for rotation spots behind Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda. Candidates for the final two slots include Luis Severino, Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa and Chad Green. Greg Bird, back from shoulder surgery that sidelined him for all of last season, will have to beat out Austin and Carter at first base.
Tampa Bay Rays
Manager: Kevin Cash (third season).
2016: 68-94, fifth place.
Training Town: Port Charlotte, Florida.
Park: Charlotte Sports Park.
First Workout: Feb. 14/19.
He’s Here: C Wilson Ramos, OF Colby Rasmus, RHP Shawn Tolleson, OF Mallex Smith, OF-INF Rickie Weeks, RHP Jose De Leon, C Jesus Sucre.
He’s Outta Here: LHP Drew Smyly, 2B Logan Forsythe, RHP Kevin Jepsen, LHP Enny Romero, RHP Steve Geltz, INF Alexei Ramirez, OF Mikie Mahtook.
Going campin’: After reaching the playoffs four times in six seasons, the Rays have missed out for three consecutive years. A budget-minded front office has been busy this offseason, trading one of its best young pitchers (Smyly) and an offensive catalyst (Forsythe), while signing Ramos and Rasmus in free agency. But the Rays enter spring training with a familiar question begging to be answered: Have they done enough to re-emerge as contenders in the AL East? Starting pitching and defense remain the team’s chief assets, yet the Rays haven’t been consistent enough in either area to keep pace in a division where they’re chasing the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles and Yankees. Getting back on track begins with RHP Chris Archer rebounding from losing 19 games, and improving a bullpen that was a liability much of last season. The hope, too, is that Ramos returns from offseason knee surgery to play like the All-Star selection he was with Washington last season, and Rasmus recovers from surgery as well to do his part in making the lineup better offensively and defensively.