Blue Jays American East Recap: Off Season Update
With Pitchers and Catchers reporting in less than two weeks, the Off Season Transactions are winding to a close. With a better idea of what the Division looks like, we’ll take a look at our competition.
The off season didn’t quite go as planned for the Blue Jays, but with the Blue Jays roster looks about rounded out. The Jays have re-signed Jose Bautista and added Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce to round out the remaining starting positions. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was signed up as backup Catcher, and J.P. Howell was signed to round out the bullpen. Though Shapiro may surprise us with a late move, the Jays roster looks about set.
With all the focus on the Jays, it’d be easy to miss the rest of the moves our division this winter. So we’ll take a look on the rest of the Al East and see where the stand now.
Boston Red Sox:
Yes, we all know they added ace pitcher Chris Sale, and now boast an impressive rotation. To do so they did have to give up Yoan Moncada, and a package of other top prospects. In addition to beefing up their rotation, they added Tyler Thornburg to help tighten an excellent bullpen. The Red Sox signed Mitch Moreland to fill out first base as well.
The big question for the Red Sox will be whether their offense can produce to the capacity it did last year. They will be without David Ortiz, who contributed mightily in his final campaign. Pablo Sandoval is likely to start at third, which have some scratching their heads. As a whole the Red Sox look to be the odds on favorites in the East, but we’ve all heard that before.
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The Orioles have been largely quiet this off season, downplaying their needs. They re-signed slugger Mark Trumbo, and gained Seth Smith from the Mariners to form a solid outfield. The Orioles also signed Wellington Castillo, who will likely see the share of the Catching position with long time O, Matt Wieters unlikely to return during Free Agency. They have also made quite of few minor league signings to help fill out positional needs.
The Orioles figure to be as solid an offensive team as they were last year. With an excellent bullpen, only the rotation really looks off. The Orioles will need Kevin Gausman and Ubaldo Jimenez to look closer to their second half selves. Given their relative silence the Orioles may still make some moves. Expect the 2017 Orioles to hit a lot to compensate for rotational troubles.
New York Yankees:
The New York Yankees surprised no one by dealing away Aroldis Chapman at the trade deadline, and shocked no one when they signed him back. He’ll join Dellin Betances for a solid back end of the bullpen. The youth movement saw Gary Sanchez take center stage last September, and with the team getting younger, the Yankees added veteran Matt Holliday to handle Designated Hitter and to mentor some talented young players. To make room for Sanchez, Brian McCann was sent to Houston in exchange for some young pitchers.
All eyes will be on New York’s rotation. They had issues down the stretch last year, and with the departure of Ivan Nova and Nathan Eovaldi, those look to remain. With a talented and stocked farm system, the Yankees look to address this internally. If the Yankees can be the Bronx Bombers from the last half of the year, they could stun the league and be a legitimate front runner.
Tampa Bay Rays:
The Rays seem content on making themselves better internally, choosing not to engage in any splashy free agent signings. The Rays will look quite different in 2017. They will be out Logan Forsythe on the offensive side, and without Drew Smyly in the rotation. They did sign Wilson Ramos to handle catching duties. Former Jay, Colby Rasmus also signed on, presumably as their 4th outfielder. Former Ranger closer Shawn Tolleson was also picked up to add to an already strong bullpen.
The rest of their needs will seemingly be addressed internally. All in all, the Rays appear weaker. Forsythe and Smyly all had quite a bit of success against the Jays, so there is no love lost there. The Rays added quite a bit of depth without sacrificing the bulk of their talent, and a full season from Matt Duffy should do well for them as well. Tampa Bay seems to be content with letting the rest of the league duke it out, and develop internally.
Looking around the league, it is clear to see that everyone has improved in various ways. Despite this, no one team is perfect. ‘Odds on favorites come and go, and often don’t play out quite the way the spectators predict. 164 games stand between the favorites and post season glory.