1.8 C
New York
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Biggest storylines around Yankees’ rivals

The Post’s Mark W. Sanchez previews the AL East with MLB spring training set to begin. 

Baltimore Orioles 

2023: 101-61 

Manager: Brandon Hyde (sixth season) 

Spring training site: Sarasota, Fla. 

Key additions: It took nearly the entire winter, but the Orioles found their ace in Corbin Burnes — a critical piece missing last season. Their only major league signing all offseason has been Craig Kimbrel, who figures to replace All-Star closer Felix Bautista (Tommy John surgery). 

Key losses: Several useful if not overwhelming veterans are gone, meaning a young Orioles group might be even younger this season. Starters Kyle Gibson and Jack Flaherty, utilityman Adam Frazier and outfielder Aaron Hicks have signed elsewhere. Top prospects DL Hall and Joey Ortiz were needed to land Burnes. 

Storylines to watch: The hunters are now the hunted. The feel-good story that was the 2023 Orioles is over, and now the question will be whether they can live up to expectations that have not been higher for the O’s this century. There is star power with Burnes, Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. There is plenty of upside within a quietly solid rotation (including rising Grayson Rodriguez) and nearly everyone returning from the fourth-best offense in the AL last season. 

Gunnar Henderson provides the Orioles star power. Getty Images

Boston Red Sox 

2023: 78-84 

Manager: Alex Cora (fourth season, sixth overall) 

Spring training site: Fort Myers, Fla. 

Key additions: The biggest names strangely were added in the front office, where Craig Breslow became GM and Theo Epstein returned as an adviser to the ownership group. Otherwise, Lucas Giolito can at worst eat innings and at best eat them efficiently. Former Braves infielder Vaughn Grissom offers a nice upside at second base. Tyler O’Neill — added in a trade with the Cardinals — is a bounce-back candidate if healthy. 

Key losses: The legend of Chris Sale is gone, as are several veterans who performed last season (Justin Turner, James Paxton, Alex Verdugo, Adam Duvall). Among qualified Boston hitters last season, Duvall (.834) and Turner (.800) had the third- and fifth-strongest OPS, respectively. 

Storylines to watch: The Red Sox did not upgrade nearly enough externally. Can their internal steps forward compensate? Triston Casas seems like a fine building block, and Brayan Bello and Kutter Crawford are two intriguing rotation pieces. A new group of prospects is rising, from shortstop Marcelo Mayer to catcher Kyle Teel to utilityman Ceddanne Rafaela to outfielder Roman Anthony. After back-to-back last-place finishes, can their future arrive quickly? 

Tampa Bay Rays 

2023: 99-63 

Manager: Kevin Cash (10th season) 

Spring training site: Port Charlotte, Fla. 

Key additions: Several players you might not have heard of but who will probably ensure the Rays are in contention in September. A few veteran-for-emerging-major-leaguer trades brought over second-year infielder José Caballero, who might become their shortstop, young outfielders Jonny DeLuca and Richie Palacios and promising starter Ryan Pepiot. Their only major league free-agent signings have been righty relievers Phil Maton and Chris Devenski. 

Key losses: Tampa Bay hopes Pepiot can replace Tyler Glasnow; DeLuca can replace Manuel Margot; Palacios can replace Luke Raley; and Maton and Devenski can replace Robert Stephenson and Andrew Kittredge. 

NY Post Illustration

Storylines to watch: Can their remarkable factory continue humming as more standouts are subtracted? Will top prospect Junior Caminero help the Rays forget about Wander Franco? Can Shane Baz — formerly a top prospect before 2022 Tommy John surgery — help replace Shane McClanahan, who will miss the season following his own elbow procedure? Baz likely will not be ready to start the season, but he, Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen loom as early-to-midseason internal reinforcements. 

Toronto Blue Jays 

2023: 89-73 

Manager: John Schneider (third season, second complete) 

Spring training site: Dunedin, Fla. 

Ex-Yankees infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa signed with the Blue Jays. AP

Key additions: If nothing else, the Blue Jays have gotten more flexible in adding Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Justin Turner to their infield. Yariel Rodriguez, an intriguing righty from Cuba, has been brought in for at least a setup role and potentially a starting job. 

Key losses: IKF essentially replaces Whit Merrifield, and Turner, below average but playable at the corners, will try to fill in for the departed Brandon Belt and Matt Chapman. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Jordan Hicks are gone from a pitching group that lost some dependability and upside, respectively. 

Storylines to watch: Will the Blue Jays — who sought both Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto and struck out — use that unspent money to pursue Blake Snell, Cody Bellinger or one of the top available free agents? If not, the best hope for Toronto will be bounce-backs from 2023 underperformers such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alek Manoah.

Source link

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles