TORONTO BLUE JAYS
It appears as though, Toronto is set to move on from both of their best sluggers of the recent seasons, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, while Michael Saunders will probably also find a new home. Having already signed, Kendrys Morales though, it seems the Canadian franchise is still in a fairly healthy state.
The rotation looks great, with young stud Aaron Sanchez joined by Marco Estrada and Marcus Stroman as well as Francisco Liriano and JA Happ. The bullpen has a vacancy or two in it, but they may find a re-union with Cecil as beneficial, as well as probably another veteran reliever or two, though nothing radical is required.
Certainly, another outfielder is needed after the vacancies left by Bautista and Saunders, and there is an endless array of options for the management to ponder. The infield and catching staff look fairly settled, though a platoon partner or upgrade at 1B could be a viable option, as currently just Smoak mans the position.
Also, a veteran catcher probably on a minor league deal would be unsurprising. Overall, Toronto fans may have thought of panicking after the high-end departures that are noted above, but a realistic outlook heading into 2017, still must be to expect to be in the playoff picture.
BOSTON RED SOX
Extensions may be the order of the offseason for Boston, after such quality season from their band of established youngsters, heading into arbitration eligibility, such as Bogaerts, Betts and Bradley Jr. As for needs, the obvious ones are the bullpen, as Uehara, Tazawa and summer acquisition Ziegler are all hitting free-agency, leaving Kimbrel as the mainstay at the backend of the pen.
Certainly, a big name closer such as Chapman or Jansen cannot be ruled out, but is probably not a necessity, while other late inning veterans such as Holland, Romo or Casilla seem more realistic. Another, unsurprising spending splurge could come in the form of a David Ortiz replacement, at DH, such as Encarnacion or Carlos Beltran, to add a power bat.
Though, the momentous notion is to utilize Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval in the role, even though Hanley’s defence at 1B is passable. Also, with the rich prospect capital at their disposal, a rotation upgrade cannot be ruled out, with a genuine ace like Chris Sale, Jose Quintana or Chris Archer surely amongst the brass’ thoughts. Boston, will be dirty on how their superb year ended, going down to Cleveland without much of a whimper and will expect a deeper run in 2017, justifiably.
Baltimore are one of those clubs that are hard to imagine what they are thinking, which is again the case this offseason, though there are a few needs to address. In particular, the rotation but this may be too tough in to do in free-agency, unless they are willing to take a flyer on one of the Korean pitchers that are available.
Trading for an ace seems unlikely, due to the awful state of the farm system, and a lack of elite prospects. One possibility is to trade Britton in, if they are unwilling to stretch him out and give him a go in the rotation, as he would surely bring back a haul of near ready MLB talent. A outfielder too is probably regarded as something of a need, though a re-union with Trumbo could change that, even if his defence is poorly. The pen looks fairly decent still, depending on the moves they make, but a veteran addition or 2 wouldn’t be problematic.
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If they feel the time is right to strike a deal with Manny Machado, it could happen later in the offseason, though it will surely be north of $300M. Finally, they need a catcher, Weiters is a free agent and unlikely to return and Caleb Joseph is surely not up standard to take the everyday job, after a season, without producing a single RBI. Baltimore, will do well to keep up with this extremely tough division, with Toronto, Boston and New York sure to set the pace in 2017, but they did it this year, and may be confident to continue their recent successful campaigns.
NEW YORK YANKEES
After hauling in so many youngsters in the summer trade frenzy, by cashing in Miller, Chapman and Beltran, and parting ways with veterans A-Rod and Teixeira the Yankees appear on track to return to their winning ways. All that is left now, is to find another quality starting pitching option and shore up the bullpen, with plenty of good position players set in stone.
Any number of the youngsters in the farm system could be utilized to facilitate a trade, netting them a quality pitcher, such as Odorizzi, Sonny Gray, Jimmy Nelson or even Julio Urias. They will surely be in on Aroldis Chapman, too, as he apparently enjoyed his time in the big apple and is the best available closer on the market. As the Bombers are a financial powerhouse they cannot be ruled out on the elite names on the free-agent market, particularly, Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacio and Rich Hill.
Cespedes is a fit, after they offloaded Beltran and are seemingly willing to part with Gardner, in a swap that may net them a pitcher capable of eating innings. Hill is the best available pitcher on the market, for starters, and would slot in nicely in the #3 slot behind Pineda and Tanaka. The Yankees will be more than competitive in 2017, particularly with young stars such as Gary Sanchez and a fit Greg Bird, meaning the AL East will be a very tough division yet again.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Tampa Bay had an awful 2016, and have many needs to improve in 2017 with limited resources, and are clearly the most troubled team in their division, leaving success very unlikely.
They do have a few controllable pitchers on their staff which they may look to cash-in on, such as Archer, Odorizzi and Smyly, to re-stock the farm system, although that would mean more suffering for the fans. As for needs, as it has been for some time now, a quality catcher could change their fortune, and a OF bat would be helpful.
Steve Pearce was unfortunately a flop for them, as injury ruined him early, and they flipped him to the Orioles, but he may be a fix for them this time around again. A more unpopular approach could be to shop Evan Longoria, the long time face of the franchise, and attempt to get a good haul of youngsters in return for him, though the market, probably depends on what happens with Justin Turner, as 3B is not a position in high demand this offseason. Overall, the Rays need to find some answers to many questions, in order not to be the whipping boys of the division yet again, though getting out of this conundrum will be awfully difficult.
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