American League East Preview Capsules

March 24, 2023 GMT
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge grounds out to Detroit Tigers third baseman Zack Short during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge grounds out to Detroit Tigers third baseman Zack Short during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Capsules of American League East teams, listed in order of finish last year:

___

NEW YORK YANKEES

2022: 99-63, first place, lost to Houston in AL Championship Series.

Manager: Aaron Boone (sixth season).

Opening Day: March 30 vs. San Francisco.

He’s Here: LHP Carlos Rodón, RHP Tommy Kahnle.

He’s Outta Here: LHP Aroldis Chapman, RHP Jameson Taillon, RHP Chad Green, RHP Miguel Castro, LHP Lucas Luetge, INF/OF Matt Carpenter, OF Andrew Benintendi, INF/OF Marwin Gonzalez.

Top Hitters: OF Aaron Judge (.311, AL-record 62 HRs, major league co-leading 131 RBIs, MLB-high 133 runs, MLB-best 1.111 OPS, AL MVP), OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton (.211, 31, 78 in 110 games), 1B Anthony Rizzo (.224, 32, 75), 2B Gleyber Torres (.257, 24, 76), INF DJ LeMahieu (.261, 12, 46 in 125 games).

Projected Rotation: RH Gerrit Cole (13-8, 3.50 ERA, MLB-leading 257 Ks, 33 HRs allowed), LH Nestor Cortes (12-4, 2.44), RH Luis Severino (7-3, 3.18 in 19 starts), RH Domingo Germán (2-5, 3.61 in 15 games, 14 starts), RH Clarke Schmidt (5-5, 3.12 in 3 starts and 36 relief appearances).

Key Relievers: RH Clay Holmes (7-4, 2.54 ERA, 20/25 saves, 65 Ks in 63 2/3 IP), RH Jonathan Loáisiga (2-3, 4.13), LHP Wandy Peralta (3-4, 2.72), RH Lou Trivino (1-2, 1.66 for Oakland and Yankees), RH Ron Marinaccio (1-0, 2.05), RH Michael King (6-3, 2.29).

Outlook: Without a World Series title or even a pennant since 2009, the Yankees were eliminated by Houston last season for the third time in six years, getting swept in the AL Championship Series. After a 63-23 start, they were hit by injuries and went 36-40 the rest of the way. Rodón, their major offseason addition after going 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA for San Francisco, is likely out until May because of a strained left forearm, and trade-deadline acquisition RHP Frankie Montas will miss at least the first half of this season following shoulder surgery. The Yankees are counting on strong seasons again from Judge and Rizzo. They hope Stanton is able to remain healthy and stay in the lineup, that 3B Josh Donaldson and OF Aaron Hicks rebound and CF Harrison Bader, slowed during spring training by an oblique injury, shows more of the power he displayed in last year’s postseason. Holmes will be in the spotlight after an All-Star first half and a second half slowed by back and rotator cuff injuries. After making debuts late last season, OF Oswaldo Cabrera and SS Oswald Peraza could be given more prominent roles, and 21-year-old SS Anthony Volpe impressed during spring training in his bid for a starting job following his September promotion to Triple-A.

___

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

2022: 92-70, second place, lost to Seattle in wild-card round.

Manager: John Schneider (second season).

Opening Day: March 30 at St. Louis.

He’s Here: RHP Chris Bassitt, OF Daulton Varsho, OF Kevin Kiermaier, 1B/DH Brandon Belt, RHP Chad Green, RHP Erik Swanson, RHP Zach Thompson, bench coach Don Mattingly.

He’s Outta Here: OF Teoscar Hernández, OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., RHP Ross Stripling, C Gabriel Moreno, RHP David Phelps, OF Jackie Bradley Jr., OF Raimel Tapia, OF Bradley Zimmer, LHP Tayler Saucedo, RHP Julian Merryweather, LHP Matt Gage.

Top Hitters: 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.274, 32 HRs, 97 RBIs, .818 OPS), OF George Springer (.267, 25, 76, .814 OPS), SS Bo Bichette (.290, 24, 93, .802 OPS), C/DH Alejandro Kirk (.285, 14, 63, .786 OPS), 3B Matt Chapman (.229, 27, 76, .757 OPS).

Projected Rotation: RH Alek Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA, 180 Ks, 0.99 WHIP), RH Kevin Gausman (12-10, 3.35, 205 Ks), RH Chris Bassitt (15-9, 3.42, 167 Ks with Mets), RH José Berríos (12-7, 5.23), LH Yusei Kikuchi (6-7, 5.19).

Key Relievers: RH Jordan Romano (5-4, 2.11 ERA, 36/42 saves, 73 Ks in 64 IP), RH Erik Swanson (3-2, 1.68, 3 saves, 70 Ks in 53 2/3 IP with Seattle), RH Yimi Garcia (4-5, 3.10, 1 save), RH Chad Green (1-1, 3.00, 1 save in 14 games with Yankees before Tommy John surgery).

Outlook: Swept out of the wild-card round after blowing a seven-run lead in Game 2 against Seattle, the Blue Jays responded by retooling their outfield and beefing up the rotation and bullpen this offseason, adding new reinforcements to the core behind Guerrero and Bichette. Three-time Gold Glove winner Kiermaier was signed to play center field, with oft-injured All-Star Springer expected to get less wear and tear in right and fellow newcomer Varsho bringing his athleticism to left. Outfield defense could be a bigger priority in Toronto this season thanks to a reconfigured wall that’s both shallower and asymmetrical. Bassitt gives the Blue Jays another All-Star in the rotation behind the steady duo of Manoah and Gausman, while setup man Swanson, acquired for slugger Hernández, should help bridge the gap to All-Star closer Romano.

___

TAMPA BAY RAYS

2022: 86-76, third place, lost to Cleveland in wild-card round.

Manager: Kevin Cash (ninth season).

Opening Day: March 30 vs. Detroit.

He’s Here: RHP Zach Eflin, RHP Trevor Kelley.

He’s Outta Here: CF Kevin Kiermaier, LHP Brooks Raley, 1B Ji-Man Choi, C Mike Zunino, OF Brett Phillips, RHP Corey Kluber, LHP Ryan Yarbrough.

Top Hitters: LF Randy Arozarena, (.263, 20 HRs, 89 RBIs, 32 SBs, .772 OPS), SS Wander Franco (.277, 6, 33, .746 OPS in 83 games), 2B Brandon Lowe (.221, 8, 25, .691 OPS in 65 games), 3B Yandy Díaz (.296, 9, 58, .824 OPS), DH Harold Ramírez (.300, 6, 58, .725 OPS).

Projected Rotation: LH Shane McClanahan (12-8, 2.54 ERA), RH Tyler Glasnow (0-0, 1.35 in 2 starts after return from injury), RH Zach Eflin (3-5, 4.04, 1 save in 20 games, 13 starts with Phillies), RH Drew Rasmussen (11-7, 2.84 in 28 starts, 125 Ks in 146 IP), LH Jeffrey Springs (9-5, 2.46, 8 saves, 33 games, 25 starts).

Key Relievers: RH Jason Adam (2-3, 1.56 ERA, 8 saves, 67 games, 75 Ks in 63 1/3 IP), RH Pete Fairbanks (0-0, 1.13, 8 saves in 24 appearances), RH Ryan Thompson (3-3, 3.80 in 47 games), LH Colin Poche (4-2, 3.99, 7 saves in 65 appearances).

Outlook: The Rays are one of six teams — along with the Astros, Yankees, Dodgers, Braves and Cardinals — who have made the playoffs each of the past four seasons. With the addition of Eflin, who signed a $40 million, three-year deal that’s the largest the club has ever awarded in free agency, expectations remain high for 2023. If healthy, the five-man rotation Cash envisions has the potential to be among the best in the AL. And while the club failed to add any big bats this offseason, the Rays are confident they’ll be better offensively if players such as Franco and Lowe rebound from subpar seasons at the plate that were impacted by injuries.

___

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

2022: 83-79, fourth place.

Manager: Brandon Hyde (fifth season).

Opening Day: March 30 at Boston.

He’s Here: RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP Mychal Givens, LHP Cole Irvin, C James McCann, 2B Adam Frazier.

He’s Outta Here: 2B Rougned Odor, C Robinson Chirinos, 1B Jesús Aguilar, RHP Jordan Lyles, RHP Jake Reed.

Top Hitters: C Adley Rutschman (.254, 13 HRs, 42 RBIs, 35 doubles, .807 OPS), CF Cedric Mullins (.258, 16, 64, 34 SBs), RF Anthony Santander (.240, 33, 89, .773 OPS), 1B Ryan Mountcastle (.250, 22, 85, .728 OPS), INF Gunnar Henderson (.259, 4, 18, .788 OPS in 34 games).

Projected Rotation: LH Cole Irvin (9-13, 3.98 ERA with Oakland), RH Kyle Gibson (10-8, 5.05 with Philadelphia), RH Dean Kremer (8-7, 3.23), RH Kyle Bradish (4-7, 4.90), RH Grayson Rodriguez (6-1, 2.20 with Triple-A Norfolk).

Key Relievers: RH Félix Bautista (4-4, 2.19 ERA, 15/17 saves), LH Cionel Pérez (7-1, 1.40), RH Mychal Givens (7-3, 3.38 with Cubs and Mets), RH Dillon Tate (4-4, 3.05).

Outlook: The Orioles were one of baseball’s biggest surprises in 2022, improving by 31 games and staying in the playoff race until the last few days of the season. Rutschman had a strong rookie year, and now Baltimore can expect more help from Henderson and Rodriguez, two of the game’s top prospects. However, the Orioles kept their payroll at a pretty modest level this offseason, and if their bullpen can’t repeat last year’s surprising performance, it may be difficult for Baltimore to move up further in a tough AL East.

___

BOSTON RED SOX

2022: 78-84, fifth place.

Manager: Alex Cora (third season of second stint, fifth season overall).

Opening Day: March 30 vs. Baltimore.

He’s Here: OF Masataka Yoshida, RHP Kenley Jansen, 3B Justin Turner, RHP Corey Kluber, LHP Joely Rodriguez, RHP Chris Martin, OF Adam Duvall, LHP Richard Bleier, RHP Theo Denlinger.

He’s Outta Here: SS Xander Bogaerts, DH J.D. Martinez, RHP Michael Wacha, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, LHP Rich Hill, OF Tommy Pham, OF Franchy Cordero, 1B Eric Hosmer, LHP Josh Taylor, RHP Matt Barnes, RHP Franklin German.

Top Hitters: 3B Rafael Devers (.295, 27 HRs, 88 RBIs), OF Alex Verdugo (.280, 11, 74), OF Masataka Yoshida (.336, 21, 89 in Japan).

Projected Rotation: RH Corey Kluber (10-10, 4.34 ERA with Tampa Bay), RH Nick Pivetta (10-12, 4.56), RH Garrett Whitlock (4-2, 3.45), LH Chris Sale (0-1, 3.18 in 2 games), LH James Paxton (15-6, 3.82 in 2019; pitched in 6 games over last three seasons).

Key Relievers: RH Kenley Jansen (5-2, 3.38 ERA, 41/48 saves with Atlanta), RH Tanner Houck (5-4, 3.15, 8 saves), RH John Schreiber (4-4, 2.22, 8 saves).

Outlook: After finishing in last place for the second time in three seasons — in 2021 they went to the ALCS — the Red Sox were further depleted by the loss of Bogaerts in free agency. Trevor Story was expected to move over from second base, but a right elbow injury could keep him out the entire season. The big signing, Yoshida, is a question mark as he moves from Japan to the U.S. major leagues. The injury-plagued Sale, who has pitched in just 11 games since mid-August of 2019, will try again to make it through a season healthy. Pitching prospect Bryan Bello (2-8, 4.71 ERA) could be ready to step into the rotation if Sale has another setback. The signing of Jansen could stabilize the bullpen and allow Whitlock to remain in the rotation.

___

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports