Payrolls in the AL East come in all shapes and sizes, but one aspect of the division is uniform: the talent pools run deep.
In back-to-back seasons, four of five AL East teams have finished with winning records. No other division has done that even once in that span.
As the Toronto Blue Jays try to build on last year’s post-season cup of coffee, the rest of the division is trying to build something, too.
With spring training approaching, let’s look more closely at what the Blue Jays’ divisional foes have been up to this winter and how they shape up for the coming season:
NEW YORK YANKEES
Who they’ve lost: SP Jameson Taillon, RP Aroldis Chapman, RP Lucas Luetge, RP Miguel Castro, RP Chad Green, DH Matt Carpenter
Who they’ve gained: SP Carlos Rodon, RP Tommy Kahnle, OF Rafael Ortega
After a 99-win season, the Yankees parted ways with a decent chunk of last year’s stellar relief corps. You could say the Yankees were mostly trimming fat, though, as five of their top six relievers from 2022 (based on fWAR) are still in pinstripes.
Rodon, who’s been a mid-ballot Cy Young finisher in consecutive seasons, provides an excellent external splash. But of course, the biggest addition for this team is in the outfield.
No, not Ortega …
It’s Aaron Judge, of course. We didn’t include him in the “gained” group because he was technically never lost, but during free agency he could’ve wound up anywhere. Instead, the reigning MVP has agreed to torment the AL East for almost another full decade. Gulp.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Who they’ve lost: SP Corey Kluber, SP/RP Ryan Yarbrough, 1B/DH Ji-Man Choi, RP J.P. Feyereisen, RP JT Chargois, RP Brooks Raley, OF Kevin Kiermaier, C Mike Zunino
Who they’ve gained: SP Zach Eflin, RP Kevin Kelly
Another typical Tampa Bay offseason is well underway, with under-the-radar moves (including some interesting extensions) far outnumbering notable acquisitions.
Eflin’s FIP has outperformed his ERA in each of the past three seasons with the defensively inept Phillies, so maybe his stuff will play up on the Rays. A guy in the 96th percentile for average exit velocity (per Baseball Savant) and 94th percentile for hard-hit rate probably shouldn’t have an ERA above 4.00.
Don’t think too hard about all the bullpen departures. Spoiler alert: The Rays will probably figure it out with whomever they use. Since 2019, they lead the AL in reliever ERA (3.44) and fWAR (22.3).
Who they’ve lost: SP Jordan Lyles, 2B Rougned Odor
Who they’ve gained: 2B Adam Frazier, SP Cole Irvin, SP Kyle Gibson, C James McCann, RP Mychal Givens
For the first time in five years, the Orioles finished with more wins than losses. They celebrated by going on a small market spending spree, adding Gibson ($10 million) and Frazier ($8 million) as their two highest-paid players.
All of Baltimore’s additions can be described most kindly as serviceable stopgaps. The real fun comes from the farm.
MLB’s No. 1 prospect Gunnar Henderson, who debuted late last year, is back for a full season and is the early frontrunner to win AL Rookie of the Year. One of his primary competitors should be teammate Grayson Rodriguez, a righty who tore up Triple-A in ’22 and has a solid chance to make Baltimore’s rotation.
Add them to the 25-and-under mix of Adley Rutschman, Kyle Stowers and Ryan Mountcastle and you’ve got quite an emerging army of baby birds.
BOSTON RED SOX
Who they’ve lost: SS Xander Bogaerts, DH J.D. Martinez, SP Nathan Eovaldi, RP Matt Strahm, RP Matt Barnes, SP Rich Hill, OF Tommy Pham, 1B Eric Hosmer
Who they’ve gained: OF Masataka Yoshida, OF Adam Duvall, 3B/DH Justin Turner, RP Kenley Jansen, RP Richard Bleier, INF Adalberto Mondesi, C Jorge Alfaro, SP Corey Kluber, RP Chris Martin
Don’t let this long list of acquisitions distract you from the fact that two of their three all-stars are gone and their rotation is rife with uncertainty.
At the top is Chris Sale, who’s pitched just 48 1/3 innings over the past three years. Oft-injured Corey Kluber and James Paxton slot in behind him, along with Nick Pivetta, who in his seventh season will try to post a sub-4.50 ERA for the first time.
Even beyond the rotation, It’s not pretty for Boston right now. Trevor Story’s surprise elbow injury (discovered during his ramp-up throwing program around Christmas) means the team will need a patchwork plan to fill a void at shortstop.
The Red Sox brought up the rear in the AL East last season, and it should stun no one if that happens again in 2023.