AL
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge flys out to center field in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Friday, March 24, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Team’s in AL East Set for Competitive Season

As Spring Training comes to an end and Opening Day approaches on Thursday, the AL East is headlined by stars and has the potential to be the strongest division in the MLB.

Last Season Results

Last season, the New York Yankees finished atop the division with a 99-63 record. The Toronto Blue Jays (92-70) came in second, while the Tampa Bay Rays (86-76), Baltimore Orioles (83-79) and Boston Red Sox (78-84) followed.

The division featured three teams in the 2022 postseason (Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays) which tied the NL East for the most playoff teams from a division.

Yankees

Starting with last season’s division winners, the Yankees come into the season with momentum after retaining star right fielder Aaron Judge. After being swept by the Houston Astros in the 2022 ALCS, there were questions about Judge’s future in New York. However, Judge’s record-breaking contract worth $360 million secured him with the team for nine more seasons. Along with Judge returning to the lineup, the Yankees also were able to re-sign first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who hit 32 home runs in 2022.

New York also signed southpaw Carlos Rodón to a deal worth $162 million over six years and right-handed pitcher Tommy Kahnle to a deal worth $11.5 million over two years. The additions of Rodón and Kahnle will help complement the efforts of starting ace Gerrit Cole.

Despite always high expectations, the Yankees have failed to appear in the World Series since 2009. The return of Judge is certainly encouraging, but it remains to be seen if they can halt the World Series drought.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays enter 2023 following an AL Wild Card loss to the Seattle Mariners. Toronto has emerged as a young, exciting team headlined by the talents of shortstop Bo Bichette and first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Among AL players, Bichette finished first in hits (189) and Guerrero Jr. finished fifth in RBIs (97), in 2022.

The Blue Jays had a busy offseason. They signed starting pitcher Chris Bassitt to three-year deal worth $63 million. They also signed first baseman Brandon Belt and outfielder Kevin Kiermaier to one-year deals to add depth to the lineup. Additionally, in a breakthrough trade, the Blue Jays acquired promising 26-year-old Daulton Varsho.

Toronto is looking to take the next step from being a team with young potential to a team that can legitimately contend for the division and the World Series.

Tampa Bay Rays

After winning 100 games in 2021, the Rays took a slight step back in 2022 with 86 wins. A surplus of injuries unfortunately robbed the team of its full potential. However, it was still enough to clinch a wild card berth and secure a postseason appearance for the fourth straight year.

This offseason, the Rays were forced to let go of several players including pitcher Corey Kluber, Kiermaier and catcher Mike Zunino. Though, the addition of right-handed pitcher Zach Eflin, and the extensions of pitchers Jeffery Springs, Pete Fairbanks and infielder Yandy Diaz, will bring excitement to the team.

The Rays are looking to appear in the postseason for a fifth straight season.

Baltimore Orioles

Despite missing the playoffs in 2022, the Orioles had its best season since 2016. They won 83 games which was a huge improvement from 2021, where they had a 52-110 record. It was Baltimore’s sixth consecutive season missing out on the postseason, but there is excitement going into 2023.

Even though the team stayed conservative in the offseason, Baltimore signed right-handed pitchers Kyle Gibson and Mychal Givens, along with utility Adam Frazier to one-year deals.

The team will look to compete in the AL East and there is optimism coming into the season with young stars Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson headlining the offense.

Boston Red Sox

It’s been an up-and-down last few years for the Red Sox. After winning the world series in 2018, Boston has appeared in the postseason just once since. Prior to missing the postseason in 2022, the Red Sox made a World Series push in 2021 before eventually losing to the Astros in the ALCS.

The departure of Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez headlined what has been an underwhelming offseason for Boston. Losing one of the best shortstops in baseball after coming off of an already disappointing season is certainly not ideal. They’ll look to new signings such as designated hitter Justin Turner and outfielder Masataka Yoshida to provide a spark, next season.

The Red Sox will certainly be looking to improve on a last place finish in 2022, this upcoming season.

About Cooper Bates

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