MLB Offseason Recap: AL East

This is the first installment of the 2021 MLB Offseason Recap. I will be going over each team’s additions and subtractions during the winter and determine if they’ve improved, declined, or stayed the same in terms of talent and competitiveness. At the time of writing this (Feb 9th), there are still some notable free agents that haven’t found a team yet (Justin Turner, Jackie Bradley Jr, Kevin Pillar, Trevor Rosenthal, James Paxton, Brett Gardner, etc.) so stick with me if this becomes immediately outdated. Enough wasting time, let’s dive in.

Baltimore Orioles

The O’s are still in the middle of their rebuilding phase so as far as big moves, there were none. However, that didn’t stop them from trading SP Alex Cobb and INF Jose Iglesias to the Angels for a package of young prospects. As far as notable additions, they signed SP “King” Felix Hernandez to a minor league contract and INF Freddy Galvis to a 1-year deal. So all and all, the Orioles replaced what they traded away and picked up some prospects. Other than the general house-keeping, it’s been pretty quiet from them.

Verdict: Stayed the same.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are in this “rebuilding while still trying to be competitive” type of situation as they are still recovering from depleting the farm system and spending a butt load of money to win it all in 2018. Notable free agent losses this offseason for them are Jose Peraza, Zack Godley, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Collin McHugh. Another “loss” for the Red Sox organization was the inevitable retirement of fan-favorite, Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia has had a bad knee and hasn’t been able to play consistently since 2017. He was always someone that I respected as a Yankee fan and I wish him luck in his future endeavors.

The Red Sox have replaced some of the lost talent, though. They signed SP Garrett Richards, RP Kevin McCarthy, and OF Hunter Renfroe to 1-year deals. More surprisingly, they acquired RP Adam Ottavino from the Yankees in hopes to trade him mid-season for more prospects. They still have a ways to go before they can truly be competitive in the AL East again.

Verdict: Stayed the same.

New York Yankees

Other than re-signing the team MVP of the last two years, DJ LeMahieu, the Yanks have shaken things up a little bit relative to the more recent years. Notable free agent departures are Tommy Kahnle, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Brett Gardner (probably going to re-sign with NYY), and J.A. Happ. As mentioned above, the Yanks traded Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox in order to dump his salary and free up some luxury tax space. He was immediately replaced by Darren O’Day who signed a one year contract. Brian Cashman picked up a gambling addiction as well and signed Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon in hopes that they can both stay healthy and perform at the level they know they can. Kyle Barraclough, Asher Wojciechowski, and Jhoulys Chacin all agreed to minor-league contracts which help provide depth to a now injury-ridden Yankee pitching staff. I don’t see the Yankees doing much else before Opening Day.

Verdict: Stayed the same. (Although there is a potential to be much better)

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays have some explaining to do. After beating the odds and making it to the 2020 World Series, they are acting like they missed the playoffs entirely and the window is closed. They released Hunter Renfroe, Chaz Roe, and Oliver Drake. Roe and Drake were big factors in the Rays’ monster bullpen. The bullpen took even more hits when Aaron Loup became a free agent and Jose Alvarado was traded to the Phillies. It didn’t stop there as the starting rotation is going to miss the departures of Charlie Morton and Blake Snell. The Rays declined Morton’s club option of $15mil and then the Braves turned around and signed him for exactly that. Snell was traded to the Padres in one of the biggest deals of the offseason. The Rays sure do love their cheap prospects.

Notable additions for the reigning AL Champs are Michael Wacha and the return of the once-beloved Chris Archer. If any organization can get Archer back on track, it’s the Rays. Besides that, some minor-league deals, and all of the prospects acquired by trades, that’s the only additions the Rays have to show for. Pretty disappointing for Rays fans. Although, don’t completely count them out as we may see baseball’s #1 prospect, Wander Franco, make his debut this year in Tampa.

Verdict: Declined.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are looking to take advantage of the declining Rays in 2021 and compete for the Division title. However, they also unloaded some noteworthy names such as Travis Shaw, Joe Panik, Jonathan Villar, Ken Giles, Matt Shoemaker, and Taijuan Walker. There’s a chance that the Jays scoop some of them back up because pitching is still very much a concern for them. They did, however, add some great talent. They signed Marcus Semien, Kirby Yates, and Tyler Chatwood to one-year deals. They also acquired Steven Matz from the Mets in hopes that a change of scenery helps get him back on track. The big splash that Toronto made this year was signing top free agent, George Springer, to a six year deal. The former Astro and cheater should fit nicely in an already stacked offensive lineup and put the Blue Jays in a great spot to compete for a Wild Card spot at the very least.

Verdict: Improved

The AL East is looking to be a triple threat match between the Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays. Based on the talent I know they possess, I have to believe that the Yankees will reclaim the AL East title. Although, the Rays and Blue Jays will not make it easy.

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