Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: The AL East is in for a shift in the landscape

Sep 30, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) heads onto the field for his 500th career MLB game in a game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) heads onto the field for his 500th career MLB game in a game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 5, 2022; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman (35) greets pitcher D.L. Hall (49) after he pitched the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 5, 2022; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman (35) greets pitcher D.L. Hall (49) after he pitched the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

Arriving before they were expected

One of the biggest surprises in baseball last year was the emergence of the Baltimore Orioles as a playoff contender. They ultimately fell short of the postseason, but they showed that they’re going to be a major problem for a long time, and they’re only going to get better as their young stars like Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson gain more MLB experience.

One could argue that the smart thing for the Orioles to do would be to sit back and let their young core develop, knowing that they’re probably a couple more years away from being true contenders. However, after what they showed in 2022 I’m not so sure that they won’t look to add another piece to the puzzle at this stage. They should have plenty of money to spend in free agency, and with a more balanced MLB schedule it might not be as hard to convince pitchers to come to the AL East as it once was.

If the Orioles decide to spend this winter then I expect that they’ll mostly look to add to their pitching staff. It wouldn’t shock me if they took a run at someone like Carlos Rodon, for example, but I wouldn’t rule them out from pursuing an elite bat to add to the mix either. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but imagine if they managed to steal Aaron Judge away from the Yankees and added his power bat to the fold. That would be downright scary, and again, they should have the funds to make that kind of splash.

If I had to make a prediction for next season’s AL East standings right now, I don’t think I see the Orioles finishing higher than third even with an aggressive add in free agency. That said, they definitely proved me wrong in 2022, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on them over the winter and throughout the 2023 campaign. I expect that they’ll be in the mix for a Wild Card spot again in 2023, but I’m far more concerned about them in 2024 and beyond, which is when I expect they’ll really start to push their chips in to contend.

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