Blue Jays: Biggest additions, subtractions and breakout candidates for AL East rivals

Masataka Yoshida Boston Red Sox Press Conference
Masataka Yoshida Boston Red Sox Press Conference / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages
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New York Yankees

Biggest addition: LHP Carlos Rodón

In the past few seasons, the Yankees have been searching to find a legit number two starter behind Gerrit Cole, and while the emergence of Nestor Cortes has been a pleasant surprise, Carlos Rodón should be exactly who they've been looking for. Rodón burst onto the scene with the White Sox in 2021 and only built upon that success in 2022 with the Giants. The now-30-year-old southpaw has finished fifth and sixth in Cy Young voting the past two seasons and signed a huge six-year deal this offseason in New York. Last season, he led MLB in both FIP at 2.25 and strikeouts per nine innings with 12, which was actually lower than his 2021 number of 12.6.

Rodón has also been a baseball savant darling these past two seasons, with great expected stats in most areas. Interestingly, he's essentially a two-pitch pitcher, relying on a fourseamer and slider, both of which are absolutely outstanding pitches. Despite having a right-handed heavy lineup in 2022, the Blue Jays were actually better at hitting righties, and with the additions of lefties Daulton Varsho and Brandon Belt, Rodón could prove to be a problem for Toronto in 2023.

Biggest loss: LF Andrew Benintendi

Unlike a lot of teams in World Series contention, the Yankees came out of the offseason relatively unscathed in terms of talent loss. This may seem like a bit of an odd choice, but given how few starters they lost, losing outfielder Andrew Benintendi may hurt them. The Yankees acquired the left-handed hitting and left fielder from Kansas City at the trade deadline, but he left for the White Sox in free agency after mixed results in the Bronx. While may not be a superstar, Benintendi is overall a really solid hitter with a plus glove, and over the course of a full season, his lefty bat likely would've taken advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium. That being said, the Yankees seem to have a plan in place to fill Benintendi's void in a potential 2023 breakout player.

Breakout candidate: INF/OF Oswaldo Cabrera

You might remember Oswaldo Cabrera as the guy who robbed Lourdes Gurriel Jr of a home run on the first pitch of the game in his first game as an MLB outfielder back last August. In just 44 games last season, Cabrera put up 1.9 rWAR, which would be on pace for almost 7 throughout a full season. No Yankees position player outside of Aaron Judge had more than 4.1 last season. Most of Cabrera's value came from his fielding last year, where he manned every position except pitcher and catcher, but mostly in right field. This versatility should guarantee him a roster spot and allow him to improve on the other part of his game, his batting.

In 2022, Cabrera put up a solid 111 wRC+, but projection models don't see that happening again in 2023, with most of them having him somewhere in the mid to low 90s. His statcast metrics aren't particularly great either, but this is a situation where the numbers might not tell the whole story. Cabrera's biggest asset of that he's a switch hitter who seems to be just as effective on both sides of the plate, which while hard to maintain, is incredibly valuable. He may not have the same hype as top Yankees prospects like Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, but he has a clear path to making the lineup and his versatility makes him almost indispensable. Keep an eye out for Cabrera in 2023, he could end up being an issue for the Blue Jays.