Have the Blue Jays changed the pecking order in the AL East?
While the Blue Jays have certainly had an active and so far successful offseason, the Yankees have spent close to $600M since November; re-signing AL MVP Aaron Judge (nine years, $360M), adding a co-ace to their rotation in Carlos Ródon (six years, $162M), while also bringing back both 1B Anthony Rizzo (two years, $40M) and reliever Tommy Kahnle (two years, $11.5M).
The oddsmakers still favor New York over the Blue Jays to win the 2023 AL East pennant, and for Houston to defend their 2022 ALCS title again in 2023. But that still puts Toronto’s odds ahead of Tampa Bay, as well as the other ALDS teams this year in Cleveland and Seattle. Perhaps the projected Yankee rotation of Gerrit Cole, Ródon, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas gives them a slight betting edge over Toronto, which is expected to start Berríos (highest ERA amongst qualified starters in 2022) and one of the ineffective Mitch White and Yusei Kikuchi more than 40% of the time next season. The Yankees also return their 2022 offense which hit 254 home runs and scored 807 runs in 2022. They will also get a boost from star reliever Michael King and infielder DJ LeMahieu both returning from season ending injuries.
Tampa Bay hasn’t been idle either. They’ve signed free agent starter Zach Eflin to a three-year, $40M deal to join a starting rotation that will see a full return by former ace Tyler Glasnow, and already features ace Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs. Taj Bradley is one of the top pitching prospects in MLB, and they have enviable, high-ceiling starting depth in Luis Patiño, Yonny Chirinos and Josh Fleming.
The Baltimore Orioles are also ascendant given they’ll add the No. 1 prospect in baseball in Gunnar Henderson, as well as the top pitching prospect in Grayson Rodriguez to a roster that already includes the runner-up in the 2022 AL Rookie of the Year vote in switch-hitting catcher Adley Rutschman. They’ve also signed starter Kyle Gibson to a one-year, $10M deal, traded for catching depth in James McCann from the Mets, and added righty Mychal Givens to their bullpen on a one-year, $5M contract. Core players like 28 year old RF Anthony Santander and 1B (noted Jays killer) Ryan Mountcastle, who is still only 25 years old, continue to improve.