The 2023 Major League Baseball Betting Preview
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The 2023 Major League Baseball Betting Preview
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The 2022 season had some surprises, some record-setters, and a series of major trades that shook up the league. In the end, it was the Houston Astros, winners of 106 games during the season, that emerged as World Series champions for the second time in six seasons. The Phillies pushed the Astros to six games after rolling to the NL crown on the strength of their powerful bats. Aaron Judge set a Yankees’ home run record and the San Diego Padres reached the NLCS after going all in at the trade deadline and acquiring outfielder Juan Soto and closer Josh Hader among others. 2023 should bring about more interesting stories as baseball ushers in a new era complete with a series of rules changes.
MLB Rule Changes in 2023:
Pitch Timer: In an effort to create a quicker pace of play, there will be a 30-second timer between batters. Between pitches, there will be a 15-second timer with the bases empty and a 20-second timer with runners on base. MLB estimates an average nine-inning game’s time will be reduced by 26 minutes.
Defensive Shift Limits: The defensive team must have a minimum of four players on the infield, with at least two infielders completely on either side of second base. These restrictions are intended to increase the batting average on balls in play, to allow infielders to better showcase their athleticism, and to restore more traditional outcomes on batted balls. In a nutshell, MLB wants to see more hits and more action on the bases. Baseball has become far too reliant on the strikeout or home run scenario. An emphasis on pure hitters will hopefully come out of this.
Bigger Bases: The bases, which traditionally have been 15 inches square, will instead be 18 inches square. Home plate is unchanged. This rule is actually less about making it easier to steal than it is about avoiding base collisions and cutting down on injuries
*Rules changes and definition courtesy of MLB.com
Let’s take a look at each division in baseball with player movement, projected rotations and lineups, and predictions for each team.
*-odds from Draft Kings
2022 Year in Review
MLB Final Standings
East Division W L GB
+New York 99 63 -
*Toronto 92 70 7
*Tampa Bay 86 76 13
Baltimore 83 79 16
Boston 78 84 21
Central Division W L GB
+Cleveland 92 70 -
Chi Sox 81 81 13
Minnesota 78 84 16
Detroit 66 96 19
Kansas City 65 97 20
West Division W L GB
+Houston 106 56 -
*Seattle 90 72 16
LA Angels 73 89 33
Texas 68 94 38
Oakland 60 102 46
MVP: Aaron Judge OF, New York Yankees
Cy Young: Justin Verlander SP, Houston Astros
Rookie of the Year: Julio Rodriguez CF, Seattle Mariners
Manager of the Year: Terry Francona, Cleveland Guardians
East Division W L GB
+Atlanta 101 61 -
*New York 101 61 -
*Philadelphia 87 75 14
Miami 69 93 32
Washington 55 107 46
Central Division W L GB
+St.Louis 93 69 -
Milwaukee 86 76 7
Chic Cubs 74 88 19
Cincinnati 62 100 31
Pittsburgh 62 100 31
West Division W L GB
+LA Dodgers 111 51 -
*San Diego 89 73 22
San Fransisco 81 81 30
Arizona 74 88 37
Colorado 68 94 43
MVP: Paul Goldschmidt 1B, Stl. Cardinals
Cy Young: Sandy Alcantara SP, Miami Marlins
Rookie of the Year: Michael Harris II CF, Atlanta Braves
Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter, New York Mets
The New York Yankees were the hottest team in baseball through the first three months of the season led by a lineup that bashed home runs at a record pace. One player, Aaron Judge, never stopped bashing on his way to tying and then surpassing Roger Maris’ single season Yankee home run record of 61, finishing with 62. Injuries cooled the Yankees but they built enough of a cushion to win the AL East. The Blue Jays and Rays made a few runs at the Yankees before both teams settled for wildcard spots, giving the AL East two of the three wildcard spots. Baltimore scrapped its way to a much-improved season and finished over .500 for the first time since 2016. The Red Sox struggled through a difficult season, finishing in last place just one year removed from reaching the AL Championship Series.
In the Central Division, the Cleveland Guardians surprised nearly everyone by claiming the division title behind another MVP-like performance from Jose Ramirez, excellent starting pitching and the AL’s best closer in Emmanuel Clase. Terry Francona earned his third AL Manager of the Year award in ten years as a result of the stellar season. The White Sox struggled out of the gate and were never quite able to catch the Guardians to earn a second straight division title. The new-look Minnesota Twins had the division lead throughout the first half but injuries and a lack of hitting eventually pushed them out of the race. The Tigers and Royals continue a slow and steady rebuild back to relevance and finished well out of the race.
Once again, the West Division became the Houston Astros playground as the eventual World Champions racked up 106 victories with one of baseball’s best everyday lineups, a dominant front end of the rotation led by Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, and the best bullpen in the game. Seattle finished a distant second but Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez and company earned the final AL wildcard spot and upset the Blue Jays in round one. The LA Angels, Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s were all well out of the race by the second half of the season and looked to be quite a bit away from both Houston and Seattle in overall talent.
The National League East had the most exciting race of the season as the defending World Champion Braves came back from a double-digit deficit in the standings to eventually catch the New York Mets and earn the division crown on a tiebreaker. The Mets, like the Yankees, got off to an amazing start and threatened to run away with the division before the Braves caught fire. Atlanta’s farm system once again produced with both Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II edging out teammate Spencer Strider for the honor. Harris was a huge addition to the Braves outfield and Strider showed flashes of dominance on the mound. The Phillies earned a wildcard spot behind a powerful lineup that included NL homerun champ Kyle Schwarber. Miami and Washington both finished well out of the race although the Marlins did have the NL Cy Young winner in Sandy Alcantara.
In the Central Division, the St. Louis Cardinals were able to make a couple of critical moves at the trade deadline to boost their starting staff and went on to cruise to a division title. The Cards were led by NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt and a powerful offense. The Milwaukee Brewers made several moves at the trade deadline as well but were unable to earn a playoff spot in 2022. The Brewers biggest strength, the team’s starting five, struggled to stay healthy all season. There was a sharp dropoff from the Cardinals and Brewers in the NL Central with the Cubs, Reds and Pirates all in the midst of major overhauls. Some young stars have emerged, however, in the Reds RHSP Hunter Greene and the freakishly talented Oneil Cruz at SS for the Pirates.
After winning 106 games in 2021 and still earning just a wildcard spot, the LA Dodgers upped the ante and won 111 games in 2022 to earn the division title. The San Diego Padres finished a distant second with 89 wins but changed the face of their roster at the trade deadline by picking up OF Juan Soto and closer Josh Hader among others. The moves helped propel the Padres into the playoffs. After winning the division with 107 victories in 2021, the SF Giants were unable to replicate the platoon lineup magic of the previous season and finished a distant third. Arizona rebounded from a 52-win season in 2021 to win 74 games. The Colorado Rockies had a miserable season and finishe in last place as the rebuild continues in the Rocky Mountains.
Wild Card Weekend (Best two out of three)
Major league baseball unveiled a new playoff format in 2022 that featured a wildcard weekend. The series were all best of three and played exclusively at the home park of the higher seeded teams. In the American League, the Astros earned a bye with the two best records of the three division winners. Cleveland was the third seed followed by Toronto, Seattle and finally Tampa Bay as the sixth seed. The matchups were: Tampa Bay at Cleveland and Seattle at Toronto.
Over in the National League, the Dodgers and Braves were the top-two seeds and avoided Wildcard Weekend. The Cardinals were the third seed followed by the Mets, Padres and finally, the Phillies. The matchups were: Philadelphia at St.Louis and San Diego at the Mets.
In the American League, Cleveland dispatched of Tampa in two thrilling one-run games, 2-1 and 1-0 with the second game ending after a 15-inning duel. In the other wildcard round, the Seattle Mariners took two straight in Toronto by the score of 4-0 and then 10-9, rallying frmm an 8-run deficit.
Over in the National League, the Phillies made quick work of the Cardinals, winning 6-3 and 2-0 to advance to the Divisional round. In New York, the Padres stunned the Mets with a 6-0 win in the third and deciding game to take the series and advance to the next round.
Division Series (Best of 5)
The American League Division Series’ featured the Houston Astros taking on the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees battling the Cleveland Guardians.
The National League Division Series’ featured the Dodgers vs. the Padres and the Braves taking on the Phillies.
Seattle appeared to have game one in hand before a late rally by the Astros resulted in an 8-7 Houston win. The Mariners never seemed to recover and fell 4-2 in game two and finally 1-0 in 18-innings at home in front of a raucous Seattle crowd celebrating the team’s first playoff berth since 2001. Yordan Alvarez was the difference for the Astros in the series, hitting a walk-off home run in game one and following that up with a go-ahead home run in game two.
Anemic hitting nearly cost the Yankees the divisional round series against Cleveland. New York fell behind 2-1 in the series to the upstart Guardians before rallying to win games four and five to salvage the series. Right hander Gerrit Cole was the star for the Yankees, winning game one and then pitching brilliantly to win game four and force a fifth and deciding game at Yankee Stadium. Late-season pickup Harrison Bader was also a key contributor with three home runs in the series for New York.
The top-seeded Dodgers took on a familiar foe when they battled division-rival San Diego in the divisional round. After dominating the regular season series with San Diego, the Dodgers looked to be well on their way to an easy series win after taking game one 5-3. Instead, the talented Padres battled back for a 5-3 win in game two and the series would not return to LA. The Padres, led by a dominant bullpen that didn’t allow a run in the series, won 2-1 and then 5-3 in San Diego to upset the 111-win Dodgers. Josh Hader, after struggling for much of the season, closed out each of the Padres’ wins.
Like the Dodgers, the Atlanta Braves would be the second 100-win to fall in the divisional round. Atlanta fell behind after dropping the first game of the series and even though they salvaged a home split with a win in game two, the Phillies’ momentum could not be slowed once they arrived home. Philadelphia’s bats exploded for 17 runs in two dominating home wins over the Braves to advance to the National League championship series. Bryce Harper finished the series with a .435 average and three home runs for Philadelphia.
Championship Series (Best of 7)
AL: New York vs. Houston
NL: Philadelphia vs. San Diego
In the American League Championship Series, the two best teams during the regular season squared off as the Yankees battled the Astros. What became apparent quickly, however, was the gap in talent between the two teams. The depleted Yankees bullpen could not keep up with a Houston bullpen that was nearly untouchable and the Yankees’ lineup could not bunch together hits. The Astros took game one 4-2 behind a dominant performance from Verlander. In game two, the Yankees’ bats were once again silenced, this time by Framber Valdez and the Astros bullpen in a 3-2 loss. Through the first two games, the Yankees had struck out 30 times. In game three, Astros starter Cristian Javier and the the bullpen combined to shut out the Yankees 5-0 to take a commanding three games to none lead. New York struck out 11 more times and Houston was able to get to Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole. The sweep was complete the next day as the Astros produced a 6-5 win, rallying from a 3-0 deficit. Emerging superstar Jeremy Peña finished the ALCS 6-for-17 with two homers and two doubles,for a .353/.353/.824 (1.176 OPS) slash line to take the ALCS MVP honors. With the win, the Astros earned their fourth AL Pennant in six seasons.
Very few would have predicted a Philadelphia vs. San Diego National League Championship series but that is just what happened. The Phillies kept their game one playoff magic going with a 2-0 win in the opener behind seven dominant innings from Zack Wheeler. In game two, the Padres rallied to win 8-5 to even the series. Trailing 4-0, the Padres rallied back including a five-run fifth inning to pick up the critical win. Back in Philadelphia, however, the Philies would thrive once again. The Phillies took game three 4-2 thanks to four shutout innings from their bullpen including a six-out save from closer Serantony Domínguez. In game four, both teams’ bats came alive. After taking a 6-4 lead, the Padres bullpen succumbed to the Phillies dangerous attack. Rhys Hoskins hit two home runs, Bryce Harper had a pair of RBI doubles and both Kyle Schwarber and JT Realmuto added solo homers as the Phillies rallied for a 10-6 win and a commanding three games to one lead in the series. In game five back in Philadelphia, it was once again the Phillies’ bats that would spell the difference. Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the eight inning, Bryce Harper sent Citizens Park into delirium with a two-run blast that propelled the Phillies to a 4-3 win and a spot in the World Series. Harper was awarded the NLCS MVP after finishing the series 8-for-20 (.400) with two homers, three doubles, five RBIs and four runs scored in five games.
World Series (Best of 7)
Philadelphia vs. Houston
The Houston Astros came into the 2021 World Series as heavy favorites over the Braves but were upset by the cardiac kid Braves. In 2022, the Astros were once again favorites against an NL East upstart, this time the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies. In game one, Houston built a 5-0 lead and looked well on the way to an eighth straight postseason win before this year’s cardiac kids, the Phillies, rallied to tie the game. J.T. Realmuto homered in the top of the 10th and the Phillies survived a rocky bottom of the 10th from closer David Robertson to steal game one, 6-5. Before panic set in, order was restored in game two as Framber Valdez pitched another outstanding game and led Houston to a 5-2 win with 6 ⅓ innings of one-run ball. Back in Philadelphia, the Phillies had to be confident with a 5-0 home playoff record coming into game 3. After a rainout, the series resumed and a five-home run attack from Philadelphia led to a 7-0 game three win and a 2-1 series advantage. Phillies starter Ranger Suarez pitched five shutout innings to pick up the win. Trailing 2-1, the Astros needed a strong start in game four and Cristian Javier was once again up to the challenge. Javier and three relievers combined to throw the third no-hitter in postseason history and only the second in World Series history in downing the red-hot Phillies lineup 5-0. It was the second combined no-hitter of the season for Javier and stretched his postseason scoreless string to over 12 innings. With the series knotted at two games apiece, Astros’ ace Justin Verlander earned his first World Series victory ever by going five gutty innings, working in and out of trouble, to pick up the win. Rookie SS Jeremy Pena continued his stellar postseason by going 3-for-4 including a home run. Now up three games to two, the Astros turned to Framber Valdez to nail down the series. Valdez allowed just one run in six innings and Yordan Alvarez woke up from a slump with a towering three-run home run in the sixth inning to give Houston the lead, 3-1. The Astros’ bullpen did the rest in a 4-1 win that clinched the team’s second world title in six seasons. After hitting .400 in the Fall Classic, SS Jeremy Pena became the first rookie positional player ever to win World Series MVP.
The 2022 season may be looked back upon as the last season before MLB returned to a more traditional style of play. Infield shifts were still very much a part of the game and strikeouts, home runs and dominant bullpens were the norm. The Houston Astros proved that, along with the Braves, they still have the best farm system in the game, replacing all-star SS Carlos Correa with World Series MVP Jeremy Pena. Aaron Judge earned baseball’s biggest offseason contract with a season for the ages and Justin Verlander showed that age is just a number in capturing the AL Cy Young at the age of 39 years old.
Here’s a look at some of the teams that surprised and disappointed in 2021, based on the odds:
LA Dodgers: Preseason Win Total O/U: 98.5 Actual Win Total: 111 (Over)
Houston Astros: Preseason Win Total O/U: 92.5 Actual Win Total: 106 (Over)
New York Yankees: Preseason Win Total O/U: 91.5 Actual Win Total: 99 (Over)
Atlanta Braves: Preseason Win Total O/U: 91.5 Actual Win Total: 101 (Over)
Milwaukee Brewers: Preseason Win Total O/U: 88.5 Actual Win Total: 86 (Under)
Boston Red Sox: Preseason Win Total O/U: 85.5 Actual Win Total: 78 (Under)
Chicago White Sox: Preseason Win Total O/U: 91.5 Actual Win Total: 81 (Under)
Cleveland Guardians: Preseason Win Total O/U: 75.5 Actual Win Total: 92 (Over)
Preseason Odds to win AL MVP: Aaron Judge (+2200)
Preseason Odds to win NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt (Not in Top 15)
Preseason Odds to win AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander (Not in Top 15)
Preseason Odds to win NL Cy Young: Sandy Alcantara (+2500)
*Odds courtesy of Caesar’s Sports Book.
Key Additions: RHP Kyle Gibson, LHP Cole Irvin, 2B Adam Frazier, RHP Mychal Givens, C James McCann
Irvin and Gibson should strengthen the O’s rotation and the Orioles got Frazier on the cheap looking for the veteran to have a bounce-back season.
Key Subtractions: RHP Jordan Lyles, 1B Jesús Aguilar, OF Brett Phillips
Lyles is the biggest loss of the three although one could argue that Gibson and Irvin can fill that void easily.
Consensus: Not this year
The Orioles were one of the feel-good stories of last season, threatening for a wildcard spot until the final week of the season. The farm system is solid and they have some all-star caliber players in Cedric Mullens and catcher Adley Rutschman but it feels like management could have done a lot more to push this team closer to the playoffs. They’ll be on the outside looking in again.
Boston Red Sox
Key Additions: LF Masataka Yoshida, RHP Kenley Jansen, 3B/DH Justin Turner, RHP Chris Martin, RHP Corey Kluber, OF Adam Duvall, LHP Joely Rodríguez, SS Adalberto Mondesi, LHP Richard Bleier
Boston’s biggest move this offseason was likely signing superstar 3B Rafael Devers to an extension. Next might have been grabbing Japanese import Masatak Yoshida. Yoshida showed Sox fans what he could do in the WBC, setting a record for RBI. Martin, Rodriguez, Bleier and Jansen will certainly improve upon the Red Sox abysmal bullpen in 2022.
Key Subtractions: SS Xander Bogaerts, DH J.D. Martinez, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, LHP Matt Strahm, LHP Rich Hill, OF Tommy Pham, 1B Eric Hosmer
The Red Sox moved on from all-star SS Xander Bogaerts with barely a legitimate effort to resign him. Martinez time was up in Boston as was Eovaldi’s. It will be interesting to see how the Sox clubhouse functions without leader Bogaerts as a spokesman this season.
Consensus: Wait until Next Year
If I didn’t know any better, it almost appears as if Red Sox ownership is purposely keeping payroll down in order to sell the franchise. The Red Sox will hit, Fenway Park will help with that, but they lack a ton of pop and the defense looks shaky on paper. I think they’ll be slightly better than last year but this will not be a playoff year on Yawkey Way.
New York Yankees
Key Additions: RF Aaron Judge, LHP Carlos Rodón, 1B Anthony Rizzo, RHP Tommy Kahnle
The biggest deals for the Yankees this offseason were the players they kept, particularly Judge. The Yankees had to resign the record-setting outfielder if even just to appease their fan base. Rodon could be a key pickup as a lefthander in Yankee Stadium with ace-quality stuff.
Key Subtractions: LF Andrew Benintendi, RHP Jameson Taillon, DH Matt Carpenter, RHP Chad Green, LHP Aroldis Chapman, RHP Miguel Castro, LHP Lucas Luetge
The Yankees cleared the books of several salaries this winter without doing much to replace them. Rodon replaces Taillon in the rotation but the Yankees bullpen is a bit lighter. Could the Yankees be treading water until the Ohtani sweepstakes this coming offseason?
Consensus: Wild in the Bronx
I don’t expect the Yankees to approach the 99 wins they had in 2022 but they should certainly be in the hunt for a wildcard spot in the AL.
Tampa Bay Rays
Key Additions: RHP Zach Eflin
Tampa Bay will try once again to turn a struggling pitcher into a valuable piece after adding Eflin from the Phillies. Eflin will be tasked to replace the innings of Corey Kluber in the ever-changing Rays’ rotation.
Key Subtractions: RHP Corey Kluber, CF Kevin Kiermaier, C Mike Zunino, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, 1B Ji-Man Choi, RHP JT Chargois, RHP Javy Guerra, RHP J.P. Feyereisen, LHP Brooks Raley
This is quite a bit of turnover, even for the Rays. In truth, Eflin has the potential to be an upgrade over Kluber and TB has kept the key pieces, particularly in the bullpen where the team re-upped with Pete Fairbanks.
Consensus: Rays will fall short.
TB dipped from 100 wins to 86 last season and I think that number will be near the mark this year as well. Closer to .500, the Rays will fall short of a playoff spot this season.
Toronto Blue Jays
Key Additions: CF Daulton Varsho, RHP Chris Bassitt, 1B Brandon Belt, CF Kevin Kiermaier, RHP Chad Green, RHP Erik Swanson
Varsho is an underrated addition and should thrive in the American League. Belt gives the Jays depth and will allow Guerrero Jr. to DH more. Bassitt gives the Blue Jays another big arm in the starting rotation while Kiermaier gives the Jays defensive depth in the outfield.
Key Subtractions: RF Teoscar Hernández, LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., C Gabriel Moreno, RHP Ross Stripling
The Jays lost two-thirds of their outfield with the departures of Hernandez and Gurriel but their loss was inevitable with so many young stars to pay. Stripling pitched well at times last year but Bassitt is an upgrade.
Consensus: Title Time
This is the Blue Jays’ year to take the AL East. They improved to 92 wins last year despite bouts of inconsistency. The team’s young stars are ready to take over and lead the Jays to their first AL East crown since 2015.
Chicago White Sox
Key Additions: LF Andrew Benintendi, RHP Mike Clevinger
Benintendi gives the White Sox a quality lefthanded bat in the lineup but does not bring with him a tremendous amount of pop. Clevinger has the stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation starter but health is always a concern with him.
Key Subtractions: 1B José Abreu, RHP Johnny Cueto, OF AJ Pollock, RHP Vince Velasquez, INF/OF Josh Harrison, INF Danny Mendick, OF Adam Engel
The White Sox parted with quite a bit of depth this offseason and the losses of Abreu and Cueto could be the most impactful. The former MVP Abreu’s bat will be missed as will his clubhouse presence. Cueto was a quality start machine once he was picked up before the all-star break.
Consensus: Not this Year
The list of subtractions grew in January with the announcement that closer Liam Hendriks’ will be out as he receives cancer treatment. This loss, both in skill and the team’s mental psyche, will be tough to overcome. The White Sox will have trouble keeping up in the Central Division.
Key Additions: 1B Josh Bell, C Mike Zunino
Bell and Zunino fill the biggest void of the Guardians, power. Cleveland hit just 127 home runs last season and that number should go up with Bell and Zunino in the lineup.
Key Subtractions: C Austin Hedges, C Luke Maile, INF/OF Owen Miller
The Guardians didn’t lose much in free agency and kept its young core in place.
Consensus: A Chance to Run it Back
The new bases and shift changes should help the Guardians produce more hits and run even more this season. They have arguably the best starting staff in the division and definitely the top closer. With fewer games with the weak Central Division this year, the Guardians may win less than the 92 games they won last year but still should be fighting for a division title.
Key Additions: LHP Matthew Boyd, RHP Michael Lorenzen, 3B Nick Maton, C Donny Sands, OF Matt Vierling
The Tigers new front office avoided any splashy signings and, instead, added depth at a reasonable price. Vierling could be the steal of the signings with good speed and the ability to make contact.
Key Subtractions: LHP Gregory Soto, C Tucker Barnhart, 3B Jeimer Candelario
The Tigers didn’t lose anything of consequence as they begin the slow process towards respectability.
Consensus: The Tigers were one of the worst run-producing teams in baseball last year so expect the team to be aggressive on the bases early and often to create runs. They won’t challenge for a division title but they will be improved.
Kansas City Royals
Key Additions: RHP Jordan Lyles, RHP Zack Greinke, LHP Aroldis Chapman, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, LHP Josh Taylor
In the midst of a rebuild, the Royals did well for themselves this offseason. They added pitching depth with Lyles, Greinke and Yarbrough as starters and Chapman and Taylor should improve a shaky bullpen.
Key Subtractions: SS Adalberto Mondesi, CF Michael A. Taylor
Mondesi’s departure was inevitable, with his inability to stay on the field despite his talent. Taylor was a quality outfielder but his loss is marginal.
Consensus: Getting better.
The Royals front office did a good job at improving the team’s starting staff around its young, improving lineup. The Royals should be good enough to flip places with Detroit this season.
Key Additions: SS Carlos Correa, RHP Pablo López, C Christian Vázquez, OF Joey Gallo, INF Kyle Farmer, OF Michael A. Taylor
The Twins vastly improved their rotation with the deal for Lopez but it came at the cost of two key lineup pieces. Correa was gone twice in the offseason but, two failed contracts later, he’s back with the Twins. Vazquez and Gallo both give the Twins' lineup more pop. Farmer can also provide pop to the lineup and Taylor gives the outfield depth.
Key Subtractions: 2B Luis Arraez, 3B Gio Urshela
The price for Lopez was steep as the Twins parted with a batting champion and a steady third baseman. If Correa can stay healthy and Gallo finds his power stroke, the losses could be minimal.
Consensus: Pushing for postseason
Lopez improves the rotation and the return of Correa is a welcome surprise. The Twins should be in the hunt with Cleveland right to the end of this season.
Key Additions: 1B José Abreu, RHP Rafael Montero, LF/DH Michael Brantley
Abreu is 36 so it will be interesting to see what he has left. He’ll be able to DH and play a little 1B at times while Brantley will also serve as a DH, from the left side.
Key Subtractions: RHP Justin Verlander, C Christian Vázquez, INF Aledmys Díaz, 1B/DH Trey Mancini
Mancini and Vazquez were just rentals for the stretch drive last year so their loss won’t be felt. Verlander, on the other hand, was the team’s ace and AL Cy Young winner. Houston must hope that Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier are ready to fill that role in the rotation.
Consensus: Team to Beat
This is still the team to beat in the American League. Jose Altuve’s injury will sting a bit in the first couple of months but World Series MVP Jeremy Pena could be ready to make the leap into stardom. They have more than enough to survive without the former MVP for a few months.
Los Angeles Angels
Key Additions: LHP Tyler Anderson, INF Brandon Drury, RHP Carlos Estévez, OF Brett Phillips, 3B Gio Urshela, RF Hunter Renfroe
Anderson certainly strengthens a rotation that was improved last season and Drury and Renfroe give the Angels’ lineup even more pop. Urshela should solidify the hot corner and Phillips give the team more depth.
Key Subtractions: RHP Michael Lorenzen
The Angels didn’t lose much this offseason but the biggest concern remains: can they lock up Ohtani long-term?
Consensus: Improved but out of the hunt.
It almost feels like a cloud hangs over this team’s head as the Ohtani situation remains unresolved. It will be interesting to see what the Angels’ brass decides to do at the trade deadline if the team is out of the hunt and Ohtani’s future remains unclear.
Key Additions: INF Aledmys Díaz, INF Jace Peterson, RHP Trevor May, RHP Shintaro Fujinami, 1B Jesús Aguilar, RHP Drew Rucinski, CF Esteury Ruiz, C Manny Piña, OF JJ Bleday
Two imports from Korea and Japan, Rucinski and Fujinami, should strengthen the A’s depleted pitching staff. Ruiz has potential with his speed and the new rules and Oakland added some serviceable major league-level players to keep the team competitive.
Key Subtractions: C Sean Murphy, LHP Cole Irvin, LHP A.J. Puk
Murphy and Irvin’s departures marked the end of the playoff A’s from just two seasons ago. The team is now in a full rebuild with the playoffs a distant memory.
Consensus: You get what you pay for
The A’s won’t be a threat but they should be better than last year’s 100-loss team.
Key Additions: RF Teoscar Hernández, 2B Kolten Wong, OF AJ Pollock, RHP Trevor Gott, INF Tommy La Stella
The time is now for this Mariners team and they added some interesting pieces to last year’s team. Wong is a + defender and has some pop. Hernandez will be an offensive upgrade over the disappointing Winker. Pollack is a stable veteran presence to add to the roster.
Key Subtractions: LF/DH Jesse Winker, INF Abraham Toro, OF Kyle Lewis, RHP Erik Swanson, RF Mitch Haniger, LHP Matthew Boyd, INF Adam Frazier, 1B Carlos Santana, C Curt Casali, RHP Luke Weaver
Frazier and Winker both struggled last season and the team decided to move on. Santana was a playoff hero while Swanson was excellent out of the pen. There appears to be enough still in Seattle to survive those losses.
Consensus: Back in the postseason
The Mariners have an excellent rotation, an above-average bullpen, and a solid lineup that includes one of the best young players in the game, Julio Rodriguez. They’ll be back in the playoffs.
Key Additions: RHP Jacob deGrom, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, LHP Andrew Heaney, LHP Martín Pérez, RHP Jake Odorizzi
The Rangers basically netted themselves a starting five with their off-season moves. High risk and high reward come with each of the signings, particularly deGrom and Eovaldi. If things fall their way, the Rangers could be in the playoff race.
Key Subtractions: RHP Dennis Santana, LHP Kolby Allard, INF Nick Solak
No major losses for the Rangers this offseason but the team did fail to land any help to a less-than-stellar bullpen.
Consensus: Close, but not quite.
While the moves were certainly brave, I don’t see a world in which the injury history of that staff doesn’t come back to haunt them. The Rangers will be better, but not playoff-ready.
AL East Odds to win Division
*New York +130
Tampa Bay +340
Kansas City +3000
LA Angels +750
Key Additions: C Sean Murphy, OF Jordan Luplow, RHP Nick Anderson, OF Sam Hilliard, RHP Joe Jiménez, RHP Dennis Santana, LHP Lucas Luetge
A quiet offseason was turned on its head when the Braves traded for Murphy and then gave him a healthy extension. Jiminez could be sneaky good in the bullpen and the Braves, as always it seems, are loaded with pitching.
Key Subtractions: SS Dansby Swanson, RHP Kenley Jansen, RHP Luke Jackson, C William Contreras, C Manny Piña
The Braves basically let Swanson and Jansen walk and must be confident that Orlando Arcia can be effective every day at SS and that they have enough bullpen depth without Jansen.
Consensus: Playoffs, here they come.
The Braves have arguably the most talent-laden roster in baseball and will be right there come playoff time. How quickly they adjust in the bullpen and at shortstop will likely decide on whether or not they win the division or just earn a wildcard.
Key Additions: 2B Luis Arraez, 3B Jean Segura, RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP Matt Barnes, RHP JT Chargois, LHP A.J. Puk
The Marlins parted with one of the team’s biggest assets in dealing away Lopez this offseason. In return, they receive a potential NL Batting champ at 2B in Arraez. Segura is another contact bat added to what was a horrendous lineup in 2022. If Cueto gives the Marlins half the quality starts he gave the White Sox last year, the trade could be a huge success.
Key Subtractions: RHP Pablo López, 3B/OF Brian Anderson, LHP Richard Bleier, OF JJ Bleday
Lopez has seemingly been on the block since last June and the Marlins got a nice return. I am surprised they gave up so quickly on Bleday for a marginal relief pitcher in Puk.
Consensus: The offense improved, but too much talent in the division.
The Marlins were competitive for the better part of the first half last season before the team’s lack of hitting did them in. They’ll be better offensively but too many quality teams in the NL East to make much of a dent.
New York Mets
Key Additions: CF Brandon Nimmo, RHP Edwin Díaz, RHP Justin Verlander, RHP Kodai Senga, LHP José Quintana, C Omar Narváez, RHP Adam Ottavino, RHP David Robertson, OF Tommy Pham, INF Danny Mendick, LHP Brooks Raley, RHP Elieser Hernandez
The Mets starting five may actually be better with Verlander, Quintana, and Japanese import Senga. Pham gives the team outfield depth that they didn’t have last year when injuries bit them late. Diaz’ injury is big but the Mets’ have the money to spend if they need an arm at the trade deadline.
Key Subtractions: RHP Jacob deGrom, RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Chris Bassitt, C James McCann, RHP Seth Lugo, RHP Trevor Williams, RHP Trevor May, RHP Mychal Givens, LHP Joely Rodríguez, 1B Dominic Smith
The Mets lost their long-time ace in deGrom but replaced him with the more durable Verlander. Santana gives the Mets a quality left-handed starter to replace Bassitt. The Mets failed to work something out with Correa with his questionable physical and that could be an issue with the team lacking major pop.
Consensus: The Mets won’t be amazing, but they’ll be awfully good.
The Mets' new owner has proven that money isn’t an object and the team has the pitching to keep them winning. If a closer is needed, they’ll reach for one at the deadline. This is a playoff team.
Key Additions: SS Trea Turner, RHP Taijuan Walker, LHP Matt Strahm, RHP Craig Kimbrel, INF Josh Harrison, LHP Gregory Soto
The Phillies landed the premier SS in free agency in Turner. He will instantly bring better defense, better speed, and power to that spot. Walker will move into one of the starting five spots and Kimbrel should help the Phillies pen.
Key Subtractions: RHP Zach Eflin, 2B Jean Segura, RHP Noah Syndergaard, RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP David Robertson, INF Nick Maton, OF Matt Vierling
While the Phillies added pitching, they certainly lost depth with guys like Segura and Vierling leaving. They have the lineup to compete but have to hope the bullpen can replicate last year’s magic.
Consensus: Phillies miss out.
The Phillies have potentially a murderer’s row offense but the pitching staff could bring this team down. A lot went right for the Phillies last postseason, including outstanding relief from a pen that wasn’t as impressive throughout the season. That pen will cost the Phillies a playoff spot this season.
Key Additions: RHP Trevor Williams, 3B Jeimer Candelario, OF Corey Dickerson, 1B Dominic Smith, 1B Erasmo Ramírez
This is clearly going to be a long, slow build for the Nationals. They added serviceable parts to their major league roster this offseason but certainly lacked any major moves.
Key Subtractions: DH Nelson Cruz
Cruz was not going to hang around for a major rebuild anyway and the Nationals can fill the DH void with multiple players.
Consensus: Bottom of the Barrel
The best hope for the Nationals is a slight bump up from last year’s 55 wins but, more importantly, that some veterans have good first halves in order to become trade bait at the deadline. The Nationals need prospects and will be happy to move any productive veterans.
Key Additions: SS Dansby Swanson, RHP Jameson Taillon, LHP Drew Smyly, CF Cody Bellinger, 1B/DH Trey Mancini, C Tucker Barnhart, RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Michael Fulmer, 1B Eric Hosmer
The Cubs clearly put an emphasis on defense this offseason with the additions of Swanson, Bellinger, Barnhart, and Hosmer, all gold glove-winning players. Taillon will give the staff quality innings for sure and Mancini’s power should play well at Wrigley. The Cubs struggled to hit last year, however, and that may still be a big issue.
Key Subtractions: C Willson Contreras, LHP Wade Miley
The Cubbies went for defense over offense in committing to Barnhart over Contreras. Will they regret not having his pop in their lineup anymore? Miley was out for a large portion of last season and Taillon is an upgrade.
Consensus: Plenty of run prevention, but not enough run-producing.
The Cubs will not be easy out this season but I can’t imagine that they’ll have enough offense to compete against all the upper-echelon teams, particularly with the balanced schedule this year forcing them to play everyone equally.
Key Additions: INF/OF Wil Myers, C Curt Casali, RHP Luke Weaver, C Luke Maile, INF Kevin Newman, INF Nick Solak
Based on their off-season moves, it doesn’t appear as though the Reds are ready to compete just yet. The only name of note in this mix is Myers but his numbers have dipped considerably in recent years. The Reds have three above-average young starters and some youngsters ready to play in the everyday lineup. They clearly want them to grow with experience.
Key Subtractions: INF Kyle Farmer
Farmer has some pop that the Reds might miss but it is time to let the prospects play.
Consensus: Growing Pains
The Reds are content to let another season play out without realistic playoff hopes with the idea of strengthening the future by letting the kids play. They’ll take their lumps for it this season.
Key Additions: LF/DH Jesse Winker, C William Contreras, LHP Wade Miley, 3B/RF Brian Anderson, RHP Javy Guerra, RHP Bryse Wilson
The Brewers took a step back last season after consecutive playoff appearances. The team’s trade deadline moves didn’t pan out so change was inevitable this off-season. A quick look and one has to wonder if the team’s moves made them any better. Winker had a terrible year in Seattle and one has to wonder if he was a product of a hitter-friendly park in Cincy. Contreras gives the Brewers a better bat behind the plate but certainly not a better glove. The rest are filler.
Key Subtractions: RF Hunter Renfroe, 2B Kolten Wong, LHP Taylor Rogers, C Omar Narváez, INF Jace Peterson, DH Andrew McCutchen, RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Trevor Gott, OF Esteury Ruiz
Wong’s defense will be missed and, despite his poor showing, Rogers’ leaving does hurt the bullpen.
Consensus: Back to the Pack
The Brewers don’t look any better than the team that failed to make the playoffs last season. They may actually take a step back with a weaker pen. Could the Brewers be sellers at the deadline?
Key Additions: LHP Rich Hill, 1B Carlos Santana, DH Andrew McCutchen, C Austin Hedges, RHP Vince Velasquez, LHP Jarlín García, 1B Ji-Man Choi, OF Connor Joe
The Pirates spent some money this offseason, adding Hill to the starting rotation and former Pirate great McCutchen to the lineup. Santana and Choi should provide a solid platoon at first base and spell McCutchen at DH as well.
Key Subtractions: INF Kevin Newman, RHP Zach Thompson, RHP Bryse Wilson
The Pirates parted ways with Wilson after a subpar season last year and upgraded over Newman with bigger bats on the bench.
Consensus: Rebuild Continues
The Pirates are certainly not ready for prime time just yet but they should at least be competitive with a more potent lineup. Choi and Santana could also serve as trade bait at the deadline to playoff contenders.
Key Additions: C Willson Contreras
Contreras steps into the big shoes left behind by the retired Yadier Molina. He will be a better bat but certainly not as effective with the pitching staff.
Key Subtractions: LHP José Quintana, OF Corey Dickerson
Quintana’s loss will be the most difficult to replace. The Cards will likely once again be on the market for a starting pitcher at the trade deadline.
The Central Division should be the Cardinals to lose. Milwaukee looks weaker and the likes of the Reds, Pirates, and Cubs aren’t ready to contend. The Cards have young bats and a solid pen. They’ll need more starting pitching.
Key Additions: C Gabriel Moreno, LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., OF Kyle Lewis, LHP Andrew Chafin, RHP Scott McGough, RHP Zach Davies, 3B Evan Longoria, RHP Miguel Castro
The Varsho deal netted the Diamondbacks two potential regulars in Moreno and Lewis. Longoria gives them some pop from the right side.
Key Subtractions: CF Daulton Varsho, OF Jordan Luplow
The Diamondbacks vowed to move some of the team’s surplus of lefty bats and Varsho saves them some and added a few prospects.
Consensus: Continued Improvement
Arizona made a big jump in wins last year from 52 to 74 wins. The Diamondbacks likely won’t make that big a leap this year but they’ll be happy not having to play the Dodgers and Padres so frequently with the new balanced schedule.
Key Additions: RHP Pierce Johnson, RHP José Ureña, RHP Connor Seabold
Needless to say, this isn’t a top-flight list of additions. The Rockies spent little and got little in return.
Key Subtractions: RHP Carlos Estévez, OF Sam Hilliard, OF Connor Joe
Joe was the most productive player lost in the offseason. The subtractions and additions are nearly a break even.
Consensus: Modest Expectations
When the team owner can only muster up enough optimism to suggest a .500 season would be a success, the playoffs are out of the question. They probably won’t lose 94 games again, they’ll only be slightly better.
Key Additions: SS Miguel Rojas, LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Noah Syndergaard, DH J.D. Martinez, OF David Peralta, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Alex Reyes, RHP J.P. Feyereisen
The Dodgers were painfully conservative this offseason despite shedding so many contracts. Rojas will be a defensive presence but not much pop at the plate. Martinez and Peralta will likely split time and the Dodgers were able to add some pieces to the bullpen and back end of the rotation guy in Syndergaard.
Key Subtractions: SS Trea Turner, LHP Tyler Anderson, LHP Andrew Heaney, 3B Justin Turner, CF Cody Bellinger, RHP Chris Martin, RHP Tommy Kahnle, OF Joey Gallo, RHP Craig Kimbrel
Woah, this is a LOT to lose in one off-season. Bellinger and Justin Turner were cornerstones of the past several seasons and Trea Turner’s loss will be felt deeply on the offensive end. Are the Dodgers waiting to make a big splash this offseason when a certain two-way player close by becomes a free agent?
Consensus: Fewer wins but Playoffs are likely.
The Dodgers won’t win 111 games this year but they have enough talent to compete for the division and earn a playoff spot.
San Diego Padres
Key Additions: SS Xander Bogaerts, RHP Robert Suarez, RHP Nick Martinez, RHP Seth Lugo, DH Matt Carpenter, DH Nelson Cruz, OF Adam Engel
The Padres defeated two 100-win teams in the playoffs before succumbing to the red-hot Phillies. They doubled down this offseason, adding Bogaerts at SS and giving the team a quality DH platoon in Cruz and Carpenter.
Key Subtractions: 1B Josh Bell, LHP Sean Manaea, INF Brandon Drury, RHP Mike Clevinger, INF/OF Wil Myers, RHP Pierce Johnson
The Padres lost two starters in the offseason in Manaea and Clevinger but they were dealing from a position of strength. Bell’s loss has been mitigated with the addition of Cruz and Carpenter.
Consensus: Time to Overtake the Dodgers
The Padres have a stacked lineup, depth, and a solid bullpen. With Soto a free agent after the season, it's now or never for the Padres. There will be a third different NL West Division champ in three seasons this year.
San Francisco Giants
Key Additions: RF Mitch Haniger, OF Michael Conforto, LHP Taylor Rogers, RHP Ross Stripling, LHP Sean Manaea, OF Joc Pederson, RHP Luke Jackson
The addition of Haniger and Conforto could add some major pop to the SF lineup. Stripling and Manaea will upgrade the staff as well. Rogers will help solidify the backend of the bullpen as well.
Key Subtractions: LHP Carlos Rodón, 1B Brandon Belt, 3B Evan Longoria, LHP Jarlín García, RHP Shelby Miller, INF Tommy La Stella
Rodon’s loss was marginalized by the additions of Manaea and Stripling. Belt’s loss will likely be felt more in the locker room than on the field. Two subtractions that aren’t even on this list are likely the most painful. In two different 24-hour periods, it appeared the Giants had Aaron Judge signed and then, later in the winter, Carlos Correa. Neither worked out for the Giants.
Consensus: Middle of the Pack
The Giants' disappointing off-season will carry over to the regular season and it will be a playoff-less season in SF again this year.
NL East Odds to win Division
*New York +170
Chic Cubs +650
+San Diego +120
*LA Dodgers -110
San Francisco +950
*Odds courtesy of Draftkings.com
Odds to Win World Series
(by Ben Hayes)
San Diego Padres +950
Juan Soto hit just .236 in 56 games after coming over from Washington. Soto is not a .236 hitter and there should be less pressure after starting the season with a team that he doesn’t need to carry.
Long shot: Toronto Blue Jays +1300
Toronto has an ace in Alek Manoah. They are loaded with talent and the addition of Chris Bassitt, should help their staff.
AL MVP Winner
Top Pick: Shohei Ohtani +190
Long shot: Kyle Tucker +2500
NL MVP Winner
Top Pick: Trea Turner +800
Longshot: Austin Riley +1600
Cy Young Award Winner-American League
Top Pick: Alek Manoah +800
Longshot: Nestor Cortes +4000
National League Cy Young Award Winner
Top Pick: Max Fried +1000
Longshot: Yu Darvish +2500
Rookie of the Year Winner – American League
Top Pick: Gunnar Henderson +265
Longshot: Kyle Muller +3000
National League Rookie of the Year Winner
Top Pick: Kodai Senga +950
Longshot: Michael Busch +3500