The American League East usually gets a lot of attention anyway but 2013 could take the cake as Toronto made a massive splash in the offseason. They have vaulted to the front of the division, at least in terms of the betting lines, to finish in first place. Here’s a look at the MLB futures for the AL East:
MLB Odds To Win AL East: +700
The Orioles surprised many last season by returning to the playoffs for the first time since 1997, and now they’ll look to build on that. Adam Jones took that next step towards being a superstar and Matt Wieters could be on the way, while the rotation has to hold up its end of the bargain after the bullpen carried the staff last season. Baltimore didn’t make any big moves in the offseason, so manager Buck Showalter will have essentially the same personnel to work with after taking the Yankees to the limit in the ALDS.
Boston Red Sox
MLB Odds To Win AL East: +650
John Farrell returned to Boston from Toronto, and a lot of the Red Sox players are familiar with him so there shouldn’t be any drama spilling over from last year’s Bobby Valentine-led fiasco. The pitching staff simply has to improve in 2013 if the Red Sox are going to make a run at the division crown, because they should be able to drive in plenty of runs, although David Ortiz continues to climb the ladder in age. Farrell will have a major job on his hands in “Beantown”.
New York Yankees
MLB Odds To Win AL East: +245
Of course, the Yankees are going to be in the mix, but the rotation has to step up behind C.C. Sabathia and if Michael Pineda can come back from shoulder surgery, they should be in good shape. Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain are also returning to the bullpen from injury. Curtis Granderson is out until May with a broken arm, and who knows what is going on with Alex Rodriguez. Derek Jeter should be back, but manager Joe Girardi will lean heavily on Robinson Cano, former Red Sox rival Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira in 2013.
Tampa Bay Rays
MLB Odds To Win AL East: +320
The Rays don’t have the money that is being thrown around the rest of the division, and they traded James Shields to Kansas City, leaving Cy Young winner David Price to helm the rotation. B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena are gone now, so the Rays have to figure out how to replace their home-run power. One thing that manager Joe Maddon will definitely need is a healthy year from Evan Longoria, who was hurt for a lot of 2013.
Toronto Blue Jays
MLB Odds To Win AL East: +170
The Blue Jays made a slew of huge moves in the offseason, bringing back John Gibbons to replace Farrell, then picking up Jose Reyes, NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson, among others, and their rotation could be one of the best in the majors. However, the key to their season could be the health of slugger Jose Bautista, who hurt his wrist last year and the Blue Jays couldn’t generate much offseason. All the tools are there for Toronto to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 1993; can they manage the expectations and play meaningful ball in the fall?