The 2020 baseball season is still up in the air as owners and the Players Association are negotiating a fair and safe way to overcome hurdles that COVID-19 has presented (if those hurdles are viable options to be crossed).
MLB has generated a 67-page document overviewing all of the safety protocols that would be in place, including daily testing and strict facility protocols. Divvying up financial compensation is also a topic that is gaining push back from the players, as taking a pay cut to play in conditions that are hard to say “safe” might not be worth the risk of even playing at all.
As these negotiations progress, one of the provisions in the baseball season that would come into fruition would be the realignment of MLB Divisions. Teams would only face those who are geographically located near each other, essentially an East, Central, and West division. This would mean essentially the Al East and NL east would become one large division with the inclusion of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Although we are familiar with how the Mets stack up against their NL East rivals, how primed are the AL East teams (and the Pirates) to compete this season?
New York Yankees
2019 Record: 103-59 (lost in ALCS)
Additions: SP Gerrit Cole, resigned OF Brett Gardner
Subtractions: RP Dellin Betances, SS Didi Gregorius
The Yankees won 103 games last season overcoming a bombardment of injuries that faced this team. Now that they are for the most part healthy, (aside from Severino, Paxton, and Judge) they will continue to be a juggernaut in the league with having talent and depth in all aspects of their team.
The subway series being a regular event will be an interesting dynamic to watch.
Tampa Bay Rays
2019 Record: 96-66 (lost in ALDS)
Additions: IF/OF Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, OF Hunter Renfroe, Jose Martinez
Subtractions: Tommy Pham, Austin Pruitt, Matthew Liberatore
The Rays always construct competitive rosters with limited financial commitments. Their pitching, starters, and relievers both are highly impressive, they have young exciting players and have more coming through their system.
This team should remain highly competitive and will be one of the top-performing teams in the eastern division.
Boston Red Sox
2019 Record: 84 – 78 (missed playoffs)
Additions: 2B Jose Peraza, SP Martin Perez, C Kevin Pawlecki, OF Alex Verdugo, resigned 1B Mitch Morland
Subtractions: OF Mookie Betts, SP David Price, SP Rick Porcello, SP Chris Sale (Tommy john)
The Red Sox made a nice hire at their GM position with Chaim Bloom, who holds a reputation in being creative in finding talent with the payroll restrictions that the Tampa Bay Rays consistently handle.
Other than that, the Red Sox were pressed to relinquish payroll, which saw them trading a generational talent, Mookie Betts, to LA. Although they still have highly talented players in Rafiel Devers, JD Martinez, and Xander Bogarts, look for this team to take a step back, especially in this Eastern Division.
2019 Record: 69 – 93
Additions: Luke Maile
Subtractions: Starling Marte
The Pirates have some young and intriguing players with Josh Bell and Brian Reynolds, but this team is not ready to compete as a playoff contender.
Look for them to further develop their players and maybe trade some of their better players for more talent under Ben Cherington.
Toronto Blue Jays
2019 Record: 67 – 95 (missed playoffs)
Additions: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP Tanner Roark, SP Chase Anderson, RP Shun Yamaguchi, 1B Travis Shaw
Subtractions: 1B Justin Smoak
The Blue Jays debuted some of their most exciting prospects, who all found success at the Major League Level.
With Bichette, Biggio, and Gurrerro Jr ready to take the next step along with some nice pitching additions, the Blue Jays are ready to be competitive and will be more of a contender than a bottom dweller.
2019 Record: 54 – 108 (missed playoffs)
Additions: SS José Iglesias
Subtractions: Jonathan Villar, Dylan Bundy
The Orioles are in a complete rebuild and are looking to acquire as much young talent, hence why they traded two of their more serviceable players in Villar and Bundy.
They will have the second overall pick in this upcoming draft and will be competing for the Number one pick in the draft this year, with how their current roster is constructed.
Featured Image: Frank Frankling/ Associated Press