The American League East is back to its familiar ways, with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox battling it out for the division crown.
With the addition of Giancarlo Stanton into the hitter-friendly division, J.D. Martinez might be right behind him, as the Red Sox are the rumored favorites to land the right-handed slugger.
It’s evident that the Red Sox and Yankees are all in on the 2018 season, and the fact of the matter is, the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and Baltimore Orioles don’t have the money or resources to keep pace.
While it may be a season filled with looking up in the standings for these clubs, there are still many questions to be answered regarding their best players. Will they stay? Or will they go?
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have a massive elephant in the room, and his name is Josh Donaldson. It’s rumored that the Blue Jays have listened to offers for the 2015 AL MVP.
If Toronto can reach into their pockets and go out and get a starting pitcher, and even another bat, they could potentially contend in the AL, but to what extent? Could they really give Boston and New York a run for their money?
Between Donaldson’s impending free agency, and the balance of power shifting in the AL East, the Blue Jays have a decision to make. Will they keep Donaldson and try to go at the Yankees and Red Sox? Or will they ship him off to St. Louis for a package of prospects and begin to rebuild?
Donaldson isn’t the only name to keep an eye on in 2018; the other is Toronto’s ace Marcus Stroman. If the Blue Jays choose to rebuild, expect to hear Stroman’s name surface in trade discussions right around the July trade deadline.
The Blue Jays are a team to watch in the 2018 season.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have already made their decision; they’re entering a much-needed rebuilding stage. Shipping off Rays legend Evan Longoria to San Francisco delivered that message loud and clear. However, there is still a player of high value left on their roster: Chris Archer.
Archer’s name has surfaced throughout the trade market; however, Tampa isn’t ready to just give him away. Reportedly the price tag to land Archer is very expensive, and rightfully so, given that Archer has four years and just $33 million left on his contract.
Archer is a two-time all-star coming fresh off of three straight seasons with over 230 strikeouts and a career 3.63 ERA. If Tampa decides to sell off one more key piece of their club, they can get a bundle of talent in return for Archer.
The Orioles had perhaps the most complex scenario in baseball, the status of Manny Machado. However, the Yankees may have made their decision a tad bit easier.
Machado is a generational talent, and at just 25 years old the third baseman is due for a massive contract after the 2018 season — so big that Baltimore may not be able to afford it.
Baltimore can try to lure Machado back after the season, but reportedly they are at risk of allowing their franchise cornerstone to walk to their division rival, none other than the New York Yankees.
Losing Machado to the Yankees for nothing would be a massive blow to the Orioles. However, they can avoid losing him for nothing. Machado does not have a no-trade clause, so Baltimore can trade him wherever they want, but other teams don’t want to give up the farm for a player who may only spend one season with them due before hitting free agency.
The Machado situation is a very sticky one for Baltimore, and it’s safe to say that it’s nowhere near over.
Many teams inquired about Baltimore’s star closer Zach Britton, but due to a significant offseason injury, those trade talks will be on hold till he returns.
The Orioles have many pieces to sell; let’s see if they pull the trigger.
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