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(John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune)

AL East Report Cards: 2017 Offseason Grades

The Boston Red Sox are serious World Series contenders after landing Chris Sale. Who else did well in the AL East during the 2017 offseason? (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

Spring Training is almost upon us! The AL East figures to be an exciting division 2017 that includes the Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays. One year ago the AL East was the toughest division in baseball where 3 teams made the postseason (Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays). After a long offseason, it’s time to hand out some offseason grades. Who put themselves in a position to improve in 2017?

Baltimore Orioles: Grade C

Key Additions: Welington Castillo, Johnny Giavotella, Jesus Montero, Seth Smith, Logan Verrett

Key Departures: Pedro Alvarez, Yovani Gallardo, Steve Pearce, Nolan Reimold, Drew Stubbs, Matt Wieters, Vance Worley

Mark Trumbo has been retained this year and the Orioles post an excellent bullpen so there is some hope of repeating on another playoff appearance. The Orioles rotation is very worrisome and Baltimore did nothing to sure up those holes. The good news for Baltimore is that Buck Showalter always finds ways to win with less.

Boston Red Sox: Grade A+

Key Additions: Mitch Moreland, Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg, Brian Bogusevic, Matt Dominguez, Kyle Kendrick, Junior Lake, Steve Selsky

Key Departures: Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Ryan Hanigan, Aaron Hill, Bryan Holaday, Michael Kopech, Yoan Moncada, Travis Shaw, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, Brad Ziegler

The Red Sox are not going to be able to replace the legendary David Ortiz who retired but they did have a nice approach. They may be able to make up for it defensively. Adding Mitch Moreland, the American gold glove winner at first base, gives the Red Sox a nice defensive addition while moving slugger Hanley Ramirez to DH. The Red Sox led baseball with 878 runs scored in 2016 so the offense will probably still be terrific even losing Ortiz in the process. The biggest move of the offseason was trading for Chris Sale. The Sale acquisition gives Boston the best rotation in the American league. Sale’s one of the best pitchers in baseball and his grit makes him a perfect fit for Boston.  The Red Sox did give up some premier prospects but definitely, both guys have big question marks if they will ever make it in the big leagues. Kopech has already been busted for PED’s and Moncada struck out in 12 of his 20 major league at bats.  The Tyler Thornburg trade also gives the Sox an elite reliever while only giving up expendable Travis Shaw in the process. The biggest question mark is probably whether Pablo Sandoval can be counted on at third base? Brock Holt is a nice contingency to have if he doesn’t.

New York Yankees: Grade D+

Key Additions: Chris Carter, Aroldis Chapman, Matt Holliday, Donovan Solano, Ruben Tejada

Key Departures: Dustin Ackley, Nathan Eovaldi, Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira

The New York Yankees are somehow trying to compete and rebuild at the same time. I don’t believe that you can do both. This is the Yankees we are talking about, the late great George Steinbrenner is probably rolling over in his grave looking at this disastrous roster. The Yankees are going to have another 200 million plus payroll again this season and are probably destined for 4th place again. Spending $80 million on a closer like Aroldis Chapman isn’t a smart investment considering he is a one trick pony throwing a 100 MPH fastball. As he ages that velocity will dip and turn into a bad investment. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner also doesn’t seem to care about Chapman’s domestic violence history telling people that it’s not big deal. Adding sluggers Matt Holiday and Chris Carter is probably good risks worth taking but it takes away at bats from the young guys such as Greg Bird. The Yankees have no identity right now and a number of their prospects are vastly overrated such as Jorge Mateo who hit just .254 in A ball.

Tampa Bay Rays: Grade B-

Key Additions: Jose De Leon, Michael McKenry, Wilson Ramos, Colby Rasmus, Mallex Smith, Shawn Tolleson

Key Departures: Logan Forsythe, Desmond Jennings, Mikie Mahtook, Drew Smyly

The Rays have no payroll to work with but they made the most of it. The got two major league ready prospects in Jose De Leon and Mallex Smith who have bright futures. Wilson Ramos is a heck of a signing who hit .307 for the Nationals last year. Colby Rasmus is a nice little addition too who can hit for some power. The Rays are fighting an unfair fight but they did some nice things.

Toronto Blue Jays: Grade D

Key Additions: Lourdes Gurriel Jr, Lucas Harrell, J.P. Howell, Kendrys Morales, Brett Oberholtzer, Steve Pearce, Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Key Departures: Joaquin Benoit, Brett Cecil, Chris Colabello, R.A. Dickey, Matt Dominguez, Edwin Encarnacion, Scott Feldman, Junior Lake, Dioner Navarro, Michael Saunders

The Blue Jays panicked during free agency and gave Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce contracts while Edwin Encarnacion could have been re-signed for a reasonable deal. Losing Encarnacion is a huge blow to the Blue Jays offense. Toronto also did nothing to fill out the corner outfield spots as Michael Saunders departed for Philly on a one-year deal. They were able to keep Jose Bautista which keeps them from receiving an F.


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