With the calendar now turned to 2019 and the NFL season almost behind us, it’s time to start looking forward to the return of baseball. Last season was phenomenal for the Boston Red Sox as they claimed their 4th World Series title since 2004. Heading into the season, the Sox are once again one of the favorites to come out of the American League and make it back to the World Series. Baseball betting futures have the Sox and Astros as the top AL teams, with the Dodgers and Braves having the best odds to win the NL. Fans looking to bet on baseball should make the most of their free bets and make a wager on one of these top teams to win the World Series. Or if you’re feeling really lucky, you can take the long odds and place a wager on the Baltimore Orioles.
Now it’s time to take a look at the AL East heading into the 2019 season. Here are the top goals for each of the division’s teams.
Boston Red Sox: Start Planning for the Future
It’s hard to be frustrated with anything for Red Sox fans at the moment. They’re still basking in the glory of Boston’s fourth World Series title this century, and the 2018 club’s dominant performance (108 regular season wins, 119 overall) has them in the conversation of the best teams ever assembled.
Looking forward to 2019 and beyond, though, Dave Dombrowski has his work cut out for him. The Red Sox led the league this past year with a payroll north of $227 million, and although money doesn’t appear to be a sensitive issue for the upcoming year, it’s going to be rather soon.
Boston’s current core is getting closer to free agency, and it’ll be tough to retain them all. Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts are set to hit the open market next winter, while Mookie Betts is under team control for just two more years.
They’ll need to consider just about anything depending on which players they’d like to keep, which is why Bogaerts, Rick Porcello, and Jackie Bradley Jr. all heard their names surface in trade rumors during the Winter Meetings.
Baltimore Orioles: Keep Completely Restructuring the Organization
This offseason should be a transformational one for the Orioles, and it has nothing to do with the players ultimately acquired.
Baltimore began the process of rebuilding the franchise by going on a midseason fire sale prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. It didn’t end there, though, as manager Buck Showalter and general manager Dan Duquette also lost their jobs when the regular season was complete.
Mike Elias is now in Duquette’s place and has found his next manager in former Chicago Cubs bench coach, Brandon Hyde. Since Elias wasn’t officially hired by Baltimore until the middle of November, it’ll be hard to make any significant changes to the on-field product heading into 2019. But what he will be doing is building the coaching staff around Hyde, along with bringing in other front-office executives.
If there’s anyone who knows what it takes to successfully rebuild an organization from the ground up, it’s Elias. He was with the Houston Astros from 2011-18, as they went through three straight seasons of 100-plus losses before becoming the team they are today. Elias brings a background in scouting and player development with him, something the Orioles badly need.
Toronto Blue Jays: Find Takers for Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez
The Blue Jays are kind of stuck in the middle. As we’ve already mentioned, the AL East is top heavy because of New York and Boston, and Tampa Bay has a real opportunity to make a run at the postseason themselves. Toronto had decent odds of making the playoffs prior to Opening Day last season, but it all went downhill from there.
Their 5.14 rotation ERA was the third-worst mark in baseball, and Stroman and Sanchez — two important pieces to the puzzle — contributed to that number. Neither hurler produced an ERA below 4.80 in 2018, and they combined for just 2.2 fWAR while tossing just 207.1 frames.
They both have had their names come through the trade rumor mill this winter, but dealing one or both now would be the epitome of selling low. Unless Toronto comes out of nowhere with a hot start, the front office’s hope should be seeing Stroman and Sanchez rebuild their value enough to become hot commodities at the trade deadline.
New York Yankees: Win The World Series
Rebuilding or not, this is the goal of every team for every season. But it’s a little bit different in the Bronx. I mean, these are the Yankees. If they don’t win the World Series, it feels like a supreme disappointment.
That disgust gets to another level when the Red Sox not only win the AL East title, but also manhandle them in the playoffs on their way to yet another championship. Nobody should blame Hank Steinbrenner for being “pissed off” about this.
Still, it’s worth noting that New York has an incredible core group of young players, a deep farm system, and money to spend. They’ve already fortified the rotation by re-signing J.A. Happ and trading for James Paxton, and now all the attention will be on whether or not they land Machado.