Yankees’ offseason maneuvers put AL East rivals far behind

Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, and Alex Verdugo of the New York Yankees
letsgoyanks
Inna Zeyger
Wednesday December 20, 2023

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The Yankees look determined to turn the table on rivals after the sordid 2023 season. This is amply reflected in their offseason. With big hitter Juan Soto in pinstripes, the team has its focus fixed on Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto despite stiff competition.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ divisional rivals have failed to match the flurry of offseason activities in New York, which has shown its financial muscle and determination to rebuild the roster.

Yankees’ offseason gets better off Red Sox

The Red Sox, along with other teams, are challenging the Yankees for Yoshinobu Yamamoto. But their offseason has been relatively calm, with the recent appointment of Craig Breslow as the chief baseball officer, who expressed a commitment to fully immerse himself in the role during a press conference last month.

There’s a strong likelihood that significant activity ramps up in the weeks leading to spring training, especially around the Super Bowl. However, in comparison to the recent bold move by the Yankees, who secured Juan Soto in a substantial seven-player trade with San Diego, the Red Sox’s transaction record remains relatively subdued so far.

The most notable actions on their part involved exchanging a pair of outfielders, one of which was part of a deal with the Yankees. Prior to acquiring Soto for a minimum of one year, the Yankees acquired Alex Verdugo. In the aftermath of that transaction, Tyler O’Neill was brought in as a replacement, addressing a slump he experienced during the previous season with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Yoshinobu-Yamamoto
instagram-yoshinobu__yamamoto

Apart from the outfield deals, Boston’s offseason primarily revolves around bolstering depth. They’ve made strategic moves, including acquiring veteran catcher Roberto Perez and securing a couple of relief pitchers through trades involving Alex Verdugo and Luis Urias.

The Orioles are far behind the Yankees

Among the remaining three AL East teams aside from the Yankees and Red Sox, the most significant acquisition took place as the Orioles signed Craig Kimbrel to a one-year contract worth $13 million, featuring a club option for 2025. The Orioles opted for this move for the 35-year-old pitcher due to Felix Bautista’s ongoing recovery from Tommy John surgery, suggesting that the signing might not have transpired if the injury had not occurred.

The Orioles are currently grappling with the challenge of filling the void left by Kyle Gibson, who contributed 192 innings before securing a new contract with the Cardinals, where he will be alongside Sonny Gray.

Juan-Soto-new-york-yankees
AP

Toronto fails to match the Yankees

In terms of public perception challenges within the AL East, the Blue Jays seem to be facing particularly rough times. The troubles began when John Schneider made a pivotal decision in Game 2 of the wild-card series in Minnesota, pulling Jose Berrios. The explanation provided was awkward at best, and matters were not improved by the subsequent press conference led by GM Ross Atkins.

Despite retaining their youthful core with players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette and possessing an impressive top three starting group featuring Chris Bassitt, Jose Berrios, and Kevin Gausman (a trio that collectively notched 39 wins, around 575 innings pitched, and 607 strikeouts), the Blue Jays have yet to make any noteworthy moves at this juncture.

It appears that the Blue Jays have been actively pursuing key players. They were reportedly the second choice for Ohtani’s services, losing out to the Dodgers who secured him with a significantly deferred 10-year, $700 million contract. However, they also face the likelihood of losing Matt Chapman in free agency.

Alex Verdugo, player of the Red Sox has been on the spotlight as Yankees and Red Sox discussing a game-changing swap.
Sports Illustrated

Rays are silent while Yankees race ahead

As for the Rays, their noteworthy move is more about subtraction, driven primarily by financial considerations. Shortly after Ohtani’s decision to join the Dodgers, Tyler Glasnow was traded to Los Angeles. Glasnow was set to earn $15 million in his final season before free agency, and the Dodgers doubled his salary, inking a five-year, $136.5 million deal, with $27.3 million of the $30 million annual salary contributing to the luxury tax bill, according to Sportrac.

The decision to trade Glasnow took place approximately a year after the Rays inked a significant deal with Zach Eflin, signing him to a three-year, $40 million contract. Eflin’s contract stands as the highest total expenditure ever made by the Rays in free agency up to this point, and it appears unlikely that this record will be surpassed this year.

In terms of offseason activity, the Yankees have emerged as the most proactive team thus far, addressing the shortcomings of last year’s 82-win season marred by injuries and ineffective performances. As for the remaining four teams, the trajectory of their offseason transactions and how they will unfold is yet to be determined.

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