As expected heading into 2019, the AL East is a three-team race already. However, all three of the top teams are still fighting for a postseason spot while the other may not even have enough pieces to sell. With the MLB trade deadline less than two months away, how will the AL East make moves?
New York Yankees – Buyers
Despite having injuries to just about every conceivable spot in the lineup this season, the New York Yankees remain at the top of the AL East as the calendar flips to June. The first need to be addressed will likely be the team’s starting rotation, though that may not come via trade. The Yankees are currently the reported frontrunner to land free agent hurler Dallas Keuchel. Along with James Paxton and a healthy Luis Severino, that makes for a strong top of the rotation. New York is also one of few teams that don’t really need bullpen insurance as its already incredibly deep. Aside from that, the team may look to upgrade the infield a bit (possibly Anthony Rendon at third base), but getting healthy is just as important right now.
Tampa Bay Rays – Buyers
Even after a 90-win 2018 campaign, no one expected the Tampa Bay Rays to be this hot over the first two months of 2019. To make things even better, the team has seven top-100 prospects, including five in the top-50. Those numbers don’t even include other strong prospects such as former first-round pick Shane McClanahan or Shane Baz, a piece from the 2018 Chris Archer trade. If there’s ever been a time for the Rays to go deep before the trade deadline, it’s right now. Even with a strong overall staff, Tampa Bay should be all over some frontline arms such as Madison Bumgarner or Trevor Bauer. The team could also use another bat, likely in the infield.
Boston Red Sox – Stand Still?
The defending World Series champions are in a pretty precarious situation as the summer months start to heat up. While the team is still in the thick of the AL Wild Card race, the Boston Red Sox find themselves with a few holes to fill if they have any hope at catching the Yankees or Rays. Unfortunately for them, a lot simply has to do with underperformance from players such as Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr., who’s still hitting under the Mendoza line. Boston will likely look to make a small acquisition or two, specifically to bolster the bullpen. They won’t be able to make too big of a splash as their farm system is completely depleted with no current top-100 prospects.
Toronto Blue Jays – Sellers
It’s no secret that the Toronto Blue Jays are ready to sell off some veterans and it’s already making rounds across the league. With a young core led by Vladimir Guerro Jr., Cavan Biggio, and soon Bo Bichette, the team is ready to build around them and create a new era. Toronto will likely deal top starter Marcus Stroman; he should fetch a strong return as he’s currently posting some of the best numbers of his career (2.74 ERA and 7.4 K/9) and is still under club control in 2020. Aaron Sanchez was once a Cy Young contender but has been riddled with injuries over the last few seasons. Most teams looking for rotational depth wouldn’t mind taking a gamble on him. Finally, slugger Justin Smoak, a pending free agent, would make a nice upgrade for a team at first base or, at the very least, a high-quality bat off the bench.
Baltimore Orioles – Stand Still?
It would be tough to find a team in a worse situation than the Baltimore Orioles. Currently, they have just four prospects in the top-100 and none in the top-50; that should change after the 2019 MLB Draft though, as Baltimore has the top selection. Still, the team is heading towards another finish near the bottom of the league with very few trade chips on the roster. The 32-year-old Andrew Cashner owns an ERA over 5.00 and is nearing a $10 million vesting option for 2020 that no team wants to pay. Realistically, the only player that could fetch a worthwhile return would be Jonathan Villar. The 28-year-old can play several positions, displays decent speed and power, and is arbitration eligible for next season. Beyond that, the Orioles are stuck in an ugly spot for now, unless they can trick someone into taking on Chris Davis’ disgusting contract.