Trades and signings in the MLB offseason have started to gain some traction here, and there have been some surprisingly active (and dormant) teams so far. Let’s look at one team from each division that can shake things up come 2019.
Tampa Bay Rays: Shrouded by the Oakland Athletics’ magical 97-win campaign, the Rays actually compiled 90 wins of their own last season. It may seem as if they have been rebuilding, what with trades of Corey Dickerson, Chris Archer, Evan Longoria, Brad Boxberger, etc. etc. etc….but Tampa Bay has stockpiled a strong crop of youngsters at just about every position. Should at least some of them live up to their respective potentials, Tampa could continue to push Boston and New York as it has over past years and maybe even fight for a Postseason berth.
Minnesota Twins: Sure, they seemed to have a horrible year in 2018, but they actually managed to scrape out 78 wins even with all the underwhelming performances. Remember, this is a team just two seasons removed from a Wild Card appearance. So far this offseason they’ve picked up Jonathan Schoop, Ronald Torreyes, C.J Cron and Addison Reed, but there’s still plenty of room to improve. Some of it comes down to guys like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano bouncing back, and some falls on management to provide an influx of talent. Either way, Minnesota certainly has the potential to hover around 83-87 wins, and with the Cleveland Indians in a constant state of turnover (not to mention a loosening grip on this division), the Twins could keep it close.
Oakland Athletics: They already shook up the division last year, and they are poised to strike again. The Rangers, Mariners and Angels all appear to be out of contention, and we know who the Astros are, so that leaves the A’s and the one starting pitcher they have on their roster. Should Oakland find some more pitching (they have already signed Joakim Soria and seem to be in agreement with returnee Mike Fiers), they could threaten triple digits in the win column as they did last year, assuming their young core of stars stays healthy.
Philadelphia Phillies: Really any team could go here, but why not the potential suitors for both Bryce Harper AND Manny Machado? Philly has already made some good moves this offseason, acquiring Jean Segura, James Pazos and Juan Nicasio from Seattle and signing Andrew McCutchen, but we know they want more. If not for a terrible end to the 2018 season, the Phillies could have won their division, and after a number of subpar season you know some guys will bounce back. The key here is Harper or Machadao, obviously, but even without either of the two Philadelphia has a good shot at winning the NL East.
St. Louis Cardinals: We know about Milwaukee and Chicago, but remember a few years ago when the Cardinals had this division under annual lock? They have been getting stronger over the past few seasons, and their trade for Paul Goldschmidt signals they are ready to go for it in 2019. They have money, they have talent young and old, and they seem to have found a good replacement in new manager Mike Shildt. We could have a close three-team race in the Central.
Colorado Rockies: I’m really just putting them here because I would like to see them finally overtake the Dodgers. Their rotation has developed into one of the better ones out there, and we know the offense will be there. Defense is becoming a bit of a question mark and this could be Nolan Arenado’s last year, so with the Dodgers attempting to squash all their NL West foes once and for all this could be the Rockies’ last chance.