For the first time in what seems like forever, the Yankees and Red Sox are the American League East teams with the most questions going into the offseason.
Neither team can write a check and become the favorite for 2013. Meanwhile, the Orioles and Rays continue to build, while the Blue Jays hope for health and a few acquisitions.
A look at AL East teams:
* New York: Alex Rodriguez will get plenty of attention this offseason, but given the $114 million left on his contract, he’ll be in pinstripes next season. ... There are rotation questions behind CC Sabathia: Does Andy Pettitte, 40, retire, is Ivan Nova a mainstay and will the Yankees get a consistent Phil Hughes? Is Hiroki Kuroda worth a long-term contract at 38? ... Outfielder Curtis Granderson has been retained. Brett Gardner will likely be playing left field and the right fielder could be either Torii Hunter or Ichiro Suzuki. ... Derek Jeter will be 39 next season, and even though he had 216 hits last season, there are questions about whether he can return from a broken ankle.
* Baltimore: The Orioles will not make a big splash with a free agent signing as they think about options at second, rotation help and what to do at DH. ... Is Jim Thome healthy enough to be a legitimate sign? ... Dan Duquette thinks that Tsuyoshi Wada, injured last season, can be as productive as Wei-Yin Chen was in 2012. ... Nate McLouth is for real and should be retained, although he’s likely to get offers from other teams. ... The Orioles will be asked plenty about their trading for their young pitching, guys like Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman. ... With Nick Markakis back, should the Orioles use 30-home run guy Chris Davis at first?
* Tampa Bay: If the Rays could develop hitters like they do pitching, they’d be the best team in the AL East every season. ... Outfielder B.J. Upton will be gone, so that means shifting in the outfield, with Desmond Jennings going to center, Matt Joyce to left and Ben Zobrist in right. If that happens, the Rays will need a shortstop. If Zobrist stays at short, the Rays will need another outfielder. ... The Rays could trade some of their talented rotation for some one like Denard Span of the Twins or Michael Morse of the Nationals, or they could go with trying to find a productive bat on the cheap and hope things work out.
* Toronto: The Blue Jays’ hopes for contention were derailed by injuries in 2012. ... The Jays need pitching behind Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow next season, so they could be in the market for rotation help, and that could mean trading catcher J.P. Arencibia. ... The Blue Jays wonder if the wrist injury that limited Jose Bautista to 92 games last season with short-circuit his power in 2013. ... Casey Janssen is set to be the closer while Sergio Santos returns from injury. ... In the outfield, the Blue Jays hope that prospect Anthony Gose will be ready and that Colby Rasmus can be consistent for an entire season.
* Boston: The Red Sox are trying to dig out from their first last-place finish since 1992, and they hope new manager John Farrell will bring a better atmosphere into the clubhouse. ... The rotation’s first four will be Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey (returning from injury) and Felix Doubront. ... James Loney, acquired from the Dodgers, doesn’t hit for enough power to be an AL first baseman, so the Red Sox need to find a better option. ... The Red Sox hope that shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias can develop as quickly as third baseman Will Middlebrooks. ... The Red Sox might trade outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.