We are not breaking any news here when we say the Orioles need starting pitching - at least three starters and certainly more - if they are going to be contenders in the 2018 American League East.
The Orioles have Kevin Gausman, who pitched well in the second half after a lousy first half in 2017, and Dylan Bundy at the top of the rotation, but after that, it’s all question marks.
Baltimore is in catch-up mode.
The New York Yankees, who unexpectedly came one win away from making the World Series, are loaded with young talent with a deep bullpen and rotation. At this point, they are the favorite to win the division in 2018.
The Boston Red Sox are in need of a power bat, a lefty reliever and health for just about every one in their rotation.
The Tampa Bay Rays have their usual payroll crunch and could have three new starters leave the rotation.
The Toronto Blue Jays have a solid rotation but their offense has taken a step back.
Here’s a look at the headlines for AL East teams as baseball people gather in Orlando:
Baltimore: After a season where Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jiménez and Wade Miley bombed, it’s no secret that the Orioles are looking for rotation help behind Bundy, their most consistent starter in 2017, and Gausman, who is switching his uniform number to 34 to honor a fellow Colorado pitcher Roy Halladay, who was killed in an airplane accident in Florida. ... Tillman had five good seasons with the Orioles, but last year was a mystery and general manager Dan Duquette says he’s not sure how to fix Tillman. So will Tillman get a chance to redeem himself in Baltimore? ... The Orioles are also looking for a left-handed bat after hitting .222 against right-handed pitching during September’s fall out of the race. ... The good news for the Orioles is that there are plenty of left-handed bats on the free agent market, everyone from Curtis Granderson, Jon Jay, Jay Bruce and John Jaso. ... Another Orioles conversation in Orlando will be whether the team moves Manny Machado from third to shortstop, a position he wants to play. If so, does Tim Beckham play third base? ... Speaking of moving Machado, trade questions will swirl around Duquette regarding Machado and lefty closer Zach Britton, given both are eligible for free agency after 2018. ... Duquette says he expects Britton to stay in Baltimore, but it’s also true that he nearly traded Britton to Houston before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. ... With catcher Welington Castillo signing with the White Sox, the Orioles will have Caleb Joseph and one their top prospects, Chance Sisco, handling the pitching staff.
Boston: The Red Sox hired new manager Alex Cora to replace John Farrell, and they are going into the Winter Meetings looking for a power bat to hit in the middle of the order, either a first baseman or a designated hitter. ... The Red Sox have talked to the White Sox about trading for first baseman José Abreu. Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez and Carlos Santana are free agent possibilities going to Boston. ... Marco Hernández will replace Dustin Pedroia at second base for the first two months of the season while Pedroia recovers from surgery on his left knee. ... The Red Sox need a bounceback season from 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and an injury-free season from David Price. ... They are banking on improvement from Rafeal Devers, a 20-year-old third baseman last season, and outfielder Andrew Benintendi, a good speed and power guy. ... Hanley Ramirez is in the final year of his contract and will either be a DH or first baseman. A productive season from Ramirez is a must for the Red Sox’s lineup. ... The bullpen has closer Craig Kimbrel and the stories to watch in the bullpen are the health of setup power pitchers Tyler Thornburg (shoulder) and Carson Smith (elbow).
New York: The Yankees, who lost Game 7 of the ALCS to Houston, might have already made their biggest offseason move when they hired Aaron Boone as their manager. Boone, who hit the walkoff home run that beat Boston in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS to put the Yankees in the World Series, spent eight years in the ESPN broadcast booth and has no managing experience - at any level. The Yankees like his baseball knowledge, communication skills, poise and ability to blend new-age statistics with old-time philosophy. But how will he handle a key decision in a key game in September? His dad, Bob, managed the Reds and Royals and works in the Nationals front office. ... The Yankees need a DH to replace Matt Holliday and could be looking at Martinez or Hosmer, but they are also not interested in not going over the luxury-tax threshold, $197 million. ... Chase Headley is at third base, but they could also sign free agents Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier to play third and let Headley DH. The Yankees also have a blue-chip third base prospect in Gleyber Torres. ... Their infield has shortstop Didi Gregorius, second baseman Starlin Castro and first baseman Greg Bird. ... In the outfield, prospect Clint Frazier will play left with Brett Gardner moving to center and AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge (52 home runs) in right field. ... The Yankees say they’ll use Jacoby Ellsbury as the fourth outfielder. ... They are expected to sign lefty starter CC Sabathia to complete a rotation that has Sonny Gray, 27, Luis Severino, 23, Masahiro Tanaka, 29, and Jordan Montgomery, 24. ... The entire Yankees bullpen, a bunch of power arms that includes Dellin Betances, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson, returns as well with closer Aroldis Chapman.
Tampa Bay: The Rays are in for their usual overhaul to keep the payroll below the $80 million it was last season. ... Starting pitcher Alex Cobb is a free agent, and the Rays could trade starters Chris Archer and/or Jake Odorizzi, leaving a rotation that has Blake Snell, Nate Eovaldi, Matt Andriese and Jake Faria. ... The Rays could also trade closer Alex Colome, 29, who has posted a 2.63 ERA with 84 saves in the last two seasons. The Cardinals have interest in Colome. ... The biggest hole in the lineup is at first base because Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison are on the free agent market. The Rays are looking for a stop-gap solution until prospect Jake Bauers is ready. ... Former Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is healthy and will see regular playing time this year at a cost of $10.4 million, a break for the Rays. ... The lineup will also have Evan Longoria, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. ... The wildest speculation involving the Rays is that they will trade Longoria, the face of the franchise.
Toronto: The Blue Jays need to improve their outfield defense, add a starter and hope that catcher Russell Martin and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki don’t age. ... In addition to an outfielder, the Blue Jays want to add a lefty to the bullpen and starter for the rotation. ... The Blue Jays outfield has rangy defense in center fielder Kevin Pillar, but the corner outfield candidates - Steve Pearce, Teoscar Hernandez and Ezequiel Carrera - aren’t strong enough to give them a contending defense. ... The infield corners, first baseman Justin Smoak and third baseman Josh Donaldson, are solid, but Tulowitzki, 33, hasn’t played more than 130 games since 2011. That’s why the Blue Jays acquired infielder Aledmys Díaz from St. Louis as a backup to Tulwitzki and second baseman Devon Travis. Tulowitzki, who has three years and $54 million left on on his contract, hit .249 last season. ... Martin, 34, has slowed all-around and hit .221 last season. He has two years and $40 million. ... The rotation has solid leaders in right-handers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. Righties Marco Estrada and Joe Biagini and left-hander J.A. Happ are the other starters. ... Roberto Osuna is the closer.