For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2014 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East.
The Red Sox are the defending champs, so why does it feel like everyone’s sleeping on them? The Rays have always had the pitching and defense. Do they have some offense this year? The Yankees spent a boatload of money, but did they buy a playoff slot? The Orioles can beat the tar out of the ball, but can they keep the other guys from scoring? And the Blue Jays are trying a do-over of 2013. Will it work this time?
Below are our team-by-team previews for the AL East as well as our HBT Extra feature on the division:
Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays
New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays
Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $100,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Opening Day’s games (March 31). It’s $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Starts at 1:05pm ET on Opening Day. Here’s the FanDuel link.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Rockies and shortstop Trevor Story have come to terms on a two-year, $27.5 million deal, buying out his two remaining years of arbitration eligibility.
Story, 27, and the Rockies did not agree on a salary before the deadline earlier this month. Story filed for $11.5 million while the team countered at $10.75 million. The average annual value of this deal — $13.75 million — puts him a little bit ahead this year and likely a little bit behind next year.
This past season in Colorado, Story hit .294/.363/.554 with 35 home runs, 85 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases over 656 trips to the plate. He also continued to rank among the game’s best defensive shortstops. Per FanGraphs, Story’s 10.9 Wins Above Replacement over the last two seasons is fifth-best among shortstops (min. 1,000 PA) behind Alex Bregman, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, and Marcus Semien.
With third baseman Nolan Arenado likely on his way out via trade, one wonders if the same fate awaits Story at some point over the next two seasons.