The AL East is baseball’s best division. Each team has playoff hopes, and every game between them is a battle as they contend for a position in October. With the trade deadline approaching, each team will look to upgrade their roster for a push down the stretch. These are the moves each AL East team should make before the trade deadline.
One Move Every AL East Team Should Make in 2023
New York Yankees: Ditch Josh Donaldson
While he’s only had 60 at-bats so far this year, Donaldson has been pathetic when he does play, and at 37 years old, it doesn’t appear like he’ll revert back to his old self. The Yankees have lacked offense recently with Aaron Judge on the Injured List, and while guys like Willie Calhoun, Billy McKinney, and Jake Bauers have stepped up, the veteran core of the Yankees has not.
The easiest one to replace out of that core is Donaldson, as heralded prospect Oswald Peraza has torn up Triple-A this year, hitting .292 with a .923 OPS. Peraza has taken reps at second, short, and third, and would add versatility compared to Donaldson, who is only usable at third. If the Yanks want to contend for the division, they need to jettison Donaldson and call the kid up.
Baltimore Orioles: Trade for an ace pitcher
The Orioles had a ton of cap space in the offseason, and many outlets (including myself) claimed that they were setting up for a disappointing year when they didn’t make much use of it. Instead, the O’s have been a very pleasant surprise, going 45-28 so far and proving themselves a legitimate contender for the AL East and a playoff spot.
However, the same issue from the offseason still persists: they don’t have a high-end starting pitcher. Tyler Wells has been great so far for Baltimore, with a 3.22 ERA, and Kyle Bradish and Kyle Gibson have been average, with a 108 and 106 ERA+.
The other three starters have not been close to that with Dean Kremer, Grayson Rodriguez, and Cole Irvin putting up 92, 57, and 55 ERA+s. If the Orioles want to be true contenders in October, they’re going to need a Game 1 and maybe even a Game 2 starter, as Wells’s 4.64 FIP shows he’s had good fortune in 2023 so far.
Watch for the O’s to make a move at the deadline.
Tampa Bay Rays: Add some bullpen help
Tampa Bay has been outstanding this year, jumping out to a 52-25 record and shattering expectations along the way. They’re going to be in good shape this year if they keep playing how they’re playing, don’t get me wrong, but they can still improve on their World Series chances.
While the Rays bullpen has been good, their underlying numbers show that they’ve been a bit lucky in 2023. Colin Poche and Jason Adam have been the best out of the pen for them, with 179 and 158 ERA+s, but their FIPs are at 4.07 and 4.20. Every bullpen pitcher for Tampa Bay with at least 10 innings pitched has a FIP above 4.00 except Kevin Kelly and Pete Fairbanks, so Tampa could use some bullpen help for October.
Toronto Blue Jays: Acquire an elite player
Yes, if only it were that simple. But the Blue Jays desperately need an elite talent to carry them in games where that talent can make the difference.
Going into the season, the consensus was that the Jays had two of them and were ready to take the AL East by storm. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has disappointed. With only a 116 OPS+ in 2023 so far, nine home runs, and 42 RBI, he’s lagging well behind his pace in 2022, with 32 HR and 97 RBI, and his incredible 2021, with 48 HR and 111 RBI.
Alek Manoah was the Blue Jays elite talent on the other side of the ball, but he has had a nightmare 2023, with a 6.36 ERA and a recent send-down to rookie ball. If those two don’t bounce back, the Blue Jays will need to acquire elite talent at the deadline if they want to make a run.
Boston Red Sox: Infield improvements
The Red Sox outfield has carried them thus far in 2023, with Jarren Duran, Alex Verdugo, and rookie Masataka Yoshida all posting OPSs over .800 and Rob Refsnyder and Adam Duvall providing clutch offense off the bench.
However, their infield has not lived up to the task, with Rafael Devers disappointing after he signed his new deal with a 108 OPS+, and the other four most-used infielders all with below-average OPSs. Enrique Hernandez has been the biggest disappointment in 2023 with only a 72 OPS+, and Pablo Reyes has spelled him at shortstop during Trevor Story’s absence. Story’s timetable to return is still unclear, with an August return being the target, but Boston cannot count on his return to be their catalyst in the playoff race. They need a good infielder and fast, and they should look to acquire one at the trade deadline.
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