The calendar has turned to December, meaning the top executives from each organization and the top agents from around the league gather for the winter meetings. These meetings could determine the shape of the league for years to come. At this year’s meetings in Nashville, teams will go in with a specific goal that they believe will make their team better in 2024 or the future. Here are each AL East team’s winter meetings goals with the other division soon to come.
The Goal For Each AL East Team at the Winter Meetings
Baltimore Orioles: Improve the pitching staff while keeping the young core intact
The Baltimore Orioles are in a great position, they have a great young core and won 101 games before much of that core even reached the MLB. The Orioles should go into the winter meetings trying to find the 192 innings lost with the departure of Kyle Gibson without mortgaging the future.
Additionally, with all-star closer Felix Bautista out for 2024, the Orioles need to find a replacement for all those high-leverage innings that Bautista contributed. Short-term signings to bridge the gap between the current roster and incoming prospects would be best for a team on the up and up.
The Orioles are a very young team so it would be better to plug the holes left by Gibson and Bautista via free agency to keep their competitive window as wide open as possible. Potential affordable options on the open market would be Marcus Stroman or Jordan Montgomery to fill the void in the rotation and would likely be an improvement from last season.
In the bullpen, there are myriad options, from veteran closers Liam Hendriks and Craig Kimbrel to younger arms like Robert Stephenson and Alex Reyes but the best fit for this Orioles group is flamethrower Jordan Hicks as he gives the best combination of wipeout stuff, and high-leverage experience.
Tampa Bay Rays: Make some deals and keep churning
Churning over the roster and replacing stars with rookies has been one of the hallmarks of the Tampa Bay Rays organization for many years and this winter looks like it’s going to be no different. Tyler Glasnow appears likely to be traded for more youth and there are even rumors about a possible Randy Arozarena deal. The Rays are a small market team and will look to both shed payroll and add an infusion of youth at this year’s meetings.
While these types of moves upset the fanbase, they are vital to the Rays competitive model which hinges on cheap young talent to carry them into the postseason. Glasnow and Arozarena are both excellent players that would help any team be competitive, but at ages 30 and 28 they are becoming more of a burden on the payroll, and the Rays may be better served using them to replenish the farm system as more top prospects make their way to the majors.
Toronto Blue Jays: Add lineup depth
At this time last year, it was the stated goal of the Toronto Blue Jays to sacrifice some offense for better run prevention. While they accomplished that, the offense has suddenly become an issue for a team that just two years ago was the best in the sport. The Jays struggled with the home run ball in 2023 and with the losses of Matt Chapman, Brandon Belt, Whit Merrifield, and Kevin Kiermaier to free agency, the Jays will look to add some thump up and down the lineup.
The Jays have been rumored to be involved in pretty much all of the top free agents and trade candidates this offseason, but the best way to improve this offense is by lengthening the lineup and spreading resources between multiple positions that need to be filled. Belt could be replaced by another first baseman/designated hitter type like Rhys Hoskins, Chapman or Merrifield could be replaced with young guys in-house and Kiermaier could be replaced by a better bat like Joc Pederson or Jorge Soler. Just bringing in a couple of solid bats should be enough to help the Jays rebound from what was a disappointing 2023 season.
New York Yankees: Add an impact lefty bat
There are only two options to satisfy the angry New York Yankees fans this week, either they sign Shohei Ohtani to the largest contract in baseball history or they sell the farm and bring in Juan Soto. The Yankees need a lefty slugger, they have been too right-handed and too one-dimensional for years and now seems like the time when the Yankees can fix it. Improving rotation depth behind Gerrit Cole could be another goal this week.
It feels like the Yankees have lost their identity in the last few years, they went from being the team that could win any off-season bidding war they chose to now be a team that has looked in the bargain bin to make roster improvements. This is the year where the Yankees can earn back the title of the most aggressive team in the off-season by bringing in one of the generational players that is available. That could mean a trade for Soto or a free-agent splash involving Ohtani or even Cody Bellinger.
Boston Red Sox: Bolster the young core
The Boston Red Sox have not been very competitive in the last couple of seasons but it looks like a good young core is starting to take shape. The Red Sox front office should be looking at this year’s winter meetings as an opportunity to build on the young group by bringing in some solid pitching. With a lot of the value coming from youth, the Red Sox could look to bring in Japanese sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Over the last decade, the Red Sox seem to have become the masters of the quick re-tool, going from rebuilding back to being a contender very quickly and it looks like they are going to do that again. The only obstacle right now is the poor pitching staff, and as a young team, they will look toward the younger end of the free-agent market. The aforementioned Yamamoto is by far the best option but others could include Lucas Giolito, Eduardo Rodriguez, or the more expensive Blake Snell. Any of those players would go a long way in helping this young core return to relevance.
Overall, every team will go to Nashville this week with an agenda and a list of players they feel are the best fits for their teams. Whether any team is successful in their attempts to position themselves for a World Series run depends on how they play their cards in both the free agent and trade markets. Sometimes it will require aggression and sometimes patience is the best strategy for a team on the rise.
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