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Winter in the American League East

Posted By Chad Jennings On December 23, 2012 @ 2:30 pm In Misc | 106 Comments

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The Yankees won the American League East by two games last season, but the rise of the Orioles and the fall of the Red Sox seemed to signal a shift in the division. This winter, the division has been re-sculpted by the aggressive Blue Jays, the rebuilding Red Sox and the creative Rays. Here’s a look at the moves within the division. Where do the Yankees stand? 

[2]BLUE JAYS
Free agent additions: Melky Cabrera, Maicer Izturis
Trade additions: R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Josh Tholes, Emilio Bonifacio, Esmil Rogers, Mike Nickeas, Jeremy Jeffress
Notable minor league additions: Alex Hinshaw, Ramon Ortiz, Ryan Langerhans, Justin Germano
Waiver claims:
Mickey Storey, Russ Canzler, Tyson Brummett
Re-signed:
Rajai Davis
Rule 5 pick: None
Key losses: Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson, Carlos Villanueva, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Omar Vizquel, Jason Frasor, Brandon Lyon, Jeff Mathis, Yan Gomes, Travis d’Arnaud (and many other high-level prospects)

The winter’s most aggressive team, the Blue Jays clearly sense an opportunity in this division. The Red Sox are weak, the Yankees are weaker, the Rays are somewhat rebuilding and the Orioles are stagnant. Toronto’s aggressive winter has been a remarkable thing to watch from afar. Quickly compare the additions against the key losses, and it’s a landslide in the Blue Jays favor. In the short-term, anyway.

[3]ORIOLES
Free agent additions:
None (only major league deals have been re-signings)
Trade additions: Trayvon Robinson, Danny Valencia, Yamaico Navarro
Notable minor league additions: Conor Jackson, Daniel Schlereth, Dan McCutchen, Jason Pridie
Waiver claims: Alexi Casilla
Re-signed:
Nate McLouth, Lew Ford
Rule 5 pick: T.J. McFarland
Key losses: Mark Reynolds, Robert Andino, Joe Saunders, Jim Thome, Omar Quintanilla, Endy Chavez, Nick Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Dana Eveland, Ronny Paulino

It’s actually fairly stunning just how quiet the Orioles have been this winter. Rather than build on their breakout season, the Orioles most significant new addition is a Rule 5 lefty. They’ve lost a key power bat in Reynolds, a regular infielder in Andino and a handful of guys who played part of last season helping the Orioles make their surprising run to the playoffs.

[4]RAYS
Free agent additions: Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona), James Loney
Trade additions: Yunel Escobar, Wil Myers (and other significant prospects)
Notable minor league additions: Mike Fontenot, Jason Bourgeois
Waiver claims: None
Re-signed: Joel Peralta
Rule 5 pick: None
Key losses: James Shields, B.J. Upton, Wade Davis, Jeff Keppinger, Carlos Pena, Kyle Farnsworth, Luke Scott, J.P. Howell, Burke Badenhop, Ben Francisco, Brooks Conrad, Will Rhymes

Kind of a typical winter for the Rays, who seem perpetually in a state of rebuilding while also trying to win now. They’ve lost two huge pieces in Shields and Upton, but they’ve finally found an everyday shortstop and added one of the game’s top position prospects, who could be ready for the big leagues by mid-summer (if not earlier). They’ve done such a great job developing young pitching that they could afford to trade away Shields and Davis.

[5]RED SOX
Free agent additions: Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Koji Uehara
Trade additions: Joel Hanrahan, manager John Farrell
Notable minor league additions: Mitch Maier, Oscar Villarreal, Drew Sutton
Waiver claims: None (made some claims, but have since lost them)
Re-signed:
David Ortiz
Rule 5 pick: None
Key losses: Cody Ross, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mike Aviles, Ryan Sweeney, James Loney, Scott Podsednik, Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, Rich Hill, Scott Atchison

The Red Sox greatest losses from last season are the guys they actually lost before the end of the season. Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto are all gone. So is Bobby Valentine, who was good as gone by early September. To fill the holes, the Red Sox have gone on an offseason spending spree, but they’ve missed out on the biggest names available. Instead they’re banking on bouncebacks from guys like Victorino, Dempster and Drew.  They’re still trying to finalize the deal with Napoli.

[6]YANKEES
Free agent additions: Kevin Youkilis
Trade additions: None
Notable minor league additions: Bobby Wilson, Gil Velazquez
Waiver claims: Jim Miller, Josh Pence, David Herndon (all have since cleared waivers and stayed in the organization)
Re-signed: Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki, Jayson Nix
Rule 5 pick: None
Key losses: Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Freddy Garcia, Andruw Jones, Derek Lowe, Cory Wade, Casey McGehee

The Yankees have committed significant money toward re-signing four of their own, but their only significant addition has been Kevin Youkilis, who became necessary largely because of Alex Rodriguez’s upcoming hip surgery. Right now, the Yankees seem perfectly willing to move forward without replacing Martin. Two of their most significant additions could be healthy seasons from Mariano Rivera and Brett Gardner, who were hurt most of last year, but that remains to be seen. They’re banking heavily on an aging roster remaining productive for one more year.

Headshots of Dickey, McLouth, Escobar, Victorino and Youkilis

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