2019 MLB Season Preview

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After five arduous months of free agency talk, it feels good to finally say: baseball is back.

The 2019 regular season is shaping up as a wide-open race towards the World Series, and after capturing their ninth title last year, the Red Sox share the market alongside the Astros and Yankees as this year’s early championship favourites.

As we’ve seen in each of the last five years, however, a dark horse is sure to emerge over the course of the 162-game season. Question is, which team will step up to the plate?

In case you’ve fallen a little behind, our 2019 MLB Season Preview should catch you up to speed. Here’s a look at every division, every team, and every market you need to know about:

American League East

 

After a busy offseason, the Yankees have emerged the favourite to win their 19th AL East pennant.

Baltimore Orioles

World Series: $251.00

The on-field product in Baltimore won’t be pretty this season. How can it be after the Orioles lost Manny Machado midway through last year, only to watch veteran outfielder Adam Jones sign with the Diamondbacks six months later? Off the field, things look much-improved following the signing of new General Manager Brandon Hyde. The Orioles also hired Mike Elias as their Head of Baseball Operations – the man largely responsible for bringing the Astros their first-ever World Series championship. The new front office will be happy to accrue draft picks over the next several seasons, and hopefully, add to their growing list of prospects inside the Top 100.

Best Bet: Under 59.5 Wins

To Win the AL East: $101.00

Boston Red Sox

World Series: $6.50

Boston got down to business this offseason by signing free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi to a lavish four-year, $68 million deal. They also reached out to first baseman Steve Pearce on a one-year contract, but there’s been no such love for reliever Craig Kimbrel. Boston could reunite with their long-time closer at some point, but until then, there’s still plenty of concerns surrounding the bullpen. Offensively things look sound, which is about what you’d expect after leading the league in runs scored and RBI’s last season. Even so, ask the Cubs what your chances are of repeating with a below average bullpen. Boston might need to get busy in the trade market early.

Best Bet: Under 94.5 Wins

To Win the AL East: $2.25

New York Yankees

World Series: $7.50

The Yankees lucked out in the Bryce Harper/Manny Machado sweepstakes, but they still managed to address their most glaring need this offseason: pitching. Despite finishing 2018 with the fourth-lowest bullpen ERA (3.38), the Yankees re-signed lefty Zach Britton to a three-year deal while also adding Adam Ottavino to the fray. Ottavino posted the eighth-highest strikeout percentage among relievers in 2018, which should comfort newly signed starters J.A. Happ and James Paxton. The health of Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorious is paramount if New York wishes to keep in touch with the Red Sox, but luckily, there is a Plan B. New York added even more depth by signing DJ LeMahieu and Brett Gardner to short-term contracts, a nice insurance plan when the inevitable injury bug strikes.

Best Bet: Over 96.5 Wins

To Win the AL East: $1.81

Tampa Bay Rays

World Series: $51.00

The Rays’ 90-win season last year has raised a few eyebrows across the division. Tampa Bay know full well they are competing for nothing more than a Wild Card spot, but this time around, there’s actual reason for optimism. The Rays added outfielder Avisail Garcia on a one-year contract, a potential bounce-back candidate after batting .330/.380/.506 with 18 home runs two years ago. Tampa also upgraded their rotation by adding Charlie Morton, a bold move considering the 35-year-old’s lengthy shoulder concerns. Finally, free agent catcher Mike Zunino rounds out what was a busy offseason. Not only does the 27-year-old add plenty of plus power with the bat, but the experienced pitch-framer should also compliment last year’s AL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell nicely.

Best Bet: Over 84.5 Wins

To Win the AL East: $9.00

Toronto Blue Jays

World Series: $251.00

At some point this season the Blue Jays should be fun. After suffering an oblique injury in the Spring, we’ll have to wait an extra few weeks to see No.1 overall prospect Vlad Guerrero Jr. take the field. Not to worry though, the youngster should make his way to the show sometime in May, followed by No. 11 prospect Bo Bichette not long after. Expectations are low this season for the Jays as they continue to rebuild. The only headline they made this offseason was signing veteran pitcher Matt Shoemaker to a one-year deal, but with the best farm system in the league, there should be plenty of subplots to keep an eye on.

Best Bet: Under 74.5 Wins

To Win the AL East: $31.00

American League Central

 

Still searching for their first World Series title since 1948, the Indians’ championship window looks to be closing after a quiet offseason.

Chicago White Sox

World Series: $81.00

Chicago is still licking their wounds after coming up short in the Bryce Harper/Manny Machado bidding wars.  By compiling a variety of long-term prospects though, the White Sox remain a team on the rise that should be worth backing in the Over/Under market. Yoan Moncada, who now enters his third year in the Majors, looks poised for bigger and brighter things this season after slashing .235 and a career-high 17 home runs last year. There’s also a case to be made for the starting rotation made up of Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodon, and Reynaldo Lopez. All three are under the age of 26 as they prepare to enter their prime.

Best Bet: Over 74.5 Wins

To Win the AL Central: $11.00

Cleveland Indians

World Series: $13.00

For a team that’s won 90+ games in each of its last three seasons, the Indians sure stayed quiet during the offseason. Long-time slugger Edwin Encarnarcion’s power has been swapped for the defensive metrics of Carlos Santana, but aside from that, Cleveland stayed sleepy throughout the winter. The Indians have glaring needs in the outfield after losing Michael Brantley to the Astros, while their bullpen looks a major point of concern following Cody Allen and Andrew Miller’s departures. To make matters worse, All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor is battling a calf injury, one that could cause problems as the season goes on.

Best Bet: Under 91.5 Wins

To Win the AL Central: $1.35

Detroit Tigers

World Series: $201.00

Don’t be confused by General Manager Alex Avila’s generous cash-drops this offseason. He’s spent over $15.5 million on one-year deals, but if he can somehow squeeze some production out of Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison, Avila might be able to turn them for prospects at the trade deadline. Detroit should occupy the basement of this division given their lack of starting pitching and overall talent. Nicholas Castellanos also remains a name to watch at the deadline after the right fielder expressed his desire to be traded this offseason.

Best Bet: Under 68.5 Wins

To Win the AL Central: $51.00

Kansas City Royals

World Series: $251.00

Royals General Manager Dayton Moore took a very similar approach to the Tigers. Kansas City reached out to Billy Hamilton, Chris Owings, Jake Diekman, Terrance Gore, and Brad Boxberger, signing all five to one-year “prove it” deals. The Royals ranked sixth in stolen bases last year, so adding a speedster like Hamilton certainly helps. Boxberger, meanwhile, could turn out to be a steal should he post similar numbers to his first half in Arizona last year. Aside from the newbies, there’s no getting past the fact Kansas City ranked bottom five in home runs in 2018. Perhaps the long-awaited breakout from Jorge Soler could change that, but don’t expect much else from the Royals anytime soon.

Best Bet: Under 69.5 Wins

To Win the AL Central: $51.00

Minnesota Twins

World Series: $67.00

The Twins flashed some cash this offseason. By signing Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, Marwin Gonzalez and Ronald Torreyes, Minnesota have opened up a small window to contend for a Wild Card spot, or even better, the AL Central crown. Power has eluded the Twins in recent years, so Cruz in the DH spot could pay big dividends if he stays healthy and smacks 30 home runs for the sixth straight year. Minnesota also got lucky claiming CJ Cron off waivers, leaving them with plenty of pieces to rely on down the stretch. All the Twins need now is a consistent season from Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi to put the pressure on the Indians.

Best Bet: Over 83.5 Wins

To Win the AL Central: $3.60

American League West

 

Angels outfielder Mike Trout signed a 12-year, $430 million contract extension on Wednesday, a deal that sees him become the highest-paid player annually.

Houston Astros

World Series: $7.00

Out with the old and in with the new? The Astros waved goodbye to both of their catchers this offseason, hardly an ideal situation considering Brian McCann is considered one of the best pitch framers in the league. Pitcher Charlie Morton also departed for the Rays, but the good news is the Astros landed outfielder Michael Brantley, giving them some much-needed depth after losing Marwin Gonzalez. Former ace Dallas Keuchel remains unsigned, leaving Houston’s rotation looking a little thin with Lance McCullers set to miss the season following Tommy John surgery. The likes of Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock will need to step up on the mound, while a healthy season from shortstop Carlos Correa could go a long way towards a third-straight ALCS appearance.

Best Bet: Under 96.5 Wins

To Win the AL West: $1.20

Los Angeles Angels

World Series: $46.00

It’s a new era in Anaheim. After 18-years at the helm, long-time manager Mike Scioscia has been replaced by Brad Ausmus, and with it comes a fresh new look to a club that hasn’t made the postseason since 2014. Missing out on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado is one thing, but at least the Angels got busy adding some depth. A one-year deal for closer Cody Allen should help put an end to a disastrous bullpen that recorded the fifth-fewest saves last year, while Matt Harvey’s 12-month contract could pay off in return. Justin Bour is perhaps the most exciting signing of the offseason – aside from Mike Trout’s record-breaking extension, of course. People forget Bour hit 25 home runs two seasons ago, and he should fill in nicely for the oft-injured Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani at first base. After wasting so many years of Trout’s prime, the Angels present as a team that could win something close to 90-games. It’s just unfortunate that won’t be enough to secure a Wild Card spot.

Best Bet: Over 82.5 Wins

To Win the AL West: $7.50

Oakland A's

World Series: $26.00

A year on from their 97-win season, the A’s roll into 2019 hoping the offense can do the talking. Oakland got busy during the offseason trading for Jurickson Profar in the hopes of replacing Jed Lowrie, a move that basically swaps one 20 home run hitter for another. Profar’s upside is obvious, especially in the steals department. And after so many years buried on the Rangers’ depth chart, he should relish everyday playing time. Elsewhere, the A’s failed to upgrade their rotation, but they did stabilize the bullpen by adding Joakim Soria. Unfortunately, with the starting rotation hinging on 33-year-old Mike Fiers, the A’s figure as nothing more than a fringe Wild Card team for the second year in a row.

Best Bet: Under 83.5 Wins

To Win the AL West: $8.50

Seattle Mariners

World Series: $51.00

Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto deserves some kind of award if the Mariners turn this long rebuild into something meaningful. Nobody has made more trades than Dipoto over the last two years, but the decision to completely blow up the roster this offseason was a long time coming. Gone are fan favourites Edwin Diaz, Jean Segura, Nelson Cruz, Mike Zunino, and James Paxton. In return, the Mariners added notable names like Mallex Smith and Edwin Encarnacion, but the biggest get this offseason had to be Japanese pitching sensation Yusei Kukuchi.

Best Bet: Over 71.5 Wins

To Win the AL West: $41.00

Texas Rangers

World Series: $201.00

The Rangers continue to give their fans very little to cheer for. The biggest news of the offseason was the signing of Lance Lynn to a three-year contract, a strong deal for a reliable starting pitcher who’s thrown over 150 innings in each of the last six years. Texas didn’t want to spend big during the winter, instead focusing on gathering top prospects, something the Rangers’ farm system sorely needs. The club currently has only two players on MLB.com’s Top 100 list (Julio Pablo Martinez, Cole Winn), while the further development of Nomar Mazara remains a priority.

Best Bet: Under 71.5 Wins 

To Win the AL West: $34.00

National League East

 

The Phillies firmed from $15.00 into $12.00 for the World Series after signing superstar free agent Bryce Harper.

Atlanta Braves

Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has played this offseason perfectly. Atlanta was one of several teams to shy away from Bryce Harper’s long-term demands, instead focusing on one-year deals for guys like Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis. The Donaldson deal is by far the most fascinating. Now at age 33, the Braves will be hoping the veteran slugger can bounce-back from last year’s calf injury that cost him 110-games. Since 2015, Donaldson ranks inside the Top 20 in home runs and OBP, so it goes without saying how valuable he could be to the Braves’ chances. After striking out on adding depth to the rotation though, it remains to be seen if the bats of Donaldson, Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna can carry this team further than the NLDS.

Best Bet: Under 85.5 Wins

To Win the NL East: $4.33

Miami Marlins

World Series: $201.00

The new Marlins ownership has just about cleaned house. Miami traded catcher J.T. Realmuto to the rival Phillies in exchange for a trio of prospects. Sixto Sanchez, the sixth-best right-handed pitcher according to MLB.com’s prospect list, was a huge get for a team sorely lacking talented arms in the minors. The Marlins will now look to replace Realmuto’s power with Neil Walker, who was the clubs only noteworthy free agent signing of the winter. A year after finishing with the third-worst record in baseball, the Marlins should occupy the basement of the standings, just like their home attendance record.

Best Bet: Under 62.5 Wins

To Win the NL East: $151.00

New York Mets

World Series: $26.00

The Mets deserve an A+ for their efforts this offseason. New York improved their offense dramatically by adding Robinson Cano, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos, while the rotation received a much-needed touch-up in the form of returning reliever Jeurys Familia and former Mariner Edwin Diaz. The Mets are a huge threat to challenge for the division crown this season, but off the field, they’ve also improved long term. The hiring of new General Manager Brodie Van Wagen should keep New York aggressive in free agency for years to come.

Best Bet: Over 85.5 Wins

To Win the NL East: $4.50

Philadelphia Phillies

World Series: $12.00

Are the Phillies on a one-way path to titletown? Landing Bryce Harper means they’ve won the offseason, but there still might be some growing pains ahead. Alongside Harper, the Phillies also added J.T. Realmuto, and the scary thing is, there’s still money left over to sign a guy like Dallas Keuchel. It’s worth remembering that by the All-Star break last year, the Phillies sat 52-42 leading the NL East, only to fade over the second half and miss the playoffs altogether. How this team gels over 162-games remains to be seen, but manager Gabe Kapler has a variety of pieces to play with now, including Harper, Realmuto and reliable veterans like Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen.

Best Bet: Over 89.5 Wins 

To Win the NL East: $2.90

Washington Nationals

World Series: $23.00

The Nationals dipped their toe in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes but came up short. The good news is they reeled in one of the best starting pitchers in the game in Patrick Corbin, locking him up on a cool six-year, $140 million contract. After allowing the ninth-most home runs last years, it’s safe to say pitching has been a grey area for the Nats recently. You could say the same at catcher, but at least Washington managed to sign Kurt Suzuki to replace the departing Wilson Ramos. Losing Harper, the face of the franchise, is a tough blow for the Nationals, but they present as an interesting Wild Card team if they can play with a chip on their shoulder. The addition of Victor Robles at some point should add another promising young bat to compliment 20-year-old sensation Juan Soto.

Best Bet: Over 88.5 Wins

To Win the NL East: $3.00

National League Central

 

After missing 60-games last year with a shoulder injury, the Cubs will be relying on the health of star third baseman Kris Bryant as they look to return to the NLCS.

Chicago Cubs

World Series: $13.00

Since the start of last season, the Cubs were rumored to be among the favourites to land Bryce Harper. That didn’t happen, and neither did Manny Machado, or any other big name free agent for that matter. Instead, the cashed-up Cubs sat on their hands all winter long, ignoring the glaring need to replenish the bullpen. To be fair, Chicago did sign Brad Brach, but it appears as though President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is banking on a bounce-back from his talented young roster. Three years after winning the World Series, the Cubs are now the second-oldest team in baseball, with their youngest starting pitcher being Kyle Hendricks, who is 29. Perhaps you could say Chicago deserves the benefit of the doubt, though. Keep in mind, this team has won 90-plus games in four-straight seasons.

Best Bet: Over 88.5 Wins

To Win the NL Central: $2.80

Cincinnati Reds

World Series: $101.00

An aggressive approach this winter has the Reds looking a little frisky this season. Cincinnati got busy planning for a short-term postseason push by trading for outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, two serious home run hitters that should relish in the generous confines of Great American Ball Park. Pitching was at the top of the Reds’ wish list, and although Cincinnati lucked out on signing a big-name ace, they did manage to land Sonny Gray in a trade with the Yankees. The 29-year-old was a rollercoaster in New York, but if he can reestablish some command and limit the walks like he did in 2017, the Reds could cause a few problems in the Central this year. And that’s without even mentioning No. 6 overall prospect Nick Senzel.

Best Bet: Over 78.5 Wins

To Win the NL Central: $14.00

Milwaukee Brewers

World Series: $13.00

Nothing came easy for the Brewers last year, clinching the NL Central in a one-game playoff against the Cubs. They’ll likely be in for an equally tight race this year, which is why General Manager David Stearns got to work signing catcher Yasmani Grandal and the ever-reliable Mike Moustakas to one-year contracts. Much of Milwaukee’s season will hinge on the NL’s reigning MVP Christian Yelich, and while it is a flawed statistic, the bullpen will also be relied upon after ranking third in wins last year. The Brewers set the bar high ranking second in defensive runs saved in 2018, now they need to find a way to repeat that success.

Best Bet: Under 84.5 Wins

To Win the NL Central: $3.30

Pittsburgh Pirates

World Series: $67.00

The Pirates retain a fairly similar roster to the one they fielded in 2018. For a team that was active during last year’s trade deadline, Pittsburgh stayed quiet this offseason, with the only signing of note coming in the form Lonnie Chisenhall’s one-year deal. The Pirates finished fourth in the Central last year despite posting a winning record of 82-79. They’ll rely on Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer and the rest of their promising young rotation to carry them to another 80-win season.

Best Bet: Over 77.5 Wins

To Win the NL Central: $15.00

St. Louis Cardinals

World Series: $17.00

After missing the playoffs for the third year in a row, you just knew the Cardinals were going to make some moves this winter. The biggest get was Paul Goldschmidt, who is arguably the games top first baseman. Despite popular opinion, St. Louis didn’t struggle on offense last year – in fact, they ranked inside the Top 10 in home runs and RBIs. Goldschmidt’s addition should only inflate those numbers, while St. Louis also made perhaps the most underrated move of the entire offseason by signing lefty reliever Andrew Miller to a two-year contract.

Best Bet: Over 87.5 Wins

To Win the NL Central: $2.90

National League West

 

Six-time Gold Glover Nolen Arenado is among the early favourites for this year’s NL MVP award.

Arizona Diamondbacks

World Series: $41.00

Arizona’s fire sale was perhaps the biggest storyline of the entire offseason. Not only did the DBacks ship Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis, they also parted ways with ace Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollock. The good news is the Diamondbacks replenished their stocks by adding starting pitcher Luke Weaver in the Goldschmidt trade, while the addition of Greg Holland in the bullpen could also provide some value if he reverts back to his 2017 form. Overall though, the Diamondbacks are relying on a lot of “what-ifs” only a year after narrowly missing the playoffs. After trading away the face of the franchise, don’t be surprised if DBack fans are a little touchy this season.

Best Bet: Under 75.5 Wins

To Win the NL West: $21.00

Colorado Rockies

World Series: $29.00

Two things were at the forefront of General Manager Jeff Bridich’s mind this offseason: extend star third baseman Nolan Arenado and add some depth to the offense. Colorado accomplished both of those goals, firstly by signing second baseman Daniel Murphy to a two-year contract in December. Since his rookie year in 2008, Murphy ranks inside the Top 20 among second baseman in home runs, RBI’s and walks, despite playing only 91-games. The Rockies then got to work on Nolan Arenado, signing him to an eight-year, $260,000 extension in early March. Like every other year, the Rockies will rely on B-grade starters German Marquez and Jon Gray on the mound, but there’s no reason Colorado can’t challenge the Dodgers for the division crown. Contributions from young players like David Dahl and Brendan Rodgers could easily see the Rockies win north of 90 games for the second-straight year.

Best Bet: Over 84.5 Wins

To Win the NL West: $5.00

Los Angeles Dodgers

World Series: $8.00

A second consecutive World Series defeat had the Dodgers thinking big picture this offseason. Los Angeles came up short in the Harper/Machado bidding, but that isn’t to say the Dodgers walked away empty-handed. The most notable signing was A.J. Pollock on a four-year deal. The star outfielder hit a career-high 21 home runs last year, but his growing strikeout and plummeting walk rates remain a concern. In other news, the Dodgers also said goodbye to fan favourite Yasiel Puig, as well as Matt Kemp, and most importantly, catcher Yasmani Grandal. The Dodgers have won the NL West in six consecutive seasons, but this is perhaps the most “glass half empty” we’ve felt about them. Clayton Kershaw starting the season on the injured list alongside Corey Seager is also of concern.

Best Bet: Under 94.5 Wins

To Win the NL West: $1.25

San Diego Padres

World Series: $51.00

Even after landing free agent Manny Machado on a 10-year deal, the general consensus seems to be that the Padres are still two years away from contending. Machado adds some much-needed power to a team that finished third-last in runs scored last season, leaving the future looking bright once No. 2 overall prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. arrives in the Majors. The Machado-Tatis partnership means the Padres should develop into an elite defensive team in the years to come, but for the time being, San Diego continues to preach patience. The starting rotation, led by Joey Lucchesi, still needs a major upgrade, and although the likes of Machado, Wil Myers, and Eric Hosmer should keep the Padres in their fair share of games, don’t expect a playoff berth just yet.

Best Bet: Over 78.5 Wins

To Win the NL West: $13.00

San Francisco Giants

World Series: $67.00

Five years on from winning the World Series, suddenly the Giants are confronted with what looks to be a long, cold rebuild. San Francisco threw the kitchen sink at Bryce Harper, offering him a 10-year deal north of $300 million. With very little optimism surrounding San Francisco’s winning chances however, Harper decided to pass in favour of greener pastures. The Giants’ only real “get” this offseason was appointing Farhan Zaidi as the new President of Baseball Operations. Other than that, the Giants and their bottom rank farm system have a very long road ahead.

Best Bet: Under 73.5 Wins

To Win the NL West: $34.00

Tips, recommendations and commentary are for entertainment only. We provide no warranty about accuracy or completeness. You should make your own assessment before placing a bet.