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American League East preview: Red Sox, Yankees teams to beat

UPDATED: Tue., March 26, 2019

Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts  gets loose before the start of a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins on March 13 in Fort Myers, Fla. (John Bazemore / AP)
Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts gets loose before the start of a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins on March 13 in Fort Myers, Fla. (John Bazemore / AP)
Associated Press

2018: 108-54, first place, World Series champions.

Manager: Alex Cora (second season).

He’s here: OF Gorkys Hernandez, RHP Jenrry Mejia.

He’s outta here: RHP Craig Kimbrel, RHP Joe Kelly, 2B Ian Kinsler.

Outlook: After a franchise-record 108 wins last season, the only box left for the Red Sox to check is back-to-back World Series championships. They haven’t done that since 1915-16.

New York Yankees

2018: 100-62, second place, wild card, lost to Boston in Division Series.

Manager: Aaron Boone (second season).

He’s here: LHP James Paxton, RHP Adam Ottavino, INF DJ LeMahieu, SS Troy Tulowitzki, LHP Gio Gonzalez.

He’s outta here: RHP David Robertson, OF Andrew McCutchen, RHP Sonny Gray, RHP Lance Lynn, INF Neil Walker, INF Ronald Torreyes, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, LHP Justus Sheffield.

Outlook: The Yankees set a major league record with 267 homers last year, three more than the 1997 Mariners, and if healthy for much of the season they could break the mark again. New York hopes a deep bullpen can overcome a rotation already reshuffled before Opening Day due to injuries. The Yankees also hope Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird rebound from dreadful seasons, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar have stellar sophomore campaigns, Giancarlo Stanton settles in after a subpar-for-him first season in pinstripes and Clint Frazier rebounds from a concussion that sidelined him for much of 2018.

Tampa Bay Rays

2018: 90-72, third place.

Manager: Kevin Cash (fifth season).

He’s here: RHP Charlie Morton, C Mike Zunino, OF Avisail Garcia, INF Yandy Diaz, OF Guillermo Heredia, RHP Emilio Pagan.

He’s outta here: Coaches Rocco Baldelli and Charlie Montoyo – left to become managers of the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively – OF Mallex Smith, 1B-OF Jake Bauers, RHP Sergio Romo, 1B C.J. Cron, RHP Chih-Wei Hu, OF Carlos Gomez, C Adam Moore, LHP Vidal Nuno.

Outlook: Winning 90 games despite a massive roster overhaul has heightened expectations for a young team that wants to prove last season wasn’t a fluke. The Rays went 41-25 after the All-Star break, including 19-9 in September, and feel they have everything necessary to close the distance between themselves and division rivals Boston and New York to contend for a playoff berth. The lineup will have a different look with the addition of Garcia and Zunino. Diaz and Austin Meadows are young players who will be given opportunities to make an impact, as will Tommy Pham, who hit .343 with seven homers and 22 RBIs over 39 games after being acquired from St. Louis in a trade.

Toronto Blue Jays

2018: 73-89, fourth place.

Manager: Charlie Montoyo (first season).

He’s here: RHP Clay Buchholz, INF Freddy Galvis, RHP Matt Shoemaker, RHP David Phelps, LHP Clayton Richard, RHP Bud Norris, RHP John Axford, INF Eric Sogard, RHP Jason Adam.

He’s outta here: Manager John Gibbons, C Russell Martin, RHP Marco Estrada, SS Troy Tulowitzki, INF Aledmys Diaz, INF Yangervis Solarte, RHP Oliver Drake, RHP Tyler Clippard, OF Dwight Smith Jr.

Outlook: The Blue Jays can expect some growing pains as they take the first steps of a youth movement and rebuild. The centerpiece is star prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who will miss the beginning of the season because of a strained left oblique.

Baltimore Orioles

2018: 47-115, fifth place, worst record in majors.

Manager: Brandon Hyde (first season).

He’s here: RH Nate Karns, INF Richie Martin, INF Rio Ruiz, C Jesus Sucre, INF Hanser Alberto, SS Alcides Escobar, OF Dwight Smith Jr., INF Drew Jackson.

He’s outta here: Manager Buck Showalter, OF Adam Jones, INF Tim Beckham, C Caleb Joseph, DH Pedro Alvarez, LHP Donnie Hart.

Outlook: The Orioles are in full rebuilding mode under Hyde and first-year GM Mike Elias. Untradable veterans Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo stand in the middle of a lineup filled with players learning on the job, although Jonathan Villar showed signs of promise after being acquired last summer from Milwaukee.

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