2020 MLB Preview: American League

KeithAllisonPhoto.com with permission

Carter Mitchell, Staff Writer

Make sure you check out the preview on the National League if you haven’t already!

American League East

1. New York Yankees

Last Season: 103-59

Key Additions: Gerrit Cole

Key Losses: Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorious, Edwin Encarnacion

The Yankees addressed their biggest need this offseason, which was starting pitching. They didn’t just get a viable starter; they got one of the best pitchers in the entire MLB in Gerrit Cole. The Yankees still lost some key players in reliever Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorious, and Edwin Encarnacion. Even with these losses, the Yankees should be able to replace these guys. The success of this team will all depend on the health of the group. The Yankees were plagued with injuries all last season, and if they stay healthy, they have enough talent to win the World Series.

2. Tampa Bay Rays

Last Season: 96-66

Key Additions: Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Hunter Renfroe, Jose Martinez, Manuel Margot

Key Losses: Travis d’Arnaud, Avisail Garcia, Tommy Pham, Emilio Pagan

The Rays focused on adding some power to their lineup this off-season. They added Jose Martinez and Hunter Renfroe through trades and acquired Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo in free agency. They still boast one of the best pitching staffs in the league, which should carry them to compete for another wild card spot and potentially give the Yankees some problems in the division. Even with the Rays being contenders now, the Rays’ best years are still ahead of them as they also have one of the best farm systems in the league, which should be great for a long time.

3. Boston Red Sox

Last Season: 84-78

Key Additions: Alex Verdugo, Kevin Pillar 

Key Losses: Mookie Betts, David Price 

The Red Sox took a big step back this off-season. They traded one of the best players in baseball, Mookie Betts, away for Alex Verdugo and some young prospects. Even with this trade, the Red Sox still have some talented players left from their world series team in 2018. Competing for a wildcard spot is not out of the picture but will undoubtedly prove difficult for this squad. The Red Sox appear to be headed in the wrong direction for the future.

4. Toronto Blue Jays

Last Season: 67-95

Key Additions: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Travis Shaw, Chase Anderson, Tanner Roark, Shun Yamaguchi

Key Losses: None

The Blue Jays made some big additions to their pitching staff in the off-season and added 2019 MLB ERA leader Hyun-Jin Ryu as well as veteran Tanner Roark and Japanese pitcher Shun Yamaguchi. They also signed Travis Shaw who dealt with injuries all of last year and could be a good signing if he bounces back to his old self. They have some emerging young players in Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio. The Blue Jays probably won’t contend for a playoff spot yet but could make some noise sooner than expected.

5. Baltimore Orioles

Last Season: 54-108

Key Additions: Jose Iglesias

Key Losses: Jonathan Villar

The Orioles were pretty quiet this offseason as expected. They lost one of their better players from last year in Jonathan Villar to free agency and signed Jose Iglesias to replace him essentially. The Orioles are still in the midst of a massive rebuild and should struggle for years to come. The only positive that this team has going for them is their farm system, along with a few talented young players. This team could be worse than their 54 wins last season. I wouldn’t expect anything other than a last-place finish from this team.

American League Central

1. Minnesota Twins

Last Season: 101-61

Key Additions: Rich Hill, Homer Bailey, Kenta Maeda, Josh Donaldson

Key Losses: CJ Cron, Kyle Gibson

The Twins had a successful offseason by adding one of the best third basemen in the game in Josh Donaldson via free agency. They also traded for Kenta Maeda to help a good pitching rotation from last season. This might not make their pitching staff championship caliber but the offense certainly is. The Twins offense made history last season slugging the most home runs in a single season in MLB history. If the offense is anything like last year the Twins should be headed back to the playoffs with a division title.

2. Cleveland Indians

Last Season: 93-69

Key Additions: Cesar Hernandez, Domingo Santana, Emmanuel Clase, Delino DeShields

Key Losses: Corey Kluber

The Indians were much better than expected last season and competed for a wildcard spot in the AL. Emerging star Shane Bieber looks like he could be Cleveland’s next ace pitcher now that Corey Kluber is gone. The left side of the infield appears to be one of the best in the MLB next season with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, which should headline the lineup. If the pitching staff is similar to last year, the Indians could contend for another playoff spot and challenge the Twins.

3. Chicago White Sox

Last Season: 72-89

Key Additions: Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion, Gio Gonzalez, Steve Cishek, Nomar Mazara

Key Losses: Ivan Nova

The White Sox had one of the best offseasons in the entire league. They added one of the best catchers in the MLB, Yasmani Grandal, to help develop a young pitching staff and also added veteran pitcher Dallas Keuchel to guide this staff. The additions of Encarnacion and Mazara add instant home run threats to a young lineup. The Sox made some massive upgrades this offseason, and if the pitching staff can make some improvements from last season, the White Sox could potentially compete for a divisional title.

4. Kansas City Royals

Last Season: 59-103

Key Additions: None

Key Losses: None

The Royals are in the midst of a rebuild and have been on a steady decline since their world series win in 2015. The two bright spots from the Royals are Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler. Merrifield led the league in hits, and Soler slugged 48 homers last season. Overall, the team did absolutely nothing this offseason and should be just as bad as last year. I would expect a 4th or 5th place finish in the division from the Royals.

5. Detroit Tigers

Last Season: 47-114

Key Additions: Ivan Nova, CJ Cron, Austin Romine

Key Losses: None

The Tigers were quiet this offseason as expected. They signed veteran pitcher Ivan Nova and catcher Austin Romine. The Tigers have some good prospects, like former top pick Casey Mize, but they shouldn’t be a factor for a couple of years. Maybe in a few years, this team can return to greatness and become a factor in the race for a title. I would expect a 4th or 5th place finish for this team who should struggle mightily yet again.

American League West

1. Houston Astros

Last Season: 107-55

Key Additions: Jared Hughes, Austin Pruitt

Key Losses: Gerrit Cole, Will Harris, Jake Marisnick, Collin McHugh, Wade Miley, Aaron Sanchez, Robinson Chirinos

Despite all of the offseason controversy surrounding the Astros, they still have one of the best teams in the league. It was expected that Gerrit Cole would leave in free agency, but letting Wade Miley and Will Harris walk was questionable. They didn’t do much to strengthen their bullpen, which was their biggest need this offseason. I would expect the core of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Yordan Alvarez to be able to carry the Astros back to the playoffs and compete for another world series.

2. Los Angeles Angels

Last Season: 72-90

Key Additions: Anthony Rendon, Julio Teheran, Dylan Bundy

Key Losses: None

The Angels added one of the best players in the MLB, Anthony Rendon, in free agency. With Trout and Rendon at the top of the lineup, scoring runs shouldn’t be an issue this season. Signing Julio Teheran and trading for Dylan Bundy could help out the starting rotation, but until they have a real ace, it will be tough for the Angels to keep up with the Astros. I’d expect the Angels to compete for a wildcard spot, but I don’t think they can pass up the Astros.

3. Oakland Athletics

Last Season: 97-65

Key Additions: Tony Kemp, Jake Diekman

Key Losses: Jurickson Profar

The Athletics stayed quiet this offseason, like usual. They are returning almost their whole team from a 97 win team last year. Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman give the A’s one of the best-left sides of the infield in all of the MLB and should be very productive again this season. I have the Athletics finishing 3rd in the division, but I think they have a better chance to dethrone the Astros then the Angels do.

4. Texas Rangers

Last Season: 78-84

Key Additions: Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles, Joely Rodriguez, Robinson Chirinos, Todd Frazier

Key Losses: None

The Rangers made a lot of moves this season and should be pretty competitive this year. The Corey Kluber trade appears to be a steal at the moment for the Rangers and signing Kyle Gibson, Robinson Chirinos, and Todd Frazier are all big pickups. After a surprisingly decent 2019 campaign, the Rangers didn’t lose anybody and added a lot. They should be able to get above .500, but I don’t think they will be able to keep up with the other teams in the division. I’d expect a 4th place finish in the West.

5. Seattle Mariners

Last Season: 68-94

Key Additions: Nestor Cortes Jr., Carl Edwards Jr.

Key Losses: Omar Narvaez

The Mariners were one of the quietest teams in the entire league this offseason and appear to be a few years away from their rebuild being complete. They hold one of the top farm systems in the MLB, which could be very good in a few years if the talent that they have can keep developing. The Mariners probably won’t be a factor this season, but the future looks bright. I wouldn’t expect anything other than a last-place finish for this season, but I would keep an eye on the Mariners for the future.