TBTBB's 2017 MLB Season Preview

Here are our final 2017 MLB predictions! Scroll down to read them all, or click the links for specific divisions.






EAST DIVISION

1. Boston Red Sox




Key AcquisitionsSP Chris SaleRP Tyler Thornburg1B Mitch Moreland

Key LossesDH David Ortiz

Outlook: Boston made arguably the winter's biggest move, acquiring ace Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox for a package headlined by top prospect 2B Yoan Moncada. Thornburg was great last season and should help off-set the loss of several veteran relievers. Moreland is a solid signing with very little risk as it's just a one-year deal.

David Price's health is going to be something to watch closely over the first month of the season, but if he can remain healthy the Red Sox should have a fairly easy path to a division title this year. Thankfully for the rest of the division, injuries are always a big part of the game.

Even if Price does manage to pitch for the full season, his elbow issues aren't going to go away. He's likely going to need some kind of major surgery in the near future, and if I had to guess, I'd say he gets shut down at some point this season. Even without Price, I think Boston is the favorite.


2. New York Yankees





Key Acquisitions: CL Aroldis Chapman, OF/DH Matt Holiday

Key Losses: C Brian McCann

Outlook: Just months after dealing flamethrowing left-hander Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees decided to bring back their former closer via free agency. They paid a premium, giving him $86 million over 5 years, but he's one of the game's best closers and can be a difference maker in the post-season. The Yankees are hoping that Matt Holliday can remain a productive player for at least one more season.

The emergence of catcher Gary Sanchez gives the Yankees a potential young star to build around, and with plenty of other young talent expected to arrive in the Bronx before the end of the season, we should get a glimpse of the future of the American League East. Sanchez's performance last season allowed the Yankees to trade catcher Brian McCann this off-season to the Houston Astros. The Yankees are still likely at least a season away from truly contending, but they should be a solid team this season.

3. Toronto Blue Jays



Key Acquisitions: 1B/DH Kendrys MoralesIF/OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr

Key Losses: 3B Edwin EncarnacionSP R.A. DickeyRP Brett CecilRP Joaquin Benoit

Outlook: For the Blue Jays, losing the power hitting Edwin Encarnacion to the defending American League Champion Cleveland Indians is a big loss. However, retaining long-time star Jose Bautista on a one-year deal comes with very little risk, and if Kendrys Morales can hit like he has the past two seasons () he can help off-set the Encarnacion loss.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is a 23-year-old highly regarded import from Cuba capable of playing every position but catcher. He's certainly not going to be an everyday shortstop, but could play there in a pinch. His positional versatility should give him plenty of opportunities to show the team he's ready to be an impact player.

4. Baltimore Orioles



Key AcquisitionsC Welington Castillo

Key Losses: C Matt Wieters

Outlook: The Orioles did very little this off-season, as they focused on retaining their own players and didn't bring in a lot of new talent. For a team that won 89 games last season and has some very impressive young talent, it might not be a bad strategy. Unfortunately, their division looks stronger than last season, so 89 wins may be a difficult task to repeat with their current roster.

Replacing long-time backstop Matt Wieters with Welington Castillo is a slight upgrade in my opinion, but both players are very similar regardless. Castillo came at a better price than Wieters, so it really was an easy decision for the Orioles.





Key Acquisitions: C Wilson RamosOF Colby RasmusSP Jose De Leon

Key Losses2B Logan ForsytheSP Drew Smyly

Outlook: The Rays have some solid young players and made a very solid trade this off-season in trading Logan Forsythe to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for top pitching prospect Jose De Leon. Forsythe has been a good player over the past two seasons but is unlikely to be a useful player when the Rays are finally ready to contend again.

Drew Smyly was awful last season so his departure might be addition by subtraction, but he was a solid pitcher prior to last season. Wilson Ramos is expected to miss at least part of this season with a torn ACL, but the Rays maintain a team option on him for next season. If Ramos can return to the player he was prior to the injury, the Rays got a steal at the price they paid him.

Colby Rasmus is unlikely to make a huge difference in the win column, but he's a solid veteran capable of playing all three outfield positions. If he can have a good first half, expect the Rays to trade him by the deadline for some more youth. Given their financial restrictions and the relative strength of the AL East, the Rays had a solid off-season planning for the future.


CENTRAL DIVISION

1. Cleveland Indians



Key Acquisitions: 3B/DH Edwin EncarnacionRP Boone Logan

Key Losses: OF Rajai Davis1B/DH Mike Napoli

Outlook: The defending American League champions had a great winter on paper. In 2016, Cleveland got a .239/.335/.465 line from designated hitter Mike Napoli. He had a solid season, but this winter Cleveland was able to sign one of the few upgrades available in Edwin Encarnacion. The Indians return their entire pitching staff and will get a full season from relief ace Andrew Miller, and they added left-hander Boone Logan who's quietly been a very good reliever as well. In a very watered down AL central, Cleveland should be the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff birth this season.

2. Detroit Tigers



Key Acquisitions: None

Key Losses: CF Cameron Maybin

Outlook: There were rumblings at the beginning of the off-season that the Tigers were willing to trade any of their veterans, and a few executives expected them to blow up the roster. Unfortunately, most of their veterans drew little interest because of their massive salaries, and Detroit decided they'd rather keep these players then pay half of their salaries while they play elsewhere. The team didn't have much financial breathing room, so they did very little in the off-season. They brought back former Tigers Omar Infante and Alex Avila, but neither player is much of a difference maker at this point. The Tigers look like a .500 team at best, but a few bounce back seasons from veterans or a few lucky breaks could put them into the playoff race. Of course, injuries and more declining play from veterans could see the Tigers fall to dead last as well. It should be an interesting season if nothing else in Detroit.




Key Acquisitions: Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey, C Jason CastroRP Matt Belisle

Key Losses: None

Outlook: While Terry Ryan was widely praised around the league, Twins fans should know the game had simply outgrown him. Replacing him with a brilliant young CBO is a great move for an organization that badly needed it. With very little productive veterans, the team didn't lose anything of value this off-season. Jason Castro should help the pitching staff, and Belisle has been a solid reliever for years. Unfortunately, they chose not to address any other bullpen weaknesses, and barring several young players breaking out together this season, hovering around .500 seems like a best case scenario.

4. Kansas City Royals



Key Acquisitions: OF Jorge SolerOF Brandon MossSP Jason Hammel

Key Losses: CL Wade DavisSP Yordano Ventura

Outlook: To be clear, I think the Royals current roster is a better team than the Twins are likely to be this season. However, I expect them to sell off several key veterans at the deadline, which should result in a poor second-half showing. Unless they are clearly contending, they can't afford to just let their talented players leave via free agency for nothing in return. As a small market team, they could use an infusion of top prospects this summer. Hopefully they'll do better than the odd Wade Davis trade. Losing Yordano Ventura to a car crash in the Dominican Republic was a terrible tragedy that will likely effect the team all season.



Key Acquisitions: 2B Yoan MoncadaSP Michael KopechSP Lucas GiolitoSP Derek Holland

Key Losses: SP Chris SaleOF Adam Eaton

Outlook: After years of possessing one of the game's worst farm systems, the White Sox changed that in a matter of days this off-season when they traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox and then Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals. Both deals netted them top-100 prospects, and Yoan Moncada is one of the game's few truly elite prospects. The White Sox should be terrible this coming season, but the future looks much brighter than it has in past years and it should come sooner than expected thanks to the forward thinking trades.

WEST DIVISION

1. Houston Astros



Key Acquisitions: OF Josh ReddickDH Carlos BeltranC Brian McCann

Key Losses: RP Pat NeshekC Jason Castro3B Luis Valbuena

Outlook: The Astros decided to let catcher Jason Castro leave via free agency, and replaced him with former all-star Brian McCann in a trade with the New York Yankees. While McCann isn't quite the player he once was, he's still likely to be a significant upgrade over Castro. Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick give the offense even more firepower, and will more than make up for the lost home runs of Luis Valbuena. With several up and coming young stars and solid veterans filling out the roster, the Astros should be contending for the World Series this October.




Key Acquisitions: 1B/DH Mike Napoli

Key Losses: DH Carlos Beltran1B Mitch MorelandOF Ian Desmond

Outlook: Last off-season, the Texas Rangers were patient and eventually managed to land SS/OF Ian Desmond on a steal of a one-year deal, and he bounced back in a big way. He performed so well he priced himself out of the Rangers plans, but once again this off-season the team demonstrated patience and again it paid off. Despite losing Carlos Beltran to the divisional rival Houston Astros, the Rangers were able to sign Mike Napoli to a one-year deal to replace Beltran. Both players production should be similar, and Napoli got about half of what Beltran did. The Rangers should contend for the AL West crown all season.

3. Seattle Mariners



Key Acquisitions: SS Jean SeguraC Carlos RuizIF/OF Danny ValenciaSP Drew SmylySP Yovani Gallardo

Key Losses: SP Taijuan WalkerSS Ketel MarteOF Seth Smith

Outlook: The Mariners were quite busy on the trade market, bringing in several platoon players to help fill out their roster. Acquiring Jean Segura immediately after his breakout season may prove to be a mistake, but if he can perform like he did last season the trade is a good one. Even if he takes a step back, he's still a better player than Ketel Marte. Ruiz, Valencia, Smyly and Gallardo, along with Jarrod Dyson, help bring veteran stability and a lot of capable depth. This team lacks the kind of star power they would need to truly contend, but a solid off-season has put them within striking distance of a playoff birth.

4. Los Angeles Angels



Key Acquisitions: 3B Luis ValbuenaOF Cameron Maybin2B/SS Danny Espinosa

Key Losses: SP Jered Weaver

Outlook: Long-time Angel Jered Weaver was no longer a productive player, but he'd been a fixture in the Angels rotation for years. Losing a fan favorite and franchise icon like Weaver is never easy, even if they're clearly not that kind of player anymore. Years of signing aging veterans in free agency have left the Angels unable to compete despite having the game's best player in Mike Trout. Barring some older veterans turning back the clock, the Angels are unlikely to contend this season, wasting another year of Trout's prime. What a shame.

5. Oakland Athletics



Key Acquisitions: OF Rajai DavisOF Matt JoyceRP Santiago Casilla3B Trevor Plouffe

Key Losses: IF/OF Danny Valencia

Outlook: The A's were among the league's worst teams last season, and despite some hope in the not-so-distant future, the team is unlikely to contend at all this season. The team made several low-risk, low-cost signings as they tend to do. Former Twin Trevor Plouffe has proven to be a productive player when healthy, and could provide a lot of value for the $2.5 million he's making. Billy Beane and company are likely just hoping a few of the veterans can have good first half seasons so they can trade them for more youth. 




EAST DIVISION

1. Washington Nationals



Key Acquisitions: RP Joe BlantonC Matt Wieters1B Adam LindOF Adam Eaton

Key Losses: None

Outlook: Any team with a healthy Bryce Harper is going to be very good, and while the Nationals depth isn't ideal they have several star players that should allow them to reign supreme in the NL East this season. The Nationals were expected to spend big on a closer this offseason, but when the market for closers exploded, the team chose to sign Joe Blanton for a much better value. Wieters and Lind are solid veteran depth, while Eaton is one of the most underrated players in all of baseball. If they can remain healthy all season, they should cruise to an NL East title.

2. New York Mets



Key Acquisitions: None

Key Losses: SP Bartolo Colon

Outlook: With the team operating near it's payroll maximum, it was a very quiet off-season for Mets fans. The team brought back Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker, which would have been huge losses, but the salaries they commanded forced the team to part ways with Bartolo Colon. While the Mets rotation is very talented and capable of performing well without Colon, early injuries to their starting rotation likely has them wishing they had found a way to keep Bartolo. They appear to be a tier below Washington at this point, but that's why they play the games.




Key Acquisitions: SP Bartolo ColonSP RA DickeySP Jaime GarciaC Kurt Suzuki2B Brandon PhillipsIF Sean Rodriguez

Key Losses: None

Outlook: The Braves had a busy off-season as they tried to fill several holes with capable veterans for their inaugural season in their new ballpark, Suntrust Park. The team let several unproductive veterans go, opening the door for the team to sign and trade for who they did. After signing infielder Sean Rodriguez, he was injured in a car accident and may not play at all this season. That injury led to the team acquiring Brandon Phillips, who is a shell of his former self but brings some personality if nothing else. Colon, Dickey and Garcia will try to improve the team's starting rotation, but with defensive black hole Kurt Suzuki behind the plate, the pitchers will have their work cut out for them. With one of the game's top farm systems, years of contention seem right on the cusp, although it's likely a season away at least.




Key Acquisitions: SP Edinson VolquezRP Brad ZieglerRP Junichi Tazawa

Key Losses: RP Mike Dunn

Outlook: The Marlins went out and signed some solid veteran pitchers to fill out their staff, and while Mike Dunn has been a great reliever over the years, Ziegler and Tazawa are more than capable of performing in his place. Edinson Volquez is no longer the top tier starter he once was, but he's been solid the last few years and brings plenty of value. With an offense that should keep them in a lot of games, an improved pitching staff could make the Marlins a surprise contender this season if they can remain healthy.




Key Acquisitions: SP Clay BuchholzRP Pat NeshekRP Joaquin Benoit2B Howie KendrickOF Michael Saunders

Key Losses: 1B Ryan Howard

Outlook: Losing Ryan Howard won't hurt the team at all on the field, as his production has slipped considerably over the last few years. However, he's been the face of the franchise for over a decade and any Phillies team without Howard on it is going to take some getting used to. The Phillies added a handful of veterans that should make them a more competitive team, but they still appear to be the worst team in the East. With most of their offseason acquisitions on one year deals, several of these players could be playing elsewhere come July.

CENTRAL DIVISION

1. Chicago Cubs



Key Acquisitions: CL Wade DavisRP Koji UeharaOF Jon Jay

Key Losses: CL Aroldis ChapmanSP Jason HammelOF Dexter Fowler

Outlook: After breaking a 108-year World Series drought, the Cubs are the favorites to do it again this season. Theo Epstein was named the world's greatest leader by Fortune magazine; not just in baseball, but the greatest leader in the world at anything. And after bringing a championship to both Boston and Chicago, it's hard to argue. With an amazing group of young superstars and veteran standouts, the Cubs should be playing deep into October again. Acquiring Wade Davis for the yet-to-breakout Jorge Soler looks like a coup at this point, and gives them a capable replacement for the loss of Aroldis Chapman.



Key Acquisitions: RP Brett CecilOF Dexter Fowler

Key Losses: SP Jaime GarciaOF Matt HollidayOF Brandon Moss

Outlook: The Cardinals weren't expected to be very active in free agency as they didn't have a lot of needs or financial flexibility. However, they were able to sign a very good left handed reliever in Brett Cecil to strengthen their bullpen, and stealing Dexter Fowler from the division rival Chicago Cubs is going to pay huge dividends over a full season. Losing long-time Cardinal Matt Holliday is tough, but he's mostly a DH at this point and belonged in the American League. The team should compete with the Cubs for the division title.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates



Key Acquisitions: None

Key Losses: INF Sean Rodriguez

Outlook: Despite an offseason filled with trade rumors, the Pirates did very little this winter. The team had entertained the idea of trading franchise outfielder Andrew McCutchen, but his declining play in 2016 scared teams off and kept them from paying the ransom Pittsburgh was demanding. Despite the bland offseason, the Pirates could again field offers for McCutchen prior to the trading deadline. The Pirates have some good young talent, and with or without McCutchen they should be in contention for a wild card birth.


4. Cincinnati Reds



Key Acquisitions: RP Drew Storen

Key Losses: None

Outlook: The Reds had maybe the league's most boring off-season, replacing declining unproductive veterans with other declining, unproductive veterans. Saying Drew Storen was a "key acquisition" is a bit of a stretch, but if he can somehow return to the reliever he was just a few seasons ago, he'll have plenty of value. The Reds remain years from contention, but some growth from some of their younger players could go a long way toward an improved future.




Key Acquisitions: RP Neftali Feliz1B Eric Thames

Key Losses: RP Tyler Thornburg1B Chris Carter

Outlook: The Brewers elected to replace 1B Chris Carter and his 41 home runs with former big leaguer Eric Thames, who had excelled playing in Korea over the last few years. Retaining Carter through arbitration would've cost the team considerably more than the $5.5 million Thames is making, and the overall production should be similar. Thornburg had a very good season for Milwaukee in 2016, and while Feliz isn't quite the same talent he should provide similar production if he can stay healthy. Ultimately, the team is unlikely to contend this season which should make Ryan Braun the center of July trade rumors yet again.

WEST DIVISION

1. Los Angeles Dodgers



Key Acquisitions: 2B Logan ForsytheRP Sergio Romo


Key Losses: RP Joe BlantonRP JP Howell2B/OF Howie KendrickOF Josh Reddick

Outlook: With seemingly endless resources and one of the smartest front offices in the game, the Dodgers seem poised to remain atop the Western division for years to come. After flirting with a Brian Dozier acquisition all off-season, they eventually got tired of waiting on the Twins and simply moved on to Logan Forsythe. He's not quite on the same level as Dozier, but he's been a very good player over the last two seasons and should give them another above average starter. Sergio Romo remains effective and should help the team handle the losses of JP Howell and Joe Blanton.

Key Acquisitions: RP Mark Melancon3B Jae-Gyun Hwang

Key Losses: RP Sergio RomoRP Santiago CasillaOF Angel Pagan

Outlook: The Giants just keep on winning, always finding ways to replace moving parts. Melancon and Hwang should both provide upgrades for the team, and both have considerable potential to be very good at their respective positions. Losing Sergio Romo to their biggest rival is tough to handle, but thankfully Melancon is the better reliever at this point so they'll get over it. Despite the Dodgers endless resources, the Giants should at least contend for the division title.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks



Key Acquisitions: SS Ketel MarteSP Taijuan WalkerRP Fernando Rodney

Key Losses: C Welington Castillo2B/SS Jean Segura

Outlook: Trading infielder Jean Segura following his best season to this point was a very forward-thinking and smart move. His 2016 season had priced him out of the Diamondbacks budget, and there's no guarantee that his 2016 breakout was a sign of things to come. It's just as likely to be an outlier in my opinion. Now, Ketel Marte is likely nothing more than a utility player on a good team, and Taijuan Walker still needs to put all of his talent together, but long-term it could work out very well for Arizona. This season, however, they seem much more likely to battle for the cellar with San Diego and Colorado rather than somehow contending and competing with Los Angeles and San Francisco.


Key Acquisitions: None

Key Losses: C Derek Norris

Outlook: For Twins fans that may be angry or frustrated by the Twins lack of moves this off-season, it's important to remember that current Padres GM AJ Preller took the aggressive approach when he took over prior to the 2015 season. He made several poor moves, but most notably he traded Trea Turner and Joe Ross for Steven Souza and Travis Ott. That's the kind of trade even the AI in a video game wouldn't make. The Padres are still reeling from all of Preller's mistakes, and this season is not going to be the year they turn things around. The team was very conservative this offseason, which was probably the right decision. Thankfully, there's a lot to do in San Diego outside of sports, because the football team is gone and the baseball team is going to stink again.

5. Colorado Rockies



Key Acquisitions: IF/OF Ian DesmondRP Mike DunnRP Greg Holland

Key Losses: None

Outlook: The Rockies are expecting to contend this season after spending a fairly large amount of money this offseason. The team chose to keep it's expensive core in tact rather then entering a clear rebuild, so they decided to add Ian Desmond to a crowded outfield situation. Desmond is expected to play all around the diamond when healthy, although the Rockies expect first base to his main position. Desmond's value comes from his defensive position; as a center fielder or shortstop he's a well above average hitter. As a first baseman, he's overpaid. It's easier to find league average first baseman, obviously. Despite the Rockies belief that they'll contend, I expect them to be the division's worst team. They may not want to rebuild yet, but come July, they won't have much of a choice.