Teams in each division listed in projected order of finish.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
NEW YORK YANKEES
2019 record: 103-59 (first)
Outlook: Lifelong Yankees fan Gerrit Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA with the Astros) has arrived with a $342 million contract to boost the depleted starting rotation. But the team will miss SPs Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) and Domingo German (suspension). Slugging OFs Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton healed up during the break, and SS Gleyber Torres (.871 OPS, 90 RBIs) and 3B Gio Urshela (.889 OPS) can keep the offense humming.
What success looks like: The Yankees are spending big again, so it’s the World Series or bust for Team Steinbrenner.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
2019 record: 96-66 (second)
Outlook: Former Cardinals OF Jose Martinez should get plenty of DH work. OF Austin Meadows (.922 OPS, 89 RBIs) is a budding star, but can OF Hunter Renfroe or OF/INF Toshitomo Tsutsugo replace OF Tommy Pham’s offense? SPs Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.78 ERA in 12 starts) and Blake Snell could head a decent rotation, and RP Nick Anderson (3-0, 2.11 in 23 games) heads a deep bullpen that figures to support the team’s “opener” gimmick.
What success looks like: Another wild-card berth appears within reach for this scrappy low-revenue franchise.
BOSTON RED SOX
2019 record: 84-78 (third)
Outlook: SPs David Price and Rick Porcello are gone, SP Chris Sale underwent Tommy John surgery, and the Red Sox have rotation issues beyond 19-game winner Eduardo Rodriguez. OF Mookie Betts is gone, but Boston’s offense is still formidable with the likes of 3B Rafael Devers (.916 OPS, 116 RBIs), OF/DH J.D. Martinez (.939 OPS, 105 RBIs) and SS Xander Bogaerts (.939 OPS, 117 RBIs) leading the attack.
What success looks like: Respectability while retooling. That doesn’t excite the Boston fan base, but that’s the reality after the sign-stealing scandal hit and the team sent Betts and Price to the Dodgers to resolve their luxury tax dilemma.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
2019 record: 67-95 (fourth)
Outlook: The rotation will have a whole new look with SPs Chase Anderson (8-4, 4.21 ERA with the Brewers), Hyun-Jim Ryu (14-5, 2.32 with the Dodgers), Tanner Roark and Shun Yamaguchi. Young 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and SS Bo Bichette lead an offense that will pop some homers with 3B Travis Shaw, OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (.869 OPS) and former Cardinals OF Randal Grichuk (30 HR, 80 RBIs) swinging away.
What success looks like: With the rebuild continuing, the Blue Jays want to swap more veterans (closer Ken Giles?) for long-term assets while also finishing closer to .500.
2019 record: 54-108 (fifth)
Outlook: 1B Chris Davis (.179 BA, .601 OPS last season) is owed more than $21 million per season through 2020. He looms as a depressing reminder of management decisions gone bad. Key OF Trey Mancini (.899 OPS, 97 RBIs) is recovering from cancer surgery, so 2B Hanser Alberto (.305 BA) won’t have much help as he tries to keep things respectable.
What success looks like: Playing some kids, winning some games and chilling some of that chatter about moving the team to Portland.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
2019 record: 101-61 (first)
Outlook: Adding 3B Josh Donaldson (37 HR, 94 RBIs with the Braves) to the Bomba Squad featuring INF Miguel Sano (.923 OPS) and OFs Nelson Cruz (1.031 OPS), Eddie Rosario (32 HR, 109 RBIs) and Max Kepler (36 HR, 90 RBIs) seemed like overkill. The Twins smacked an MLB-record 307 homers last year. More pragmatic were rotation upgrades Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey joining Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.88 ERA) and Jake Odorizzi (15-7, 3.51).
What success looks like: The ALCS seems within reach, especially with the Yankees fighting an injury plague and the Astros dealing with the fallout of their sign-stealing scandal.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
2019 record: 72-89 (third)
Outlook: The team added DH Edwin Encarnacion (34 HR, 86 RBIs for the Mariners and Yankees), C Yasmani Grandal and OF Nomar Mazara to bolster the offense, Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez to strengthen the rotation and RP Steve Cishek. Young SP Lucas Giolito (14-9, 3.41 ERA) and 3B Yoan Moncada (.915 OPS) have established themselves as building blocks. OF Luis Robert and INF Nick Madrigal should break out soon.
What success looks like: Contention! It’s been a while for the White Sox, but they imported significant veteran talent to bolster a good young roster.
2019 record: 93-69 (second)
Outlook: The Indians will need more excellent work from SPs Mike Clevinger (13-4, 2.71 ERA) and Shane Bieber (15-8, 3.28) after trading SP Corey Kluber to Texas in a contract dump. A bounce-back season from SP Carlos Carrasco would help, too. Former Cardinals OF prospect Oscar Mercado added depth to an offense led by SS Francisco Lindor (32 HR, 74 RBIs, 22 SB), 1B Carlos Santana (.911 OPS) and 3B Jose Ramirez (23 HR, 83 RBIs, 24 SB).
What success looks like: Trading superstar Lindor for an exceptional prospect package seems like the best outcome for a franchise fixated on fiscal responsibility.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
2019 record: 59-103 (fourth)
Outlook: DH Jorge Soler (48 HR, 117 RBIs) finally arrived as a reliable power source last season. OF Adalberto Mondesi (43 SB) and INF-OF Whit Merrifield (.348 OBP, 20 SB) should push the pace on the base paths, and the return of C Salvador Perez will add offensive depth. SP Brad Keller (7-14, 4.19 ERA) could become a franchise cornerstone. Former Cardinals RP Trevor Rosenthal could revive his career after finally regaining command after his surgical repairs.
What success looks like: Extended spring training will run through September as new manager Mike Matheny tries to teach The Cardinal Way to the rebuilding Royals.
2019 record: 47-115 (fifth)
Outlook: The suffering will continue as aging DH/1B Miguel Cabrera continues playing out his monstrous contract and the Tigers try to develop a whole new roster. OF Cameron Maybin, 1B C.J. Cron (25 HR, 78 RBIs for the Twins), 2B Jonathan Schoop and SPs Ivan Nova (11-12, 4.74 ERA for the White Sox) and Matthew Boyd (9-12, 4.56) are among the serviceable veterans holding spots for the next generation.
What success looks like: Rinsing off the stink of that 115-loss season while giving fans in the Motor City some reason to buy 2021 tickets.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
2019 record: 107-55 (first)
Outlook: New manager Dusty Baker takes charge after the sign-stealing scandal. He has an enviable lineup featuring 3B Alex Bregman (1.015 OPS, 112 RBIs), 1B Yuli Gurriel (31 HR, 104 RBIs), 2B Jose Altuve (.903 OPS), SS Carlos Correa and OFs George Springer and Michael Brantley. But their pitching staff is less formidable without Gerrit Cole teaming up with Justin Verlander (21-6, 2.48 ERA), Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers in the rotation.
What success looks like: Winning a World Series without cheating would go a long way toward shutting up the critics. Even though they won’t know what pitch is coming, the Astros have enough offense to earn another parade.
2019 record: 97-65 (second)
Outlook: Few teams can rival the left side of the Oakland infield with 3B Matt Chapman (36 HR, 91 RBIs) and SS Marcus Semien (.892 OPS, 92 RBIs). 1B Matt Olson (.896, 91 RBIs) and DH Khris Davis can slug, too. Former Cardinals OF Stephen Piscotty has struggled with injuries, most recently a side muscle strain. The A’s have emerging talents like SPs A.J. Puk, Jesus Luzardo and Chris Bassitt lined up for the rotation behind Mike Fiers.
What success looks like: Winning the division would be a heavy lift, but a wild-card playoff berth is possible if the starting pitching pans out.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
2019 record: 72-90 (fourth)
Outlook: With OF Mike Trout (1.083 OPS) locked in forever, the Angels gave him long-term support by signing 3B Anthony Rendon (1.010 OPS, 126 RBIs for Nationals). OF Justin Upton (.225 BA) should produce more coming back from an injury-marred season, but does DH/1B Albert Pujols have anything left? DH/OF/SP Shohei Ohtani is back following surgical repairs, and the addition of SPs Julio Tehran and Dylan Bundy will strengthen the rotation.
What success looks like: A return to relevance is step one for new manager Joe Maddon, who returned home to the Angels to work his motivational magic.
2019 record: 78-84 (third)
Outlook: Texas hitters may not like their new ballpark as much as the old place. 2B Rougned Odor (30 HR, 93 RBIs), SS Elvis Andrus (31 SB), 3B-1B Todd Frazier and OFs Joey Gallo (.986 OPS in 70 games), Shin-Soo Choo and Danny Santana will produce runs. The starting rotation gets a new look with the addition of Kyle Gibson, Corey Kluber and Jordan Lyles to join Mike Minor (14-10, 3.59 ERA) and former Cardinal Lance Lynn (16-11, 3.67).
What success looks like: Getting to the high side of .500 after three straight losing seasons would be real progress.
2019 record: 68-94 (fifth)
2020 outlook: Seattle’s pitching appears to be better than the hitting with former Cardinal Marco Gonzales (16-14, 3.99 ERA) atop a rotation that also features Taijuan Walker, Justus Sheffield and Yusei Kikuchi. OF Mallex Smith (46 SB) and INF-OF Dee Gordon (22 SB) will apply pressure on defenses, but the offense lacks pop beyond 3B Kyle Seager. Perhaps 1B Evan White and OF Kyle Lewis can graduate into productive roles.
What success looks like: Moving past the tank-and-rebuild plan and actually competing in the division again.