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Assessing the AL East at the halfway point in the offseason

What moves have the other teams in the AL East made so far?

ALCS - Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Five Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The offseason feels like it it is moving at a snail’s pace, but we’ve officially passed the halfway point. Pitchers and catchers report on February 13th, so at least we’ll have spring training baseball in a few weeks. Over the past few months, the Yankees have made various moves including trades and free agent signings. The rest of the AL East has been busy as well. Here’s a look at what the rest of the division has been up to so far.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles finished the 2015 season with a winning percentage of exactly .500, and improved upon that in 2016 by earning one of the elusive wild card spots. Unfortunately for Orioles fans, Baltimore went on to lose a nail-biting Wild Card game to the Blue Jays. The Orioles have lost quite a few players to free agency over the offseason, including Matt Wieters, Steve Pearce, and Pedro Alvarez. There is still plenty of time left, but it remains to be seen whether the Orioles will be able to bring Mark Trumbo back. They reportedly offered him a four-year deal worth over $50 million in early December and have since taken that offer off the table.

As far as trades go, the Orioles made a small move in November when they acquired pitcher Logan Verrett from the Mets in exchange for cash. More recently, the Orioles came to an agreement with the Mariners in which the Orioles sent over Yovani Gallardo and cash for right fielder Seth Smith. Additionally, the Orioles decided to bring back reliever Logan Ondrusek, and agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal (with a 2018 option) with catcher Welington Castillo.

Also, the Orioles’ GM basically said that the team couldn’t sign Jose Bautista because Orioles fans didn’t like him.

Boston Red Sox

Although the Red Sox ran away with the division last year, they came up short in their pursuit for another World Series ring. It has been quite a busy offseason in Boston. The Red Sox kicked things off by trading Josh Pennington, Mauricio Dubon, Travis Shaw, and a player to be named later to the Brewers for reliever Tyler Thornburg.

They followed that deal up with arguably the biggest trade of the offseason. The White Sox made Chris Sale available, and it was the Red Sox that ended up nabbing him. They acquired Sale in a deal that sent Luis Alexander Basabe, Michael Kopech, Victor Diaz, and top prospect Yoan Moncada to Chicago. Regrettably, the Yankees now have to face Sale multiple times a season. Rude of them to improve their rotation. Finally, the Red Sox also decided to part ways with Clay Buchholz. He was shipped off to the Phillies for second baseman Josh Tobias.

The Red Sox have mostly stayed away from the free agent market. So far, their only MLB deal has gone to Mitch Moreland who inked a one-year contract worth $5.5 million.

Tampa Bay Rays

For the third consecutive year, the Rays finished the season below .500. They weren’t terribly active during last year’s offseason, but the Rays have been busy this year. Wasting no time, they acquiring lefty pitcher John Lamb from the Reds for cash on November 2nd (they subsequently released him on November 18th). The Rays have already made several deals with the Mariners, too. The first sent Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter to Seattle in exchange for Andrew Kittredge, Dalton Kelly, and Dylan Thompson.

Another trade sent Drew Smyly to the Mariners for shortstop Carlos Vargas, center fielder Mallex Smith, and pitcher Ryan Yarbrough. Just yesterday, the Rays traded Mikie Mahtook to the Tigers for a player to be named later.

Their only major league signing so far has been a deal with Wilson Ramos, who is recovering from ACL surgery. He inked a two-year deal and is set to make $12.5 million during the contract. The Rays are rumored to be close to a deal with Shawn Tolleson, and they may move another one of their starting pitchers if the right trade comes along.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays lucked out during the Wild Card game against the Orioles and made it past the Rangers, before eventually losing to the Indians. As of now, the Blue Jays remain the only team in the AL East who have not made a trade during the offseason. Toronto lost a ton of players to free agency, and they have opted to fill those spots by signing new players.

Their first move was a big one as they signed Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel to a seven-year contract worth $22 million. Looking to replace one of the bats that they lost, the Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33 million contract. They also signed Steve Pearce to a two-year deal worth $12.5 million. It was starting to look like the Blue Jays would lose the bats of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista all in one offseason, but Toronto finally re-signed Bautista yesterday. He signed a one-year deal worth $18 million with options for a couple more seasons.

New York Yankees

As for the Yankees, it has been a very different offseason than the one we experienced a year ago. As of right now, the Yankees have only made one substantial trade. That was when they sent Brian McCann to the Astros for pitchers Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. They also traded James Pazos to the Mariners for Zack Littell, and dealt Nick Goody to the Indians for a player to be named later.

Unlike last year, the Yankees have actually signed a few free agents. First, they signed Matt Holliday to a one-year, $13 million deal to fill the spot at DH. The biggest move of the offseason has been the Yankees’ decision to bring back Aroldis Chapman. They gave him a five-year contract worth $86 million and it is the biggest contract a reliever has ever earned. It would be nice to see the Yankees improve the rotation in some way, but Brian Cashman thinks that the team is done for the offseason. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Which AL East team do you think has done the most to improve so far?