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How the Yankees’ AL East rivals fared at the Winter Meetings

The Yankees made the biggest splash at the Winter Meetings, but what were their division rivals up to?

MLB: General Managers Meetings Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees made the biggest splash at the Winter Meetings by signing Gerrit Cole, signaling to any competitors that they won’t settle for less than a World Series title in 2020. Meanwhile, the rest of the American League East teams are either cutting costs, trying to find ways to make incremental improvements to keep pace with the Bombers down the line, or maybe even competing for a Wild Card spot in 2020.

The Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles didn’t make headlines like New York did, but let’s catch up on some of their under the radar moves.

Boston Red Sox

It’s no secret that the Red Sox are looking to shed payroll, and they might even consider moving players like Mookie Betts and David Price to cut costs. In addition, former Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello signed with the Mets on Thursday, leaving BOSTON with another hole to fill in their rotation. Brock Holt, their super-utility player over the past seven years, is also a free agent.

New Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has his work cut out for him, inheriting a weak farm system and instructions to trim payroll. He’s already started making some short-term moves to try to keep relevant only two years removed from a World Series. The Red Sox signed former Reds utility player Jose Peraza to a one-year, $3 million deal on Thursday, likely to fill the hole left by Holt, assuming he signs elsewhere. Peraza is coming off a horrendous season in which he slashed .239/.285/.346, but he has some contact skills, speed, and defensive versatility at 25 year old. Perhaps the Red Sox see some untapped potential for Peraza in a new home ballpark.

They also signed left-handed pitcher Martin Perez to a one-year contract worth $6 million (club option in 2021). Perez won 10 games for the Twins last season, but his 5.12 ERA left a lot to be desired. In five career starts against the Yankees, Perez owns a 9.97 ERA, his worst against any American League opponent.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays saw their next generation of stars reach the big leagues last season, but they have a long way to go before they can compete with the top-tier teams in the American League. They’ve been quiet this offseason, and will likely continue that way, but they did make one move at the Winter Meetings.

Toronto signed right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark to a 2-year $24 million deal, giving them a durable veteran to eat innings. Roark has thrown 165-plus innings each of the past four seasons, although he hasn’t posted an ERA under 4.00 since 2016. The 33-year-old veteran has spent his entire career in the National League, so he’s only pitched at Yankee Stadium once, surrendering three runs in six innings in a 2018 start.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays got their offseason started early, trading Tommy Pham to the San Diego Padres for Hunter Renfroe and a prospect. This is the type of move we’ve come to expect from the Rays, trading an established All-Star caliber player for a younger player with some untapped potential and more years of team control, plus a quality prospect.

They also signed Japanese outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo on Friday for two years and $12 million. This type of signing might seem insignificant next to Cole’s nine-year, $324 million contract, but Tsutsugo becomes the fourth highest paid player on the Rays with his deal. Tsutsugo has drawn some comparisons to Kyle Schwarber, giving the Rays another potentially dangerous left-handed bat.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are still in full rebuild mode. They traded second baseman Jonathan Villar to the Marlins for a Low-A pitching prospect, and veteran starter Dylan Bundy to the Angels for a handful of pitching prospects. If the Orioles make any free agent signings they’ll likely be short-term deals and reclamation projects.