Astros: Examining the current baseball landscape this offseason
By Cody Poage
It is fair to wonder how good the Indians would be in another division. The AL Central was the worst division in baseball by a large margin. That said, Cleveland did win 91 games along with a third-straight division title. That’s not easy to do, no matter the competition. They also have two of the game’s best superstars in Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. The starting rotation ought to have another strong season if the ownership’s mandate to trade expensive players doesn’t come to fruition. The fans, by the way, should be furious at the Dolans if a “quasi” fire sale does take place. There are questions about the bullpen with Andrew Miller‘s free agency, but the in-season acquisition for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber should help negate the void.
Following a surprising run to the AL Wild Card game in 2017, the Twins were a potential Wild Card team in 2018. Maybe even a dark horse contender for the AL Central? Unfortunately for Minnesota, the acquisitions of Logan Morrison, Jake Odorizzi, and Lance Lynn didn’t pan out. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano regressed mightily from what they did in 2017. Next year could also be the first without Joe Mauer as his contract expired this year. There is still potential on this Twins’ roster along with a fresh voice in new manager Rocco Baldelli, but next year will help determine the long-term course.
Fresh off a fire sale in the summer of 2017, the Tigers finished the 2018 season near where everyone expected with a 64-98 record. A surprisingly solid start to the season eventually eroded, however. Long-term ownership concerns abound as the rebuilding process will take some time. Miguel Cabrera is the majority of the payroll now, but he remains virtually untradeable. The “Rally Goose” was a cool story, though.
Chicago White Sox
One of three rebuilding clubs in the AL Central, the White Sox have some intriguing players for the future. Yoan Moncada has the talent to be a cornerstone in the South Side. Losing promising starter Michael Kopech to Tommy John surgery doesn’t help the rebuild (or my fantasy team). Improvement across the board is needed, but the potential is slowly making its way to the major league level. Look for 2019 to be another footnote in the rebuild, even if they (unlikely) sign Harper or Machado.
Kansas City Royals
Outside of Salvador Perez, Whit Merrifield and a 15-13 record in September, the Royals didn’t have much going for themselves in 2018. Another AL Central team in the middle of a rebuild. There are promising players in their system who figure to be part of the next Royals’ core. At the same time, it is hard to envision Kansas City making a remarkable improvement like the A’s did in 2018. Perez, a franchise mainstay, could bring back a few quality prospects in a trade.