With the Yankees having their sights set on achieving their first American League pennant since 2009, let’s take a look at their biggest competition.
We’re about a month away from spring training and each team’s roster is starting to take shape.
Despite there being a long list of free agents including Manny Machado and Bryce Harper still on the market it’s pretty clear as to who’s going to contend and who won’t be in the race in 2019. Let’s take a look at which teams the Yankees should and shouldn’t worry about.
Non Threats: Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals & Texas Rangers
All four of these teams are in the midst of significant rebuilds. The Orioles gave the Yankees trouble last season despite losing well over 100 games but, they are no where near contending and will have a first-year manager.
The Tigers rebuild is going slower than Detroit probably would like it to be going thus, they are no were near posing any threat in the Yankees pennant chances.
The Royals rebuild is moving smoothly, but their lack of power and pitching takes them out of the 2019 playoff race.
Lastly, Texas is starting to move in total rebuild mode as their core from their early 2010’s AL West championship teams has aged. They’re stronger than the other three rebuilding teams but will be buried deep in the AL West and won’t post a threat to the Yankees.
Mild Threats: Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners & Toronto Blue Jays
These three teams are all in different stages.
The White Sox are getting close to contending after building one of the MLB’s best farm systems in their rebuild. Even if they sign Manny Machado, the White Sox lack any sort of pitching depth which means they’re probably still a year away from a playoff run
The Mariners have made several moves for both veterans to help the team win and shipping off some of their top players for young talent. One of those players traded was their ace James Paxton who of course is now a New York Yankee. In a loaded AL West, they likely won’t be a playoff team in 2019.
Lastly, Blue Jays have one of the games best farm systems and those young players are very close to the big leagues but, seem to be a year away from being in the race still.
Threats: Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A’s, Tampa Bay Rays
All of these teams have playoff aspirations in 2019 but, don’t look to be on the same level as the Yankees.
The Twins have added some pop to their lineup this offseason with Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop. They are only one year removed from a playoff birth and still have many of the players who got them to the 2017 Wild Card game. They will be the Indians lone threat in the AL Central and in the wild card race which could affect the Yankees.
The Angeles never seem to live up to the hype but, this offseason instead of the splashy moves they’ve made smaller smart moves such as adding Trevor Cahill to their rotation and Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate. With the best player in baseball in Mike Trout on their roster, the Angeles always have a chance to make the playoffs.
The A’s won 97 games in 2018 and met the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game. They have a potent lineup and stellar bullpen but, their rotation isn’t very good. Look for them to make moves in July for a starting pitcher. Regardless the A’s always play the Yankees tough and can be a significant factor in the AL Wild Card race if the Yankees can’t win the AL East.
Tampa Bay quietly won 90 games a year ago. They have an outrages bullpen, a Cy Young winner in Blake Snell and Yankee killer Charlie Morton on their pitching staff. Their lineup isn’t too shabby but lacks the typical AL East pop. Tampa played the Yankees extremely tough in the second half of 2018, and the Trop has never behind kind to the Bombers. The Rays are a threat to derail the 2019 Yankees in two different races.
Major Threats: Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox
Despite the rise of teams like the Rays and A’s the same three teams are the Yankees biggest threats.
The Astros come into 2019 with the same core of great hitters and a quality bullpen. However, their bullpen took a hit with Lance McCullers going down with Tommy John surgery and Charlie Morton going to Tampa. Still, the Astros are loaded with talent and will be a significant contender 2019.
The Indians lineup won’t be great in 2019. They traded away Yan Gomes and Edwin Encarnacion and lost Micheal Brantley to free agency. However, their starting pitching is still among the games most dominant making them the AL Central favorite and threats to hurt the Yankees when they meet in the regular season.
The arch-rival Red Sox come into 2019 with nearly the same roster that won them a 2018 World Series championship. Their one possible weak link is in the bullpen but, they seem to find ways to make do with the talent they have. Boston will be the Yankees biggest threat to win the American League in 2019.