The Yankees are runaway favorites to dethrone the defending American League East champion Tampa Bay Rays this season, as FanDuel has them listed at -220 finish atop the division.
After winning the pennant in 2020, the Rays fell short in the World Series — losing to the Dodgers in six games. The sudden departure of all-star starter Blake Snell has put a blemish on their future’s market, as they now sit behind the Blue Jays according to most sportsbooks.
The Jays are +410 to win the AL East and have an over/under win total of 86, while the Rays are +450 to win the East, despite the fact their their over/under win total is identical at 86 as well.
This is probably an adjustment in the market given the overall buzz surrounding Toronto’s offseason, as they were heavily active in free agency this past go-around while the Rays were anything but.
It’s hard to justify laying such a price on the Yankees with Opening Day just a few short weeks away, but there will be an opportunity down the road if New York can live up to expectations in 2021.
Instead, here’s how I’d handicap the AL East.
Red Sox over 79.5 wins
Coming off a dismal 2020 campaign, Boston has been pretty under the radar this offseason. Now that Alex Cora is back as manager, I expect the Sox to bounce back admirably in 2021.
Chris Sale should be back to lead their rotation at some point early on, and I think the signing of right-handed starter Garrett Richards will be huge for them.
Richards, 32, is coming off a really solid season (albeit in limited action) with the Padres where he pitched to the tune of a 4.03 ERA to go along with above-average advanced metrics.
They also signed utility man Kike Hernandez and outfielder Hunter Renfroe to very team-friendly contracts, in addition to trading for former Yankee (crazy, I know) reliever Adam Ottavino to help bolster the back-end of the bullpen.
All in all, I expect a much more competitive Red Sox team in 2021 that should hover above the .500 line when it’s all said and done.
Blue Jays +410 to win AL East, +900 to win Pennant
Circling back to the Jays, I really like what general manager Ross Atkins has done this offseason.
The additions of shortstop Marcus Semien and center fielder George Springer were huge moves in changing the narrative surrounding this ball club.
They’re now a team with legitimate World Series aspirations, and rightfully so. Their offense is absolutely loaded from top-to-bottom and could be the best lineup in baseball when it’s all said and done.
Their rotation may need to make a move at the trade deadline to lessen the pressure off of Hyun-jin Ryu, but other than that, this is a team I’d seriously watch out for moving forward.
I like the value here — especially to win the Pennant at 9:1.