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Winter Meetings Primer: The Amercian League East

With the December Winter meetings almost on tap (December 7-10), let’s see what the future may hold in Nashville…

The new Blue Jay (nee Tribe) front office
The new Blue Jay (nee Tribe) front office
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Next up, the AL East, or the division with all the cash.

Toronto Blue Jays

General Manager Alex Anthopoulos basically shoved all of his chips in the middle of the table this season. Last winter he ponied up for Josh Donaldson and then at the deadline he traded for Troy Tulowitzki and David Price. They ended up just two wins short of the World Series however.

Then this offseason, Mark Shapiro was hired and Anthopoulos take his wares elsewhere. And now Ross Atkins has joined Shapiro in Toronto just in time for the meetings.

Key Free Agents: SP Mark Buehrle, SP (Marco Estrada (re-signed), RP Jeff Francis, RP LaTroy Hawkins (retired), 2B Maicer Izturis, 2B Munenori Kawasaki, RP Mark Lowe, C Dioner Navarro, SS Cliff Pennington (signed with Angels), SP David Price (signed with Red Sox), C Josh Thole (non-tendered)

Moves: Traded RP Liam Hendriks to the A's for SP Jesse Chavez. Signed SP J.A. Happ.

Needs:

2B, Incumbent Devon Travis recently had shoulder surgery, so some insurance is needed.

C, A backup for Russell Martin is needed.

Outlook: Obviously losing a pitcher of Price's caliber will hurt. But retaining Estrada was a must and Happ and Chavez will likely start the season in the rotation.

Potential Tribe involvement: The Indians have made deals with the Blue Jays in the past. I don't expect that to stop now that Shapiro/Atkins are there. But I don't foresee anything at these meetings as the teams currently stand.

New York Yankees

Last season was supposed to be one in which the Yankees struggled mightily with an old lineup and rotation. But somehow, it all worked out well enough that the Yankees made the Wild Card game, losing to the Astros.

Key Free Agents: RP Chris Capuano, IF Stephen Drew, OF Chris Young

Moves: Traded C John Ryan Murphy to the Twins for OF Aaron Hicks.

Needs:

2B, With Drew gone, by default, this spot goes to Dustin Ackley who played well while in the Bronx. But his history of hitting is rather poor so I don't expect he'll be the long term answer.

C, a backup to Brian McCann is possibly needed.

OF, Even with the Hicks pickup, there could be a need here. Carlos Beltran will be 39 and Jacoby Ellsbury might have started his descent last season.

Outlook: This is a team that isn't afraid to spend money, but likely will stay away from the luxury tax. They usually like to make at least one big splash, but the rotation is at least 6 deep. The only thing that could catch the Yankees is a swift decline by multiple veterans.

Potential Tribe involvement: Unless Brian Cashman wants to eat any of the big deals he has, I doubt the Yankees and Tribe cut a deal.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have been competitive lately, making the playoffs in 2012 and 2014 after 4 straight last place finishes. There were a decent amount of injuries to deal with last season as well.

Key Free Agents: SP Wei-Yin Chen, 1B Chris Davis, RP Darren O'Day, OF Gerardo Parra, OF Steve Pearce, C Matt Wieters (accepted qualifying offer), OF David Lough (non-tendered)

Moves: Traded C Steve Clevenger to the Mariners for RP C.J. Riefenhaueser and OF Mark Trumbo

Needs:

C, Wieters and Caleb Joseph are both back, but a possible upgrade could happen here.

1B, If Davis doesn't re-sign, this spot is going to be filled most likely by Trumbo.

SS, J.J. Hardy has been solid since his pickup in 2011. But he slumped to a 53 OPS+ last season and will be 33.

OF, right now Ryan Flaherty and Mark Trumbo are the options in RF.

SP, the rotation is currently slated to be Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Gausman and Mike Wright. Some upgrades are definitely in order.

Outlook: Unless the rotation fixes itself, I have a hard time seeing this club make a division run next season. The hitting should be pretty decent however.

Potential Tribe involvement: This is a team that should be looking to deal, but I am not seeing many attractive pieces that fit the Tribe's needs.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays were in the thick of AL East for five straight seasons, spending much less than their division rival behemoths. But this was their second straight fourth place finish, although they did finish just two games under 0.500.

Key Free Agents: SS Asdrubal Cabrera, DH John Jaso, OF Grady Sizemore

Moves: Traded SP Nate Karns, RP C.J. Riefenhaueser and Boog Powell to the Mariners for RP Danny Farquhar, IF Brad Miller and 1B Logan Morrison. Purchased Hank Conger from the Astros.

Needs:

C, I don't see a legit everyday catcher between Rene Rivera, Curt Casali and Conger.

OF, Currently this consists of Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier, And Stephen Souza Jr. Another bat could be needed.

SP, Some depth is likely needed, although Alex Cobb and Chris Archer are great at the top.

Outlook: New general manager Matt Silverman may want to remold the team. But a lot of the pieces seem to be there.

Potential Tribe involvement: Would the Tribe take a flier on a guy like Desmond Jennings?

Boston Red Sox

Of the two big boys on the block, the Red Sox were supposed to be the ones ion contention in 2015, not the Yankees. But the Red Sox slumped in June and never recovered, staying 10 games from mid-July on. General manager Ben Cherington was replaced by deposed Tiger GM David Dombrowski in late August.

Key Free Agents: RP Craig Breslow, SP Rich Hill (signed with A's)

Moves: Traded four minor leaguers to the Padres for CL Craig Kimbrel. Signed SP David Price.

Needs:

C, Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart are the incumbents

3B, Doubt they will up and replace Pablo Sandoval, but he did have an awful 2015 (76 OPS+).

OF, Again, I don't foresee any changes, but Rusney Castillo has yet to live up to his large contract, but he is still getting acclimated.

SP, Lots of options right now, and Price will help a ton, but both Rick Porcello and Wade Miley are slotted to start after poor years. .

Outlook: Dombrowski already got 2 two of the top notch gets this offseason. Will he complete the trifecta?

Potential Tribe involvement: Tribe fans would love Mookie Betts, but I don't see him being dealt.