Baseball is back.
Pitchers and catchers will report to spring training on Feb. 15 or 16. Position players will report on either the 20th or 21st. Some of the players participating in the World Baseball Classic already have reported for duty. We’ll be treated to televised games starting on Feb. 24.
Tomase: Projecting the Red Sox' Opening Day roster
Before all the action, it's worth seeing how all 30 MLB teams stack up as we head into the 2023 season. The rosters are pretty much set, so how do they compare against one another on paper?
30. Washington Nationals
It’s another rebuild year for a Washington club that could lose more than 100 games again this season. The Nats will simply hope to see their young guns -- namely Keibert Ruiz, CJ Abrams, Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore -- take a step forward in their development. The future looks bright, but it’ll be quite a while before they’re back to competing in the stacked National League East.
29. Oakland Athletics
The A’s are in the midst of a rebuild of their own. Their big move this offseason was trading star catcher Sean Murphy to the Atlanta Braves, making their roster even more unrecognizable. One of the players acquired in the deal, Esteury Ruiz, will be fun to watch with his elite speed.
Oakland also was fairly active in free agency, signing infielder Aledmys Díaz, righties Trevor May and Shintaro Fujinami, utilityman Jace Peterson, and first baseman Jesus Aguilar. Perhaps this A’s club could be scrappy, but the more likely scenario is another 100-loss campaign.
28. Cincinnati Reds
It’ll be another long season in Cincinnati, though it could be worth it as the organization appears to be set up for a brighter future. The Reds have stocked up on young talent and have a bunch of intriguing prospects in the pipeline. They’ll hope to see promising pitchers Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo take the next step in Year 2 of their big-league careers.
27. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers don’t have a whole lot going for them right now. Their farm system ranks dead last in the league, according to The Athletic’s Keith Law. The big-league club doesn’t look much more promising. Detroit could surprise if the starting pitching does its part and Spencer Torkelson has a breakout year after a rough rookie campaign, but they look like the last-place team in the AL Central.
26. Colorado Rockies
Rockies owner Dick Monfort said the Rockies "can play .500 ball" in 2023. That’s highly doubtful. Colorado did virtually nothing to improve its roster this offseason after going 68-94 in 2022. All it can hope for is a bounce-back season for Kris Bryant, who played in only 42 games last year due to a foot injury.
25. Kansas City Royals
The Royals probably won’t win many games in 2023, but they could still be fun to watch. Bobby Witt Jr. headlines the list of young, talented players in the organization. He’ll look to build off a solid rookie campaign in which he hit 20 homers and swiped 30 bases.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are on the right track. They have a deep farm system and after a 100-loss season in 2022, they made some additions to the big-league roster that should help them at least be watchable. Former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen returned to where he spent his first nine big-league seasons, plus the Carlos Santana signing adds another veteran presence who can bring some pop to the lineup.
They join an interesting group that includes All-Star outfielder Bryan Reynolds, up-and-coming shortstop Oneil Cruz, and Gold Glove-caliber third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. Not yet a club built to compete, but it could be a fun one nonetheless.
23. Arizona Diamondbacks
I would put the Diamondbacks in the "sleeper" category this year. There’s talent all over the roster, from top outfield prospect Corbin Carroll to infielders Christian Walker and Ketel Marte, and right-hander Zac Gallen. They aren’t ready to compete with the titans of the NL West, but they could make some noise in 2023.
22. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs made some significant additions to their roster as they look to compete with the Cardinals and Brewers in the NL Central. Star shortstop Dansby Swanson is the obvious one, but they also added veterans Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer to stabilize the first base position and the clubhouse. While they could have used a true frontline starter, Jameson Taillon should bring a boost to the rotation.
21. Baltimore Orioles
The O’s surprised everyone last season by posting an 83-79 record and flirting with a playoff spot. Can they do it again? With top MLB prospect Gunnar Henderson joining second-year catcher Adley Rutshman in the suddenly-scary lineup, there’s a strong chance. The big concern is the pitching staff, which didn’t add much talent this offseason outside Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin.
20. Miami Marlins
The Marlins join the D’Backs on my “sleeper” list. There’s some serious potential here with the reigning AL batting champion, Luis Arraez, joining the lineup. They also signed infielder Jean Segura and veteran righty Johnny Cueto in free agency. Jazz Chisholm Jr. -- the MLB The Show 23 cover athlete and one of the most exciting young players in baseball -- will move to center field.
The key to Miami’s season will be improvement from the offense, because the pitching will be just fine with defending NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara at the top of a talented rotation.
19. Chicago White Sox
This offseason has been a disaster for the White Sox. Signing Andrew Benintendi to a five-year, $75 million was their biggest move. Their only other notable addition, right-hander Mike Clevinger, is under investigation for domestic violence and child abuse.
There’s still hope for a bounce-back season with a loaded lineup, a rotation that includes a Cy Young candidate in Dylan Cease, and a solid bullpen. They just may not have done enough to keep up with the Guardians and Twins in the division.
18. San Francisco Giants
To say this offseason has been frustrating for Giants fans would be a massive understatement. First, they lost the Aaron Judge sweepstakes. Then, there was the whole Carlos Correa saga. The star shortstop was getting ready for his introductory press conference when it was revealed the deal fell through due to a failed physical.
As for the deals San Francisco did make, it improved its outfield by signing Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto. Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling were added to a rotation that lose ace Carlos Rodon in free agency to the Yankees. This looks like the third-place team in the NL West behind the Padres and Dodgers, though don’t be surprised if Arizona has something to say about that.
17. Boston Red Sox
No team has a wider range of potential outcomes in 2023 than the Red Sox. Their tumultuous offseason included a huge amount of turnover on the roster and was highlighted by the departure of homegrown shortstop Xander Bogaerts. They made several upgrades and intriguing additions -- particularly in the bullpen -- but losing Bogaerts in free agency and Trevor Story to elbow surgery has cast a cloud of pessimism over the city of Boston entering the new campaign.
Tomase: How Red Sox can massively benefit from change in schedule
Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida, veteran infielder Justin Turner, and outfielder Adam Duvall will look to fill the voids in the lineup left by Bogaerts, Story, and J.D. Martinez. As for the starting rotation, it has a high upside but an extremely low floor with the oft-injured Chris Sale, aging Corey Kluber, up-and-coming Brayan Bello, reliever-turned-starter Garrett Whitlock, and hot-and-cold Nick Pivetta. If they hold up their end of the bargain, this is a team that could sneak into the playoffs. That’s a huge “if” and one of many for the 2023 club.
16. Los Angeles Angels
Injuries plagued the Angels in 2022, so they made moves to prevent the same issues from ruining their 2023 campaign. The signings of Brandon Drury and Gio Urshela add much-needed depth to the infield. Left-hander Tyler Anderson is an underrated addition to the starting rotation and outfielder Hunter Renfroe will add some pop to the lineup. This is a club that can finish above .500 if superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani stay healthy, but they still lag behind the Astros and Mariners in the division race.
15. Texas Rangers
The Rangers have needed pitching for years now and they finally went all out to address that issue this offseason. They signed two-time Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom to anchor an overhauled rotation that also includes ex-Red Sox hurlers Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, and Jake Odorizzi.
If that group can avoid the injury bug, Texas looks like a club that can take a significant step forward in 2023. A division title, however, is probably still out of reach.
14. Minnesota Twins
The Twins had one of the best offseasons in the league, all things considered. They ended up re-signing Carlos Correa after the Giants/Mets debacle and acquired a frontend starter, Pablo Lopez, from Miami along with two prospects. Minnesota also signed catcher Christian Vazquez and boosted its outfield by bringing in Joey Gallo and Michael A. Taylor. Losing reigning batting champ Luis Arraez hurts, but it was the price that had to be paid for a top starter, which is something the Twins desperately needed.
13. Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee once again will lean heavily on a stellar rotation led by Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, and Eric Lauer. The onus is on the offense -- particularly former MVP Christian Yelich and newcomers Jesse Winker and William Contreras -- to hold up its end of the bargain. The Brew Crew should at least be in the mix for a wild-card spot again in 2023, but there still doesn’t seem to be enough firepower to overtake St. Louis in the NL Central.
12. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays made one significant move this offseason, signing right-hander Zach Eflin to a three-year contract worth $40 million. That’s the largest deal for a free agent in franchise history.
Eflin joins a strong rotation that consists of Cy Young contender Shane McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow, Drew Rasmussen, and Jeffrey Springs. Other than Eflin, Tampa invested in talent already on its roster by extending Springs, reliever Pete Fairbanks, and corner infielder Yandy Diaz. Pitching shouldn’t be a problem for the Rays, so rising star shortstop Wander Franco and Co. will have to do their part offensively to keep up with Toronto and New York in the competitive AL East.
11. Cleveland Guardians
The Guardians only made a couple of notable moves this offseason, but both signings filled major needs. They landed Mike Zunino to upgrade the catcher position and switch-hitting first baseman/DH Josh Bell to add power to the lineup. While Cleveland could have done more, it’s built to repeat as AL Central champs. Jose Ramirez should again be in the MVP mix, Shane Bieber could add another Cy Young to his collection, and Emmanuel Clase -- the game’s best closer -- anchors a rock-solid bullpen. This is an extremely well-rounded roster.
10. Seattle Mariners
Get your popcorn ready for the J-Rod Show encore in 2023. The budding superstar outfielder has his eyes set on the MVP award after taking home Rookie of the Year honors in 2022. He’ll be the driving force behind another strong season in Seattle.
After making the playoffs for the first time since 2001, the Mariners are poised to make a deeper run this time around. They had an active offseason, trading for slugging outfielder Teoscar Hernandez and bringing in veteran OF AJ Pollock to balance out the strong lineup. They also traded for two-time Gold Glove award winner Kolten Wong to upgrade second base. Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray headline a scary rotation and the bullpen is filled with plus arms. With one of the most balanced rosters in the game, anything less than an ALCS berth would be a disappointment.
9. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals replaced Yadier Molina with the top catcher on the free-agent market, Willson Contreras. He’ll join stars Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt in a loaded lineup. Pitching is where it could get dicey for St. Louis. While Adam Wainwright continues to impress at age 40, he isn’t an ace. Jack Flaherty could be, but injuries have prevented him from regaining his Cy Young-caliber 2019 form. Missing out on a top starter and one of the premier free-agent shortstops could hurt, but the Cardinals should still be able to earn back-to-back NL Central titles.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers
The offseason has been an uncharacteristic one for the usually high-spending Dodgers. They lost star shortstop Trea Turner in free agency along with veteran slugger Justin Turner and didn’t dish out much money to replace them. Instead, they traded for defensive-minded infielder Miguel Rojas and signed ex-Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez on a one-year deal. L.A. also added Noah Syndergaard to the rotation on a one-year pact. Make no mistake, this remains one of the league’s juggernauts until proven otherwise, but winning the NL West won’t be a cakewalk with the Padres ready to make a run.
7. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies’ No. 1 priority this offseason was landing one of the premier free-agent shortstops and they got their guy in Trea Turner. From there, they focused on bolstering their pitching staff with starter Taijuan Walker and relievers Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto, and Matt Strahm. While overcoming Bryce Harper’s absence for the first half of the campaign will be a challenge, Philly is built to make another deep postseason run in 2023.
6. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays were one of the most popular World Series picks around this time a year ago and they failed to meet their lofty expectations. After falling to Seattle in the wild-card round, Toronto loaded up by adding Chris Bassitt to its strong rotation and trading for stud outfielder Daulton Varsho. The outfield defense should be a sight to see with Varsho, George Springer, and Kevin Kiermaier. The Jays also bolstered their bullpen by adding Erik Swanson. And as for the lineup, it remains one of the scariest in the game with Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette leading the way.
5. New York Yankees
The Yankees’ most important moves of the offseason were retaining Aaron Judge and signing Carlos Rodon to form one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball with Gerrit Cole. The rotation could wind up being the best in the game if it can stave off injuries.
That said, there are question marks throughout the rest of the roster, particularly at left field and shortstop. If those questions are answered, the Yankees should repeat as AL East champs and compete for a World Series title.
4. San Diego Padres
The Padres are doing everything they can to end the Dodgers’ lengthy reign atop the NL West. Their biggest splash of the offseason was the signing of ex-Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million contract. He’ll join a ridiculous lineup that already includes Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. once he returns from suspension. San Diego also added veteran sluggers Matt Carpenter and Nelson Cruz to the mix.
The rotation is led by ace Yu Darvish, All-Star Joe Musgrove, and former Cy Young award winner Blake Snell. They will need strong seasons from their fourth and fifth starters, Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo. If the pitching staff holds up, the Padres will become the new kings of the NL West and be a World Series contender.
3. New York Mets
Missing out on Carlos Correa was a bummer. Adding him to the mix would have made the Mets the favorite for not just the NL East, but also the World Series title. However, the deal falling through could turn out to be a blessing in disguise given the uncertainty with his ankle.
Besides the Correa drama, the Mets’ offseason was a success. They retained their top free agents Edwin Diaz and Brandon Nimmo while signing reigning Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander to replace Jacob deGrom. They also signed starters Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana to fill the voids left by Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker. Another 100-win season seems probable. Still, an NL East title is far from a sure thing.
2. Atlanta Braves
The only blemish on the Braves offseason was losing shortstop Dansby Swanson in free agency and failing to replace him with another one of the premier shortstops available. They’ll depend on Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia to fill that position.
Otherwise, it’s hard to find weaknesses on this roster. Atlanta added one of the top catchers in the game in Sean Murphy while bolstering its bullpen with Joe Jimenez. The lineup could be even better in 2023 with a full season of Michael Harris II and a healthy Ronald Acuña Jr. As great as the lineup is, the rotation of Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Spencer Strider, Mike Soroka and Charlie Morton has the chance to be an even bigger strength. The Braves are poised for another 100+ win season and are the team to beat in the NL.
1. Houston Astros
Veteran first baseman Jose Abreu was the Astros’ only major addition of the offseason. That’s all they really needed though. The reigning World Series champions are locked and loaded with a lethal lineup that still includes Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, and World Series MVP Jeremy Pena. Adding Abreu to that group is unfair.
The biggest obstacle Houston will have to overcome is the loss of Justin Verlander at the top of their rotation. However, the pitching staff is still in good hands with Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy. Look out for rookie right-hander Hunter Brown as well. Overall, the Astros are built to make a run at another title but will have some competition in their division with the up-and-coming Mariners breathing down their neck.