Preseason MLB Power Rankings; Where do the Red Sox rank to start 2019?
The title defense starts now.
The Red Sox have their work cut out for them as they aim to repeat as World Series champions. They’ll be playing with a target on their back following a dominant 108-win season, and there are some real question marks heading into the new campaign.
Perhaps the biggest one is the bullpen. While manager Alex Cora remains optimistic about life without closer Craig Kimbrel, there’s a worrisome void in the ninth inning until someone (Matt Barnes? Ryan Brasier?) steps up. Meanwhile, the Yankees continue to boast arguably the best bullpen in baseball, and the Astros certainly aren’t going anywhere either.
So with those concerns in mind, how do the Red Sox stack up with the rest of the league to begin the 2019 season? Let’s find out. . .
30. Baltimore Orioles
Notable additions: RP Nate Karns, manager Brandon Hyde
Notable subtractions: OF Adam Jones, INF Tim Beckham, C Caleb Joseph, 1B Pedro Alvarez, OF Colby Rasmus, manager Buck Showalter
A changing of the guard in Baltimore with Hyde replacing Showalter as manager, but it won’t be a changing of results. Expect the O’s to lose more than 100 games again in 2019.
29. Miami Marlins
Notable additions: RP Sergio Romo, OF Curtis Granderson, 1B Pedro Alvarez, 2B Neil Walker, SP Sixto Sanchez
Notable subtractions: C J.T. Realmuto, RP Kyle Barraclough, UTIL Derek Dietrich
The Marlins’ rebuild continues after parting ways with All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto for prospects. They have a few intriguing young pieces, but won’t be a factor in 2019 especially in a crowded NL East.
28. Kansas City Royals
Notable additions: OF Billy Hamilton, C Martin Maldonado, RP Brad Boxberger, UTIL Chris Owings
Notable subtractions: SS Alcides Escobar, RP Brandon Maurer, SP Jason Hammel, RP Nate Karns, OF Billy Burns
Just when expectations for the Royals in 2019 couldn’t get much lower, they lose All-Star catcher Salvador Perez to a season-ending elbow injury. Another last-place finish in the AL Central is likely.
27. Detroit Tigers
Notable additions: 2B Josh Harrison, SS Jordy Mercer, SP Matt Moore, SP Tyson Ross
Notable subtractions: DH Victor Martinez, SS Jose Iglesias, RP Alex Wilson, C James McCann, RP Francisco Liriano
The Tigers will be right there with the Royals at the bottom of the AL Central. Miguel Cabrera isn’t the player he once was, and the only other name that jumps off the page is Nicholas Castellanos, who may be moved before the trade deadline. Chalk this up as another rebuilding year in Detroit.
26. Chicago White Sox
Notable additions: 1B Yonder Alonso, OF Jon Jay, RP Kelvin Herrera, C James McCann, SP Ivan Nova, RP Alex Colome
Notable subtractions: OF Avisail Garcia, SP James Shields, 3B/P Matt Davidson
The White Sox will join the Tigers and Royals in the “don’t finish in last place” competition in the AL Central. Top prospect Eloy Jimenez will be fun to watch once he’s called up to the majors, but there isn’t a whole lot else to get excited about in the South Side, especially after missing out on both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper in free agency.
25. Texas Rangers
Notable additions: SP Shelby Miller, SP Lance Lynn, RP Shawn Kelley, INF Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B/P Matt Davidson, OF Hunter Pence, C Jeff Mathis, manager Chris Woodward
Notable subtractions: INF Jurickson Profar, 3B Adrian Beltre, C Robinson Chirinos, SP Doug Fister, SP Matt Moore, SP Bartolo Colon, SP Yovani Gallardo, SP Martin Perez, manager Jeff Banister
There’s some talent on this roster, though still not enough to make any noise in the AL West. We’ll see whether Chris Woodward can work some magic in his first season as manager, but expect Texas to finish at the bottom of the division for the second straight season.
24. San Francisco Giants
Notable additions: SP Drew Pomeranz, INF Yangervis Solarte, OF Gerardo Parra, C Erik Kratz
Notable subtractions: OF Hunter Pence, C Nick Hundley, RP Hunter Strickland, OF Gorkys Hernandez
For the Giants, it’ll just be a battle to stay out of the cellar in the NL West in 2019. If they struggle mightily out the gate, don’t be surprised if ace Madison Bumgarner is put on the trading block by the middle of the season.
23. Arizona Diamondbacks
Notable additions: SP Luke Weaver, OF Adam Jones, INF Wilmer Flores
Notable subtractions: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, OF A.J. Pollock, SP Shelby Miller, SP Patrick Corbin, SP Clay Buchholz, C Jeff Mathis, INF Chris Owings, INF Daniel Descalso, OF Jon Jay, RP Jake Diekman
Trading away Goldschmidt and saying goodbye to Pollock means the beginning of a rebuild in Arizona. They’ll be right there with the Giants at the bottom of the NL West.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates
Notable additions: RP Jordan Lyles, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, RP Francisco Liriano, OF Melky Cabrera, RP Brandon Maurer
Notable subtractions: SP Ivan Nova, SS Jordy Mercer, 2B Josh Harrison
While the Reds upgraded their roster over the offseason, the lackluster Pirates were quiet and could be looking at a last-place finish in the stacked NL Central.
21. Toronto Blue Jays
Notable additions: SP Matt Shoemaker, SP Clayton Richard, RP David Phelps, SS Freddy Galvis, manager Charlie Montoyo
Notable subtractions: C Russell Martin, SS Troy Tulowitzki, INF Aledmys Diaz, manager John Gibbons
Top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could make things interesting once he’s promoted to the majors. Other than that, not much to look forward to in Toronto.
20. Seattle Mariners
Notable additions: 1B Edwin Encarnacion, OF Domingo Santana, SP Yusei Kikuchi, SP Justus Sheffield
Notable subtractions: SP James Paxton, 2B Robinson Cano, RP Edwin Diaz, SS Jean Segura
Following the Mariners’ offseason fire sale, a winning season would be shocking. But Seattle’s roster actually still looks fairly competitive for 2019. By that, I don’t mean they’ll make a run for a postseason berth, I mean they won’t lose more than 90 games. That’s actually a compliment when you consider the laughable product that other rebuilding teams around the league are putting on the field.
19. San Diego Padres
Notable additions: 3B Manny Machado, 2B Ian Kinsler
Notable subtractions: C A.J. Ellis, 2B Cory Spangenberg, 3B Christian Villanueva, RP Colin Rea, 3B Carlos Asuaje, SP Clayton Richard
The future is bright in San Diego, but even after signing Machado it’ll take a year or two for this team to keep up with the big boys in the NL West. They’re still worth watching, with top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. joining Machado on the left side of the infield. But the Padres need to assemble a legitimate starting rotation in order to be taken seriously.
18. Cincinnati Reds
Notable additions: OF Yasiel Puig, OF Matt Kemp, SP Alex Wood, SP Sonny Gray, SS Jose Iglesias
Notable subtractions: SP Homer Bailey, SP Matt Harvey, OF Billy Hamilton
The Reds are an intriguing club this season. They won’t win the competitive NL Central, or come close to it, but they still boast a pretty solid lineup following their trade for Puig and Kemp. Although pitching will still be an issue, Cincinnati should be able to escape the division’s cellar in 2019.
17. Los Angeles Angels
Notable additions: 1B Justin Bour, RP Cody Allen, SP Matt Harvey, SP Trevor Cahill, C Jonathan Lucroy, 2B Tommy La Stella
Notable subtractions: SP Garrett Richards, SP Matt Shoemaker
Extending Mike Trout to a long-term deal was step one for Anaheim. Step two is finally building a team around him that can contend. The Angels are a talented enough team on paper to compete for a Wild Card spot, but they desperately need pitching. And no, Harvey is not the answer.
16. Oakland Athletics
Notable additions: 2B Jurickson Profar, RP Joakim Soria, SP Marco Estrada, C Nick Hundley
Notable subtractions: INF Jed Lowrie, SP Trevor Cahill, RP Jeurys Familia, OF Matt Joyce
The A’s surprised everyone when they won a whopping 97 games in 2018 and almost stole the division away from the Astros. Don’t expect lightning to strike twice, though. It’s a solid group that includes exciting players like Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman and slugger Khris Davis, but they’ll be fighting tooth and nail for a Wild Card spot.
15. Tampa Bay Rays
Notable additions: SP Charlie Morton, C Mike Zunino, OF Avisail Garcia
Notable subtractions: RP Sergio Romo, 1B C.J. Cron, OF Carlos Gomez
With all the talk surrounding the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East, don’t sleep on the Rays. They’re clearly the inferior team on paper, but last season they unexpectedly finished with 90 wins. Tampa could make things interesting.
14. Minnesota Twins
Notable additions: 1B C.J. Cron, DH Nelson Cruz, 2B Jonathan Schoop, UTIL Marwin Gonzalez, SP Martin Perez, manager Rocco Baldelli
Notable subtractions: 1B Joe Mauer, SP Ervin Santana, 1B Logan Morrison, manager Paul Molitor
Minnesota’s an intriguing team heading into 2019. The offseason additions of Cruz, Cron, Schoop, and Gonzalez could give the Twins enough ammo to take down the Indians in the AL Central, though their pitching staff remains inferior. Even if they fail to win the division, they’re set up to be a Wild Card contender.
13. Colorado Rockies
Notable additions: 2B Daniel Murphy
Notable subtractions: 2B D.J. LeMahieu, OF Carlos Gonzalez, OF Gerardo Parra, RP Adam Ottavino
Colorado has what it takes to win the NL West this year, but they’ll have to do so without key contributors LaMahieu and Ottavino after losing both in free agency to the Yankees. The offense should be in good shape especially with the addition of Murphy, though the questionable rotation and bullpen could once again force Colorado into battling for a Wild Card spot.
12. Milwaukee Brewers
Notable additions: C Yasmani Grandal, RP Alex Wilson, RP Alex Claudio, OF Ben Gamel, 2B Cory Spangenberg
Notable subtractions: OF Domingo Santana, SP Gio Gonzalez, SP Wade Miley, RP Jordan Lyles, 2B Jonathan Schoop, RP Joakim Soria, OF Curtis Granderson, OF Keon Broxton, C Erik Kratz
Christian Yelich’s insane second half propelled him to the top of the NL MVP leaderboard and helped the Brewers to an NL Central title in 2018. We can expect Yelich to come back down to earth a bit in 2019, and for Milwaukee’s win total to do the same. The Brew Crew absolutely will be in the mix for another playoff berth, but 86 wins this time around is far more likely than 96.
11. New York Mets
Notable additions: 2B Robinson Cano, RP Edwin Diaz, INF Jed Lowrie, RP Jeurys Familia, C Wilson Ramos, OF Keon Broxton, RP Justin Wilson, OF Carlos Gomez
Notable subtractions: 3B David Wright, INF Wilmer Flores
New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said forget about rebuilding and went all in over the offseason to assemble a club that can win now. This is a rock-solid team on paper. Of course, what’s pretty on paper tends to get ugly down the stretch for the Mets.
10. Cleveland Indians
Notable additions: 1B Carlos Santana, 1B Jake Bauers, C Kevin Plawecki, 1B Hanley Ramirez, OF Carlos Gonzalez
Notable subtractions: 1B Edwin Encarnacion, RP Andrew Miller, RP Cody Allen, OF Michael Brantley, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B Josh Donaldson, C Yan Gomes, OF Melky Cabrera, 1B Mike Napoli
The Indians are expected to reign atop the AL Central again in 2019, and rightfully so. They boast one of the best starting rotations in baseball, and superstars Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez again are poised for MVP-caliber seasons. The bullpen could be an issue, but closer Brad Hand will help ease the losses of Miller and Allen.
9. St. Louis Cardinals
Notable additions: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, RP Andrew Miller, C Matt Wieters
Notable subtractions: SP Luke Weaver
With a game-changer like Goldschmidt inserted into the middle of the order, plus an elite reliever in Miller added to the mix, the Cardinals are a strong contender in the NL Central.
8. Atlanta Braves
Notable additions: 3B Josh Donaldson, C Brian McCann
Notable subtractions: SP Brandon McCarthy, C Kurt Suzuki
Atlanta again will be one of the most fun teams to watch in 2019 with young phenoms Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies. The Braves also added veterans Donaldson and McCann over the offseason on low-risk, potentially high-reward deals. The one real area of concern, like last year, is the bullpen.
7. Chicago Cubs
Notable additions: RP Brad Brach, 2B Daniel Descalso
Notable subtractions: RP Jesse Chavez, 2B Tommy La Stella, 2B Daniel Murphy
The Cubs had a quiet offseason and will bring back pretty much the same roster from 2018. We can once again expect Chicago to battle for the NL Central title, which will be a much easier task if they can get a healthy, productive season out of Yu Darvish.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers
Notable additions: OF A.J. Pollock, C Russell Martin, RP Joe Kelly
Notable subtractions: C Yasmani Grandal, 3B Manny Machado, OF Yasiel Puig, OF Matt Kemp, RP Alex Wood, 2B Brian Dozier, 2B Chase Utley, RP Ryan Madson
It may come as a surprise to some that the Dodgers aren’t in the top five entering 2019, but their offseason was a disappointing one. After parting ways with Puig, Kemp, and Wood, it was believed they’d be the landing spot for Bryce Harper. Of course, that didn’t happen.
There are a lot of question marks in L.A. heading into the new campaign, particularly the status of ace Clayton Kershaw. But despite all of the concerns, the Dodgers are still the team to beat in the NL West.
5. Philadelphia Phillies
Notable additions: OF Bryce Harper, C J.T. Realmuto, SS Jean Segura, RP David Robertson
Notable subtractions: 1B Carlos Santana, 1B Justin Bour, C Wilson Ramos, INF Asdrubal Cabrera
No team was more active over the offseason than the Phillies. Obviously, the addition of Harper is the one that made waves. But throw in Realmuto, Segura, and Robertson, and you have yourself a serious contender heading into 2019.
4. Washington Nationals
Notable additions: SP Patrick Corbin, 2B Brian Dozier, C Yan Gomes, C Kurt Suzuki, RP Kyle Barraclough, 1B Matt Adams, SP Anibal Sanchez
Notable subtractions: OF Bryce Harper
Harper leaving does not mean the Nationals are doomed in 2019. Not in the slightest. The acquisition of Corbin gives them a fearsome starting rotation and youngster Juan Soto is the perfect replacement for the former face of their franchise.
3. New York Yankees
Notable additions: SP James Paxton, RP Adam Ottavino, 2B D.J. LeMahieu, SS Troy Tulowitzki, SP Gio Gonzalez
Notable subtractions: RP David Robertson, OF Andrew McCutchen
The Yankees are already dealing with some injury issues with ace Luis Severino out at least a month, but that’s where newly-acquired Paxton comes in. The rotation could get shaky, though, if Paxton doesn’t live up to expectations. Fortunately for New York, the bullpen is positioned to again be the best in baseball and the offense could break the single-season home run record for the second straight year. That’ll help them survive any starting pitching woes they may endure.
2. Houston Astros
Notable additions: OF Michael Brantley, SP Wade Miley, C Robinson Chirinos, INF Aledmys Diaz
Notable subtractions: SP Dallas Keuchel, C Evan Gattis, C Brian McCann, C Martin Maldonado, UTIL Marwin Gonzalez, SP Charlie Morton, RP Tony Sipp
A few key contributors to Houston’s success are gone, but this is still one of the best teams in baseball. The addition of Brantley, if he stays healthy, makes the Astros’ stacked lineup even scarier. Pitching could be an issue down the stretch, though they still have Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole as a lethal 1-2 punch. Houston will be back for another deep postseason run in 2019.
1. Boston Red Sox
Notable additions: OF Gorkys Hernandez, RP Jenrry Mejia
Notable subtractions: RP Craig Kimbrel, RP Joe Kelly, 2B Ian Kinsler, SP Drew Pomeranz
The top dogs until proven otherwise. This could change quickly as the questionable bullpen could cost the Red Sox some spots. But for now, they sit comfortably at No. 1 as most of their 2018 World Series contributors return for a repeat effort.