For the first time since they won the World Series in 1993, the Blue Jays are going for it. On Tuesday, they pulled off the biggest blockbuster baseball has seen in quite a while, acquiring shortstop Jose Reyes, right-handers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, utility player Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck from the Miami Marlins for shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, outfielder Jake Marisnick , catcher Jeff Mathis, left-hander Justin Nicolino, and right-handers Henderson Alvarez and Anthony DeSclafani. The Blue Jays absorb nearly 170 million dollars in future salaries and traded away several top prospects, but in exchange they get major upgrades at shortstop with Reyes and especially at starting pitcher with Johnson and Buehrle. Will it be enough for the Jays to go from 73 wins in 2012 to competing for a playoff spot in 2013? Who knows, but if there was any time to try, it’s right now.
The Yankees made it to the ALCS but feature an aging roster that is slowly crumbling apart. The Orioles made a surprise run to the 2012 postseason, but luck was a major factor in their remarkable season as they went a ridiculous 29-9 in one-run games and 16-2 in extra innings, marks bound to regress significantly next season, and they will have to prove themselves once again. The Red Sox are rebuilding and appear to be out of the playoff hunt for at least a year or two. That leaves the Rays and the Jays. The Rays have the pitching to go far but need to find a way to generate more offense. The Jays made their huge trade, but they still need plenty of things to go right to go from a team that finished 9th in the AL in OPS and 11th in ERA to a contender. Is the AL East as weak a division as we can remember? No. But there are four teams with a legitimate chance of winning the division and no one distinguishing themselves yet. The offseason is still young. The Rays might answer the Blue Jays with a blockbuster deal of their own- they have been in talks to acquire Justin Upton. The Orioles may make a big free agent signing to make their chances of making the postseason a second straight year not so long at all. Even the Yankees still have needs to be addressed in the outfield and at catcher. Could another big move shake up the balance of the division even more?
The season isn’t played out on paper. There are 162 regular season games in 2013 still four and half months away from beginning and much that needs to happen before then. But 2013 could be the most exciting season that the AL East and even baseball as a whole has ever seen.