• Welcome to part four of my MLB Opening Day Roster Predictions! Here’s my American League predictions, starting with the New York Yankees and the Aaron Judge free agency saga.

    You can find the NL Divisions in Parts 1-3 of this series below:

    NL West

    NL East

    NL Central


    New York Yankees

    The Lineup:

    1. DJ LeMahieu (2B)
    2. Aaron Judge (CF)
    3. Anthony Rizzo (1B)
    4. Giancarlo Stanton (DH)
    5. Josh Donaldson (3B)
    6. Gleyber Torres (SS)
    7. Masataka Yoshida (RF)
    8. Harrison Bader (LF)
    9. Jose Trevino (C)


    Bench Bats:

    Kyle Higashioka

    Isiah Kiner-Falefa

    Oswaldo Cabrera

    Aaron Hicks


    The Rotation:

    1. Gerrit Cole (R)
    2. Luis Severino (R)
    3. Nestor Cortes (L)
    4. Frankie Montas (R)
    5. Domingo German (R)


    The Bullpen:

    CLOSER: Clay Holmes (R)

    Lou Trivino (R)

    Wandy Peralta (L)

    Jonathan Loasiga (R)

    Michael King (R)

    Deivi Garcia (R)

    Clarke Schmidt (R)

    Trevor May (R)



    It was recently reported by MLB Network’s Jon Morosi that there’s a 50-50 chance that Judge remains in New York, with the other 50% being Judge signing with the San Francisco Giants. The Yankees don’t really have any means to replace Judge and I think they’ll pay up to keep a franchise icon. It’s also been reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Judge’s offer is for at least 8 years and $300 million. Here, I gave Judge an eight-year, $310 million contract to remain in New York. Not only that, but I have the Yankees snagging Japanese phenom, Masataka Yoshida. Yoshida has been an on-base machine and has walked almost twice as much as he’s struck out in the Japanese league. While it’s a crapshoot trying to predict where he ends up, the Yankees definitely will have some interest. I have Yoshida signing a five-year, $85 million contract with the Yankees.


    Further, this Yankees offense is absolutely loaded. While I have Gleyber Torres as the opening day shortstop and Oswaldo Cabrera as a bench bat, I have Oswald Peraza getting squeezed from the Opening Day roster. And that doesn’t even mention top prospect, Anthony Volpe. Realistically, the signing of Yoshida may just block Cabrera, and maybe the Yankees put feelers out there for Gleyber to allow Peraza close to everyday playing time before eventually calling up Volpe. By the time I write this article next year, this Yankees offense could look completely different. I also dabbled with the idea of trading Pablo Lopez here rather than Toronto (see below), in a trade involving Gleyber Torres. That would be pretty fun too.


    The idea of Lopez, or another starter of his ilk is that I’m not sure how comfortable the Bronx Bombers would be going into the season with Domingo German as their number five starter. Maybe I focused too much on the hitting and not enough on the pitching, but nonetheless, I’m sticking to my guns. I do have the Yankees signing journeyman starter Johnny Cueto to a minor-league deal for $4 million. He’s an innings-eater coming off a pretty good season with the White Sox. The Yankees also project to have Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt in the bullpen, both of whom can be stretched out as starters if needed.


    Finally, the bullpen. The Yankees are likely to say bye to longtime bullpen staple, Aroldis Chapman. For that reason, I think Clay Holmes opens the year as the closer. Holmes’ biggest competition for saves would’ve been Scott Effross, but he’s undergone Tommy John surgery and will likely miss all of next season. The final signing I have the Yankees making is for ex-Met, Trevor May. I have May signing a two-year, $13 million deal with the Yankees, and he solidifies an already great bullpen.


    Toronto Blue Jays

    The Lineup:

    1. George Springer (CF)
    2. Bo Bichette (SS)
    3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B)
    4. Michael Conforto (RF)
    5. Matt Chapman (3B)
    6. Lourdes Gurriel (LF)
    7. Danny Jansen (DH)
    8. Gabriel Moreno (C)
    9. Whit Merrifield (2B)


    Bench Bats:

    Santiago Espinal

    Cavan Biggio

    Nathan Lukes

    Otto Lopez


    The Rotation:

    1. Alek Manoah (R)
    2. Kevin Gausman (R)
    3. Pablo Lopez (R)
    4. Jose Berrios (R)
    5. Wade Miley (L)


    The Bullpen:

    CLOSER: Jordan Romano (R)

    Yimi Garcia (R)

    Anthony Bass (R)

    Adam Cimber (R)

    Mitch White (R)

    Yusei Kikuchi (L)

    Zack Britton (L)

    Erik Swanson (R)



    I finished this exercise prior to the Teoscar Hernandez to Mariners trade. However, I slightly tweaked the roster accordingly to be adaptable. Either way, I had the Jays signing ex-Met, Michael Conforto to a two-year, $31 million deal with a mutual-option in year two. Conforto is coming off surgery and sat out this past season, but his bat could really help this Toronto lineup if he’s fully healthy. He can adequately replace Teoscar Hernandez, get paid a similar amount that Hernandez would’ve made in arbitration and the Jays got a decent pitching prospect and a good bullpen arm for Hernandez on top of it. I think signing Conforto as Hernandez’ replacement is a win-win. Further, I’m sure you’ve noticed that Alejandro Kirk is not in this Jays lineup. And if you’ve read part one of this article, you can recall I traded him to the Marlins in a deal for starter Pablo Lopez. SportsEthos’ lead fantasy baseball analyst, Joe Orrico, is going to hate me for this one, as Kirk is a budding star at a scarce position, but the Jays do have three major-league catchers that are ready for everyday playing time, and in this scenario, I made Kirk the odd man out. I think it is far more likely, however, that Gabriel Moreno or Danny Jansen are the ones that could be moved out of the three, though.


    Pablo Lopez slots nicely into this Jays rotation after Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman and before Jose Berrios. That’s a nice 1-4, assuming Berrios can get back to form. Additionally, I signed starting pitcher, Wade Miley, as the fifth starter for this club, as they desperately need a lefty and I think they might’ve lost faith in Yusei Kikuchi. I have Miley signing a two-year, $15 million contract with a club option in year two. Miley has had under a 4 ERA in his last four healthy seasons and would be a very good fifth starter for any contender. Additionally, Hyun-Jin Ryu is expected back from Tommy John surgery at some point next season, and he can slot into the rotation when he’s fully healthy. My big bullpen addition for the Jays was ex-Yankee, Zack Britton. Britton hasn’t been very durable or healthy since 2019, but he was a stud prior to that. I have the Jays signing him to a one-year, $4 million deal as they desperately need another lefty out of the bullpen.


    Tampa Bay Rays

    The Lineup:

    1. Yandy Diaz (3B)
    2. Wander Franco (SS)
    3. Randy Arozarena (LF)
    4. Harold Ramirez (DH)
    5. Isaac Paredes (2B)
    6. Manuel Margot (RF)
    7. Jonathan Aranda (1B)
    8. Christian Bethancourt (C)
    9. Jose Siri (CF)


    Bench Bats:

    Francisco Mejia

    Taylor Walls

    Josh Lowe

    Vidal Brujan


    The Rotation:

    1. Shane McClanahan (L)
    2. Tyler Glasnow (R)
    3. Drew Rasmussen (R)
    4. Jeffrey Springs (L)
    5. Dylan Bundy (R)


    The Bullpen:

    CLOSER: Pete Fairbanks (R)

    Jason Adam (R)

    Brooks Raley (L)

    JP Feyereisen (R)

    Jalen Beeks (L)

    Garrett Cleavinger (L)

    Colin Poche (L)

    Shawn Armstrong (R)



    Again, this projection was done before the Rays signed Zach Eflin to the largest free agent deal in team history. Eflin slots in for former top-prospect Shane Baz, who underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss all of next season. Instead of Eflin, I had the Rays taking a stab at Dylan Bundy on a one-year, $4 million deal. The only other move I had the Rays making was trading second baseman, Brandon Lowe. When doing these projections, the Rays were in a roster crunch and had to make tough decisions on their 40-man roster to preserve some of their top prospects. As a result, I had the Rays trading Brandon Lowe to division rival, the Boston Red Sox (see below). The Rays also have a borderline top-10 prospect in the waiting in first baseman Kyle Manzardo. It’s possible he cracks the opening day rotation. Otherwise, the Rays have a simple philosophy: develop within. They don’t sign free agents and rarely make trades for major leaguers. It’s just how they operate and they’ve had a lot of success with it.


    Boston Red Sox

    The Lineup:

    1. Alex Verdugo (LF)
    2. Andrew Benintendi (RF)
    3. Rafael Devers (3B)
    4. Trevor Story (SS)
    5. Eric Hosmer (DH)
    6. Brandon Lowe (2B)
    7. Tristan Casas (1B)
    8. Enrique Hernandez (CF)
    9. Reese McGuire (C)


    Bench Bats:

    Nelson Cruz

    Connor Wong

    Christian Arroyo

    Jarren Duran


    The Rotation:

    1. Chris Sale (R)
    2. Nathan Eovaldi (R)
    3. Nick Pivetta (R)
    4. Garrett Whitlock (R)
    5. Tanner Houck (R)


    The Bullpen: 

    CLOSER: Taylor Rogers (L)

    Matt Barnes (R)

    Ryan Brasier (R)

    John Schreiber (R)

    Kutter Crawford (R)

    James Paxton (L)

    Matt Strahm (L)

    Alex Colome (R)



    It’s been reported that Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox are far apart in contract negotiations, and as a result, he ultimately will end up walking. That’ll allow Trevor Story to shift over to his natural position of shortstop, and I have Boston trading for Tampa Bay second baseman, Brandon Lowe. At the time of writing this, Lowe would not have cost that much in a trade, as Boston would’ve had to trade somebody that wouldn’t be on Tampa’s 40-man roster. Also, despite being division rivals, Chaim Bloom has a connection with Tampa’s front office, so that’s why this trade would be more likely than usual for division rivals. Lowe is the immediate replacement for Bogaerts. I also have the Red Sox shelling out a contract to Andrew Benintendi to the tune of a four-year, $54 million deal. Despite losing Bogaerts, Lowe and Benintendi are solid consolidation prices that are much more cost efficient. The question becomes, however, if the Red Sox don’t meet Bogaerts demands and he walks in free agency, do the Red Sox err towards the side of rebuilding? It’s definitely possible. For purposes of this however, I have the Red Sox attempting to compete in an absolutely loaded division where they might be at the end of the pecking order.


    I also have the Red Sox signing DH Nelson Cruz, who could split time with Eric Hosmer at the DH position. I have Cruz signing a one-year, $5 million deal with the Sox, and this could very well be his farewell tour. With top prospect Tristan Casas ready for everyday playing time, it allows the veterans of Hosmer and Cruz to each become part-time players.


    Before signing with the Rays, it was reported the Red Sox offered Zach Eflin an identical contract, but Eflin opted to sign with the team close to his hometown. Even before that report, though, it was clear the Red Sox would be after starting pitching. I have the Red Sox ultimately re-signing Nathan Eovaldi to a two-year, $16 million deal to be their #2 starter. It has also been reported that the Red Sox’s plan for Garrett Whitlock is to be a starter this upcoming season, and then the fifth rotation spot should come down to Tanner Houck and Brayan Bello. Here, I gave the nod to Houck. For years, the Red Sox’s biggest need was a closer, and I have them snagging lefty Taylor Rogers on a two-year, $19 million deal. Rogers went from the Twins to the Padres to the Brewers last year, and despite a down year, he still saved 31 games. The Red Sox also need another southpaw in the bullpen, so I re-signed Matt Strahm to a two-year, $10 million deal. Finally, I gave the Red Sox one more bullpen arm with journeyman and former closer, Alex Colome. Obviously, Boston would be paying Rogers like a closer, so that’s their plan A. But Tanner Houck was pretty good in the closing role last year if he fails as a starter again, and Matt Barnes has closing experience as well.


    Baltimore Orioles

    The Lineup:

    1. Cedric Mullins (CF)
    2. Adley Rutschman (C)
    3. Gunnar Henderson (3B)
    4. Anthony Santander (RF)
    5. Ryan Mountcastle (1B)
    6. Miguel Sano (DH)
    7. Jean Segura (2B)
    8. Austin Hays (LF)
    9. Jorge Mateo (SS)


    Bench Bats:

    Ramon Urias

    Franchy Cordero

    Tommy Pham

    Austin Hedges


    The Rotation:

    1. Carlos Rodon (L)
    2. Kyle Bradish (R)
    3. Dean Kremer (R)
    4. Grayson Rodriguez (R)
    5. DL Hall (L)


    The Bullpen: 

    CLOSER: Felix Bautista (R)

    Keegan Akin (L)

    Dillon Tate (R)

    Austin Voth (R)

    Spenser Watkins (R)

    Garrett Richards (R)

    Brad Hand (L)

    Cionel Perez (L)



    I don’t understand the Kyle Gibson signing for Baltimore. At this point, we know what Gibson is. He’s an innings-eater that’s going to have a 4.50 ERA and be a serviceable #4 or #5 starter. But I thought Baltimore should’ve had their eyes set on bigger fish, such as Carlos Rodon. It’s possible they still could go after Rodon, but it’s also possible they’ve seen what his market is and feel uncomfortable paying what he’s expected to be paid, so they could’ve went the Gibson route. Either way, the Orioles pitching drastically improved last year after Adley Rutschman made his major league debut. This roster projection doesn’t even factor in the Orioles ace, John Means, who had Tommy John surgery at the end of April, so the hope is that he’ll be back by August or September. Either way, I think the Orioles should’ve had their eyes set on someone better than Gibson. I had the Orioles signing Rodon to a five-year, $137.5 million deal to lock the lefty in as the clubs ace through 2027. However, it appears that Rodon may be Jacob deGrom’s replacement for the Mets. I also had the Orioles signing second baseman Jean Segura to a two-year, $18 million deal. Segura will provide the Orioles an above average bat with pretty good defense to boot. I also have the Orioles taking a shot on power hitter Miguel Sano for a one-year, $4 million deal. At this point, Sano might not be worth that money, but it’s a gamble for a team devout of power hitters. Finally, I have Baltimore signing Garrett Richards and lefty Brad Hand to $3.5 million and $3 million one-year deals respectively. Baltimore showed the second half of last year that they’re ready to take the next step after their rebuild, and getting reliable bullpen arms in addition to an ace like Rodon and a reliable player like Segura are steps in the right direction.


    This concludes part four of my six part article. Please be on the look out later this week for part five. You can follow me on Twitter @BirdRightsPod. Thank you!

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