Here is a look at five things that could happen during the 2023 Major League Baseball season, with a number of high-profile issues remaining far from certain.
What is happening with the Boston Red Sox at the moment is far from certain. The outrage on social media when Xander Bogaerts - the All-Star shortstop who had spent his entire career with the Red Sox - was there for all to see when he confirmed he was leaving in early December.
Bogaerts signed an 11-year, $280 million deal with the San Diego Padres and Red Sox fans were left bewildered as to where their franchise sees itself.
This is a club that has won two World Series championships in the past 10 years, (2013 & 2019), but finished bottom of the AL East last season and even the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles won more games.
Bogaerts joined an ever-growing list of their starters leaving upon free agency, with Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi to name but two.
The scary thing for the Red Sox fans is that Rafael Devers is in the final year of his contract and who is to say he won’t also leave?
The Red Sox are +1200 to win the American League East Division in 2023.
The Houston Astros won the World Series in 2022, but will they be as good in 2023?
Without Justin Verlander (opted out of his Astros’ deal and moved to the New York Mets) leading the rotation it’s hard to see how. However, that is just one player and an ageing pitcher to boot.
The Astros, though, have reached six straight AL Championship series and won four of them.
With the return of Michael Brantley and the addition of Jose Abreu, the line-up is still strong. The guesswork is in the rotation - Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier will be stepping into larger roles and they will have to look after Hunter Brown, who could be a breakout candidate.
Houston’s Texas state rivals, the Rangers, have spent a bunch of cash trying to emulate the Astros in a bid to usurp them. Time will tell if they can, but you will have to be good to stop the Astros reaching the World Series again.
The Astros are +275 to retain the American League Championship pennant.
With the deal for Carlos Correa still being negotiated and despite having had an excellent offseason in recruitment, the overriding feeling is that the New York Mets won’t be as good as predicted and they will fall short of their goals.
They have two very tough opponents in their Division, in the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.
The Mets were pipped at the post to the NL East Division title last season by the Braves, who have won the Division five times in a row.
Both the Phillies and Mets reached the Wild Card playoffs last season, however, it was the former who surprisingly went all the way to the World Series.
Will the Mets have a better season than last year? It will be hard to replicate 101 wins, and the Division is likely to be a tighter affair.
The Mets are +120 to win the National League East Division.
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Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani is entering his final year as a Los Angeles Angels player. Will he stay the whole season or will he be traded as the Angels potentially falter again midway through the season?
The Angels are up for sale right now, so bold offseason transactions haven’t been accomplished. They are trying to tighten up a roster that is still there to compete but without adding to the finances.
The rotation for the Angels has been improved, as they already have Ohtani and now they have added Tyler Anderson. Hunter Renfroe and Brandon Drury further bolster a line-up that now has more power and they will lean on top catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe.
Can the Angels win the World Series? They are 50/1 to do it.
It has been such a dominant LA Dodgers-based division that the San Diego Padres have largely been forgotten as even being contenders.
However, the Padres clinched a Wild Card place and made their way to the NL Division series last season, knocking out the Dodgers, who were World Series favorites and who had won 111 games.
The Padres gave the Dodgers a bloody nose and with the signing of Bogaerts, they are back for more. The NL West Division, adding the San Francisco Giants into the mix, is one to watch in 2023.
Can the Angels win the World Series? They are +5000 to do it.
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