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East

Boston Red Sox

2013: 97-65, first place (World Series champions)

Manager: John Farrell (second season)

He’s here: OF Grady Sizemore, C A.J. Pierzynski, LHP Chris Capuano, RHP Edward Mujica, RHP Burke Badenhop, INF Jonathan Herrera

He’s outta here: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, SS Stephen Drew, RHP Ryan Dempster, LHP Franklin Morales

Projected lineup: CF Grady Sizemore (.224, 10 HR, 32 RBI in 2011, DNP 2012-13), RF Shane Victorino (.294, 15, 61, 21 SB), 2B Dustin Pedroia (.301, 9, 84, 193 H, 42 2B), DH David Ortiz (.309, 30, 103, .564 SLG), 1B Mike Napoli (.259, 23, 92, 187 Ks), LF Daniel Nava (.303, 12, 66, .831 OBP) or Jonny Gomes (.247, 13, 52), 3B Will Middlebrooks (.227, 17, 49), C A.J. Pierzynski (.272, 17, 70 with Texas), SS Xander Bogaerts (.250, 1, 5)

Rotation: LH Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75, 177 Ks), RH John Lackey (10-13, 3.52, 161 Ks), LH Felix Doubront (11-6, 4.32), RH Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 with Chicago White Sox and Boston), RH Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74)

Key relievers: RH Koji Uehara (4-1, 1.09, 21/24 saves, 101Ks, 9 BB), RH Junichi Tazawa (5-4, 3.16)

Outlook: After their third World Series championship in 10 years, the Red Sox stuck with the strategy that worked last offseason. They resisted giving free agents expensive, long-term contracts and signed Mujica for two years and Pierzynski, Sizemore and Capuano for one year each. The rotation is the same group of solid veterans led by Lester. The bullpen is deep with the addition of Mujica. He could close games when Uehara needs a rest but primarily will join Breslow and Tazawa as setup men. Uehara was nearly unhittable in the postseason, pitching 13 2/3 innings in 13 games and striking out 16 while allowing no walks and one earned run with seven saves in seven opportunities. Despite the loss of Ellsbury, the lineup remains potent with Ortiz and Napoli providing power. The defense took a hit when Ellsbury and Drew left, but Pedroia and Victorino are outstanding fielders. Still, the Red Sox won’t take anyone by surprise after their stunning rebound last year from a 69-93 record.

Tampa Bay Rays

2013: 92-71, 2nd place, lost to Boston in division series

Manager: Joe Maddon (ninth season)

He’s here: C Ryan Hanigan, RHP Grant Balfour, RHP Heath Bell, RHP Brad Boxberger, INF Logan Forsythe, RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, INF Jayson Nix, INF Wilson Betemit

He’s outta here: RHP Fernando Rodney, DH Luke Scott, OF Kelly Johnson, DH Delmon Young, OF Sam Fuld, INF Ryan Roberts, RHP Roberto Hernandez, RHP Jamey Wright, LHP Alex Torres

Projected lineup: LF David DeJesus (.251, 8 HRs, 38 RBI with Cubs, Nationals, Rays), 2B Ben Zobrist (.275, 12, 71, 36 doubles), 3B Evan Longoria (.269, 32, 88, 39 doubles), RF Wil Myers (.293, 13, 53, in 88 games, AL rookie of the year), 1B James Loney (.299,13, 75), DH Matt Joyce (.235, 18, 47), CF Desmond Jennings (.252, 14, 54, 31 doubles, 20 SBs), C Ryan Hanigan (.198, 2, 21 in 75 games with Reds) or Jose Molina (.233, 2, 18), SS Yunel Escobar (.256, 9, 56)

Rotation: LH David Price (10-8, 3.33 ERA , 151 Ks), RH Alex Cobb (11-3, 2.76, 134 Ks), LH Matt Moore (17-4, 3.29,143 Ks), RH Chris Archer (9-7, 3.22, 101 Ks), RH Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 3.94 in 7 appearances, 4 starts) or LH Cesar Ramos (2-2, 4.14 in 48 relief appearances)

Key relievers: RH Grant Balfour (1-3, 2.59, 72 Ks, 38/41 saves with Athletics), RH Heath Bell (5-2, 4.11, 72 Ks with Diamondbacks)

Outlook: The budget-minded Rays don’t have the financial capability of the AL East rival Red Sox and Yankees, but principal owner Stuart Sternberg spent generously this winter – boosting payroll to about $80 million, a team record – to ensure most of the key components of a team that won 92 games and made the playoffs for the fourth time in six seasons remained together. In addition to not trading Price, instead giving him a $14 million, one-year contract, the Rays re-signed Loney; picked up options on Zobrist and Escobar; traded for Hanigan, Bell and Forsythe; and signed Balfour in free agency. With Price anchoring one of the strongest starting rotations in baseball and Longoria and Myers providing a powerful one-two punch in the middle of the batting order, the Rays feel they not only have what it takes to get back to the playoffs but win the World Series.

Baltimore Orioles

2013: 85-77, third place (tie)

Manager: Buck Showalter (fifth season)

He’s here: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, DH Nelson Cruz, RHP Ryan Webb, INF Jemile Weeks, OF David Lough, OF Francisco Peguero, OF Delmon Young, OF Xavier Paul, RHP Edgmer Escalona, SS Alex Gonzalez, RHP Alfredo Aceves

He’s outta here: RHP Jim Johnson, 2B Brian Roberts, LF Nate McLouth, RHP Jason Hammel, DH Wilson Betemit, RHP Scott Feldman, OF Michael Morse, C Taylor Teagarden, DH Danny Valencia, RHP Francisco Rodriguez

Projected lineup: RF Nick Markakis (.271, 10 HRs, 59 RBI), 3B Manny Machado (.283, 14, 71, 51 doubles), CF Adam Jones (.285, 33, 108, 100 runs), 1B Chris Davis (.286, ML-leading 53, 138, 103 runs, 42 doubles), DH Nelson Cruz (.266, 27, 76 with Texas), C Matt Wieters (.235, 22, 79), SS J.J. Hardy (.263, 25, 76), LF David Lough (.286, 5, 33 with Kansas City), 2B Ryan Flaherty (.224, 10, 27 in 85 games)

Rotation: RH Chris Tillman (16-7, 3.71 ERA, 179 Ks, 33 starts, 206 1-3 innings), RH Ubaldo Jimenez (13-9, 3.30, 33 starts with Cleveland), LH Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 4.07), RH Miguel Gonzalez (11-8, 3.78, 120 Ks in 171 1/3 innings), RH Bud Norris (10-12, 4.18, 32 games with Houston and Baltimore).

Key relievera: RH Tommy Hunter (6-5, 2.81, 4/6 saves), RH Darren O’Day (5-3, 2.18, 2/6 saves)

Outlook: By signing Jimenez and Cruz after the start of spring training, Orioles VP Dan Duquette solidified the rotation and improved the offense of a team that hopes to make some noise in the AL East after finishing in a tie for third last season. Baltimore led the majors in HRs in 2013, and the addition of Cruz should enable the team to keep on slugging even if Davis experiences an inevitable drop off after hitting a career-high 53 last year. The Orioles shouldn’t have much trouble scoring runs but won’t have to if the pitching holds up. Jimenez provides depth to the rotation, but the back end needs to do its part for Baltimore to return to the playoffs and compete in a tough division against the defending champion Red Sox and improved Yankees.

New York Yankees

2013: 85-77, third place (tie)

Manager: Joe Girardi (seventh season)

He’s here: C Brian McCann, OF Jacoby Ellsbury, OF-DH Carlos Beltran, INF-OF Kelly Johnson, 2B Brian Roberts, INF Scott Sizemore, LHP Matt Thornton, RHP Masahiro Tanaka

He’s outta here: 2B Robinson Cano, OF Curtis Granderson, 3B Alex Rodriguez (suspended), 3B Kevin Youkilis, DH Travis Hafner, OF-DH Vernon Wells, 1B-3B Mark Reynolds, 1B Lyle Overbay, C Chris Stewart, RHP Mariano Rivera, LHP Andy Pettitte, RHP Joba Chamberlain, LHP Boone Logan, RHP Phil Hughes

Projected lineup: CF Jacoby Ellsbury (.298, 9, 53, league-leading 53 SBs for Boston), SS Derek Jeter (.190, 1, 7, 17 games), RF Carlos Beltran (.296, 24, 84 for St. Louis), DH Alfonso Soriano (.255, 34, 101 with Yankees and Cubs), 1B Mark Teixeira (.151, 3, 12, 15 games), C Brian McCann (.256, 20, 57 for Atlanta), 2B Brian Roberts (.249, 8, 39 in 77 games for Baltimore), LF Brett Gardner (.273, 8, 52, 10 triples, 24 SBs), 3B Kelly Johnson (.235, 16, 52)

Rotation: LH CC Sabathia (14-13, 4.78 ERA, 175 Ks, league-leading 112 earned runs allowed), RH Hiroki Kuroda (11-13, 3.31), RH Ivan Nova (9-6, 3.10, 116 Ks in 139 1/3 innings), RH Masahiro Tanaka (24-0, 1.27, 183 Ks in Japan), RH Michael Pineda (has not pitched in majors since 2011; shoulder surgery)

Key relievers: RH David Robertson (5-1, 2.04, 3/5 saves), LH Matt Thornton (0-4, 3.74 with White Sox and Boston)

Outlook: The Yankees committed $471 million on free agents, including the $20 million payment to Tanaka’s Japanese team, hoping the shopping spree has the same payoff as their last pricey offseason after missing the playoffs did: a World Series championship. That could be difficult. It’s been five years since Teixeira and Sabathia arrived in the Bronx, and both are coming off career lows – Sabathia a 4.78 ERA, Teixeira .151 average and three homers in 53 at-bats. Jeter, the last remaining member of the Core Four, is about to begin his retirement tour after missing nearly all of last season, and career saves leader Rivera has already hung up his cutter – his closer job goes to Robertson, who has eight saves in 18 career chances. The addition of Tanaka and his masterful splitter, Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran might not be enough to propel the Yankees back to the postseason in a packed American League.

Toronto Blue Jays

2013: 74-88, fifth place

Manager: John Gibbons (second season)

He’s here: C Erik Kratz, C Dioner Navarro

He’s outta here: C J.P. Arencibia, INF Mark DeRosa, RHP Josh Johnson, RHP Brad Lincoln, LHP Darren Oliver

Projected lineup: SS Jose Reyes (.296, 10 HRs, 37 RBI), LF Melky Cabrera (.279, 3, 30), RF Jose Batiste (.259, 28, 73), 1B Edwin Incarnacion (.272, 36, 104), DH Adam Lind (.288, 23, 67), 3B Brett Lawrie (.254, 11, 46), CF Colby Rasmus (.276, 22, 66), C Dioner Navarro (.300, 13, 34 with Chicago Cubs), 2B Ryan Goins (.252, 2, 8)

Rotation: RH R.A. Dickey (14-13, 4.21 ERA), RH Drew Hutchison (missed 2013 with elbow injury), LH Mark Buehrle (12-10, 4.15), LH J.A. Happ (5-7, 4.56 in 18 starts), RH Brandon Morrow (2-3, 5.63 in 10 starts)

Key relievers: RH Casey Janssen (4-1, 2.56, 34/36 saves), RH Sergio Santos (1-1, 1.75), LH Brett Cecil (5-1, 2.82, All-Star), RH Steve Delabar (5-5, 3.22, All-Star)

Outlook: Having failed to add reinforcements through trades or free agency, the Blue Jays will make another run for the playoffs with a roster strikingly similar that of 2013, when a much-touted team turned in a disappointing last-place finish. With a lineup led by former batting champion Reyes and former All Star Cabrera, and bolstered by sluggers Bautista and Encarnacion, the Blue Jays should boast a prolific offense as long as key players avoid injuries. All four were sidelined at some point in 2013. As usual, competition is expected to be fierce in the AL East, where the Yankees have retooled after missing the playoffs and the Red Sox are the reigning World Series champions.

– Associated Press

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