Early picks for every division
January, 28, 2014
By Buster Olney | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaWith David Price remaining in Tampa Bay, the Rays boast one of MLB's best rotations.There are still some front-line free agents who will sign before the start of the regular season, and the inevitable spring training injuries to come, so it's too early to lock in predictions for 2014.
But right now, this is what I'm looking at:
Division winners for the AL -- Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics
Wild-card teams -- Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees
Division winners for the NL -- Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers
Wild-card teams -- Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres
With David Price still in Tampa Bay, the Rays could have an extraordinary rotation. The Tigers may lack thump in the middle of their lineup, but they should be significantly better defensively with more speed and Joe Nathan will stabilize their bullpen. Oakland loses Bartolo Colon, but the Athletics will have Sonny Gray at the outset of the season with what could be an overpowering bullpen. Xander Bogaerts should help the Red Sox get back to the playoffs.
Washington added Doug Fister to an already strong rotation, and I bet the Nationals will be fueled by what they didn’t accomplish last year. Atlanta has growing money concerns with its young core, but has enough depth to get back to the playoffs. St. Louis looks capable of running away with the NL Central if its young pitching continues to manifest.