The MLB offseason is fully underway. Moves are happening and will keep happening. Heck, as we move through December, we are just a few months away from spring ball. So let’s take a look at the MLB odds for the top teams next season and see if we can’t get a little bit of an early read on the 2020 season.
It’s much of the same with the Houston Astros and New York Yankees leading the way at +600 apiece to win the World Series … or is it?
Changing of the guard?
When we see the LA Dodgers at +800, bringing up the third spot on the list, it does look much the same. But the Atlanta Braves are in the mix at +1200, along with the Boston Red Sox at +1200 and both the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals at +1500. The Phillies come in at +2000, the St. Louis Cardinals at +2200 and the Chicago Cubs round out the top ten at +2500.
So why are the Astros and Yanks so high up as favorites when the Nationals brutally bashed their way through the postseason?
Both the Houston Astros and the NY Yankees are still loaded when it comes to bats. They have killer lineups that put most of the other teams in the league to shame – ok, maybe not actual shame, but you get my point. They are basically mobile artillery units loaded up with howitzers, while everyone else is just operating with rifles.
On top of this, both are likely to still have elite pitching staffs intact. Over in Houston, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are still anchoring the team on the mound as their one-two punch of aces and they still may be able to hang on to Gerrit Cole. If they keep Cole, it will spell trouble for the rest of the league, but he is due some pay and he may leave to sign a big contract elsewhere. Still, with a star pitching duo sitting on top of a great bullpen, the Astros pitching staff is looking pretty good.
Over in New York, the Yanks should keep Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German, James Paxton, and Luis Severino. It’s not like they have a super ace, but they don’t have a weak link either. On top of this, their pen is really good. Essentially both of these teams look geared up to have another 100-win season.
But what about the Nats?
The Washington Nationals are the defending World Series Champs. But if we have learned anything about this team, is they are quite judicious with their spending. So, with key players hitting free agency this year, it isn’t likely that we’ll see the same team out on the field in 2020. Washington could lose a huge chunk of its 2019 roster. Anthony Rendon is at the top of that, along with Stephen Strasburg.
Losing Strasburg will be devastating to the pitching rotation and of course, Rendon is a critical piece of the batting lineup and a stellar 3rd baseman. But there are a handful of others scheduled to hit free agency this season.
The Nationals need to make retaining Rendon a priority, but as we saw with Harper, they don’t love to shell out massive contracts. So, it’s more likely that they will set their priority on finding a less expensive replacement, as Rendon and his fantastic performance will garner him a nine-figure deal. Another big priority will be shoring up the bullpen. There are a couple players that probably need to go, like Sean Doolittle, Matt Adams and perhaps even Ryan Zimmerman.
I just don’t think the Nationals will be able to round up enough talent to repeat. They may make the wild card again … but with the Mets coming up and the Phillies on the rise, they may not make the playoffs at all in 2020. And that’s ok … they got their trophy, Washington fans can wait a couple of years while top brass plays money ball and tries to put together an affordable team that can win it all.