Teams are listed in order of predicted finish. We’ve also included either the team’s best trade pickup or bait. Here is our NL team by team preview.
On paper, they’re the best team. It all comes down to whether the Big Three — Rick Porcello, David Price, and Chris Sale — can live up to their billing. Price is already behind with elbow issues. The offense will need to step up after losing David Ortiz. The Sox must get a huge contribution from rookie Andrew Benintendi and the reinvented Pablo Sandoval.
Best trade pickup: Rick Porcello.
Red Sox schedule, roster, and stats.
Strong starting rotation, but like the Red Sox will be missing the big bopper — Edwin Encarnacion. Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson must carry this team. The Jays have good overall defense. The bullpen will be a little iffy beside closer Roberto Osuna.
Best trade pickup: Donaldson.
Blue Jays schedule, roster, and stats.
The Orioles’ lineup is intact from 2016, save for Matt Wieters. The key here is Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy emerging as top-of-the-rotation pitchers. If that happens and the bullpen stays elite and the offense remains explosive, watch out.
Best trade pickup: Adam Jones.
Orioles schedule, roster, and stats.
4. New York
They’ll be better than you think. They have to iron out some rotation issues, but their lineup, with youngsters Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez, should score runs. We repeat for the umpteenth time: Jacoby Ellsbury must spark this offense. The bullpen is still top-notch with Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances leading the back end.
Best trade bait: Michael Pineda.
Yankees schedule, roster, and stats.
5. Tampa Bay
The analytics folks love pitching and team defense, but it’s the same old issue in Tampa: lack of offense and a patchwork bullpen. The Rays still have an elite offensive player in third baseman Evan Longoria, and second baseman Brad Miller has emerged as a power hitter. The Rays stress defense, as witnessed by Kevin Kiermaier’s new long-term deal.
Best trade pickup: Chris Archer.
Rays schedule, roster, and stats.
It’s unknown whether Michael Brantley can hold up for an entire season after recovering from two shoulder surgeries, but the Indians have their starting rotation back (Carlos Carrasco is a bit behind). Their lineup gets a jolt with Edwin Encarnacion, and their bullpen is one of the best. Overall, a solid team that should challenge Boston for league supremacy.
Best trade pickup: Corey Kluber.
Indians schedule, roster, and stats.
2. Kansas City
The Royals are giving it one last shot with Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain all eligible for free agency after the season. The death of Yordano Ventura is devastating in many ways, so the Royals need to pitch well to have a chance. If not, this team will be disassembled by the trade deadline, if not sooner.
Best trade bait: Hosmer.
Royals schedule, roster, and stats.
The Tigers tried to break this team up and go young. They weren’t able to pull it off, but they’re still pretty good. Their rotation should be a strength if Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmermann, and Michael Fulmer remain high-caliber starters, Daniel Norris develops, and veteran Anibal Sanchez has anything left. The Tigers continue to have bullpen challenges and they didn’t solve center field. The lineup will be potent once J.D. Martinez (foot) returns.
Best trade bait: Ian Kinsler.
Tigers schedule, roster, and stats.
If they hold on to Jose Quintana, they will have a very good rotation — even without Chris Sale — after adding Derek Holland. But Carlos Rodon’s recent shoulder issues are a concern. The White Sox also held on to closer Dave Robertson and slugging third baseman Todd Frazier despite offseason interest. This is certainly not a walkover team.
Best trade bait: Quintana.
White Sox schedule, roster, and stats.
It's hard to find a silver lining for this season and it’s hard to figure how this team can get out of the cellar, but if all of their young guys click, who knows? The Twins are banking on Phil Hughes coming back strong from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, and for Ervin Santana to lead the rotation.
Best trade bait: Santana.
Twins schedule, roster, and stats.
If they could get their hands on Jose Quintana — it might cost them top pitching prospect Francis Martes — this could be an elite team. Their lineup could rival Boston’s as the best in the league. Their bullpen is decent, but they must solve their depth issues in the rotation.
Best trade pickup: Ken Giles.
Astros schedule, roster, and stats.
GM Jerry Dipoto changed this team quite a bit in the offseason, but Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Nelson Cruz remain and they are still pretty explosive players. Dipoto added to the rotation and bullpen. A surprise team? A sleeper? The Mariners could fall into those categories if everything falls right.
Best trade pickup: Jean Segura.
Mariners schedule, roster, and stats.
Not crazy about the back end of their rotation, and even Yu Darvish tends to fade as his innings mount. They have a good lineup, led by future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre. The Rangers don’t quite have the chips they once did to pull off a big deal (Jose Quintana would be perfect there), but Joey Gallo — a powerful corner infielder we’ve been hearing about for quite some time — could either provide an offensive spark or be used as trade bait.
Best trade bait: Gallo.
Rangers schedule, roster, and stats.
4. Los Angeles
Having the great Mike Trout hasn’t helped the Angels in recent years because their starting rotation simply hasn’t been able to carry them. But the team’s pitching seems improved, as does the defense. They do have more of a Mike Scioscia-type team that can make things happen on the base paths, so that should make them more exciting.
Best trade pickup: Andrelton Simmons.
Angels schedule, roster, and stats.
I expect the A’s to struggle again. They have some decent bullpen pieces, so they won’t blow games late, but there’s nothing special going on, especially with Sonny Gray dealing with another injury.
Best trade pickup: Khris Davis.
A’s schedule, roster, and stats.
Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.