The annual winter meetings, as The New York Times correctly notes, became the Scott Boras show. In just three days the super agent negotiated $814 million worth of contracts for three players: pitchers Stephen Strasburg ($245 million, 7 years), Gerrit Cole ($324 million, 9 years), and third baseman Anthony Rendon ($245 million, 7 years). With Boras’s show of force out of the way, now is a good time to survey the MLB landscape, as those three deals have World Series implications. With that being said, here is Last Word on Baseball’s early look at next season’s World Series favorites.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have proven they are top contenders for the World Series. They won 103 games last season, with a power-packed lineup led by Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres. Sure enough the Yankees made it to the ALCS. But their lack of a true-ace reared its ugly head against the Houston Astros.
Thus, the Yankees giving Gerrit Cole that astronomical deal is an all-in move, as last season’s Cy Young Award runner-up is in his prime. In short, he could be the missing piece to New York’s championship puzzle.
Pundits and bookmakers have taken notice, with bwin listing the Yankees as the favorites to win next year’s World Series. Mike Oz of Yahoo! Sports sums up it best, noting how Cole’s signing brings forth “skyscrapers-sized expectations.” Anything less than a championship would be a failure for the Yankees, who seem to be reverting back to their exorbitant approach to free agency.
Losing Cole was a big blow for the Astros. But this franchise was built on a philosophy of sustainability. That means fielding a roster that can contend every single year. Besides, the Astros have more than enough talent to again make a World Series run.
They still have Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, as well as the soon-to-return Lance McCullers Jr. The Astros will also have their superstar trio of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa, along with George Springer, reigning Rookie of they Year Yordan Alvarez, and top prospect Kyle Tucker. Sure the 2019 AL champions are less fearsome without Cole. But the Astros remain one of the best teams in all of baseball; so don’t be surprised if they win the World Series again next season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Before the winter meetings, Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, pointed out that this team could stay put and still contend for a championship.
The Dodgers, in fact, have been perennial contenders for years although they haven’t won a World Series championship just yet. They’ll be favorites again this year, with a versatile lineup headlined by Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, and Max Muncy.
Yes, they could use a player or two to fortify both their starting rotation and bullpen, but at the moment the Dodgers are still a strong team and 2020 could be the year they finally breakthrough.
The reigning world champions defied the odds last season, but they had big-time talent to begin with. The Max Scherzer-Strasburg duo led the team to great heights. Rendon, Juan Soto, Howie Kendrick, and Trea Turner also performed strongly. Losing Rendon will likely set the Nationals back a bit, but expect this team to figure things out, just as they did last season in their improbable march to the World Series.