The Boston Red Sox’s busy offseason, highlighted by the acquisition of star pitcher Chris Sale, has raised expectations among oddsmakers with the club set as heavy -175 favorites to repeat as American League East champions at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
With Sale on the roster, Boston takes one of the MLB’s most fearsome starting rotations into its season-opening matchup against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Fenway Park on April 3.
Sale is joined by reigning Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and veteran right-hander Steven Wright, who won a career-high 13 games last season, while Craig Kimbrel once again is expected to handle closer duties.
However, the Red Sox could be without ace David Price to start the season, as he struggles to recover from an elbow injury that has kept him off the mound.
Boston’s offense also looks primed to be among the best in the majors this season, led by budding star outfielder Mookie Betts, who is coming off a breakthrough 31-home run, 113-RBI campaign in 2016 and sports +750 odds to claim AL MVP honors.
After posting 93 victories last season, Boston’s win total is set at 92.5 with appealing -115 odds attached to the over. The Red Sox also own +225 odds to win the AL, and are a strong +450 wager to claim their first World Series crown since 2013.
The Toronto Blue Jays represent Boston’s closest competition on the AL East odds at +425. Toronto’s vaunted offense took a hit this winter with the departure of slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who signed with the Cleveland Indians.
However, Toronto’s starting rotation, led by World Baseball Classic MVP Marcus Stroman, should once again rank among baseball’s best after leading the AL in 2016 with a 3.64 ERA.
A mid-September collapse bounced New York from playoff contention last season, but the Yankees improved on their youthful roster with the offseason signing of closer Aroldis Chapman and designated hitter Matt Holliday, earning them +550 odds of winning the AL East for the first time in five years.
The Baltimore Orioles finished 2016 alongside Toronto with 89 wins, but with questions swirling around the club’s rotation, Baltimore sits off the pace on the AL East futures at +750.
And with just 68 wins, the Tampa Bay Rays finished second-last overall in the AL last season, and look to be closer to a rebuild than a return to glory. That has made them distant +1800 long shots to finish atop the AL East for the first time since 2010.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
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