Faces in new places around the bases

Harrington Gardiner | Staff Writer

Finally, Major League Baseball is back in full swing.

After a long offseason and spring training, the bright lights, broken bats and packed ballparks have returned. There was plenty of noise involving free-agent signings, trades and managerial changes throughout the majors. Those transactions have a strong impact on both the American League and National League.

So who will make it to October?

American League

The defending champion Boston Red Sox are looking to continue their dominance in the AL East. The Red Sox are led by AL MVP Mookie Betts and have the talent to repeat.

The Yankees also reached 100 wins yet finished second in the AL East. Despite missing several games, slugger Aaron Judge still made a tremendous impact late in the season and in the postseason. New York has excellent hitters and decent pitching to win games. Manager Aaron Boone looks to take this team to the next level.

The Cleveland Indians are led by manager Terry Francona and are in search of another World Series appearance after losing to the Cubs in 2016. Francisco Lindor will have to wait a little longer to take the field, but Cleveland brought back Roberto Perez, Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Santana.

The Houston Astros – with Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa – also have the lineup to compete. Justin Verlander will try to pitch the Astros back to the World Series after falling a step short last year.

National League

The Philadelphia Phillies signed former Nationals star Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal. They also added Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, David Robertson and J.T Realmuto. With talent like that, they’ll make the NL East even more competitive.

The San Diego Padres look to increase their win total and make an impact. They likely will be a sleeper team until late in the season.

The addition of Manny Machado will help a ton, along with Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Arias and Francisco Mejia. The Padres look to be headed in the right direction, so watch out for what this team does in 2019.

Even after losing a once-in-a-generation talent in Harper, the Washington Nationals still have a team that’s built to compete in the NL East. They’ve got excellent pitching with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

The Nationals have to overcome an injury to Trea Turner, but they also have a good mix of young impact players and veterans, with Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon.

The organization did a good job of preparing for Harper’s departure and making sure they still are able to compete.

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