ESPN's Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the shifting landscape in the American League East following the Blue Jays' agreement to acquire a number of key players from the Marlins.
Olney acknowledged that the Jays improved their roster, but he said other teams aren't panicking.
"I can't say that I'm hearing a lot of hand-wringing going on today from executives with the other American League East teams, saying, 'Wow, this is a crushing deal to us that Toronto got all these players,' because I do think that there's some open questions about [Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle]," Olney said. "Everyone looks at Reyes as, OK, he's really talented, and he has a really hard time staying on the field, that's his history. Now [the Jays] have a massive obligation in salary there. And I don't think [opposing teams] look at Buehrle as someone that they're really afraid of. And as I mentioned, so many questions about Johnson."
Added Olney: "It gives them a chance to get better. They addressed the big issue on their team, which is their rotation. But you don't walk away saying this makes them prohibitive favorites. I do think it probably pushes them into what looks like what's going to be a five-team race next year. Because it doesn't look like, whether it's the Yankees or the Red Sox or the other two teams, that there's going to be any real blockbuster moves with the four other clubs this winter."
Looking at how the AL East shapes up right now, Olney said the Sox are bringing up the rear, but there is hope.
"There's still moves to come, it's early in the offseason, but I have the Red Sox fifth as well," he said. "And I don't think there's a huge gap between five and one. I think that one or two moves and you could easily put No. 5 at No. 1. I think that's how close these teams are together.
"The Yankees right now, I can tell you, they're basically hoping that they can maintain the status quo by re-signing [Hiroki] Kuroda, re-signing [Andy] Pettitte, signing [Mariano] Rivera, maybe adding an outfielder. But there's not much beyond that. The Rays are kind of treading water. If they trade James Shields, they're going to take a hit to their pitching staff to add a little bit of offense but not a lot. The Orioles might look at someone like a Nick Swisher, but I don't think there's going to be a massive restructuring there.
"So, I do think it's basically going to be a five-team race. And I think probably among the teams left, the biggest bullets to be fired left are by the Red Sox, whether it's a [Mike] Napoli or another pitcher or two."
Added Olney: "I bet you by the time we get to spring training and the Red Sox do fire off their bullets, we're going to be looking at a complete, wide-open, five-team race."
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