How do Orioles stack up in AL East in 2023?

January 13th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jake Rill’s Orioles Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Due to the new, more balanced schedule for the 2023 season, the Orioles won’t be playing their four AL East rivals 19 times apiece. Instead, they’ll have 13 games each against the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays and Red Sox.

That’s all right with Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde.

“I think it’s more fair for everybody, and I’m looking forward to it,” Hyde said at last month’s Winter Meetings. “I think all of the AL East is looking forward to it.”

But these five teams will still be battling for a division crown and AL Wild Card berths. Each could be a legitimate postseason contender in the upcoming season.

Let’s break down how the Orioles stack up to their AL East competitors now that the majority of the offseason has taken place:

Yankees (99-63, first place in ‘22)

Key moves: Re-signed OF Aaron Judge; re-signed 1B Anthony Rizzo; signed SP Carlos Rodón; signed RP Tommy Kahnle

Notable losses: OF Andrew Benintendi (White Sox); SP Jameson Taillon (Cubs); IF Matt Carpenter (Padres); RP Miguel Castro (D-backs)

Judge owns a .310/.434/.699 slash line in 87 career games vs. the Orioles and has more home runs against them (35) than any other team. With the new Yankees captain signing a nine-year, $360 million deal this offseason, O’s pitchers will see plenty more of the slugger for the next near-decade.

Last year, Baltimore went 7-12 against New York, which took the AL East lead on April 27 and led the rest of the way en route to a division title. The Orioles averaged only 3.7 runs per game against the Yanks, who have since added Rodón to a rotation that already featured fellow All-Stars Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes.

The Yankees should enter 2023 as the AL East favorites, especially if they add another bat to their lineup (which remains a strong possibility).

Blue Jays (92-70, second place in ‘22)

Key moves: Signed SP Chris Bassitt; signed 1B Brandon Belt; signed OF Kevin Kiermaier; acquired RP Erik Swanson from Mariners; acquired OF Daulton Varsho from D-backs

Notable losses: OF Teoscar Hernández (Mariners); OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (D-backs); C Gabriel Moreno (D-backs); SP/RP Ross Stripling (Giants)

Toronto bolstered a solid rotation by signing Bassitt (one of the top starters on the free-agent market) to a three-year, $63 million deal. It greatly improved its outfield defense with the acquisitions of Kiermaier and Varsho, and it brought in a veteran leader in Belt, who will be a quality first base/DH option.

The Orioles went 9-10 against the Blue Jays in 2022, and both teams are filled with exciting, young players. So matchups between the division rivals in ‘23 should again be competitive and entertaining to watch.

Rays (86-76, third place in ‘22)

Key moves: Signed SP Zach Eflin

Notable losses: OF Kevin Kiermaier (Blue Jays); SP Corey Kluber (Red Sox); C Mike Zunino (Guardians); 1B Ji-Man Choi (Pirates); SP/RP Ryan Yarbrough (Royals); RP J.P. Feyereisen (Dodgers); RP Brooks Raley (Mets)

In 2021, the Orioles went 1-18 against the Rays, averaging only 3.7 runs over those 19 games. The results went Baltimore’s way much more often in ‘22, when it finished 9-10 vs. Tampa Bay. However, the O’s still averaged only 3.9 runs per game in the season series.

Even though the Rays have lost some quality bullpen arms, they always assemble a top-tier pitching staff. Their rotation will continue to be a strength, with Eflin taking Kluber’s spot and joining Shane McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow, Drew Rasmussen and more.

Baltimore-Tampa Bay contests in 2023 could be tight, low-scoring affairs, and the Orioles may need to outpitch the Rays in order to win them.

Red Sox (78-84, fifth place in ‘22)

Key moves: Extended 3B Rafael Devers; signed OF Masataka Yoshida; signed DH Justin Turner; signed SP Corey Kluber; signed RPs Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin and Joely Rodríguez

Notable losses: SS Xander Bogaerts (Padres); DH J.D. Martinez (Dodgers); SP Nathan Eovaldi (Rangers); SP Rich Hill (Pirates); RP Matt Strahm (Phillies); 1B Eric Hosmer (Cubs)

Boston has had plenty of players coming and going this winter, but its biggest move has been signing Devers to a 10-year extension that will keep him on the Sox through 2033. However, the team also has a newly created hole on the left side of the infield.

After losing Bogaerts in free agency, Trevor Story was expected to slide over from second base to shortstop, his natural position. But the 30-year-old appears likely to miss significant time after recently undergoing right elbow surgery.

There’s a wide range of potential outcomes for Boston in 2023. The club has had an active offseason, but it could rely on some less-experienced players at key spots (such as the starting rotation). Either way, the Orioles went 9-10 vs. the Red Sox last season and should play them competitively again this year.