The Orioles won the American League East last year for the first time since 2012. Do they have enough magic to repeat?

The Orioles made two notable adds — signing Craig Kimbrel and trading for Corbin Burnes. Their AL East competitors, though, also made moves to get better. The New York Yankees added Juan Soto, Marcus Stroman and a group of outfielders. The Toronto Blue Jays signed Justin Turner and have a stacked pitching staff. The Tampa Bay Rays always have something up their sleeve, and the Boston Red Sox still exist.

Our team of baseball reporters takes a look at the state of the division.

Who will win the AL East and why?

Paul Mancano, Sports Audience Engagement Editor: The Yankees have the highest payroll, the Blue Jays have the best pitching staff, the Rays have Kevin Cash and the Red Sox … well, the Red Sox don’t have much. But the Orioles have the best team in the division, at least on paper. The O’s reminded everyone how important depth is during the regular season, and it’s Baltimore’s depth that sets it apart from its peers. No team is better prepared to weather injuries and run the 162-game gamut than Baltimore.

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Danielle Allentuck, Orioles reporter: The Orioles. Look, we all say with the Mets that money can’t buy wins. The Orioles have the best young talent in the league and, as long as their pitching stays healthy, should have no problem repeating as division champions.

Andy Kostka, Orioles reporter: The Yankees flexed their payroll muscle in a way few teams can — or, at least, are willing to — and because of it, they reloaded this offseason to make themselves a formidable divisional foe. But the Orioles, even with right-hander Kyle Bradish injured, have the depth to carry them through the grind that is a baseball season. Plus, they have the potential to be an offensive juggernaut with Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander at the top of the lineup. Look for a repeat AL East title.

Jon Meoli, Orioles columnist: This is a difficult question because all of the most enjoyable outcomes (the Yankees not winning, the continued failures of this touted generation of Blue Jays, the Rays falling apart) leave the Orioles as the logical choice, but I’m not sure I see a repeat in the cards. I believe in star power a lot more than I believe in Toronto or Tampa Bay, so I’m going to begrudgingly say the Yankees have enough of their big names available this season to squeak out a division title.

Which team had the most productive offseason?

Mancano: Juan Soto was the best player not named Shohei Ohtani to change teams this offseason, and his arrival in New York makes the Yankees the winner in this category. The Bombers also buttressed their outfield — a weakness of their 2023 squad — by acquiring Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham, and their addition of Marcus Stroman raises the floor of their rotation.

Allentuck: By Orioles standards, acquiring Corbin Burnes was a mega blockbuster deal. But the Yankees, like Mancano said, had a move of that caliber and more. They made four moves — Soto, Verdugo, Grisham and Stroman — while the Orioles did just two.

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Kostka: The Orioles made their long-awaited trade for an ace starting pitcher, acquiring right-hander Corbin Burnes, but as general manager Mike Elias often pointed out, Baltimore didn’t need an overhaul. Most of the talent was already here. The Yankees, then, made the biggest advancements this offseason. Soto is a major reason, but as Paul points out, it doesn’t stop with him.

Meoli: Not the Red Sox, that’s for sure. I guess the Orioles win by default here. Their acquisition of Burnes is the closest thing to Soto as there is in the division, but the Craig Kimbrel signing probably has more value to the Orioles than whatever we consider the Yankees’ secondary move.

Which AL East teams will make the playoffs?

Are there more clubhouse celebrations in the future for Anthony Santander and the Orioles? (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Mancano: Barring significant injuries, the Orioles should be in. The Rays traded Tyler Glasnow, but they’re bringing back most of the major contributors to their 99-win campaign from a year ago. The Yankees, in spite of themselves, will probably reach the postseason thanks to their star-studded lineup.

Allentuck: The Orioles are in. They have the talent to skid and still claim at least a wild-card spot. You have to think the Yankees, after missing last season, are also in with the help of their offseason additions. I also think the Blue Jays will sneak in.

Kostka: Last year, making the playoffs at all was a major accomplishment for an Orioles team ahead of schedule on the rebuild. This year, it’s the minimum expectation. Baltimore should be back in October. The Yankees could slug their way there, too, and the Rays have the guile to make it work.

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Meoli: I think only the Yankees, Orioles and Blue Jays make the tournament this year.

Who will be the best player in the division?

Mancano: Soto is the easy answer. It’s about time the 25-year-old wins his first MVP award — he’s already a three-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger. The short porch at Yankee Stadium could provide Soto with his first 40-homer season, and the pressures of New York should not be an issue for a player who pushed his team to a title at just 21 years old.

Allentuck: This is down to Soto and Henderson, and my gut tells me this one is going to go to Henderson. He won AL Rookie of the Year after slumping for the first two months of the season. Imagine what he can do if he has a full season of stellar play.

Kostka: Soto is the front-runner, but Gunnar Henderson isn’t far behind. Fresh off his AL Rookie of the Year award, Henderson has the chance to build on a stellar campaign. When he looks at his rookie year, Henderson points out how he hopes to get out to a better start to the season. He realized the pressure he put on himself early in 2023 hurt more than helped. Now he’s comfortable at this level, and he could be in the MVP race.

Meoli: I’m just glad Soto is facing this version of the Orioles and not the 2019 edition, as he is a truly terrifying hitter who is going to make an all-time free agency case in pinstripes this year.

Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College.

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