One of the main reasons I was able to look past the Red Sox having to pay the luxury tax is the organization’s executives seemed to think last season was worth the cost and remained committed to largely keeping the team together. It appears as though baseball pundits agree with those tactics as Matt Synder over at CBS Sports put the Red Sox on top of his MLB power rankings list for the 2019 season.
Now there were some caveats that went along with the list, mainly that there are still big name free agents out there (like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado) who could change things around depending on where they sign. This is significant since the Yankees and Dodgers are ranked number two and three on the list respectively and both are heavily rumored to be in the mix for Harper and Machado.
Furthermore, you can’t ignore Boston’s bullpen situation. They definitely have to replace Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel could potentially be leaving as well — though there’s discussion about how this might result in Kimbrel signing with Boston late in the offseason after he’s forced to realize his contract demands are too high (kinda like J.D. Martinez last season). With that in mind, Synder wrote that if the Red Sox “don’t add anything to the bullpen, they probably don’t stay here to start next season.”
After the Yankees and Dodgers, the top 10 on the list is rounded out by the Astros, Cubs, Indians, Braves, Nationals, Cardinals, and Rays. It’s worth noting that this means three teams from the AL East (Red Sox, Yankees, Rays) are in the top 10 and could make the pennant race there very interesting. Synder also left the Brewers and Rockies out of the top 10, which means he thinks they’ll fall short of their 2018 playoff runs next year.
Of course, all of this should be taken with a grain of salt as power rankings lists are fun to watch and take a lot of information into account but are no substitute for how the season actually plays out. Just ask any Washington fan, for instance, as prominent pundits have projected the Nationals as World Series champs several times but they’ve yet to make it out of the first round (when they even make it to the playoffs). Even considering that, I still prefer seeing Boston at the top of the list instead of the bottom.