MLB handy holiday gift shopping guide for each team

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 19: A man dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, in a car driven by Braves cheerleaders, waves to first base coach Brandon Hyde
ATLANTA, GA - JULY 19: A man dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, in a car driven by Braves cheerleaders, waves to first base coach Brandon Hyde /
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A priority for the Arizona Diamondbacks will be the retention of J.D. Martinez. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

AL East

Baltimore Orioles—A Time Machine

With a time machine, the Orioles could go back to October 4, 2016. It’s the late innings of the AL Wild Card game, and they’re tied with the Blue Jays, 2-2. Chris Davis is coming off a 38-HR season in the first year of a 7-year, $161 million contracts.

Mark Trumbo had just hit 47 bombs and driven in 108 runs. Manny Machado had just completed his second straight season with at least 6.5 WAR. And they have the world’s best reliever at the time, Zach Britton, ready to be deployed from the bullpen.

Britton never pitched in that game, of course, and the Orioles lost in 11 innings.

The following year, Britton struggled with injuries, Machado dropped to a 2.8-WAR season, Trumbo hit less than half as many homers, and Davis had his worst season since 2011. The Orioles finished 75-87 and dead last in the AL East.

Now Britton is out with an Achilles rupture, Machado is a year from free agency, and Trumbo and Davis are a year older. With a time machine, the Orioles and their fans could remember the good old days that now seem longer ago than the calendar would lead you to believe.

Boston Red Sox—J.D. Martinez

Like the U.S. and U.S.S.R in the 1980s, the Red Sox and Yankees are escalating their arsenals in a baseball arms race. The Yankees recently landed the biggest warhead out there, Giancarlo Stanton. The Red Sox need to answer with the next-best thing available, J.D. Martinez.

If you prefer a less warlike analogy, let’s go to the monster truck arena. The Yankees adding Stanton is like hitching a ride with the monster truck known as Grave Digger. The Red Sox need to find their Bigfoot and J.D. Martinez looks like the best option.

New York Yankees—Gerrit Cole

Like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, everyone knows what the Yankees want. Ralphie wanted a Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot, range model air rifle. The Yankees want Gerrit Cole. You know it. I know it. The Yankees know. The Pirates know it. Now they just need to get it done.

Tampa Bay Rays—Dolla, dolla bills, y’all

Prior to last season, the difference between the Rays’ payroll and the Yankees’ payroll was approximately $130 million. Sixteen teams had entire payrolls of $131 million or less, including the Rockies, Indians, Astros, Twins, and Diamondbacks, all of whom made the MLB playoffs.

With an inferior stadium that drew an MLB-low 15,670 fans per game last year, the Rays will struggle to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East until something changes.

They even had to say goodbye to Evan Longoria this offseason because they don’t have the Benjamins to pay him.

Toronto Blue Jays—Health

With Josh Donaldson, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and Steve Pearce set to be free agents after this year; the Blue Jays need good health to make a final run at one last playoff spot during the Josh Donaldson/Jose Bautista era that no longer includes Bautista, who is a free agent.

Among this group, Donaldson is vital. He only played 113 games last year but still played at an elite level when he was on the field. To his left, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had another injury-marred season.

He played just 66 games. Behind the dish, Russell Martin played 91 games, the fewest of any season in his career. Pitcher Aaron Sanchez missed most of the season. If everyone comes back healthy, the Blue Jays can be an MLB wild card team.