Spring training is just around the corner for the 2018 Major League Baseball season. Now is a good time to start looking at the World Series futures to determine where there’s some value.
The Los Angeles Dodgers (+500) are the World Series favorite as we get into spring training. They lost Yu Darvish to the Chicago Cubs and they traded Adrian Gonzalez and others to Atlanta to bring back Matt Kemp, but they still have arguably the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw and Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, who should improve. They battled hard in losing the World Series to Houston in seven tough games and they should be hungry to get back there.
The New York Yankees (+550) had a big offseason as they replaced manager Joe Girardi with Aaron Boone. They also made the biggest move of the offseason as they traded Starlin Castro to Miami in a package for National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton. The idea of having Stanton, who clubbed 59 home runs last year, and Aaron Judge back to back in the lineup should have opposing pitchers shaking in their boots. If the starting pitching can be a bit better, the Yankees could dominate this season.
However, don’t forget about the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros (+550). They added Gerrit Cole from Pittsburgh to a rotation that already has Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel. They also have AL MVP Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer anchoring one of the best lineups in baseball.
The Washington Nationals (+800) let go of Dusty Baker and now have Dave Martinez calling the shots for this highly talented team. They didn’t really do much to the team, which might be a mistake as the Nationals continue to underachieve in the playoffs. That they haven’t gotten past the NLDS in four trips in six seasons with a team led by Bryce Harper and two-time defending Cy Young winner Max Scherzer is unacceptable.
The Chicago Cubs (+750) picked up Darvish and Brandon Morrow to bolster their pitching. They also re-signed Kris Bryant. The Cubs battled a World Series hangover for most of the season and the fact that they made it to the NLCS before losing to the Dodgers was a minor miracle. They should bounce back with a more focused approach this season.
The Cleveland Indians (+850) led the American League with 102 wins last season before collapsing in the playoffs. They blew a 2-0 lead in the ALDS, which came a year after they blew a 3-1 lead in the World Series. There’s no reason to expect them to fall off as they have a star-studded lineup with arguably the best pitching in all of baseball, including the stellar one-two bullpen duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.
Next in line are the Boston Red Sox (+1400), San Francisco Giants (+2000) and St. Louis Cardinals (+2000). The Red Sox have the talent – and just added J.D. Martinez – but they didn’t deliver last year. New manager Alex Cora will be tasked with getting the most out of this roster. The Giants took a couple of big swings on the trade market, picking up former MVP Andrew McCutchen from Pittsburgh and Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay. They finished with just 64 wins last year – tied for the fewest in all of baseball – so they have a long way to go even though the oddsmakers think somewhat highly of them.