As the dust settles following the 2023 MLB trade deadline, the playoff picture in the American League is taking shape. The trades have been executed, the roster adjustments have been made, and now, it’s time for the teams to prove it on the field.
This article provides a comprehensive update on where each team stands, evaluating the potential contenders who are gearing up to make a significant push into the postseason.
American League playoff picture
No. 1 seed, AL East leader — Baltimore Orioles (66-41)
No. 2 seed, AL West leader — Texas Rangers (61-46)
No. 3 seed, AL Central leader — Minnesota Twins (55-53)
Post-trade deadline outlook
Nobody knows how the AL East is going to shake out in the last two months. The Orioles scorched their way through July with an MLB-best 17-9 record to take the top spot — for now, at least. Baltimore picked up right-hander Jack Flaherty from the St. Louis Cardinals, but that doesn’t feel like enough to put the O’s free and clear. Despite holding a 1.5 game lead, not to mention plenty of momentum over the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Orioles and Rays both at +110 odds to win the division.
The Rangers have led the AL West for a healthy portion of the season, but the popular belief is that they’ll let the Astros cruise by them at some point. Houston is only 0.5 games back from the division, and with Justin Verlander making his way back to Houston, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Astros at -125 odds to win the division — compared to +130 for the Rangers. The Angels, meanwhile, are a few games back from the Wild Card spot, going as all-in as humanly possible after deciding to keep Shohei Ohtani at the trade deadline. They’ll need Mike Trout back relatively soon in order to make a serious push.
In the AL Central (aka the “someone’s gotta win it” division), the Twins pulled away right after the All-Star break then proceeded to get swept by the Kansas City Royals. Despite that, Minnesota is still two games up on Cleveland and 7.5 games up on the third place Detroit Tigers. The Twins have one of the best rotations in baseball. If their bats can heat up alongside the summer temps, then this club could finally realize their potential. (Of course, it helps that the Guardians took an intentional step back at the deadline, dealing Aaron Civale to Tampa for top first-base prospect Kyle Manzardo.)
The Rays occupy the top AL Wild Card spot, but they aren’t going to settle for that. Trading for Civale was a smart move as it pertains to this playoff run; Tampa already has Shane McClanahan and Tyler Glasnow to handthe ball to, but they both come with some real injury concerns, and Civale gives them a solid third option to slot in should rookie Taj Bradley fail to find consistency down the stretch.
The Blue Jays are the last AL team in the playoffs as the records stand after the trade deadline. However, Toronto made it very clear how serious they are for a postseason push by trading for Paul DeJong and Jordan Hicks of the Cardinals. Getting the sensational play of Bo Bichette and Jordan Romano back will be key, and it’s disappointing that the Jays didn’t come away from the deadline with a starting pitcher.