In addition, Victor Martinez, who missed all of the 2012 season because of a torn ACL, will be back in the lineup. The team also added outfielder Torii Hunter, who batted .313 with 92 RBIs for the Angels last season. Anibal Sanchez, acquired from the Marlins last July, will be on board all season as a solid No. 4 starter.
Kansas City and Cleveland are teams on the rise, but the AL Central still has to be considered one of the weaker divisions in the majors. Barring another slow start, the Tigers ought to get into the mid-90s in wins.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS (over 90 wins): En route to earning their first NL East championship, the Nationals won a major league-best 98 games last season. Injuries inevitably occur for every team, so betting on anyone to win more than 90 games can be considered a shaky proposition.
Look at Washington's roster, though. Unless Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper all miss significant time, how can the Nationals possibly fail to post more than 90 wins?
The Nationals' two biggest weaknesses last season were probably the lack of an ideal leadoff hitter or an elite defensive center fielder. The trade that brought in Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins eliminated both of those weaknesses.
Edwin Jackson was lost to free agency, but Dan Haren was acquired to be a capable replacement. New closer Rafael Soriano will solidify a tremendous back end of the bullpen, which also features Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. And, don't forget, Strasburg won't have a strict innings limitation this year.
NOW, THE UNDERS:
HOUSTON ASTROS (under 59.5 wins): Houston stumbled to a 55-107 record last season, and now it has to move from the NL Central to the AL West. With about a third of their games to be played against the Angels, Rangers and Athletics, it's tough to imagine the Astros not posting a worse record in 2013.
Houston ranked last in the majors in runs scored last season, and the additions of Chris Carter, Carlos Pena and Rick Ankiel probably won't prevent them from again being near the bottom in runs scored. Their anemic offense will be all the more detrimental in the American League, which is more offensive-oriented anyway with the presence of the designated hitter.
The Astros' opening-day payroll is expected to hover around $25 million. That's about $3 million less than injured Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will be paid in 2013. In this case, you get what you pay for.
Houston is just beginning what will likely be a long, painful rebuilding phase. To expect much more than 50 wins would seem overly optimistic.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS (under 90 wins): Projected to have the highest payroll in the majors this year, the Dodgers are rightfully considered one of the favorites to land an NL playoff spot.
Going into spring training, Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly were sixth-through-eighth on the Dodgers' starting rotation depth chart. When a team has that kind of pitching depth - as well as a 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation (former Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke) that could compete with anyone else's - it's easy to anticipate more than 90 wins.
For such a massive payroll, though, one would probably expect to field a better starting lineup. Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez have the potential to be among the best players at their positions. However, Kemp is coming off an injury- marred season and is a below-average defensive center fielder. Gonzalez's power numbers have been in steady decline for three years. Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford have been nowhere near the great players they were three years ago.