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Odds and Ends

Checking Back In on World Series Futures

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: December 2, 2021, 1:17 pm ET

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Well, we're here. The league's in a lockout as the players and owners negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, which means the flurry of signings and trades we've experienced over the last week is over. Now, we will wait in silence until a new CBA is reached, in which case teams will resume assembling their new rosters.

In the meantime, we can comfortably discuss and evaluate the latest odds to win the World Series without fear of massive news breaking.

An update on my favorite World Series bets

Let's first start by checking in on the three teams I wrote about back on Nov. 12. I said that I really liked the Yankees +1200, Phillies +4000 and Reds +4000 as good values.

Yankees +1200

New York is still very much in play here, remaining +1200 as the fifth-likeliest team to win it all. The reason for that? Well, the Yankees haven't made any moves, but oddsmakers fully expect them to. While a big signing like Carlos Correa or Matt Olson is somewhat baked into this line, we'll still see a significant movement in the event the Bombers begin adding to their roster.

I fully anticipate that the Yankees will do something here, and a cryptic tweet from Jon Heyman on Wednesday about the "usual big spenders" now spending yet seemed to indicate that Correa — among others — are expecting to receive big offers from the Yankees if they haven't yet.

New York has also been linked to Freddie Freeman, which would be maybe the biggest acquisition of the offseason if it went through. The Yankees are certainly going to be players when the new CBA is reached, and there is still some value left here.

Phillies +3000

Philadelphia has been bet down from +4000 to +3000, and while I still see some value here it is quickly running out. The Phillies added Corey Knebel late on Wednesday, which was very necessary considering how big of a liability their bullpen was last season.

There are still many moves to be made here, but my rationale for this bet still stands. Philadelphia has a wealth of talent in Zack Wheeler and 2021 NL MVP Bryce Harper, and there are just a few holes around the diamond to fill. The Phillies sound like they are in the mix for a power bat in the outfield — be it Michael Conforto or Nick Castellanos — and have been linked to other exciting names.

If this team is willing to spend, it will get a lot better — and quickly. You have to remember this team was just a few wins from the playoffs last year, and if not for a magical late-season run by the Braves might have been the one to go all the way to the World Series.

Reds +10000

Well, if you took the Reds, it seems you already lost. The Phillies are a great example of how getting in on futures early can benefit you, and this is a good reason to wait.

The Reds essentially announced to the world they were ready to tank next year, with news coming out this week that they're listening to offers on Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and pretty much every good player they have. Hunter Greene is on the way soon, and it appears they're keen to build around him and maybe Jesse Winker.

This is a spot you can safely stay away, if you haven't already.

Whose stock has gone up?

Mets +1000

We'll start with the obvious here, and that is the New York Mets. After signing Starling Marte, Max Scherzer and Mark Canha — and luckily getting spurned by Steven Matz — New York has moved from around +2000 to +1000. It's a huge move, but after a disaster of a season a year ago led by a terrible offensive campaign from Francisco Lindor, oddsmakers are not ready to put the Mets in the same category of a stacked Dodgers lineup.

It's important to remember these are great pieces, but the complementary players like Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis which made this team so special a couple years ago are coming off bad seasons.

Dodgers +500

Crazy, right? The Dodgers lost Corey Seager and Max Scherzer and saw a boost from about +600 to +500 to win the World Series? Well, oddsmakers were expecting those guys to walk. What they weren't so sure about was if Chris Taylor would return — and he did on Thursday, on a multi-year deal.

There's also the lingering possibility here that the Dodgers make a huge splash, much like the Yankees. Carlos Correa and Freddie Freeman are still out there, and few teams (maybe no other teams) can pay those guys what they want. The possibilities here are certainly exciting, and when you consider Los Angeles already has the most talented roster in baseball by a mile, it makes sense the odds have shifted.

Rangers +8000

Yes — the Rangers went from the second-worst odds (+15000) to +8000 thanks to a $500 million commitment to Marcus Semien and Corey Seager. If you're curious what that did to their probability of winning the World Series, it definitely took them out of the basement, but a title remains unlikely. There is almost no other talent around Semien and Seager.

Whose stock has gone down?

Giants +2500

The 2021 NL West Champions haven't really done anything in free agency, and they probably stand to lose Kris Bryant, which would make this lineup look a lot worse. They've already let Kevin Gausman walk, and that's not the only starter that may leave when the new CBA is reached.

The Giants were sitting at +1600 to win it all at the beginning of the offseason, but the possibilities remaining for the Dodgers mixed in with some tough news to begin the winter has killed the Giants' stock.

Red Sox +2000

Yeah, surprisingly the Red Sox have actually gone from around +1600 to +2000. That's after Boston reached deals with James Paxton and Rich Hill and re-acquired Jackie Bradley, Jr. in a trade with the Brewers which sent Hunter Renfroe back to the NL.

These aren't great moves, but they should help fix some small issues Boston had a year ago. It seems the public and oddsmakers aren't buying that the Red Sox can find the same magic they did in 2021, but with the same core in place, it's certainly possible.

Where does the value lie now?

I really like betting on some of these AL East teams, because I just don't believe the Blue Jays got that much better. Kevin Gausman had a good season, but he and the re-signing of Jose Berrios don't equal a stronger challenge than last season. That's especially true when you consider this team was driven strongly offensively by Marcus Semien, who now plays for the Texas Rangers.

For that reason, I'm still looking at the Yankees +1200, and will closely monitor the Rays +1500, who have taken a bit of a hit with the Blue Jays moves. The Red Sox +2000 are also a very decent option as mentioned above. The Blue Jays have taken more money now, which has opened up these three as value plays.

I still also really like the Phillies +3000, and I think the fact that they've actually gone down in price with the signings the Mets have made is very telling. There is at least one big move on the horizon for this already-talented team.

As a longshot in that division, I don't hate the Nationals +15000 either. With a scrap heap of players at the end of last season, they looked pretty good, and they still do have Juan Soto on their team. Carter Kieboom seemed to find it at the plate, Steven Strasburg is coming back, and the combination of a value signing this winter with a trade-deadline acquisition could make Washington a contender in a perennially wide-open division.

Kenny Ducey

Kenny Ducey is a former member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, writing and editing for Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus. His work also appears at DraftKings and The Action Network. Follow him on Twitter @KennyDucey.