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Making a play on the 2022 World Series all the way back in November of the previous year can be a fool's errand...or a genius move. By feeling out where the offseason might go, you can get ahead of some massive line moves and head into next season with a leg up.
There are a few teams I'm taking a close look at, and I'll share them with you now.
New York Yankees +1200
The Yankees were one of the most frustrating teams to bet on last year, and it's never a fun idea to take these king of odds on a team which was so bad. However, things should definitely be changing next year.
Jon Heyman reported this week that the Yankees are willing to exceed the luxury tax threshold to sign one of the "Big Five" shortstops, which could really soldify their offense. By adding Corey Seager or Carlos Correa, the Yankees would immediately put some contact back in their lineup and stop leaning on Gleyber Torres, who was a detriment to them last season.
In addition, it seems they are ready to move on from Luke Voit and will likely make a splash in free agency or perhaps via trade, targeting Matt Olson. This was an offense that looked significantly better after the smallest of adjustments at the trade deadline, and with Aaron Judge's consistency, this offense should round back into form in no time. It's a great sign that the Yankees seem willing to spend, and have some contracts coming off the books after next year. With a couple of big acquisitions, which should be expected, this line won't be +1200 for very long.
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Philadelphia Phillies +4000
This is pretty crazy to me. The Phillies were a few games away from the postseason last September, falling just short of the eventual champion Atlanta Braves in the NL East race. Now, they find themselves as a longshot to win the World Series in 2022.
Not much should be different in 2022. Philadelphia still has one of the most talented rosters in baseball with a Cy Young candidate in Zack Wheeler and the favorite to win MVP in Bryce Harper. They got a huge lift from Ranger Suarez in the rotation down the stretch and will be hanging on to core pieces like Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm.
There were imperfections with the Phillies, sure, but this is a team willing to spend and one which doesn't have too many gaping holes. With a little money, they should be able to add some bullpen arms, a starter, and maybe an outfielder and vault right into contention.
Cincinnati Reds +4000
The Reds never really went away last year, ranking 12th in wRC+ in the second half of the season and playing some great baseball in spurts. At the same price as the Phillies, I think there's a great chance Cincinnati can turn things around and impress in 2022.
We don't know what this lineup will look like next year, but we do know Jesse Winker has emerged as one of the premier hitters in the National League and is an easy guy to build around. We also know Eugenio Suarez is an elite hitter, and is probably better than what he showed in a down year.
After that, there are some interesting pieces. Jonathan India showed promise, Luis Castillo came back roaring in the second half and Tyler Mahle improved yet again. Mix in some prospects like Hunter Greene who are poised to make an impact next year and I think you could certainly see Cincinnati making a run at Milwaukee and St. Louis in the central.
What the Reds have is good enough, but with a couple of good signings Cincinnati could easily rise to the same level as its division rivals.
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