In my 15 years as a general manager, I was always asked going into a season what my No. 1 concern was. To answer, I almost always went to talking about my concerns about our players’ health or the state of the team’s starting rotation. So when I turned the tables and communicated with all 30 major league teams and got every general manager to comment on what they felt were their No. 1 concerns, I expected many of their answers. But going beyond those concerns and leaning on conversations and evaluations from my spring training tour, we can also get into each team’s biggest short- and long-term concerns to keep this question framed in the way that general managers see it.
Dan Duquette’s opinion: “Starting pitching.”
Short-term concern: Starting pitching.
Long-term concern: Extending the contract of Manny Machado
The Orioles’ chances of making the postseason come down to their rotation. Opening Day starter Kevin Gausman is positioned to have his breakout year, and Dylan Bundy has the talent to do so, too. But there are serious health questions about Chris Tillman’s right shoulder, and the inconsistency of both Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley makes this unit the team’s biggest concern.
The even bigger deal is that Manny Machado is just two years away from free agency. The Orioles must find a way to extend him at some point between now and the winter meetings in December.
Dave Dombrowski’s opinion: “Staying relatively healthy.”
Short-term concern: David Price’s elbow and Tyler Thornburg’s shoulder.
Long-term concern: First-base production.
The Red Sox have the best team on paper in the AL East, but the pitching staff has to stay healthy if they’re going to fulfill those expectations. Price and Thornburg, keys to their staff's success, will start the year on the disabled list. Price is dealing with an ailing elbow, an injury the Red Sox and Price have not been fully transparent about, while Thornburg has dealt with both shoulder and back issues for most of the spring. The Sox need them healthy by May to hold off the rest of the division.
Long-term, the Red Sox need to be concerned with first base. Mitch Moreland is signed to a one-year deal, Hanley Ramirez has already been moved to designated hitter most of the time and rookie Sam Travis is struggling with breaking balls and defense. Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer could be a free-agent fix next winter or a trade target later in the summer.