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Players soon will be reporting to camps, and yet, some of the top free agents still haven’t signed. So while we wait, let’s take a look ahead toward the start of the 2024 season.

Where does every team stand heading into spring training? Did the Dodgers’ offseason acquisitions push them to the No. 1 spot? Where are the reigning World Series champions in our rankings? And where do Aaron Judge and Juan Soto’s Yankees sit?

Our expert panel has combined to rank every team in baseball based on a combination of what we’ve seen so far this offseason and what we already knew from 2023. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Buster Olney, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with an observation for all 30 teams.

Way-too-early MLB Power Rankings

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 3

The Dodgers’ offseason has been an absolute dream. They splurged for a billion dollars on a transformative two-way player in Shohei Ohtani and a 25-year-old starting pitcher, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who is coming off three consecutive MVPs in Japan. In case that wasn’t enough, they acquired one of the most prized pitchers on the trade market, Tyler Glasnow, and arguably the best corner outfielder in free agency, Teoscar Hernandez. They’re an absolute force, even more so on the heels of another 100-win season.

But it’s still fair to wonder about their rotation. Ohtani won’t pitch until 2025, Yamamoto hasn’t faced major league hitters, Glasnow is not far removed from Tommy John surgery, and Walker Buehler is coming off a second such procedure. Their other starting pitching acquisition, James Paxton, comes with his own injury concerns. — Gonzalez

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 1

With last season’s record-setting lineup returning, the Braves could have had a quiet offseason, but instead they made two of the more interesting transactions of the winter, trading for left fielder Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Chris Sale. Kelenic was once a top-10 overall prospect but never lived up to the hype in Seattle; he’s still just 24, however, and did improve last season (.253/.327/.419). Sale made 20 starts for Boston last season, his most since 2019, and fanned 125 in 102⅔ innings. He still has top-of-the-rotation stuff if he can remain healthy. — Schoenfield

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 9

Houston advanced to the American League Championship Series for the seventh consecutive season in 2023, and there are a lot of reasons to believe the Astros could do that again — maybe more so than in past seasons — behind Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and the newly signed Josh Hader. But how dangerous Houston is may largely depend on whether Framber Valdez rediscovers his sinker, which largely abandoned him late in the year. Over his last 10 regular-season starts, he averaged 4⅔ innings and had a 4.29 ERA, and his ERA was 9.00 in the postseason. Houston’s season might come down to this: Can Framber find it? — Olney

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 5

Is a reunion with Jordan Montgomery inevitable? Don’t bet against it, as agent Scott Boras is in a good position with Rangers brass. Boras directed Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to Texas and undoubtedly helped in moving Montgomery and Max Scherzer there as well via trade last summer. As the Rangers’ RSN situation clears up, they should be able to pounce and set themselves up for a repeat run. And don’t forget, Jacob deGrom is waiting in the wings as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Texas is in a good position to contend, no matter what happens the rest of the spring. — Rogers

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 2

In Corbin Burnes, Baltimore now has the veteran ace it needed, and you’d assume that with the promise of financial backing from potential new ownership, the Orioles will add bullpen depth. The O’s won 101 games last season, yet already, this is a much more complete team than in 2024 — and now there’s no question about whether the front office and the owners will spend to plug holes at the trade deadline. Now O’s fans can wonder — and dream — about how quickly Jackson Holliday will make an impact in the big leagues. He is the easy front-runner to win AL Rookie of the Year. — Olney

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 6

Other than re-signing Aaron Nola and making a run at Yamamoto, it’s been a quiet offseason. They showed interest in relievers Jordan Hicks and Robert Stephenson but failed to sign either one. For now, that leaves Cristopher Sanchez as the No. 5 starter, rookie Orion Kerkering with a prominent role in the bullpen and Johan Rojas and Cristian Pache in center field (with Brandon Marsh in left). In other words, the Phillies didn’t make up any ground on the Braves. — Schoenfield

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 16

If this master plan had played out the way owner Hal Steinbrenner wanted, Yoshinobu Yamamoto would have taken the Yankees’ money and slotted in behind Gerrit Cole in the rotation. But that didn’t happen, and now the Yankees will go into the season with uncertainty about their rotation depth. Will Nestor Cortes stay healthy? Will the Yankees get what they paid for in the second year of Carlos Rodon‘s contract, at a time when he’s on double-secret probation with Yankees fans? Will Clarke Schmidt evolve? Will they make a late-winter addition? — Olney

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 4

Maybe the biggest question for the Rays going into the offseason was whether Wander Franco — who was supposed to be the face of the franchise — would be available to the team in 2024. His future status seems more uncertain than ever, because no matter when his legal situation is resolved, he still faces discipline from MLB, as well as persistent visa questions. Without Franco, can the Rays come close to matching their offensive production of 2023, when they led AL East teams in runs? — Olney

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 12

The D-backs have responded to their surprising World Series run by doubling down, adding Eduardo Rodriguez to the middle of their rotation and injecting Eugenio Suarez and Joc Pederson into the middle of their lineup. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was brought back, too, solidifying left field. Arizona has done a nice job adding the pieces that would make its roster more complete. The concerns it had heading into October about the depth in the rotation and the back end of the bullpen are not nearly as prevalent. The D-backs’ biggest question heading into 2024 is more overarching: Are they good enough to once again take down the mighty Dodgers? — Gonzalez

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 8

It really seems impossible that Toronto didn’t win a playoff game last season despite having the best rotation in the majors, but that fact really underscores how poorly the offense performed in 2023. The Jays were 16th in home runs and 14th in runs scored in the majors, surprising numbers for a team that has Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., so the mystery surrounding Toronto in 2024 is: How can a lineup that is largely the same be better? The one major change so far is the addition of Justin Turner, who effectively replaces free agent Brandon Belt. — Olney

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 11

Deep breath. With a perhaps lower-than-anticipated payroll budget, president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto has been up to his usual creative approach to team building. To recap: Mitch Garver, Jorge Polanco, Luis Urias, Mitch Haniger, Luke Raley, Samad Taylor, Seby Zavala, Carlos Vargas and Austin Voth are in. Gone are Teoscar Hernandez, Eugenio Suarez, Robbie Ray, Jarred Kelenic, Justin Topa, Anthony DeSclafani (who was only barely here), Jose Caballero, Mike Ford, Tom Murphy, Marco Gonzales and Isaiah Campbell. Is the new group better? Hard to tell. The rotation remains intact, although bullpen depth looks like an issue, and Haniger and Urias will have to bounce back from miserable seasons. — Schoenfield

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 13

Unlike the Rangers’ relationship with Boras, the Cubs haven’t lined up with his clients over the recent past. It’s a built-in roadblock to a reunion with Cody Bellinger or a match with third baseman Matt Chapman. And it’s a risky game of chicken for both sides. Bellinger might not have another big market available to him, while the Cubs won’t have much of an offense without him. The team isn’t likely to blink, believing their second-ranked farm system, according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, is about to explode. Will Boras blink? Perhaps he’ll be forced to accept a smaller deal — but no one knows how this will shake out. — Rogers

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 7

Is Milwaukee in transition or can it continue to contend with new manager Pat Murphy? Signing Rhys Hoskins addressed several needs, as the Brewers have had a rotation of first baseman over the past several seasons. Not anymore, though — Hoskins should provide power and leadership on a team that lost its stalwarts on the mound, first Brandon Woodruff to free agency and now Corbin Burnes in a trade with Baltimore. So one step forward on offense but one step back on the mound, where Milwaukee will struggle to replace quality innings lost. It’s the big question heading into spring: Who will step forward at the top of the rotation after Freddy Peralta? — Rogers

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 15

Cincinnati worked more quickly than a lot of teams in shoring up its pitching staff this offseason, signing four free agent pitchers and corner infielder Jeimer Candelario. If anything, the Reds might have to alleviate a logjam in the infield, but that’s a good problem to have. Their spring is about keeping their team healthy — especially a staff that lost youngsters Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft last season. There should be no excuses this year as the Reds have talent throughout the roster. They could be a sneaky pick in a wide-open division. — Rogers

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 10

No team seems more affected by the murky RSN situation than the Twins, who spent the winter more focused on managing payroll than on upgrading the roster. They lost ace Sonny Gray to free agency, traded Jorge Polanco and largely bypassed winter markets. All of that means that more than ever the Twins will need their core stars to stay on the field — and Byron Buxton (who says he intends to return to center field), Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis all have extensive injury histories. — Olney

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 17

The Padres, still shaken by the death of revolutionary owner Peter Seidler, decided to cut costs this offseason and will field a far less talented team in 2024. Juan Soto and Hader are gone. Eventually Blake Snell will be, too. They’ve replaced them with a slew of controllable starting pitchers — largely through Soto’s trade to the Yankees — and a completely replenished bullpen. But they still desperately need help in the outfield and could use another bat at first base and/or designated hitter. Another top-of-the-rotation starter would certainly help, too, but it would have to come via trade. — Gonzalez

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 19

Theo Epstein is going to go down in history as the greatest general manager ever because he conquered the Mount Everest and the K2 of World Series droughts, with the Red Sox in 2004 and then the Cubs in 2016. But it seems strange that adding him to the front office will be the biggest move of the offseason for a Red Sox team that needs help all over the place. Boston needs more offensive production, more pitching — but the front-burner question is whether manager Alex Cora signs an extension. — Olney

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 22

Are the Mets good? Are they bad? Somewhere in the middle? Probably somewhere in the middle. Their big goal was to sign Yamamoto, and once that didn’t happen, they focused on second-tier (Sean Manaea, Luis Severino, Harrison Bader) and third-tier free agents (Jorge Lopez, Joey Wendle). They acquired Adrian Houser and Tyrone Taylor from the Brewers. They’ll need bounce-back seasons from Starling Marte and Jeff McNeil and improved results from youngsters Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty. — Schoenfield

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 25

The Cardinals filled all their holes this offseason but did quantity replace quality? Age was the theme of their pitching acquisitions, but that’s at least offset by 21-year-old shortstop Masyn Winn, who is on the verge of taking over up the middle. And don’t forget outfielder Jordan Walker, who has a year under his belt and quietly performed well for a bad team last year. But the biggest questions surround starters Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn. Can they perform at the back of the rotation while Sonny Gray and Miles Mikolas hold down the front? That answer will go a long way to determining the outcome of the Cardinals season. — Rogers

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 21

If you’re looking for a sleeper pick, you could do worse than Detroit climbing in the AL Central after an improved second-half showing. The talent that the Tigers have collected in recent years is beginning to manifest. But look, Detroit is not going to climb unless there is more consistent offense; the Tigers finished 28th in runs scored in 2023. Will young players such as Riley Greene and older players such as Javy Baez generate more runs? — Olney

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 20

Everyone loves the young rotation here, as Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams and Logan Allen all had promising rookie seasons, but Cleveland has failed to address what was the worst power-hitting outfield in the majors in decades (a combined 18 home runs). They did acquire Estevan Florial from the Yankees and he hit 28 home runs in Triple-A but with a ton of swing-and-miss (144 strikeouts in 101 games). Prospect George Valera hasn’t developed the power once expected and hit .211 in Triple-A. Where will the offense come from? — Schoenfield

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 18

The Giants ranked dead last in innings from their starting pitchers last season. They’ve responded by … signing a longtime reliever whom they’ll convert to a starting pitcher and trading for a former ace who won’t return until midseason at the earliest. Maybe Jordan Hicks is excellent out of the rotation and Robbie Ray, coming off Tommy John surgery, miraculously finds his Cy Young form over the last two months of the regular season. But there are nonetheless major questions within this rotation, not the least of which is Alex Cobb‘s return from hip surgery. The lineup also has plenty of holes, even after the Jung Hoo Lee signing. — Gonzalez

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 14

The Marlins made the playoffs in 2023 — and have essentially sat out the offseason, which isn’t quite the same as the fire sale that followed the 1997 World Series title but isn’t exactly encouraging for Marlins fans, either. New president of baseball operations Peter Bendix has done more evaluation than maneuvering, which isn’t necessarily the wrong decision here for a team that was outscored by 57 runs, has a weak farm system and will be without Sandy Alcantara while he recovers from Tommy John surgery. — Schoenfield

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 23

Other than signing Aroldis Chapman, the Pirates haven’t made many changes to their roster this winter. They might simply be hoping that this is the year their young but talented group comes through for longer than a month or two. Pittsburgh garnered headlines last spring but faded as the calendar turned to summer and the pitching staff crumbled. But former first overall pick Henry Davis got his feet wet, the young staff got needed experience and shortstop Oneil Cruz is healthy again. It’s still probably not enough to compete for six months, but the Pirates will be a thorn for some teams with manager Derek Shelton keeping his players motivated through good and bad times. — Rogers

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 24

The Angels were dealt the most devastating blow imaginable when they lost Shohei Ohtani to the crosstown rival Dodgers this offseason. They have yet to replace him as a starting pitcher and haven’t really replaced him as a hitter, either. Angels GM Perry Minasian has done a nice job deepening his bullpen but hasn’t done much else outside of adding veteran outfielder Aaron Hicks. The Angels, with a farm system that ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel recently ranked dead last heading into 2024, need plenty more help offensively and could use a top-of-the-rotation starter to boost a young staff. But unless they splurge on Cody Bellinger or Snell, it’s hard to see how they access that without significantly compromising their active roster. — Gonzalez

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 29

Hey, at least the Royals are trying to get better, although there are mixed opinions on the overall quality of the additions: Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, Will Smith, Chris Stratton, Garrett Hampson, Adam Frazier, Hunter Renfroe. Lugo and Wacha are the biggest keys, two guys who were pretty good last season and will help what was a terrible rotation. If Brady Singer bounces back and Cole Ragans is indeed the real deal that he was in the final two months of 2023, it will be the best rotation for the Royals since their World Series years. — Schoenfield

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 26

The Nationals acquired Nick Senzel from the Reds and signed Joey Gallo, two moves that would have been much more exciting a few years ago. Senzel was the second overall pick in 2016 but battled injuries and put up a 77 OPS+ over five seasons with the Reds. He’ll get a chance to be the regular third baseman. Gallo has two 40-homer seasons and hit 38 as recently as 2021, but his batting averages haven’t been great the past three seasons: .199, .160 and .177. Since going to the Yankees at the trade deadline in 2021, he has produced just 1.2 WAR. — Schoenfield

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 27

The White Sox are treating the offseason like they’re coming off a 100-win year instead of the 102 they actually lost. It has translated to some interesting pickups but mostly on the margins. Erick Fedde is an example. He’s part of a rebuilt starting staff that still features Dylan Cease — but for how long? Cease is likely to begin, but not finish, the season with the team, as trade talks will heat up again come summertime. The biggest question marks this offseason are in right field and second base, positions Chicago hasn’t nailed down for several years. Newcomer Nicky Lopez will get time at second while Gavin Sheets might be the Opening Day right fielder. Rinse and repeat. The White Sox are stuck in neutral — at best. — Rogers

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 28

The Rockies’ pitching staff, which will be without both German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela for at least the first half, posted a major-league-worst 5.67 ERA last season. The front office responded with the additions of Cal Quantrill, Dakota Hudson and Anthony Molina, the latter a Rule 5 pick. That probably won’t cut it. The offense — despite playing half its games at Coors Field, of all places — was only 20th in OPS. Rather than make additions there, the Rockies will seemingly just hope for more health from Kris Bryant, more development from Ezequiel Tovar and more awesomeness from Nolan Jones. So, yeah, there are still plenty of questions about the Rockies heading into 2024. It’s much harder to find answers, frankly. — Gonzalez

Final 2023 regular-season ranking: 30

The big question for the A’s heading into 2024 is a simple one: When are they actually going to try again? They stripped their roster down to the studs while seeking a permanent home last season, and though they have since settled on Las Vegas, they still seemingly have no idea where they will play from 2025 to 2027. The A’s have lost a combined 214 games over the past two seasons, and there’s no indication they won’t lose at least another 100 more in 2024. All of their offseason additions have come on the margins. — Gonzalez

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Kansas gov. signs effort to entice Chiefs, Royals




Kansas gov. signs effort to entice Chiefs, Royals

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed legislation Friday enabling the state to lure the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Major League Baseball’s Royals away from neighboring Missouri by helping the teams pay for new stadiums.

Kelly’s action came three days after the Republican-led Legislature approved the measure with bipartisan supermajorities — an unusually quick turnaround that signals how urgently Kansas officials consider making the offers.

Missouri officials have argued that discussions about building new stadiums are still in the early stages. They said construction of a new one typically takes about three years and pointed out that the lease on the existing complex that includes the teams’ side-by-side stadiums doesn’t end until January 2031.

The measure Kelly signed takes effect July 1 and will allow bonds to cover 70% of a new stadium’s cost. Kansas would have 30 years to pay them off with revenues from sports betting, state lottery ticket sales, and new sales and alcohol taxes generated in the area around each proposed stadium.

The Kansas-Missouri border splits the 2.3 million-resident Kansas City area, with about 60% of the people living on the Missouri side.

Kansas officials began working on the legislation after voters on the Missouri side of the metropolitan area refused in April to continue a sales tax used to keep up the existing stadium complex. The Royals outlined a plan in February to build a $2 billion-plus ballpark in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, that would be ready for the start of the 2028 season while the Chiefs were planning an $800 million renovation of their existing home.

Attorneys for the teams told Kansas legislators that they needed to make decisions about the future soon for new stadiums to be ready on time. Some critics suggested the teams are pitting the two states against each other for the biggest government subsidies possible.

“The Chiefs and the Royals are pretty much using us,” said state Rep. Susan Ruiz, a Democrat from the Kansas City, Kansas, area who voted against the bill.

Supporters of bringing the teams to Kansas warned that if neither state acts quickly enough, one or both teams could leave for another community entirely. Several economists who have studied professional sports were skeptical that a move would make financial sense for either a team or a new host city, and both the NFL and MLB require a supermajority of owners to approve franchise moves.

The plan had support from throughout Kansas, including about half of the lawmakers from western Kansas, 200 miles away from any new stadium.

Kansas lawmakers approved the stadium financing plan during a single-day special session Tuesday. Although the financing law doesn’t specifically name the Chiefs or Royals, it is limited to stadiums for NFL and MLB teams “in any state adjacent to Kansas.”

“It’s fairly clearly about how you poach,” Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said during a news conference after Kansas lawmakers approved the measure. He added that his city would “lay out a good offer” to keep both teams in town and that the teams “are in an exceptional leverage position.”

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Mays, Negro League tributes abound at Rickwood




Mays, Negro League tributes abound at Rickwood

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — As Ajay Stone strolled around historic Rickwood Field and gazed at tributes displayed in honor of Willie Mays and other Negro Leaguers, he clutched a cherished memory under his arm.

It was a picture from 2004 of Mays holding Stone’s then-10-month-old daughter, Haley, who was wearing San Francisco Giants gear. In Mays’ hand was a chunk of a chocolate chip cookie, which he was handing over for Haley to eat.

“Willie gave her that cookie,” Stone remembered. “She had no teeth. But we took the cookie and we kept it in her stroller for a year and a half. The great Willie Mays gave it to her, so it was special to us.”

Stone and his wife, Christina, traveled from Charlotte, North Carolina, to be in Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday for a moment they deemed just as special.

It was hours before Rickwood Field hosted its first Major League Baseball game, with the St. Louis Cardinals beating the Giants, 6-5. The game, which MLB called “A Tribute to the Negro Leagues,” was meant to honor the legacies of Mays and other Black baseball greats who left an enduring mark on the sport.

MLB planned a week of activities around Mays and the Negro Leagues, including an unveiling ceremony Wednesday of a Willie Mays mural in downtown Birmingham. Those tributes took on a more significant meaning Tuesday afternoon when Mays died at 93. As news of his death spread throughout Birmingham, celebrations of his life ramped up.

You could hear the celebration at Rickwood Field on Thursday even before arriving: the rapid thumping of a drum echoing from inside the ballpark, excited murmurs from fans skipping toward the music and frequent bursts of laughter.

Inside, there were reminders of history all around.

There were photos and artifacts of baseball Hall of Famers who played at the 114-year-old ballpark, including Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. The original clubhouse of the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues, where Mays got his pro start in 1948, was open. A memorial of Mays was at the front, with bobbleheads, a signed glove and his Black Barons and San Francisco Giants jerseys on display.

Outside, fans stood in line to hold a baseball bat used by Mays in 1959. They took photos sitting inside an original bus from 1947 that was typically used during barnstorming tours by Negro Leagues teams. They danced to live music and ate food from concession stands featuring menu boards designed to reflect the look and feel of the 1940s.

Eddie Torres and his son Junior wore matching Giants jerseys as they took pictures inside the ballpark. They’re lifelong Giants fans who came from California for the game.

“I never even got to see Willie Mays play, but as a Giants fan, you knew what he meant to the game of baseball,” Torres said. “My son, he’s only 11. Willie Mays had such an effect on the game that even he knew who Willie Mays was.”

Musical artist Jon Batiste strummed a guitar while dancing on a wooden stage near home plate just before the first pitch. Fans stood as former Negro Leaguers were helped to the field for a pregame ceremony.

Shouts of “Willie! Willie!” broke out after a brief moment of silence.

For Michael Jackson, sitting in the stands at Rickwood Field reminded him of the past.

The 71-year-old Jackson played baseball in the 1970s and ’80s with the East Thomas Eagles of the Birmingham Industrial League, which was a semi-professional league made up of iron and steel workers that was an integral form of entertainment in Birmingham in the 20th century.

Jackson’s baseball journey took him to Rickwood Field many times. After all these years, he was just excited that it’s still standing.

“It’s nice seeing them redo all of this,” he said, “instead of tearing it down. We played in the same ballpark they named after Willie Mays out in Fairfield [Alabama]. And then I had my times out here playing at this ballpark. It’s all very exciting.”

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Judge returns with HR, Torres exits in Yanks loss




Judge returns with HR, Torres exits in Yanks loss

Aaron Judge returned to the New York Yankees‘ lineup Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles and hit his major-league-leading 27th home run of the season.

Judge, playing two days after being hit on the left hand by a pitch, hit a 395-foot two-run homer to right center in the third inning off Orioles starter Cole Irvin. Judge added an RBI single in the fifth, but the Yankees were blown out 17-5 to drop the three-game series and see their lead over the Orioles in the American League East sliced to a half-game.

Judge started in center field and played seven innings before being lifted.

“It felt good,” Judge said. “There’s still some swelling, some soreness and stuff like that, especially on foul balls, but if you square it up, it feels pretty good.”

The Yankees also had second baseman Gleyber Torres exit in the fifth inning because of tightness in his right groin.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he didn’t believe Torres suffered “anything major.”

“It just started to tighten up on him, and I think just being cautious with it, kind of getting him out of there,” Boone said.

Torres committed his major-league-leading 11th error when he failed to field a grounder by Jordan Westburg in the top of the fifth. Ben Rice was on deck when his spot in the lineup came up in the bottom half. Oswaldo Cabrera moved over from third base to replace Torres, DJ LeMahieu shifted from first to third and Rice entered the game at first base.

A free agent at the end of the season, Torres has struggled this year. He hit his seventh homer in the second inning and is batting .221 with 28 RBIs.

Judge sat out Wednesday as the Yankees lost 7-6 in 10 innings.

He was struck by a 94.1 mph fastball from Baltimore starter Albert Suarez during New York’s 4-2 win Tuesday night. The slugger left the game an inning later. X-rays and a CT scan were negative, though Boone had said Judge had some swelling and discomfort.

“Playing a division rival, a must-win game to try to clinch the series,” Judge said. “So we got to be out there.”

Judge is batting .306 and also leads the majors with 67 RBIs. The 32-year-old outfielder is a five-time All-Star and was the 2022 AL MVP after hitting 62 home runs to break the AL record of 61 by Roger Maris set in 1961.

In 2018, Judge missed 45 games with a broken right wrist after he was hit by a 93.4 mph pitch from Kansas City‘s Jakob Junis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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