AL East previews: Toronto Blue Jays

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Record in 2014: 83-79 (third place, 13 games back)

Key additions: Third baseman Josh Donaldson, acquired in November from the Oakland Athletics, adds a power bat to the lineup. In two full seasons with the A's, Donaldson hit .277 with 26 home runs and 96 RBIs per season. Catcher Russell Martin, a three-time All-Star, hit .290 with an .832 OPS in 111 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates last year, and signed a five-year deal in November. Outfielder Michael Saunders hit .273 with eight home runs in 78 games with the Seattle Mariners last year and is in line for a starting spot in Toronto.

Key losses: Outfielder Melky Cabrera hit .301 with 16 home runs and 73RBIs last year, but signed with the Chicago White Sox in December. Infielder Brett Lawrie hit at least 10 home runs in three straight seasons, but injuries kept him from reaching his potential. He was traded to Oakland with prospects for Donaldson. Outfielder Anthony Gose was sent to the Detroit Tigers in the offseason, a year after playing a career-high 94 games.

X-factor: Josh Donaldson

The former Oakland star is notorious in these parts for his 2014 feud with Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and will bolster a fearsome lineup that includes Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes. Donaldson burst onto the scene with an .883 OPS and 24 home runs in 2013, his first full season, and backed it up with a 29-homer All-Star campaign in 2014. He'll take the spot of the mercurial Lawrie in the Blue Jays lineup and further strengthen an offense on a team whose pitching staff might need all the support it can get. And he'll come to Camden Yards much more often than before, which probably won't be well received by Orioles fans.

Outlook: Losing young pitcher Marcus Stroman was a huge blow to the rotation, which has several young pitchers filling in behind R.A. Dickey. The Blue Jays might backslide a game or two from their 2014 record toward .500, so don't expect a playoff push, even in the wide-open division.

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