5 teams that could win in 2019

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - WORLD SERIES - Bob Night­en­gale

USA TO­DAY

LOS AN­GE­LES – Who’s go­ing to be the next World Series cham­pion?

Can it be the Red Sox again? We haven’t had a repeat cham­pion since the New York Yan­kees al­most two decades ago.

The 1998 Yan­kees were the last team to win at least 119 games, and the Yan­kees went on to win three con­sec­u­tive World Series — so maybe the Red Sox do have a chance.

Here are five World Series cham­pi­onship con­tenders in 2019:

Bos­ton Red Sox

Sure, they are buck­ing his­tory and are in the tor­tur­ous Amer­i­can League East, but there’s no rea­son they can’t repeat. They were the best team in base­ball from start to finish and will have vir­tu­ally their en­tire team back. Their only no­table free agents are closer Craig Kim­brel, re­liever Joe Kelly and starter Nathan Eo­valdi. Con­sid­er­ing the Red Sox spent $240 mil­lion on this year’s team, they cer­tainly won’t be shy about spend­ing even more for a chance to win it all again.

New York Yan­kees

This is the win­ter the Yan­kees have been wait­ing for the past two sea­sons. They wanted to make sure they would get un­der the $197 mil­lion lux­ury tax thresh­old to en­sure they can be big-time spenders in a win­ter with free agent stars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. They don’t need Harper with Aaron Judge and Gian­carlo Stan­ton, but they could sure use Machado. The Yan­kees will be with­out short­stop Didi Gre­go­rius for about half the sea­son as he re­cov­ers from Tommy John surgery, and they have the per­fect $300 mil­lion re­place­ment, who has dreamed of be­ing a Yan­kee. The Yan­kees aren’t about to sit back and idly watch the Red Sox start a dy­nasty. They’ll be ag­gres­sive this win­ter to make their World Series cham­pi­onship drought doesn’t ex­tend for a decade.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs, who ended their 108-year drought in 2016, re­al­ize their win­dow is clos­ing quicker than they en­vi­sioned. They need to take ad­van­tage of this mega-ta­lented team while they can. They will be aw­fully ag­gres­sive this win­ter, will have Yu Darvish re­turn­ing, and, of course, still have ace Jon Lester along with Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and An­thony Rizzo. They’ve been to the post­sea­son four con­sec­u­tive years, and they’ll be knock­ing on the door once again.

Los An­ge­les Dodgers

They have won six con­sec­u­tive Na­tional League West ti­tles and back-to-back NL pen­nants and will be back again. They have the deep­est and most ta­lented team in the league, and they’ll make sure Clay­ton Ker­shaw isn’t go­ing any­where. He’ll be flanked by young stud pitch­ers Walker Buehler and Julio Urias. Machado prob­a­bly won’t be back, but the Dodgers look for­ward to the re­turn of in­jured short­stop Corey Sea­ger.

Hous­ton Astros

The Astros were fa­vored to go back-to-back this sea­son but ran into a buzz saw in the AL Cham­pi­onship Series with the Red Sox. They will be back. Again and again. Sim­ply, they are too ta­lented and have Justin Ver­lan­der and Ger­rit Cole again atop their ro­ta­tion, along with a kid by the name of For­rest Whit­ley, who hap­pens to be the best pitch­ing prospect in base­ball. They’re the Amer­i­can League’s ver­sion of the Cubs, a team that tanked, with the strat­egy pay­ing off bril­liantly. It won’t be a sur­prise to any­one if the Astros and Cubs wind up play­ing each other this time a year from now.

JAYNE KAMIN-ONCEA/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez were two of Bos­ton’s big­gest con­trib­u­tors in 2018.

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