Jim Bowden’s 23 Predictions for the 2023 MLB Season

From a story on theathletic.com by Jim Bowden headlined “Shohei Ohtani to Dodgers? Juan Soto extended? Bowden’s 23 predictions for 2023 MLB season”:

With Opening Day just a few days away, it’s time to again go on the record with predictions for the 2023 season and subsequent offseason. As we await the start of the season, here are 23 bold (and not-so-bold) predictions for this year. Like all preseason predictions, some will pan out and some will flop.

1. Juan Soto, who rejected a 15-year, $440 million offer from the Nationals before he was dealt to the Padres at last year’s trade deadline, agrees to a 16-year contract extension with San Diego, becoming the first half-a-billion-dollar player in MLB history.

2. The Astros, despite their reluctance to give a player a 10-year contract, make an exception for outfielder Kyle Tucker, signing him to a deal that matches the 10-year, $212 million contract the Braves awarded to Austin Riley in 2022.

3. Aaron Boone is the first manager ejected in the 2023 season, as he gets thrown out arguing balls and strikes in the Yankees’ opener against the Giants. Boone goes on to lead the majors in managerial ejections with 10, breaking his career record of nine from last year.

4. Aroldis Chapman has an incredible bounce-back year with the Royals, eventually becoming their closer before being traded to a contender at the deadline.

5. Triston McKenzie becomes the ace of the Guardians’ staff, taking the reins from Shane Bieber. He leads Cleveland to a second consecutive American League Central title and finishes top five in the AL Cy Young Award voting.

6. Mariners righty Logan Gilbert throws the first no-hitter of the 2023 season on May 12 against the Tigers in Detroit.

7. The Pirates select right-handed pitcher Chase Dollander out of Tennessee with the first pick in the MLB Draft. The Nationals take LSU outfielder Dylan Crews at No. 2.

8. The Yankees finally land their long-term answer in left field when they acquire Bryan Reynolds from the Pirates, pending ownership approval. It immediately becomes an unpopular trade with fans as the proposed deal has top prospect Jasson Dominguez, aka “The Martian,” going to Pittsburgh in a one-for-one swap. However, the deal is nixed by owner Hal Steinbrenner after he has a dream in which the late Gene “Stick” Michael reminds him of the time his dad traded Jay Buhner to the Mariners.

9. The Reds grant Joey Votto’s request and trade him to the Blue Jays at the deadline to give him the opportunity to play in the postseason and maybe even the World Series. Cincinnati receives two mid-level prospects in return after agreeing to pay most of Votto’s remaining salary as well as the $7 million buyout for the 2024 team option. The Reds turn the page to their future and Votto, a Toronto native, fittingly finishes his career with the Jays.

10. Yadier Molina and Mark DeRosa both use their managerial experience in the World Baseball Classic to land the first two major-league openings of the season.

11. The new rule changes, including the pitch clock and limits to pitching disengagements, shrink the average game time by 23 minutes. Overall attendance and viewership numbers (in total, across all platforms) break all-time records.

12. Wander Franco has a breakout season, winning the AL batting title and hitting 20 home runs for the Rays.

13. The A’s announce they will move to Las Vegas as soon as a stadium is built, thus ending a 55-year run in Oakland. They keep “Athletics” as their team name. The A’s finish the season with the worst record in MLB.

14. Bobby Witt Jr. leads the AL with 47 stolen bases, edging A’s rookie Esteury Ruiz for the title by one stolen base. Trea Turner wins his third stolen-base crown as he leads the NL with 52.

15. Eight players — Luis Robert Jr., Trea Turner, Cedric Mullins, Ronald Acuña Jr., Julio Rodríguez, Bobby Witt Jr., José Ramírez and Kyle Tucker — make the 30-30 club (home runs, stolen bases) in 2023.

16. The NL division winners will be the Braves, Cardinals and Padres. The three wild-card berths will go to the Phillies, Mets and Dodgers, leaving the Brewers, Cubs, Marlins, Giants and Diamondbacks on the outside looking in.

17. The AL division winners will be the Blue Jays, Guardians and Astros. The three wild-card berths will go to the Mariners, Yankees and Rays. The Angels, White Sox, Orioles, Twins, Rangers and Red Sox all post winning seasons but miss out on the playoffs.

18. The Padres and Blue Jays will meet in the World Series with the Padres winning their first world championship. The title will raise the ire of many major-league owners because the significant sums the Padres invested in players actually paid off. The city of San Diego ends up having two parades: a boat parade and a street parade.

19. Shohei Ohtani enters free agency and becomes the second half-a-billion-dollar player in MLB history as he secures an 11-year contract with the Dodgers.

20. Ronald Acuña Jr. and Shohei Ohtani are named MVPs of their respective leagues. Acuña, who’s fully healthy for the first time since his 2021 ACL surgery, leads the Braves to yet another division title in the stacked NL East. Oh, and Ohtani not only wins his second MVP award; this one will be the start of three consecutive MVP honors.

21. Corbin Burnes and Shane McClanahan are named the Cy Young Award winners of their respective leagues. Burnes is then traded in the offseason to the Dodgers.

22. Jordan Walker of the Cardinals wins the NL Rookie of the Year Award, edging Corbin Carroll of the Diamondbacks in the closest vote in NL history.

23. Anthony Volpe wins the AL Rookie of the Year Award, giving New York an additional first-round draft pick in 2024, as he joins the 15-home run and 20-stolen base club in his first season.

Jim Bowden , a national writer for The Athletic MLB, was formerly the Sr. VP and general manager for the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals for a combined 16 years, including being named the 1999 MLB Executive of the Year by Baseball America.

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