‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas, and all through MLB, fanbases were stirring, from Seattle to Miami.

Some of those fanbases are stirring with giddy excitement about the possibilities for their favorite team in 2017. Others are stirring because the team they cheer for has yet to make a big splash, or perhaps—(audible gasp)—they’ve even taken a step backward this winter.

But we’re focused on the positive this holiday season. What follows is a look at the teams whose fanbases have the most to be excited about this Christmas—and from what that excitement stems.


Atlanta Braves

Rather than rely on a bunch of inexperienced youngsters, veterans Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Jaime Garcia now follow staff ace Julio Teheran in the rotation. Full seasons from Ender Inciarte, Matt Kemp and Dansby Swanson will bolster the lineup, which still features a perennial MVP candidate in Freddie Freeman.

The farm system is still one of baseball’s best, teeming with high-end talent, including second baseman Ozzie Albies, who could easily supplant Jace Peterson at the keystone in spring training.

It’d be premature to say that the Braves are once again contenders—or that their rebuilding process is complete—but Atlanta looks like a team that can cause problems for the rest of the National League in 2017.


Boston Red Sox

You don’t replace David Ortiz—and to their credit, the Red Sox haven’t tried to. Rather than sign free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion, a player many believed was destined to take over as the team’s full-time designated hitter, Boston went in a different direction to bolster its roster.


Instead of jacking home runs over the Green Monster, Chris Sale will keep the opposition from going yard at Fenway Park. With Sale, David Price and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello atop the rotation, Boston is well-equipped to find continued success in a post-Papi world.


Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox

Whether your rooting interest lies on the North Side or the South Side, there’s plenty to be excited about this holiday season.

The Cubs, still basking in the glory of the franchise’s first World Series crown in more than a century, return the bulk of the team that won it all and wasted little time in bolstering the back end of their bullpen, trading part-time outfielder Jorge Soler to Kansas City for All-Star closer Wade Davis.

Meanwhile, the White Sox took their first step toward a return to relevancy, dealing ace Chris Sale to Boston for a package of four youngsters that included Yoan Moncada, baseball’s best prospect.

With a slew of valuable trade chips left to play, including new ace Jose Quintana, third baseman Todd Frazier and closer David Robertson, chances are there’s more young, controllable talent on the way, though it’s going to arrive after ChiSox fans have opened all their Christmas gifts.


Cleveland Indians

It might have felt like Santa left coal in Cleveland’s stockings after the Indians blew a 3-1 lead over the Cubs in the World Series, but jolly old St. Nick made sure to give Cleveland fans something to smile about just in time for the holiday season, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported:

Certainly, Encarnacion elevates Cleveland’s offense to an entirely new level. But perhaps the most exciting part of his arrival for fans is that, for once, the stars aligned for a small-market club to dip its toes into the deep end of the free-agent pool and land the biggest fish out there.


Houston Astros

Sure, there are still questions about the back end of Houston’s rotation—sorry, Charlie Morton—but the Astros wasted little time in adding firepower to an offense that finished a mediocre eighth in the American League in runs scored last year.

Not only do Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Josh Reddick bring a wealth of experience and power to Minute Maid Park, but they provide what was a predominantly right-handed lineup with some much-needed balance.

More importantly, acquiring the trio cost Houston little in the way of prospects, leaving the Astros well-equipped to make another significant move before Opening Day should the opportunity present itself.


New York Yankees

Whether real or perceived, the Hot Stove League isn’t officially underway until the New York Yankees have been linked to a high-profile free agent or trade acquisition. There’s been no shortage of that this winter, with the club’s most recent speculative target being Chicago’s Jose Quintana, as MLB Network’s Jon Morosi noted:

In the past, the team would have gone out and swung a trade for Quintana as its “answer” to Boston’s addition of Sale. But cooler heads have prevailed, and the Yankees have held on to the high-upside prospects they’ve developed and those they spent the second half of the 2016 season adding.

That the club looks intent on building a perennial contender from within, something that hasn’t occurred in the Bronx since the early ’90s, is a reason for Yankees fans to celebrate excitedly.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone from all of us at B/R!

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