AL East picture becoming more clear as Orioles' division rival begins sell off

The Orioles path to an AL East division title just got a bit more clear
Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles
Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

After going 17-12 through the gauntlet that was the month of June, the Orioles find themselves atop the AL East once again. The Yankees have been struggling as of late and the O's have been able to take advantage, keeping the pressure on and looking like the stronger team heading into the All-Star break.

Thankfully for both teams, it looks like the division race will get a bit more clear as the Rays seem to be ceding their position already. Though Tampa is a game over .500, they have a -52 run differential and are 11 games back of the Orioles in the East.

After recognizing the futility of chasing a pipe dream, the Rays have parted ways with starter Aaron Civale, sending the righty to the Brewers in exchange for infield prospect Gregory Barrios and beginning what could be a month-long sell off.

Civale had struggled in 2024, pitching to a 5.07 ERA in 17 starts. The Rays deemed that he hadn't been worth the $4.9 million he's earning this year and chose to move on. Civale has a year remaining before free agency so the expected increase in his arbitration salary next year was likely part of the decision.

The Rays become sellers, help clear a path for Orioles to win AL East

The Rays had acquired Civale from the Guardians a year prior, sending first base prospect Kyle Manzardo to Cleveland. Barrios is a fast-rising prospect and has played well at High-A, but is just 20 years old and has a number of question marks in the profile.

At present, it appears that the Rays have lost both sides of the Civale deals, giving up a talented prospect to acquire him and selling him at his lowest value. That's a boost for the Orioles since the Rays typically make shrewd decisions in the trade market.

It remains to be seen how the Rays approach the rest of the trade deadline but all signs point toward them offloading contracts and aiming at a postseason push in 2025 as they have a number of players on the roster who could move. The more guys they ship out, the easier it'll be for the Orioles to work their way through their remaining games and capture a division title.