2024 World Series Early Futures

Mark Saxon
Updated: February 16, 2024 5:33 PM

As winter storms continued to lash parts of the United States, major league camps were opening at locations across the sprawling Phoenix metropolitan area and a wide band of Florida. 

This seems like a perfect time to begin speculating on which of the 30 major league teams will make it through the survival test that is the 162-game regular season and the crap shoot of the post-season to emerge as World Series champion.

For inspiration, we have the example of last year’s champion.

The Texas Rangers won their first-ever World Series after opening the season at odds of +5000, making them the biggest longshot winners since the 2003 Florida Marlins upset yet another stacked New York Yankees squad.

So, if you can imagine a world in which the Los Angeles Dodgers stumble in the post-season again despite a roster that looks like a global All-Star team, you can find some live longshots in this field, but let’s not neglect the well-deserved favorites here either.

For the sake of clarity, we’ll use FanDuel odds here, but be sure to use BestOdds to shop around for the best prices available on your favored team as these numbers can vary widely at this time of year.

Dodgers (+320)

Everyone wants to make it about the money, but this is an example of a franchise that spares little expense while rarely making bad long-term bets.

While most of the scrutiny is on Shohei Ohtani this spring, Yoshinobu Yamamoto – the other Japanese import the Dodgers shelled out more than $1 billion combined to attain – could have the bigger immediate impact near the top of a ridiculous starting rotation.

In a star-studded World Baseball Classic field, Yamamoto’s stuff stood out and, though he’s still classified as a rookie, he debuted as a pro at 18 and had a 1.72 career ERA in Nippon Professional Baseball.

These are short odds, but this still looks like a great price on a team that has as much talent on paper as any team since the ’27 Yanks.

Braves (+450)

We hate to be so enamored of the chalk, but these short odds, too, seem perfectly reasonable for a team that has won 205 games the past two seasons and is run by one of the best front offices in baseball.

This lineup is absurd, with five players – Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, and Sean Murphy – who posted at least 3.9 bWAR last season.

Nobody would be surprised if any of those guys won MVP this season. You have to go back to Yankees teams from two decades ago to find a collection of position-player talent this deep.

One caveat: this is a tough division with solid competition from Philly and New York and improving teams in Miami and Washington. If you’re going to go short odds, lean L.A.

Astros (+700)

Betting on this team to go far in the playoffs has been a lucrative play in recent seasons, but the Astros picked an interesting winter to tighten their belts with so much talent out there for the highest bidder.

Houston thus far this off-season has added one major league free agent: backup catcher Victor Caratini.

With so many names still available, Houston still could fortify its aging roster, but these seem like short odds for a team that is giving mixed signals about its willingness to go for broke. Now, let’s turn our attention to a couple of live long shots.

Rays (+3300)

With brutal divisional competition from the Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays, we can see why these Rays are a virtual afterthought on this odds board. But you could go broke underestimating this front office.

The guess here is the Rays will be a lot better than people think even though they’ll have to replace their best player, Wander Franco, as he fights criminal charges in his native Dominican Republic stemming from an alleged relationship with an underage girl.

They won’t wait long to call up the No. 4 prospect in MLB, power hitter Junior Caminero, 20. Getting Shane Baz back from injury will be huge for an underrated rotation.

Brewers (+8500)

The public is fixated on the loss of manager Craig Counsell and ace Corbin Burnes, but this team isn’t in nearly the dire straits some people suspect as it vies for its fourth division title in seven years.

Freddy Peralta appears ready to step into the role of staff ace and the Brewers won’t wait long to promote the No. 3 prospect in MLB, Jackson Chourio, presuming he doesn’t break camp with the club.

They should get better as the season goes along as the No. 3 farm system in the game matures and they figure to stay in the hunt in a bad division filled with small-market teams unwilling to spend.

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