With a close eye on impact free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, Caesars Entertainment's sportsbook started taking bets this week on win totals for the upcoming MLB season.
The Houston Astros top the board with 97.5 wins and are among four American League teams projected to win more than 91 games by Caesars, which operates sportsbooks in Mississippi, Nevada and New Jersey. The New York Yankees are right behind the Astros with 96.5 wins, followed by the defending champion Boston Red Sox at 95.5 and Cleveland Indians at 91.5.
The Los Angeles Dodgers (94) and Chicago Cubs (90.5) were the only National League teams with more than 90 wins as of Wednesday afternoon. The Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals each opened at 88.5 wins.
"Harper and Machado made the numbers on the Phillies and White Sox somewhat difficult," Jeff Davis, Caesars' head of risk management, told ESPN. "We had to lean slightly high on both those two teams as they figured to gain the most if they signed Harper or Machado."
The Phillies' win total opened at 83. The White Sox are set at 74.5.
Oddsmakers pegged the Baltimore Orioles with the fewest wins at 59. The Orioles won 47 games last season.
With $1,000 betting limits to start, customers might back the over or under on the team wins. Davis said the Milwaukee Brewers' over and the Cincinnati Reds' under had attracted the most early limit bets. By Wednesday, the Brewers, who opened at 83.5 on Tuesday, were up to 86, and the Reds, who opened at 77, were down to 74.
The Dodgers and Yankees are currently co-favorites at 5-1 to win the World Series at Caesars sportsbooks. The Astros are next at 11-2.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training in the second week of February.