Now that the dust has settled for a few hours on the long-awaited spring training schedule, it is time to look at the current free-agent landscape and track the first few big signings of the off-season.
The #Rays landed Pat Venditte. They believe he can be the 2nd best reliever in the AL. #FOXSportsSouth pic.twitter.com/opCFo5I2sF — RedWolves Baseball (@RedWolvesBaseball) March 4, 2018
New York Yankees
First baseman Greg Bird, who injured his ankle just before the All-Star break last season, underwent surgery last week to repair the damage. While it is common for a player to be slowed for the first half of the season following surgery, it has historically been hard to recover in time for the beginning of the second half.
SARAH REIRS: Bird records rare play of first on hospital bed during Yankees’ game
Michael Pineda was not exactly the subject of rotation expectations heading into spring training. Instead, a solid 2017 season with 12-9 record and 4.34 ERA elevated Pineda into a crucial role as the team looks to fill the void created by the New York Yankees acquiring Patrick Corbin from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Do you have that nap before a big game? Here’s what @Mariota7 has going on in a fall from Grace Meadow: pic.twitter.com/ITn5ITwI3G — Fox & Friends (@FoxFriends) March 5, 2018
Closer Aroldis Chapman is the most well-known free agent still available on the market, and it appears that the Yankees are starting to keep close tabs on the right-hander.
According to numerous reports, Chapman is working out with the Yankees, which is expected to lead to a deal being wrapped up soon.
The All-Star closer is looking for a long-term deal of more than seven figures and has offered himself a discount in a public pronouncement about what he would be willing to take to sign a new contract.
Chapman, who turned 30 in January, has been linked to the New York Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Washington Nationals.
Free Agent OF Bryce Harper
During the winter meetings, it was reported that the Atlanta Braves are the leading candidates to sign the young slugger. While this remains true, it appears that Atlanta would only be making an offer to Harper that is of the five-year type. It is possible that Harper will be open to teaming up with his former amateur and senior teammate, Bryce Harper.
The Mets, however, continue to remain a very strong contender for the slugger, and executives in attendance at the Winter Meetings said that the sides continue to have productive talks.
Bryce Harper signed his $13.9 million qualifying offer from the Nationals — for now. https://t.co/DUsMhIj7Sg pic.twitter.com/WKeLIt3Pek — SNY (@SNYtv) March 5, 2018
New York Yankees
Trevor Hildenberger started the season at the back of the bullpen, but has since flourished, earning praise from the New York Yankees pitching coach for his growing maturity and use of his breaking ball.
His stellar performance may lead to the Yankees drafting a relief pitcher higher in the first round of the upcoming draft.
Top lefty Trevor Hildenberger dominated in his final big league tuneup. Oink! pic.twitter.com/MpqYqxivsn — YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 5, 2018
Keep in mind that minor league pitcher Carter Capps underwent Tommy John surgery during the Winter Meetings, leaving the lefty now likely to be signed by another team this off-season.
Facing a deadline of the Sunday, March 4 deadline to sign arbitration eligible players, the Washington Nationals were unable to reach a deal with center fielder Michael Taylor. Taylor is the Nats’ most versatile player and one of the best defensive outfielders in the league.
NL Central Bound! The #Nationals will sign Kelvin Herrera for $11 million over 3 years! #BoxOfficeInsider pic.twitter.com/RlEZVxUUn8 — FOX Sports South (@FOXSportsSouth) March 4, 2018
The teams in the NL East are expected to begin in a fierce battle for the one Wild Card spot and we could see the division wide bidding war continue after the first weekend of the season.
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