Baseball games start on Friday and I could not be more excited. A couple teams are playing college teams on Wednesday and Thursday, but MLB teams facing off officially starts on Friday. It may only be Spring Training, but any baseball is good enough for me. There’s nothing better than the pop of a glove or the sound of a squarely hit baseball.
Spring Training is a time for stars to refine their skills, hang out with each other and build a sense of community in the locker room. It’s also a time for unproven rookies or younger guys in the league to make a case for themselves to be included on the Opening Day. Spring Training is where the Cubs develop their messages for the season and start to develop the mindset of winners, which has proven to work well for them after Joe Maddon came to town in 2015.
This season is met with lots of discussion about free agents being treated fairly. The top names that are still unsigned are Jake Arrietta, JD Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. I thought for sure that the pitchers in this group would be signed before pitchers and catchers were supposed to report to Spring Training, but none of them could work anything out. The best free agents out of these 6 are Arrietta, Martinez and Hosmer.
Some likely landing spots for Arrietta include the Cardinals and the Nationals. Being a Cubs fan, I’d hate for the Cubs to have to play him multiple times every year. If anyone can hold a grudge, it’s Jake and I really don’t feel like watching him celebrate every time he strikes someone out. Arrietta performed well for the Cubs during his time in Chicago and had a historic second half in 2015. He was also part of the reason the Cubs were able to win the 2016 World Series, pitching well in the regular season and carrying it over to the playoffs. While I hate to see him go, I wish Jake well and know he will have success wherever he ends up. Whoever decides Jake decides to sign with will be getting a great pitcher with a competitive drive that isn’t matched by many pitchers around the league.
JD Martinez was in talks with the Red Sox, but reportedly was fed up with them after the two sides were unable to reach a deal. Obviously the issue here was money. Martinez threw a number out there and the Red Sox either couldn’t do it, or didn’t think Martinez was worth the money. The latter is more likely, Martinez has produced well over the past two seasons with numbers comparable to last seasons MVP, Giancarlo Stanton. Martinez has a great bat, but struggles on defense at times and lacks speed. The Red Sox have one of the fastest outfields in the league and are solid at all positions, so Martinez would likely be used as a DH splitting the role with Hanley Ramirez if they can reach an agreement. Martinez to the Red Sox wouldn’t make much sense to me. They already have outfield depth and JD would be a better fit for a team like the Rangers who lack depth in Right Field and at DH.
Eric Hosmer has been in talks with the San Diego Padres. I would hate to see this happen. Hosmer needs to play for a contender. He’s way too talented and improved on an impressive 2016 with an even more impressive 2017. Hosmer wants to secure a multi-year deal and be the man wherever he goes. I don’t think he needs to stoop down to the Padres level in order to accomplish this, but this is something he already had in Kansas City. Hosmer was “the one” that led them to the 2014 World Series and eventually helped Kansas City win the 2015 World Series. Hosmer turned down a qualifying offer from the Royals of 7 years and 147 million dollars. He clearly did not see the Royals having any more success in the near future and wanted to take his talents somewhere else. There are plenty of teams that would benefit from his bat in the lineup and his glove over at first base. The Angels may be a good fit for Hosmer. Their two current firstbasemen are Albert Pujols and CJ Cron, not a great combo. Eric Hosmer would be a significant improvement over both of these guys. I think ultimately Hosmer will end up in San Diego. Hopefully the Padres can move Wil Myers after signing Hosmer like they intend to and bring in some pieces to build around Hosmer.