5 Big Stories from Spring Training
With the snow still coming down across the east coast, Spring Training has gone into full gear in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. Free agent signings and trades have countless teams in position to compete, while fringe contenders seem to be tanking. The offseason has seen quite a lot of turnover across the league, leading to five big storylines.
How does the addition of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado affect their teams?
The 630-million-dollar duo appears to be on teams headed in opposite directions, yet with very similar goals for the season. Harper brings what seems to be the final piece to a loaded addition, especially with the recent additions of Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto.
Meanwhile, the Padres have now invested 444 million dollars in two players, between Machado and Eric Hosmer. Their pitching remains their Achilles heel, so it will be interesting to see if a team whose strength its hitting is able to compete in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
Who will win the AL East?
While many believe this is a two-dog race between the Yankees and the Red Sox, don’t sleep on the Tampa Bay Rays. Returning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell alongside a revamped offense should lead to a competitive team in Florida. Not to mention, the offseason acquisition of former Oakland Athletic Emilio Pagán should bolster an already strong bullpen. They may not necessarily win the east, but the Rays will certainly compete for a playoff spot.
How will the Dodgers fair without landing a big fish?
Though they did offer Bryce Harper a contract that would have paid him the most per season of any player in MLB history, the Dodgers’ biggest offseason pick up was outfielder A.J. Pollock. Such a signing may not appease the World Series-hungry Los Angeles fan base, but this team is still loaded. With seven viable starting pitching options and shortstop Corey Seager returning from Tommy John surgery, this team is still the top dog in the strong NL West.
Is the NL East the best division in baseball?
The youthful Braves, offensively-minded Phillies, pitching-driven Mets and always dangerous Nationals make up an NL East that has emerged as the best division in baseball. The AL East is full of competitors, but it cannot match the NL East in terms of depth. All four of the previously mentioned teams have just as good of a shot at making the postseason as any other team. The Phillies have generated a lot of buzz with their offseason moves, but the Braves have a slight advantage. If Josh Donaldson can stay healthy, this team will have no weaknesses offensively while boasting a pitching staff led by surprise sensation Mike Foltynewicz.
Are the Diamondbacks in win-now mode?
After trading off Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals, it seemed that general manager Mike Hazen was signaling the beginning of rebuilding mode for the Diamondbacks. However, the D-backs then went out and signed former closer Greg Holland, traded for starting pitcher Luke Weaver, and kept the rest of the roster intact. David Peralta is fresh off a 30-homer season, Zack Greinke is still the ace, and don’t forget, this team is just two seasons removed from a 93-win season. It seems that this team is going to make a run at competing, but if things aren’t looking good by mid-July, Arizona could very well be in “sell mode.”
Andrew Destin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.