Ryan L. Fox
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, baseball fans can rejoice as the 2018 MLB season has begun with Spring Training down in Florida and Arizona. However during the past week, there were quite a few things around MLB got registered on a lot of people's radars.
Padres Hit a Homer With Hosmer
The week with a bang when it was announced on Sunday, February 18 that the San Diego Padres signed free agent 1B Eric Hosmer.
After spending nearly the entire offseason in free agency limbo and almost on the eve of Spring Training, Hosmer and the Padres agreed to an 8-year, $144 million deal. The deal would pay Hosmer an annual amount of $21 million from 2018 to 2022 with an opt-out after 2022 as well as a Full No Trade Clause from 2018 to 2020.
From 2011-2017, Hosmer spent his entire MLB career with the Kansas City Royals, hitting a career average of .284 with 1,132 hits, 127 home runs, 566 RBIs, and an OBP/SLG/OPS line of .342/.349/.761. He also was a key part of their postseason runs in 2014 & 2015 as well as helped the team claim the World Series title in 2016. Last year with the Royals, Hosmer set career highs in hits (192), batting average (.318), OBP, (.385), SLG (.498), OPS (.882), walks drawn (66), and tied his career high in home runs (25).
With the Hosmer signing, the Padres were able to get a big that their lineup sorely needed (dead last in batting average (.234) and runs scored (604 last year). Though it still doesn’t put them in the conversation of contention for the NL West divisional title, it still is a good sign for Padres fans that the team is looking to improve themselves.
The Martinez Drama
For the past couple of weeks, there was talk about who would land free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez, the top free agent of the offseason. Then the Boston Red Sox pitched what appeared to be a 5-year, $100 million that many scoffed at as being ‘too low’ of an offer since Martinez was a Scott Boras-player. Meaning that more likely than not, the Red Sox would have to overpay for Martinez to be a part of the 2018 squad.
However on Tuesday, February 20, the Red Sox and Martinez came to an agreement on a team-friendly 5-year, $110 million. This includes an opt-out for Martinez after the 2020 as well a $2.5 million buyout for the Red Sox if Martinez decides to opt-out after the 2019 season.
At first this seemed like a perfect match since Martinez was the power bat that the Red Sox sorely missed last year (Martinez had career highs in home runs (45), RBIs (104), and SLG (.690) while playing for the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks).
However there has been no official announcement that Martinez had signed with the Red Sox as the talks have gone into purgatory.
It then came out later on that week that there was a ‘medical issue’ that had appeared while Martinez was taking his physical for the Boston Red Sox. Although both sides have remained essentially quiet on the matter, one can only speculate how this will turn out. If it turns out that the ‘medical issue’ is serious, then the contract would more likely than not end up being null and void.
This could put a major damper on things for the Red Sox, who need that big bat in the lineup as well as for J.D. Martinez, who will lose out on a lot of money and this is something that neither side can afford before the 2018 Season Opener.
Takes Three to Tango
Last December, the New York Yankees shocked the baseball world when they acquired OF Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins, giving them a big bat to protect their own top sluggers in OF Aaron Judge and C Gary Sanchez.
Then this past Tuesday, the Yankees were at it again to shore there line up when they were wheeling and dealing away with other teams. This time, their trading partners were the Tampa Bay Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The following teams received the following players below:
Yankees: Receive UT Brandon Drury from the Diamondbacks
Diamondbacks: Receive OF Steve Souza Jr. from the Rays & RHP Taylor Widener from the Yankees
Rays: Receive INF Nick Solak from the Yankees & RHP Anthony Banda from the Diamondbacks
One could look at this and say that all three teams involved came away with something beneficial from the trade.
For the Yankees, they received a player in Drury who could play multiple infield positions (2B and 3B) and allow their younger infielder prospects (3B Miguel Andujar & 2B Gleyber Torres) to develop before getting brought up to the major league level. For the Diamondbacks, they got an outfielder in Steve Souza Jr. to help fill the hole left by J.D. Martinez, who left for free agency. For the Rays, they got a Top 10 prospect in Solak to help with the team rebuilding process as well as a young pitcher in Banda, the latter whom will more than not help the team prepare for when they lose the likes of SP Chris Archer to free agency.
MLB Honor Parkland Shooting Victims
This past week, major league baseball took the time to pay tribute and honor those who were affected by the devastating school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead.
All 30 teams wore Stoneman Douglas baseball caps during their Spring Training games, which then would be autographed and then auctioned off with all proceeds going to charity.
Then during the Spring Training opener between the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals in Juniper, Florida, both the Stoneman Douglas baseball and softball teams and their families were honorary guests for the game. Both teams also had a 17-second moment of silence before the national anthem to honor the 17 victims who lost their lives during the shooting.
Then during the Houston Astros Spring Training opener against the Washington Nationals, the Astros hosted Stoneman Douglas baseball coach Todd Fitz-Gerald, his two dons, and his assistant coach, as well as allowed Fitz-Gerald and his sons to be with general manager Jeff Luhnow when he presented the team with the World Series trophy during pregame ceremonies.
Also during a spring training game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves, Mets 3B David Wright and a group of Stoneman Douglas students delivered the Mets’ lineup card at home plate.
While America continues to mourn and wonder why such a tragedy had to happen, America’s pastime has offered a form of comfort and solace to the tragedy to help begin the healing process.
On this Date in Baseball History
According to BaseballReference.com, the following took place on February 25:
1933 - Tom Yawkey buys the Boston Red Sox from Bob Quinn. Just four days earlier, Yawkey collected $7 million in inheritance. Yawkey will own the Red Sox for 44 years.
1946 - The Chicago White Sox hand out the first media guide to beat writers. Just 17 pages long, it is the creation of Marsh Samuel, according to historian Peggy Beck. The project intrigues Bill Veeck, owner of the Cleveland Indians, who hires Samuel away from the Sox to create a guide for the Tribe.
1957 - The United States Supreme Court decides 6-3 that baseball is the only professional sport exempt from antitrust laws. The issue arises when pro football seeks similar protection from the laws.
1969 – A pension plan for Major League Baseball is agreed on, with players to receive $5.45 million per year. They also get a percentage of television revenues, a reduction in the years necessary to qualify for a pension from five to four (retroactive to 1959), and a lowered minimum age for drawing a pension from 50 to 45.
1972 - The St. Louis Cardinals trade future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Rick Wise. The trade will prove to be one of the best in the history of the Philadelphia franchise, as Carlton will win an amazing 27 games for the last-place Phillies this season. During his career with the Phillies, Carlton will collect 241 wins, four Cy Young awards and help the Phils win 6 NL East crowns, 2 National League pennants, and the 1980 World Series.
1981 - The Executive Board of the Players' Association votes unanimously to strike on May 29th if the issue of free agent compensation remains unresolved. That deadline will be extended briefly, however, when the Players' Association's unfair labor practices complaint is heard by the National Labor Relations Board.
1999 - Frank Robinson is hired by Major League Baseball to handle on-field disciplinary matters. Previously, such matters were handled by the individual league offices.
2002 - 84-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell announces this season will be his last as Detroit Tigers radio play-by-play announcer. The winner of the 1981 Ford C. Frick Award for baseball broadcasting excellence has worked for the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and Baltimore Orioles before moving to Detroit during his 62-year career behind a microphone.
2005 - Kerry Konrad, a New York Yankees fan whose $2,325 bid won an eBay auction giving him the one-day naming rights to the Fleet Center Arena in Boston, wants to call it the "Derek Jeter Center," after the Yankees' shortstop and team captain. But instead, the Manhattan lawyer agrees to call it the "Jimmy Fund Center," after a Boston friend and Red Sox fan donated an additional $6,275 for the children charitable effort, bringing the total amount to $8,600, symbolizing the 86 years between Red Sox World Championships.
2016 - Major League Baseball announces changes to the rules that touch on two aspects of play: first limiting the length of mound visits by coaches and managers, and the amount of time between innings, in order to speed up play; and second defining what constitutes a legal slide into a base. The latter is the result of a number of injuries last season to fielders attempting to complete a double play, notably Jung-ho Kang and Ruben Tejada
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