It’s officially 2017 and just 33 sweet, sweet days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training! The Hot Stove has been relatively cool in these past few weeks with most of the major free agents on the market having already been signed. But lets take a look back at that list shall we?
Edwin Encarnacion – 3 year deal w/ Cleveland Indians
Yoenis Cespedes – 4 year deal w/ New York Mets
Justin Turner – 4 year deal w/ LA Dodgers
Kenley Jansen – (sources say) 5 year deal w/ LA Dodgers
Aroldis Chapman – 5 year deal w/ New York Yankees
Dexter Fowler – 5 year deal w/ St. Louis Cardinals
Wilson Ramos – 2 year deal w/ Tampa Bay Rays
Mark Melancon – 4 year deal w/ San Francisco Giants
Josh Reddick – 4 year deal w/ Houston Astros
The Dexter Fowler signing is huge. The Cardinals and Cubs are bitter rivals and these two teams seem to constantly be trading and battling for the best players between the clubs in the past two off seasons. This deal reminded me of the Heyward deal the Cubs made the previous winter. Though I could see Fowler working out a bit better next year than Heyward did for the Cubs. Not like the Cubs really needed any help on offense last season, but you still want to make sure you get your money’s worth out of someone considered to a great player.
I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but Chapman going back to the Yankees still makes no sense to me. The Yankees simply do not have the starting rotation in place yet to back up the skill set that Chapman brings to the table. Chapman was complaining that he felt Maddon simply over used him to get to the World Series and the Championship. You would think he had no idea the way the game works. Also, it must have been pretty tough to have assaulted your wife, barely serve a suspension, and then come back, play baseball, get paid, and get a World Series ring. Boo hoo.
Free Agency aside, everyone is also gearing up for the World Baseball Classic. A time when all the countries of the world come together as their own teams so that the US can see which nation they would like to draft from next. In theory, the Classic is a great idea, but unless you’re the US, Japan, the Dominican Republic, or Puerto Rico, this competition is nothing but a ride on the struggle bus. Most of the players you want to see compete usually pass on this option to play considering they have a specific routine they follow in the offseason and would rather not risk injury playing in a glorified All Star game.
Personally I think it would be more exciting, and probably a little fairer to the other countries, if instead of using their top talent, the US used their up and coming college ball players. We already know how the best in the major leagues are going to play. At the end of the day I usually find myself rooting for Japan. On occasion a stellar Japanese pitcher will be drafted to the majors but other than that they’re few and far between. I suppose I’ll root for my native Italy as well, but I think we all know that we won’t really see them going past those beginning stages.
While the Classic isn’t exactly the baseball we want to see, it does give us a little something to hold on to aside from some of those spring training games. Just a few more weeks of winter.