The offseason is officially over. Pitchers and catchers for the Atlanta Braves will report to their new North Port facility on Wednesday to begin preparations for the upcoming 2020 season. It has been an eventful offseason for the league to say the least. We saw the free agent market come back to life as teams pursued big name players more aggressively than any of the past two seasons. Of course, the sign stealing scandal involving the Houston Astros and the dismissal of GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch and the continued fall out dominated the offseason news cycle. All of that happening as tensions continue to rise between the league and the Player’s Association.
Baseball really can’t return to the field fast enough.
Our spring training preview continued on Tuesday with a look at the starting rotation and the battle for the fifth starter spot. The series will wrap up on Wednesday with a look at the bullpen. If you missed any of the previous updates you can find them all here.
On the eve of the opening of camp, I also took a look at five storylines that will follow the Braves through the spring and the start of the regular season.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman released five predictions for spring camp including how a big first base prospect will turn heads during spring BP.
MLB Pipeline released each team’s pitching prospect with the best fastball on Tuesday. Kyle Muller took the honor for the Braves after showing improved velocity last season.
The Athletic’s Marc Carig and Andy McCullough ranked the offseasons of every MLB team. The Braves came in at No. 8 despite the loss of Josh Donaldson. The Yankees and Dodgers topped the list while the Twins, White Sox and Nationals rounded out the top 5.
With this latest radical proposal for changing the playoff format you have to wonder, does Rob Manfred hate baseball?
More MLB News
Continued fall out from the Astros sign-stealing scandal places more blame at the feet of Carlos Beltran. A new report by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Evan Drellich and Marc Carig frames Beltran and former Red Sox manager Alex Cora as “the driving force” behind the scheme. The report also includes that recently retired catcher Brian McCann approached Beltran and asked him to stop the sign stealing but the message was disregarded.
The Angels are hoping that Shohei Ohtani will be ready to return to the mound by mid-May according to the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher. Ohtani spent all of the 2019 season as a DH after undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2018 season.
The Boston Red Sox elevated bench coach Ron Roenicke as the team’s interim manager on Tuesday. He is expected to shed the interim tag once Major League Baseball competes its sign-stealing investigation.
Speaking of which, the investigation is now expected to extend into next week before there is a formal announcement of findings by the league.
The Red Sox are also nearing a deal with veteran outfielder Kevin Pillar according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Pillar began the 2019 season with the Blue Jays but was later traded to the Giants after hitting .259/.287/.432 with a career-best 21 home runs. He was non-tendered by San Francisco earlier in the offseason.
The Cubs and second baseman Jason Kipnis reportedly have an agreement on a minor-league deal that also includes an invite to spring training. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Kipnis will earn $1 million if he makes the club and the deal also includes some performance bonuses.
The Seattle Mariners have agreed to a minor-league contract with outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Seattle also reached a minor-league agreement with left-hander Manny Banuelos who spent the 2019 season with the White Sox. Both deals include invites to big league spring training.