After four months of the drawn out MLB offseason, spring training is officially here, and there are a lot of storylines to watch around the league.
Starting off in the AL, the biggest storyline might be with the Toronto Blue Jays and their top prospect and the leagues top prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The 19 year old hit .400 with 20 home runs in the upper levels of the minors last year and is knocking the door down to the big league club. The Blue Jays, who already have a plethora of infielders, will need to accommodate Guerrero on the roster, and give him a proper evaluation in major league camp.
New managers will also shine through, especially for the Angels, who will have their first new manager in 20 years. Brad Ausmus will take control of that club, and will have no small task, as the Angels have a lack of pitching depth and lots of corner infielders with no holes.
“I can not wait for Spring Training. I like being able to watch the current players and the future players of every team play with and against each other. I also enjoy the vast coverage that MLB Network gives of the spring, when they play upwards of 1000 games during that month span,” junior Jacob Spudich said.
As for the NL, there is no shortage of news. The Cubs will enter the season hoping to stay afloat after an offseason with very little spending. The team limited itself to about $10 million in attempt to stay under the luxury tax threshold, which translated to the team signing three major league contracts, Daniel Descalso, Tony Barnette and Brad Brach. Another interesting team to watch are the Reds, after a busy offseason. The Reds brought in multiple players, and have really created a good depth issue, and they could be a team to watch for trades by the end of March.
“I do not think the Cubs are going to much of a threat this year. They lost more than they gained and already seemed as a downfalling team,” junior Andrew Lemley said.
The Cardinals, are making their own storylines. The team has created a bit of a bench logjam, wanting to carry a lefty all season off the bench in Drew Robinson. That creates a problem for one of, or both of, Yairo Munoz and Tyler O’Neill, who were both rookie standouts from last year. With the team opting not to trade Jedd Gyorko or Jose Martinez, there is simply no room as of right now. Injuries do happen over the course of a 162 game season however, meaning eventually, those two will see some time in the big leagues. The team is also looking at a pretty heated bullpen competition with multiple very solid option for seven open spots.
“I’m excited for the Cardinals this year. I think that the new leadership with Mike Shildt and Jeff Albert will really shape this ball team for the better,” junior Blake Haffer said.
Lastly, there is one overlying thing to watch all of spring training, and that is the slow moving free agent market. Over 100 free agents remain, including Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and any one could impact a team in many ways.