As of the post time of this article, pitchers and catchers from all 30 Major League Baseball teams will have reported for Spring Training.
Baseball is actually upon us. Glory hallelujah.
With camp finally here, the pressure on both unsigned players to find destinations and teams to upgrade with the quality players still on the market will ramp up by the day. With some of the biggest names amongst hitters still unsigned, there are some impact moves still to be made.
Even though the pitchers are the focus today, we're going to focus for the most part on hitters, in particular two of the biggest on the market today, J. D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer.
This is the Rumor Roundup.
D-Backs get creative
The Arizona Diamondbacks have always wanted to keep JD Martinez in the fold after he hits free agency, but don't have the payroll flexibility. They're especially wary of handing out a huge deal with Paul Goldschmidt is two years away from free agency himself.
But with the Boston Red Sox their only other real competition on the market—and unwilling to bid against themselves—the door is slowly opening for the Diamondbacks to make a surprise swoop and retain the outfielder.
According to FanRag's Jon Heyman, the Diamondbacks are exploring "creative" ways to tempt Martinez back. It's not entirely certain what that means, but the plan would likely include a shorter contract with a higher annual value and perhaps an opt-out clause at certain points.
Arizona is a decided underdog in this race against the deep-pocketed Red Sox, but they do have some things going in their favor. Martinez would reportedly prefer to play in the outfield rather than DH, something he'd be guaranteed going to an NL club, and he was reportedly very happy during his time in Arizona. The D-Backs did manage to surprise everyone when they signed Zack Greinke out from under the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants two years ago. If agent Scott Boras accepts that the kind of long-term megadeal he was expecting for Martinez isn't going to materialize, he may steer his client a more creative offer that would afford him another chance at a payday sooner rather than later.
But this is Scott Boras we're talking about–and he's not the type to settle.
Hosmer holding pattern
Eric Hosmer is another high-profile free agent that has just not had the market everyone thought he would. There were some differences of opinion about the first baseman. Old-school baseball people love him, sabermetricians think he's vastly overrated.
Like Martinez, Hosmer seems to be the subject of a two-horse race between his previous club and a single new suitor. That suitor is the San Diego Padres, who have reportedly offered him a seven-year deal in the range of $140m. The Kansas City Royals, the team that brought him up, have made a similar bid to retain him that reportedly stands ever so slightly higher.
According to Dennis Lin of The Athletic (subscription required) Hosmer has been in heavy contact with both teams over the last week or so. Royals said in a radio interview last week that they had had "a lot of discussion" with Hosmer's camp, while the Padres have been making a push in the last few days, Lin saying they have been in "regular dialogue" with the Friars.
Hosmer is also a Boras client, so he won't accept less than what he thinks he deserves. But if he wants to play in 2018, it's looking a lot like he's going to have to pick one of the two offers on the table. It will be a disappointment from a financial perspective, but it will at least get him a deal. Expect a decision sooner rather than later.
Ohtani eased in
This isn't necessarily a training rumor, but it will impact the way the Los Angeles Angels will set up their roster, so it deserves to be included.
In speaking to reporters on the first day of camp yesterday, Angels manager Mike Scioscia confirmed that the Angels will open the season with a six-man starting rotation as a way to ease Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani into the Show.
This is a move that makes some sense. In Nippon Professional Baseball pitchers only throw once a week. Moving to a six-man rotation will lessen both Ohtani's initial workload and that of several other starters who have had arm troubles in the past, including Garrett Richard, JC Ramirez, and Tyler Skaggs. It will also afford him an extra day to play DH in between starts.
While unorthodox, in this situation it might be an excellent move. Other Japanese pitchers like Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka have had issues adjusting to an American workload and suffered arm problems as a result. Keeping Ohtani fresh could avoid any Stephen Strasburg-type shutdowns at the end of the season—although if that were to happen he could then just DH every day. Scioscia isn't someone that usually goes against a grain often, but if he does here, it will likely be a good move.