It’s tradition for baseball fans to say the day after the Super Bowl that it’s baseball season. So who am I to buck tradition?
I hope that yesterday’s football game puts an end to the idea that a close game is a good game. Because even though it went to overtime, that was one of the most sloppily-played games on a major stage ever. In good weather, at least. I guess I should say it was until overtime, when both teams suddenly decided to start playing well.
Not a ton of big news, as MLB tends to try to keep out of the juggernaut’s way this time of year. But a lot of small news.
- The Marlins made a couple of trades. The big one was with the Twins, who sent infielder Nick Gordon to Miami for left-handed reliever Steven Okrent.
- The Fish also picked up right-handed reliever Darren McCaughan from the Mariners for cash.
- The Pirates signed free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal to a one-year deal. I mean, Grandal’s good and all, but the one to really sign is Grandal’s mother. Come for the baseball news, stay for the Beowulf jokes.
- The Phillies signed right-hander Spence Turnbull to a one-year deal.
- We now know the contract terms the Blue Jays used to sign Cuban free agent Yariel Rodríguez last month: five-years, $32 million.
- Former Mets general manager Billy Eppler was placed on the ineligible list for all of 2024 for improper use of the injured list. Which, to be clear, all 30 teams do. But the commissioner’s office wants to crack down on it. So they came down hard on Eppler, who doesn’t have a job anyway, as a warning to others.
- A poll of MLB dot com writers as to where the remaining top six free agents will sign. Yes, the overwhelming majority (39 out of 43) think that Cody Bellinger will end up back at Wrigley.
- Michael Baumann asks what a short-term, high-annual value contract for free agent lefty pitcher Blake Snell would look like, even if such a deal would be quite unlikely.
- Anthony Castrovince has the eight biggest surprises of the offseason. He adds “so far.”
- Bob Nightengale hands out awards for the offseason. Bob, Bob, Bob. They don’t give out trophies for the Hot Stove.
- A pressing question for all 30 teams. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- Will Leitch has one young potential cornerstone player for each franchise.
- Mike Petriello looks at which relievers are poised to “break out” in 2024.
- Keith Law ranks all 30 farm systems. (The Athletic sub. req.) The Cubs are fifth, in case you don’t subscribe.
- The Dodgers, whose season starts early in South Korea, opened up training camp at the end of last week. The team says that they know that there are high expectations for the team this year and that they have a “target on their back.” Bob Nightengale reports.
- Juan Toribio reports that Shohei Ohtani intends to “act like I am a rookie” in his first season with the Dodgers.
- But Dylan Hernández writes that Othani knows he’s not like any other player on the Dodgers. He’s also busy introducing himself to his teammates, which, as Hernández explains, is a very rules-governed ritual in Japanese culture with plenty of room for mistakes.
- The Padres are the other team in Spring Training already to prepare for an early trip to Korea. Dennis Lim reports that the Friars are counting on new manager Mike Shildt’s experience in player development to turn the team around. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- Esteban Rivera examines what happened to Padres outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. last year and concluded he had a lower-body problem.
- Mike Lupica writes about three aging pitching aces who could play a big role in 2024.
- One who won’t is two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who announced his retirement. Kluber said that he hopes to remain in the game in some other capacity.
- Thomas Harrigan compares the Fangraphs and PECOTA season projections and notes where they agree and where they differ.
- Matt Snyder ranks the ten best current major leaguers who have only played for one team.
- Jay Jaffe thinks the issues around MLB players competing in the 2028 Olympics are probably too difficult to overcome.
- Davy Andrews discovers that umpire accuracy rates are different in different ballparks. That is, it’s easier to call balls and strikes in some places than others.
- And finally, Anthony Castrovince looks at a new book about the California Winter League, the first integrated US baseball league, 37 years before the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson. The teams weren’t integrated, but there were teams made up of Negro Leaguers that competed from 1910 to the league’s dissolution in 1947.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster.