MLB Spring Training Preview: Reviewing the Short (but Exciting) Offseason
Pitchers and catchers report this week. It’s officially the start of the 2021 MLB season. This comes after probably the shortest offseason in MLB history. Despite the little time off, the offseason was still filled with massive moves that are sure to impact the start of the new season.
The reigning champion Los Angeles Dodgers found a way to get even better this offseason, as they went out and signed reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer to a three-year deal. Bauer won the award after recording a 1.73 ERA and 100 strikeouts for a Reds team that made the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
The team that the Dodgers beat to win the World Series last season made some changes as well. The Tampa Bay Rays made headlines for sending former Cy Young winner Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres. Snell won the award back in 2018, and after a rough 2019, he rebounded in the shortened season to record a 3.24 ERA. In return, the Rays received prospects such as Luis Patiño.
Those same Padres made major moves in the hopes of competing with the Dodgers, who knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Along with Snell, the Padres traded for the man who finished second to Bauer in Cy Young voting: Yu Darvish. Darvish rebounded in his final year in Chicago with a 2.01 ERA.
The Padres also traded for Joe Musgrove from the Pirates to help the back end of the rotation—one which already has Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet. Needless to say, the Padres aren’t lacking at starting pitcher.
Big-time position players were the talk of the hot stove, and several of them joined new teams while others stayed put. The most notable hitter to don a new uniform in 2021 is outfielder George Springer. Springer secured a six-year, $150 million contract from the Toronto Blue Jays. The deal works great for the power-hitting Springer, who in the short term provides another reliable bat for the Jays and won’t be a free agent again until age 37. Springer can serve as the everyday centerfielder for the first three years of the deal.
J.T. Realmuto was the most notable hitter to test the free agency market, but he didn’t quite find a team that wanted to lure him away from the Philadelphia Phillies with a rich enough contract. After a prolonged negotiation period in which it seemed only the Phillies had real, committed interest in offering Realmuto a satisfactory deal, he agreed to a five-year, $115 million offer to stay in Philadelphia. Widely considered the best and most well-rounded catcher in baseball, this is a move that had to be made, especially with the market not developing as Realmuto might have hoped.
Second baseman and absolute hitting machine DJ LeMahieu agreed to a six-year, $90 million dollar contract with the Yankees, which keep one of their best players as they hope to continue to contend for a World Series.
LeMahieu’s original deal with New York was for two years, $26 million, which turned out to be incredible value, as he finished top five in AL MVP voting the past two seasons while batting .364 during the shortened 2020 season. The Mets had interest, as they did with many top free agents, and the Blue Jays offered a shorter deal with higher average annual value, but the top-flight second baseman opted to stay in the Bronx for the long haul.
Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Jeremy Ganes is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.