BALTIMORE -- The Orioles are moving closer to landing the best free-agent starter still available: Yovani Gallardo.
An industry source confirmed to MLB.com Wednesday afternoon that Gallardo and Baltimore were in serious contract discussions on a three-year deal that would give the O's a key rotation piece. Gallardo -- who has been on the Orioles' radar all offseason -- has reportedly dropped his desired contract length with Spring Training approaching, and the O's have ramped up their efforts.
Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa vying for spot in 2017 tournament
By Niall Adler
Special to MLB.com |
The first leg of the 2017 World Baseball Classic gets underway with the first of four qualifying tournaments starting at Blacktown International Sportspark just outside Sydney on Thursday (9 p.m. ET Wednesday). Australia, the favorite, will host New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa.
The modified double-elimination tournament is scheduled to be played over four days. Sunday's finale, however, will be a winner-take-all game rather than part of the double elimination. The team that wins on the first two days gets an off-day on Saturday. Four of the six games, including the final, will be aired live on MLB Network, and all of the games will stream live on MLB.com and WorldBaseballClassic.com. ESPN Pac-Rim will broadcast games across the Oceania region, and the games will also appear on Solar Sports in the Philippines.
Niall Adler is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Champs load up truck for trip to spring home
Royals open Cactus League schedule March 2
By Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY -- Yet another sign that Spring Training is almost here: It was Royals Truck Day at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday.
Royals clubhouse personnel packed almost 60,000 pounds worth of bats, balls, luggage, video equipment, medical supplies, strength and training equipment, jackets, pine tar, bubble gum, sunflower seeds and much more into an 18-wheeler headed for Surprise, Ariz., in preparation for the beginning of Spring Training next week.
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Homers' odyssey: Statcast explains epic blasts
These balls managed to leave the yard despite having a high or low launch angle
By Andrew Simon
To hit a home run, a batter must accomplish two main goals.
First, he has to hit the ball hard. Or, in the parlance of Statcast™, he has to generate a high exit velocity. The second piece of the puzzle is perhaps less sexy but, as we have learned, no less important. The batter also must strike the pitch at the proper angle.
The collective efforts of your rabbit's foot, horseshoe and four-leaf clover have paid off -- you have been tabbed to pick first in your upcoming fantasy draft. But now the real fun begins. Because three players -- Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt -- each present a compelling case to anchor your 2016 squad, the dilemma at the top of the draft is unusually difficult this year. Making the best choice could be the difference between a narrow victory and an agonizing defeat.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The clubs that will dictate the int'l market
Padres, Braves, Nationals, Brewers, Cards, Phils, Rangers most aggressive
By Jesse Sanchez
The start of the international signing period is months away, but teams have been hard at work scouting prospects across Latin America and the Caribbean since last summer in search of future stars.
The Padres, Braves and Nationals have been very aggressive on the international market, and each team expects to have a solid class of prospects for the next international signing period that starts July 2. Milwaukee, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Texas have also been very busy and expect to sign a good crop of teenagers.
The countdown to Feb. 18, the official report date of Yankees pitchers and catchers, is underway. Activity has already started at the team complex in Tampa, Fla., and anticipation is kicking into high gear for the upcoming season.
In the second installment of our Spring Training preview package, "The New Guys," MLB.com will take a quick glance at some of the players who will be showing up to try on their pinstripes for the first time.
DETROIT -- The Tigers head to Spring Training with more prominent new faces than they've brought in over any offseason since 2009, the year after their previous last-place finish. GM Al Avila was part of that offseason, serving as then-general manager Dave Dombrowski's top assistant. This offseason was different.
Longtime closer in Korea, Japan will serve as Cardinals' setup man in 2016
By Jenifer Langosch
ST. LOUIS -- Seung Hwan Oh, the South Korean reliever signed by the Cardinals last month, has received his work visa and is expected to report on Jupiter, Fla., on time for the start of Cardinals Spring Training.
Recent reports out of Oh's home country speculated that the 33-year-old may be delayed from traveling to the U.S. because of an extended visa application process. But he had his interview with South Korean officials late last week, and he has now received the necessary paperwork to travel.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Checking out the new faces in camp is always a big part of the fun of Spring Training. Luckily, the Rays have plenty of offseason additions to get to know over the next two months, each of them looking for a chance to play a significant role for the team in 2015.
Here's a look at some of the new players fans will be able to watch once camp opens in Port Charlotte, Fla.:
As MLB.com's Spring Training primer continues, it's time to introduce all the new faces on the Red Sox. After a highly productive offseason by president of operations Dave Dombrowski, there are plenty of reasons to be excited.
The pitching staff has a new ace, a new closer and a new setup man. The bench has a new power bat.
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies added some infield depth to their system on Wednesday by acquiring Taylor Featherston from the Angels for a player to be named or cash.
Featherston, 26, hit .162 with a .459 OPS in 169 plate appearances last season. The Angels selected him from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft in 2014, and Featherston remained on the 25-man roster the entire season, despite his lack of production at the plate.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Spring's in the air as Truck Day arrives in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH -- Snow covered the field at PNC Park early Wednesday morning as winter weather finally settled in along the Allegheny River. But down the dugout stairs, in the tunnel underneath the stands, was one of the first signs of spring.
Wednesday was "Truck Day" for the Pirates. Clubhouse manager Scott Bonnett and his staff packed up a moving truck and sent it on its way to Bradenton, Fla., where the Pirates will begin Spring Training next week. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to work out on Feb. 19, and the first full-squad workout is set for Feb. 23.
HOUSTON -- Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis told MLB.com on Tuesday that he will miss four to six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a hernia.
Gattis said via text message that he is optimistic he will be ready for the start of the regular season or shortly thereafter, and he hopes to start getting some at-bats in mid- to late March. Astros position players are scheduled to work out for the first time on Feb. 23.
CHICAGO -- Jaron Madison, the Cubs' director of player development, knows how important baseball was to him when he was growing up. He hopes other African-American kids will not only learn from the struggles past ballplayers experienced but also take advantage of what the game has to offer.
"Baseball was a way for young kids to learn teamwork and leadership," Madison said. "That was the biggest thing you took out of it. My dad encouraged us to play all the sports because we learned leadership, teamwork, how to get along with different people, how to be competitive and work toward team goals. I think that part of it gets left out of the big picture. That's such an important part of the development of not only the player but also the person."
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays entered the offseason knowing they would retain one of the best lineups in baseball, but there were plenty of question marks about whether there will be enough pitching to repeat as American League East champions.
No. 1 starter David Price is gone, but his departure created just one of several holes on the pitching staff that needed to be filled. The club had to get better not only in the starting rotation, but also in the bullpen. After several moves, the Blue Jays feel the mission was accomplished.
Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a mound Tuesday, his first time doing so since having arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow in October, according to pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
Rothschild told The Associated Press that Tanaka's throwing session took place in New York and that Tanaka's rehab is on schedule. The Yankees have said that the injury dates back to when the 27-year-old pitched in Japan.
ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish said he is feeling stronger physically than he did before having Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery last March 17. More importantly, Darvish said he is feeling much better mentally as well.
Darvish, speaking with the media after his rehabilitation workout on Wednesday, admitted that the game started becoming a grind over the past few years, and he wasn't enjoying it as much. The time off has made a difference.
Play in the 2017 World Baseball Classic technically begins this year, 2016, on Thursday in Sydney, Australia. The first qualifying matchup between South Africa and New Zealand starts at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday night and will be streamed live on MLB.com. Then, the Philippines will take on Australia on Thursday at 3:30 a.m. ET -- which you can watch live on MLB Network and MLB.com:
The Dodgers and Giants have ruled the National League West in recent seasons with dominant pitching, but the division also houses some serious offense. The Rockies and D-backs scored the most runs in the league in 2015, with the Giants coming in fifth.
Let's zero in on five pivotal NL West bats heading into Spring Training.
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers avoided an arbitration hearing with first baseman Mitch Moreland almost at the last hour on Wednesday by agreeing on a contract for 2016. The deal is for $5.7 million, according to a source.
The agreement came after midnight, hours before Moreland was to have his arbitration hearing in Phoenix.
CHICAGO -- The White Sox strengthened the back end of their starting rotation by agreeing to a one-year, $3 million deal with right-hander Mat Latos, the club announced on Tuesday.
If the White Sox get the Latos who pitched from 2010-13 with the Padres and Reds, then they might have done more than just strengthen the fourth or fifth starter's spot. Latos posted a 51-35 record with a 3.27 ERA during that four-year-stretch, making at least 31 starts and pitching at least 184 innings in each of those four seasons.
Pitchers and catchers begin Spring Training for the Marlins on Feb. 19 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. Full-squad workouts get underway on Feb. 23. As the workout dates approach, MLB.com takes a position-by-position look at the 2016 Marlins. The latest installment: Shortstop.
MIAMI -- For five months in 2015, Adeiny Hechavarria was a model of consistency. The flashy Marlins shortstop was enjoying his finest all-around big league season -- productive at the plate while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.