Is it the first day of spring, or another grim checkpoint in baseball’s never-ending winter?
On one hand, pitchers and catchers are due to report to 19 training camps Tuesday, with first workouts slated for Wednesday. Celebrate the game!
On the other, some five dozen veteran players remain unsigned, including the two prime free agents to hit the market in more than a decade. Everything is ruined!
Are camps really open when former MVPs, Cy Young Award winners and a trio of likely Hall of Famers still in their prime can’t find a job?
Ponder position battles, off-season weight losses and nagging oblique injuries if you’d like. The view here is spring can’t really start until winter ends.
And with that, here’s a dozen numbers to ponder as pitchers and catchers – most of them, anyway – switch from the off-season grind to the de facto start of the season:
Age of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, who have 10 All-Star Game appearances between them yet remain unsigned as camps open.
Harper’s career OPS, ranking sixth in baseball since his 2012 debut. Harper and Mike Trout are the only players in that group who won’t be at least 30 by the end of 2019.
Home runs since 2015 for Machado, tied with Trout for seventh in that span. Harper ranks eighth, the only player younger than Machado on that list.
Number of free agents who will hit the market before their age 26 season in at least the next four years.
Home runs in 2018 for J.D. Martinez, who like Harper and Machado had few suitors for his services and did not sign a contract until after camps opened.
Wins for the Boston Red Sox, who won the World Series after signing Martinez to a five-year, $110 million contract.
Strikeouts per nine innings for unsigned reliever Craig Kimbrel, an All-Star in seven of his eight full seasons. Kimbrel’s 91% career save percentage is superior to Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman.
Players who have received a contract longer than two years this winter. Four of those nine are relief pitchers.
Estimated cost for the Oakland Athletics’ projected starting rotation. The A’s won 97 games last year but will trot out a rotation featuring just one starter – No. 1 man Mike Fiers – who is guaranteed money beyond 2019.
Teams that lost at least 89 games last season.
Free agents those teams guaranteed at least $10 million this winter – Lance Lynn (Rangers, three years, $30 million), Kelvin Herrera (White Sox, two years, $18 million) and Garrett Richards (Padres, two years, $15 million).