Shohei Ohtani’s fate with Angels among top spring training storylines
By Jon Heyman,
Pitchers and catchers report within two weeks, and as usual there are plenty of enticing storylines.
1. Will the Angels try to extend Shohei Ohtani, and do they have any chance?
They want to try, and have two things going for them: 1) He’s presumed to prefer the West Coast (one rival exec says, “he’s about comfort, more than money”), and 2) They’ve clearly honored his wish to prove he’s the best two-way player ever. However, with no playoff appearances in five years, the likelihood of a quick spring deal is practically nil.
2. Will the Pirates trade Bryan Reynolds?
Some rival execs are holding out hope even though they say Pittsburgh is seeking a “Soto-type” deal. (The Yankees showed interest and the Marlins are among the more “aggressive” teams.) Here’s where I’d normally rip the Pirates, but they actually showed signs of trying this winter. They remain most interested in locking up Reynolds — who still seeks a trade after rebuffing a six-year, $76 million offer.
3. Will Trevor Bauer find a job?
It’s certainly not a great sign he’s three weeks into free agency and there’s barely a whisper. (I did hear rumors of two teams, but I won’t needlessly embarrass them here with unfounded speculation). One PR expert predicted he might get a chance after spring training ends, when media is gone and he can work out at a camp solo.
The relationship was allegedly frosty in Detroit, and friends say not to expect a genuine “lovefest.” However, Verlander maturely explained they were both single guys singularly focused on becoming great back then, with the obvious implication that they are now both established greats (and happily married) and that they’ll be fine. He’s likely right. Both are focused on adding to their ring totals (Verlander has two, Scherzer one) and certainly smart enough not to let anything detract from their $490M team ($380M payroll, $110M tax).
5. Will Jacob deGrom find happiness in Texas?
DeGrom seemed miserable in New York, certainly about his contract (though he was the best-paid part-time employee going, at $30M/year) and maybe even New York. Buck Showalter suggested to Sports Illustrated that in Texas he’ll have “a place to spread out.” The guess here is that it was more the Mets contract than the Mets that tortured him. One positive: It contained an out, allowing him to escape and prove he was worth even more.
6. Will the Yankees find a left fielder?
They’d love Reynolds, and there have been intermittent talks with Jurickson Profar. But Aaron Hicks, coming off a knee injury and a poor season, enters as the favorite, with Oswaldo Cabrera and to a lesser degree Estevan Florial threats.
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