MLB Has Many Stars Without A Contract Heading Into Spring

Here's What to Watch for As MLB Pitchers and Catchers Report

It might be winter, but baseball season is approaching fast!

Most MLB teams scheduled February 14 for pitchers and catchers to report and February 19 for position players to report.

Meanwhile, the first spring training MLB game between the Dodgers and Padres will be on February 22. That’s only about a week away!

However, with that said, many high-quality free agents are still waiting to sign with teams.

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Former Padres ace Blake Snell is holding out and waiting for a long-term deal likely worth over $200 million. The left-hander added a 2.25 ERA last season and struck out 234 batters in 180 innings for the Padres. Snell added his second Cy Young Award, so he hasn’t accepted a deal.

Jordan Montgomery was also terrific for the Texas Rangers in their journey as World Series Champions. Montgomery is another left-handed pitcher who added a 2.83 ERA in 98.2 innings of work to help the Rangers win the World Series. He doesn’t have the same upside and won’t get the same amount of money as Snell, but he’s proven that he can be reliable in the postseason.

As for the position MLB players, Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman are still without a team. Bellinger won the NL Comeback Player of the Year honors in his first season with the Cubs. He added a .307 average with 26 home runs and 20 steals. This was the first time he looked like he did when he won his NL Award in 2019 with the Dodgers.

Bellinger’s inconsistency is one reason many teams don’t want to give Bellinger a long-term deal. But he’s a quality defender with much potential and is just 28 years old.

Finally, Chapman began the 2023 season with a bang, but once May came around, he struck out nearly 30% of the time. He’s a gold glover at third base and hits the ball extremely hard. He misses the ball too many times. He’ll wind up somewhere, but he is still a free agent currently.

Although most MLB teams aren’t finished with building their team, let’s break down what to expect this season as MLB Pitchers and Catchers report for Spring Training.

Alec Manoah’s Bounce Back

Alec Manoah got the Opening Day start for the Toronto Blue Jays last season. However, he finished the season 3-9 with a 5.87 ERA and struck out just 79 batters in 87.1 innings. He also had a WHIP of 1.74 and was demoted multiple times after bad performances with Toronto.

Manoah is expected to land the No. 5 starter job with the Blue Jays this season.

Toronto is hoping he can get back to his 2021 and 2022 seasons. In his rookie year, Manoah added a 3.22 ERA in 20 starts. He finished with a 1.05 WHIP and struck out 127 batters in 111.2 innings.

In 2022, Manoah finished with a 2.24 ERA in 31 starts and struck out 180 batters in 196.2 innings.

But something happened last year, and Manoah lost all of his confidence. He threw 87.1 innings and struck out only 79 batters with 59 walks. He walked eight more batters despite pitching 110 fewer innings than last year.

It was dreadful and humiliating. But if the Blue Jays can get Manoah back on track, he’ll be a significant No. 5 starter who could ultimately become a No. 1 starter in the rotation.

Life Without Ohtani

As a baseball fan, knowing Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch in this year’s season stinks. He’s still in California but moved on to the Dodgers in a record-breaking deal.

He’ll no longer play for the Angels, which is gut-wrenching.

Despite only pitchers and catchers reporting, Ohtani still attended the Dodgers’ facility and took batting practice in Spring Training. He’s not throwing this year as his UCL recovers from surgery. It’s still unclear if he’ll be able to begin the season in the Los Angeles lineup. But he won’t make the same impact this season as in other years.

The Angels could be one of the worst teams in the MLB without Ohtani. That would be especially true if Mike Trout gets injured again this season. It seems like it always happens to Trout.

New Closer In Houston

Former Brewers and Padres closer Josh Hader signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Houston Astros last month. Although Ryan Pressly had succeeded in the closer role for the Astros, Hader is now set to take over the closing role.

It’ll be interesting to see how this Houston bullpen shapes up with Hader and Pressly in the back of the bullpen.

Milwaukee’s Starting Rotation Looks Weak

As it stands right now, the Brewers might have the worst rotation in baseball. The Brewers no longer have Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Eric Lauer, or Adrian Houser.

They’ll have Wade Miley and Freddy Peralta, but other guys must step up to win a rotation spot.

At this time, the Brewers would likely start Joe Ross, Colin Rea, and Robert Gasser. Maybe other pitchers will step up for the Brewers. But that rotation just isn’t going to cut it.

They might have to start some MLB trade rumors to grab some depth for the starting rotation.

Competition In Cincinnati

On the other hand, the Reds have tons of depth for their starting rotation as MLB pitchers and catchers report to spring training. On the team from last year includes Graham Ashcraft, Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Andrew Abbott, Brandon Williamson, and Connor Phillips. Meanwhile, the Reds signed Nick Martinez, who can start or relieve, and brought in Frankie Montas on a low-risk deal.

Cincinnati will have to narrow down that starting rotation to five. They could get away with a six-man rotation. But as of now, we’d suggest Frankie Montas has to get a rotation spot if healthy. Then they’d have to roll with Hunter Green, Nick Lodolo, and Andrew Abbott and likely would give that final rotation spot to Ashcraft.

None of the starters from Cincinnati’s team last year has thrown 30 starts in a season. Therefore, the depth is good for the Reds as they climb up the MLB standings year after year. The Reds have a lot of offense. Just look at the scores MLB from last year. So, with a sound pitching staff, the Reds are dangerous.

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