As Spring Training gets into full swing, the news around the Majors continues to swirl with fresh speculation and anticipation. The following stories have captured recent headlines.
You Never Know
Aaron Judge broke Roger Maris’s AL home run record with 62 dingers last season. While Barry Bonds holds the Major League record with 73 bombs, the record was set in the National League. When asked about an encore, Judge replied, “you never know.”
The reigning American League MVP signed a massive contract with the Yankees this offseason. With that speculation out of the way, the Yankees will be looking to win the stacked American League East featuring fierce competition from the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Rays.
Judge mentioned the Yankees have “unfinished business” when it came to winning the World Series. Only time will tell if the Yankees can win their first championship since 2009.
Guardians Lose Prospects to Injury
The Cleveland Guardians have been bitten by the injury bug. The club announced that two of its top prospects will miss significant time due to injuries.
First, top pitching prospect, Daniel Espino, will be sidelined with a shoulder injury. The 22-year-old Panamanian is expected to be out for about eight weeks, according to Guardians’ manager Terry Francona.
The Guardians also announced that last year’s top pick Chase DeLauter will be out for about four to five months with a broken foot. DeLauter complained of pain during running drills. Tests showed a fracture in one of his toes. DeLauter had surgery on January 10 and should eventually return to the minors for rehab.
Ohtani to Test Free Agency
The biggest concern on the Los Angeles Angels’ minds is Shohei Ohtani’s impending free agency. The Japanese two-way superstar is under contract with Los Angeles for this upcoming season. Beyond that, he can test free agency if he wishes.
According to Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo, the slugger has earned the right to “explore free agency.” While Bolelo’s comment does not rule out a reunion between the Angels and Ohtani, it does signal that a contract extension seems unlikely during the season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and Seattle Mariners have been rumored as potential landing spots for Ohtani. Also, the Blue Jays have been rumored as a potential free-agent destination.
The Angels last made the playoffs 13 years ago. It seems that wasting another season of Mike Trout and Ohtani may prompt the Japanese pitching star to seek greener pastures.
Kipnis Calling It Quits
Infielder Jason Kipnis formally announced his retirement following ten seasons in Cleveland. The two-time All-Star last played for the Chicago Cubs in 2020 after being drafted in the second round by Cleveland in 2009. Kipnis made the Majors two years later.
Kipnis’s best season came in 2013 when he bashed 17 homers and 84 RBIs to go with 30 stolen bases. He finished 11th in AL MVP voting and made the All-Star squad.
Kipnis spent the 2021 season in the Braves organization, playing 59 games for their Triple-A affiliate.
A Hall Call?
Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera hit two major milestones two seasons ago: 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. One of those milestones is enough to earn Hall of Fame consideration. Both make him a lock for the Hall.
Cabrera is entering the final year of his current deal with the Detroit Tigers. When asked about calling it quits after this season, Cabrera replied, “I’m going to go out there and be me.” Tigers’ manager AJ Hinch added, “We’re going to cherish our time with Miggy.”
Cabrera won the AL Triple Crown in 2012, making him the first player to do so in 45 years. He joins Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only players with a .300 career batting average, 500 homers, and 3,000 hits.
Cabrera’s next stop will be Cooperstown should he retire after this season.