MLB Opening Day is now only about a week away.  So far, it doesn’t appear that there will be any delays and the Spring Training games have been running non-stop.  As teams get ready for the official start of the MLB season, there are still trades and movements taking place that will determine how the first normal baseball season in two years will get started.

Perez To Protect Royals’ Home Plate

Salvador Perez will stay with the Kansas City Royals for another four years. The catcher was just signed to a four-year contract extension yesterday, giving him a guaranteed $82 million salary. He also has an option for the 2026 season that could bump his pay up to $93.5 million if he continues to excel. This was the most expensive contract the Royals have ever signed, beating the $72 million they gave Alex Gordon for a four-year deal in 2016.

The Cleveland Indians are making a couple of roster moves ahead of Opening Day. Oscar Mercado could have been at center field for the team, but he didn’t impress the coaching staff enough and is now headed to the team’s Triple-A club.  He is coming off a poor season last year that saw him hit just .128 and, although he improved in Spring Training, the Indians feel he needs a little more time to develop his skills.

That’s not the case for Trevor Stephan, though. The reliever has made it to the official Indians roster, securing his spot after the team picked him up from the New York Yankees last December.  He pitched in seven games for Cleveland in Spring Training, closing with a 2.45 ERA with ten strikeouts and one home run.

White Sox Give Nik Turley A Home

The Chicago White Sox have claimed Nik Turley off waivers from the Oakland A’s, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com.  The left-handed pitcher had an ERA of 4.98 last year with the Pittsburgh Pirates before he was shipped off to the A’s in January. The A’s apparently were just using him as a bargaining chip since they never added him to the active roster, giving the White Sox a chance to pick him up.  Chicago expect a lot out of Turley, as they put Jimmy Cordero on the 60-day injured list in order to give him a spot. Cordero has undergone Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire season.

The Cincinnati Reds might be preparing to make some last-minute shuffles in order to accommodate Jonathan India. The infielder has impressed the team in Spring Training, putting up .333/.474/.633 in hitting. That will cause some shifts in the infield lineup in order to give him a spot, but they’re necessary if the Reds look to rebound from last season. They made it to the Wild Card round last year before getting stopped by the Atlanta Braves.

The Colorado Rockies have selected the contracts of both first baseman C.J. Cron and utilityman Chris Owings.  The Rockies needed to have two candidates in the wings since Peter Lambert is out due to Tommy John surgery and Brandan Rodgers is possibly out a month due to a strained hamstring.  This will be the second year Owings has been part of the Rockies’ lineup.

MLB Optimistic Over Demise Of COVID-19

With all signs pointing to this being the beginning of the end of COVID-19, MLB is starting to become more optimistic about a normal season.  There are still issues that have to be resolved and no stadium is ready to completely lift attendance restrictions, but progress is being made.  The Toronto Blue Jays couldn’t be happier, as they’re convinced they’ll be heading home before the end of the season.  The team has been based out of Dunedin, FL, where their spring camp is located, because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, but are going to ask for permission to return home.  The NBA’s Toronto Raptors have been in the same position, and could also make a similar request.