With all pitchers and catchers for all 30 clubs set to report for Spring Training by the end of today, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day:
1. Arbitration Hearings End Today
Arbitration hearings are set to come to a close today. Yesterday, Ji-Man Choi went to a hearing against the Pirates, according to the Associated Press. Choi’s hearing comes on the heels of decisions in favor of Luis Rengifo and Harold Ramirez, but against Ryan Helsley and Josh Rojas. Choi filed for a salary in 2023 of $5.4MM while Pittsburgh countered with $4.65MM. Choi is a free agent after the 2023 season, so the coming decision won’t have much impact on his future earnings beyond 2023. Choi joins four other players in waiting for a decision on their 2023 salary, while two final hearings are set to take place today for Cardinals lefty Genesis Cabrera and Mariners outfield Teoscar Hernandez.
2. What’s next for the lefty relief market?
Yesterday Matt Moore landed with the Angels on a one-year deal, just a few days after Andrew Chafin signed with the Diamondbacks. Even with the top two lefty relief free agents now off the board, though, there’s plenty of interesting options remaining for clubs seeking lefty relief help. Both Will Smith and Brad Hand have faced some struggles in recent years, though each still touts years of late-inning experience and encouraging recent performance. Hand enjoyed a bounce-back season with the Phillies last year following a difficult 2021 season, while Smith improved considerably down the stretch in 2022 following a trade to the Astros.
Zack Britton is another name of particular interest, given his legacy as one of the longest-standing best relievers in baseball, but injuries have held him back in recent years. Since Opening Day 2021, Britton has thrown just 19 innings with an ERA of 6.16 (72 ERA+). Britton held a January showcase for interested teams and then worked out for six specific clubs earlier this week. The teams in attendance were the Angels, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, and Rangers, though with the Angels landing Moore, it’s possible their interest has waned.
3. Rays FanFest Tomorrow
The Rays are hosting Rays FanFest at Tropicana Field tomorrow. The free fan event is set to run from 11am to 3pm local time, with Rays players in attendance, games, and a stage show. The FanFest comes at the end of what was a somewhat quiet offseason for the Rays, with Zach Eflin standing as their lone major addition. Meanwhile, longtime center fielder Kevin Kiermaier departed for the division rival Blue Jays, Choi was traded to the Pirates, and Ryan Yarbrough was non-tendered. Despite minimal roster turnover, the Rays did add a bright spot to their offseason in recent weeks by agreeing to extensions with Yandy Diaz, Jeffery Springs, and Pete Fairbanks.