MLB Spring training offfseason recap

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MLB Spring training offfseason recap

The Nationals are looking to have an even better season in 2020 after winning it all in 2019 despite entering the postseason as a wild card. The Nationals kept World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, but lost third baseman Anthony Rendon to the Angels.

The Nationals are looking to have an even better season in 2020 after winning it all in 2019 despite entering the postseason as a wild card. The Nationals kept World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, but lost third baseman Anthony Rendon to the Angels.

Rafael Friedlander

The Nationals are looking to have an even better season in 2020 after winning it all in 2019 despite entering the postseason as a wild card. The Nationals kept World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, but lost third baseman Anthony Rendon to the Angels.

Rafael Friedlander

Rafael Friedlander

The Nationals are looking to have an even better season in 2020 after winning it all in 2019 despite entering the postseason as a wild card. The Nationals kept World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, but lost third baseman Anthony Rendon to the Angels.

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Each year, baseball fans everywhere wait for February to come, and with it four of the most glorious words in the sport: pitchers and catchers report. As the offseason draws to a close and teams begin to gear up for 2020, it’s time to stop gathering around the hot stove and take a look back at the biggest events of this offseason, widely considered to be one of the most exciting in recent memory.

Now, of course, no discussion of the offseason can take place without first addressing the elephant in the room: the Houston Astros. In mid November, shortly after losing the 2019 World Series to the Washington Nationals, The Athletic published a bombshell article revealing a wide-spread cheating scheme the Houston Astros used to steal signs and relay them to their hitters during their 2017 World Championship season. Major League Baseball announced an investigation and just over two months later, on January 13, they revealed their punishment: one-year suspensions for General Manager Jeff Lunhow and Field Manager A.J. Hinch, a permanent ban for Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman, a loss of first and second round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and a $5 million fine (the largest allowed under the MLB Constitution). No current players were punished, as they were reportedly offered immunity in exchange for fessing up to investigators. The lack of an immediate, on-field punishment has spawned some heated debate over whether this punishment was appropriate, with some advocating vacated titles and awards and even life bans in some cases. Despite a resolution from the Los Angeles City Council, Major League Baseball has announced that they will not be vacating the Astros’ 2017 or Red Sox’ 2018 World Series wins. The same day the punishment was announced, Astros owner Jim Crane held a press conference to fire Luhnow and Hinch and begin the search for a new manager and GM. 16 days later, the Astros officially named Dusty Baker, the former Nationals manager and driver behind the 2002 NL pennant-winning Giants, as their manager. On February 3, the Astros announced former Tampa Bay Rays executive James Click as their new GM. Through all of this, Astros fan Tony Adams took the time to analyze many games and thousands of pitches from 2017 to determine the extent of the cheating. His results can be seen at signstealingscandal.com.

As for the Nationals, they are looking to build upon their decent regular season and unforgettable postseason in 2019. Despite the loss of All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon to the Los Angeles Angels, the Nats were able to hold onto World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and add relief pitcher Will Harris to their bullpen.

Going into the offseason, one of the main questions was where top pitcher Gerrit Cole would land. But by December, he had already wound up in pinstripes in the Bronx. By the New Year, the trade buzz had moved on to Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts. The Red Sox were looking to shave off extra costs, so on February 4, a three-way trade was finalized between the Red Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Minnesota Twins. The Dodgers would get Betts, pitcher David Price, and cash from Boston, the Red Sox would get outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers and pitcher Brusdar Graterol from the Twins, and the Twins would get pitcher Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. The money saved will allow the Red Sox to stay under the luxury tax threshold. As of February 7, the trade has not officially gone through yet\; the teams are waiting on medical reports for the players involved.

But it’s not just players that are changing jerseys. Some teams have made some big aesthetic changes, from adding powder blues to revamping their whole look. The two biggest changes have come from the Milwaukee Brewers and the San Diego Padres. The Brewers ditched the gold for a brighter yellow as they brought back in full the MB glove logo originally used from 1978 to 1993. Meanwhile, the Padres scrapped the navy blue and tan color scheme used since 2004 in favor of the classic “love it or hate it” brown and yellow first worn during their earliest days. The Cardinals slightly tweaked the STL and the Nationals introduced two new caps featuring logos reminiscent of the old Senators clubs and brought over a new white alternate formerly used only for Spring Training, the first white jersey to say “Nationals” on it in a decade. Continuing the trend, the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Minnesota Twins each introduced new powder blue road alternates, with the Rangers also revealing new home whites for 2020. The Pirates introduced a new road grey and black alternate.

With all of the hubbub happening during the normally dull off-season, it will be interesting to see what the 2020 season will have in store, not just for the Nationals and Astros, who will meet again on Independence Day here in D.C., but also for the rest of the league.

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