What a wild offseason it has been for America’s pastime. With several prominent stars switching teams, a new Commissioner, and talks of altering the strike zone, this season may look very different from year’s past. The unprecedented amount of big name roster moves has created parity unseen in baseball for years. With Spring Training officially underway, here are five major storylines, related to players, to watch this March.
1. Kris Bryant’s Performance
With the additions of manager Joe Maddon, star pitcher Jon Lester, catcher Miguel Montero, center fielder Dexter Fowler, and a full season from their youngsters, the Cubs look poised to make a run at the postseason. Super prospect Kris Bryant mashed 43 homers in Double and Triple A last season, and looks to be the future face of the Cubs. However, the Super Two deadline may keep him in the minors for at least a month. If Bryant tears up pitching throughout Spring Training, it’s hard to imagine the Cubs will keep him down for long.
2. The Red Sox’ outfield situation
The Red Sox added star shortstop Hanley Ramirez this offseason, but are shifting the veteran to left field to limit his defensive mishaps. With left field shored up, the Red Sox have a plethora of options to play the remaining two positions. Now that Shane Victorino is confirmed as the starting right fielder, the center field job will be a toss up between star in the making Mookie Betts, Cuban signee Rusney Castillo, and defensive stud Jackie Bradley Jr. The battle will be heated, but either option should provide the Red Sox with enough production.
3. Wil Myers’ transition to Center Field
A once highly touted prospect and eventual Rookie of the Year, Wil Myers battled injuries last season en route to a .222 average and a very disappointing .294 OBP. Now with the Padres, the three-headed monster of Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Myers has the looks of a scary tandem – all if Myers can return to form. With a new position in center field, and a lot more ground to cover, questions have arised concerning Myers’ ability to make the switch. That, along with the pitcher friendly Petco Park, may spell doom for Myers in San Diego. Padres fans have to hope his success wasn’t a fluke – and that he can avoid turning into the next Chris Coghlan. However, Myers proved in 2013 that he could be a viable major league option, and at the prime age of 24, all signs point to his success.
4. The Nationals’ New Rotation
Leading a staff that already proved to be dominant on its own will be no easy task. Living up to a $210 million dollar contract will not be any easier. Max Scherzer will step in as the ace of the Washington Nationals, a team that already features Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, and Dough Fister – all of whom could be considered the ace of almost every other team in the league.
5. Cole Hamels’ Future
It’s not news that Cole Hamels is on the trade deadline. The lefty ace has been the talk of trade speculation ever since the Phillies demise only a couple seasons ago. Dominating on a team that is expected to finish as one of the worst teams in baseball isn’t something stars want to do. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is said to be waiting for the right package to move the left hander – but what will that be? After the Rays looked to be ripped off in the David Price trade, it’s hard to see teams offering the Phillies much more for Hamels – although, Hamels is under contract through 2018, with an option for 2019.
The 2015 MLB Season has the looks of a great one – and it all hinges on the moves made this offseason, and in the coming months.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Fustor