The 2020 MLB season is right around the corner as teams report for spring training. Here are some things you might have missed this winter.
The 2019 MLB season seemed like it was yesterday. But now, with winter slowly fading — at least in some parts of the country — baseball fans can get excited that spring training has finally arrived.
A new season in a new a decade is thrilling, but the offseason of baseball was a memorable one at that. Aside from the biggest news of the offseason, the Houston Astros controversial sign-stealing scandal, here’s what you may have missed while watching football and basketball this winter.
1. Free Agent Splashes
The 2018 offseason was a bit of a bore. The two biggest names on the open market were Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and they took a long time to sign. This time, it was players like Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Madison Bumgarner who found new homes, and the moves came in a flurry.
Cole, a CY Young finalist, inked a record-breaking nine-year, $324 million contract with the New York Yankees. As for Rendon and Bumgarner, both players signed respectively with the Los Angeles Angels and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The other biggest name to change homes was former MVP Mookie Betts, who was traded from Boston to the Dodgers just before spring training.
2. Cooperstown Will Include Two Inductees
The night of January 21 saw only two baseball players get the call to the hall. Icons Derek Jeter and Larry Walker will be enshrined into Cooperstown this July. Players must receive 75 percent or more of submitted ballots to be inducted.
Walker, who will become just the second Canadian to be inducted, received 76.6% of votes in the tenth and final year of his eligibility. Meanwhile, Jeter was one vote shy of being a unanimous inductee. The five-time World Series champion garnered 99.75% of votes in his first year of eligibility.
3. Nike Becomes Baseball’s Uniform Supplier
Goodbye Majestic-made uniforms and hello to Nike. Under a 10-year deal, the multinational corporation will provide uniforms, gameday outerwear and training apparel for all 30 teams.
The deal means that Nike is now the supplier for three of the biggest sports leagues in North America; along with partnerships from the NFL and NBA.
4. Managerial Changes
Ten teams hired new managers this offseason. One of the most surprising moves of them all was David Ross’ reunion with the Chicago Cubs. The former catcher played for the Cubs in 2015 and 2016, helping them win the World Series.
His predecessor and former manager Joe Maddon became the new manager of the Los Angeles Angels. Joe Girardi, who worked as an analyst on MLB Network, signed with the Philadelphia Phillies to be the club’s new manager.
5. Rule Changes
MLB introduced new rules which were released on Feb. 12 and will take effect in the 2020 season.
The highlights of the new rules include: a three-batter minimum for pitchers, and expanded rosters. The three-batter rule means that pitchers must pitch to a minimum of three batters, or finish an inning, before the manager can put someone else in.
As for the expanded rosters, there will be a slight increase from 25 to 26 roster players.