MLBits: Secret Free Agent Camp, Hilarious Marlins OF, Travis Wood is Hardcore, More

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MLBits: Secret Free Agent Camp, Hilarious Marlins OF, Travis Wood is Hardcore, More

Chicago Cubs

I’m going to see ‘Black Panther’ this Saturday, and I find myself more excited about this one than most Marvel movies in the recent past. Despite loving the entire universe – and almost every movie on an individual level – the fog of a thousand chapters has watered the whole down quite a bit.

‘Black Panther,’ on the other hand, isn’t just getting good reviews (they all basically get good reviews), it’s getting high marks for originality, more developed characters, and a different take on the story. I’m sufficiently stoked.

And now here’s some news from around the league …

  • Last Thursday, the players union sent a memo to various agents announcing their their free agent spring training camp, and it sounds like the first workout is today (note: no Scott Boras clients are attending for now, which means no Jake Arrieta or J.D. Martinez, among others). And while it would be awesome to get a look inside that camp – just to see what’s up – it remains unlikely. If you recall, there was worry among some that the negative media attention would just draw a further spotlight on the situation and the players who are still jobless.
  • Indeed, it seems it’s already getting oddly received:

  • I get that it’s not a tryout camp … but … you know, whatever it takes at this point, right? Shrug. I’m sure there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes that would explain this, but it’s a little odd.
  • The Arizona Diamondbacks are going to begin using a humidor to store baseballs at Chase Field in 2018, not unlike Coors Field, to keep balls from “drying out in the arid wester air.” The expectation is that it’ll cut down on a ball’s flight and, thus, home run totals. That’ll be something to watch, since the park had quickly become a serious offensive haven (its 1.222 home run park factor is 4th in baseball (1.000 is neutral), one spot ahead of Coors Field; its overall park factor for offense is 1.202, third in baseball behind only Coors Field and Globe Life in Arlington).
  • At, Richard Justice writes “Yu’s a Cub, so Cards must make a splash,” and it gives me the smiles. That is … so long as they don’t land guys like Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland. Neither players is going to turn the Cardinals’ fortune around entirely, but both would certainly fit perfectly into the current picture, and, on reasonable deals (which feels likely at this point) they could be pretty clear wins for the Cardinals. With that said, Holland, at least, should be widely desirable enough to garner plenty of interest if his market really dripped down as low as we think it could.
  • Here’s something to think about:

  • A 39-year-old Chase Utley just got a two-year deal. Weird, right? Well …. In prior years, you could almost guarantee that the Dodgers would’ve made this a one year deal, but now, in the new CBA/luxury-tax-matters world, adding a second year and halving the AAV of the deal is a no-brainer. Who cares if you only want him for one year, when spreading out the money helps stay under the cap? And if Utley only plans to play one more year anyway, what does he care if he’s contracted for a second season?
  • Oh, this is just too sad. At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan wonders just how bad the Marlins outfield projects to be in 2018 (now that they’ve shipped out Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich), and … yikes. They are not just projected to be the worst outfield group in baseball, they’re projected for less than half (!) the WAR as the next worst team. Of course, with Stanton (6.3), Yelich (3.9), and Ozuna (3.9), they would’ve been among the top three in baseball.
  • Dude … Travis Wood is hardcore. Or, as Brett would put it, no one is more Travis Wood than Travis Wood:

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • This Cubs front office very rarely take players through the arbitration process (Justin Grimm was actually the first), and it’s not hard to understand why. In doing so, a team is forced to make a case against their own player’s abilities. That can get awkward and frustrating really quickly. And yet, that’s not even the worst look. Consider Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz. He lost his hearing last week, and on top of that … no one he recognized from the Braves was even in attendance. “It would have been nice if someone from the Braves were actually there,” Foltynewicz said on Tuesday. “I took a couple of days out of my schedule to go out to Arizona and go sit there. The world knows it wasn’t a big amount of money we were fighting over, but it would have been nice if they would have been there to sit with their lawyers and tell me why we don’t deserve this contract and this raise.” Yikes. Ugly.
  • According to an article at Yahoo Sports, Shohei Ohtani, the famed two-way player, will … focus mostly on pitching in 2018. “He’s going to get the most looks as a pitcher,” manager Mike Scioscia told reporters. “If he can pitch to his capabilities, that will always influence your team more than what he would do hitting.” Scioscia eventually hedged his comments, saying, “But that’s not to say he won’t have a chance to be a difference-maker on the offensive end, too.” But I think his point might be well-taken. I really, really hope Ohtani plays both ways, because while he can easily be a game-changing pitcher, the whole reason we were so excited was to see him do something that almost nobody else can. It would be fun. I would also assume some promises were made to him in the courting process, right?
  • OH MY … turns out Andrew McCutchen mimicking Hunter Pence is the funniest thing in the world (they’re all great, but McCutchen is killing me):

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami