Listen, we know it’s tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn’t easy. It’s OK, though, we’re going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning, and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.
* * *
Spring training is less than two weeks away, and shortly after that the World Baseball Classic will be here. The WBC isn’t always the most exciting event, but it is always fun to see which non-MLB player jumps into the spotlight on the big stage. In 2006, we had Daisuke Matsuzaka. In 2009, there was Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish. In 2013, Kenta Maeda and Jose Abreu stood out. Looking ahead to this season, the best bet was always going to be Japanese superstar Shohei Otani. Unfortunately, we’ve just learned that he won’t be pitching in the event this year.
This is a huge bummer for baseball fans, as Otani is one of the most exciting pitchers in the world. At just 21 years old, he was already the best pitcher in Japan last season. Despite the new CBA hurting the value of young international players, the righty is still expected to come over to the States following the 2017 season. Still, while we’ll see him against major league competition soon enough, it would’ve been fun to get a little taste of him on that kind of stage this spring.
The good news is, he may still be available to hit for Team Japan this year. Oh yeah, did I mention he hits, too? On top of being the best pitcher in Japan, Otani is also among the best bats. In 2016, he put up a 1.004 OPS to go along with his 1.86 ERA. So, hopefully we’ll at least get to see him in this capacity. It just would’ve been amazing to see him play both ways in this tournament. At least now, though, we’ll have a better idea of whether Otani can really be a two-way player in the majors.
- This offseason was supposedly wild for starting pitchers thanks to the lack of options. That … hasn’t quite worked out, as Grant Brisbee points out.
- Yoenis Cespedes’ brother, Yoelkis, is playing in the Caribbean Series and his defense on Wednesday would impress his brother.
- The Cardinals managed to lock up their young ace on Wednesday night, agreeing to a five-year, $51 million extension with Carlos Martinez.
- Speaking of St. Louis, the fact that they get a competitive balance pick has been a sore spot for baseball fans for years. Is the complaining misguided?
- Jose Quintana is still with the White Sox, but will still likely be traded at some point. The Rangers are jumping back into those negotiations.
- The Yankees retooled their farm system this past summer. Now, which of these prospects will be able to help this year?
- Do you like sliders? Well, you’ll love the Mariners bullpen.
- All winter, the Nationals have been expected to find a new closer. They haven’t, but Shawn Kelley is more than ready to step into the role.
- What can we expect from Carlos Santana as he enters a contract year?
- Although he’s somewhat overshadowed in his amazing rotation, Steven Matz was phenomenal for the Mets last year when he was healthy.
- Among the quietest jumps in production last year was Christian Yelich. How did he do it?
- If the Royals are going to succeed in 2017, it’s going to be on the back of their offense.