MLB spring training: 10 positional battles ahead of Opening Day, including Yankees shortstop, Phillies starter
With just one month left until the 2023 Major League Baseball regular season, Major League Baseball teams will use the next four weeks to evaluate their players and ultimately finalize their roster. Spring practice games don’t count, but they matter. For many players, this spring training is the best opportunity to win a spot in the big leagues. In fact, this may be their only option.
With that in mind, let’s break down the top 10 positional battles coming up in the league this spring, with a focus on competing teams. This is not the only ongoing positional fighting this spring, not even close. They are the most important.
The Yankees have given up so many high-profile free agents over the last two offseasons because they believe so much in Perasa and Volpe. their two main perspectives. Keener-Falefa was brought in as a stopgap last year, mostly underwhelmed, and then sent to the bench in the postseason because his tendency to fail routine play became a real problem. The Yankees had a revolving door in October (Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera also started there) and it just shouldn’t be happening.
“I don’t think there’s any way I’m hoping it’s bound to happen,” Yankee manager Aaron Boone said of the shortstop competition on the first day of spring training (video). “You would like it to assert itself on some level, but you would like the guys to keep making it harder because you feel like they all bring something potentially special to the table. So we’ll let it play. by itself. Obviously, performance always matters, but hopefully, maybe she’ll make a statement about who’s the best guy to be in this place when we break camp. In the end, we feel that no matter how it goes, there are some really good options out there.”
Left field in the Bronx is also in limbo (Cabrera and Aaron Hicks are vying for the job), plus Frankie Montas’ shoulder surgery has opened up a No. 5 starting spot for Domingo Herman or Clark Schmidt, but shortstop is a critical position up the middle and deserves the most attention. This summer, the Yankees don’t want to deal with revolving doors again. Fair or not, kids will be under the microscope this spring after the Yankees abandoned free agent shortstops.
Leader: I think it’s Peraza. Keener-Falefa is a current player, although Peraza did what he should have done in Triple-A last season, and he also impressed with his major league cameo in September. Kiner Falefa was brought in as a temporary replacement until the kids were ready and there were signs that Peraza was ready. Wolpe is the more respected prospect, though he has barely played in Triple-A, so he is probably third in line for shortstop at the moment, behind Peraza and Kinera Falefa.
There may already be two candidates in this battle because Magpie, who has been out of MLB games since 2020 with a torn right Achilles twice, suffered a hamstring problem early in camp. Given his injury history, the Braves are being wary of Magpie, who lags behind other team starters in his training. That gives Anderson, who is said to be working on a new slider this spring, and gives Elder an edge in the No. 5 opening competition.
“I think we’re both pretty clear that we’re both going to do what we need to do, which remains baseball, right?” Magpie told Atlanta Journal-Constitution in January about fighting for a spot in the rotation with Anderson. “We both wish each other the best, and I think that’s important. It’s not as easy as one spot with two guys straightening up, right? There’s a lot going on here and we’re both excited about the competition. We both said that’s when the best comes out.”
Truth be told, the Braves are going to need all of these guys to start the season. The way it is. Last season, Atlanta used 12 different starting pitchers, and no team used fewer than eight. Anderson, Elder, and Magpie suggest they will start at some point (as does Colby Allard). In addition, whoever finishes fifth in the camp must pitch well to keep it. However, the winner will have a head start over everyone else and therefore more likely to stay in the rotation for the entire season.
Leader: Magpie’s hamstring injury puts Anderson in the driver’s seat. Anderson has slowly regressed since his major league debut in 2020, even though he is only 24 years old and very talented. The Braves have the top four in the rotation (Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Spencer Strider, Kyle Wright) and can roll the dice with a talented player like Anderson in fifth place. If Magpie recovers, he will become a real threat to the job. The Elder (and Allard) seem to have hit Triple-A.
The Dodgers didn’t put up former MVP Cody Bellinger and then did nothing to replace him. Hayward signed with the minor leagues, that’s all. Thompson did very well in half of playing time last year and Outman is a touted prospect, plus Taylor is Taylor. He had a poor 2022 season, but the Dodgers are comfortable hooking him up anywhere, including in center field. Los Angeles is looking to build on all these guys in center field this summer.
“I don’t know). I think your guesses are now as good as mine,” manager Dave Roberts said when asked who will play center field at the team’s FanFest event last month (behind Orange County Register).
Hayward made changes to his swing this spring and the Dodgers are excited: “He’s there and I think he might have opened something.” longtime friend Freddie Freeman told MLB.com – but with all due respect, this isn’t the first time Hayward has corrected his swing. He has been a below average striker for the better part of a decade and his defense has fallen from Golden Glove caliber to just good now in his 30s. I’m not sure Hayward is a realistic choice for center field at this point in his career.
Leader: I’m going with Thompson. Taylor will continue to move from place to place and it’s hard to expect Hayward to make a meaningful difference after the last few years. Thompson appears to be Plan A with Taylor backing him and Outman looms large if the Dodgers decide to make a change. However, Hayward’s revival would be history of sorts.
At the same time last year, Carlson was third in Rookie of the Year voting and virtually untouchable. Then in the summer, he was underwhelmed and was reportedly involved in Shaun Murphy’s trade talks with the Athletics while others, most notably Lars Nutbaar, were banned. Now it looks like Carlson should be fighting for a place in midfield. O’Neal, a two-time Golden Glove left fielder who played 21 games at center last year, is looking to get rid of the position (Knutbaar also played at center this spring).
“I’d like to play in midfield and I’m not trying to get anyone out of that position either, but that’s what they see fit.” O’Neal told MLB.com last week. “I know they are very analytical here and I just want to be the best player I can be. I worked really hard this offseason, increasing my first step speed and making sure my feet were under me. I believe I can play this position if they want me.”
O’Neal, who proved his ability in midfield, would open up some opportunities for the Cardinals’ roster. Alec Burleson, who made his debut at the end of last year, is an exclusively left fielder and it would be easier to include him in the squad. Best prospect Jordan Walker is a natural third baseman, but since Nolan Arenado hasn’t gone anywhere, he started working in the outfield last season. O’Neal at center will pave the way for Burleson or Walker in case Carlson’s bad 2022 rolls over to 2023.
Leader: I can imagine it will go either way, and it will depend on Burleson (and Walker?) no less than Carlson and O’Neill. If a youngster really lights up and makes his way into the squad, O’Neal in the center turns from a luxury into a necessity. I don’t think it’s fair to say that Carlson is losing favor with the Cardinals, but he’s definitely not as attached to his spot as he was at this time last year.
Arriving at camp, it turned out that the White Sox would compete on right field and second base. although the recent re-signing of Elvis Andrus took care of the latter. Sheets, the left-handed forward, played right fielder most of the time last season and hit 15 homers in 365 games against right-handers. However, Colas tore through the junior rankings last year and reached the Triple-A level. Chicago Avenue No. 3 suitable for proper field work. The question is whether he can win it this spring.
“He’s not going to (act like he already got the job) because he doesn’t. Obviously he’s an extremely talented kid and this organization has plans for him, but he’s competing for the job.” This was announced by White Sox manager Pedro Grifol. Chicago Sun-Times o Cola. “He’s an extremely focused kid. There’s nothing wrong with him. He comes here to work. He fights for the job and he knows it. It’s what he loves to do. He’s proud of it. He asks a lot of good questions. . He’s very “Detailed for a small child. He obviously has the ability. I’m looking forward to seeing him move forward this spring.”
As prolific as Colas was last season, he hit .314/.371/.524 with 23 homers…