Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is three weeks away and teams are jockeying to make moves and improve as the shortened spring training gets underway.
Two of the offseason’s biggest transactions happened Wednesday, with 2020 MVP Freddie Freeman joining the Los Angeles Dodgers on a six-year, $162 million deal and 2016 MVP Kris Bryant agreeing to a seven-year, $182 million pact with the Colorado Rockies.
Heading into Thursday, top free agent shortstops Carlos Correa and Trevor Story remained unsigned.
Keep it here all day Thursday – and the rest of the spring – as USA TODAY Sports brings you the latest news and rumors from around baseball.
The Chicago Cubs have made a flurry of moves to improve their bullpen in recent days and that continued Thursday, agreeing to a one-year, $5 million deal with Mychal Givens.
Givens, 31, had a 3.35 ERA in 54 games with the Rockies and Reds last season, spending the first five-plus years of his career in Baltimore.
On Thursday, the Cubs also agreed to minor-league deals with righties Robert Gsellman and Adrian Sampson. Since the lockout ended, Chicago signed Steven Brault, David Robertson, Chris Martin, Daniel Norris and Jesse Chavez to overhaul their bullpen.
Having agreed to a deal with Archie Bradley earlier Thursday, the Angels added another arm to the bullpen by signing right-hander Ryan Tepera to a two-year deal with $14 million.
Tepera was one of the top relievers available in the offseason, posting a 2.79 ERA in 65 games with the Cubs and White Sox last season.
Solidifying the bullpen has been a priority this offseason for the Angels – who extended Raisel Iglesias and signed lefty Aaron Loup prior to the lockout – and the team added another reliever Thursday, agreeing to a one-year, $3.75 million deal with right-hander Archie Bradley.
The 29-year-old spent last season with the Phillies, posting a 3.71 ERA in 53 appearances. Bradley’s 7.1 K/9 in 2021 was the worst he’s posted since his 2015 rookie season.
The Cubs’ roster remake continues, agreeing to a one-year deal with versatile free agent infielder Jonathan Villar.
Villar hit 18 home runs with 14 steals for the Mets in 2021, playing second, third and shortstop. In 2019 with the Orioles, Villar set careers highs with 25 homers and 73, stealing 40 bases.
Since the lockout ended, the Cubs signed shortstop Andrelton Simmons and Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki. Patrick Wisdom is penciled in at third base for Chicago with Nick Madrigal (coming off an injury) at second, but Villar should get fairly regular at-bats.
St. Louis agreed to a one-year deal with Corey Dickerson worth $5 million, adding the veteran to the mix for at-bats against right-handed pitching as an outfielder and designated hitter.
Dickerson, 32, is a career .288 hitter against right-handers and spent 2021 with the Marlins and Blue Jays. He was an All-Star for the Rays in 2017 and a Gold Glover with the Pirates in 2018, but has only played 239 games in the past three seasons.
In a stunning move late Wednesday night, Freddie Freeman agreed to a six-year, $162 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a lucrative landing for the five-time All-Star who had spent his entire 12-year career with the Atlanta Braves.
The addition of Freeman creates an abundance of dominant bats that will shuffle among multiple positions with the addition of the designated hitter in the National League. Incumbent first baseman Max Muncy will now get most of his at-bats at DH or, perhaps, second base.
Freeman’s defection from Atlanta came despite multiple teammates grabbing a microphone at the team’s World Series celebration and imploring management to re-sign Freeman. But the sides did not significantly engage before the 99-day lockout began Dec. 2. Monday, the end came suddenly for Freeman and Atlanta when the Braves acquired All-Star first baseman Matt Olson from the Oakland A’s, and a day later signed him to an eight-year, $168 million contract.
So Freeman pivoted to a landing spot where he will continue contending for the World Series on an annual basis.
– USA TODAY Sports
Left-handed starter Matthew Boyd, a Tiger from 2015-21 and a free agent this offseason, agreed to a one-year, $5.2 million deal with the Giants late Wednesday night.
Boyd was the Tigers’ opening day starer in 2021 and his time Detroit spanned parts of seven seasons; over that time, he went 37-60 with a 4.87 ERA, 752 strikeouts, 247 walks and 137 home runs allowed over 777 ⅔ innings.
– Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press
The Colorado Rockies, the same team that unloaded All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado 11 months ago, cast aside veteran starter Jon Gray without giving him a qualifying offer in November, and have shown no inclination they even have a desire to bring back homegrown free-agent shortstop Trevor Story, suddenly invest $182 million over seven years to sign Bryant.
Several high-profile teams flirted with him, but no one was offering the kind of money the Rockies showed him. The Philadelphia Phillies showed interest, but once they decided to sign Bryant’s former teammate, Kyle Schwarber (four years, $79 million), Bryant was left with no choice without walking away from tens of millions.
The more compelling questions at Bryant’s introductory press conference will be directed toward the Rockies. You know, like how can you spend $182 million on Bryant, but not keep your own homegrown stars, even sending $51 million to the St. Louis Cardinals for take Arenado off their hands?
– Bob Nightengale