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Marty’s Musings: the spring hot stove

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Spring Training is finally here despite the hot stove still being active. A strange welcome back to our favorite game.

Chicago Cubs Photo Day Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Welcome to ‘Marty’s Musings’, my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the news and notes throughout baseball, in preparation for Opening Day, 2018.

In this week’s Musings, we celebrate the return of admittedly meaningless games, take a look at some of the free agent signings, assess the current projected standings for 2018.

News and Notes

5 / 110 - Years and dollars for J.D. Martinez, one of the foremost free agents who remained unsigned until Mid-February. This was a match that really needed to happen, as the Red Sox needed Martinez’ bat badly (last in the AL in home runs in 2017) and Martinez did not seem to have too many suitors. The deal includes two opt-outs, which are becoming commonplace in multi-year deals.

19.44 - FanGraph’s projected WAR, per Steamer, for the Cubs 2018 rotation. With the addition of Yu Darvish, who Chicago inked on a six-year, $126 million deal, Chicago’s rotation is projected to be close to what it was in 2016. The 31-year-old held out quite a while (the common theme in this year’s free agent class) but ultimately landed on a contender that had the cash to spend and the desire to add to a rotation that previously had Mike Montgomery slated as their number-five starter.

6 - Mound visit limits that MLB announced as part of their pace-of-play initiative. The pitch clock was tabled, but the mound visit limitation includes visits by coaches, managers, and all position players including catchers. Of course, there are no consequences should someone go over this limit, so the real effects will be determined. At the very least, we may get some fun arguments out of this...arguments that will ironically and inevitably waste time. Sigh.

71 - Wins projected for the Padres, who signed first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million front-loaded deal. The contract guarantees Hosmer an average annual value of $21 million in the first five years, and $13 million in the back three. The Padres payroll was a measly $70 million, so it’s good to see a team spend, however Hosmer’s inconsistency raises questions as to how this will play out over time. Hosmer has had four seasons of between -0.5 and 1.0 WAR, which isn’t very encouraging.

60 - Despite some big signings over the past couple weeks, there are still close to 60 free agents sitting on the market, some of whom carry quite a bit of value, though come with their own flaws. Jake Arrieta, Mike Moustakas, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, and Logan Morrison remain unsigned. Arrieta is only 2 full seasons removed from his Cy Young award winning stint, and Logan Morrison last year accumulated nearly as much value as Hosmer. We’re moving into Hot Spring Training season.

4 - Divisions that are projected to end with at least a 17-game disparity between first and second place. While it’s true, baseball is unpredictable, the disparities between good and bad teams looks to be accentuated going into the season. Only the AL East is projected to be close (two games between the Red Sox and Yankees) with the NL Central next-closest, with six games seperating the Cubs and Brewers. The standings don’t account for strength of schedule yet, but hopefully there are multiple pennant races come this fall.

1 - Player who has gone down with needing Tommy John Surgery. The injury plague continues to attack MLB, as Rays’ starter Brent Honeywell left the field last week with pain in his forearm. Honeywell was primed to be a key member of the Rays rotation as he pitched well in Double and Triple-A in 2017, earning a 3.49 ERA across 26 starts in the minors.

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31 - Days until Opening Day!

Correction: Yu Darvish age has been adjusted

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano