With One Week Until Opening Day (March 29) ... Some Final Updates

Doug Upstone

Thursday, March 22, 2018 3:43 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 22, 2018 3:43 PM UTC

We hope you have been following all our individual MLB team forecasts, live Cactus League coverage and more to get you prepared for betting on the upcoming baseball season. Opening Day is almost here ...

What we would like to cover next is how particular Spring Training injuries could impact particular teams and the numerous late free-agent signing.

This has been an odd year for free agents looking to cash in like in the past. While the players have pushed collusion talk, the sense is teams are taking a more analytical approach and making decisions based anticipated production, money and actual time of contract. It would seem the days of paying Albert Pujols $25 million a year when he was already a fading superstar are over.

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Important Signings and Impact

The biggest name to sign since Spring Training had started was former Cubs ace and 2015 Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta with Philadelphia. Arrieta wanted a five-year deal, but nobody wanted to pay a 32-year-old pitcher for that length of time with diminishing velocity. Depending on the sportsbooks, the Phillies' season win total moved from 75.5 or 76 to 78 with this signing. While Arrieta should help Philadelphia win more games, in 2020, the last year of the contract, are the Phils really a division contender?

Alex Cobb just signed with Baltimore, and while considered an above-average pitcher his value would seem more important to a playoff contender than to a team like the Orioles with a win total of 72 or 73. Hard to see Cobb having much impact for MLB picks with O's.

It was a surprise Mike Moustakas, coming off a 38-homer year and still able to flash some leather at 29, could not find a multi-year deal somewhere and is back in Kansas City on a one-year deal. It would seem he would need to replicate last season to convince possible suitors for next year.

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy ended up in Oakland after not being productive as a hitter in Texas and Colorado in 2017, which is what probably scared teams off. Though well-liked by the pitchers he catches because his ability to call games, at 31 and like most catchers his age his ability to frame pitches that buy additional strikes has diminished.

Eric Hosmer got paid in San Diego as did Lorenzo Cain in Milwaukee and J.D. Martinez did very well financially considering he's a DH for the Red Sox. Hosmer will not have a great impact on a team still rebuilding. Cain solidifies the Brewers' outfield and Martinez needs to go yard frequently on a Boston team needing more punch.

Early-Season Injuries Impact

The biggest injury this spring was the Dodgers' Justin Turner being hit by a pitch and suffering a broken wrist. Though no surgery is required, one has to wonder about a player in the heart of the lineup not suffering lingering strength issues all season long when he returns in 6-8 weeks.

One story that has not gotten much publicity, yet is very important, is Minnesota ace Ervin Santana now expected to be out nearly half the season from right middle finger surgery. That explains the Twins trading for Jake Odorizzi and later signing free agent Lance Lynn. This will not help Minnesota's MLB odds to return to playoffs.

Other players of note dealing with maladies are Zack Greinke (D-Backs), Dan Straily (Marlins), Daniel Murphy (Nationals), Robinson Cano (Mariners) and Michael Brantley (Indians). However, none are thought to be long-term issues, and though they might miss Opening Day they are expected to be available sometime in April.

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