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Plenty to Look Forward to This Upcoming MLB Season

Jeff Lembo, Staff Writer

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Spring is just around the corner, meaning it’s almost time for another season of Major League Baseball. The season kicks off on March 29th, the earliest date for an Opening Day in history. In addition, all 30 teams will be in action on Opening Day, with the first game set to start at 12:30 P.M. as the Marlins host the Cubs.

Baseball fans experienced an exciting but slow-developing off-season. Fans were treated to the signing of exciting Japanese pitcher/slugger Shohei Otani, who could play a huge role both on the mound and at the plate this year for the Angels. However, it was a slow-moving and arduous off-season in terms of other free agent signings. Stars Yu Darvush, Eric Hosmer, and J.D. Martinez held out of contract agreements until just weeks before spring training as they sought big-money contracts. Darvish eventually signed with the Cubs for $126 million, and Hosmer landed in San Diego for eight years and $144 million. Martinez chose the Red Sox, where he brings huge pop to a team whose offensive power has not been the same since the retirement of David Ortiz.

In the National League, the Marlins’ new ownership group, spearheaded by Derek Jeter, completely cleaned house. Sluggers Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees) and Marcell Ozuna (Cardinals) were traded, as was exciting young outfielder Christian Yelich. Yelich joins a Brewers team that now looks relatively dangerous, featuring the likes of Eric Thames, Travis Shaw, and Lorenzo Cain, who decided to re-sign with the organization that originally drafted him. The San Francisco Giants added veteran players Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria through trades, and will look to get back into the playoff picture.

The most exciting off-season story, however, was the aforementioned Giancarlo Stanton trade to the New York Yankees. Stanton joins fellow sluggers Aaron Judge (52 home-runs in 2017) and Gary Sanchez (33 homers). This trio can inflict a ton of offensive damage and look like the favorites to win the AL East, but will of course face competition from the Red Sox (back-to-back division titles, 93 wins in 2017). Boston looks to bounce back from short playoff runs in 2016 and 2017 behind new manager and former Sox shortstop Alex Cora.

Despite these exciting sluggers for the Yankees, the defending-champion Houston Astros still look like the team to beat in the American League. Electrifying infielders Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, along with ace pitchers Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel will look to guide the squad to another AL West championship and World Series run. The Cubs and Dodgers look like the strongest teams in the National League, but could face competition from the Diamondbacks and Brewers for the NL crown.

Be sure to tune in to this upcoming season! The hometown favorite Yankees and Mets both open the season on March 29th. The Bronx Bombers will be on the road to face the Blue Jays at 3:30 P.M., while the Mets open at home against the Cardinals, with first pitch set for 1:10. Play ball!

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