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Mets GM: 'I think' Tebow will play in MLB

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets general manager Sandy Alderson on Sunday gave his most ringing endorsement yet of former football star Tim Tebow's status in the organization, saying: "I think he will play in the Major Leagues."

"We're very pleased with his progress so far," Alderson said, shortly after Tebow arrived in Mets camp. "He's been super for us the first year-plus. He's made progress on the field. He's dedicated himself to improving."

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets general manager Sandy Alderson on Sunday gave his most ringing endorsement yet of former football star Tim Tebow's status in the organization, saying: "I think he will play in the Major Leagues."

"We're very pleased with his progress so far," Alderson said, shortly after Tebow arrived in Mets camp. "He's been super for us the first year-plus. He's made progress on the field. He's dedicated himself to improving."

Tweet from @Mets: .@TimTebow has arrived in camp. #Mets pic.twitter.com/vLmXxk1VRN

Tebow, 30, began his journey toward that goal last season, advancing from Class A Columbia to Class A Advanced St. Lucie. Overall, he hit .226 with eight home runs in 126 games. The Mets invited the former Heisman Trophy winner to big league camp this spring in an effort to remain aggressive with Tebow's assignments.

While Tebow wasn't willing to go quite as far as his GM in terms of expectations, he did note that playing in the Major Leagues is his ultimate goal.

Tweet from @AnthonyDiComo: Here are Tim Tebow's own thoughts on playing in the Major Leagues: pic.twitter.com/187hygMPQT

"As an athlete, you always want to be the best you can, play at the highest level, win a championship, be the best," Tebow said. "If the best that I can be is in the bigs, that would be awesome. I believe in myself, and so I want to strive for that. But if that doesn't happen, then I won't look back and regret playing baseball, because I've already enjoyed it."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

New York Mets, Tim Tebow

Good news, Friars fans: Hos great at Petco

The Padres made a huge splash late on Saturday night when they signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal, according to sources.

If the past is any indication, Hosmer calling Petco Park home should be a positive for both him and the Padres. Although he only has limited experience at Petco Park in his career, the first baseman has absolutely raked. In 12 games between the regular season, World Baseball Classic and the 2016 All-Star Game, he has hit .458/.481/.813 with five homers and 19 RBIs.

Justice: Odorizzi deal shows Twins in it to win it

If Minnesota adds another top arm, it could cement place in AL's elite
MLB.com @RichardJustice

As first steps go, the Twins could hardly have done better than right-hander Jake Odorizzi. Now what? Isn't that the bottom line? If this is the only upgrade to Minnesota's rotation, it may not be enough.

Not in the American League Central, where the Indians are heavily favored to win again -- and not in an AL Wild Card race that could have the Red Sox, Angels and Blue Jays all competing for the two berths.

As first steps go, the Twins could hardly have done better than right-hander Jake Odorizzi. Now what? Isn't that the bottom line? If this is the only upgrade to Minnesota's rotation, it may not be enough.

Not in the American League Central, where the Indians are heavily favored to win again -- and not in an AL Wild Card race that could have the Red Sox, Angels and Blue Jays all competing for the two berths.

On the other hand, this strange offseason still has all kinds of possibilities -- and that, almost certainly, is what the Twins are thinking. Odorizzi alone isn't enough. Not for a team this close.

The Twins acquired Odorizzi from the Rays on Saturday for shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios. Odorizzi is still two seasons from free agency, and his $6.3 million salary should leave enough payroll space for another addition.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Luckily for the Twins, three top free-agent starters -- Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn -- remain on the market. Putting any of them alongside Odorizzi would create a strong 1-2 punch in front of youngsters Jose Berrios and Adalberto Mejia.

Here's the exciting part for Twins fans. Once ace Ervin Santana returns from surgery on his right middle finger in May or June, it would give Minnesota a rotation capable of playing deep into October.

Video: Falvey on Twins' improvement, looking to 2018

At the very least, it would send a message to every player in the Twins' organization that this front office believes in this group of players and is going to give them every chance to make a second straight trip to the postseason.

The Twins surprised plenty of people last season by making the postseason for the first time since 2010 (before losing the AL Wild Card Game to the Yankees). They got there by riding a young core of position players -- especially center fielder Byron Buxton, who played like a franchise cornerstone after the All-Star break (.893 OPS with eight doubles, five triples, 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 57 games).

Along with shortstop Jorge Polanco, third baseman Miguel Sano, left fielder Eddie Rosario and right fielder Max Kepler, the Twins have a great core of players age 26 or younger.

With executive vice president and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey adding Addison Reed and Fernando Rodney to the back of his bullpen, the Twins are on the cusp of making this a great baseball summer in the Twin Cities.

Video: Outlook: Rodney can still be effective as a closer

Odorizzi averaged 30 starts and 167 innings over the past four seasons in Tampa Bay. His 3.81 ERA over that span in a tough AL East seems to translate nicely to the AL Central, and he'll only be 28 years old on Opening Day.

When the Twins have Odorizzi and Santana at the top of their rotation, they will be in a great spot. Mejia and Berrios are high-ceiling young guys, and Minnesota's top pitching prospect, Stephen Gonsalves, could make his debut this summer.

If the Twins get to the postseason again, who knows what can happen? That's one of the lessons of this era of parity in baseball. Regardless, it's cool to see a franchise slide its cards onto the table and say, "We're in for this season."

One more move ought to do it.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Minnesota Twins, Jake Odorizzi

Jones on O's: 'We are here for one reason'

Eyeing 'hardware,' outfielder addresses future, free-agent market
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Adam Jones wants it known. The veteran outfielder, who is entering the final years of his extension with Baltimore, wants to win. At this stage in his career, Jones isn't prioritizing money or length of contract. The fierce competitor wants some hardware.

"I'm going to make the best decision for myself and going forward," Jones said in the O's clubhouse Sunday morning. "I want to win. It's not about money. It's winning. I've got a lot of friends with rings, hardware. My friend Cameron Maybin, he won a ring last year. My friend Quintin Berry got a ring. Dontrelle [Willis] got a ring. Edwin Jackson got a ring. I've got a bunch of friends with rings and I ain't got no ring, so I want to play for something."

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Adam Jones wants it known. The veteran outfielder, who is entering the final years of his extension with Baltimore, wants to win. At this stage in his career, Jones isn't prioritizing money or length of contract. The fierce competitor wants some hardware.

"I'm going to make the best decision for myself and going forward," Jones said in the O's clubhouse Sunday morning. "I want to win. It's not about money. It's winning. I've got a lot of friends with rings, hardware. My friend Cameron Maybin, he won a ring last year. My friend Quintin Berry got a ring. Dontrelle [Willis] got a ring. Edwin Jackson got a ring. I've got a bunch of friends with rings and I ain't got no ring, so I want to play for something."

Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Gear

Can it happen with Baltimore? No one knows for sure, though this season is the last, contractually, for Jones, relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach, All-Star infielder Manny Machado, manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette.

Showalter made it clear on Saturday that his annual state-of-the-team meeting Sunday night won't be for the thin-skinned. It will be about how the organization can get back to prominence.

"This is professional baseball. It's not a daycare. We are here for one reason," said Jones, who joked he had rhino-thick skin. "Simple as that -- we are here for one reason and one reason only. And if you're not here for that, bye. Thick skin, that's the rhetoric, but [Showalter's] message is he's here to win."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Whether Jones will stick around beyond this season isn't up to him, as he reminded the media again on Sunday morning. There have been no new developments regarding an extension for Jones, who was traded to the O's in 2008, though he said he's unconcerned with that this spring.

"Once you get in here, all of that other contract stuff and last year, all that stuff goes out the window. Obviously, it's on the minds of people because it's their lives, but myself, Brach, Manny, Zach, we are worried about '18," he said. "We are worried about getting through Spring Training and doing something between those lines once March 29 starts. We aren't worried about the future, because we can't control that part."

If Jones and his teammates hit the free-agent market next year, they'll do so on the heels of an historically slow winter.

"I know there's a lot of guys out there that can help every single team in baseball win, and they're sitting at home. That's what I don't understand," Jones said. "You want to see your peers in positions of success. You want to see them with a job, you want to see them playing."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Adam Jones

Dunk champion's dad works for Mets

The best of the NBA convened at Staples Center in Los Angeles for All-Star Saturday Night, with various skills competitions lined up as part of All-Star Weekend. 

Arguably one of the most popular competitions, the Slam Dunk Contest, took place in the evening and featured a pretty dramatic (and gravity-defying) showdown between the Cavs' Larry Nance Jr. and Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell Jr. It was Mitchell who ultimately won, thanks to ridiculous feats like dunking over comedian Kevin Hart and his family. 

J-Hay reports, reiterates desire to contend or leave

MLB.com @adamdberry

BRADENTON, Fla. -- After publicly requesting a trade if the team does not aim to contend the next two years, Josh Harrison reported to Pirates camp on Sunday morning.

Harrison stood by his previous statement, which was released to The Athletic after the Pirates traded Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen. That left Harrison, 30, as Pittsburgh's longest-tenured player. At the time, Harrison said, "If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved that I also am traded."

BRADENTON, Fla. -- After publicly requesting a trade if the team does not aim to contend the next two years, Josh Harrison reported to Pirates camp on Sunday morning.

Harrison stood by his previous statement, which was released to The Athletic after the Pirates traded Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen. That left Harrison, 30, as Pittsburgh's longest-tenured player. At the time, Harrison said, "If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved that I also am traded."

Harrison said he is not surprised to still be with the Pirates, the thought of not reporting to Spring Training never crossed his mind, and the uncertainty surrounding his future will not affect his preparation for the season.

"At the end of the day, I can't control certain things," Harrison said. "All I can control is me.

"My main goal is to make sure, wherever I am, that they understand I want to win. If that's not the main focus, I want to go elsewhere. I can't control that. If their main focus is winning, let's do it. That's my main objective. I don't care how we do it."

General manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle have spoken with Harrison since he requested a trade.

"There wasn't anything said or done that was like, 'Oh, man, I can breathe easy,'" Harrison said. "On the flip side, this is what I love to do. [Huntington] talked to me, said he wants to win and this or that. At the end of the day, it's about action, not speaking."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Harrison

Sources: Padres, Hosmer agree to 8-year deal

MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- After an offseason filled with slow-churning drama, the Padres have landed their top target -- and one of the top targets on the entire market. Eric Hosmer is headed to San Diego, multiple sources confirmed late Saturday night. The 28-year-old first baseman has agreed to an eight-year contract that includes an opt-out after the fifth year, MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports.

The club has not confirmed the deal, which was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune. It is pending a physical, which will take place Monday, and team officials have declined to comment until afterward.

According to multiple reports, Hosmer's deal is worth $144 million -- $20 million per year the first five seasons and $13 million each of the final three, along with a $5 million signing bonus -- making it the largest contract in franchise history. Hosmer will have a full no-trade clause for the first three seasons, along with limited trade protection after that.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- After an offseason filled with slow-churning drama, the Padres have landed their top target -- and one of the top targets on the entire market. Eric Hosmer is headed to San Diego, multiple sources confirmed late Saturday night. The 28-year-old first baseman has agreed to an eight-year contract that includes an opt-out after the fifth year, MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports.

The club has not confirmed the deal, which was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune. It is pending a physical, which will take place Monday, and team officials have declined to comment until afterward.

According to multiple reports, Hosmer's deal is worth $144 million -- $20 million per year the first five seasons and $13 million each of the final three, along with a $5 million signing bonus -- making it the largest contract in franchise history. Hosmer will have a full no-trade clause for the first three seasons, along with limited trade protection after that.

Hot Stove Tracker

Hosmer is set to become the franchise's first baseman of the future, with Wil Myers -- who had previously held that tag -- headed back to the outfield. Myers, whose $83 million deal was the largest in franchise history, has said he'd gleefully accept a move to a corner-outfield spot if it meant bringing Hosmer on board. The two were once farmhands together in the Royals' organization.

"I do love first base," Myers said. "But I would much rather have a guy like that here than to play first base."

Hosmer's arrival will reshape outfield, lineup

Entering his age-28 season, Hosmer was the youngest major free agent available this offseason. That fact was particularly appealing to the San Diego front office. The Padres have one of the youngest rosters in baseball and arguably the sport's best farm system. In Myers, Austin Hedges, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe, they have an offensive core under team control through 2022.

Video: Outlook: Hosmer should remain a reliable performer

In theory, Hosmer will still be in his prime as some of those youngsters begin to flourish in San Diego. The Padres believe their young core will soon make them regular contenders in the National League West, and this move undoubtedly expedites that process.

"Hos is a legitimate All-Star, he's a great player, he brings veteran experience, he's a winner, he's a champion and a great mentor for young guys," said right-hander Chris Young, Hosmer's former teammate in Kansas City. "He fits all the categories you're looking for in terms of a teammate, a leader, a competitor, and I think he makes any clubhouse better."

Hosmer batted .318/.385/.498 with 25 homers last season for Kansas City, where he quickly became a fan favorite. He's a lifetime .284/.342/.439 hitter and played a pivotal role on the 2014-15 Royals teams that captured back-to-back American League pennants and the '15 World Series title. His mad dash home in the ninth inning of Game 5 is the lasting image from that Series. Now, it's the Padres hoping Hosmer can make a few lasting October images of his own at Petco Park.

Because Hosmer received a qualifying offer and the Royals are a recipient of revenue sharing, they will receive a compensation pick after the first round of this June's Draft. And because the deal will be in excess of $50 million, that pick will come right after the first round. They already received a similar pick after the first round when Lorenzo Cain signed with Milwaukee. Third baseman Mike Moustakas remains a free agent as well, and he also received a qualifying offer, which means the Royals will receive another compensation pick should he sign elsewhere. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement's rules, that compensation pick would come after Competitive Balance Round B, which follows the second round, if the deal falls short of $50 million in total.

As a result of all these compensation picks and the associated Draft bonus allocations, the Royals will likely have one of the five largest bonus pools in this year's Draft, which should jump-start their rebuild. Meanwhile, the Padres, who are also a revenue-sharing recipient, will lose their third-highest selection as a result of this signing, which shouldn't have a significant impact on their Draft.

In the immediate future, Hosmer is expected to slot into the middle of a Padres lineup that desperately needed some left-handed pop. He'll be joined there by Myers, presumably forming the meat of the order and giving Myers protection for the first time in two seasons. Myers' move to the outfield creates a ripple effect as well. Renfroe and Jose Pirela now appear poised to compete for the other corner-outfield job.

"You have a lot of guys fighting for not necessarily a ton of at-bats," said Padres manager Andy Green, who otherwise declined to comment on Hosmer until the deal is official. "It's good for our culture, it's good for our clubhouse for guys to know 'I've got to perform if I want to play for the Padres, because if not, there's somebody else right there knocking on the door waiting to come.' The more competitive we can make it to get at-bats on the roster, the better of a club we're going to be."

The Padres could move Pirela -- a line-drive machine who has struggled with the glove -- back to second base. But that would only serve to shake things up further in the infield.

Of course, that's a question for another day. For now, the Padres have their man -- a player who has already helped revitalize one franchise and brought a World Series to a title-starved city.

They're hopeful for more of the same in San Diego.

Video: Zinkie on the fantasy impact of Hosmer to Padres

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

Although he lacks game-changing power, Hosmer has emerged as one of the most reliable fantasy first basemen by averaging 23 home runs, 97 RBIs and 92 runs over the past three seasons. Those stats likely won't improve with his move to a retooling lineup and pitcher-friendly home park, but the 28-year-old should remain a top-10 first baseman worth selecting in Round 7 of 12-team drafts. Meanwhile, Hosmer's arrival boosts the counting-stat potential of Myers, who can be valued similarly to his new teammate in 2018 leagues.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer

The Tatis special! 2 grand slams in 1 inning

When the Cardinals' Fernando Tatis smashed two grand slams in one inning off the Dodgers' Chan Ho Park, he made Major League history. No one in big league history has ever pulled off the feat. (Also, how weird is it that Park was the pitcher for both of them?)

On college baseball's opening weekend, Santa Clara's Jake Brodt pulled off the rare feat -- though this time it was against two different pitchers.

Here's another HR record the Yankees could break

With Judge, Stanton, Sanchez and more, the back-to-back jack mark is in sight
MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Imaginations across New York -- and the entire baseball landscape -- immediately jumped to the record books when the Yankees introduced Giancarlo Stanton two months ago. The man who had just chased 60 home runs was moving to a smaller ballpark, a bigger market and a lineup that included Aaron Judge.

It remains to be seen whether Stanton's move to Yankee Stadium will boost his homer total; Statcast™ batted ball metrics show there could be no change. But his addition improves a lineup that already paced the Majors in home runs last season, to the level where it could legitimately challenge the single-season record of 264 homers set by the 1997 Mariners.

Imaginations across New York -- and the entire baseball landscape -- immediately jumped to the record books when the Yankees introduced Giancarlo Stanton two months ago. The man who had just chased 60 home runs was moving to a smaller ballpark, a bigger market and a lineup that included Aaron Judge.

It remains to be seen whether Stanton's move to Yankee Stadium will boost his homer total; Statcast™ batted ball metrics show there could be no change. But his addition improves a lineup that already paced the Majors in home runs last season, to the level where it could legitimately challenge the single-season record of 264 homers set by the 1997 Mariners.

But behind the backdrop of that chase is another fun possibility: The 2018 Yankees could rewrite the record books for hitting back-to-back home runs.

The heart of the Bronx Bombers' lineup figures to include, in some order, Judge, Stanton, a potentially resurgent Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius. Those are five players who could all top 20 home runs (if not many more) in 2018, and leadoff man Brett Gardner is also coming off a career-best 21-homer campaign.

Video: Stanton on arriving at camp, working with Judge

New York will boast power up and down first-year manager Aaron Boone's lineup card, and with 81 of the team's games staged in front of Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch, the homer permutations seem endless.

"When an opposing pitcher looks at our lineup and thinks about having to work through it, it's a team that you better make pitches against," Boone said in December. "Otherwise, this is a team that not only can make you pay with a base hit, but it'll make you pay with some damage."

What are the bars the Yankees could be chasing? The Elias Sports Bureau has provided the following list of the highest single-season totals of back-to-back homers hit by one team, dating back to the start of divisional play in 1969 (this is the farthest back one could go with reliable play-by-play data):

Teams that hit the most back-to-back home runs in a single season (since 1969)
1. 19 -- 1996 Mariners
T-2. 18 -- 1977 Red Sox, 2016 Orioles
4. 17 -- 2000 White Sox
T-5. 16 -- 1996 Orioles, 2000 Cardinals, 2001 Rangers, 2001 Rockies

It's not a surprise to see four clubs from the high-octane early 2000s on this list, as well as the Mariners club that directly preceded those 1997 record holders. Last year, the Yankees went back-to-back 12 times (including three consecutive homers against the Blue Jays on June 3) to tie for the Majors' second-highest total, per Elias, and that was without Stanton, the National League Most Valuable Player Award winner.

Video: Chris and Kevin on Stanton, Judge HR predictions

Going back-to-back can be an arbitrary occurrence, of course, but the heart of the Yankees' order figures to be relentless -- starting with Judge potentially in the No. 2 spot. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year Award winner finished third among qualified hitters last year with an average of 4.41 pitches per plate appearance, while also working more full counts than anyone in the game. It's tough enough to get past Judge, but there's added pressure for pitchers now with Stanton (and Bird and Sanchez) waiting on deck.

Video: Yankees look to top home run record in 2018

Nine of the Yankees' 12 back-to-back homers last year came in the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium, and seven of them came against AL East opponents. Judge was involved in half of them, including three times with Sanchez. Now, he'll get a 6-foot-6 bash brother in Stanton, and the sluggers could make some history of their own. Per Elias, here are the pairs that the New York duo will be chasing:

Teammates with most back-to-back home runs, single season (since 1969)
1. 8 -- Andres Galarraga and Larry Walker (1997 Rockies)
2. 7 -- Rich Aurilia and Barry Bonds (2001 Giants)
T-3. 6 -- Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira (2009 Yankees), Greg Luzinski and Mike Schmidt (1980 Phillies), Bobby Bonilla and Rafael Palmeiro (1996 Orioles), Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas (2000 White Sox), David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez (2004 Red Sox), Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo (2016 Orioles)

Unlike the Yankees' quest to break the single-season homer record, our back-to-back dream can take a few hits from reality. Judge might regress from his 52-homer rookie season, but even if he hit 40 -- which is his aggregate projection from Steamer and ZiPS -- he could link up enough times with the hitters behind him.

The same goes for Stanton, as any big leaguer would be hard-pressed to knock 59 homers two seasons in a row. The point is, New York's lineup, as currently constructed, looks in many ways deeper and even more dangerous than the one that ranked as baseball's most powerful a season ago. And that's enough to keep opposing pitchers restless as Opening Day approaches.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

New York Yankees

Be a GM with Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball

MLB.com

There truly is no offseason in baseball these days, as MLB general managers have been reshaping their clubs for the 2018 season ever since the Astros recorded the final out of the World Series last November.

And as Opening Day rapidly approaches, it's your turn to build a championship club.

There truly is no offseason in baseball these days, as MLB general managers have been reshaping their clubs for the 2018 season ever since the Astros recorded the final out of the World Series last November.

And as Opening Day rapidly approaches, it's your turn to build a championship club.

Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball, the Official Fantasy Commissioner Game of MLB.com, gives you the chance to manage your own club -- or perhaps even more than one -- and build it into a fantasy powerhouse, all from the comfort of your sofa. Better yet, fantasy owners can now manage their lineups on the go with Yahoo's award-winning Fantasy App, which includes all the same features as the desktop browser.

Join Yahoo Fantasy Baseball today!

Baseball's most celebrated executives like Theo Epstein and Jeff Luhnow don't build winners on their own, of course; it takes a team to build a team. That's why Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball includes a host of features to make your process as easy as possible, from customized player rankings to injury updates.

Fantasy players won't need to let a busy day get in the way of their championship goals, as Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball will now step up to the plate to ensure your active lineup is, well, active. Owners can choose to have active players automatically started with just one tap, either for a specific day or an entire gameweek. That means your team will always be playing at full strength -- even if some of your players are riding the pine.

Video: Arenado, Bryant among top fantasy third basemen

Those ambitious enough to create their own leagues will get an assist: Yahoo is offering commissioners free access to its Fantasy Alarm Draft Book. Designed for both snake drafts and auctions, the Draft Book has an advanced tier structure that ensures you are always getting the best value. Yahoo also handles league dues and distributes winnings at the end of the season, meaning you can get back to building your perfect roster.

We know the 162-game schedule can be grueling for both big league clubs and fantasy owners. For those interested in a more abbreviated experience, Yahoo is here to help. Try Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball's weekly head-to-head scoring setting, which is available in private leagues that you can create or join. After the draft, all you need to do is set your lineup once a week.

The season doesn't end with the draft, of course, and oftentimes a league's winner comes from the most active owners on the trade market. That task is now simpler than ever with Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball's Trade Market tool, which gives players the ability to consistently track transactions made by their counterparts and help them stay ahead of the curve.

Video: Zinkie assesses the top tiers of fantasy outfielders

It's all part of the effort to grab those crucial bragging rights as champion, and Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball has something for everyone. Fantasy rookies can get their feet wet with Yahoo's easy-to-use interface, while seasoned vets will have all the necessary tools at their disposal to dominate. Players can take home an electronic trophy by winning a free game or earn something even bigger by prevailing in one of Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball's pro leagues.

It's all been set up for you. Time to play, and good luck this season.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Clubs snoozing, not losing, in Spring Training

Several teams push back start times during camp to aid players' rest
MLB.com @castrovince

You snooze, you lose? Not in the modern Major League camp.

Only the sleep-deprived among us would fail to notice a brewing Spring Training trend in which multiple teams are beginning their morning workouts up to an hour later than they previously did. More teams are awakening to the idea that sleep impacts performance, and that rest is a key part of preparing for a long, grinding 162-game season.

You snooze, you lose? Not in the modern Major League camp.

Only the sleep-deprived among us would fail to notice a brewing Spring Training trend in which multiple teams are beginning their morning workouts up to an hour later than they previously did. More teams are awakening to the idea that sleep impacts performance, and that rest is a key part of preparing for a long, grinding 162-game season.

And so, they're hitting the snooze button in Yankees camp -- where this idea was first dreamed up a few years ago. They're doing it in the camps of the Rays, Cardinals, Mets, Phillies, Royals, Giants and Mariners, too.

"I'm all for it, dude," Royals left-hander Danny Duffy said. "I'm not what you [would] call a morning person anyway. I mean, 90 percent of our games are night games during the season, so who wants to get up early?"

That's a simply stated counter-argument to the old-school approach of the cracks of bats beginning shortly after the crack of dawn.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

For as long as anybody can remember, it has been typical for morning workouts to begin with a team stretch somewhere in the neighborhood of 9:30 a.m., with the full workout beginning by 10 a.m. These rituals are preceded by the anticipatory affair known as early work -- infielders taking ground balls in the 7 a.m. hour, batters hitting in the indoor cages, etc.

We in the media have long lionized those who are the first through the door and the last to leave. But, in recent years, teams in all major professional sports have been rethinking rest patterns -- in terms of in-game usage. It only stands to reason that the concept would extend to spring preparation, too.

Video: Boone addresses resting players, workout times

Back in 2016, the Yankees pushed their morning workout back to 11:30 a.m., as a result of a sleep study conducted by Stanford professor Scott Kutscher -- who posited the so-simple-it-ought-not-be-revolutionary idea that the spring schedule should more closely reflect the regular-season schedule.

"These are still young men whose primary job is a nighttime job," Kutscher told the Wall Street Journal that year. "So you want to get in line with how their bodies are going to respond, and how you want to perform."

Now, the alarm is sounding later for multiple clubs.

The Cardinals conducted a sleep-efficiency study on their players last spring and decided to push both the earliest optional and mandatory report times back an hour as a result. Players aren't allowed in the clubhouse before 7 a.m., and they can arrive as late as 10:30 a.m.

"As we went through our sleep trackers last year, we found our guys were getting less than seven good hours of sleep a night," Cards manager Mike Matheny said. "That's just not enough for what we're asking them. ... For us to get that information and not do something with it -- and not do something proactive -- I think is a misuse of the information."

There are other practical reasons to push things back, as articulated by Matt Klentak, general manager of a Phillies team that has pushed its workouts back an hour.

"If your workout's beginning at 9:30, that means your early work is getting done between 7:30 and 9:30," Klentak said. "You know what happens on a humid Florida night? The field gets really wet, and it's not optimal conditions to do early work."

But it's not just about sleep itself. Some teams are taking a closer look at the volume of work that occurs within their workouts.

Video: Callaway shortens Mets' workout times for Spring

The Mets, who are no strangers to the injury bug, recently hired a "high-performance director" to oversee medical and training issues. New manager Mickey Callaway has also pushed workouts back a half-hour and shortened them.

"Before, guys were sitting around for 15 minutes before their next station," Callaway told the New York Post. "They're sitting there talking, and guys were getting hurt. The next thing you know ... you're tight and you've got to go run. I want to get on and off the field. You can't have [players] standing around; that leads to injuries."

The Twins, with new pitching coach Garvin Alston, have adjusted the throwing programs of their pitchers to be more mindful of wear and tear. They are more careful about warmup patterns prior to bullpen sessions and taking better measure of the volume of throws on a given day.

"That's one area, as an industry, where we've been a little bit less attentive," Twins executive vice president and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "We think about the amount of throwing a guy would do in July, coming back from an injury or whatever it is, and we're very attentive to it. But in Spring Training, it's just this huge volume of throwing. Catch, PFP [pitchers fielding practice], ground balls, long toss, bullpen. Day off, do it all over again. If you added that up in the regular season, people would be screaming about the abuse of how much throwing [a player has] had in the game. We just have to be careful about the volume, especially early in camp."

The Spring Training schedule, centered around day games, has long been the antithesis of the regular-season schedule. But while that fundamental flaw does not appear to be close to changing anytime soon, teams are pushing back against tradition for tradition's sake by pushing back workout times and increasing the efficiency of their prep work.

Video: Estrada on how fixing sleep issues saved his season

Maybe bankers can't afford to hit the snooze button for an extra hour. But baseball players? Sure.

"There's no real downside to pushing it back," said Klentak. "It's not cutting into anybody's day, and we feel we're getting pretty productive work out of it."

You snooze, you lose? In MLB, they're hoping quite the opposite.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcasts and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

MLB.com reporters Jeffrey Flanagan and Joe Trezza contributed to this story.

Twins acquire starter Odorizzi from Rays

Shortstop prospect Palacios heads to Tampa Bay
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins took a major step toward solidifying their rotation late Saturday night, acquiring right-hander Jake Odorizzi from the Rays for shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios, the club announced.

Minnesota was in the market for starting pitching even after agreeing to terms with right-hander Anibal Sanchez on a one-year, $2.5 million deal on Friday. To make room for Odorizzi, the Twins placed right-hander Michael Pineda on the 60-day disabled list, but they will have to make a move for Sanchez, which could be placing right-hander Trevor May on the 60-day DL.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins took a major step toward solidifying their rotation late Saturday night, acquiring right-hander Jake Odorizzi from the Rays for shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios, the club announced.

Minnesota was in the market for starting pitching even after agreeing to terms with right-hander Anibal Sanchez on a one-year, $2.5 million deal on Friday. To make room for Odorizzi, the Twins placed right-hander Michael Pineda on the 60-day disabled list, but they will have to make a move for Sanchez, which could be placing right-hander Trevor May on the 60-day DL.

Justice: Odorizzi gets Twins closer to contending

"Jake is someone we targeted going back to last year," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said Sunday. "He's a guy who has had a lot of success in the American League East. We knew a lot about his makeup and who he was as a pitcher. During this offseason with the uniqueness around free agency and some trades, it just took a bit longer than normal. But we had interest in him throughout the winter."

The Twins could look to add more starting pitching, but it appears unlikely now that manager Paul Molitor is leaning toward opening the year with a four-man rotation because of off-days early in the season. Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson are considered locks. Ervin Santana is out for the first two to four weeks of the season due to surgery on his right middle finger. With Odorizzi now on board, the fourth spot will come down to a battle between candidates such as Phil Hughes, Adalberto Mejia, Tyler Duffey and Sanchez.

"I'm not going to turn my phone off," Falvey said. "We'll stay in touch. We've added six Major League pitchers this offseason with Michael Pineda [added] with more of an eye for the end of the year, but we've attempted to address our pitching staff and will continue to do so."

Odorizzi, 27, fills a major need for the Twins and has a career 3.83 ERA in 129 appearances (126 starts) since 2012. He has struck out 643, walked 232 and allowed 101 homers in 705 1/3 innings. The Twins had been linked to Rays right-hander Chris Archer, but opted for Odorizzi, who is under control through '19 and will earn $6.3 million this year after winning his arbitration case against Tampa Bay.

Video: TB@BAL: Odorizzi fans nine in six frames

Odorizzi went 10-8 with a 4.14 ERA and 127 strikeouts, 61 walks and 30 homers allowed in 143 1/3 innings last year, missing time with both a strained left hamstring and a lower back strain. He has solid secondary pitches with his cutter, slider and curveball, but struggled with his fastball last year, as hitters had a .462 slugging percentage against it with 14 homers, per Statcast™.

"He dealt with a few injuries and things he tried to pitch through," Falvey said. "We thought what he did, especially toward the back end of the year, is what he's done consistently."

Odorizzi has never topped 190 innings, but has a 3.71 ERA over the last three seasons, with 443 strikeouts in 500 1/3 innings. He had a 3.47 ERA in 12 starts in the second half of last year, including a 1.03 ERA over his final five outings.

"This puts us in great shape," Molitor said. "This just deepens us. He's left an impression on me over the years."

Palacios, 21, slashed .296/.333/.454 with 21 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs and 20 steals in 124 games between Class A Cedar Rapids and Class A Advanced Fort Myers last season. The Twins have plenty of shortstop depth in their system with top prospects such as Nick Gordon, Wander Javier and Royce Lewis. Palacios was their 27th-ranked overall prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

"It's tough because we like Palacios a lot," Falvey said. "But we feel like we have a little bit of depth in the middle infield."

Video: Zinkie on Odorizzi's fantasy value in Minnesota

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Moving from an offensively charged American League East to an AL Central with three retooling clubs, Odorizzi should continue to have standard-league relevancy as long as he manages to lower his 3.8 BB/9 rate and career-worst 1.9 HR/9 rate from last year. The biggest fantasy winner from this trade appears to be Rays No. 1 prospect Brent Honeywell, who should be drafted in shallow leagues given his impressive career Minor League stats (2.88 ERA, 4.9 K/BB ratio) and lofty ceiling for 2018.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Jake Odorizzi

6 reasons Braves are this year's surprise team

MLB.com @castrovince

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Commissioner Rob Manfred was addressing the competitive landscape of baseball here the other day when he made a salient point about the modern game.

"It is harder today," he said, "because of the significance of young players in the game and how quickly they have emerged, to make judgments about how teams are going to play moving forward."

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Commissioner Rob Manfred was addressing the competitive landscape of baseball here the other day when he made a salient point about the modern game.

"It is harder today," he said, "because of the significance of young players in the game and how quickly they have emerged, to make judgments about how teams are going to play moving forward."

This winter's free-agent "market malaise" (as one general manager put it) was an extension of the opportunities teams are increasingly extending to their young talent. And from opportunity has come impact the likes of which the game has never seen from previously inexperienced players.

The blessing and the curse of giving opportunities to unproven players is that there's legitimately no telling what you'll get from them, and this brings us to the topic of the 2018 Atlanta Braves, who might have this season's widest differentiation between potential ceiling and potential floor.

To be clear, the floor is real. The Braves are going to give a ton of opportunity to a ton of unproven players this year, particularly in their rotation, and no one is smart enough to know how that goes.

It's the ceiling, though, that could make Atlanta this year's surprise team in the National League.

The Braves have eight players on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list for 2018, the most of any club. They have the No. 2 overall prospect in the game in outfielder Ronald Acuna, as well as right-handers Kyle Wright (No. 30) and Mike Soroka (No. 31), left-hander Luiz Gohara (No. 49), righty Ian Anderson (No. 51), lefties Kolby Allard (No. 58) and Max Fried (No. 83) and third baseman Austin Riley (No. 97).

Video: Anthopoulos on Braves stacked with top prospects

Seven of those guys (all but Anderson, who spent last season in Class A ball) are in Major League Spring Training camp with the club. Not all of them are going to make a major impact in 2018 (Wright is only in camp via the typical invite given to first-round picks from the previous year), but the bulk of them are no longer the rays of light looming deep in the distance. They are close.

"The 2018 season is really going to tell the tale about our core," general manager Alex Anthopolous said. "The biggest thing for us right now is we need to see who is part of our core going forward. Take a look at the Royals. They gave Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer a lot of rope. They had to keep playing those guys. The flip side is Seattle, which had a lot of young, talented players that didn't develop."

The Braves finished 72-90 last year, and FanGraphs projects them to go 75-87 (third in the National League East) this year. No, the Braves will not be overtaking the Nationals. But the upside that exists in this organization is not to be ignored in the NL Wild Card picture, particularly in a competitive landscape that allowed a team like the Brewers to contend last year (at least) a year ahead of schedule.

Why might the Braves be this year's rousing risers? Let us count the ways.

1. The base

Just a few things to know going in: Braves catchers (Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki) had the highest FanGraphs-calculated WAR of any team at that position last year (5.1). Freddie Freeman's wRC+ of 146 the last five years is second in the NL only to Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt. Ender Inciarte is annually a three-win player because of his center-field glove. Twice in the last four years, starter Julio Teheran has been worth 3.2 WAR (and following that back-and-forth track record, he's "due" for another in 2018).

So there's a legitimate base to work with here.

Video: Peter Gammons goes one on one with Freddie Freeman

2. Acuna in the role of 2008 Evan Longoria

I'm not going to tell you the 2018 Braves will make like the 2008 Rays, who went from 96 losses the previous year to the World Series. But it is worth remembering that the 2008 Rays entered the year with seven guys on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list, including Longoria at No. 2.

When the Rays promoted Longoria on April 12, 2008, he had just one full Minor League season and only 38 Triple-A games to his name. But he exploded that year with an .874 OPS and 4.8 Wins Above Replacement. He was the young catalyst the Rays needed to pair with Carlos Pena in the middle of the order.

We don't know if the 20-year-old Acuna, who has played only 54 games at Triple-A, is up to a similar task. But we do know he slashed .325/.374/.522 with 21 homers and 44 steals across three Minor League levels last year, then lit up the Arizona Fall League. So an instant impact is hardly inconceivable. If he's Longoria and Freeman is Pena, there's your middle-of-the-order mashing for a team that otherwise is short on power.

Video: Ronald Acuna on his expectations for 2018 season

3. A maturing middle infield

Shortstop Dansby Swanson was a big disappointment last year. The consensus NL Rookie of the Year pick this time a year ago, Swanson instead posted a not-so-nice OPS+ of 69 (or 31 percent worse than league average) and was demoted back to Triple-A briefly in late July.

Hey, you try seeing your hometown team plastering your image on buses, billboards and bobbleheads in your first full season and see how you respond.

But Swanson responded to the brief demotion with a .360 OBP down the stretch. It's not at all uncommon for an elite prospect to have a less-than-linear progression, to be humbled before he hits. Don't rule out a sophomore surge now that Swanson can play a little looser and pressure-free.

As for second baseman Ozzie Albies, we've only seen a 57-game sample from him. But in that small sample, he posted the fifth-highest WAR on the team (1.9). It's exciting to think about what a full season might look like.

Video: Washington discusses the Braves' young infielders

4. The rotation points upward

A year ago, the Braves were relying on key innings from 40-somethings in Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey. Though trade acquisition Brandon McCarthy figures to get meaningful innings, if healthy, this is the year the rotation beyond 27-year-old Teheran and 26-year-old Mike Foltynewicz is turned over to all these burgeoning arms in the system.

Gohara came up late last year and impressed with his presence and the overpowering stuff that resulted in more than 12 strikeouts per nine prior to his promotion. Sean Newcomb, a key acquisition in the Andrelton Simmons trade, should get a longer look this year after showing some flashes (and, yes, quite a few walks) in his 19 starts last year. Fried had an encouraging big league debut (113 ERA+ in nine appearances), then starred in the AFL last fall. And we could see Soroka and/or Allard late in the year.

Again, high ceiling, low floor. That's how it is with young arms. But better to have new tires than to be relying on retreads.

Video: Gohara discusses his comfortability in Majors

5. They can (and should) still add on, now or later

The Braves took on a lot of upfront salary in that megadeal with the Dodgers in exchange for ridding themselves of the 2019 commitment to Matt Kemp. That was a smart move given the Braves' most realistic competitive timetable.

But the Braves still have around $15 million to play with before they hit the general payroll number they've worked with the last couple of years, and they just opened a ballpark that welcomed 2.5 million fans last year.

By this point, it's obvious the Braves are a positional fit for Moustakas and equally obvious that they aren't especially interested in signing him, even at the depressed prices of the current market. But the financial flexibility both now and in the future (the Braves only have $38 million on the books for 2019 and $31 million in 2020 and '21) means this club could still find a fit in this free-agent class or -- and this is the important part -- take on some dollars at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, should they find themselves in the Wild Card mix a la the Brewers last year.

And when it comes to trades, well, there are few organizations in baseball as well-stocked as the Braves to get a deal done. That matters.

6. The division

The Nats are the only club in the NL East projected by FanGraphs and PECOTA to finish with a winning record this year. Division strength can matter greatly in the Wild Card race, because deep divisions can drive down win totals with the way the schedule is weighted. The Braves and Phillies are in similar boats in terms of the wide range of potential outcomes based on youth, and the Mets have a wide range of outcomes based on the health history of their talented rotation.

Best-case scenario for the Braves? Their upside comes to life while padding their win total while the Phillies demonstrate their inexperience, the Mets get hurt and everybody walks all over the Marlins.

Now you tell me if that scenario sounds totally unrealistic. I'm not picking the Braves to win a Wild Card, but I sure as heck ain't ignoring them in today's climate.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcasts and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Atlanta Braves, Ronald Acuna, Max Fried, Luiz Gohara, Sean Newcomb

Grambling star shows poise at Dawson Classic

Reigning SWAC, HBCU Player of Year maintains even keel despite slow start
Special to MLB.com

It is no easy feat for a player to repeat as the Southwestern Athletic Conference's Player and Hitter of the Year and the HBCU (historically black college and universities) Player of the Year, yet that's what Grambling shortstop Marshawn Taylor is trying to do. He was also named the 2018 SWAC Preseason Player of the Year after hitting .402 with 12 doubles and 38 RBIs in 204 plate appearances in 2017.

Taylor, who said he isn't focused on matching his lofty numbers from a year ago, has a hit, three walks and an RBI in 10 plate appearances through the first two games of the Andre Dawson Classic in New Orleans.

It is no easy feat for a player to repeat as the Southwestern Athletic Conference's Player and Hitter of the Year and the HBCU (historically black college and universities) Player of the Year, yet that's what Grambling shortstop Marshawn Taylor is trying to do. He was also named the 2018 SWAC Preseason Player of the Year after hitting .402 with 12 doubles and 38 RBIs in 204 plate appearances in 2017.

Taylor, who said he isn't focused on matching his lofty numbers from a year ago, has a hit, three walks and an RBI in 10 plate appearances through the first two games of the Andre Dawson Classic in New Orleans.

Andre Dawson Classic coverage

The redshirt senior didn't have his best game Saturday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. He misjudged a line drive in the top of the ninth that allowed the eventual go-ahead run to get on base, then grounded out to end Grambling State's 5-4 loss.

"It's the game of baseball. That's going to happen," said Taylor, one of the SWAC's top Major League prospects. "Whether it happened today or later in the season, it's going to happen regardless, and it's happened before. We are just going to build on that and keep it rolling."

Grambling State coach James Cooper said his team just needs to make the routine plays and not give opponents extra chances, which has hurt them in back-to-back one-run losses at the Classic. Cooper added that other players on the team need to step up in situations, but he also understands the impact on the team when his shortstop has an off night.

"I think on any team, when your best player isn't as sharp or makes a mistake or doesn't come through in certain situations, it really does something psychologically to the players who are not rated as high as he is rated," said Cooper.

But the seventh-year coach isn't concerned about Taylor, crediting Taylor's ability to make adjustments last season.

"In the second half of the [2017] season, [after pitchers] figured out he was a pretty good hitter, he was still able to bang out hits," Cooper said."

Does Taylor feel extra pressure after all the accolades he received last season?

"I've been the same all my life, playing the same game all my life. Nothing changed," said Taylor.

Taylor and the Tigers have a chance to bounce back Sunday when they take on Alcorn State at 4 p.m. ET. Alcorn State has won its previous two matchups in the Classic, beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 5-4, on Friday and Prairie View A&M, 8-4, on Saturday.

Brandon Adam is a contributor to MLB.com.