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Yankees stacked to hit HRs back-to-back

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

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

Giants, lefty Watson agree on multiyear deal

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants added a much-needed left-hander to solidify their bullpen by agreeing with free agent Tony Watson on a two-year contract with a player option for a third season.

Multiple sources confirmed the deal Saturday. The length of the contract, which reportedly is valued between $7 million and $9 million guaranteed, enabled the Giants to keep their player payroll under the threshold for the Competitive Balance Tax.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants added a much-needed left-hander to solidify their bullpen by agreeing with free agent Tony Watson on a two-year contract with a player option for a third season.

Multiple sources confirmed the deal Saturday. The length of the contract, which reportedly is valued between $7 million and $9 million guaranteed, enabled the Giants to keep their player payroll under the threshold for the Competitive Balance Tax.

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Giants officials refrained from commenting publicly until completion of Watson's mandatory physical exam.

As he silenced himself, however, manager Bruce Bochy said, "We're talking about an outstanding player."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Giants closer Mark Melancon, a teammate of Watson's in Pittsburgh from 2013-16, acknowledged trying to persuade his friend to sign with San Francisco.

"I couldn't be more ecstatic," Melancon said. "The guy is one of the most professional people I've ever been around. I spent three-and-a-half, four years with him. There's not one negative thing that I can ever say about him."

Video: Melancon talks reunion with Watson

The Giants' left-handed bullpen contingent had looked shaky. Steven Okert and Josh Osich have demonstrated talent but remain erratic. Will Smith is in the latter stages of recovery from Tommy John surgery, and he probably won't be ready to perform in the Majors until May. Ty Blach is able-bodied, but he'll likely be needed in the starting rotation.

Watson isn't strictly a left-handed specialist who's summoned primarily to retire left-handed batters, however. For his career, he has limited lefty hitters to a .216 average and .574 OPS, comparable to the .226 average and .661 OPS recorded against him by right-handed batters.

In 14 career appearances at AT&T Park, Watson is 0-1 with two saves. He has allowed 16 hits in 12 1/3 innings but no home runs there.

A National League All-Star in 2014, when he appeared in a league-high 78 games, Watson owns a career record of 33-17 with 30 saves. In 2012, one year after his rookie campaign, he began a six-season streak in which he made at least 67 appearances each year.

"He's very businesslike," Melancon said. "He's here to get the job done. I think that fits this clubhouse and our M.O. here."

Watson, 32, split last season between the Pirates and Dodgers, who acquired him at the non-.waiver Trade Deadline. Watson made 11 postseason relief appearances for the Dodgers, including five in a row in Games 2-6 of the World Series. He yielded two earned runs in seven innings during the entire postseason.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Tony Watson

Ohtani throws live BP, gets used to dry heat

Catcher Maldonado says two-way star struggled to control curve due to Arizona weather
MLB.com @mi_guardado

TEMPE, Ariz. -- All eyes were again on Shohei Ohtani on Saturday afternoon, as the Japanese two-way phenom took the mound for his first live batting-practice session, throwing 30 pitches over two simulated innings.

Ohtani faced Minor Leaguers Brennan Morgan, a Class A first baseman, and Hutton Moyer, a Double-A shortstop and the son of former Major League pitcher Jaime Moyer. Ohtani induced five foul balls and one flyout to left field during his workout.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- All eyes were again on Shohei Ohtani on Saturday afternoon, as the Japanese two-way phenom took the mound for his first live batting-practice session, throwing 30 pitches over two simulated innings.

Ohtani faced Minor Leaguers Brennan Morgan, a Class A first baseman, and Hutton Moyer, a Double-A shortstop and the son of former Major League pitcher Jaime Moyer. Ohtani induced five foul balls and one flyout to left field during his workout.

"There were good and bad parts, but I was happy to get through the 30 pitches," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "There are adjustments that I'll need to make the next time I'm on the mound."

Ohtani struggled to locate his curveball at times, though catcher Martin Maldonado said that was likely because of the dry conditions in Arizona.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"He's going to experience that all of Spring Training because of the weather here," Maldonado said. "You see a lot of guys with really good command of the curveball, and they can't command it here. The same with sinkerballers, because the weather here is so dry. It doesn't break the way it should during the season."

Ohtani did not hit on Saturday, though he is scheduled to bat against live pitching for the first time on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

• Ohtani wows during first bullpen session

Manager Mike Scioscia also said Ohtani will be available off the bench as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner in between his starts on the mound.

Video: Rose and Millar talk about Ohtani's role with Angels

"I've never had a pitcher pinch-run," Scioscia said. "There's more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He's a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it's pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we're definitely going to tap into that if it's necessary, because we feel we're not putting him at risk. It's something he's able to do."

Kinsler happy to be an Angel

Ian Kinsler admits that there were times earlier in his career when he never would have considered joining the Angels.

Kinsler spent the first eight years of his career with the Rangers, establishing himself as a frequent thorn in the Angels' side during their many divisional clashes.

"I think it was just the rivalry in general," Kinsler said. "They didn't like me, I didn't like them."

Video: Outlook: Kinsler may return to 100-run plateau

The Angels were among the teams included on Kinsler's partial no-trade list this offseason, but the veteran second baseman decided to approve a trade to Anaheim to join a contender -- and reunite with his good friend Justin Upton -- instead of enduring another rebuilding year with the Tigers.

• J-Up happy he re-upped with Angels

"To be on the other side right now, it's super exciting," said Kinsler, who reported to camp with Upton on Saturday. "Anytime you're on a team with high expectations, you feel like that's where you want to be as a ballplayer. You work hard in the offseason, you work hard to get yourself in this position and to be on a team that expects a championship. [It's] where you want to be."

Worth noting

Angels position players are scheduled to report on Sunday, with the club's first full-squad workout set for Monday.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani

Gleyber 'full go' in pursuit of Opening Day roster

Yanks' top prospect completely recovered from left elbow surgery
MLB.com @BryanHoch

TAMPA, Fla. -- Gleyber Torres will be a "full go" when Grapefruit League games begin next week, according to Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who plans to utilize the 21-year-old at second base, third base and shortstop while the Yankees evaluate his chances of making the Opening Day roster.

Rated as the Yankees' top prospect and the No. 5 prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline, Torres will have no restrictions following Tommy John surgery on his left (non-throwing) elbow. He sustained a season-ending injury in June while playing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Gleyber Torres will be a "full go" when Grapefruit League games begin next week, according to Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who plans to utilize the 21-year-old at second base, third base and shortstop while the Yankees evaluate his chances of making the Opening Day roster.

Rated as the Yankees' top prospect and the No. 5 prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline, Torres will have no restrictions following Tommy John surgery on his left (non-throwing) elbow. He sustained a season-ending injury in June while playing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

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:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I feel like a little kid with a new toy," Torres said. "I'm excited to play again and just enjoy it. I don't think about if I'm going to make Opening Day or go to Scranton or go to the Minor Leagues for two weeks. I don't put in too much [thought] right now. I just want to enjoy and play the game."

Torres has been working out regularly at the team's Minor League complex, where he has resumed live batting practice and defensive drills. While conducting a nine-minute group interview in English, Torres said on Saturday that his arm now feels "100 percent," and Boone is looking forward to seeing Torres in game action.

"He's been down here for a while already," Boone said. "He's been doing everything for a while. He's completely over the injury and recovered and strong and in a good place physically."

Video: Yankees duo ready for Spring Training to begin

Though most of his professional experience has come at shortstop, Torres said he has been working on angles and turning double plays at second base, where he played 10 games last season. Torres also said he feels comfortable at third base, where he played 15 games in 2017, even though he said ground balls seem to come much faster at the hot corner.

A more significant adjustment may come on the basepaths. On June 17 at Buffalo, N.Y., while playing in his 23rd game for the RailRiders, Torres dove headfirst into home plate while attempting to score on a single to right field, colliding with catcher Raffy Lopez. Torres said he has been practicing feet-first slides and will try not to slide headfirst anymore.

"I'm going to take care of my arm," Torres said. "I want to feel comfortable."

The Yankees have two vacancies in their infield, with Miguel Andujar, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade also vying for starting roles. Non-roster invitees Danny Espinosa and Jace Peterson could also have legitimate shots of breaking camp with the big league club, but none have been as celebrated in the Yanks' chain as Torres.

A potential stumbling block to seeing Torres in the Opening Day lineup is that the Yankees could delay his free agency until the offseason of 2024-25 if Torres remains in the Minors an extra 16 days. General manager Brian Cashman has said that service time will not be a consideration in evaluating Torres' roster push, and Torres said he is not concerned about the possibility of being sent down.

"The team knows everything," Torres said. "I don't want to put my mentality in that. I just want to help my team. If I get an opportunity to play the first day, of course, I will put in my 100 percent in the game. If not, I'll stay focused, I'll stay humble and we'll see what happens after that."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Machado ponders future in Baltimore, at short

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

SARASOTA -- Shortly before 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, Manny Machado entered the Orioles' clubhouse at Ed Smith Stadium. All eyes were on him, sporting a new haircut and a huge smile as he went locker to locker, exchanging hugs and pleasantries with teammates new and old.

It has been a whirlwind offseason for Machado, whose named swirled in trade rumors since December's Winter Meetings. The headlines continued at last month's FanFest, when the team -- still listening to potential offers for the All-Star -- announced he would officially move to shortstop, a year away from free agency.

SARASOTA -- Shortly before 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, Manny Machado entered the Orioles' clubhouse at Ed Smith Stadium. All eyes were on him, sporting a new haircut and a huge smile as he went locker to locker, exchanging hugs and pleasantries with teammates new and old.

It has been a whirlwind offseason for Machado, whose named swirled in trade rumors since December's Winter Meetings. The headlines continued at last month's FanFest, when the team -- still listening to potential offers for the All-Star -- announced he would officially move to shortstop, a year away from free agency.

"[Shortstop is] where my heart has always been," Machado said of the move, which will shift Tim Beckham over to third base. "It's my natural position. It's where I think I can [best help the team]. ... I know a lot of the talk has been, 'Oh, is he going to be worth more there? More money.' It's not about the money. It's not about going out there and signing a 20-year deal.

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"This is where my heart has always been, this is what I've wanted to do. This is what I've always wanted to do. This is what I came into this world to do -- to play shortstop at the big league level. Finally, [manager] Buck [Showalter] and the Baltimore organization are giving me the opportunity to go out there and do what I can at that position and show myself. That's been my dream all along. I'm really looking forward to it."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

In his new position, Machado will pair up for a lethal double play combo with close friend, second baseman Jonathan Schoop. The pair aren't totally foreign with that as Machado -- who got 43 starts there in '16 -- has some idea what to expect from filling in for former teammate J.J. Hardy.

"I think the challenges of playing Major League shortstop is up his alley for this year. He needs a new challenge, I think. I think he prospers off of that," Showalter said. "I think he really is engaged, not that he got bored at third base, but I feel good that he had a month or so for us at shortstop to really remind him, and Bobby [Dickerson has been] showing him some of the tape and been talking to him about the total engagement you need to have at shortstop in order to play that position again.

"He was a shortstop we moved to third base because we had one of the best shortstops in the game. Anybody we play at third base is not going to be Manny. Nobody. And I've seen them all. There's some good ones, but he's the best one. Of course, I'm biased. But he has a chance to be that same guy at shortstop. He's capable of making plays that nobody else will be able to make there."

Machado reiterated there was nothing new, as far as he knows, regarding his camp and the Orioles potentially reaching an agreement on a new deal beyond this season. It's been almost a foregone conclusion that Baltimore won't be able to afford the young superstar -- who could command a record deal in free agency, though Machado doesn't want that to be a distraction.

"You know what, it shouldn't be a distraction. I don't work in the front office. I'm not an agent. I play baseball," Machado said. "That's the only thing I know how to do. It's the only thing I really know how to do, to be honest -- just go out there, play baseball and answer the questions I need to answer and go about my business. My job is to go out there and produce -- and if I don't do that, none of the other stuff will come with it."

Video: MLB Tonight: Machado's move to shortstop

There was a time, the 25-year-old admits, when the trade rumors were flying, that the thought of him leaving his teammates crossed his mind.

"At one point, it was kind of a little sad. Thank God, nothing went down -- and I was able to come back and see my guys that I've been with for seven years. It's just going to be a great experience that I went through at that time -- a learning experience this whole offseason -- that I'm putting in the back of my mind going forward [while] getting ready for this year."

To that end, Machado's offseason routine has changed considerably from his days at third base. He said he's added more plyometrics to his routine, less heavy lifting and a lot more resistance and flexibility work. He started making changes after the '16 season while preparing for his stint with Team Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic last spring. Machado -- who ended up playing more third base than shortstop for that team -- still uses that bag, with his spring equipment unloaded from it on Saturday morning.

"This game's about playing 162 games, not just three months or four months out of the year," Machado said. "I did change [my routine] a lot and I'm going to continue doing what I've been doing in the offseason [up] to now."

It's a grind Machado plans on enduring for the foreseeable future. If he does hit the free-agent market as expected, he wants to continue playing shortstop.

"Once I do it this year, it's not something that's just switching off," he said. "I'm making the transition. Hopefully, I want to stay there and continue doing it. This is where my heart has always been. [I'm] finally getting an opportunity to do it for a full season. I'm looking forward to it, and hopefully I can continue playing [short] for a long time."

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, Manny Machado

LIVE: Follow the Andre Dawson Classic

Annual HBCU tournament underway in New Orleans
MLB.com

Six historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), plus the University of Illinois at Chicago and tournament co-host University of New Orleans, are squaring off this weekend in the newly dubbed Andre Dawson Classic.

The eight-team, round-robin tournament is being played at UNO's Maestri Field and the New Orleans Major League Baseball Academy through Sunday. Formerly known as the Urban Invitational, the tournament is in its 11th season.

Six historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), plus the University of Illinois at Chicago and tournament co-host University of New Orleans, are squaring off this weekend in the newly dubbed Andre Dawson Classic.

The eight-team, round-robin tournament is being played at UNO's Maestri Field and the New Orleans Major League Baseball Academy through Sunday. Formerly known as the Urban Invitational, the tournament is in its 11th season.

Fans can follow pitch-by-pitch action of every game on MLB.com's Gameday. The Alabama State-New Orleans game can be watched live on MLB Network and MLB.com.

SCHEDULE

Today
LIVE: Alabama State Hornets vs. New Orleans Privateers, Wesley Barrow Stadium. Gameday  | Watch live on MLB Network, MLB.com »
LIVE: Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions vs. Grambling State Tigers, Maestri Stadium. Gameday »

Sunday
1 p.m. ET: Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions vs. Alabama State Hornets, Maestri Stadium. Gameday »
1 p.m. ET: Prairie View A&M Panthers vs. Illinois-Chicago Flames, Wesley Barrow Stadium. Gameday »
4 p.m. ET: Alcorn State Braves vs. Grambling State Tigers, Wesley Barrow Stadium. Gameday »
4 p.m. ET: Southern Jaguars vs. New Orleans Privateers, Maestri Stadium. Gameday »

RESULTS
Friday:
Illinois-Chicago Flames 3, Southern Jaguars 0. Gameday »
Alcorn State Braves 5, Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions 4. Gameday » 
Southern Jaguars 8, Grambling State Tigers 7. Gameday »
New Orleans Privateers 5, Illinois-Chicago Flames 4. Gameday »
Alabama State Hornets 8, Prairie View A&M Panthers 7. Gameday »

Saturday:
Illinois-Chicago Flames 9, Southern Jaguars 5. Gameday »
Alcorn State Braves 8, Prairie View A&M Panthers 4. Gameday »

Santana pushing cars and now Franco

First baseman hoping young slugger can emulate patient hitting approach
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A couple weeks after Carlos Santana signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies in late December, he posted a video of himself pushing a white Mercedes-Benz in the Dominican Republic.

He pushed the car eight times, 120 yards each time.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A couple weeks after Carlos Santana signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies in late December, he posted a video of himself pushing a white Mercedes-Benz in the Dominican Republic.

He pushed the car eight times, 120 yards each time.

Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

"My personal trainer came up with that," Santana said through an interpreter Saturday afternoon at Spectrum Field. "He thought about it because he thought it would be a good workout for my legs, for my arms. It's a complete workout. You use every single muscle in your body. Those cars are so heavy you really need to push through."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Next, Santana is ready to push Maikel Franco.

It is well documented how Franco and Santana have been joined at the hip since Santana signed with the Phillies. In fact, Santana told the Phillies that he wanted his locker next to Franco's in Spring Training. They could have the same setup at Citizens Bank Park.

"He's shown me that he wants to help me," Franco said.

It also is well documented that this is a big season for Franco, who posted a .690 OPS in 623 plate appearances last season. Franco ranked last out of 18 qualified third basemen in OPS and on-base percentage (.278). He ranked 17th in slugging percentage (.404).

If he improves he could still have a future with the Phillies. If his numbers remain where they are they almost certainly will move on.

Video: Outlook: Franco has power but needs more patience

The hope is Santana, whose patience at the plate is a strength, can teach the Franco, who can be an impatient hacker.

"I'm a young guy and I have to learn about hitting," Franco said. "I'm just trying to get a lot of information from him. I'm trying to get close to him. Carlos selects a lot of good pitches. He's got a good idea [at the plate]. I'm trying to find out everything that I can do. I know he's going to help me a lot."

Phils, Abad agree to Minor League deal

Santana is on board.

"We're going to work together every single day," he said. "We're going to make sure he executes the plan he wants to follow. I know he's a guy that's very talented and he's capable of a lot. So I'm going to be there. I'm committed to helping him. I'm going to be in the cage, hitting as many balls as possible. He already told me today that he wants to follow me everywhere he goes. If I have to go to the cage he's going to go with me to hit some balls. He's committed and I'm committed, too."

Tweet from @Phillies: Ladies and gentlemen, may we present to you...@TheRealSlamtana! pic.twitter.com/2u9Z04X1f8

It is a good thing Santana committed to the Phillies when he did. Numerous big-name free agents remain available, including Jake Arrieta and Eric Hosmer. Believe it or not, Santana's $60 million deal is the fourth-largest contract this offseason.

Only Yu Darvish ($126 million), Justin Upton ($106 million) and Lorenzo Cain ($80 million) received bigger deals.

"It definitely worked out for me," he said. "I know baseball is going through a difficult time right now, with all of the free agents. But it worked out for me. I am happy. I can only speak for myself, and I am happy I did it the way I did it."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies, Maikel Franco, Carlos Santana

Sources: Rangers' deal with Oh called off

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A potential deal between the Rangers and reliever Seung Hwan Oh has fallen through, sources said Saturday.

The Rangers were reportedly in an agreement with Oh on a contract just before coming to Spring Training. But the deal was pending a physical and never was completed. Sources said the Rangers have ended the negotiations and aren't expected to sign Oh.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A potential deal between the Rangers and reliever Seung Hwan Oh has fallen through, sources said Saturday.

The Rangers were reportedly in an agreement with Oh on a contract just before coming to Spring Training. But the deal was pending a physical and never was completed. Sources said the Rangers have ended the negotiations and aren't expected to sign Oh.

Rangers officials declined to comment but they are still in the market for pitching help. They are still without an identified closer, although Alex Claudio finished last season in that role for the Rangers, as did Mike Minor for the Royals. Matt Bush, Jake Diekman, Keone Kela and non-roster invite Kevin Jepsen are all candidates to varying degrees. Tony Barnette and Chris Martin were both closers in Japan.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Seung Hwan Oh

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.

J-Up happy he re-upped with close-knit Angels

MLB.com @mi_guardado

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Justin Upton hit free agency two years ago, he languished on the market until mid-January before signing a six-year, $132.75 million deal with the Tigers. He could have tested the open market again this winter by exercising the opt-out clause in his contract, but he decided against it, preferring to sign a five-year, $106 million extension with the Angels, who acquired him from Detroit in an Aug. 31 trade last year.

Upton's decision proved prudent, as the activity on the free-agent market has unfolded at a remarkably sluggish pace this winter. Many prominent free agents, including Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta and Mike Moustakas, remain unsigned, even with Spring Training underway for all 30 clubs.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Justin Upton hit free agency two years ago, he languished on the market until mid-January before signing a six-year, $132.75 million deal with the Tigers. He could have tested the open market again this winter by exercising the opt-out clause in his contract, but he decided against it, preferring to sign a five-year, $106 million extension with the Angels, who acquired him from Detroit in an Aug. 31 trade last year.

Upton's decision proved prudent, as the activity on the free-agent market has unfolded at a remarkably sluggish pace this winter. Many prominent free agents, including Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta and Mike Moustakas, remain unsigned, even with Spring Training underway for all 30 clubs.

Video: Justin Upton is the No. 3 left fielder right now

"It hasn't been an enjoyable process for those guys," Upton said Saturday after reporting to Angels camp. "The fact that I avoided it ... in hindsight, I'm glad I did. I kind of got a taste of it two years ago when I was a free agent. I kind of understood the way the trend was going. At the end of the day, if you can avoid it, avoid it, because things are definitely different and they're changing."

The 30-year-old left fielder said he returned home after the regular season ended and gave himself a week to "digest everything" before sitting down with his wife to discuss their future in Southern California.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"She was happy with our month there, and at that point, we decided to explore if there was an opportunity for me to come back," Upton said. "At the end of the day, we got it done."

Upton, who posted an .887 OPS with seven home runs over 27 games with the Angels in 2017, cited the camaraderie of the clubhouse as one of the reasons why he decided to stay in Anaheim.

"You spend half of your year with a group of guys," Upton said. "I enjoyed the vibe of the clubhouse, how much fun the guys have playing the game. That's what you want to be part of. You want to be in the clubhouse, be on the field with these guys every day. That's what you look for."

Video: Kinsler persuaded by Upton, Ohtani signing

Upton said he is looking forward to welcoming his good friend and former Tigers teammate Ian Kinsler into the fold as well. In December, Upton's endorsement of the Angels helped convince Kinsler to waive his limited no-trade clause and accept a trade to Anaheim.

"I was excited," Upton said. "He's a guy that brings a lot of energy to the clubhouse and a good veteran presence. I thought he'd be a good fit here, and when we finally did get him, I enjoyed the move. I think the guys in here will, too."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Justin Upton

Hinch: Cole only needs 'tweaks,' not overhaul

Manager adamant that offseason acquisition is among game's best pitchers
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Gerrit Cole has impressive credentials, which is why the Astros traded for right-hander in January. A former first-round pick, Cole won 19 games in 2015 and can throw in the upper 90s with his fastball.

Cole is a finished product whose best days are probably still ahead of him. At 27, he's not a project by any means. Sure, pitching coach Brent Strom will work his magic, but the Astros brought Cole into the fold to be a force with fellow 2017 Opening Day starters Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel from the get-go.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Gerrit Cole has impressive credentials, which is why the Astros traded for right-hander in January. A former first-round pick, Cole won 19 games in 2015 and can throw in the upper 90s with his fastball.

Cole is a finished product whose best days are probably still ahead of him. At 27, he's not a project by any means. Sure, pitching coach Brent Strom will work his magic, but the Astros brought Cole into the fold to be a force with fellow 2017 Opening Day starters Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel from the get-go.

Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

"Gerrit Cole is pretty damn good," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's been an effective big league pitcher. Did he give up a few home runs last year? Yeah. Did he have a slightly down season compared to his standards? Yes. That doesn't mean he can't be a top elite pitcher in the American League just given his stuff, his makeup and his ability to pitch."

Video: Cole discusses joining a championship team

Cole, the Pirates' first-round Draft pick in 2011 out of UCLA, has gone 19-22 with a 4.12 ERA over 54 starts from 206-17 after winning 19 games in '15. He finished 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA in 33 starts last year for the Pirates, allowing 55 walks and 31 homers while striking out 196 batters in 203 innings.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

In January, the Astros bolstered their rotation when they sent pitchers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, infielder Colin Moran and Minor League outfielder Jason Martin to the Pirates for Cole.

Video: A.J. Hinch on Gerritt Cole's repertoire

Cole will immediately benefit from his environment, which includes a clubhouse full of guys who have won a World Series and want another title. It includes one of the best pitchers of his generation in Verlander, whose locker at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is only a few feet away. It includes veteran catcher Brian McCann, whose work with the pitching staff last year prompted pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. to anoint him as team's most valuable player.

"I'm just excited to be at a place where we have a lot of good players and we have a team mentality and it seems everybody is trying to win and seeing themselves out for the greater good for the team," Cole said. "That's all you can ask for a player."

Video: McTaggart on where Cole fits in Astros rotation

Any adjustments the Astros make figure to start with pitch usage. Last year, Cole threw 12.2 percent curveballs and 17.2 percent sliders, but he mostly fed off his 96-mph fastball. Hinch said some adjustments can be made.

"He's got upper 90s in his back pocket when needs it. He's got a good slider, he's got a good changeup," Hinch said. "He knows how to pitch. He can elevate, he can crossfire. Getting a good game plan in front of him is going to be really key for him. Is there going to be a tweak in usage? Maybe, if we need it. Make no mistake, there's not an overhaul going on. He's pretty good from the time he steps on campus, and we'll try to tweak him like we do with every player."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros, Gerrit Cole

Trout, Altuve head list of Top 100 Right Now

Dynamic duo announced as top two players in MLB Network's rankings
MLB.com @JALaymance

Now that Spring Training has officially started with pitchers and catchers reporting for all 30 clubs this week, fans can ring in the new season with MLB Network's annual countdown of the game's best players.

This year's rankings were unveiled this week on MLB Network during five installments of its Top 100 Right Now series, which began Wednesday with Nos. 61-100.

Now that Spring Training has officially started with pitchers and catchers reporting for all 30 clubs this week, fans can ring in the new season with MLB Network's annual countdown of the game's best players.

This year's rankings were unveiled this week on MLB Network during five installments of its Top 100 Right Now series, which began Wednesday with Nos. 61-100.

The series concluded Friday with the revealing of Nos. 1-20. MLB Network's Greg Amsinger, Bill Ripken and Ron Darling hosted the program and analyzed the list.

1. Mike Trout, OF, Angels
Who else would be No. 1? In his seven years in the Majors, Trout has twice won the American League Most Valuable Player Award, and finished second in the voting three times.

2. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
The reigning AL MVP, Altuve helped the Astros win their first World Series title last fall. He has led the AL in hits in each of the past four seasons while also leading the league in batting average three times in that span.

3. Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
The National League MVP in 2015, Harper, the top overall pick in the 2010 Draft, has been in the Majors for six years and received five All-Star nods.

Video: Bryce Harper ranks third on the Top 100 Right Now

4. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
Votto, the NL MVP in 2010 and a five-time All-Star, is equal parts slugger and on-base machine. He has twice led the Senior Circuit in OPS.

5. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Yankees
Stanton is set for his first season with the Yankees after leading the Majors with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs in 2017, when he was named NL MVP with the Marlins.

Video: Giancarlo Stanton ranks fifth on Top 100 Right Now

6. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
Kershaw is the first pitcher to appear on the list, and for good reason. Since 2011, Kershaw has won three NL Cy Young Awards and the 2014 NL MVP, all while leading the NL in ERA five times.

7. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
Arenado has been the NL's Gold Glove Award winner at third base in each of his five Major League seasons, and he has had two years in which he led the league in homers, RBIs and total bases.

8. Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs
Bryant has accomplished quite a bit in only three seasons. He was the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award winner before winning the '16 NL MVP and helping the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years.

9. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays
Donaldson is still one of the best in the business at age 32. He's a three-time All-Star and won the 2015 AL MVP Award in his first season with Toronto.

10. Carlos Correa, SS, Astros
Correa figures to be a Top 10 player for years to come, as he already has won a World Series title, been an All-Star and earned the AL Rookie of the Year Award in three big league seasons since being the top pick in the 2012 Draft.

Video: MLB Network breaks down the top 10 players right now

The first group of 10 players outside the Top 10 includes the 2017 Cy Young Award winners, Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber. Scherzer has won the award in the NL in each of the past two seasons, while Kluber has won the award in the AL twice in the last four years.

11. Max Scherzer, SP, Nationals
12. Corey Kluber, SP, Indians
13. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, D-backs
14. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
15. Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees
16. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies
17. Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians
18. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers
19. Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox
20. Manny Machado, SS, Orioles

Chris Sale tops the list of players outside the Top 20, just as he topped the Majors in strikeouts in 2017. Sale is joined in this group by reigning World Series champions George Springer and Justin Verlander.

Video: MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now: 23-21

21. Chris Sale, SP, Red Sox
22. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Indians
23. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
24. George Springer, OF, Astros
25. J.D. Martinez, OF, Free Agent
26. Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees
27. Buster Posey, C, Giants
28. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals
29. Justin Verlander, SP, Astros
30. Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers

A trio of some of the best second basemen in the big leagues -- Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier and Robinson Cano -- headline this grouping, which also includes a pair of Dodgers stars in Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen.

Video: MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now: 33-32

31. Justin Turner, 3B, Dodgers
32. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals
33. Justin Upton, OF, Angels
34. Daniel Murphy, 2B, Nationals
35. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals
36. Brian Dozier, 2B, Twins
37. Robinson Cano, 2B, Mariners
38. Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox
39. Kenley Jansen, RP, Dodgers
40. Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants

The Indians are well represented here, with a slugger, starter and reliever among the final block of the Top 50.

Video: MLB Network?s Top 100 Players Right Now: 41

41. Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Indians
42. Andrew Miller, RP, Indians
43. Luis Severino, SP, Yankees
44. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Red Sox
45. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Mets
46. Christian Yelich, OF, Brewers
47. Trea Turner, SS, Nationals
48. Nelson Cruz, Mariners
49. Noah Syndergaard, SP, Mets
50. Carlos Carrasco, SP, Indians

Video: MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now: 52-49

On the other side of the Top 50, former Cy Young Award winner and D-backs ace Zack Greinke tops this group of players, which also features Adrian Beltre and his 3,048 career hits.

51. Zack Greinke, SP, D-backs
52. Jacob deGrom, SP, Mets
53. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Orioles
54. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Free Agent
55. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers
56. Andrelton Simmons, SS, Angels
57. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros
58. Willson Contreras, C, Cubs
59. Tommy Pham, OF, Cardinals
60. Carlos Santana, 1B, Phillies

Lorenzo Cain and Yu Darvish, two players who have received the largest free-agent contracts this offseason, are among this group of 10.

Video: MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now: 63-61

61. Lorenzo Cain, OF, Brewers
62. Matt Carpenter, 1B, Cardinals
63. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Giants
64. Dallas Keuchel, SP, Astros
65. Aroldis Chapman, RP, Yankees
66. Kyle Hendricks, SP, Cubs
67. Yu Darvish, SP, Cubs
68. Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
69. Khris Davis, DH, Athletics
70. Josh Reddick, OF, Astros

Video: MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now: 71-68

Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Ryan Zimmerman may not be as good as they were a few years ago, but they're still playing well enough to safely make the Top 100, leading the way in the 71-80 rankings.

71. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
72. Jake Arrieta, SP, Free Agent
73. Carlos Martinez, SP, Cardinals
74. Didi Gregorius, SS, Yankees
75. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Nationals
76. Marwin Gonzalez, Util, Astros
77. Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
78. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox
79. Michael Conforto, OF, Mets
80. Adam Eaton, OF, Nationals

The group from 81-90 features seven players from the West divisions, now that Wade Davis and Zack Cozart signed free-agent deals with the Rockies and Angels, respectively.

Video: MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now: 84-81

81. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Rockies
82. J.T. Realmuto, C, Marlins
83. Corey Knebel, RP, Brewers
84. Wade Davis, RP, Rockies
85. Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers
86. Chris Taylor, OF, Dodgers
87. Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners
88. Jean Segura, SS, Mariners
89. Zack Cozart, 3B, Angels
90. Avisail Garcia, OF, White Sox

Video: MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now: 92-90

Bringing up the back end of the Top 100 is a young group whose oldest member, Brett Gardner, turns 35 in August. It's a group with plenty of intrigue, including Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani.

91. Jay Bruce, OF, Mets
92. Justin Smoak, 1B, Blue Jays
93. Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees
94. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
95. Kyle Schwarber, OF, Cubs
96. Marcus Stroman, SP, Blue Jays
97. James Paxton, SP, Mariners
98. Robbie Ray, SP, D-backs
99. Chad Green, RP, Yankees
100. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Angels

Video: MLB Network's Top 100 Players Right Now: 100-99

MLB Network recently unveiled its top players at each position in a five-week program hosted by Brian Kenny, ranking players based on performance over the past two seasons and a number