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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. 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. 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 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.

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.

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 jumpstart 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.

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 one team win a World Series.

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

Twins acquire starter Odorizzi from Rays

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.

The Twins are also not done adding starting pitching, and they could still sign a free agent to add to their rotation, which currently has Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson as locks with Ervin Santana out for the first two to four weeks of the season due to surgery on his right middle finger.

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™.

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.

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 was a busy night for the Rays. Prior to trading for Odorizzi, the Rays struck a deal with the Angels in which they acquired first baseman C.J. Cron in exchange for a player to be named.

The Rays designated outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment to make room for Cron and are engaged with multiple clubs with potential trades for Dickerson, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand and Jon Paul Morosi. Dickerson, 28, hit .285/.325/.490 with 27 homers in 150 games last year, being named an All-Star for the first time. But his numbers fell off in the second half and advanced metrics paint him as a poor defensive outfielder. 

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

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

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

SARASOTA -- 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 -- 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

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

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

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

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.

Source: Braves in talks to bring back Moylan

MLB.com @mlbbowman

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Peter Moylan may get yet another opportunity to return to the Braves.

A Major League source confirmed the Braves were attempting to complete a deal with Moylan on Sunday morning. It is unclear whether the right-handed reliever will get a Major or Minor League deal.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Peter Moylan may get yet another opportunity to return to the Braves.

A Major League source confirmed the Braves were attempting to complete a deal with Moylan on Sunday morning. It is unclear whether the right-handed reliever will get a Major or Minor League deal.

Moylan has stood as a fan favorite in Atlanta since 2006, when the Braves signed him after he wowed scouts with his sidearm delivery while pitching for Australia during the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

The Braves have been talking to Moylan throughout the offseason about adding some much-needed experience to their bullpen. Over the past couple days, the two parties have moved closer to reaching an agreement.

Moylan has posted a 3.00 ERA over 460 career appearances. The 39-year-old Australia native made a Major League-high 79 appearances as he produced a 3.49 ERA for the Royals last year.

This would be Moylan's third stint for the Braves. He was a member of Atlanta's bullpen from 2006-12, and then he returned in '15. His Major League career has been interrupted by two Tommy John surgeries ('08 and '14) and back surgery ('11).

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Peter Moylan

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.

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.

KC to receive comp picks for Hosmer, Cain

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Following Eric Hosmer's deal with the San Diego Padres, which has been confirmed by multiple sources, the Royals' rebuild is about to get another major boost.

In fact, there is a scenario in which the Royals could get as many as five picks in the top 40 of this year's Draft. They almost certainly will have a top five bonus pool.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Following Eric Hosmer's deal with the San Diego Padres, which has been confirmed by multiple sources, the Royals' rebuild is about to get another major boost.

In fact, there is a scenario in which the Royals could get as many as five picks in the top 40 of this year's Draft. They almost certainly will have a top five bonus pool.

The team is projecting right now it should get at least four picks in the top 45.

The Royals will pick No. 18 overall as their normal selection in Round 1.

Because Hosmer signed for $144 million and Lorenzo Cain signed for $80 million with the Brewers, and both players received qualifying offers, the Royals will get two comp picks in the upper 30s -- possibly as high as No. 31, depending on what other free agents who were extended qualifying offers sign for.

The Royals also could get another pick in the 30s if free agent Mike Moustakas signs elsewhere for $50 million or more.

Kansas City will also get a Competitive Balance Round pick that could be as high as No. 39, though the Royals are projecting it to be around 40-45.

Even if Moustakas signs for less than $50 million, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement's rules, that compensation pick would come after Competitive Balance Round B, which follows the second round.

Last year, the Twins had three picks in the top 50 and had the largest bonus pool at $14,156,800. They had picks Nos. 1, 35 and 37.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB and listen to his podcast.

Kansas City Royals

Red Sox, Nunez agree to 1-year deal

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal, with a player option for 2019, with super-utility man Eduardo Nunez on Sunday. To make room for Nunez on the 40-man roster, the club designated right-handed pitcher Ben Taylor for assignment.

Nunez gives the Red Sox an early-season replacement at second base for Dustin Pedroia, who is expected to miss the first few weeks of the regular season following left knee surgery.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal, with a player option for 2019, with super-utility man Eduardo Nunez on Sunday. To make room for Nunez on the 40-man roster, the club designated right-handed pitcher Ben Taylor for assignment.

Nunez gives the Red Sox an early-season replacement at second base for Dustin Pedroia, who is expected to miss the first few weeks of the regular season following left knee surgery.

Nunez was a strong fit on the field and in the clubhouse for the Red Sox down the stretch last season after they acquired the right-handed hitter in a trade with the Giants.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The acquisition of Nunez is the second of this offseason for the Red Sox. The club re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland in December. Boston still has interest in signing free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez and made him a five-year offer worth at least $100 million earlier in the winter.

Nunez brings value -- even after Pedroia returns -- as someone who can also play shortstop and third base, and even corner outfield if necessary.

In 38 games for Boston last season, Nunez thrived, slashing .321/.353/.539 with eight homers and 27 RBIs.

The only thing that derailed Nunez with the Red Sox was the knee injury that he initially suffered on Sept. 9. He re-injured it in comeback attempts on Sept. 25 at Fenway Park and again in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Astros.

The 30-year-old did not need surgery, and his knee healed over the winter.

Nunez would also offer the Red Sox speed. He stole 24 bases last season and a career-high 40 in 2016.

In 669 career games, Nunez is a .282 hitter with 46 homers, 245 RBIs and 129 stolen bases.

Video: Zinkie on fantasy impact of Nunez's return to Red Sox

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
With multi-position eligibility and the potential to rank among the leading basestealers when working in a regular role, Nunez should be an asset in shallow leagues until Pedroia returns from his expected season-opening stint on the disabled list. However, Nunez's value may be relegated to deep mixed formats if the Red Sox shift him to a utility role upon Pedroia's return. Overall, owners should expect a double-digit homer total, 20-25 steals and a batting average near .300 from Nunez this year.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Eduardo Nunez

Ohtani throws BP, adjusts to conditions

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