What a difference a year makes for Justin Maxwell.
Last season the Royals acquired the veteran outfielder from the Astros on July 31 and watched him hit .268 with five homers and an .857 OPS in 35 games down the stretch. They signed him to a one-year, $1.33 million contract to avoid arbitration … and then Maxwell went 4-for-29 (.138) with 15 strikeouts to begin this season.
And today they designated him for assignment.
Maxwell obviously isn’t as bad as he looked in the early going this season and he barely played for the Royals, logging just 32 total plate appearances in 40 team games. He’s a 30-year-old career .225 hitter, but good power and decent plate discipline have led to a .733 OPS that would make him a fit as a fourth outfielder somewhere.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.