There aren’t many teams holding spring training in the same place they did a decade ago. There are hardly any teams holding spring training in the same place they did 20 years ago. The Tigers, however, are quite an exception. They’ve been training in Lakeland, Florida since 1934. And today they announced a deal with the city of Lakeland which will keep them there until at least 2036.
The deal anticipates a $37 million commitment for capital improvements to the Joker Marchant Stadium and Tigertown Complex. It’ll be paid for via a bond issue, the State of Florida’s Spring Training Retention Program, the Polk County Tourist Development Council and money provided directly from both the Tigers and the City of Lakeland. The press release claims that the Tigers and their single-A team, the Lakeland Flying Tigers, provide the area with a combined $63 million in economic benefits annually.
Who knows if that claimed benefit is accurate, but there is no escaping that the relationship between Lakeland and the Tigers is about the strongest between any spring training site and a major league team in existence. Now it’ll be ensured to pass the century mark.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.