Pitchers and catchers report next week and, at present, there are close to 100 free agents with nowhere to train. The market is making it hard enough for the players to find work, but if they’re seen as falling behind, conditioning and training wise, it may be even harder for them to get signed once spring training begins.
To that end, Tim Brown of Yahoo reports that the MLB Players Association is going to hold training camps for free agents:
The baseball players’ union is scouting sites and making preliminary arrangements to conduct its own spring training for as many as 100 unsigned free agents, sources said Wednesday . . . The IMG baseball academy in Bradenton, Florida, was believed to be among at least three options. The union also is identifying coaches and other personnel to staff the facility.
The last time something like this happened was in 1995, during the last work stoppage, as unionized players trained in Homestead, Florida as owners began spring training with would-be strikebreakers before resolution of the work stoppage. This time the circumstances are certainly different, but the need for players to train to be ready for the season is the same.
Should be good and awkward.
The Rays have acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels for a player to be named later, the teams announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the Rays cleared a roster spot for Cron by designating outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment.
Cron wasn’t expected to factor prominently in the Angels’ plans for 2018, especially given the recent addition of pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani and the projected Luis Valbuena/Albert Pujols combo at first base. The 28-year-old infielder wasn’t overly impressive during his fourth season in Anaheim, either, slashing .248/.305/.437 with 16 home runs and 0.5 fWAR through 373 plate appearances in 2017. He’ll give the Rays a platoon option with fellow first baseman Brad Miller, though neither Cron nor Miller have looked particularly adept against left-handed pitching lately.
Dickerson, meanwhile, is coming off of a banner season with the Rays. The 29-year-old outfielder enjoyed his first All-Star nomination in 2017, rounding out the year with a .282/.325/.490 batting line and career-best 27 home runs and 2.6 fWAR in 629 PA. Some have already speculated that a trade is in the works; barring that, it’s a head-scratching move to make considering his clear offensive value to the team.