Stephen Strasburg has started Opening Day for the Nationals in each of the past three seasons, but they’re going with Max Scherzer in Game 1 this year after signing the former Cy Young winner to a $210 million deal as a free agent.
This will be the first Opening Day start of Scherzer’s career, because Justin Verlander always got the Game 1 nod in Detroit (until now, as the Tigers will go with David Price this season).
Last season Scherzer threw 220 innings with a 3.15 ERA and 252/63 K/BB ratio, while Strasburg threw 215 innings with a 3.14 ERA and 242/43 K/BB ratio. So the larger point is that the Nationals have a really, really good rotation.
According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald the Marlins and Rangers “are in trade discussions” for left-hander Brad Hand, a 2008 second-round draft pick who’s now out of minor-league options.
Hand is 25 years old with a 4.52 ERA and 123/88 K/BB ratio in 195 career innings for the Marlins, 111 of which came last season. His numbers at Triple-A are similar, with decent overall results and very poor control.
He projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever, so the Marlins are probably just trying to get a little something in return for Hand rather than potentially losing him on waivers for nothing.
Brandon Finnegan reached the majors last season just three months after the Royals drafted him 17th overall out of TCU and made a big impact in the playoffs as a reliever, but now he’s headed back to the minors.
Kansas City was trying to decide whether to use Finnegan as a reliever this season or let him continue to develop as a starter in the minors, but the 22-year-old left-hander’s rough spring training made it an easy call because there was a lot less temptation to keep him in the majors.
Barry Bloom of MLB.com reports that Finnegan will have “a limit on innings and a very strict pitch count” at Double-A. He went 9-3 with a 2.04 ERA and 134/29 K/BB ratio in 106 innings as a starter for TCU last year.
Anthony Rendon’s left knee remains sore two full weeks after suffering a sprained MCL that the Nationals initially thought would be a 2-3 day injury.
James Wagner of the Washington Post writes that the Nationals plan to give the All-Star third baseman more rest, but there’s no official timetable for his return and “Rendon may run out of time to be ready for Opening Day.”
Rendon played 153 games last year in his first full season, replacing Ryan Zimmerman as the Nationals’ everyday third baseman and emerging as one of the league’s best all-around players by hitting .287 with 21 homers, 17 steals, and an .824 OPS to go with stellar defense at age 24.
Center fielder Adam Eaton and the White Sox have agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract extension, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.
The deal also includes a $9.5 million team option for 2020 and a $10.5 million team option for 2021, both of which carry a $1.5 million buyout.
Eaton was acquired from the Diamondbacks in December of 2013 and had a very nice first season for the White Sox, hitting .300 with a .362 on-base percentage and .763 OPS in 123 games as a 25-year-old. He hit just one homer and stole a disappointing 15 bases, but Eaton has previously shown a bit more pop and swiped 40 bases in 133 games at Triple-A.
Strong on-base skills, plus speed, and solid defense in center field make Eaton a very nice long-term building block for Chicago and the White Sox now control him through his age-32 season without having to make a huge upfront commitment.