Each year a lot of players change teams via trade or free agency and each year it takes a few days to get used to the look of these guys in their new uniforms. It’s one of the coolest parts of the beginning of spring training. It really snaps you out of the winter and out of memories of last season and into the new season as it dawns.
Maybe I’m just having a strange and sensitive week or something, but for some reason the photos coming out of the first couple of days of spring training are striking me as much weirder than normal. I mean, there’s not “Joe DiMaggio as an Oakland Athletic” or “Yogi Berra as a Houston Astro“-level weird, but they’re close.
The weirdest: The Home Run King:
The black isn’t unusual. It, combined with his obviously much smaller stature, almost makes you think of an alternate timeline in which Barry Bonds stayed with the Pirates, laid off the cream and the clear and just got old there. I suppose we’ll get used to it.
Here’s Felipe Alou, channeling our thoughts and, I’m going to guess anyway, saying “Cueto, you look really out of place in a Giants uniform!”
We’ve seen Zack Greinke in red before, but not Sonoran Red or whatever the Dbacks call this. To be fair, though, I think the short hair is more jarring:
David Price has yet to appear in an AP photo in full uniform, but the hat is different enough:
And finally, another Giants legend taking a second glance at a new Giants pitcher:
We’ll get some new looks for position players soon too. It will be fun and thrilling for everyone except Cardinals fans looking at Jason Heyward in his new duds. But they, like the rest of us, will adjust after a couple of days.
(all photos from the Associated Press)
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.
The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.
Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.
Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.
The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.
Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.
Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.