Major League Baseball has released the 2019 schedule.
Spoiler alert: each team will play 162 games, most will be at night, some will be during the day and all will be bunched in groups of 2-4 games called “series” in order to maximize travel efficiency.
Unless you’re the Seattle Mariners, of course, in which case you’ll be doing dumb things like flying from Anaheim to Minneapolis and then back to Oakland in one road trip and then going from Dallas to Chicago to Houston in another. Seattle is geographically challenged and there is nothing that can be done about that, but my lord does the scheduling computer, ~Sched-LöR~ seem to hate them.
Apart from the usual stuff in the schedule we have these components:
- The season will technically begin with the 2019 Japan Opening Series,featuring the Oakland Athletics hosting the Seattle Mariners at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. That’ll be on March 20-21, when everyone else is still in spring training. Traditional Opening Day, featuring all 30 Major League Clubs, will take place on Thursday, March 28th. The earliest Opening Day ever, not counting foreign series;
- Certain teams getting Friday off, most likely for Collective Bargaining Agreement-mandated travel-related days off. This year we’ve seen a lot of odd Wednesday off-days for the same reason.;
- We’re also going to see the much talked about London Series between the Yankees and the Red Sox on June 29 and June 30, with offdays built in before and after;
- Albert Pujols will play his first games back in St. Louis since leaving via free agency lo those many years ago. It’ll take place in late June; and
- The Royals and Tigers will play in Omaha in June in honor of the College World Series.
There will be other things not yet incorporated into the schedule such as the Sunday night games and a planned Mexico series involving the Angels. The whole thing wraps up Sunday, September 29.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.