MLB In Full Bloom 12/26/2013

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48 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

95– Number of days until Opening Day

Let the bidding begin for Masahiro Tanaka! Multiple reports broke on Christmas Day that the Rakuten Golden Eagles have given permission for Tanaka to be posted. All 30 major league teams have been notified that the 30-day period to sign Tanaka began at 8 a.m. ET today and Casey Close has been hired as his agent. Close is the same agent for Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Derek Jeter. Clubs have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 to attempt to reach an agreement with the ace. Only the team that signs Tanaka will have to pay the $20 million posting fee to the Golden Eagles.

NEWS & NOTES

  • Matt Kemp (ankle) has been out of his walking boot for about ten days. Kemp underwent ankle surgery in late October. He's expected to be ready for the start of the season, and the fact that he is able to walk without a protective boot certainly bodes well for the recovery process.
  • Billy Hamilton will be the starting center fielder and bat lead off for the Cincinnati Reds to begin the 2014 season according the GM Walt Jockety after Shin-Soo Choo signed with the Texas Rangers. Jockety said, "He's the guy". Hamilton's fantasy value takes a huge bump with this announcement, but fantasy owners should reserve a small measure of skepticism due to Hamilton's projected struggles hitting the ball in the majors. Through just 13 games last season, Hamilton was 13-of-14 on stolen base attempts. With a full season under his belt, and all of the at-bats that come with being the leadoff hitter, Hamilton's runs total and stolen bases could approach historic levels.
  • Mark Teixeira says his wrist is "close to 100 percent," and that he will "start swinging a bat in January. Teixeira's productivity was declining before he missed most of 2013 with his wrist injury. He could still approach 20-25 home runs again if his wrist holds up, but it's likely to come with a low batting average.
  • Eric Surkamp was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox from the San Francisco Giants earlier this week. He missed the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery and had a nice return season with Triple-A Fresno in 2013. In 11 starts, he went 7-1 with a 2.78 ERA. Surkamp could certainly make a push in 2014 spring training for a rotation spot with the White Sox.
  • Jamey Wright and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed on a one-year deal. Wright has landed his first major league contract since 2005. It's well deserved, as Wright has a 3.40 ERA in 132 relief appearances over the past two seasons.
  • The Baltimore Orioles are aggressively pursing Fernando Rodney after the Grant Balfour saga. The O's seem eager to finalize the need for a closer in 2014. The Ne York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays have also been mentioned as possible destinations for Rodney.