MLB In Full Bloom 1/16/2014

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29 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

76 – Number of days until Opening Day

With just 29 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona, the momentum of free agents finding new homes is picking up. On Wednesday, Clayton Kershaw got paid and will continue to call Los Angeles his home for at least the next five years. There were other signings that did not receive the same attention Kershaw did on Wednesday, so let's discuss the impact other guys that are now on new teams could have on your fantasy teams.

MLB News & Notes

  • Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a 7-year $215 million deal on Wednesday. The final result here is the largest contract for a pitcher in Major League history and the largest average annual salary for a player. Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game and based on how great he has been to this point in his career and the current free agent market, this is a fair contract. The out-clause after 2018 season is a key. He can opt out at 30-years old and hit the free agent market. These clauses always work to the advantage of the player because if he is hurt or declining and it does not look good for him as a free agent than he will just take the $33 million each of the last two years of this contract. If he is healthy and going well than he hits the market or re-negotiates with the Dodgers. Another Cy-Young candidate season is in store for Kershaw in 2014 and fantasy owners everywhere should see him go off the board as the first pitcher.
  • According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Chicago Cubs are pushing hard for Masahiro Tanaka. It does not mean that the Cubs will get Tanaka, but at 25-years old, he makes a lot of sense as they continue their major rebuilding process. Many think the Yankees are still the odds on favorite to land Tanaka. Finally, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are doing something other than babysitting the mascot - Clark! The Cubs have done next to nothing this offseason so adding Tanaka would make a statement to the fan base that maybe we'll win again one day.
  • Josh Collmenter and the Arizona Diamondbacks avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year contract. Collmenter settled into a long relief last season with the Diamondbacks, putting up an impressive 3.13 ERA over 92 innings.
  • Tyler Colvin and the Baltimore Orioles agreed to major league deal pending a physical. Colvin provides the Orioles some depth at first base and in the outfield. He had a strong 2012 season when he hit .290 with 18 home runs, but struggled in 2013 with the Rockies. Colvin could certainly be a bounce back candidate in 2014. While I'm not recommending drafting Colvin, fantasy owners in AL-Only leagues should certainly keep an eye on him once the season begins.
  • Vernon Wells was officially released by the New York Yankees on Wednesday. Wells was designated for assignment by the Yankees last week and passed through waivers unclaimed. The Angels are on the hook for $18.6 million of his 2014 salary and the Yankees will cover $2.4 million. The team that signs him next will only pay the MLB minimum. Wells is going to make alot of money this year and he is not worth looking at in any fantasy format.
  • Brad Penny and the Kansas City Royals agreed to a minor league contract which includes an invite to spring training. Penny, 35 years old, didn't pitch at all in 2013 but has been throwing this offseason as he attempts a comeback. He'll be given a chance to win a job in the team's rotation this spring.
  • Chris Coghlan and the Chicago Cubs agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Coghlan owns an ugly .242 batting average since winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2009. He could contribute as a reserve outfielder with the Cubs.
  • Michael Saunders and the Seattle Mariners avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract. Saunders was arbitration-eligible for the first time after batting .236 with 12 home runs, 46 RBI and 13 stolen bases over in 2013. Even if he doesn't bounce back at the dish, his quality glove should keep him in contention for playing time in left.
  • Javier Baez is likely to begin the season at Triple-A Iowa for the Chicago Cubs this season. Baez had a big season in 2013, totaling 37 home runs between High-A and Double-A for the Cubs. He has been working as a shortstop in the Cubs system, but has struggled there defensively and is blocked at the major league level by Starlin Castro. He could see action at second, third in addition to shortstop, with the chance his bat could carry him to Chicago at some point in 2014. Fantasy owners in all formats need to monitor Baez's progress and if you have a bench spot you can use to stash him - do it!