MLB In Full Bloom 2/5//2014

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2 – Number of days until the Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers report

3 – Number of days until the Dodgers pitchers and catchers report

10– Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

54 – Number of days until Opening Day

Today's headlines are interesting to say the least. There are some big signings and there are some wacky headlines in the news. We also wish a Hall of Famer a happy 80th birthday today. Let's go!!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Freddie Freeman and the Braves avoided arbitration and agreed to an 8-year $135 million contract on Tuesday. Freeman, 24, is now locked up with the Braves through his prime years and when we compare this contract to Joey Votto's 10-year $235 million deal, Freeman's contract looks like a steal. Freeman is coming off the best season of his young career, but he doesn't have the elite power that's typically desired at the first base position in fantasy, and there are signs that a regression is possible in 2014. That said, Freeman has proven durable and is already one of the leaders in the Braves' clubhouse.
  • Jayson Heyward and the Braves avoided arbitration and agreed to a two-year deal for $13 million on Wednesday. Heyward is currently due to hit free agency at the conclusion of this two-year deal. The Braves have tried to extend Heyward to a long-term contract, but talks between the two sides were unsuccessful and it will be interesting if the Braves are able to have two players with $100+ million contracts now that Freddie Freeman is locked up.
  • David Robertson says he is not going to over analyze his role to replace Mariano Rivera as the Yankees closer.  Robertson is moving from an eighth inning setup man to closer following Rivera's retirement. Robertson spent the 2013 season dominating in the set-up role and has the potential to be an elite closer. But, he is stepping into the shoes of the best closer ever and it will be interesting to see how Robertson handles a couple blown saves.
  • Cory Luebke will need a second reconstructive surgery on his left throwing elbow after an MRI showed a tear in the ulner collateral ligament. This will be the second straight season Luebke will miss most or all of the season. Luebke has already had a tough road to recovery, so the Padres were targeting him for a relief role to begin the season, but unfortunately that will not happen in 2014.
  • Sam Fuld and the Athletics agreed to minor league contract Tuesday, which includes an invite to spring training. After three seasons in Tampa, Fuld will head out west in hopes of earning a roster spot with Oakland. Fuld provides little fantasy value and should not be considered in any fantasy format.
  • Tracy McGrady has retired from the NBA as a seven-time All-Star, but he is going to try and follow Michael Jordan's path and try baseball. McGrady plans to try pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. That is the same team that Roger Clemens pitched for a couple years ago. McGrady says that he has made enough money to live comfortable the rest of his life and this is purely for the love of the game.
  • Happy Birthday 80th to Hank Aaron today! Anyone that loves the game should go on Baseball Reference and admire Aaron's career numbers. His numbers are phenomenal. Babe Ruth had 11 consecutive seasons of 40 or more home runs and Aaron had 8 seasons of 40 or more home runs. The consistency and the ability to play every day was incredible. What Aaron went through to battle to get to 715 home runs and all the racism and everything he went through. I can't even begin to imagine what how he did it. Truly a living legend. In his 23-year major league baseball, Aaron's total earnings were $2,118,500.

MLB In Full Bloom 2/4//2014

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3 – Number of days until the Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers report

5 – Number of days until the Dodgers pitchers and catchers report

11– Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

55 – Number of days until Opening Day

The confetti has barely been cleared off after Super Bowl XLVIII, yet we're just three days away from the start of the baseball season. But, before the Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers report on Friday, let's look at where a few more free agents have landed while we continue to wait for several other free agents to find summer homes.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Derek Jeter (ankle) took on-field batting practice for the first time since suffering the injury that ended his 2013 season. Jeter hit in the batting cage and took 39 swings and then took 34 grounders at shortstop Monday at the Yankees' spring training complex in Tampa. This upcoming season could certainly be Jeter's last season so let's hope that he can stay healthy for it.
  • Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) had surgery on his throwing elbow last week and is expected to miss the first 6-8 weeks of the regular season.  He took a step back with the Rays last season, going 12-10 with a 5.17 ERA. He cut down on his walks, but was hit hard with regularity leading some to believe he was dealing with some arm discomfort. Jake Odorizzi seems the most likely candidate to fill in his spot in the rotation.
  • Yasiel Puig could hit leadoff this season according to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Carl Crawford was the primary leadoff hitter for the Dodgers last season would slide down to the No. 2 spot. Mattingly believes that the change could give the team's lineup better balance. Puig would have fewer RBI opportunities this way, but he remains a dynamic fantasy performer.
  • David Freese and the Angels avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract. The two sides settled at the midpoint of figures that were exchanged earlier this month. The Angels hope that Freese can rebound from disappointing year that saw him bat just .262 with nine home runs.
  • Gerardo Parra and the Diamondbacks avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year contract on Monday. Parra hit .268 atop the Diamondbacks lineup in 2013 and he scored a career-best 79 runs. Parra also hit 10 home runs with 48 RBI and 10 stolen bases. While hit provides more real-life value than fantasy value because of his defensive abilities, Parra is certainly provides value in all NL-Only formats and deep mixed leagues.
  • Kyle Farnsworth and the Mets agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Farnsworth posted  a 4.70 ERA last season between the Rays and Pirates. The Mets don't have much experience in their bullpen, so he should have a decent chance at making the Opening Day roster if he's healthy.
  • Cody Ross (hip) took batting practice Monday for the first time since hip surgery and is way ahead of schedule. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said that Ross may be out until May, but he suggested Monday that the start of the regular season is still possible. Ross hit .278 with eight homers and 38 RBI in 94 games last season.

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