Major League Baseball celebrated Opening Day on Thursday as fans around the world enjoyed the temporary enjoyment of seeing their teams tied atop their respective divisions. Opening Day also gave us a glimpse into the new baseball world of pitch clocks, big bases, and a litany of other rule changes implemented this year.
While all eyes are on the field, there has also been quite a bit of news off the field as teams prepared to get the season underway. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest news around the league.
Verlander Hits The Injured List
After signing Justin Verlander to a massive two-year, $86.6 million contract this offseason, the New York Mets and their fans were excited to see him toe the rubber as part of a two-headed ace along with Max Scherzer.
Unfortunately, Mets fans will have to wait a bit longer to see it.
On Thursday, Verlander was put on the injured list with a teres major muscle strain. The team reported that he will be reevaluated next week, but this is still a blow to the Mets, at least in the short term.
In a corresponding move, the team called up Tylor Megill to take his spot on the Opening Day roster.
As for Verlander, he is coming off a season with the Houston Astros where he went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA, 0.829 WHIP, and he struck out 185 in 175 innings. That body of work was good enough to win him the AL Cy Young Award.
Fighting in a really tough NL East, the Mets are hoping Verlander can return to try to help push the Mets past the Braves and the Phillies. Currently, New York has the second-best odds of winning the division at +165.
Guardians Sign A Pair Of Extensions
As a team that has limitations in their payroll, the Cleveland Guardians generally have to be pretty savvy with their expenditures. They showed off this savviness this week as they signed both Andres Gimenez and Trevor Stephan To Extensions.
For Gimenez, he inked a seven-year deal worth $106.5 million. It also includes a $23 million option for 2030. Last year, the 24-year-old Gimenez hit .297/.371/.466 with 17 home runs, 69 runs batted in, 66 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 491 at bats.
Even though the Guardians retained control of Gimenez through at least 2026, this extension could turn out to be quite a steal if he can continue the production he had last season.
Cleveland also extended 27-year-old reliever Trevor Stephan on a four-year $10 million deal. It also includes club options for 2027 and 2028 at a little over $7 million.
Stephan went 6-5 with three saves last season in 66 games. He sported a 2.69 ERA, 1.178 WHIP, and struck out 82 in 63.2 innings. As one of the bridge guys to closer Emmanuel Clase, Stephan is critical to the bullpen’s success.
Currently, Cleveland is the favorite to win the AL Central at +115. They have the 12th-best odds of winning the World Series at +2500.
Cubs Extend Hoerner
The Guardians weren’t the only team to extend a young star. The Chicago Cubs agreed to a three-year extension worth $35 million with 25-year-old Nico Hoerner.
Hoerner is the double-play partner of shortstop Dansby Swanson, playing second base this season for the Cubs. Last year, in 481 at bats, he hit .281/.327/.410 with 10 home runs, 55 runs batted in, 60 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases.
The Cubs currently have the third-best odds of winning the NL Central at +600.