Quintana rumors drag on
One of the longest-enduring storylines of the offseason has been the White Sox and the saga surrounding left-hander Jose Quintana. He’s been at the center of trade rumors for months, and while there was a bit of a lull when spring training started that doesn’t mean that things have completely died down when it comes to trade talks.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, there are still multiple teams in pursuit of Jose Quintana—namely the Astros, Braves, and Pirates. Passan makes a good point in noting that the Braves may not be as alluring of a fit as they once were, since the White Sox appear to be set in the middle infield following their extension of Tim Anderson’s contract. Atlanta's biggest prospect trade chip at the moment—Ozzie Albies—is a middle infielder.
On the other hand, the Pirates and Astros have the prospect depth and potential fits to pull off a deal. Either way, the name of the game for the White Sox is patience and they have shown plenty of it with Quintana. They have good reason to be patient, since they hold all of the big cards here and they can wait with the 28-year-old under team control through 2018. Which team would pay the steep price for Quintana and when would they pull the trigger on a potential trade?
Angels hamstrung by Valbuena
The Angels decided to take a flier on Luis Valbuena with a two-year deal (and an option for 2019) despite the fact that he was limited to 90 games last season due to hamstring issues. Unfortunately, things have gotten off to a rough start for the former Astros infielder, as another hamstring injury has taken him out of consideration for Opening Day.
Valbuena figured to be the Opening Day starter at first base, but Angels beat writer Maria Guardado is reporting that he'll be out for 4-6 weeks with a strained hamstring. The most concerning part here is the fact that it’s the same hamstring that curtailed Valbuena’s 2016 season. He played well in 2016 when he was healthy—managing to be worth 2.6 WARP over those 90 games—but if his hamstring continues to bother him his could be a major storyline for Angels going forward.
WBC draws big
There’s still a buzz in the baseball world after the USA squad capped off an exciting late-tournament run in the WBC with a victory in the title game. They beat the defending champions Dominican Republic in a de-facto quarterfinal, knocked off the two-time WBC-winning Japanese team in the semis, and then made easy work of the formerly-undefeated Puerto Rico squad to bring home the trophy.
It was a run to be proud of, and the only people who are happier with how this year’s WBC went have to be the organizers themselves. Multiple reports show that attendance for this year’s tournament was up from the 2013 edition, and TV ratings were also up as well. In fact, the title game drew 2.3 million viewers on MLB Network, which is an absolutely massive number for the channel.
When you add in the fact that the quality of play was exciting for the most part, and you’ve got a formula for an unquestioned success. There may be some kinks that need to be worked out for future events, but this year’s WBC definitely gave the event the boost it needed to stay strong and relevant as the game itself continues to evolve.