By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and mere hours before the first pitch of the 2020 season, Nationals outfielder Juan Soto hit the injured list due to a positive COVID-19 test. One of baseball’s best young talents, Soto will now be sidelined approximately two weeks, though with a pair of negative tests he’ll be cleared to return. The 21-year old is coming off a massive .282/.401/.548 season with 34 home runs and an impressive 16.4% walk rate. The Nationals lost the season opener on Thursday night without Soto.
In an unexpected—though justifiable—development, the Los Angeles Dodgers locked up outfielder Mookie Betts to a massive contract extension. Acquired this winter via a trade with the Red Sox, Betts has agreed to a 12-year deal worth $365 million to remain with the Dodgers. There was speculation that the current situation within MLB would hinder a potential long-term agreement between the two parties, but that was obviously untrue. Betts will look to lift the Dodgers back to the World Series, and ultimately win a championship.
Perhaps the only player in baseball definitely better than Betts is Mike Trout. For weeks, there has been speculation regarding his status for the 2020 season. Trout’s family is set to expand during the summer. There was genuine thought he would opt out of the season due to concerns surrounding having a baby on the way. It is still expected that Trout will leave quarantine to be present at the birth of his first child, which could put him out of action for a spell. However, all signs point to Trout once again being the benchmark for superstars in baseball as he looks to lead the Los Angeles Angels to the postseason.
In injury news, the unfortunate developments continue to rack up for the New York Mets. Already without right-hander Noah Syndergaard for 2020 and having two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom battling a back issue, now Marcus Stroman is heading to the injured list due to a torn calf. It’s not entirely clear how long the injury will sideline Stroman, but it is likely to cost him multiple weeks. New York’s margin for contention in the National League East was already slim. Now down two of its three star-level starters to open the season, the Mets are in trouble.
Chicago is dealing with nagging back injuries to two of its most important players, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and third baseman Kris Bryant. Rizzo returned to action on Wednesday, launching a home run across three at-bats. There’s little doubt he will be ready to assume his place in Chicago’s lineup later today. Bryant’s status is not quite as obvious. The Cubs will likely play it safe with Bryant, which could make him a spectator for today’s season-opener.
St. Louis released veteran reliever Brett Cecil on Wednesday, ending a regrettable three-year run with the team. One of the better—and most consistent—relievers in baseball for multiple seasons leading up to the 2017 offseason, Cecil proved to be a $30.5 million mistake for the Cardinals. Another team may take a flier on the veteran left-hander, though it seems safe to say his time as an effective pitcher is over.
Entering the spring, rookie Jesus Luzardo appeared unlikely to start the season in Oakland’s rotation. Now, months later, despite dealing with COVID-19, Luzardo looks poised to take the mound during Oakland’s season-opening series against the Angels. An injury to A.J. Puk has robbed Oakland of one of baseball’s most exciting young pitching duos. Still, Luzardo looks ready to seize his opportunity. The A’s could continue to limit Luzardo’s workload, possibly using an opener during Luzardo’s initial appearances. However, there is little doubt the 22-year old left-hander is a massive part of the team’s immediate and Later.