To celebrate the end of the Super Bowl and the unofficial beginning of the baseball season, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi lists ten key story lines from the upcoming MLB season. At the top is whether the Cubs can ride a 97-win 2015 campaign and a string of high-profile free agent signings (Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, John Lackey) to their first World Series win since 1908. Elsewhere, Morosi quickly reviews the offseasons of the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals, Royals and Diamondbacks, assessing their chances of winning in 2016. Here’s more from around the game.
- Cardinals pitcher Mitch Harris took a highly unusual path to the big leagues — he was drafted in 2008 but spent years away from the game serving in the Navy before making his minor-league debut in 2013 as a 27-year-old and quickly making his way to the Majors. One of the challenges he faced while serving was keeping up with what big-league hitters were up to, FanGraphs’ David Laurila writes. Harris says, though, that in some ways, his ignorance of his opponents could be a strength. “When I came back, I didn’t always have an idea of who I was facing,” he says. “There was no… I don’t like to use the word fear, so I guess you could say I wasn’t nervous to face anybody.” Harris had a relatively successful rookie season in 2015, posting a 3.67 ERA (albeit with 4.3 BB/9 and a modest 5.0 K/9) in his first 27 innings in the bigs.
- Longtime Royals and Mets minor-league utilityman Anthony Seratelli is retiring, Laurila notes. In retirement, Seratelli plans on building his audio and video production company. The 32-year-old played at the Triple-A level in 2012-2014 and played with the Seibu Lions in Japan last season, but never reached the Majors. He exits with a .371 career minor-league OBP in parts of eight seasons.
- Dexter Fowler tops the list of remaining free agents who are worth signing, ESPN’s David Schoenfield writes. Schoenfield notes that Fowler would be a good add for the White Sox, who have a need in the outfield and a protected first-round pick. Of course, White Sox GM Rick Hahn has previously expressed reluctance to part with the Sox’ next pick, at No. 28 overall, although the team recently has been connected to Fowler anyway.