(Chicago) Major League Baseball’s season kicks off Thursday. For some players and managers, it will also be their first game in a new uniform.
Here are some of the big names in MLB who have moved on and could have a big impact this season:
Abreu has been one of the most consistent players since his major league debut in 2014. He’s hit at least 25 homers and driven in at least 100 runs in six of his first nine seasons. The three-time All-Star selection had batted .317 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs in the shortened 2020 season, earning the All-American MVP award.
After nine seasons with the Chicago White Sox, he signed a three-year, $58.5 million deal with the Astros in November. His arrival took on even greater significance after Jose Altuve suffered a fractured right thumb at the World Classic.
One of the biggest surprises in the free agent market was the $280 million, 11-year contract the Padres signed to him in December. However, this contract solidifies their already well-endowed offensive role, but above all their defense in the infield.
The 30-year-old baseball player hit .307 with 15 home runs and 73 RBI in his final season with the Boston Red Sox. With Bogaerts in the lineup, the Padres have four players with experience at shortstop, perfect timing with new rules limiting special defenses.
Varsho was acquired by trade in December after setting career-highs with 27 home runs, 74 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 151 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2022. The D’backs’ second-round pick in 2017, he spent his first three seasons with this formation.
The 26-year-old Varsho will bring balance to the Jays’ largely right-handed hitting roster, which includes Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman and George Springer. He is also a very versatile player in defense, he who can also play as a receiver.
Turner’s 11-year, $300 million contract with the National champions seems like a perfect pairing. He brings his speed and agility to an attacking role that, when everyone is healthy, already relies on Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber and J. T. Realmuto.
Turner, who won the World Series with the Washington Nationals in 2019, hit .298 with 21 homers and a career-high 100 RBI for the Dodgers last year. He also flew 27 in 2022 and the more cushions and limits on pinning attempts pitchers can make should make him an even more dangerous runner in 2023.
There’s plenty of talent at the White Sox, including starting ace Dylan Cease and star shortstop Tim Anderson. But the team couldn’t do better than an 81-81 record and missed the playoffs after appearing in them the previous two seasons in 2022.
This is where Grifol comes in, hired in November after Tony La Russa quit for health reasons. Grifol, a former minor league catcher, spent the previous 10 seasons in various roles with the Kansas City Royals organization. He was praised for his attention to detail and the pace of his workouts during camp. But the pressure will be strong.
Murphy was acquired in a three-way trade in December, the Braves’ biggest offseason trade. The team, which has just won five consecutive titles in the East of the National, then offered a contract of six years and 73 million to the receiver, counting on the continuation of his development behind the plate.
The 28-year-old Murphy set career highs with a .250 batting average, 18 homers and 66 RBI in 148 games with the Oakland Athletics last season. He is also recognized for his game in defense, he who won a Gold Glove in 2021. Travis d’Arnaud and he should provide the Braves with one of the best tandems behind the plate.