With Opening Day exactly two weeks away, tough decisions are being made to shape each club’s regular-season roster, especially by the White Sox with their elite prospects. In addition, the potential Opening Day starter for the Angels is being shut down, and some changes are set to be announced for this year and beyond. Here are the latest MLB news and notes.
White Sox option Jimenez, Cease
Although the youth movement is coming in Chicago, it won’t be there on Opening Day. The White Sox optioned top prospect Eloy Jimenez along with Dylan Cease and others to Triple-A Charlotte.
Jimenez, who is ranked as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, finished Spring Training going 4-26 with one home run, three RBIs, nine strikeouts, and zero walks. But the White Sox are still extremely bullish on their young outfielder, who hit .337 with 22 home runs, 28 doubles, and 75 RBIs between Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham.
Jimenez, along with Cease, will very likely be with the big league club soon after the season begins. Cease is considered the White Sox’ No. 3 prospect and No. 21 in all of baseball. Other minor leaguers including catchers Zack Collins (No. 12 White Sox) and Seby Zavala (No. 22 White Sox) could find themselves on the major league team this season as well.
Heaney shut down
Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney has been shut down once again with left elbow discomfort. There is a chance he could open the season on the Injured List, according to manager Brad Ausmus.
This is the second time this spring where Heaney has been temporarily shut down. He was originally scratched from his start on March 3rd due to elbow inflammation but returned to the mound soon after the MRI results came back clean. Last Friday, Heaney recorded only two outs before leaving the game with more discomfort.
Heaney, 27, started last year in a very similar position, as he sat out the first few games with elbow inflammation before joining the rotation on April 13th. However, he stayed healthy the rest of the year and was the only Angels pitcher to make 30 starts.
MLB, MLBPA set to announce deal
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are set to announce a new deal on Thursday, according to multiple sources. The deal includes changes for this season, as well as some beginning in 2020.
A single trade deadline on July 31st, an All-Star Game election day and a million-dollar bonus to the winner of the Home Run Derby are all new plans that the league will be implementing starting this year. A three-batter minimum for pitchers, along with roster expansion, will happen beginning in 2020.
These changes are the beginning of a discussion between both parties that will be critical for baseball’s future in the next couple of seasons. The discussions will reportedly focus on free agency, the distribution of revenue, the manipulation of service time for top prospects on the cusp of the league, and more. The current CBA does not expire until December 2021.
Opening Day is March 28th, two weeks away. But the regular season opens up eight days earlier when the Mariners and Athletics play the first of two games in Tokyo, Japan on March 20th.