As most of the nation begins its thaw from a long, cold and often snowy winter, familiar sounds have begun to fill the air once more. The crack of the bat, roar of the crowd and shouts from vendors of 'hot dogs, get your hot dogs here' can only mean one thing: baseball is officially back. Spring training was fun, as we slowly reintroduced ourselves to the game and the storylines surrounding the upcoming season. But now it's time for the action to start on the field.
As that begins, we'll continue to bring you a weekly update on the biggest headlines, stats, and injury news in the league with our new feature: The Baseball Report. We start this week, in the most obvious spot.
Opening Day is Thursday, March 29th
Unlike in years past, when baseball had one, or maybe three, marquee match-ups highlighted on Opening Day, before the rest of the teams started a few days later, this season, everyone starts at the same time. All 30 teams will play on Thursday, with games beginning at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time and the last game starting at 10:10 p.m. Eastern. That's a solid 12 hours of baseball by the time that last West Coast game is done. A feast for fans that have waited through the long winter for baseball to return.
Kingery, Marte Sign Long-Term Extensions
Baseball's contract system for young players is byzantine in the sense that players remain under team control for up to the first seven years of their career through the "service time" clock. The amount of service time a player has accrued by the end of a season determines what "rights" he has during the course of the next offseason. For the first several years, there really aren't any. Then a player can become "arbitration eligible" and so on and so forth until eventually, they have the option of being a free agent.
That system often leads young players to be underpaid comparative to their production. Recently, we saw two young players make sure that won't be the case. The Phillies' Scott Kingery and Diamondbacks' Ketel Marte each signed contract extensions worth a guaranteed $24 million with team options tacked on to the tail end. You could argue that these deals will turn out to be team-friendly (likely), but both Kingery and Marte are getting paid far better than they would have been for the next couple of years.
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