With Major League Baseball’s spring training finally underway in Arizona and Florida, new and returning players have come back to the field. However, some of these familiar faces have returned in a new uniform.
After the 2020 season came to a close, rumors began to circulate about popular baseball players getting traded to other teams. One of the most notable rumors that circulated regarded outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox.
Bradley spent a long time with the Red Sox as a free agent (a player eligible to sign with any team for terms to which the two parties agree). But still, his trade came as a major shock to baseball fans due to his vital contributions to the Red Sox as a key component of their World Series-winning outfield. On Mar. 4, 2021, the Milwaukee Brewers signed Bradley to a two-year, $24 million contract with an opt-out after the 2021 season.
Arguably the greatest and most shocking trade came with the Red Sox acquiring pitcher Adam Ottavino from the team’s historic rival: the New York Yankees. This marked the first trade between the rivals since 2014. Ottavino’s talent provides the possibility that he may become one of the important members of the Red Sox bullpen and allows the team to improve on their weak pitching team from last season.
Another shock to the Red Sox came with the trade of outfielder Andrew Benintendi. The team traded Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals in a three-team deal with the New York Mets. Along with Bradley, Benintendi made up a key part of the stellar Red Sox outfield. Mookie Betts had previously played as the third member of this outfield, but was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 2020. Prior to Benintendi’s trade to the Royals, the Miami Marlins reportedly took great interest in acquiring him.
Instead of taking Benintendi, the Marlins reached a deal with the Atlanta Braves to receive outfielder Adam Duvall. A strong and experienced power hitter, Duvall has the potential to greatly contribute to the Marlins’ otherwise young and inexperienced batting line-up.
Another powerful player traded during the offseason was former Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Rockies had signed this talented and upcoming third baseman almost two years prior in order to keep him in Denver. However, after this signing, Arenado felt frustrated and “disrespected” by the team, creating an unpleasant environment during the 2020 season.
The Cardinals also made a major move by trading outfielder Dexter Fowler to the Los Angeles Angels. Baseball analysts have looked at this trade as a way for the Cardinals to save money, since they paid the majority of his $14.5 million salary in 2020.
Other key trades made during the offseason involve pitcher Trevor Bauer to the Dodgers, outfielder George Springer to the Toronto Blue Jays and shortstop Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets. Each of these trades has the potential to positively benefit each team, as these players are considered some of the greatest in the MLB.
Besides the major trades of the offseason, other key events such as retirements and announcements took place, as well.
In Jan. 2021, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia announced his retirement after 14 years with the team. Pedroia had not played with the team since 2019 due to a left knee injury sustained in 2017. He underwent four surgeries, including a partial knee replacement, which effectively ended his career. A four-time All Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, Pedroia earned three World Series rings with the Red Sox, cementing his legacy as an icon for Boston baseball.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the MLB has implemented protocols and restrictions in order to ensure safety of players, staff and baseball fans. Each team must submit a COVID-19 action plan, detailing their own specific protocols in their stadiums. The MLB also released a league-wide Code of Conduct prohibiting high-risk activities in and out of the ballpark.
For Spring Training, regular season and postseason, players and staff cannot attend indoor gatherings of 10 or more people, indoor restaurants, bars and lounges, gyms or entertainment venues. They must also properly wear face coverings in club facilities and dugouts, but do not need them when playing on the field or during warm-ups.
Earlier this year, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred informed teams that they could allow fans to attend games. However, when it comes to ballpark attendance, each team has their own policy in compliance with their respective state’s safety guidelines. To see each team’s policy, click here.