First, the season ended a lot sooner than we wanted after going 1-3 against the Dodgers in the NLDS. That was heart breaking.
Then, we lost Brian McCann to the Yankees in free agency, no surprise there. After that, we lost Tim Hudson to the Giants in free agency. I don't know what everyone else was thinking, but this surprised me. I thought he would want to stay in Atlanta. Then the Giants came along and offered him $23 million for two years. I don't remember the amount the Braves offered, but if memory serves, they only offered him one year. So, good for him! I am a Tim Hudson fan; we will miss him as a Brave, but at the same time I am very excited for him.
After that, the Braves made the surprise announcement that they are building a new stadium. (What?!?!?!) It is set to open in 2017 in Cobb County, northeast of Atlanta. To be honest, I'm still processing this.
In January it was announced that the Braves will have three inductees into the Hall of Fame in July. Bobby Cox was elected along with Tony La Russa and Joe Torre by the Veterans Committee. And then Greg Maddux and Tom Glavin were elected along with Frank Thomas (War Eagle!) by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Six inductees is a lot in one year, especially after no one was inducted last year. I am so excited to see all of these men go to Cooperstown. They are all very deserving!
Then came the extensions. This was by far the best part of the off-season. The Braves signed extensions for: Jason Heyward (two years, $13.3 million), Freddie Freeman (eight years, $135 million), Julio Teheran (six years, $32.4 million), Craig Kimbrel (four years, $42 million), and Andrelton Simmons (seven years, $58 million). They also extended the contracts for manager Fredi Gonzalez and general manager Frank Wren. They locked up a lot of very important guys for a long time.
Everything was looking great. Sure, we lost two important veterans, but with those extensions, it looked like we were going to be set this year, and for years to come. Then tragedy struck. In about a twenty-four hour period, during Spring Training, we lost not one, but two of our top starting pitchers; Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. Both have since had their second Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire season. Not to take anything away from those five huge extensions, but such a blow to the starting rotation really hurts.
In other news around the league:
- Clayton Kershaw signed a seven year, $215 million contract with the Dodgers; which is the biggest overall deal for a pitcher, ever. If any pitcher deserves this, it's Clayton Kershaw.
- Derek Jeter will retire after this season. It does not matter what teams you like (or loathe), everyone likes Derek Jeter. The game will not be the same without him.
- Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera just signed monster deals with the Angels and Tigers, respectively.
- We will have repay and certain calls can be challenged this year.
- The penalty for using PEDs is now more stringent: 80 games for the first offense, 162 games for the second offense and banned for life after the third offense.
So here we are, Opening Day. It's been a crazy off-season and I'm so glad we can just play already (or, at least, watch them play) instead of speculating about it.
Happy Opening Day everyone!