AL Central teams at the start of spring training
A team-by-team look at the American League Central entering spring training, including key players each club acquired and lost, and dates of the first workout for pitchers and catchers, and the full squad:
Manager: Terry Francona (fifth season).
2016: 94-67, first place, AL champions, lost to Chicago Cubs in World Series.
Training Town: Goodyear, Arizona.
Park: Goodyear Ballpark.
First Workout: Feb. 14/19.
He’s Here: 1B-DH Edwin Encarnacion, OF Austin Jackson, LHP Boone Logan, RHP Carlos Frias, OF Wily Mo Pena, CF Bradley Zimmer, SS Eric Stamets.
He’s Outta Here: 1B-DH Mike Napoli, OF Coco Crisp, OF Rajai Davis, C Chris Gimenez, 1B Jesus Aguilar, OF Marlon Byrd, RHP Jeff Manship.
Going campin’: The Indians are all in this season. After making the World Series for the first time since 1997, Cleveland intends to get back and finish the job this time. Seizing on that momentum, the Indians were aggressive in free agency and landed one of the biggest prizes on the market, signing Encarnacion to a $60 million, three-year contract – the richest for a free agent in club history. One of baseball’s most feared hitters, Encarnacion has averaged 39 homers over the past five seasons and his presence alone will help Francona’s lineup. For the second year in a row, left fielder Michael Brantley’s right shoulder will be a hot topic during camp. He played just 11 games last season, but following another surgery, there is hope he can return on a full-time basis. Super reliever Andrew Miller intends to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, but the Indians will closely monitor how much he’s used.
Manager: Brad Ausmus (fourth season).
2016: 86-75, second place.
Training Town: Lakeland, Florida.
Park: Publix Field At Joker Marchant Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 14/18.
He’s Here: C Alex Avila, OF Mikie Mahtook.
He’s Outta Here: OF Cameron Maybin, SS Erick Aybar, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 3B Casey McGehee.
Going campin’: The Tigers said at the beginning of the offseason they’d be open to cutting payroll, but that never really happened. So the same expensive roster is back for another shot at a postseason berth. Now two seasons removed from its four-year run atop the AL Central, Detroit still has enough stars to be a factor, especially after Justin Verlander re-established himself as a legitimate ace in 2016. Verlander and AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer will be counted on to headline the rotation, while Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton lead the offense. The biggest questions heading into spring training are in center field and at the back end of the rotation. While Fulmer flourished last year, 23-year-old lefty Daniel Norris dealt with injury problems. His ability to pitch a full season could be crucial to Detroit’s hopes in 2017.
Kansas City Royals
Manager: Ned Yost (eighth season).
2016: 81-81, third place.
Training Town: Surprise, Arizona.
Park: Surprise Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 15/18.
He’s Here: OF Jorge Soler, RHP Jason Hammel, RHP Nate Karns, DH Brandon Moss, RHP Al Alburquerque, RHP Bobby Parnell, RHP Brandon League.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Wade Davis, DH Kendrys Morales, OF Jarrod Dyson, RHP Luke Hochevar, RHP Peter Moylan, LHP Tim Collins.
Going campin’: After back-to-back World Series trips, the Royals dropped back to .500 last season. But they still believe they have the pieces to make another postseason run, even after RHP Yordano Ventura’s tragic death in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. That leaves another unexpected spot available in the starting rotation, where the Royals were already anticipating competition for the fifth job. The starting lineup returns largely intact, with the exception of Soler taking over as the everyday right fielder and Moss replacing Morales at DH. The Royals will also get 3B Mike Moustakas back from reconstructive knee surgery, and will have LHP Jason Vargas ready to go after he missed most of last season following Tommy John surgery. The margin for error is slim for Kansas City, but with a bevy of players hitting free agency next year, this could be the last good chance to compete for an AL Central title for a while.
Chicago White Sox
Manager: Rick Renteria (first season).
2016: 78-84, fourth place.
Training Town: Glendale, Arizona.
Park: Cameback Ranch.
First Workout: Feb. 14/18.
He’s Here: RHP Lucas Giolito, INF Yoan Moncada, LHP Derek Holland, RHP Reynaldo Lopez, C Geovany Soto, OF Peter Bourjos.
He’s Outta Here: Manager Robin Ventura, LHP Chris Sale, OF Adam Eaton, OF Austin Jackson, DH Justin Morneau, C Alex Avila, RHP Matt Albers.
Going campin’: The rebuild is underway. After four straight losing seasons, the White Sox decided it was time for a makeover. That meant trading their ace (Sale) and a quality outfielder (Eaton). In return, they loaded up on prospects. Moncada, acquired from Boston, is considered one of the top young talents in baseball. Chicago also got three young pitchers from Washington in the Eaton deal, including prized prospect Giolito along with the hard-throwing Lopez – who made the team’s playoff roster – and 2016 first-round draft pick Dane Dunning. But the White Sox remain open for business. Jose Quintana seems likely to be dealt after winning a personal-best 13 games, posting a career-low 3.20 ERA and making his first All-Star team. Todd Frazier could be on the move coming off a 40-homer season, and closer David Robertson could be an attractive piece for a contender. Renteria, known for his patience and positive outlook, is getting another chance to manage in Chicago after serving as Ventura’s bench coach last year. After managing the Cubs in 2014, Renteria was unceremoniously let go so they could hire Joe Maddon. It worked out well for the North Siders, who ended a 108-year championship drought last season following their own major overhaul.
Manager: Paul Molitor (third season).
2016: 59-103, fifth place.
Training Town: Fort Myers, Florida.
Park: Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sports Complex.
First Workout: Feb. 14/19.
He’s Here: C Jason Castro, RHP Matt Belisle, RHP Ryan Vogelsong, SS Ehire Adrianza, OF Drew Stubbs.
He’s Outta Here: 3B Trevor Plouffe, C Kurt Suzuki, LHP Tommy Milone, RHP Pat Light.
Going campin’: After the club compiled its most losses since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961, the Twins are starting fresh, but they’re not starting over. New baseball chief Derek Falvey, with new GM Thad Levine as his top lieutenant, has been using a measured, patient approach with his attempt to turn around a team that hasn’t reached the postseason in seven years. With still-budding young talent in the lineup like 3B Miguel Sano, CF Byron Buxton and RF Max Kepler, and the return of 2B Brian Dozier after trade talks didn’t yield enough for Falvey and Levine’s liking, significant run-scoring potential remains. The Twins ranked a respectable sixth in the AL in total bases and eighth in OPS despite their abysmal record. The focus in Fort Myers will again be on the mound, with a downtrodden rotation seeking candidates to join steady RHP Ervin Santana. RHPs Jose Berrios (8.02 ERA in 14 starts), Tyler Duffey (6.43 ERA in 26 starts), Kyle Gibson (5.07 ERA in 25 starts), Phil Hughes (broken leg, shoulder surgery) and RHP Hector Santiago (5.58 ERA in 11 starts) will get the chance to bounce back. RHP Trevor May will try to convert back to starting after his bullpen assignment contributed to a lingering back injury.