Two weeks from opening day, MLB teams work to set rosters

Mar 24, 2022, 2:54 AM | Updated: 2:56 pm
Houston Astros pitcher Christian Javier (53) throws live batting practice during spring training ba...

Houston Astros pitcher Christian Javier (53) throws live batting practice during spring training baseball at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches facility on Thursday, March 24, 2022 in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

(Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

PHOENIX (AP) — In this year’s lightning-round version of spring training, just two weeks remain until Major League Baseball’s opening day on April 7.

That’s not much time to get hitters and pitchers ready for a 162-game regular season, especially since games started a week ago. Many players are just now getting their first spring at-bats or innings on the mound. The sport’s 99-day labor lockout from December to mid-March forced the schedule squeeze.

Clubs are also still scrambling to fill their rosters through free agency and trades, processes that were frozen during the lockout.

Among Thursday’s moves, the Toronto Blue Jays traded outfielder Randal Grichuk and just over $9.7 million to the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Raimel Tapia and minor league infielder Adrian Pinto.

The 29-year-old Grichuk hit .241 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs in 149 games last season. He was dealt two days after hitting a grand slam in a spring training game against the Yankees.

The cash will offset a little more than half the $18.7 million Grichuk is owed over the final two seasons of his $52 million, five-year contract.

Tapia agreed this week to a $3.95 million, one-year contract and is eligible for free agency after the 2023 season.

Colorado’s free agent signing of infielder/outfielder Kris Bryant had a big impact on Tapia, who was penciled in as the team’s left fielder before Bryant’s arrival. Tapia became the odd-outfielder-out with Sam Hilliard in center and Charlie Blackmon in right.

ROMO SIGNS WITH MARINERS

The Seattle Mariners bolstered their bullpen by signing veteran right-hander Sergio Romo to a one-year contract.

The deal was finalized following a physical and is for $2 million.

Adding another proven right-hander to the bullpen became a major need for Seattle after Casey Sadler was lost for the season when he required shoulder surgery.

Romo, 39, spent last season with Oakland, the sixth different team in his career. Romo had his greatest success during his nine seasons with San Francisco. He’s also pitched for Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami and Minnesota.

Last season with Oakland, Romo appeared in 66 games and had a 4.67 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.

DAVIES TO DIAMONDBACKS

Right-handed pitcher Zach Davies agreed to a one-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks that includes a mutual option for the 2023 season.

The Diamondbacks hope Davies can have a bounce-back season after a rough 2021 when he was 6-12 with a 5.78 ERA for the Chicago Cubs and led the National League with 75 walks.

The 29-year-old had a 3.79 ERA over his first six MLB seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. He’ll compete for a spot in the D-backs’ starting rotation behind Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly.

The D-backs also placed reliever J.B. Bukauskas on the 60-day injured list to make room for Davies on the roster.

AROZARENA, ALVAREZ CONTRACTS RENEWED

Rookie of the Year winners Randy Arozarena and Yordan Álvarez and All-Star shortstop Bo Bichette were among 16 players whose contracts were renewed by their teams rather than reach negotiated agreements.

Arozarena, the outfielder who won the 2021 AL Rookie award, was given a $716,600 salary for 2022 while in the major leagues by the Tampa Bay Rays, according to contract information obtained by The Associated Press. That is up from $581,200 last season. He batted .274 with 20 homers, 69 RBIs and an .815 OPS.

Álvarez, the Houston Astros designated hitter and outfielder voted a unanimous winner of the 2019 AL award, was given a $764,600 salary, up from $609,000 last year. He hit .277 last year with 33 homers, 104 RBIs and an .877 OPS.

Bichette was given a $723,550 salary, an increase from $587,800 last year, when he also earned a $10,000 bonus for making the All-Star team. He hit .298 with 29 homers, 102 RBIs, an AL-leading 191 hits and an .828 OPS.

Atlanta right-hander Ian Anderson was renewed at $710,000 after pitching five hitless, scoreless innings to win World Series Game 3 over Houston. He had been renewed at $575,500 last year.

ICHIRO’S PITCH

Ichiro Suzuki will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Seattle Mariners’ home opener against the Houston Astros on April 15. Suzuki — who played 19 seasons with the Mariners and had 3,089 career hits — will be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame in August.

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AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this story.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Two weeks from opening day, MLB teams work to set rosters