Springing Training is nearing its end, and with the regular season quickly approaching, teams across the league are figuring out what their last roster moves will be in anticipation of Opening Day on March 30.
Two of the teams with the most buzz around them this offseason and spring training are located just over 100 miles away from each other, the American League’s New York Yankees and the National League’s Philadelphia Phillies.
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The Phillies looked to get even better after winning National League Pennant last season.
The Phillies are coming off a surprise World Series berth that saw the 87-win team go through the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, and San Diego Padres to get to the Fall Classic. In the World Series, they would come just two wins short of winning it all, falling to the Houston Astros in six games.
The Phillies‘ front office, however, didn’t stay content in their postseason run and added some much-needed pieces to their team this offseason. The biggest signing of the offseason for the Phillies was that of star shortstop Trea Turner, the two-time All-Star signed an 11-year, $300 million contract with the organization in early December.
Turner wasn’t the only addition that they made either, as they also revamped their bullpen, which, while improved from the 2020 and 2021 seasons, still had its’ fair share of faults in 2022. Being added to the bullpen was left-handed reliever Matt Strahm as well as adding one of the game’s top closers of all time in, Craig Kimbrel, and adding two-time All-Star closer Gregory Soto. While Kimbrel is not the pitcher he once was, he’s still a viable and reliable arm in the bullpen that Phillies manager Rob Thompson will be able to rely on. Soto, on the other hand, has had two strong back-to-back seasons, posting sub 3.40 ERAs while notching 48 combined saves for the Detroit Tigers.
They also added to their rotation as well in early December when they signed right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker to a four-year, $72 million contract to help solidify the backend of their starting rotation.
The Yankees look to get back to World Series in 2023.
After getting off to an amazing start last season, posting a 64-28 record in the first half of the season, the Yankees came back down to earth in the second half of the season, going 35-35. And the end, they still finished with one of the best records in all of baseball at 99-63.
Despite the shaky second half, the Yankees still found their way into the American League Championship Series after disposing of the Cleveland Guardians in the American League Divisional round. The Houston Astros, however, were too much for the Yankees to handle, being swept by the eventual World Series champions.
The Yankees’ offseason was headlined by signing star outfielder Aaron Judge to a nine-year, $36 million contract after the defending American League MVP put up one of the best post-steroid era seasons, with 62 home runs and 131 RBI while putting up a .311/.425/.686 slash. The Yankees also signed left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon to a six-year, $162 million contract. Last season, Rodon was 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA over 178 innings for the San Francisco Giants. They also resigned first baseman Anthony Rizzo to a two-year deal, locking the 10-year veteran up through his age-34 season.
Spring training games are always hard to predict, and this year with the World Baseball Classic, it will be even harder.
That being said, here are a few predictions for the spring training matchup.
1) Expect to See Quite a Bit of Youth
Both the Phillies and Yankees are stacked when it comes to having talented rosters, but both teams also have a strong group of youth that they’ll be relying on in this season to be productive. For the Phillies, names like shortstop Brandon Marsh, third baseman Alec Bohm, center fielder Brandon Marsh, as well as top pitching prospects Andrew Painter, who at just 19 has a legitimate shot at making the Phillies rotation this season.
The Yankees, much like the Phillies, are built around a core of veteran players but also have their own youth movement in the shadows. Names like Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza both played sizeable roles at the end of last season and once again should in 2023. However, This year, players that could make their debut and play integral roles include shortstop Anthony Volpe, catcher Austin Wells, and outfielder Everson Pereira. Expect to see each of these Yankees’ top prospects make their Major League debut sometime this season, even if they don’t break camp with the major league club.
2) Plenty of Star Power Will Be on Display
Entering this season, there are not many teams in baseball that have the star power that the Phillies and Yankees have. Coming off the World Baseball Classic, many of the game’s top players, including those on both of these teams, have played in highly competitive games and are all but ready for the regular season to begin. With that, expect each team’s stars to get their last few spring training at-bats in as they look to get into a groove with opening day just days away.
While Bryce Harper of the Phillies is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, plenty of big names remain, such as Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, JT Realmuto, Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson, Giancarlo Stanton, and many more.
3) Expect a High-Scoring Affair
At this point of spring training, managers are going to play it safe with their pitchers, focusing on just getting work in more than their pitchers trying to be perfect on the mound. With that, as both managers look to keep their pitching staffs healthy heading into the season.
With these loaded lineups, expect a high-scoring affair as both teams will be looking to get into a rhythm heading into the regular season. Both teams are also power-hitting-oriented teams, meaning plenty of balls could end up leaving the park in this one.
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