With the Braves in the throes of a rapid rebuilding effort, first baseman Freddie Freeman is now the longest tenured player on the roster, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. While Freeman is optimistic about the 2015 season, it’s worth noting that Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis represented 51 percent of the club’s home runs in 2014. Losing the three biggest bashers from an otherwise moribund offense could be seen as a major issue. Freeman hopes a greater emphasis on contact will help to counteract the loss of power. The Braves held a private workout for Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America
The Padres are baseball’s most improved team, opines Jim Duquette of MLB.com. The additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Derek Norris should revive an offense that has slumbered for years. GM A.J. Preller managed to overhaul the offense without dipping into his starting pitching depth nor by trading the team’s best prospects. For what it’s worth, I’m more impressed by the efforts of the Cubs, who Duquette lists as the fifth most improved club. Dodgers starter Zack Greinke has not decided if he will opt out of his contract following the 2015 season, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times
The Rays have signed reliever Ronald Belisario to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training and are close to completing a similar deal with infielder Alexi Casilla, a baseball source told MLB.com on Saturday.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis wants people to know he didn’t take Adderall for an edge at the plate. Davis, who spoke for nearly 10 minutes on Saturday at FanFest for the first time since he received a 25-game suspension on Sept. 12 for violating baseball’s drug policy, called taking the drug “a moment of weakness” he deeply regrets.
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette addressed season-ticket holders this morning at the club’s annual FanFest convention and acknowledged there had been some substance to the Toronto rumors, though his “sole and singular focus” is on improving the Orioles.
Yasiel Puig stood on a balcony in the 26th floor of City Hall on Friday afternoon, staring out into downtown Los Angeles before a luncheon to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project and talking mostly about how often he thinks about those pesky Cardinals, who have eliminated his Dodgers in back-to-back Octobers.
Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Lou Brock, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be among the speakers Saturday at the funeral service for Cubs legend Ernie Banks
For one day, Fourth Presbyterian Church served as the Friendly Confines. And given that the casket at the altar contained a man who always had a smile for those he met, this visitation service was a fittingly public one, open to one and all.
The Rockies have reached out to a couple of their former players for depth, agreeing to terms with one-time closer Rafael Betancourt and infielder Omar Quintanilla on Minor League contracts.
The Brewers on Friday signed Neal Cotts to a one-year deal, essentially replacing fellow lefty reliever Zack Duke, who was lost to free agency.