The Opener: WBC, Rangers, Extensions


As the return of regular season baseball draws ever closer, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. WBC Update

The World Baseball Classic continues today. Over the weekend, Australia (3-1) and Japan (4-0) both punched their tickets to the quarterfinals in Pool B. Pool A, meanwhile, saw a wild finish where all five teams finished with a 2-2 record. Cuba and Italy ultimately moved onto the quarterfinals after tiebreakers were exercised. Pools C and D are still ongoing, with the Dominican Republic (0-1) facing Nicaragua (0-2) at 11am CT today and Colombia (1-0) facing Great Britain (0-2) at 2pm CT today. Both games will air on FS2. Meanwhile, FS1 will air Israel (1-0) vs. Puerto Rico (1-1) at 6pm CT in addition to Canada (1-0) vs. the United States (1-1) at 9pm CT.

2. Eovaldi, deGrom to pitch today:

Today is a big day for the Rangers’ rotation, as Jacob deGrom will pitch in a game as a member of the organization for the first time today. deGrom, to this point, has been handled very carefully by the Rangers in order to preserve his health into the regular season. In addition, Nathan Eovaldi will be returning to the mound after being shut down with side tightness. Both righties are slated to pitch in minor league games. As two of Texas’s top three starters, their health will be crucial to the success of a team hoping to return to contention after a second straight offseason spending spree.

3. Could more extensions be on the way?

As the start of the regular season quickly approaches, so too does the time of year where contract extension talks typically wind down between clubs and players. Two major extensions occurred over the weekend, as Nationals catcher Keibert Ruiz and Diamondbacks center fielder Corbin Carroll both signed eight-year extensions. Other extension talks around baseball seem to be proceeding with mixed results: the Padres seem intent on extension talks with both closer Josh Hader and star slugger Juan Soto, while the Astros seem pessimistic about their odds of getting a deal done with either Kyle Tucker or Framber Valdez this spring. Aaron Nola of the Phillies and Nico Hoerner of the Cubs are among other players who have been rumored to have extension talks with their clubs this spring.

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