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2018 MLB season: New faces in new places

A look at 10 players and how they are performing for their new clubs so far

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Angels Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

With the season only 12 days old, let’s take a look at 10 players who are playing for new teams and see how their debuts are going for them so far.

  1. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels — One of the most sought-after international players in MLB history, Ohtani signed a minor-league contract in December to play for the Halos. Though they had to pay Ohtani $2.315 million in international pool money and a $20 million posting fee to his former Japanese team Nippon Ham Fighters, the Angels are already glad they have made the investment in the two-way star. In four games as a hitter, Ohtani has slashed .389/.421/.889 with three homer runs and seven RBI. Ohtani’s best performances at the dish were a 3-for-4 night in the Angels’ home opener on April 3 against the Indians that included his first home run of his career — a three-run shot over the right-center field wall — and a 2-for-5 outing on April 5 in which he hit his second homer off Cleveland ace Corey Kluber. On the mound, Ohtani has been even better, going 2-0 with a Ohtani made his much-anticipated pitching debut against the Athletics on April 1 and he did not disappoint, as he picked up his first win after yielding only three runs while striking out six batters in six dominant innings. In his second outing, Ohtani almost made history, as he had a perfect game through 6 13 innings pitched before allowing a single to Marcus Semien in the seventh. Ohtani finished that start with just the one hit and one walk while striking out 12 in seven innings. Before his second start, Ohtani became the first player to hit three or more home runs between starts in a season since Babe Ruth in 1919. Though he is sure to have some ups and downs, Ohtani’s quest to become a quality two-player like Ruth will be intriguing to watch all season.
  2. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, New York Yankees — Just when people thought the Yankees were going to rely totally on their Baby Bombers, the club went out and acquired the 2017 National League MVP from the Marlins. Though they took on most of the money on his massive 10-year, $295 million contract, the Yankees have already reaped the benefits from having Stanton in their lineup. After hitting 59 homers last year in Miami, Stanton has blasted three homers in 10 games with New York, hitting two of them in the season opener against the Blue Jays and one on April 4 against the Rays. However, Stanton has already had some bad moments in pinstripes, as he has struck out 20 times, including five times against the Rays on April 3 and five times again versus the Orioles last Sunday. Despite becoming the first player in the live-ball era to have two games of no hits and five strikeouts in the same season, Stanton still provides a huge presence in the lineup and guys like Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez will certainly benefit from him as they try to get the Yankees back to the World Series after they lost to the Astros in seven games in last year’s ALCS.
  3. J.D. Martinez, OF/DH, Boston Red Sox — The Red Sox’s biggest free-agent signee is still trying to do what got him his five-year, $110 million deal from the club this offseason. After slashing .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI with the Tigers and Diamondbacks last season, Martinez has only slashed .226/.286/.419 with one homer and four RBI through eight games with Boston. Martinez did admit to MLB.com that he is still adjusting to the role of being the Red Sox’s main designated hitter. Martinez, an eight-year veteran who has historically had a slow start in March/April (14 homers, 56 RBI, .263/.337/.448 slash line), is expecting to find his groove soon so he can help the Red Sox win another AL East crown, make the playoffs and ultimately win the World Series.
  4. Jake Arrieta, SP, Philadelphia Phillies — The Phillies made a big move just before the end of spring training by signing Arrieta to a three-year, $75 million deal. Because of how late his signing was, Arrieta did not make his debut until last Sunday after having pitched simulated games in Single-A Clearwater for a couple of weeks. The 32-year-old right-hander, who won the 2015 NL Cy Young and helped the Cubs win the World Series in 2016, had mixed results against the Marlins. He allowed three runs (two earned) in the first inning, but did not allow any more in the next three frames and retired 10 of the final 11 batters before being pulled following the fourth inning. However, the Phillies hope they can get a few strong seasons out of Arrieta as they try to get back into playoff contention.
  5. Yu Darvish, SP, Chicago Cubs — After helping the Dodgers reach the World Series last year, Darvish joined the team that they prevented from repeating as champions by signing a six-year, $126 million contract with Chicago. However, the 31-year-old right-hander had a rough debut for the Cubs, as he allowed five runs on five hits while hitting two batters and walking two in only 4 13 innings pitched against the Marlins last Saturday. Darvish did not factor into the decision, as the Cubs managed to beat Miami, 10-6. In his next start, Darvish bounced back and did not pitch like the man who got roughed up in the World Series against the Astros, as he pitched six innings of one-run ball while fanning nine against the Brewers last Saturday. The Cubs hope that Darvish can be the No. 1 guy they expect him to be as they make their bid for a second World Series crown in three years.
  6. Gerrit Cole, SP, Houston Astros — The Astros got stronger in the offseason by acquiring Cole from the Pirates. It certainly showed in Cole’s two starts this season. In his first start on April 1, the 27-year-old righty struck out 11 and posted a career-high 21 swings and misses while allowing only one earned run on two hits in seven innings in the team’s 8-2 win over the Rangers. Then last Saturday, Cole posted another 11-strikeout performance while yielding just five hits in seven innings against the Padres. Cole, who is the fourth starter in the Astros’ rotation behind Cy Young winners Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel and All-Star Lance McCullers Jr., helps make the defending World Series champs a team that no club wants to face this season, let alone in the playoffs.
  7. Eric Hosmer, 1B, San Diego Padres — After spending seven years with the Royals and helping them rise back to prominence, Hosmer signed an eight-year, $144 million deal to come play for a Padres club that is also looking to get back to being relevant. So far, Hosmer has hit the ball well, slashing .282/.364/.436 in 10 games. He has also played well defensively, though that is something the Padres expect from the four-time Gold Glove winner. More importantly, he has been the leader that the Padres have needed for a long time and he is expected to continue playing that role as the club tries to compete in the rugged NL West.
  8. Alex Cobb, SP, Baltimore Orioles — Like Arrieta, Cobb sat on the free-agent market for most of the winter until he and the O’s agreed to a four-year, $57 million deal on March 20. Because he signed late, Cobb has been pitching simulated games at the club’s spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla. Cobb, who spent all six of his MLB seasons with the Rays, will make his debut with the Orioles on Saturday against the Red Sox. The Orioles hope Cobb can help them be competitive in the AL East, especially this year since it looks as if it will be the last one with Manny Machado in their lineup.
  9. Evan Longoria, 3B, San Francisco Giants — After spending 10 seasons as the cornerstone of the Rays’ franchise, Longoria was dealt to San Francisco in December for a bevy of prospects. The trade gave Longoria a chance to go to a team that has won three World Series titles since 2010 and gave him an opportunity to earn a ring in the final years of his career. However, he has not been a big help so far, going 4-for-29 at the plate (.138 average). The Giants hope Longoria will get back to playing at a high level and help them compete this season.
  10. Lorenzo Cain, OF, Milwaukee Brewers — Another key player from the Royals’ recent glory years, Cain inked a five-year, $80 million deal with the Brewers in the offseason to help them compete for the postseason annually. The soon-to-be 32-year-old center fielder has hit the ball solid so far, slashing .267/.306/.422 in 11 games. Cain, an All-Star and third-place finisher in the AL MVP race during the 2015 season in which the Royals won the World Series, is expected to set the tone for the Brewers day in, day out, as they try to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2011 after being eliminated from contention in game No. 161 last year.