— MLB Fan Cave (@MLBFanCave) February 11, 2014
So long polar vortex, hello springtime! As temperatures in Arizona and Florida climb, pitchers, catchers and position players are reporting down south, and with each passing day, clubhouses for all 30 MLB teams are steadily filling up for Spring Training. For all the young bucks recently signed and trying to make their mark in the majors, spring is when they prove themselves. For many veterans, it’s time to test the waters with a new team.
For baseball fans, Spring Training is the best opportunity you have to witness MLB’s talent up close and personal. The ballparks are small enough so that you don’t have to squint to see a pop fly soaring through the air, you can hear every crack of the baseball bat and actually see remnants of dust rising from where cleats slid into base. Not to mention, it’s the greatest chance you’ll get all season of getting that baseball sitting on the counter, or the jersey off your back, signed by your favorite pro, as players are far more willing to autograph during these practices than the actual season. If that’s not enough for you, a seat at a warm Spring Training facility is just $52 on average, far cheaper than regular season tickets. Curious to know where the World Series Champs stand? Want to know which small market franchise made big waves this winter? Need to know where your team is playing this spring, and for how much? Read on after the jump!
Spring Training Ticket Prices and Location
The average Spring Training ticket costs $52, with the highest prices coming from the Boston Red Sox ($78 on avg.), the Chicago Cubs ($63 on avg.) and the Texas Rangers ($82 on avg.). The cheapest Spring Training tickets are for the Los Angeles Dodgers ($32), the Milwaukee Brewers & Washington Nationals (both $34 on avg.), and the Chicago White Sox ($35 on avg.) During training camp, all major league teams are split up into two squads: the Cactus League in Arizona and the Grapefruit League in Florida. Residents of these states are free of wintry weather all year round–if you’re from up north on the other hand, you’re probably in desperate need of some Vitamin D–so join them under the sun! In fact, several ballparks are within driving range of each other, which makes it really easy to check out the competition and see superstar franchise players from other teams.
Below we break down what teams belong to the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, along with where they will be playing and average price per Spring Training ticket:
|Grapefruit League Teams||Stadium||Location||Avg. Price|
|Atlanta Braves||Champion Stadium||Orlando, FL||$50.19|
|Baltimore Orioles||Ed Smith Stadium||Sarasota, FL||$42.30|
|Boston Red Sox||JetBlue Park||Fort Myers, FL||$78.42|
|Detroit Tigers||Joker Marchant||Lakeland, FL||$43.58|
|Houston Astros||Osceola Stadium||Kissimmee, FL||$55.31|
|Miami Marlins||Roger Dean Stadium||Jupiter, FL||$41.33|
|Minnesota Twins||Hammond Stadium||Fort Myers, FL||$38.46|
|New York Mets||Digital Domain Park||Port St. Lucie||$43.91|
|New York Yankees||Steinbrenner Field||Tampa, FL||$47.07|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Bright House Network Field||Clearwater, FL||$51.00|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||McKechnie Field||Bradenton, FL||$45.17|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Roger Dean Stadium||Jupiter, FL||$53.43|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Charlotte Sports Park||Port Charlotte, FL||$48.13|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Florida Auto Exchange Stadium||Dunedin, FL||$37.54|
|Washington Nationals||Space Coast Stadium||Viera, FL||$34.10|
|Cactus League Teams||Stadium||Location||Avg. Price|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Salt River Fields||Scottsdale, AZ||$43.86|
|Chicago Cubs||Cubs Park||Meza, AZ||$62.71|
|Chicago White Sox||Camelback Ranch||Glendale, AZ||$34.54|
|Cincinnati Reds||Goodyear Ballpark||Goodyear, AZ||$37.50|
|Cleveland Indians||Goodyear Ballpark||Goodyear, AZ||$36.06|
|Colorado Rockies||Salt River Fields||Scottsdale, AZ||$47.80|
|Kansas City Royals||Surprise Stadium||Surprise, AZ||$37.88|
|Los Angeles Angels||Tempe Diablo||Tempe, AZ||$43.13|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Camelback Ranch||Glendale, AZ||$32.20|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Maryvale Baseball Park||Phoenix, AZ||$34.02|
|Oakland Athletics||Phoenix Municipal Stadium||Phoenix, AZ||$46.19|
|San Diego Padres||Peoria Sports Complex||Peoria, AZ||$47.95|
|San Francisco Giants||Scottsdale Stadium||Scottsdale, AZ||$53.88|
|Seattle Mariners||Peoria Sports Complex||Peoria, AZ||$50.57|
|Texas Rangers||Surprise Stadium||Surprise, AZ||$82.23|
MLB Top Acquisitions in Off-Season
Just because Spring Training marks the end of offseason, that doesn’t mean it’s also the end of trading season. There are still some big-names left on the free-agent market: Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, A.J. Burnett and Kendrys Morales are unsigned. Will they get a Valentine’s Day gram from a franchise this week, or get jilted? Here’s what went down this winter:
All eyes are on the Boston Red Sox this season. The World Series Champions will be defending their title with a slightly new lineup, and some key departures. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury opted for a spot on the Yankees’ roster—his gap is to be filled by Minor Leaguer Grady Sizemore or the young Jackie Bradley Jr. who must each show their chops during training. Catcher Jarrod Saltamacchia signed with Seattle, and will be supplanted by veteran free agent A.J. Pierzynski.
The Seattle Mariners believe in Robinson Cano and invested big bucks to bag the five-time All-Star slugger this winter. One of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason, the 10-year, $240 million contract and a young squad spearhead the Mariners’ hopes of getting out of the West doldrums. Their football team clinched the national title, can they at least make a run for the division title with Cano in stock?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a high-profile team and, as such, always have expectations to win it big. This offseason, the franchise footed a $215 million deal with franchise pitcher Clayton Kershaw, the biggest contract for a pitcher in league history and one that bolsters their chances of winning for many more years. After nabbing the NL West crown last year, the club may take it all the way this time around. The Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks are two teams that have reported a week earlier than others because they will play two regular season games in Australia (March 22 & 23) for opening day.
Texas Rangers fans, you get a bonus this year. Aside from making headlines by banking big hitters Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, the Rangers invited Super Bowl-winning QB Russell Wilson to training camp, attaining him via the Rule 5 draft from the Colorado Rockies. The football champ already has his face plastered on a Topps Spring Training baseball card in Rangers gear. Speaking of the Rockies, they traded infielder Jonathan Herrera to Boston for (familiar face) left-hander Franklin Morales and right-hander Chris Martin and LHP Josh Outman to the Indians for outfielder Drew Stubbs.
Spendthrifts, the New York Yankees, made use of their massive salary cap this winter, signing a number of big name players, including the most coveted pitcher of the offseason, Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees also scored Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Matt Thornton—effectively “going all-in” as they say. After missing the playoffs last season for the first time in 5 years, the Yankees have some fans to make happy this season. Derek Jeter may be active for Spring Training, so why miss the opportunity to see these all-stars closer than ever?
MLB Players to Watch in 2014
Mike Trout, may have just been used by President Obama as a metaphor to describe a piece of legislation, but the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year and his Anaheim Angels need to pull themselves out of the Spring Training slump they were in last year, in which they garnered the worst spring record in the MLB. Can Trout—the “Swiss army knife” of baseball, according to our Prez—make it work? Additionally, Albert Pujols foot injury has had ample enough time to heal, watch this veteran’s comeback closely.
Ryan Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, will be making his way back to the field following his 65-game suspension per violation of the MLB’s anti-drug agreement. He’s got his pride on the line, and a lot of ground to make up for disappointing his fans and the Milwaukee Brewers franchise for lying outright. Hitting 41 home runs before his departure, if Braun gears up, the Brewers have a postseason chance.
The Kansas City Royals are primed for a breakout season. Much of that has to do with their 25 year-old third baseman, and first draft pick, Mike Moustakas projected to reach his potential this year.
Rookie right-hander, and future of the Atlanta Braves bullpen, David Hale could make major moves this year as they seek revenge over the Phillies, who shut them out of the NL East title. Top prospect in the White Sox organization, Jose Abreu, is entering 2014 as a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year. With monstrous numbers last year in Cuba, he’s bound to be the bona fide slugger Southside Chicago needs. On the other side of town, the Chicago Cubs are toting 23 year-old Junior Lake, a fresh-faced outfielder upon whose shoulders Cubs fans are placing their hopes.
America’s greatest pastime is cracking the ice. Get ready to play ball!