Elite Faces In New Places: 5 League-Shifting 2019 MLB Storylines

Harper and Machado must prove to be worth their $300 million contracts.
The MLB season kicks off March 28th after an exciting 2018 regular season that saw the Boston Red Sox claim a World Series title under the barrier-breaking leadership of Puerto Rican head coach Alex Cora. MLB remained a hot topic during the offseason as the baseball world began anticipating the free agent signings of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.

The 2019 season is sure to bring more drama. These 5 storylines figure to have a major influence on how the season shakes out, with some elite faces in new places.


Can Manny Machado Survive In Thin Padres Lineup?

Manny Machado got his paper — $300 million of it. Now, he has to navigate the waters as the only All-Star caliber bat on a rebuilding squad in the middle of baseball’s Saigon. The San Diego Padres haven’t been relevant in a long time. Breaking the bank for Machado definitely brings fans to the ballpark.

However, the fans will be salty when Machado fails to hit 30 bombs in Petco Park which is power hitter’s hell. Hopefully, they will keep this same energy as the Padres stumble to the bottom of the standings.

Camden Yards was a hitter’s paradise and Machado thrived in Baltimore. The Dodgers lineup gave him great protection with its various offensive All-Stars. Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers are probably the next best hitters after Machado in the Padres lineup, which isn’t saying much, so Machado’s run production will probably drop as well. 


Bryce Harper Puts Phillies Over The Top

The Phillies said that they had bags to throw around this winter and did that by adding the game’s premier catcher in J. T. Realmuto, veteran stick Andrew McCutchen, versatile infielder Jean Segura and finished a strong offseason by throwing $330 million at Bryce Harper.


Will baseball’s golden child be the clubhouse leader and monster masher that his contract commands?  The time is now in Philly.  After three consecutive years of at least 91 losses, the Phillies won 80 games in 2018.

They also have Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta atop the rotation and a bullpen with serious potential. It can be a magical year for Harper and the Phillies or it can go south quickly if the new acquisitions fail to measure up.


Will Robinson Cano’s Tenure With The Mets Be More Than A Redemption Tour?

The Washington Nationals are projected to be just as good or better without Bryce Harper. The Phillies doubled up this offseason. The defending division champion Braves are coming off a 90-win season and their young roster has a postseason under its belt. The miserable, rebuilding Florida Marlins are the only team the Mets are certain to be better than. 

Robinson Cano gets a chance to redeem himself after his suspension for PEDS basically spelled the end of his five-year ascension into obscurity in Seattle after being a New York Yankees star and World Champion. The Mets have solid players at every position, but the only sure shot superstars are on the pitching staff which is arguably Top 5 in all of MLB.

If the offense, which was ranked 23rd out of 30 teams, can improve the Mets have a shot to contend and then advance in the playoffs because they have the pitching.


Will Mike Trout Ever Make A World Series With Angels?

Trout, universally recognized as the premier player in the game becomes a free agent in 2020 and the media is already predicting a $400 million deal for the two-time MVP. Trout has all the accolades.

In his eight-year career in center field for the Los Angeles Angels, the two-time AL MVP has led the league in Wins Above Replacement four times. He has the highest OPS of any active player and ranks ninth all-time. He’s also coming off a season where he hit .312 with 39 home runs, finishing second in MVP voting to Boston’s Mookie Betts. 

Yet despite his greatness, the Angels have only made the postseason once with Trout. They haven’t finished above .500 in three years. If he’s going to lead the Angels to a postseason run, it has to be within the next two seasons. Trout will be making his California exit after next season, moving onto a huge market where he can truly maximize his celebrity and MLB can properly promote his greatness.   

Yankees Might Have To Survive AL East Without Ace Luis Severino 

Luis Severino emerged as the Yankees ace this season, before falling off near the tail end and bombing in the playoffs. Maybe the sore shoulder that has caused him to miss his opening day start is why Severino was ineffective late in the 2018 season. It could also be the reason why he decided to skip arbitration and sign a four-year extension in February that will delay his free agency until he is 30.

It all makes sense now.

Masahiro Tanaka will replace Severino on Opening Day and the Yankees hope that with some rest he will be able to take the mound soon. If not, it will be a huge blow to their rotation.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.