Spring training holds special value for Bell, as the former outfielder looks to improve upon his defensive skills at first base. "I'm just trying to get back to that reaction time and first-step quickness," Bell said. "If I can get those reads in, hopefully I can make up for this last week that I missed." He enters 2017 as left-handed batting side of a first base platoon with David Freese. Bell slashed .273/.368/.406 with Pittsburgh in 2016 after compiling a Triple-A line of .295/.382/.468. His ability to read the strike zone is probably his greatest strength, giving him extra value in OBP leagues.
Reynolds broke his hand after being hit by a pitch in mid-September, but he seems to be back to full health after an offseason of rest. Barring any extraneous circumstances, the veteran seems to be in line to compete for a job to back up Ian Desmond at first base.
Although he initially committed to playing in the Classic with Team Mexico, Gonzalez may not be able to participate if he isn't cleared by a doctor beforehand. He's been dealing with elbow inflammation, but if cleared, he won't have any restrictions on swinging the bat. More will be known after his early March evaluation.
He'll leave for Florida on March 6 and begin participating in Team USA workouts March 7. Goldschmidt is expected to anchor the Arizona lineup again in 2017, while his overall production may increase if A.J. Pollock and David Peralta can avoid the injuries that plagued them throughout 2016.
Bell continues to slowly ramp up his activity as he works back from knee surgery earlier in the month. The top prospect was hitting off of a tee and taking part in soft toss drills over the weekend, and the expectation is that he'll be back up to full speed before Opening Day.
News broke that the top prospect was progressing steadily through his knee rehab, and this development is consistent with those thoughts. Bell's status for Opening Day is still questionable, but given the fact that he's now moved on to baseball-related activities, it seems to be a bit more realistic that he could be ready for the regular season's beginning.
The 32-year-old first baseman could end up being a poster child for the use of newer stats like exit velocity and launch angle if he can find a way to elevate the ball more in 2017. Zimmerman produced the worst OPS of his career last season due to his inability to get consistent loft when he made contact, but his elite exit velocity suggested he's still got the juice in his bat to do some damage if he can make the necessary adjustments. Murphy turned his career around a couple of years ago by changing his launch angle, and the Nats are hoping he can pass on his secrets to Zimmerman. Even so, he's got a lot to prove this year, and remains an endgame or reserve round dart in most fantasy formats rather than a player you can rely on to contribute.
While Lind did pop 20 or more home runs in 2016 for the sixth time in his career, he also slashed .239/.286/.431 while pulling the ball 39.5 percent of the time, a far cry from his 2014 performance when he hit .321/.381/.479 with a pull rate of just 31.4 percent. Ryan Zimmerman remains the Nats' starter at first base, but his own health issues and declining offense make him far from a sure thing. If Lind can get back to his 2014 form at the plate, he could force his way into a much larger role.
The Mets have to be pleased that one of their top prospects will be entering the 2017 season in much-improved physical shape than in previous years. The 21-year-old first baseman has always projected to be a strong hitter, but his slimmed-down figure should now allow him to be more agile defensively as well. He'll likely begin the season with Triple-A Las Vegas, and could eventually earn a big league promotion with a strong performance.
Coming off his 11th consecutive season of registering at least 600 plate appearances, it appears Gonzalez will be forced to take things slowly in spring training this year. The five-time all-star appeared to enter a mild decline last season, as his 18 home runs last season were 10 less than his total in 2016. Having to shutdown swinging during the first two weeks of spring training couldn't have been the start to 2017 that he was hoping for.