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How top MLB free agents fared in debuts with new teams on Opening Day


From Jacob deGrom to Dansby Swanson, here’s a look at how the most coveted MLB free agents of 2023 did in their debuts with their new teams on Opening Day.

Every year, MLB free agency brings with it drama and uncertainty. Who will accept a deal to stay put? Who will strike out for bigger or better somewhere else? Where will the top free agents sign?

Those questions consume the offseason, but as soon as Opening Day arrives, only one question matters: Did they, the player or the team, get it right?

This year’s crop of free agents just got their first chance to prove their choices right. So here’s how the top ones fared:

How the top 2023 MLB free agents did on Opening Day with new teams

Jose Abreu, Astros

Abreu had to face off with his former team, the Chicago White Sox, in his debut with the Astros. He probably hoped for something more fruitful. In a 3-2 loss, Abreu went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

Josh Bell, Guardians

Bell landed with Cleveland after playing for the Pirates, Nationals and Padres. On one hand, his first outing a 3-0 loss featuring just four hits for the Guardians. On the other hand, he was responsible for one of those hits, going 1-of-4.

Andrew Benintendi, White Sox

Benintendi, the former Yankees, Royals and Red Sox left fielder, mirrored Abreu’s stat line, 1-for-4 with a strikeout, but he was on the winning side of that White Sox-Astros matchup.

Xander Bogaerts, Padres

It wasn’t a standout opener for the Padres but Bogaerts, the ex-Red Sox was stellar as an individual. He went 3-of-4 with a run and strikeout as San Diego fell to Colorado, 7-2.

Willson Contreras, Cardinals

Things were going well for Contreras in first outing with the Cardinals until disaster struck. The ex-Cubs catcher had to leave the game after a pitch bruised his knee. He was 2-of-4 with two runs and struck out once in a 10-9 loss.

Matt Carpenter, Padres

Carpenter, the former Yankee, served as DH for the Padres in the opening loss, going 0-for-3 with an RBI.

Michael Conforto, Giants

The longtime Mets outfielder had to face off with the other team in New York, but this time as a member of the Giants. He went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 5-0 loss.

Jacob deGrom, Rangers

Throughout spring training deGrom’s injury concerns stressed out Rangers fans (just as it did the Mets for years) but it wasn’t his health that let him down on Thursday. It was his arm. The pitcher went just 3.2 innings while giving up six hits and five earned runs. At least he had seven strikeouts.

Joey Gallo, Twins

Gallo is trying to tap back into his All-Star past after a couple of disappointing stints with the Yankees and Dodgers. However, his first showing with the Twins didn’t produce results. He was 0-for-2 with a strikeout before being replaced by a pinch hitter.

Mitch Haniger, Giants

There was no Giants debut for the former Mariner on Opening Day. Haniger started the season on the 10-day injured list with an oblique strain.

Kenley Jansen, Red Sox

No doubt ex-Brave Jansen would have loved to make his Red Sox debut on Thursday but he wasn’t called into action as Boston lost 10-9.

Trey Mancini, Cubs

After a World Series run with the Astros, Mancini tasted some early success with the Cubs. The DH went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a strikeout.

Jose Quintana, Mets

A stress fracture to his rib cage forced Quintana to undergo surgery. The pitcher who has had stints with the Cardinals, Pirates, Giants and Angels in the last two seasons will need to wait until July at the earliest to take the mound for the Mets.

Dansby Swanson, Cubs

Swanson couldn’t have asked for a better debut with the Cubs. He went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored as Chicago downed the Brewers, 4-0.

Trea Turner, Phillies

Turner went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored on a wild pitch by deGrom. However, his team had their own pitching implosion resulting in an 11-7 loss.

Justin Verlander, Mets

Verlander wasn’t slated to start on Opening Day with Max Scherzer getting the nod instead. Ultimately, the choice between the two aces wouldn’t matter. The former Astro was placed on IL just hours before New York’s first game, meaning he won’t be pitching this weekend.

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