New faces in new places. Stars returning from serious injuries. Promising prospects. Spring training sites in Arizona and Florida will be flush with folks worth watching over the next six weeks. Here, in alphabetical order, are 16 key players to follow in 2016:
Everyone knows what Chapman can do on the mound: fire fastballs at 100-plus mph. It is unclear how the transition from a small market in Cincinnati to the Big Apple will impact the 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-hander -- or whether he will be suspended by MLB for an alleged domestic violence incident during the offseason.
If there's one guy who can challenge Mike Trout and Bryce Harper for best-player-in-the-game honors, it's Correa. As a 20-year-old rookie, the shortstop hit .279/.345/.512 with 22 home runs, 22 doubles and 14 stolen bases in 99 games while playing solid defense. Extrapolate that to 155 games and you get 34 home runs and 22 stolen bases.
Johnny Cueto, RHP, Giants
Cueto struggled down the stretch last season with the Royals, including an up-and-down postseason, and the tender elbow that forced him to miss a couple starts last season could flare up again. The right-hander returns to the National League, where he was one of the best pitchers in the majors over the previous five years, and will enjoy the luxuries of a pitcher-friendly park and a team behind him that plays solid defense.
The D-backs lured Greinke away from the division-rival Los Angeles Dodgers with a six-year, $206 million deal. Along with his massive contract comes pressure to match or come close to last year's otherworldly 1.66 ERA. How much of Greinke's spectacular, Cy Young runner-up campaign was skill and how much of it was just one of those seasons where everything went his way?
Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals
Don't blame Harper for what happened to the Nationals in 2015. He led the majors with a .460 OBP and .649 slugging percentage. He did it at age 22, capped by a unanimous MVP selection. Now for the encore. Will he continue to feast on mediocre pitching in the NL East -- or can the Mets hurlers contain him?
Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets
The circus surrounding Harvey's innings limit is, mercifully, in the past. He and Mets manager Terry Collins will have to move on from the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series. Those controversies aside, Harvey returned from his Tommy John surgery and re-established himself in 2015 as one of the premier pitchers in the majors.
After luring him away from their archrivals thanks to an $184 million deal, the Cubs plan to play Heyward in center field ... at least for now. He has started only 30 games there in his career, and since a large percentage of his value has come from his Gold Glove defense in right, his ability to handle center will be vital to the Cubs winning the NL Central.
Kang suffered devastating injuries to his knee and lower leg as a rookie last season when he was on the receiving end of a takeout slide. He's likely to return sometime near the end of April -- much better than the original prognosis, which had him returning sometime in May or June. The Pirates, who have reportedly been impressed with Kang's rehab and conditioning, will get a clearer picture of his progress as he begins baseball activities during spring training.
David Price, LHP, Boston Red Sox
Nobody questions what Price can do in the regular season, and he has pitched well at Fenway (where he has a 1.95 ERA in 11 starts) during his career. Nonetheless, pitching in Boston with a $217 million contract isn't the same as pitching in Tampa -- or even in Detroit or Toronto during a pennant race. Then there's the postseason, and that's when Price will need to earn his money. He has started eight playoff games in his career and is 0-7 with a 5.47 ERA.
Yasiel Puig, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Following an injury-marred campaign in which he batted just .255 over 311 at-bats with a .436 slugging percentage that was well below his career mark of .487, a svelter Puig is looking for a fresh start under new manager Dave Roberts. The Dodgers have added roster depth this offseason in an effort to protect themselves against injuries, but a productive Puig still figures heavily into the team's plans.
Miguel Sano, OF/3B/DH, Minnesota Twins
After blasting 18 home runs in 80 games as a rookie, many of the jaw-dropping variety, Sano established himself as a potential 40-homer guy -- and drew 53 walks in 335 plate appearances (although he struck out 119 times). He won't just be the centerpiece in a much-improved Twins lineup, he'll be an instant MVP candidate.
After he fractured the hamate bone in his left hand while taking a big swing in June, Stanton was expected to return to action within a couple of months, but excessive scar tissue caused lingering discomfort and his season officially ended in September. The rest appears to have done him good: Stanton returned to hitting in December and says he feels great.
Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
Following his stellar September callup, during which he hit .337/.425/.561 in 113 plate appearances, the 22-year-old will face a lot of pressure as he tries to be a key cog on a team with the highest payroll in the game. The performances of rookie shortstops Correa and Francisco Lindor in 2015 raised the expectations for Seager. Seager hit .344 against lefties across the three levels he played, so there aren't any obvious holes in his swing. He seems likely to thrive in the spotlight.
Tulo's subpar production in his 41 games with the Blue Jays went largely unnoticed because the team took off right after it acquired him. He hit just .239 with five home runs for Toronto. Of course, he got injured in September, suffering a small crack in his left shoulder blade after a minor collision and missing a couple of weeks. Before that, however, he hit just .214 in August, so the question of how he'll hit away from Coors Field -- and at age 31, after incurring various injuries throughout his career -- remains.
Upton not only provides an upgrade in left field for Detroit (a position of weakness for the Tigers), but also a strong bat in the middle of the lineup. The 28-year-old is a solid -- albeit streaky -- producer (.271/.352/.473), and he's still young. He's moving to a better hitter's park after spending the past three seasons in Atlanta and San Diego. Could he hit .300 like he did when he was 21 and blast 30-plus homers again?
He's 34 and coming off an Achilles injury, but Wainwright already raised optimism for 2016 by returning to pitch in relief late last season. He struck out 20 batters and walked four in 28 innings during that late-season stint. The Cards are hoping that the season on the sideline might have been just what his right arm needed to recharge for this year.