Muncy stated that he has been hitting in a cage "a couple times a week" but is "trying not to overdo it" in an interview with John Hartung of Spectrum SportsNet LA. "Once things start up...it's going to be a lot of games in a short period of time," Muncy theorized in explaining his rationale for wanting to stay fresh during MLB's hiatus. The 29-year-old is slated to take on a near-everyday role as the Dodgers' starting first baseman in 2020, with occasional time at second base.
Muncy spent time this offseason working on his approach to offspeed pitches, Cary Osborne of Dodger Insider reports. Despite making his first All-Star team last season, Muncy struggled against offspeed offerings, batting a paltry .197 against such pitches, per Statcast. That was a significant dropoff in comparison to his 2018 campaign during which he batted .268 against offspeed pitches. As a result, Muncy consulted with Dodgers hitting coaches Brant Brown and Robert Van Scoyoc in the offseason, both of whom flew to Texas to work with the slugger. Muncy also spent time addressing his defensive mechanics -- in particular his footwork -- in an effort to shore up a second self-perceived area in need of improvement. The 29-year-old is expected to play primarily at first base in 2020, though he should also see some time at second base.
Muncy hit .200 (5-for-25) with a pair of home runs and two RBI before Cactus League play was suspended. In addition to the long balls, Muncy walked six times this spring -- the second highest mark on the Dodgers -- and scored six runs. The base on balls total highlights an often-overlooked part of Muncy's skill set; the slugger walked 90 times last season, second on the squad and seventh in the National League. He's set to be the Dodgers' primary first baseman this season after playing second base in all or part of 70 games in 2019.
Muncy and the Dodgers came to terms Thursday on a three-year, $24.5 million contract extension, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. The contract includes a $13 million team option or a $1.5 million buyout for 2023. Muncy didn't become a full-time regular at the MLB level until his age-27 season in 2018, so he was likely eager to accept a fairly modest extension rather than being subjected to the arbitration process for the next three years. The deal will also allow the Dodgers to potentially buy out his first year of free agency in 2023. Muncy, who has slugged 35 home runs in back-to-back years while showing the ability to play three infield spots, is expected to see most of his action at first base in 2020.
Muncy went 1-for-5 with a two-run home run Wednesday in a 7-3 extra-inning loss to the Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. Muncy got the Dodgers off to a fast start with his two-run blast in the first inning off Washington starter Stephen Strasburg. It was Muncy's third homer of the series, but the L.A. offense dried up the rest of the night outside of an Enrique Hernandez solo homer in the second inning. The 29-year-old Muncy is coming off consecutive 35-homer seasons and slashed .251/.374/.515 in 2019.
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