Around the Horn: News & Notes 3/24

What is going on, Ball Boys and Girls? I hope you guys are doing super well as always. If you missed it recently had my second piece published with Authenticity Mags. I talk about how baseball looks and the long-term changes post-2020. Check it out here. The future and present series, fantasy dugout, and power rankings are coming out regularly, so please check those out as well. Today, we got league news, free agent signings, rumors and notes, trade announcements and rumors, injury updates, and prospect buzz. To check out last week's news, click here.


League News:

-The Indians are going to change their name, but the move may take longer than expected. While Dolan wants this to be the franchise's final season with its current name, "It could be sometime in the middle of this year whether we know we've got it down where we can do it for 2022," he said. "If not, we'd have to push it to 2023. We're working hard to get it done by then, but there's no certainty in that." Dolan added: "There aren't many words in the English language that somebody doesn't own in some shape or form. Particularly in the sports realm, that's a real challenge."

-From SNY's Andy Martino, "The initial offer to Lindor, according to Martino, clocked in slightly below $300MM in guaranteed money. Lindor and agent David Meter unsurprisingly countered with a number "well over" $300MM in total guarantees. While the team's first offering didn't begin with a three, Martino adds that the Mets are "almost certainly" willing to go to that $300MM mark to sign Lindor." The Mets also made an initial offer to OF Micheal Conforto. However, Conforto and the club may not reach a deal before opening day. The Met's are willing to go over the $300mil mark to keep Lindor in Queens.

-The Blue Jays are likely to play a good portion of the season again in Buffalo while they are engaged in extension talks with GM Ross Atkins.

-The Indians hired former MLB RP Dan Otero for a job in their baseball operations department.

Roster Moves:

-It looks all but official, but the Reds will be using Jonathan India at 2B as he has slashed an incredible .333/.474/.633. Moustakas will move to 3B, while the 15ILB lighter Suarez will move to SS.

-The Brewers also have some shuffling to do around the INF. White Huira locked in at 1B, Wong at 2B. The Crew likely will use Orlando Arcia at SS while Travis Shaw takes 3B. Luis Urias will likely begin the season at AAA as he is recovering from a left hamstring injury. Daniel Robertson/Billy McKinney could crack the roster with utility role. UPDATE: Robertson will make the roster as long as he is healthy as a utility piece.

-The Yankees will have a tough choice to make for their bench spots as OF/1B Jay Bruce has been great in spring ball, while OF Mike Tauchman, who is out of options, could be in danger of losing his job.

-The Padres could look to use Luis Campusano in the everyday role until Austin Nola returns from his fractured finger. The club also has been impressed with Jorge Mateo's versatility and speed, and bat(.355/.462/.519 in 39PA)

-The Rockies could open the season with multiple NRI on the roster. CJ Cron is likely to land the 1B job, while Greg Bird could make the team as a solid lefty bat option off the bench. Josh Fuentes would see action in LF/RF. UPDATE 3/20 the Rockies selected the contracts of CJ Cron and UTL Chris Owings.

Optioned:

-Twins 2016 first-round pick Alex Kirilloff was optioned to the alternate training site on 3/23. The move means he will not make the opening day roster.

-The Mariners optioned top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert to MiLB camp. Gilbert will likely make his debut sometime in April or May. RHP Yohan was also optioned. While RHP Gerson Bautista was released.

-The White Sox optioned RHP Reynaldo Lopez to the alternate site on 3/22. He won't make open the season on the MLB roster.

-The Angels optioned top OF prospect Jo Adell to AAA camp. INF Matt Thaiss, LHP Jose Suarez, and RHP Kyler Keller were also optioned on 3/21.

-The Royals reassigned top prospect Bobby Witt Jr to minors camp. He is likely to open the AA season, which isn't surprising given he hasn't played a single game above rookie ball.

-The Indians optioned OF Oscar Mercardo to AAA on 3/21. This opens the door for OF Bradley Zimmer to get the bulk of time in CF, while SS Amed Rosario is also getting reps in CF. OF prospect Daniel Johnson was also optioned.

-The Brewers optioned highly touted pitcher Eric Lauer to AAA on 3/21 after continued struggled with command.

-The Tigers optioned prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Green. The 1st and 5th overall picks in the two most recent MLB drafts struggled in spring training.

-The Yankees optioned 1B Mike Ford and INF Thairo Estrada, among others, to AAA on 3/20.

-The Twins optioned LHP Devin Smeltzer and RHP Shaun Anderson to AAA on 3/20.

-The Cubs optioned LHRP Kyle Ryan to AAA Iowa. The 29yo leads all Cubs RP with 91 total appearances and IP with 76.2 datings back to 2019. The move isn't surprising, granted he missed the early part of the camp on the COVID list.

-Despite the success that Diamondbacks JB Bukauskas had in spring training. The club option him to AAA, we all know it's about service time, and we will see him around April 15th.

Rule 5 Draftee's

-The Indians Rule 5 pick Trevor Stephan will make the opening day roster. The 25yo will be fighting all season to keep his spot or be subject to waivers and return to the Yankees.

-The Red Sox will likely be keeping Rule 5 pick, Garrett Whitlock around as he is nearly a lock to start the season working out of the pen. With only 1ER, 12K, in 9IP. The 24yo will be a vital member of the Red Sox pen.

Hype News:

-The Astros and RHP Lance McCullers Jr are "deep" into extension talks as of 3/23.

-The White Sox are discussing extensions with Ace Lucas Giolitto and top INF prospect Andrew Vaughn. No deals are close yet; CAA Sports represent both.

-Keeping in the AL Central, the Indians have spoken to Jose Ramirez camp about a possible extension to keep him with the team beyond 2023.

Free Agent Signings:

-Extended: Royals signed catcher Salvador Perez to a 4-year extension that could keep him in KC through 2026. He will make $18mil in 2022, $20 in 2023/24, $22mil in 2025. The contract contains a club option for 2026 at $13.5mil and $2mil buyout.

-The Brewers signed RHP Zack Godley to a MiLB deal worth up to $1.6mil with a mid-May opt-out date. Godley was an ok pitcher from 2015-18 with a 4.10ERA over 333.1IP and a 51.6% groundball rate. Since then, he had a 6.49ERA over 120.2IP in 2019. With an 8.16ERA over 28.2IP in 2020.

-Reds signed 32yo RHRP Heath Hembree to a MiLB deal. Hembree carries a 3.90ERA/3.80SIERA over 272.2IP in his MLB career.

-Rays RHP Andrew Kittredge re-signed to another MiLB deal. The deal included another opt-out date "at the end of camp" if he doesn't make the MLB roster.

-Giants signed LHP Phil Pfeifer to a MiLB deal after he was released from the Braves.

-The Pirates signed RHP Steven Wright to and MiLB deal. The 36yo is working to show he is past the injuries and the suspensions that have limited him to 84IP since 2017. Wright hasn't pitched since having TJ in October 2019.

-The White Sox claimed LHP Nik Turley off waivers from the Oakland A's on 3/21.

Free Agent Rumors/Notes:

-The Phillies all have Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson, and Hector Rondon, each facing an opt-out deadline today, 3/24.

-The Mets are showing interested in veteran catcher Tyler Flowers to back up starter James McCann. The interest is due to Nido's woeful track record at the plate. NRI Caleb Joseph and Bruce Maxwell also have not as impressive offensive numbers.

Trades:

-No trades this week.

Trade Rumors/Notes:

-Mets RP Dellin Betances has struggled in spring training. The Mets could look to the shop the vet reliever. The Met's see him as "a sunk cost" who won't help their efforts to contend. They could also just let him walk.

Returning From Injury:

-Phillies RHP Zach Eflin throws a sim game today, 3/24, and will start on Monday and be on track for his turn in the rotation come the beginning of the season.

-Giants LHP Alex Wood threw a pen session on 3/22 and will throw a live bullpen later in the week. It isn't clear if he will be ready come opening day.

-Padres SP Dinelson Lamet will not be ready to start the season on the opening day roster. However, he will make his spring debut today.

-Rockies RP Tyler Kinney threw a sim game on 3/22. At the same time, teammate Scott Oberg is tracking to make the opening day roster.

-Brewers OF Lorenzo Cain and RHRP Devin Williams made their spring debuts on 3/21.

-Phillies C JTR played in a sim game on 3/20 and should return to action this week.

-Mets 3B/LF Dominic Smith returned to action over the weekend. He was dealing with a right wrist issue that benched him for a couple of days.

-Red LHRP Amir Garrett pitched in his spring game on 3/20.

-Athletics LHP AJ Puk made his spring debut on 3/17 and threw 30 pitches; the next outing is 45 pitches.

New Injuries:

-Padres SUPERSTAR SS Fernando Tatis Jr. exited the game on 3/23 with left shoulder discomfort. However, sources say that he is "fine," and the game's departure was precautionary.

-Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland exited his outing on 3/23 with a strained pitching shoulder. There isn't a word on the severity of the injury.

-Angels INF Franklin Barreto is being shut down for 4-6 weeks due to elbow inflammation. The injury likely pushes Luis Rengifo into the utility role.

-Blue Jays RHPR Kirby Yates is expected to miss "multiple weeks" due to a flexor-pronator strain in his throwing arm. Yates did miss most of 2020 after surgery to remove bone chips in his throwing elbow. Yates is likely to undergo TJ Surgery which will have him miss the season.

-Fellow Blue Jays OF George Springer has a Grade 2 oblique strain, and LHP Robbie Ray has a bruised elbow. However, both should be ready for opening day.

-The Rangers pen took another hit today as CP Jose Leclerc will miss "extended time" due to elbow soreness. LHP Joely Rodriguez and Brett Martin will also begin the season. At the same time, Jonathan Hernandez was already ruled out due to a UCL sprain.

-The Reds got some not-so-good injury news on 3/22. Sonny Gray was already expected to start the season on the IL. Now Michael Lorenzen(shoulder strain) and Tejay Antone(hip flexor) as GM Nick Krall said, "I think we're hopeful that both will start the season on time, but we're still monitoring the situation."

-Diamondbacks RHRP Tyler Clippard has a capsule with a strained pit sprain in his throwing shoulder and will be shut down for at least six weeks. He will likely be out until at least late May.

-Diamondbacks Teammate RHP Zac Gallen was scratched from his start on 3/22 due to right lateral forearm soreness. Tests revealed a "hairline stress fracture of his right lateral forearm at the radial end." Gallen can keep playing catch at a low-stress level, but there is no timetable for a return.

-Pirates SP Steven Brault left his outing on 3/20 with what the team called a latissimus muscle injury, or a lat injury rather than a forearm/elbow injury.

-Astros pitcher Andrew Scrubb is working to earn a roster spot. He left the game on 3/21 due to right shoulder soreness. More to come.

-White Sox RHRP Jimmy Cordero underwent Tommy John surgery on 3/18. He will begin the rehab process in the coming weeks. team doctors evaluate teammate OF Adam Engel after straining his right hamstring in the game on 3/20. Engel will begin the season on the IL.

-Nationals reliever Will Harris has a blood clot in his right arm. He will be vising a specialist in St.Louis to determine the severity of the issue. Harris hasn't pitched since March 9th, and it looks like he will not be ready for opening day.

-Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers will be out a month with a strained hamstring. The club wants to get him everyday at-bats at the MLB ASAP upon returning!

-Mets RHP Carlos Carrasco resumed throwing on 3/18 and threw 20 pitched in a simulated game. After the session, he had an MRI that revealed a torn hamstring that will put him out 6-8weeks.

-Padres RHP Pierce Johnson exited his start of 3/16 and was diagnosed with a Grade 1 ground strain. There isn't a firm timetable for a return.

-Angels RHRP Felix Pena likely won't be available for opening day. The club could look at the free-agent market. He will miss 2-4 weeks with a Grade 1 right hamstring strain.

Injury Updates:

-Yankees 3B/OF Miguel Andujar has been out for the past week due to a hand/wrist issue. Andujar won't return to game action "anytime soon," said manager Aaron Boone on 3/22. LHRP Justin Wilson also went down to injury on 3/22 with tightness in his pitching shoulder and underwent an MRI yesterday, 3/23.

-Rays 1B Ji-Man Choi is likely to miss an opening day due to a knee problem that has kept him out most of the spring

-Orioles OF DJ Stewart is also likely to miss an opening day as he is still working through a hamstring injury. Teammate 1B Chris Davis is likely to begin the season on the 60-day IL due to a lower back strain.

-Padres LHRP Drew Pomeranz had an MRI on his left forearm that showed no structural damage. He hasn't pitched since 3/9 and likely will start the season on the IL.

-The Braves are optimistic that 23yo Mike Soroka could make his season debut mid-April as he remains on the comeback trail from a torn right Achilles.

-Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg got through a 74-pitch sim game 3/20 without any setbacks. At the same time, CF Victor Robles left the game on the same day with back tightness.

-Recently signed Astros RHP Jake Odorizzi likely would miss the opening road trip April 1st-6th. However, he should make his debut during the next homestand, April 8th-14th.

-Giants RHP Dedniel Nunez will undergo TJ surgery and will miss the season. Due to Rule 5 status, Nunez will have to stick on the Giants active roster when he comes off the IL or be offered back to the Mets.

-Mariners RHRP Andres Munoz suffered a minor setback in his recovery from TJ on his one-year mark on 3/18. The 22yo will likely continue to recover well into the season.

-Padres RHP Dinelson Lamet pitched multiple innings in a simulated game on 3/18. He threw about 30 pitches.

-Mets SP Noah Syndergaard threw off a mound on 3/18 without any setbacks. He did top out around 96MPH on his fastball.

-Phillies RHP Spender Howard still hasn't been cleared to throw after back spasms early last week. Report as of 3/18

-Fellow Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin didn't pitch this last week due to a back injury the club is concerned about as of 3/18

-Blue Jays RHP Nate Pearson re-aggravated a strained right groin during a pen session on 3/16. It's like he begins the season on the IL.

New COVID-19:

-Tigers RHP Spencer Turnbull is away from camp due to COVID-19 protocols. Hinch clarified Turnbull didn't violate any rules. However, it looks like he will miss the remainder of spring training as of 3/21

COVID-19 Updates:

-Reds 1B Joey Votto returned to camp on 3/21. He is questionable for opening day.

Prospect Buzz:

-Brewers pitching prospect Antoine Kelley will likely see time this summer as he recovers from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in November 2020.

-Ranger's top prospect INF Josh Jung will undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. He will be on the shelf for 6-8 weeks. He should return a couple of weeks into the minor league season.

-The KC Royals 23yo Kris Bubic, who made the jump from High-A to the MLB in 2020, will not be breaking camp despite the solid end for the season, in which he had a 2.96ERA with 30K over 27.1IP.


Thanks for reading today Ball Boys and Girls!


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