Astros add Jake Odorizzi
Just days after Framber Valdez suffered a potential season-ending finger injury, the Astros struck back on Saturday -- as Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that they had inked free agent right-hander Jake Odorizzi to a two-year contract.
The 30-year-old hurler was the clear top available pitcher remaining on the free agent market, and the Astros’ need for an additional starting pitcher skyrocketed after Framber Valdez fractured his left ring finger after being struck by a comebacker off the bat of Francisco Lindor.
The financial terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, but the contract also includes a player option for the 2023 season. Odorizzi was limited to just four starts during the truncated 2020 season due to a blister and a chest injury -- posting a disappointing 6.59 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 12/3 K/BB ratio across 13 ⅔ innings. He was an All-Star and one of the top pitchers in the American League for the Twins during the 2019 campaign though, compiling a 3.51 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 178/53 K/BB mark over 159 frames.
Over the past week Odorizzi has sported an average draft position of 282 across NFBC Online Championship drafts. With the news that he’s now signing with the Astros -- and will have a favorable offense backing him -- his draft day cost will surely rise. Expect him to settle in closer to pick 200 overall.
He’ll join a rotation that features Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Urquidy and Christian Javier. After that though, the rotation depth is thinning quickly. Losing Valdez -- potentially for the season -- is a major blow. There may be at least a glimmer of hope there though, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday that Valdez may opt to avoid the recommended surgery on his fractured finger with the hope of returning at some point during the 2021 campaign.
If the Valdez injury news wasn’t bad enough for the Astros -- and enough of a push to get them to sign Odorizzi -- the Astros received more bad news on the rotation front over the weekend. Manager Dusty Baker announced on Saturday that top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley experienced tightness in his right arm during a recent simulated game. It escalated on Sunday, as the club announced that Whitley has a UCL sprain in his pitching elbow and could require Tommy John surgery. While he’ll seek a second opinion to be sure, the initial recommendation is that he should undergo the procedure. If that’s the case, he’ll miss the entire 2021 season and likely a good chunk of the 2022 season as well.
Jarred Kelenic Sidelined
Mariners top prospect Jarred Kelenic suffered an injury during Friday’s Cactus League game against the White Sox tweaking his left knee while exiting the batter’s box during his first plate appearance.
Initially, Mariners manager Scott Servais downplayed the injury, saying that Kelenic would be examined by team doctors and wouldn’t play during Saturday’s contest, but that he believed the budding superstar would be alright.
That tone changed a bit after he was examined though, as the M’s announced that Kelenic suffered a Grade 2 strain of the adductor muscle in his left knee. There’s no clear timetable for a return to game action yet -- but it’s likely that he’s going to be sidelined for a couple of weeks. That will likely put an end to the strong push he was making for inclusion on the team’s Opening Day roster. The 21-year-old had been 2-for-8 with a homer, two RBI and a walk through his first four spring games.
There had been rumblings that the Mariners could manufacture a reason that Kelenic needed to spend a few weeks in the minor leagues to begin the season -- just past the Super 2 deadline -- and allowing the club to gain an extra year of team control. While this injury certainly isn’t something that they manufactured, they’re obviously going to proceed very cautiously here. Expect to see Kelenic spend the first few weeks of the regular season at the team’s alternate training site before making his highly-anticipated MLB debut.
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Dylan Carlson - The 22-year-old outfielder was once again relegated to the seventh spot in the Cardinals lineup on Sunday. While he’ll move up a spot without a designated hitter in there, hitting sixth (at least to begin the season) isn’t going to help his counting stats.
Ozzie Albies - The dynamic 24-year-old opened the 2020 season as the second hitter in the Braves lineup, but wound up spending the majority of the year in the sixth spot or lower. So far this spring, he looks locked into that second spot between
Luke Voit - During his breakout 2020 campaign, Voit spent the majority of his time batting second in the Yankees lineup, before finishing the season as the semi-regular cleanup hitter. The Yankees trotted out close to an Opening Day lineup on Sunday, and Voit checked in in the fifth spot behind Giancarlo Stanton. Every spot in the lineup matters, especially when projecting plate appearances, so Voit’s value takes a bit of a dip if he’s hitting fifth for the duration of the season rather than second.
American League Quick Hits: Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters on Saturday that top pitching prospect Bryan Mata has a slightly torn UCL. He’ll explore the treatment route first rather than undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery right away. … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that free agent closer Roberto Osuna (elbow) will hold a showcase on Friday, March 12 in the Dominican Republic. … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Orioles are among the teams interested in free agent third baseman Maikel Franco. … White Sox manager Tony La Russa told reporters on Saturday that he plans to utilize Garrett Crochet in a high-leverage, single-inning role this season. La Russa also noted that he’ll prioritize multi-inning outings for right-hander Michael Kopech. … DJ Stewart is expected to miss a little time with his left hamstring injury. … The Blue Jays claimed Joel Payamps off of waivers from the Red Sox. … Mike Mayers was removed from his Cactus League appearance on Saturday after being struck in the knee by a line drive. … Kevin Kiermaier (hip) stated on Saturday that the hip tightness that slowed him earlier in Rays camp has been treated and he expects to begin playing in Grapefruit League games on Tuesday. … Byron Buxton told reporters on Saturday that would like to sign an extension with the Twins and that there have been recent discussions with the team. … Xander Bogaerts is expected to take batting practice on Tuesday, and if all goes well he could play in Grapefruit League games by next weekend according to the Red Sox. He’s expected to be ready for Opening Day. … Andrelton Simmons has officially cleared intake testing and has joined the Twins at camp. … Franmil Reyes will be away from the Indians for several days after violating COVID protocols, along with teammate Jose Ramirez. … Alex Bregman (hamstring) stated on Sunday that he feels about 90% and is close to returning to game action. … Yasmani Grandal (knee) was able to take swings on Sunday. He’s on track to be ready for Opening Day. … Robbie Ray struck out six batters over 2 1/3 innings on Sunday in a Grapefruit League start against the Tigers. … Mike Foltynewicz pitched a perfect two innings with one strikeout Sunday in his Cactus League debut against the Dodgers, touching 97 mph on the radar gun in the process. … Josh Donaldson cranked a three-run homer in a victory over the Rays. … Austin Meadows smashed his third home run of the spring in a losing effort against the Twins… Brett Gardner clubbed a grand slam off of Zack Wheeler in a win over the Phillies. … Lucas Giolito fanned two over three hitless innings against the Rockies. … Ramon Laureano homered and drove in four in a victory over the Indians. … Joey Gallo walloped his fourth home run of the spring -- this one off of Walker Buehler -- in a victory over the Dodgers.
National League Quick Hits: J.T. Realmuto (thumb) told reporters Saturday that he is on schedule in his recovery and expects to be ready by Opening Day. … Marlins manager Don Mattingly told reporters on Saturday that Sixto Sanchez had a false positive COVID-19 test result. The good news is that he didn’t actually test positive, but it still set his throwing program back from the rest of the team’s pitching staff. … Cody Bellinger played three innings of defense in a Dodgers intrasquad game and is on pace to play in Cactus League games around March 15. … Dinelson Lamet threw 20 pitches on Sunday during live batting practice on Sunday. ... Mike Soroka (Achilles) threw two innings on Sunday in a simulated game and reportedly looked “very good” for a pitcher that has missed as much time as he has. … According to Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Odubel Herrera could have the inside track for the centerfield job in Philadelphia. … Mets manager Luis Rojas officially announced that Jacob deGrom will start on Opening Day. The right-hander punched out three over two scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday. … Jose Martinez was removed from Sunday’s Grapefruit League game with a twisted left knee. He’ll undergo an MRI on Monday. … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Brandon Morrow to pitch in Cactus League games this spring as he builds up his arm strength. … The Giants signed Jose Alvarez to a one-year $1.15 million contract. … Luis Urias will not be sidelined long with a mild hamstring injury, according to Brewers manager Craig Counsell. … Scott Oberg (shoulder) will throw a live bullpen session on Monday. … Gregory Polanco had a monster day on Saturday, going 3-for-3 with a homer, three RBI and a stolen base in a victory over the Yankees. … Harrison Bader was once again held out of the Cardinals lineup due to right forearm pain according to manager Mike Shildt. He’s expected to return on Tuesday. … The Nationals released right-hander Jeremy Jeffress for “personnel reasons” according to general manager Mike Rizzo. … Pedro Strop will be away from the Cubs for several days after violating COVID-19 protocols. … Kevin Newman left Sunday's game against the Orioles with left hamstring tightness. … Miles Mikolas (shoulder) will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts stated on Sunday that despite a late start to spring training, Brusdar Graterol should be ready for a one-inning role by Opening Day. … The Pirates acquired Duane Underwood from the Cubs for Shendrik Apostel. To make room on the roster, they designated Carson Fulmer for assignment. … Yu Darvish struck out four batters in two scoreless innings against the Royals on Sunday in his first Cactus League start. … Adam Wainwright recorded five strikeouts over three innings of one-run ball on Sunday in a Grapefruit League start against the Astros. … Charlie Morton recorded three strikeouts over three scoreless innings on Sunday in his Grapefruit League debut against the Red Sox. … Pablo Lopez fired three shutout innings on Sunday in a Grapefruit League start against the Mets. … Tyler O’Neill clobbered a three-run homer to lead the Cardinals past the Astros. … Walker Buehler was tagged for four runs on five hits over three frames against the Rangers. … Jonathan Villar belted a game-tying three-run homer against the Marlins on Sunday.