In order to keep players healthy, reducing the schedule or expanding roster sizes could be topics of discussion in the next collective bargaining agreement, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. The latter idea could be more likely, as many owners would balk at the idea of losing revenue with fewer games on the schedule. Roster expansion could take the form of teams having a 28-man active roster, but only 25 players are eligible for any game day. As Cafardo notes, teams are essentially wasting three or four roster spots under the current rules since those spots are used for starting pitchers who won’t get into the game. Here’s some hot stove news from Cafardo’s latest column…
- Cliff Lee is still something of a question mark for some teams, as it’s unclear as to whether Lee will be able to pitch on Opening Day or around midseason. Agent Darek Braunecker recently said his client would be 100 percent ready if he decided to pitch in a showcase for teams, though an AL official tells Cafardo that he didn’t know much about how Lee was progressing after missing all of 2015 with a flexor tendon tear that wasn’t surgically repaired. Two NL officials tell Cafardo that Lee is looking for a big base salary and a spot on a contending team, which ties into Braunecker’s previous comment about how Lee needs a “perfect fit” in order to return to pitching.
- Cafardo wonders if the Red Sox could make a play for David Freese if the third baseman is still available by Spring Training. Boston already has Pablo Sandoval at the hot corner, though Sandoval struggles so much against southpaws that Freese (a right-handed hitter) could surely get at-bats against left-handed pitching. Though Freese went into the offseason as the top player in a thin free agent market for first basemen, he hasn’t generated a lot of buzz on the rumor mill outside of some talks with the Angels in December before the Halos acquired Yunel Escobar to fill their third base void. If Freese was indeed willing to take a backup or platoon role, I’d suggest he might look at teams who can provide a clearer path to playing time than the Red Sox, who also have Brock Holt, Deven Marrero and Travis Shaw as backup third base options.
- “We have a couple of teams that have been nibbling, but don’t know when they become fully engaged,” agent John Boggs said about his client Shane Victorino. It could be that interest picks up in the veteran once other free agent outfielders leave the market.
- An executive for an NL team says Tim Lincecum is generally seen as “inventory” around the league. Lincecum was said to be hoping to hold a showcase this month to prove his health following September hip surgery and enhance his stock. Perhaps given this health concern, only two teams (the Marlins and Giants) have been linked to Lincecum in recent months. “For the moment, ties with the Giants have been severed,” Cafardo writes, though “who knows” if the two sides could agree to a reunion.