The remaining offseason additions of the Orioles don’t figure to be too costly, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Kubatko again notes that GM Dan Duquette would like to add another left-handed-hitting outfielders with a good glove and some additional pitching depth before breaking down the Baltimore roster and a number of position battles for the final few spots on the 25-man roster. Rule 5 pick Anthony Santander is recovering from shoulder surgery and can be stashed on the DL early in the year, but fellow Rule 5 selection Aneury Tavarez could have a tough time making the roster. The door for a reunion with Vance Worley “remains open,” per Kubatko, and there are several in the organization that would advocate a return for right-hander Tommy Hunter as well. The Orioles possess a number of options for the final bench spot and the fringes of their pitching staff, and Kubatko’s column gives a nice, comprehensive overview as to how it could all shake out.
A few more notes from the American League East…
- Jose Bautista is a polarizing figure among MLB fans and his peers around the league (to say the least), but many of his Blue Jays teammates are ecstatic to see him return, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Marcus Stroman and Ryan Goins were among those to emphatically praise Bautista when speaking to Nicholson-Smith. Stroman, in particular, explained that Bautista is a critical resource for him when he’s studying opposing hitters and trying to determine how to keep them off balance. “He’s the first guy I go to because I feel like he has the best strike zone judgment out of anyone in the big leagues,” Stroman tells Nicholson-Smith. (Bautista’s 16.3 percent walk rate since 2011 trails only Joey Votto in all of Major League Baseball.)
- Meanwhile, Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling writes that agent Jay Alou said at Bautista’s press conference that his client had larger offers elsewhere, though he declined to get into specifics. Certainly, there could be some semantics at play, as it’s not difficult to see a two-year offer at a considerably lower annual value offering less appeal than the hefty $18.5MM guarantee to which Bautista agreed. It’s unclear what type of other offers Bautista received (and probably will remain so), but a rebound at the plate would position him nicely in advance of the 2017-18 offseason, even if he’ll be 37 this coming October. Bautista added that he’s open to playing first base for the Jays next year as well, and if he proves serviceable, that’d also go a long ways toward boosting his stock (and would also offer the Jays a means of enhancing their 2017 outfield defense).
- The Yankees’ system is flooded with well-regarded shortstop prospects (led by Gleyber Torres), and with Didi Gregorius continuing to elevate his game in the Majors, that gives the team plenty of options, writes ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand. GM Brian Cashman tells Marchand that he doesn’t think Gregorius has reached his ceiling yet and should continue to improve. If that’s the case, it’d be hard to displace Gregorius even when Torres is ready for the Majors, though Cashman didn’t sound the least bit concerned about eventually having a potential logjam. “If you have the physical ability to project to play shortstop at the major league level, that also means you have the skill set to play second, third, typically center, left or right because of your speed and the arm,” said the GM. “So, first and foremost, it provides a great deal of creativity and flexibility that you can have with that athlete.”
- One player that could eventually be impacted by the glut of up-the-middle talent in the Yankees’ farm is Starlin Castro, though he tells Newsday’s Steven Marcus that he “[doesn’t] really think about” the possibility of being displaced or even traded. Castro notes a parallel between the Yankees’ current situation and the end of his Cubs tenure. “That’s the second time it happened to me,” he said of the Yankees’ upcoming wave of talent. “That happened my last year with the Cubs. All the younger guys coming to the team. Here, the same thing.”