Two weeks ago, the Dodgers were leaning toward having left-hander Julio Urias open the season in their rotation. It now appears he’ll begin in the minors as they attempt to tamp down his workload, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The 20-year-old phenom threw a career-high 122 innings between the majors and minors in 2016, and LA wants to keep him fresh this season for a potential playoff run. Should the Dodgers send down Urias, they’d choose among Brandon McCarthy, Alex Wood and “wild card” Hyun-Jin Ryu to fill their final two rotation spots, adds Sherman (Twitter links here).
Elsewhere around the majors…
- Houston’s acquisition of catcher Brian McCann from the Yankees in November played a key role in their December signing of designated hitter Carlos Beltran, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow informed Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. “As we recruited Beltran, bringing McCann over was a big part of getting Beltran to accept coming over here,” said Luhnow. Teammates in New York from 2014-16, McCann and Beltran have already been quite valuable behind the scenes for the Astros, per Luhnow. “These two guys have been a tremendous boost to the environment in our clubhouse,” he stated. “I’m so glad they’re here.”
- When he accepted the Royals’ two-year, $12MM guarantee as a free agent last month, southpaw Travis Wood seemed like a decent bet to start 2017 in their rotation. But another offseason acquisition, trade pickup Nate Karns, has emerged over Wood and Chris Young as the clear favorite for Kansas City’s last starting spot, tweets Sherman. The right-handed Karns, 29, made 46 starts with the Nationals, Rays and Mariners from 2013-16 and logged a 4.19 ERA, 9.0 K/9 and 3.69 BB/9 over 249 innings. The 30-year-old Wood worked solely as a reliever with the World Series champion Cubs last season, which came after he racked up 133 starts in Cincinnati and Chicago from 2010-15. He recorded the same ERA as Karns (4.19) to go with 7.11 K/9 against 3.15 BB/9 during that 776-inning span.
- Free agent reliever Eric Gagne, 41, is making a case for a contract in the World Baseball Classic, though the Team Canada righty and 2003 NL Cy Young winner realizes he’d first have to succeed in the minors to have any chance at returning to the majors. “I know the game, I know how it happens, I know they need spots on the 40-man roster and don’t want to release a young guy for a 41 year old, so of course I’d be willing to do anything,” the former closer told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Gagne, who hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2008, worked out for five teams before the WBC, writes Davidi, and has since fared well in the tournament. “Words are irrelevant at this point. Clubs are seeing it with their own eyes,” Gagne’s agent, Scott Leventhal, told FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link).