Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson exited Thursday’s contest with what appears to be an aggravation of the calf injury that has plagued him on and off since early in Spring Training, as MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm writes. Donaldson doubled into the right field corner but came up lame after rounding first base and ultimately hobbled into second base. There’s no word on the extent of the injury just yet, but Donaldson began to walk off the field almost immediately after play had halted, and Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi tweets that a trip to the disabled list is a possibility. The 2015 American League MVP missed a significant portion of Spring Training and had a brief flare-up of the injury this past weekend.
Elsewhere in the AL East…
- Prior to the arbitration hearing that led to a controversial string of comments from Yankees president Randy Levine, right-hander Dellin Betances was offered a two-year deal that would have guaranteed him between $8MM and $8.5MM, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports in his latest AL Notes column. However, with Betances’ camp seeking as much as $5MM in arbitration, they elected to go on with the trial. Rejecting the deal seems reasonable, from my vantage point, as even after losing the trial Betances took home a $3MM figure for the 2017 season. Betances figures to earn more than $4MM next year in arbitration, so the downside in aiming high with the arbitration hearing was relatively minimal.
- Baseball America’s Ben Badler penned a harsh critique of the Orioles’ paltry investments in international free agency, noting that the O’s spent just $260K on international talent this period and signed only five players. As Badler notes, it’s nothing new, as Baltimore has routinely eschewed significant investments on the international market — much to the detriment of the farm system. Badler points out that even the cash-strapped division-rival Rays spent more than $3MM on 36 international amateurs in 2016 despite being in the metaphorical penalty box for shattering their pool in a previous signing period (thus preventing them from spending more than $300K on a single player). “[O]wnership’s antiquated approach toward Latin America prevents the Orioles’ international scouts from having the resources they need to do their jobs,” Badler writes. Indeed, Baltimore’s total spending is a pittance relative to the rest of the league; on the opposite end of the spectrum, the Padres spent nearly $80MM on international amateurs during the current signing period alone. Notably, the O’s traded their top international bonus slot to the Brewers tonight to acquire recently designated reliever Damien Magnifico.
- The Orioles will turn to Alec Asher to start versus Toronto on Saturday, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. His selection to face a heavily right-handed lineup suggests that Baltimore plans to utilize its upper-level pitching depth on a case-by-case basis to fill Chris Tillman’s spot in the rotation while Tillman is out, Encina adds. Manager Buck Showalter elaborated on that concept a bit, telling Encina: “We know that has potential to be a moving piece until Chris gets back. We can play a little matchup there until we know for sure when we’re going to get Chris back. … The good news is we have some guys to pick from, not only there, but potentially in Bowie, too.” The Orioles added Asher in a minor Spring Training trade and also picked up several other potential options, including Gabriel Ynoa (in a trade with the Mets) and Richard Bleier (in a trade with the Yankees). Lefty Jayson Aquino was also a consideration for this weekend’s start, Encina notes, but the glut of righties he’d have faced led the team to turn to Asher instead. Tillman figures to be out until early May, so there should be quite a few more spot starts up for grabs among this group.