Right-hander Lance Lynn, who will make his return from 2016 Tommy John surgery this week, told the St. Louis media today that he hopes to spend his entire career with the Cardinals and is open to negotiating a new contract (via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Lynn, however, acknowledged that the Cardinals may not be open to such a concept until he’s proven that he’s back to full health, suggesting the All-Star break as a possible time. “I don’t want to be a free agent,” said Lynn, “but if that comes up then I’ll take it and run with it and see where it goes.” Lynn hasn’t pitched since the 2015 playoffs and is in the final season of a three-year, $22MM contract that he signed prior to the 2015 season to buy out all of his arbitration years. In 791 1/3 career innings, Lynn has a 3.37 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 44.4 percent ground-ball rate.
More from the division…
- Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes an interesting look at the Pirates’ relationship with star outfielder Andrew McCutchen after exploring trades all winter. It’s a good read that features many people who are close to the 30-year-old, who’s under contract for the coming season and can be controlled for another year via club option. While McCutchen is all but certain to remain in Pittsburgh at least through the trade deadline, it’s still anybody’s guess whether he’ll remain thereafter.
- The Pirates aren’t fretting over the fact that they’re without three of their top home run hitters from the 2016 season, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. While Sean Rodriguez, Jung Ho Kang and Matt Joyce combined to hit 34 percent of the team’s round-trippers last year, manager Clint Hurdle emphasized that one way to offset the loss is simply for his club to allow fewer runs. Hurdle adds that he believes there’s some untapped power in his lineup — Gregory Polanco and Josh Bell, in particular, seemingly have the potential to up their home run output, for instance. Biertempfel also notes that while some wondered whether the typically data-driven Pirates would begin to focus more on fly-balls and launch angle — an increasingly popular approach at the plate — hitting coach Jeff Branson strongly suggested otherwise. “I don’t get into all the launch-angle stuff,” Branson tells Biertempfel. “…if you start telling guys to hit the ball in the air, there are too many things that can go wrong, too many things that can get out of whack.” Branson later notes that he doesn’t dismiss launch angle entirely but also isn’t an expert on the matter. “We’re going to teach and talk about things we’re familiar with, things that we know work,” he adds.
- Matt Garza is ahead of schedule as he looks to return from a groin strain that landed him on the 10-day disabled list to open the season, writes MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. The veteran Brewers righty could begin a rehab assignment as soon as early next week, manager Craig Counsell tells McCalvy, adding that Garza will require at least two rehab outings before being reinstated. Milwaukee just lost Opening Day starter Junior Guerra for the next six weeks, at minimum, so the return of Garza will make for a welcome addition. While the 33-year-old hasn’t lived up to the four-year, $50MM deal he signed with Milwaukee, he quietly worked to a very solid 3.72 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 57.5 percent ground-ball rate over the life of his final dozen starts in 2016 (65 1/3 innings).