The Orioles figure to give top prospect Chance Sisco the opportunity to prove himself ready for regular MLB work next season, but Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports that they’re still likely to add at least one veteran alternative on a minor league pact this winter. Caleb Joseph is in line to share the catching duties following a bounceback season, and the O’s also added 27-year-old Austin Wynns to the 40-man roster last week, though he’s yet to suit up for a big league game. Speculatively speaking, names like Jose Lobaton, Hector Sanchez and Chris Stewart could all be available on minor league deals this winter after lackluster showings in limited big league time in 2017.
Some more notes from around the AL East…
- With Logan Morrison hitting the open market, the Rays are likely to sign a first baseman this offseason, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. However, they’ll likely do so “when the music stops,” suggesting that Tampa Bay will wait out the first-base market and see which of the numerous sluggers is left without a contract later in the offseason. That’d present the Rays with numerous bargain options — a strategy that worked well last offseason when they held out and waited until Feb. 7 to re-sign Morrison on a one-year, $2.5MM deal. Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana are the top names on the free agent market and will be considerably too expensive for the Rays’ tastes. They’re followed up by Morrison, Yonder Alonso, Lucas Duda, Mitch Moreland as well as slightly older options in Danny Valencia, Adam Lind, Mark Reynolds and Mike Napoli.
- Topkin also notes that the Rays plan to make a “serious bid” for Shohei Ohtani, hoping that their willingness to let this year’s top pick, Brendan McKay, develop as both a pitcher and a hitter in the minor leagues will show Ohtani that they’re willing to let him try his hand as a genuine two-way player. Even the $20MM posting fee would seem to be a steep price for the Rays, though most clubs seem to be approaching Ohtani as a rare acquisition opportunity, so ownership could be willing to green light that expenditure. Signing with the Rays would require Ohtani to truly be prioritizing elements other than money, as the Rays can only offer $440,500 at present (though there’s still time for them to acquire more international dollars). Beyond that, of course, the Rays obviously aren’t a team that is well-positioned to sign him to an extension down the line.
- Max Pentecost’s omission from the Blue Jays’ slate of 40-man roster additions surprised some, but Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports that troubles with the former No. 11 overall pick’s shoulder caused the Jays to leave him unprotected. Pentecost was shut down near the end of the AFL, which could make it difficult for a team to select him or to carry him for the bulk of the 2018 season. Pentecost has undergone multiple surgeries since being drafted in ’14 and has managed to play just 30 of his 171 games at catcher, spending the bulk of his time as a DH in addition to some work at first base. “We’re continuing to work hard to help Max be in the best possible physical shape and baseball shape he can be in,” said GM Ross Atkins of Pentecost.