The Orioles have inquired about the availability of Astros right-hander Collin McHugh, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com hears. Although McHugh could be the odd man out of a loaded Houston rotation this year, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported earlier this week that the reigning champions aren’t in a rush to trade him. Nevertheless, with multiple holes in their rotation and a reported unwillingness to spend big to address their staff, it makes sense that the Orioles are interested in McHugh. After all, the 30-year-old has been a quality starter with the Astros since 2014 and is under arbitration control at affordable prices through 2019. He’ll earn in the neighborhood of $5MM this season.
Here’s more from the American League…
- Indians outfielder Michael Brantley’s status for Opening Day is up in the air, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com suggests on Twitter. Brantley underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle in October, which came on the heels of a 90-game season for the 30-year-old. It was the second straight abbreviated campaign for Brantley, who missed all but 11 games in 2016 on account of right shoulder issues. To Brantley’s credit, he fared respectably across 375 plate appearances last year (.299/.357/.444), leading the Indians to exercise his $12MM option for 2018 early in the offseason.
- Aside from keeping Brantley and signing Yonder Alonso, the Indians haven’t spent much this winter. Regarding the Tribe’s quiet offseason, one team’s vice president told ESPN’s Buster Olney, “They’re not spending, and that probably means they feel like they’re overextended [financially].” Even though the Indians have been among baseball’s elite in recent years, drawing fans to Progressive Field has still been a challenge. Thanks in part to that, Olney posits that small-market Cleveland may have difficulty maintaining its relatively high payroll going forward, which could soon force the team to engage in a sell-off similar to the one Pittsburgh has orchestrated this winter. The Indians will probably lose top relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to free agency next offseason, observes Olney, who writes that rising prices for their under-control core players could make it tough for them to adequately address other areas of their roster.
- The White Sox have hired Dave Duncan as a pitching consultant, Scott Merkin of MLB.com tweets. This will be the second stint with the White Sox for the 72-year-old Duncan, who was previously on the team’s coaching staff from 1983-86. He’ll now join pitching coach Don Cooper as the second highly respected pitching guru under Chicago’s employ. Duncan is perhaps best known for his run at St. Louis’ pitching coach from 1996-2011, a period in which the Cardinals won a pair of World Series titles and regularly boasted one of the league’s best staffs.