Extension talks between the Twins and Brian Dozier are “dead,” reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who notes that the slugging second baseman has no intention of discussing a long-term deal during the season and will hit the open market next offseason (Twitter link). That much has looked apparent for much of the spring, as Dozier has reportedly been disheartened by Minnesota’s lack of engagement in extension negotiations despite a vocal desire on his behalf to remain in the Twin Cities for the long haul. A lack of an extension, of course, doesn’t mean Dozier’s days in Minnesota are numbered; he’ll assuredly receive a qualifying offer if he has a characteristically strong season in 2018, and the Twins will likely keep up with his market in free agency next winter. It seems probable that Dozier will remain with the Twins for the bulk of the season, as the AL Central features three rebuilding clubs — the Royals, Tigers and White Sox — and looks to be largely a two-horse race between Cleveland and Minnesota even before the season begins in earnest.
More from the American League…
- The Rays were already planning on a four-man rotation with a somewhat regular “bullpen day” before getting news of Nate Eovaldi’s need for surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow, and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that they’ll now deploy an even more radical strategy. Tampa Bay will lean on Chris Archer, Blake Snell and Jake Faria as its top three starters, and there’s no current plan to replace Eovaldi with another starter. The Rays’ early reaction, per Topkin, is to stick to their plan and see how things go; there are enough off-days early in the year that they can get by with only one required bullpen day for the first several turns through the rotation. It’s tough to imagine that they won’t eventually need to put Matt Andriese back in the rotation or turn to youngsters like Ryan Yarbrough or Yonny Chirinos, however. Tampa Bay’s depth is being tested to extreme levels, as they’ve lost both Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon to Tommy John surgery after already having traded Jake Odorizzi to the Twins.
- Jake Kaplan of The Athletic tweets that Astros top prospect Kyle Tucker will open the season in Triple-A despite possessing only a half season’s worth of experience at the Double-A level. The former No. 5 overall draft pick looks to be on the fast track to the big leagues, having slashed .265/.325/.512 in 72 Double-A games as a 20-year-old last year in addition to a robust .409/.438/.818 slash in 48 spring plate appearances with the ’Stros this year. Tucker entered the year as a consensus top 20 overall prospect and is considered to be a key long-term cog for an already youthful Astros organization.
- Tim Lincecum has been slowed by a blister on his middle finger but will play catch tomorrow, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The two-time NL Cy Young winner, hoping for a career renaissance in the Rangers’ bullpen, didn’t pitch in a game this spring and believes that May 1 is a realistic target for his Texas debut. It’s been a half-decade since “The Freak” was a substantial big league contributor, but this, of course, will be his first season as a full-time reliever — a role that could lead to greater success for the former ace.
- With Salvador Perez sidelined for four to six weeks due to an MCL tear, Cam Gallagher will pair with veteran Drew Butera to comprise the Royals’ primary catching tandem, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. But the Royals won’t announce their Opening Day roster until tomorrow morning as they make the final deliberations regarding their bullpen. Non-roster invitee Blaine Boyer looks to have a spot locked up behind Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Maurer, Justin Grimm and Rule 5 pick Brad Keller, per Flanagan, who also notes that Ryan Goins will likely make the team as a utility infielder. With Goins and Boyer both in camp as non-roster players, the Royals will need to clear at least a pair of 40-man roster spots, though further moves could certainly be made.