Jose Altuve provided an update on his rehabilitation from knee surgery, telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart and other reporters that he’s “not doing a lot” in the early stages of his recovery process, though “the only thing they told me is we’re going to be 120 percent for the first day of Spring Training, and that’s what really matters.” Altuve underwent the procedure shortly after the Astros were eliminated from the ALCS, after playing through the injury for much of the second half of the season. More will be known later in Altuve’s rehab process, though for now, it doesn’t seem like the surgery will keep Altuve from being ready to go for next season.
Here’s more from around the American League…
- Whit Merrifield is arguably the Royals’ biggest trade chip, though the team’s lack of interest in dealing him is indicative of GM Dayton Moore’s unique team-building process, Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes. On paper, a player who turns 30 in January doesn’t have much long-term value to a Royals team that has 2021 as its internal start date to once again be competitive. Moore, however, has spoken openly about how disappointing the 2018 season was for the Royals, and he has been hesitant to enter into a full rebuild. As Mellinger puts it, “holding onto Merrifield serves several purposes simultaneously: projects hope and confidence to players and fans, helps maintain culture of professionalism in the clubhouse, creates the best possible team for 2019, provides time to see what might be needed in a few years, and retains the ability to trade a presumably still valuable asset next summer or winter.”
- “There is nearly a zero chance Michael Brantley will return to the” Indians in 2019, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. A reunion between the two sides seemed pretty unlikely, as Brantley’s strong 2018 season has put him in line for a lucrative free agent contract. This made him an imperfect fit to return to the Tribe’s outfield, as Cleveland may be exploring ways to cut some veterans from the payroll while still looking to contend again next season.
- Three evaluators from rival teams shared their thoughts on Sonny Gray with George A. King III of the New York Post, noting that the Yankees right-hander still has some solid trade value despite a rough season in the Bronx. “I think he [has value] because with the way starting pitching is right now, you look at him as a reclamation project. There has to be value with what starting pitching has become,” one evaluator for an AL rival said. Between Gray’s good numbers away from Yankee Stadium, his past track record, youth, and one remaining year of arbitration control (at a $9.1MM salary, as projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz), it isn’t surprising that at least five teams have reportedly called the Yankees about Gray’s services.