Astros owner Jim Crane spoke with reporters Wednesday and addressed a number of topics, including his thoughts on potential rule changes throughout the game, Manny Machado’s recent agreement with the Padres and the potential for some Astros moves (link via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle). Crane acknowledged that the Astros “certainly are going to look at” the possibility of a contract extension with Justin Verlander and/or Gerrit Cole. However, he didn’t put a timeline on those talks and was generally vague, suggesting they could take place anytime between now and at the end of the season. “…[I]t just all depends on what they want to do and whether they want to stick here and for what number they want to stick here,” Crane said of his top two starters.
Crane wouldn’t comment much on former Astros Dallas Keuchel and Marwin Gonzalez, both of whom remain unsigned, though he didn’t expressly rule out a reunion. “Hopefully they’ll land in the right spot and certainly it could be one or two of them might be back here,” said Crane, though he declined to say whether Houston has made an actual offer to either player (beyond the qualifying offer which Keuchel rejected back in November).
Here’s more from the division…
- The Mariners could be active in their efforts to pick up some bullpen depth over the course of Spring Training, per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Divish notes that right-hander Anthony Swarzak, acquired to help balance out the financial component of the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz blockbuster, isn’t likely to be ready for Opening Day (due to shoulder discomfort). With that in mind, Seattle is likely to take to the waiver wire in an effort to bolster its depth, though it doesn’t sound as if the club is intent on spending significantly in order to bolster its ’pen at this point.
- Angels righty Nick Tropeano is still two and a half weeks from throwing a full bullpen session and is roughly five to seven weeks from being ready to pitch in a game setting, writes Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Tropeano experienced a December setback in his rehab from shoulder issues that dogged him throughout the 2018 season, which has him behind schedule this spring. Tonight’s update provides a clearer timetable than was previously available. Tropeano tells Bollinger that he’s been doing increased video work with new pitching coach Doug White (formerly the Astros’ bullpen coach) to make adjustments to his delivery that’ll hopefully lessen the stress he places on his shoulder.
- In a Q&A with Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Rangers designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo addressed a number of topics, including Adrian Beltre’s retirement, the atmosphere under new skipper Chris Woodward and his own future in baseball. Choo, who is signed for another two seasons, empathized with Beltre’s desire to spend more time with his family but also voiced a desire to continue playing so long as he is physically able to do so. “Baseball, sports, is a short career,” said the veteran slugger. “If you’re healthy and can perform on the field, I definitely can play. At the same time, I have a family. My wife has been a single mom for eight months for 16 years.” Choo’s bat cratered in the second half last season, but he was slashing a robust .293/.405/.506 at the All-Star break. He’s owed $21MM in each of the next two seasons.