Astros righty Justin Verlander chatted yesterday about his pending free agency with Jon Heyman of MLB Network (all links to Twitter). While he’s keeping an open door to remaining in Houston, it doesn’t sound as if there’s any expectation of reaching a deal this spring. Verlander, who’s still at the top of his game at 36 years of age, reiterated his previously stated intention to pitch well into his forties. That expectation won’t lead him to chase the longest-possible guarantee in free agency, though. Having already secured career earnings in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Verlander says he’ll prioritize annual salary and other considerations while remaining “cognizant” of how his contract fits in the larger market picture. Further to that point, the veteran notes that big deals for this winter’s very best free agents have tended to mask the down-market struggles and number of teams that are not seeking to compete.
More from the western divisions …
- Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw threw to a catcher today from flat ground, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports in a series of tweets. That still counts as notable progress for the vaunted hurler, who also long-tossed and does not seem to have reported any issues. Shoulder issues have slowed Kershaw thus far in camp, but he has seemed to be on the upswing of late. Filling in for him early on shouldn’t be a problem for a Dodgers club that has a deep staff to call upon, but the early health issues are of greater concern given the recent history. Kershaw, who’ll soon turn 31, has now missed starts in each of the past three seasons and is under contract for three seasons and $93MM.
- While the Rangers recently worked out a new deal with reliever Jose Leclerc, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that it’s far from clear they’ll land any other extensions this spring. Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara appear to be hypothetical candidates, but both say they’re not presently engaged with the club. That could still change; Gallo and Mazara each say they are willing to listen and are interested in remaining in Texas. Otherwise, it’s tough to identify any reasonable candidates on the roster.