Here’s the latest from around the American League…
- In an interview with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (link to Bowden’s Twitter feed), Athletics GM David Forst said that Matt Olson is expected back in the lineup within the next two weeks. Olson underwent surgery to move his hamate bone from his right hand back on March 22, and while no timeline was given, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted that players who underwent similar procedures typically were able to return within six-to-eight weeks. If Forst’s projection is correct, that would put Olson on the low end of that time frame, which is good news for the A’s. Olson hit .250/.339/.502 with 53 homers over 876 plate appearances in 2017-18, and also delivered some outstanding defense at first base, earning him a Gold Glove last season.
- The Athletics have been talking to shortstop Marcus Semien about a contract extension, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes (subscription required). This isn’t the first time the two sides have discussed a longer-term deal, as Semien and the A’s were known to be talking as far back as July 2017. Since that time, Semien entered into his arbitration years, and is earning $5.9MM this season with one more arb-eligible year before hitting free agency after the 2020 season. He’ll be 30 years old when he reaches free agency, so Semien could potentially be interested in locking down an extension now (as so many players have in the last two months) rather than face a potentially scarce free agent market as a player entering his 30s. Semien posted a career-best 3.7 fWAR in 2018, making some great strides in his defense while delivering another season of slightly below-average (95 wRC+, 96 OPS+) hitting.
- Also from Olney’s piece, he speculates that the Red Sox could become a popular deadline seller if the team continues to falter throughout the season. It’s still very early, of course, and the Sox did just complete a three-game sweep of the AL East-leading Rays. But if Boston did fall out of the pennant race, players who could be free agents in the offseason (i.e. Rick Porcello, Mitch Moreland, and opt-out candidate J.D. Martinez) could all potentially be moved for some needed prospects. Perhaps more importantly, moving some salary could also allow the Sox to get under the maximum luxury tax penalty threshold of $246MM. It would only be a one-year reload for the club, as the Red Sox would look to contend again in 2020 in their final year of team control over Mookie Betts. It doesn’t seem too likely, by the way, that Boston would look to shop Betts, even though he has rebuffed the team’s overtures about a contract extension.
- The Blake Swihart era in Boston came to an unceremonious end on Friday, as the Red Sox dealt Swihart and $500K of international bonus pool money to the Diamondbacks for minor league outfielder Marcus Wilson. The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato looks back at Swihart’s rocky development through the Sox farm system, which included injuries, multiple position changes, and an inability to truly unlock his heralded hitting potential even in the minors. As highly-touted a prospect as Swihart was, “the organization could never come to a clear consensus on his ability. There was always a disconnect and it existed through multiple regimes in the front office and field staff,” Mastrodonato writes. This manifested itself in a seeming lack of confidence in Swihart as a regular catcher, though Mastrodonato notes if the Sox were going to deploy Swihart at different positions, it was unusual that Swihart wasn’t considered to fill Boston’s third base void prior to the 2017 season.