Alex Anthopolous spoke to Craig Mish of Sportsgrid about when Mike Soroka might be ready to return to a big-league mound. Anthopolous suggested he’ll be more-or-less ready in April, and though it sounds like he isn’t likely to be on the opening day roster, joining the club before the end of the season’s first month appears likely. That’s great news for an Atlanta rotation that’s looking better by the day. Max Fried remains at the top of their projected pitching staff, while Ian Anderson continues to look the part of a Major League hurler. In the meantime…
- Huascar Ynoa, Kyle Wright, and Bryse Wilson continue to compete to be Soroka’s understudy. Because of the way the schedule shakes out, the Braves could open the season with a four-man rotation of Fried, Anderson, Charlie Morton, and Drew Smyly. But one of Ynoa, Wright, and Wilson would still likely make the team in that case as a long-man out of the pen, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. All three young pitchers have some experience in that role, but Ynoa, in particular, has struggled somewhat pitching deep into games, which the Braves are monitoring closely this spring, writes Bowman. If the Braves prefer Ynoa as a couple-innings-at-a-time-type arm out of the pen, that could bode well for his chances to make the opening day roster.
- The Cardinals, meanwhile, might be without yet another starter when the season opens. Manager Mike Shildt put Kwang Hyun Kim in the same camp as Miles Mikolas concerning their readiness for opening day. Kim missed his most recent start after his back tightened up on him during a bullpen session, per MLB.com’s Jeff Jones (Twitter links). There’s not much concern long-term regarding Kim’s health, but there are now a couple of open rotation spots behind Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty and Carlos Martinez. John Gant is the favorite to nab one of those two spots, with Daniel Ponce de Leon, Jake Woodford and Johan Oviedo among the candidates to start games early in the year.
- The Cardinals have come to terms with 24 pre-arbitration players, per Jones (via Twitter). This is notable because it means they didn’t have to renew anyone’s contract, an option that teams retain under the current arbitration system. While pre-arbitration players don’t have the right to arbitration yet, they do still have to come to terms on a new deal each season. In cases where an agreement can’t be made, the team can unilaterally renew a player’s contract. The Cardinals had had to renew contracts in the past for Flaherty and Jordan Hicks, and while it’s hard to quantify long-term damage, it certainly paints a poor portrait of team-player relations. It is a good sign, in this case, that the Cardinals found common ground with all of their pre-arbitration players.