- Nathan Eovaldi re-signed with the Red Sox on a four-year, $68MM contract in December, but only after the right-hander drew serious interest from elsewhere. The Angels and Phillies “really wanted” Eovaldi, per Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, though the feeling wasn’t mutual. During the free-agent process, Eovaldi informed his agency, ACES, he only wanted to sign with the Red Sox or his hometown Astros, according to Bradford. But the Astros, despite the questions in their rotation, didn’t pursue the 29-year-old. “Houston is home for me,” Eovaldi told Bradford. “I would have had more talks with the Astros but they just didn’t want any part of it so they were out of the question. While Eovaldi added that he was “a little surprised” the Astros ignored him, he’s happy to be back in Boston after helping the club to a championship in 2018.
This is the latest post of MLBTR’s annual Offseason in Review series, in which we take stock of every team’s winter dealings.
It was a relatively quiet winter on the transaction front for the Astros, but an action-packed offseason wasn’t necessary for the back-to-back American League West champions. Although Houston has lost more notable players than it has gained in recent months, the team will nonetheless enter the 2019 season as the runaway favorite in its division and a legitimate World Series contender.
Major League Signings
- Michael Brantley, OF: two years, $32MM
- Robinson Chirinos, C: one year, $5.75MM
- Wade Miley, LHP: one year, $4.5MM
- Total spend: $42.25MM
Trades And Claims
- Acquired IF Aledmys Diaz from the Blue Jays for RHP Trent Thornton
- Acquired 2B Luis Santana, OF Ross Adolph and C Scott Manea from the Mets for IF/OF J.D. Davis and IF Cody Bohanek
- Claimed C/OF Chris Herrmann from the Mariners, then non-tendered him
Notable Minor League Signings
- Dallas Keuchel (still unsigned), Charlie Morton, Marwin Gonzalez, Evan Gattis (still unsigned), Brian McCann, Martin Maldonado, Tony Sipp, Jandel Gustave
A world-class rotation was a staple for the Astros during their two-year run of dominance from 2017-18, a span in which their starters ranked third in the majors in ERA (3.58) and second in fWAR (37.3). While right-handed aces Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have been at the helm of the group lately, they weren’t in the mix for the entire two-year period. Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. were around for the full run, but the Astros entered the offseason in danger of losing Keuchel and Morton to free agency. Meanwhile, president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow & Co. knew the club would have to get through 2019 sans McCullers, who underwent Tommy John surgery in early November.
Given the uncertain statuses of Keuchel and Morton and the unavailability of McCullers, the Astros figured to be aggressive in addressing their rotation during the offseason. However, with Opening Day approaching, they haven’t made any headline-stealing additions to their starting five. That could change if the Astros re-sign Keuchel, who stunningly remains available and whom they have interest in bringing back, but it seems a reunion will only occur if the 2015 Cy Young winner accepts a short-term contract. Unlike Keuchel, Morton’s long gone, having taken a two-year, $30MM offer from the Rays back in November. The 35-year-old’s exit from Houston ended a fruitful tenure which began when it signed him to what became a bargain deal (a two-year, $14MM guarantee) entering its World Series-winning 2017 campaign. Even though Morton blossomed in Houston after several mediocre and/or injury-filled seasons elsewhere, the Astros didn’t regard him as a must-keep piece, evidenced by their choice not to issue him a qualifying offer and their subsequent one-year contract proposal.
While Morton was unwilling to say yes to the Astros’ single-year offer, the same wasn’t true for left-hander Wade Miley, whom they reeled in for $4.5MM at the start of February. Now 32, Miley is only a year removed from having to settle for a minor league contract with the Brewers after two straight woeful seasons divided between Seattle and Baltimore. However, the longtime innings eater ultimately pitched his way back to relevance in Milwaukee, where he posted a terrific 2.57 ERA/3.59 FIP over 16 starts and 80 2/3 frames. Now, thanks to his 2018 renaissance, Miley’s a lock for the Astros’ season-opening rotation.
It appears Miley and the Astros’ other hurlers will work primarily with Robinson Chirinos, whom they brought in on a low-risk pact after the in-state rival Rangers parted with him. Chirinos, 34, is stepping in for free-agent departures Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado – the latter of whom rejected the Astros’ two-year offer toward the beginning of the offseason. The Astros tried to pull in bigger fish at the position, though, as they showed interest in J.T. Realmuto before the Marlins traded him to the Phillies and pursued Yasmani Grandal prior to his one-year, $18.25MM commitment to Milwaukee. Either Realmuto or Grandal would have given the Astros a clear-cut No. 1 catcher, which they may not have at the moment. Chirinos has typically lived up to the role as an offensive player, to his credit, but he’s no world-beater behind the plate. Conversely, backup Max Stassi carries more questions as an offensive player than a defender. While Stassi was an elite defender in 2018 who also managed solid offensive numbers in the aggregate, his production with the bat careened off a cliff after a red-hot April/May. Nevertheless, having lost out on Realmuto and Grandal, the Astros are banking on the disparate skill sets of Chirinos and Stassi complementing one another in 2019.
Chirinos is one of two new regulars in Houston’s starting lineup, but the other – left fielder Michael Brantley – comes with much more fanfare. The Astros’ headlining offseason acquisition, Brantley inked a two-year, $32MM deal which fell short of contract predictions from both MLBTR and FanGraphs. The longtime Indian has generally performed like a big-money player since his breakout 2014 season, though he was seldom available from 2016-17, when shoulder and ankle injuries robbed him of all but 101 games and stunted his numbers.
Fortunately, Brantley bounced back during his platform season, appearing in 143 games and slashing .309/.364/.468 (124 wRC+) over 631 plate appearances. Along the way, he struck out a paltry 9.5 percent of the time – the second-best rate in the majors – thereby continuing a career-long trend. It’s worth noting the Astros’ lineup was a bear to strike out even before Brantley showed up, as their offense registered the majors’ second-lowest percentage (19.5) in 2018. Now, an attack which already boasted Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and George Springer should be all the more frightening with Brantley’s arrival. Plus, as a rare lefty in a righty-heavy lineup, the 31-year-old will give Houston a bit of variety at the plate.
The Astros had a need for Brantley thanks in part to the free-agent status of switch-hitting utilityman Marwin Gonzalez, whom they’ve since lost to the Twins on a two-year, $21MM accord. Gonzalez’s contract looks like a more-than-reasonable pact Houston easily could have afforded, and the team did show interest in re-signing him. But long before Gonzalez exited in February, the Astros found a contingency plan in Aledmys Diaz, a mid-November acquisition from the Blue Jays. The Astros are preparing Diaz for a super-utility role to help make up for Gonzalez’s loss, yet it may be a lot to ask of the 28-year-old. After all, Diaz has only seen extensive major league action at a pair of positions – shortstop and third base – and is just two seasons removed from a dreadful offensive showing. The good news is that the righty-swinging Diaz rebounded in 2018 to essentially match Gonzalez’s output at the plate (.263/.303/.453 in 452 PAs vs. .247/.324/.409 in 552 attempts). A repeat of that production would be welcome for the Astros, whom Luhnow noted could afford to trade young righty Trent Thornton for Diaz thanks to a backlog of “upper-level pitching.” So, even though it’s anyone’s guess what the Astros will get from Diaz, the trade seems like a worthwhile gamble on the team’s part – especially considering he’s controllable for four years.
The presences of Verlander and Cole surely give the Astros’ rotation a high floor, though it’s evident this is a riskier group than last season’s. Missing are Keuchel, Morton and McCullers, who spun a combined 572 innings of above-average pitching in 2018. No single member of that trio – let alone all three – will be easy to replace, though all-world prospect Forrest Whitley, 21, could be one of the rotation’s saviors sometime this season and there are multiple other intriguing young hurlers at or near MLB readiness. Regardless, it would be unwise to rule out further moves from Luhnow, who swung brilliant deals for Verlander and Cole in the recent past and who has at least tried to bring in another mid- to high-caliber arm since last season ended.
The Astros have been connected to Keuchel, James Paxton, Nathan Eovaldi, Robbie Ray, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn at times dating back to November. The Diamondbacks’ Ray is the lone member of that group who hasn’t changed teams since then, and Houston could circle back to him (or look to another starter on the trade market) during the season if its rotation falls flat. As things stand, it appears the Astros will open the season with Miley, Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock backing Verlander and Cole. Despite the stellar run prevention numbers he put up last season, it’s hard to trust Miley, whose strikeout and walk numbers underwhelmed (5.58 K/9, 3.01 BB/9) and who benefited from an unsustainable home run-to-fly ball rate (5.2 percent, compared to 12.2 percent lifetime). He’s an obvious candidate for negative regression, even if he’s able to continue using his cutter to induce out-friendly contact. Less skepticism is deserved in regards to McHugh and Peacock, who have held their own as both starters and relievers in the majors.
On paper, the losses of McHugh and Peacock from the Astros’ bullpen will hurt the unit, but that’s not to say the club is set up poorly at the end of games. Quite the contrary, actually, as it’s due to receive full seasons from Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly – who joined the team in trades last summer – and continues to boast other healthy, established veterans in Hector Rondon, Will Harris and Chris Devenski. They could be joined by electrifying 26-year-old Josh James, who looked like a front-runner for a starting job before suffering a strained right quad in late February. James, like the rest of the aforementioned relievers, is a righty, and if there’s one quibble with the Astros’ bullpen, it’s the lack of a proven lefty. The team didn’t bring back Tony Sipp, who just signed for a relative pittance with the Nationals, even though he devastated both left- and right-handed hitters last season. The Sipp-less Astros will hope for breakouts from Cionel Perez and Reymin Guduan, a couple hard-throwing southpaws with minimal major league experience.
Meanwhile, with Altuve, Bregman, Correa, Springer and Brantley in the fold, the Astros will once again have a top-tier offense supporting their pitching staff. There are still some questions in their position player group, however, including: Will last year’s weak defensive showing carry over (Chirinos in, Maldonado out won’t help matters)? Will Diaz emerge as a reasonable facsimile of Gonzalez? Will well-compensated right fielder Josh Reddick rebound from a below-average 2018? How will designated hitter Tyler White follow up a 237-PA season in which he slashed an eyebrow-raising .276/.354/.533 (144 wRC+)?
White won’t have to approach last season’s numbers to properly replace ex-Astro and current free agent Evan Gattis, whose offensive production was pedestrian in 2018. Yuli Gurriel was similarly mediocre, though he remains the Astros’ preferred option at first base. Gurriel doesn’t seem to have a stranglehold on his position (and nor does White on his), however, considering the Astros reportedly pursued Paul Goldschmidt, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Martinez and Jose Abreu over the winter. Luhnow has also demonstrated previous interest in Tigers slugger Nicholas Castellanos, who could again end up on the Astros’ radar in the coming months if they’re not content with their 1B/DH situation. Otherwise, should the Astros need an in-season offensive boost, perhaps they’ll shift Brantley to first/DH or relegate Reddick to the bench to make room for standout corner outfield prospect Kyle Tucker.
2019 Season Outlook
While there are clearly some legitimate concerns with elements of the Astros’ roster, and it’s arguable the team should have been more aggressive to improve it over the winter, the star-laden outfit still looks well-equipped to continue as a major league superpower and a division champion in 2019. Plus, with Whitley and Tucker among the talented youngsters in the fold as potential in-season reinforcements, Houston should only grow stronger as the year progresses, potentially setting it up for another title run.
How would you grade the Astros’ offseason moves? (Link for app users.)
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Astros right-hander Francis Martes has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for the banned substance Clomiphene, the league announced Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Martes already going to be sidelined as he recovered from Tommy John surgery last August, but he’ll be docked 80 games’ pay and now be ineligible to pitch in the postseason even if he’s able to work back up to full strength. Beyond that, any possibility of him acquiring service time on the Major League 60-day injured list has now been wiped out, as he’ll come off Houston’s 40-man roster while he is on the restricted list as part of this suspension.
Martes was considered one of baseball’s premier pitching prospects prior to the 2017 season, landing inside the top 40 on the pre-2017 rankings from Baseball America, MLB.com, ESPN and Baseball Prospectus. His stock has dropped since that time, however, as Martes pitched to an ERA well north of 5.00 in both Triple-A and the Majors in ’17 before logging a 6.75 ERA in four Triple-A starts last season. The arm injury that ultimately necessitated his Tommy John procedure limited Martes to just 19 2/3 innings in 2018.
By the time he recovers from surgery, Martes will be approaching his 24th birthday and will be more than two years removed from being considered a premium prospect. There’s certainly still a possibility that he emerges as a quality big league asset down the line, but there’s also a chance that he enters the 2020 season having pitched just 106 1/3 innings over the preceding three years, which won’t do his development any favors.
The Rays decided over the weekend to renew the contract of reigning American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell for just $573,700, highlighting the less-than-satisfying manner in which pre-arbitration players’ salaries are determined. As we noted in that post, other similarly accomplished players have been paid quite a bit more by their respective teams. The collectively bargained system leaves full discretion with clubs to set salaries for those players that are not yet eligible for arbitration, subject only to a floor (currently $555K). A few players have landed in the $1MM range, though that is the exception rather than the rule. Approaches vary widely from team to team. Whatever one thinks about the fairness of that minimum salary level, it’s rather a bizarre system.
Here are some other notable recent pre-arb salary outcomes:
- The Astros renewed star third bagger Alex Bregman for $640,500, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. That’s a bargain rate for one of the game’s best young position players, who says he’s “disappointed” in how things turned out. Bregman explained: “I feel like good business would be wanting to make a player who performed at a high level on your team happy and want to feel like he wanted to be kept and feel like they wanted him to play here forever. I’m just disappointed it doesn’t seem like the same amount of want.” GM Jeff Luhnow defended the decision in part by pointing to the fact that it’s “one of the top ten” pre-arb salaries ever awarded. “I know it’s not satisfying because he’s a great player and no player is ever satisfied the year before they reach arbitration with the amount the club gives them,” said Luhnow. “That’s just the nature of our industry right now.”
- Over in Cardinals camp, there are a few other players who are surely less than thrilled with how things turned out. Righties Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks were each renewed, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The former was renewed at $562,100 — $10K less than the team offered him, reflecting a $10K reduction for his decision not to sign on the dotted line. Flaherty decline to criticize the team, saying that “their process is great and it makes sense,” but says “the system as a whole is not great.”
- Meanwhile, the Angels managed to reach agreement with AL Rookie of the Year recipient Shohei Ohtani, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Ohtani has over than a year less service time than Bregman but will out-earn him at $650K. The ROY hardware certainly didn’t hurt and Ohtani is unquestionably a unique case — and not just because of his two-way contributions. The Halos originally landed Ohtani — Japan’s biggest star and the most fascinating international player ever to cross the Pacific — for a bonus of just over $2.3MM since he chose to come over while still subject to collectively bargained international signing caps. Ohtani’s will be a pre-arb earner one more time in 2020 before qualifying for arbitration.
- The Astros are shutting down second baseman Jose Altuve “for a few days,” manager A.J. Hinch told Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle and other reporters Sunday. Altuve’s battling left side soreness, though the Astros don’t believe it’s anything “alarming,” and they’re hoping the superstar can return to Grapefruit League action late next week, according to Hinch.
We’ll use this post to keep track of minor injuries throughout the day…
- Jose Altuve was scratched from a spring game for the second time in three days due to left side soreness, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Altuve underwent knee surgery in October to repair a patella avulsion fracture in his right knee. Still, the soreness does not appear to be a major cause for concern, as neither Altuve nor manager A.J. Hinch expressed anything but confidence about Altuve’s ability to get back on the field in short order. Altuve has been remarkably healthy throughout his career, hitting the injured list for the first time in eight seasons last year, though he still appeared in 137 games while hitting .316/.386/.451 and accumulating 5.2 rWAR.
- Matt Duffy has experienced discomfort in his left hamstring, keeping him from spring action, per MLB.com’s Juan Toribio. Duffy has played in only one game this spring as a result of the injury, and at this point it’s likely he won’t be ready by Opening Day. The 28-year-old burst onto the scene in his 2015 rookie campaign with San Francisco, slashing .295/.334/.428 on the way to an out-of-nowhere 4.4 fWAR. Achilles injuries muddied his 2016 campaign and cost him all but eight minor-league PAs in 2017, but the former 18th rounder steadied himself at his former third-base home last season, posting a solid 106 wRC+/2.4 fWAR for the upstart Rays.
- Mariners 3B Kyle Seager will see be sidelined for “several days” after an ill-advised dive in Friday’s game resulted in an injury to his left wrist, as MLB.com’s Greg Johns details. A slimmed-down Seager had looked to rebound after a sloppy 2018 campaign, which saw the 31-year-old post career-worsts in OBP, SLG, wRC+, and fWAR. His hard-hit rate, though, remained at a robust 37%, and the lefty rededicated himself to nutrition and fitness during a busy offseason at his North Carolina home. Ryon Healy, who made just two appearances at the hot corner last season, figures to get time there in the interim.
- The Astros, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter), made Maldonado a two-year offer at the beginning of the offseason. Whether the annual salary that accompanied that offer was deemed insufficient or whether then-agent Scott Boras sought a lengthier pact, turning down the offer does not appear to have been a prudent decision. Of course, such proclamations are easy to make with the benefit of hindsight, and it was surely a far more difficult decision at the time. Many clubs — the Astros, White Sox, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Cubs, Braves and Dodgers among them — looked like viable on-paper fits for Maldonado and other catchers at the outset of free agency, so exploring the market for his services was only natural. Houston ultimately moved on, adding Robinson Chirinos on a one-year deal, while Maldonado remains unsigned having recently hired a new agent.
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.
4:59pm: The Astros have made multiple offers to Keuchel, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter), including both one and two-year scenarios.
10:26am: The Astros are still in touch with free-agent lefty Dallas Keuchel about a potential return to Houston, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). ESPN’s Buster Olney hears similarly, tweeting this morning that the two sides have talked recently but, as of last night, were not close to agreeing to a deal. Heyman notes that the Phillies remain interested on a short-term pact, while MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand wrote Tuesday that Keuchel is still seeking a multi-year pact.
Houston currently has Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Collin McHugh and Wade Miley penciled into the top four spots in the rotation, with Brad Peacock and Framber Valdez vying for the fifth spot in camp (a rotation battle recently explored by The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan). Re-signing Keuchel would push Peacock back into the multi-inning relief role in which he excelled last season. Beyond that, though, bringing Keuchel back into the mix would address the looming rotation void facing the Astros beyond the current season. Each of Verlander, Cole, McHugh and Miley will be a free agent following the 2019 season. Houston has top prospect Forrest Whitley looming in Triple-A and will ideally get Lance McCullers Jr. back from Tommy John surgery in 2020, but the absence of even a single current member of the rotation on the books in 2020 does lead to some longer-term uncertainty.
Keuchel, 31, may not be the ace-caliber arm that he was when he took home the American League Cy Young Award in 2015, but he’s still very clearly a solid starter who’d improve just about any rotation in the Majors. Slowed a bit by neck and back injuries in 2016-17 — he still made 49 starts over those two seasons — Keuchel once again crossed the 200-inning threshold in 2018. Last season, he tossed 204 2/3 frames of 3.74 ERA ball with 6.7 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.79 HR/9 and a 53.7 percent ground-ball rate. Even excluding his pair of sub-3.00 ERA campaigns in 2014-15 (and that 2015 Cy Young nod), Keuchel has worked to a 3.77 ERA in 518 2/3 innings over the past three years.
Whether his lofty asking price has dropped to the point where the Astros would consider re-signing their homegrown lefty still isn’t clear, though recent talks between the two sides suggest that Houston is hardly closed off to the general concept. Re-signing Keuchel wouldn’t cost the Astros a current draft pick, but it’d prevent them from receiving the compensatory draft selection they’d receive if they allowed him to sign with another club.
The Astros haven’t been engaged on Dallas Keuchel in recent weeks, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest look at the free-agent left-hander’s apparently stagnant market (subscription required). The Phillies, he adds, still have interest only in a “very” short-term deal, as was reported last week. Meanwhile, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that unless Keuchel or free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel is suddenly willing to take a one-year deal, the Twins aren’t likely to sign either pitcher three weeks into Spring Training. As for the Braves, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman wrote late last week that spring ailments for Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman haven’t been deemed concerning enough for Atlanta to pursue Keuchel.
It’s hardly an encouraging set of updates for either free agent, particularly Keuchel, whom Olney suggests is being harmed to an extent by the fact that he doesn’t fit today’s mold of hard throwers that permeate the game. Olney notes that Keuchel’s average fastball (89.3 mph) ranked 55th of 57 starters who qualified for the ERA title in 2018.
While perhaps some teams would prefer harder-throwing options, that stat doesn’t seem especially concerning when presented with further context. Keuchel’s average fastball last season was actually improved over a pair of seasons in which he was slowed by back and neck injuries in 2016-17. In fact, in Keuchel’s Cy Young-winning 2015 season, he averaged just 89.6 mph on his heater, so it’d be puzzling to see significant level of concern over that fastball velocity. Furthermore, a look at the names around Keuchel near the bottom of the fastball velocity leaderboard includes quality arms such as Marco Gonzales, Zack Greinke and Kyle Hendricks. Patrick Corbin, meanwhile, ranked only 43rd among those 57 qualified starters at 90.8 mph, and he secured a six-year contract that promises him $140MM. That deal came at a younger age and on the heels of a better season, clearly, but the contract still runs counter to the idea that teams will only pay for premium velocity.
None of that is to say that Keuchel isn’t without red flags, of course. The lefty’s strikeout percentage dipped from 21.4 percent in 2017 to 17.5 percent in 2018 (7.7 K/9 vs. 6.7), and his swinging-strike rate fell from 10.9 percent to 8.3 percent. His ground-ball rate of 53.7 percent, while well north of the league average, also represented a substantial step back from 2017’s 66.8 percent mark and from his overall career mark of 58.8 percent. All of that surely sets off some alarms for interested teams, but Keuchel was nevertheless a quality starter in 2018, as has been the case for several years. Both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference suggest he’s been worth 18 wins above replacement over the past five seasons — including a combined six or more WAR over his past two campaigns.
It’s not a stretch to suggest that virtually any team in baseball would be improved by swapping out Keuchel for its current weakest starter, but as is always the case in free agency, the financial element plays a significant role. It seems quite likely that some clubs that had interest in Keuchel and Kimbrel early this winter balked at the duo’s reported nine-figure asking prices and went on to spend their money elsewhere. Now, even if those asking prices have come down, some previously interested teams may simply not have ownership permission to spend significant dollars on another free agent. Both pitchers also rejected qualifying offers, meaning a team signing either former All-Star would be subject to the forfeiture of at least one draft pick (and potentially some international bonus pool space).
It’ll be worth keeping an eye on injuries to prominent pitchers throughout the league in the coming days to see if a new window opens. Clayton Kershaw has been battling a shoulder issue, for instance. The Braves, as previously mentioned, have multiple starters who have been dealing with injuries thus far in camp. The Cardinals may be without Carlos Martinez to open the season. Further injuries will surely arise elsewhere, although the longer Keuchel and Kimbrel wait, the more questionable it is whether either will be ready to pitch in a big league game come Opening Day.