Padres left-hander Jose Castillo will be sidelined for an estimated six-to-eight weeks to recover from a flexor strain in his throwing arm, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Castillo began feeling forearm tightness last week, which caused San Diego to shut down his bullpens and then ultimately place him on the 60-day injured list today. Needless to say, any type of forearm injury is cause for concern, though the team is still “confident” that Tommy John surgery won’t be required. The 23-year-old Castillo made his MLB debut last season and immediately delivered results, posting a 3.29 ERA, 4.33 K/BB rate, and a whopping 12.2 K/9 over 38 1/3 innings out of San Diego’s bullpen. With Castillo on the IL, the Padres’ top left-handed options consist of Matt Strahm and the recently-signed Aaron Loup, with former big leaguers Eric Stout, Kyle McGrath, and Brad Wieck also available in the upper minors.
Some more from both the NL and AL West divisions….
- The specter of what Manny Machado or Bryce Harper could land in free agency theoretically loomed over the extension talks between Nolan Arenado and the Rockies, though the Machado/Harper situations “had a lot less to do with it than you might think,” Rockies GM Jeff Bridich said in an appearance on Inside Pitch show on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link). While both the team and Arenado’s camp were obviously cognizant of the larger market forces at play, Bridich said “There were never any sort of deadlines or caveats put in going ’Hey, we need to know this first before…’ We just focused on our business at hand, and I think that’s why we ended up getting what hopefully ends up to be a great deal for everybody involved.”
- Now that Arenado has been locked up to the biggest contract in franchise history, the Rockies don’t have any more big extension candidates on their radar for at least a couple of years, Kyle Newman and Jeff Bailey of the Denver Post write. Colorado’s top young stars are still controlled through arbitration or have yet to even reach their arb years — Trevor Story and Jon Gray are controlled through the 2021 season, while Kyle Freeland and German Marquez aren’t eligible for free agency until after the 2022 campaign. This doesn’t mean the Rockies couldn’t explore a long-term deal in advance, though it’s worth noting that Arenado and Charlie Blackmon both only signed their extensions when they were a season removed from the open market. Looking at Colorado’s long-term payroll, Arenado and Blackmon are the only players guaranteed salary beyond 2021, several of the team’s other big contracts (Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Daniel Murphy, and likely Ian Desmond) come off the books after 2020 or 2021.
- The early start to the regular season for the Athletics and Mariners (who play a two-game series in Tokyo on March 20-21) has also pushed up some roster deadlines. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A’s will have to decide by March 14 whether or not minor league signees Jerry Blevins and Nick Hundley will make the MLB roster. Otherwise, Blevins and Hundley each can opt out of their minors contracts. It could be a moot point, however, as “Blevins and Hundley both appear to be near-locks to make the team,” Slusser writes. Hundley’s inclusion could leave Josh Phegley as the odd man out of the catching mix, and the out-of-options backstop is a good candidate to be claimed off waivers, multiple scouts tell Slusser. Oakland’s early start doesn’t extend to out-of-options players, however, as the club has until March 28 (when their regular season resumes) to decide on Phegley, Frankie Montas, Aaron Brooks, and other players who can no longer be freely optioned to the minors.
- Shohei Ohtani has moved from hitting off a tee to hitting soft toss, as the Angels slugger continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery. The Halos are targeting a May return for Ohtani, though manager Brad Ausmus told MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger and other media that the unique nature of Ohtani’s two-way status makes him “patient zero,” and thus “he doesn’t really have a set schedule. He is making the schedule for future Shohei Ohtanis.” Ohtani obviously won’t pitch this season, and he’ll be limited to DH-only duty once he does return to the team’s lineup.