The Astros may open the regular season without the services of one of their biggest boppers.
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Evan Gattis, who hit 27 homers with 88 RBI last season, underwent sports hernia surgery on Tuesday, sidelining him for an estimated four to six weeks. Gattis on Wednesday said he felt "good, just sore, optimistic on the recovery" and said, pain permitting, he'll start doing baseball activities soon.
Four to six weeks puts Gattis back right around the end of March, when teams usually wrap up their exhibition schedules and head home for the start of the regular season. Even in a worst-case scenario under the current timetable, Gattis would be back on the field before Opening Day on April 4, but his availability for the season opener at Yankee Stadium is still an uncertainty at this point, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said.
"It depends very much on a lot of factors that are beyond our control," Luhnow said. "But we can expect in six weeks that he'll be taking at-bats. Now ... there's also the issue of preparing for the season, and how many at-bats does a player need?
"We're going to be optimistic, but we're going to plan for various scenarios of return time."
Sports hernias aren't injuries that, once fixed, often have lasting effects, and even if Gattis misses a few games early on he should still be back sooner than later. If injury concerns drive down his price in drafts this spring, opportunistic owners should take advantage.
Donaldson Cashes In
Josh Donaldson had a monster 2015 season. The Blue Jays just gave him 28.65 million reasons to keep performing at a high level for the next two seasons as well.
The Jays and Donaldson avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $28.65 million contract, which was finalized Wednesday. The extension buys out two years of team control and leaves him with one more arbitration-eligible season in 2018 before hitting the free agent market.
The deal will pay Donaldson $11.65 million in 2016, a sort of a middle ground between the $11.8 million requested by Donaldson and the $11.35 million offered by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. He'll get a sizable raise in 2017, making $17 million in the second year of the contract.
Donaldson certainly earned the lucrative extension after a dominating 2015 season. The third baseman batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 home runs, 123 RBI and 122 runs scored last year. He bested Mike Trout and the rest of the American League to take home his first league MVP trophy as a result.
The extension affords the Jays some cost certainty, and it also could facilitate long-term deals for two of Donaldson's teammates as well. Both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are free agents after this season, and extensions for one or both are on the team's to-do list, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said.
“It only improves our ability to continue those [discussions],” Atkins said Wednesday. “The more we get to know our players, the more time we spend with them individually and the more time we spend with their agents, the closer we can get to hopefully agreeing on terms. We’d love to have those guys here in the future. And we’re going to work as hard as we can to do what’s best for the organization and those players.”
O's Eyeing Gallardo, Fowler
With spring on the horizon, the Orioles could be adding one -- or more -- pieces to a roster they hope can contend in the American League East.
The O's were reportedly in contract talks with free agent Yovani Gallardo on Wednesday, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Per Olney, the deal would be a three-year pact for between $40 and $45 million.
The merits of such a deal are debatable, but two points are harder to argue: the Orioles have reason to add another starting pitcher, and Gallardo, by at least traditional measures, had a successful 2015 season. The right-hander went 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts with the Rangers this past season.
To the first point, the Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen to the Marlins via free agency and didn't replace him, at least with anyone worth noting. As it stands, Mike Wright, who owned a 6.04 ERA over 44 2/3 innings with the O's in 2015, is penciled in as the team's fifth starter entering camp.
If they do sign Gallardo, they'll forfeit the No. 14 overall pick in this summer's MLB Draft. It's a signing that could precipitate another move, too, as FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday that the team could pursue another free agent tied to a qualifying offer, Dexter Fowler, if they land Gallardo. Fowler would cost the team their second pick in the draft, currently No. 29 overall.
While neither move would shake the earth, together they would incrementally improve a team that has designs on winning their division after a third-place finish last year. The team already retained slugger Chris Davis, catcher Matt Wieters and setup man extraordinaire Darren O'Day while trading for Mark Trumbo and signing Korean outfielder Hyun-soo Kim this winter. They'll need to improve on last year's win total in an AL West that also includes the reigning division-champ Blue Jays and the high-spending Red Sox.
Quick Hits: Owners hoping to draft the Blue Jays' closer may be waiting a while after Atkins said Wednesday that the team will wait until at least the midpoint of spring before deciding on a closer. Incumbent Roberto Osuna and newcomer Drew Storen are the two vying for the gig, and either one would be more than worthy of being owned should they win the job ... Cuban brothers Lourdes and Yulieski Gourriel have reportedly defected in hopes of playing in MLB. Yulieski Gourriel is a veteran of Cuba's Serie Nacional who hit 10 home runs in 23 games last season, while Lourdes Gourriel is considered by many as Cuba's best young prospect ... The Diamondbacks don't have a closer competition but they did add a former closer recently, signing Tyler Clippard to a two-year, $12.25 million contract. Clippard will set up for closer Brad Ziegler ... Donaldson wasn't the only one scoring a multi-year deal to avoid arbitration, as the Tigers locked up J.D. Martinez to a similar two-year deal worth $18.5 million. The agreement buys out the final two years of team control, making Martinez, who belted 38 home runs last year, a free agent after the 2017 season ... Likewise, the Diamondbacks and A.J. Pollock got together on a two-year, $10.25 million contract that buys out Pollock's first two years of arbitration eligibility ... Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros was expected to make a decision on a new team Wednesday, but it appears he's still weighing his MLB options. There have also been rumors that Lazarito may wait until July 2 to sign with a team, a move that would open up more potential suitors for the 20-year-old who is reportedly looking for a bonus between $15 and $20 million ... The White Sox signed Mat Latos to a one-year, $3 million contract. The talented right-hander, still just 28 years old, could prove to be a profitable investment after falling on hard times in recent years ... Yu Darvish (elbow) has been long-tossing and throwing off flat ground in recent weeks and is on track to begin throwing bullpen sessions in March. The right-hander, working his way back from Tommy John surgery, is shooting for a return in mid-May or early June ... The Angels and reliever Javy Guerra, the Braves and reliever Carlos Torres, the Indians and reliever Craig Stammen, the Padres and Skip Schumaker and the Mariners and Joel Peralta all agreed on minor league contracts in recent days ... The Rangers and Mitch Moreland avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.7 million contract. Likewise for the Giants and Brandon Belt, who came to terms on a one-year, $6.2 million pact ... Along with the aforementioned rumors, the Orioles have also been connected to free agent Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez was non-tendered by the Pirates earlier this winter and hasn't drawn much (public) interest on the open market to date ... Jason Castro lost his arbitration case and will make "only" $5 million this season.