The Rangers have had two pitching prospects — Omar Beltre and Alexi Ogando — on their roster for several years now, though they’ve been unavailable to join the club or its minor league affiliates because of a visa problem. The kind of visa problem that comes from taking part in a human trafficking ring. I hate it when that happens.
But their luck, and by extension the luck of the Rangers, has changed, as the State Department appears poised to lift their visa restrictions and allow them to come to play in the U.S. The long and the short of it is that Beltre and Ogando were pawns in a much larger fraud, and since their restrictions, each have worked to educate others about the dangers of human trafficking, which more or less earned them a second chance.
And based on the scouting reports, they should get a good shot at taking advantage of that second chance. Each has serious heat, and each have pitched well in winter ball. Assuming no problems in spring training, each should be starting at AA ball which, given how often teams use AAA to stash minor league veterans instead of prospects these days, is practically a step away from the big club.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.