Michael Brantley made his big-league debut last September filling in for the injured Grady Sizemore in center field, but now that Sizemore is healthy the Indians are thinking about starting Brantley alongside him in left field.
Here’s manager Manny Acta:
What he did in September gives him a leg up on the position. That being said, we all know he’s 22 and we’re still not going to be handing out jobs because we all have to do what’s best for the Indians and for the kid himself.
His primary competition? Scrap-heap veterans Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan, plus lesser prospects Trevor Crowe and Jordan Brown. In other words, if the Indians are open to Brantley being ready for the majors at age 23 his odds of claiming the gig–or at least two-thirds of the gig, in a lefty-righty platoon with Kearns or Duncan–are pretty strong.
And if Brantley fares well right away his presence will likely result in Sizemore moving from the leadoff spot to the middle of the order, because Brantley is a low-power speedster with a .387 on-base percentage and more walks than strikeouts in the minors. Baseball Think Factory projects Brantley to hit .282/.348/.360 as a rookie, while the Rotoworld Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide has him at .267/.337/.344.
Free agent right-hander Trevor Cahill reportedly has a one-year deal in place with the Athletics, according to MLB.com’s Jane Lee. The exact terms have yet to be disclosed, and as the agreement is still pending a physical, it has not been formally announced by the club.
Cahill, 30, is coming off of a decent, albeit underwhelming year with the Padres and Royals. He kicked off the 2017 season with a 4-3 record in 11 starts for the Padres, then split his time between the rotation and bullpen after a midseason trade to the Royals. By the end of the year, the righty led the league with 16 wild pitches and had racked up a 4.93 ERA, 4.8 BB/9 and 9.3 SO/9 in 84 innings for the two teams.
The A’s found themselves in desperate need of rotation depth this week after Jharel Cotton announced he’d miss the 2018 season to undergo Tommy John surgery. Right now, the team is considering some combination of Andrew Triggs, Daniel Gossett, Daniel Mengden and Paul Blackburn for the back end of the rotation — a mix that seems unlikely to change in the last two weeks before Opening Day, as Lee points out that Cahill won’t be ready to shoulder a full workload by then. Instead, he’s expected to begin the year in the bullpen and work his way up to a starting role, where the A’s hope he’ll replicate the All-Star numbers he produced with them back in 2010.