Cardinals bring back Jake Westbrook for two years

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Update: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal says Westbrook will receive a $16.5 million guarantee.

The dollars aren’t in yet, but free agent Jake Westbrook will stick with the Cardinals after agreeing to a two-year deal with a mutual option for 2013, Fanhouse’s Ed Price reports.

Back from Tommy John surgery, the sinkerballing Westbrook went 10-11 with a 4.22 ERA in 202 2/3 innings last season.  After being traded from Cleveland to St. Louis at the deadline, he was 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts.

Although he missed most of 2008 all of 2009, Westbrook seemed like one of the safest options available in the pitching market.  He’d rarely had arm problems previously, and his stuff came all of the way back following surgery.   An extreme groundball pitcher, he’s never allowed more than 20 homers in a season.

Westbrook’s return is one reason the Cardinals should think long and hard about sticking with Brendan Ryan at shortstop and replacing Skip Schumaker at second base.  Indications have been that they want to do the opposite, but while Schumaker is the better bet of the two to bounce back offensively, he’s a subpar defensive second baseman.  Ryan, on the other hand, might be the game’s best defensive shortstop at the moment.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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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.