Jake Westbrook

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: Arquimedes Caminero likely to sign with Yomiuri Giants

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 21: Arquimedes Caminero #48 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Safeco Field on August 21, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Brewers won the game 7-6. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Mariners’ right-hander Arquimedes Caminero is nearing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The club has reportedly agreed to sell the 29-year-old’s contract, Dutton writes, though no official move has been announced by either team yet. Caminero is under club control through 2020 and currently ineligible for arbitration.

The right-hander began the 2016 season with the Pirates but was sent to the Mariners in a trade for Seattle minor leaguers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez in order to clear space in the Bucs’ bullpen. With the Mariners, Caminero produced a 3.66 ERA and 8.2 K/9 through 19 2/3 innings in the second half of the year. Although he boasts an electric fastball, one which consistently averaged 98.7 m.p.h. in 2016, his success rate has been tempered by poor control throughout his major league career. According to Dutton, the Mariners’ willingness to sell Caminero’s contract was a strong indication that they did not see him as a viable contender for their 2017 bullpen or as a potential trade chip further down the line.

Should the deal go through, the right-hander will be the second former Mariner to sign with a Japanese club for the 2017 season. Per Dutton’s report, outfielder Stefen Romero also picked up a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of NPB in late November.

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.