When Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland was diagnosed in March with a cavernous malformation in his brain, some medical specialists thought it might put an end to his baseball career. Not so.
Westmoreland had surgery to repair the problem and is now taking batting practice two or three times a week, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. He was invited to stand on the sidelines at Sunday’s Colts vs. Patriots game and appeared to be in good spirits. If the progress continues, it’s possible that he will be an active regular at spring training next year.
“We’re just seeing how it plays out right now,” he said Sunday. “If something happens where I can play next year, that would be great. But we’re not looking forward like that. We’re just taking it day by day, seeing how things progress. If it’s meant to be, it’s going to happen. But I’m ready to wait. If patience is what it takes, I’m ready for it.”
Westmoreland is planning to spend his winter at the Red Sox’s spring training complex in Fort Myers, Florida, where he can work out and get regular checkups from the club’s medical staff. The 20-year-old outfielder batted .296/.401/.484 with seven home runs and 19 stolen bases in 60 games for Single-A Lowell in 2009. He obviously took the 2010 season off.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.