Peter Gammons tweets that Jesse Crain “may be the hottest reliever” on the market after Joaquin Benoit signed with the Tigers, reporting that the Rays, Rockies, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Orioles, Cubs, Nationals, and Blue Jays are “already in” the bidding for the 29-year-old right-hander.
Crain was offered arbitration by the Twins, but as a Type B free agent he doesn’t require forfeiting a draft pick to sign and could be viewed by some teams as a closer option after seven seasons setting up Joe Nathan in Minnesota.
Crain has said previously that he’d be interested in re-signing with the Twins, but indicated that the chance to close somewhere would take precedence over any offers to continue setting up and is very well-positioned to hit the open market.
He’s still on the right side of 30, has a 3.42 career ERA and mid-90s fastball velocity to match, is coming off his most impressive season, and was nearly unhittable with a 1.42 ERA, .170 opponents’ batting average, and 42/20 K/BB ratio in his final 45 appearances (before serving up a homer to Mark Teixeira in the playoffs).
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.