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).
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.