Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that Derrek Lee will make his spring debut this afternoon against the Phillies, playing first base and batting third. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said last night that Lee will likely get two or three at-bats if he feels well enough.
Lee, who signed a one-year, $7.25 million contract over the winter, was sidelined for the early part of camp recovering from offseason surgery on his right thumb. The 35-year-old first baseman dealt with soreness in his right wrist once he began taking batting practice, but an MRI earlier this month didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary.
Lee batted .260/.347/.428 with 19 homers and 80 RBI in 626 plate appearances between the Cubs and Braves last season. Though he played better after joining Atlanta for the stretch run, his .774 OPS was his lowest since 1999 as a member of the Marlins.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.