Evan Longoria hasn’t been cleared to take swings against live pitching yet, but the Rays third baseman told Bill Chastain of MLB.com that he expects to return from a strained oblique muscle by April 29.
He has quite a few hurdles to clear (and setbacks to avoid) before then, but Longoria is slated to take “dry swings” today for the first time and hopes to begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Double-A or Triple-A early next week.
Longoria told Chastain that he’s “itching to do more” and “hopefully I’ll be hitting off the tee, doing flips, and possibly by the end of the Toronto series, hitting on the field.” He’s been out since the second game of the season and was eligible to return from the disabled list yesterday.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.