There’s still no timetable for his return from bilateral leg weakness, but Joe Mauer is taking a significant step in his recovery by reporting to extended spring training in Florida.
For now he’ll merely work out in Fort Myers alongside Jim Thome and Tsuyoshi Nishioka, building up strength in his surgically repaired knee after admitting that beginning the season on the active roster was a mistake.
Being without Mauer for all but nine games has obviously contributed to the Twins’ horrendous start, but his backups hitting like pitchers has compounded the problem further. As a group Minnesota catchers have hit .139 with zero homers and a .358 OPS. NL pitchers are hitting .137 with a .338 OPS.
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.