David Freese to begin minor league rehab assignment Tuesday

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The Cardinals are getting some important pieces back in the fold. Matt Holliday and Kyle McClellan both returned from the disabled list this week and it sounds like third baseman David Freese isn’t too far behind them.

Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Freese will begin a minor league rehab assignment Tuesday with Triple-A Memphis. The 28-year-old third baseman underwent surgery to repair a fractured left hand after being hit by a pitch in early May.

“I’m excited to get going,” said Freese. “Obviously, we’re a couple of weeks ahead of where we thought we’d be.”

If all goes well, Freese believes he could rejoin the Cardinals sometime during their upcoming roadtrip, which begins June 28 in Baltimore and concludes July 3 in Tampa Bay.

Freese was batting .356/.394/.471 with two homers and 14 RBI over 94 plate appearances prior to the injury.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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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.