Ryan Howard expected to recover from Achilles’ tendon surgery in 5-6 months

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As Craig noted earlier, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard underwent surgery to repair his ruptured Achilles’ tendon early Wednesday morning.

Now some recovery timetables are pouring in.

According to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Wednesday evening that Howard will be back to playing at the level he’s accustomed to within 5-6 months. That still puts the start of his 2012 season in doubt, but there were early estimates suggesting he might miss the entire year. And it appears we can now put those to rest.

Howard, 31, batted .253/.346/.488 with 33 home runs and 116 RBI in 152 regular-season games before going 2-for-21 the Phillies’ NLDS loss to the Cardinals. He’s owed $125 million over the next five seasons.

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.