If the Astros have their way, their most expensive player in their final year in the National League could be rehabbing reliever Brandon Lyon.
Even without a permanent general manager employed, the Astros are at the winter meetings shopping Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Carlos Lee, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports.
While Rodriguez is still somewhat attractive at $36 million for the next three years, the Astros know there will be no takers for Myers and Lee at their current prices. That’s why they’re willing to pay half of what those two are owed, says Miller. Myers will make $11 million next year, and there’s a $10 million vesting option for 2013 on his contract that includes a $3 million buyout. Lee will make $18.5 million next year in what will finally be the final season of his six-year, $100 million contract.
Myers could be worthy gamble at $6 million-$7 million next year, but the vesting option is likely to scare suitors off. Lee would be a tough sell even at $9 million after hitting .275/.342/.446 last season.
If the Astros due rid themselves of all three, then they could well enter the season with a 25-man roster making $18 million or less. Lyon, at $5.5 million, will probably start off on the disabled list. Their only players eligible for arbitration are J.A. Happ and Humberto Quintero, and those two should combine to earn around $3 million. They’ll probably go bargain hunting for a shortstop and a starting pitcher or two, but they won’t be looking to make any significant commitments.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.