Tampa Bay has all kinds of starting pitching depth, leading to speculation that they’ll try to cash some of it in for lineup help at some point.
Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times examined all the rotation options and concluded that Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann are the most likely starters to be traded by the Rays, while stud prospect Matt Moore and Rookie of the Year winner Jeremy Hellickson are basically untouchable.
James Shields falls somewhere in between, as he’d be the most obvious way for the Rays to add an impact hitter but is also one of the league’s best right-handers and under team control for three more years at a total of $29 million.
Davis (through 2017) and Niemann (through 2014) are also under team control for years to come, but with high-upside starters coming up through the system there isn’t room in the rotation for everyone long term.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.