UPDATE: My guess was way off. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that Penny is “weighing an opportunity” with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan’s Pacific League.
7:15 PM: Brad Penny was pretty awful with the Tigers last season. In addition to his 5.33 ERA over 31 starts, his strikeout rate of 3.67 K/9 was the lowest in the majors among qualified starting pitchers. Even worse, it was the lowest by a qualified starter since Livan Hernandez averaged 3.35 K/9 in 2008 between the Twins and Rockies.
With ugly numbers like that, it’s not a surprise to learn that the 33-year-old right-hander is having a hard time finding work with an MLB team. However, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick notes that Penny is drawing interest in Japan.
Just spitballing it here, but it would seem the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters have a void in their starting rotation now that Yu Darvish is officially a member of the Texas Rangers. And Brad Penny seems like the type of guy who would proudly fight to defend ham at all costs. Pretty easy match, really.
Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will undergo Tommy John surgery, per an announcement on Saturday. Cotton initially experienced some elbow soreness during a Cactus League start earlier this week and was officially diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle on Thursday. He’ll be out of commission until 2019 at the earliest.
This isn’t the first time Cotton has dealt with elbow issues. According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, he had screws inserted in his right elbow after sustaining a stress fracture in 2013 and suffered some minor elbow discomfort again last fall. Prior to his diagnosis, the 26-year-old was poised for his third run with the A’s in 2018. He pitched his first full season with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.58 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 24 starts and 129 innings.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the team is open to adding pitching depth this spring, though they’ll wait to see if the price goes down on some free agents first. Barring that, right-handed long reliever Andrew Triggs could be tabbed to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.