Brian Roberts hasn’t played since May 16 of last season, but there’s still no timetable for his return from multiple concussions.
Roberts has progressed to taking batting practice and fielding ground balls, and Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the second baseman now has more good days than bad days, but that means he’s still experiencing symptoms at least occasionally.
“I don’t know what the next step is,” Roberts admitted to Encina. “When we get to point where I guess I feel like I’m to the point where the next step is we’ll figure out what the next step is.”
Robert Andino is expected to serve as the Orioles’ starting second baseman if Roberts isn’t ready for Opening Day, but that’s a huge dropoff even if Andino is able to duplicate what was for him a career-year in 2011.
Roberts played just 59 and 39 games during the past two seasons, but prior to that averaged 152 games per season from 2004-2009 while hitting .290 with a .365 on-base percentage and .803 OPS. During that six-year span he ranked seventh among all second basemen in OPS and also stole 212 bases.
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.