Reid Brignac’s foot injury opened the door for Sean Rodriguez to overtake him on the Rays’ shortstop depth chart and sure enough manager Joe Maddon announced that Rodriguez will open the season as the primary starter.
Brignac (.742 OPS) and Rodriguez (.743 OPS) had nearly identical production this spring, but Brignac was limited to just 13 games while Rodriguez was in the lineup 21 times.
Last season the Rays’ shortstop starts went 76 for Brignac, 49 for Rodriguez, and 37 for Elliot Johnson, who remains on the team as a utility man.
Both are solid defenders and neither has hit much in the majors, although Rodriguez has topped Brignac by 100 points of OPS despite both players sporting a sub-.240 batting average. If nothing else Rodriguez brings significantly more power to the table than Brignac, along with being healthier for now.
Free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo is headed back to the Brewers on a major league deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. No other terms have been reported yet, as the agreement is still pending a physical.
Gallardo, 31, completed a one-year run with the Mariners before getting his $13 million option declined by the team last month. He provided little value during his time in Seattle, pitching to a 5-10 record in 22 starts and putting up a 5.72 ERA, 4.1 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9 in 130 2/3 innings as both a starter and reliever.
Still, assuming the veteran righty is on the cusp of a comeback, he may as well try for it with his original club. Gallardo last appeared for the Brewers from 2007 to 2014, racking up a cumulative 20.8 fWAR and peaking during the 2010 season, when he earned his first All-Star nomination and Silver Slugger award. This will be his ninth career season with the club.
Even with Gallardo aboard, the Brewers are expected to continue deepening their pitching stores for 2018. With team ace Jimmy Nelson still recovering from shoulder surgery, the club will enter the season with a projected rotation of Gallardo, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and Junior Guerra, the latter of whom pitched just 70 1/3 innings in 2017 following a right calf strain and shin contusion. Another big name pitcher could help cement Milwaukee’s rotation and keep them competitive for another year, though they don’t appear to have made any concrete moves in that direction so far.