General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. updated Chase Utley’s status yesterday, although there really wasn’t a whole lot to update.
Amaro told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that Utley “is moving forward” with his rehab from chronic knee problems and “his strength seems to be improving.”
However, there’s still no timetable for Utley’s return and so far there isn’t even any talk of him seeing game action at extended spring training.
Utley and the Phillies haven’t exactly been forthcoming about his status throughout all this, but his being able to simply workout again without significant discomfort is a positive development at the very least.
Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.
Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.
Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.