At one point the Tigers were hopeful that Victor Martinez could return from knee surgery to play this season, but yesterday general manager Dave Dombrowski admitted: “We’re not counting on it.”
Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that Martinez hasn’t suffered a specific setback in his recovery, but the process is simply taking longer than initially hoped and now “the best-case scenario is a mid-September return.”
Or as Dombrowski put it: “Is there a chance? I guess there’s a chance, but we’re not counting on it. He’s just not quite ready yet. He still needs some strengthening of his leg, and we’re not going to be in a position where we take any chances with him.”
In his absence Detroit designated hitters–mostly Delmon Young–rank 13th in the 14-team league with a .641 OPS, batting just .246 with eight homers in 95 games. Martinez hit .330 with an .850 OPS last season and has posted an OPS below .840 just once in eight full seasons as a big leaguer. He’s being paid $13 million this season and is owed another $25 million for the next two years.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.