Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies are “in serious talks” with the Astros for right-hander Wilton Lopez, who would take over as the primary setup man in front of closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Lopez’s price tag won’t be cheap, as he’s thrown 204 innings with a 2.64 ERA during the past three seasons, remains bargain-priced entering his first year of arbitration eligibility at age 29, and is under team control through 2015.
Lopez saved 10 games after taking over for Brett Myers as the Astros’ closer down the stretch and posted a fantastic 54/8 K/BB ratio in 66 innings overall this year while allowing just four homers in 260 plate appearances. His fastball averaged 92.4 miles per hour and he was among the league leaders in ground-ball percentage.
No word yet on what the Astros would get in return, but it’s a safe bet they’re targeting prospects rather than big leaguers.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.