Last season Austin Kearns turned a minor-league contract with the Marlins into a part-time bench role and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the 33-year-old outfielder is expected to re-sign on another minor-league deal.
Kearns appeared in 87 games and logged 175 plate appearances, hitting .245 with a .733 OPS. That doesn’t sound like particularly good production, but considering the Marlins’ pitcher-friendly ballpark it was actually right around league-average and included a strong .366 on-base percentage that was Kearns’ highest since he got on base at a .407 clip as a 22-year-old rookie in 2002.
With the Marlins expected to start Juan Pierre, Justin Ruggiano, and Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield Kearns figures to see most of his playing time subbing for Pierre versus left-handed pitching.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.