Though neither player has a very good shot at making the 25-man roster when the Athletics open up the regular season, outfielders Michael Choice and Shane Peterson have the potential to leave a lasting impression if their early performances are any indication.
Choice, a 23-year-old who reached Double-A for the first time last year, is hitting .550 in the eight games in which he has appeared. Of his 11 hits, four have gone for extra-bases.
Peterson, a 25-year-old who posted a .970 OPS between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento last year, is hitting .429 in his nine games. Of his nine hits, five are doubles and one is a home run.
Choice is unlikely to make the cut simply because he has yet to reach Triple-A, and the jump from Double-A to the Majors is cavernous. With the A’s outfield already packed between Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, and Chris Young, there isn’t much room for Peterson. He could play first base, but the similarly left-handed Brandon Moss, who hit .291 with 21 home runs last year, is already slated at the position. At designated hitter, the left-handed Smith is expected to get the lion’s share of at-bats.
The game of baseball is very unpredictable, so at the very least, both players are setting themselves up for potential promotions in the event of an injury or trade.
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.