Andy Martino of the Daily News spoke with an AL evaluator who has watched Albert Pujols and an NL coach who has watched Ryan Howard, and each of them have some pretty dire assessments of the former MVPs’ future.
The AL guy on Pujols:
“He’s got bad wheels,” said one American League evaluator who has seen Pujols many times this year, both in spring training and the regular season. “I bet he doesn’t play more than 50 games at first this year.”
The NL guy on Howard:
“Every time I see Ryan Howard run, I worry that ankle is going to snap again,” said one National League coach.
Martino explains each of their ailments and whether or not it seems like temporary bumps or the beginnings of constant problems.
In other news, Pujols has nine years and $228 million left on his deal. Howard has four years and $105 million.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.