As we enter the third month of the season, the herd has been thinned and we have a good idea which pitchers are for real and which were pretenders. With seven innings of shutout ball against the Giants this afternoon, Cardinals starter Shelby Miller continues to establish himself as one of baseball’s premier arms. The 22-year-old right-hander lowered his ERA to 1.82 and, with seven strikeouts and just one walk, continues to average better than a strikeout per inning pitched and four strikeouts for every walk.
Miller is closely followed by two other young arms vying for the honor of starting for the National League in this summer’s All-Star Game: Matt Harvey (1.85 ERA) and Patrick Corbin (1.71). Clayton Kershaw, as usual, is in the mix as well (1.85).
Miller has been just the latest in a parade of prospects to join the Cardinal rotation and enjoy success in recent years, joining Laynce Lynn, Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha, and Tyler Lyons. When it comes to developing pitching, few can match up with the Cardinals, led by GM John Mozeliak.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.