With Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan behind the dish, Jose Lobaton is now expendable and the Rays could explore trading him, writes Mark Topkin for the Tampa Bay Times. Topkin adds that, given the vagaries of the game of baseball, they’ll likely bring Lobaton to spring training in case either of their catchers suffers an injury, but could trade him to a team in need of a back-up towards the end of March.
Lobaton, 29, was quite productive for the Rays last season, posting a .714 OPS in 311 plate appearances. He isn’t nearly as capable defensively as Molina, but his bat made up for what he lacked in curtailing base-stealers and framing pitches. Lobaton was one of 19 catchers last season to take at least 300 trips to the plate and finish with an OPS of .700 or better.
Free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo is headed back to the Brewers on a major league deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. No other terms have been reported yet, as the agreement is still pending a physical.
Gallardo, 31, completed a one-year run with the Mariners before getting his $13 million option declined by the team last month. He provided little value during his time in Seattle, pitching to a 5-10 record in 22 starts and putting up a 5.72 ERA, 4.1 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9 in 130 2/3 innings as both a starter and reliever.
Still, assuming the veteran righty is on the cusp of a comeback, he may as well try for it with his original club. Gallardo last appeared for the Brewers from 2007 to 2014, racking up a cumulative 20.8 fWAR and peaking during the 2010 season, when he earned his first All-Star nomination and Silver Slugger award. This will be his ninth career season with the club.
Even with Gallardo aboard, the Brewers are expected to continue deepening their pitching stores for 2018. With team ace Jimmy Nelson still recovering from shoulder surgery, the club will enter the season with a projected rotation of Gallardo, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and Junior Guerra, the latter of whom pitched just 70 1/3 innings in 2017 following a right calf strain and shin contusion. Another big name pitcher could help cement Milwaukee’s rotation and keep them competitive for another year, though they don’t appear to have made any concrete moves in that direction so far.