MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports that Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton could make his Cactus League debut on Sunday afternoon against the Mariners. Hamilton has been dealing with a strained calf suffered at the end of February. If he avoids any further setbacks, he should still be able to join the team when they open up the regular season at the end of the month.
Hamilton, 32, was a shadow of his former self last season, declining across the board but particularly in the power department. Despite taking equally as many plate appearances in 2012 and ’13, Hamilton hit half as many home runs (43 to 21) and his slugging percentage dropped from .577 to .432. The Angels still owe him $15 million for the 2014 season and an additional $30 million in each of 2016 and ’17.
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.