Jesse Crain is approaching one calendar year without pitching, with his last appearance coming on June 29 for the White Sox, which was two teams ago. Now he’s with the Astros and thanks to numerous setbacks in his recovery there’s still no timetable for his return from shoulder and biceps injuries.
Crain signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Astros this offseason and the plan was for him to step into the closer role, prove he’s healthy, and hit the open market again as a free agent.
Instead, here’s what general manager Jeff Luhnow told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about Crain’s status:
Still working on the strengthening and recovering from weakness in his scap [right scapula muscle]. I don’t have a time frame. … I think right now since we’re in the middle of June you would have to assume that him coming back in June is probably not going to happen.
Well, yeah. As of May 2 the Astros were targeting a May 29 return for Crain. And before that they thought he might actually be ready for Opening Day.
Before the injury Crain was an All-Star for the White Sox in 2012, throwing 37 innings with a 0.74 ERA and 46/11 K/BB ratio, which is why the Rays and now the Astros were willing to take fliers on him knowing he might never actually pitch for them.
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Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.
Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.
Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.
Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.