For the second straight season Aaron Hicks was the Twins’ Opening Day center fielder only to hit terribly and lose the job. This time he’s been demoted to Double-A, where he played in 2012 before the Twins misguidedly decided that he was ready to make the jump to the big leagues as a 23-year-old.
Hicks has actually been on the MLB disabled list with shoulder problems, but if not for the injury he’d probably have been demoted to the minors a couple weeks ago. He’s hit just .194 through 129 career games in the majors.
Not so long ago Hicks was one of the best outfield prospects in baseball and he’s still just 24 years old, but he’s a mess right now. Last month he gave up switch-hitting, which he’d done all his life, and then less than a month later he decided to take it back up again. Hicks has been terrible, but Minnesota’s handling of Hicks has also been highly questionable throughout.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.