Taijuan Walker rejoined the Mariners’ rotation yesterday after a long time on the sidelines and fellow top pitching prospect James Paxton is finally making some progress in his return as well.
Paxton has been on the disabled list since early April with a shoulder injury, getting shut down multiple times due to setbacks in his recovery, but Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that the 25-year-old left-hander threw a 35-pitch bullpen session Monday without any problems.
If all goes well he could be cleared for a simulated game next week, at which point the Mariners would start planning out a minor-league rehab assignment.
Paxton’s career got off to a great start, as he went 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA through six outings dating back to last season, and if the Mariners can ever get a healthy Walker and a healthy Paxton into the rotation alongside Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma they’d be capable of making a big push in the second half.
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.