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.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.