Great news here for the second-place Cardinals.
Injured catcher Yadier Molina told Jim Hayes of FOX Sports Midwest on Tuesday afternoon that he is hoping to be cleared to begin swinging a bat on Wednesday or Thursday. Molina has been catching bullpen sessions and taking light infield practice over the past week without experiencing any abnormal discomfort in his surgically-repaired right thumb.
Molina has been on the disabled list since tearing a ligament in his thumb on a slide into third base July 9. A.J. Pierzynski and Tony Cruz have been filling in at catcher for the Cardinals, who are 2 1/2 games back of the Brewers in the National League Central standings. St. Louis has a pretty firm grip on the top National League Wild Card spot here in mid-August.
Molina, a six-time Gold Glove Award winner and six-time National League All-Star, appears to be progressing toward an early-September return. Young starter Michael Wacha (shoulder) isn’t too far behind him.
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.