Jon Heyman reports that both the Orioles and Nelson Cruz “have expressed an interest” in a contract extension.
Of course it’s easy to express interest without getting down to brass tacks, and there’s no way the O’s and Cruz’s people are down to brass tacks at the moment. Everyone is happy with the crazy-productive player on the team-friendly deal, but if and when Cruz starts to shop his wares to other teams in November, he’s going to be in pretty high demand and thus will cost a lot more. To get something now will require the O’s to buy Cruz out of that which he was deprived of last year because of the Biogenesis stigma: a relatively wide open market for his services.
Well, wide open one once accounts for the fact that he’ll likely have a qualifying offer from the Orioles, but at least this winter he won’t be seen as damaged goods.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.