Report: Padres, Astros have discussed starting pitching

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres and Astros have discussed starting pitching, with the July 31 trade deadline looming. The 42-49 Padres still haven’t officially committed to selling, but a poor showing in the upcoming week could seal their fate. Lin notes that Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are believed to have piqued the Astros’ interest.

Cashner, 28, has had a mediocre season, posting a 4.10 ERA with a 97/34 K/BB ratio in 109 2/3 innings. The biggest factor for him, though, is that he has been able to stay healthy. The right-hander is hoping to cross the 30-start threshold for the first time in his career. Cashner is earning $4.05 million this year and will be eligible for his third and final year of arbitration after the season.

Ross, 28, started off slow but has picked things up as of late. He owns a 3.34 ERA with a 118/55 K/BB ratio in 110 1/3 innings. The right-hander is earning $5.25 million this season and has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining.

The Astros are also believed to have significant interest in Reds starter Johnny Cueto, among others.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.