Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is currently recovering from a fractured left wrist suffered in a mid-May game against the Blue Jays. His timetable for recovery was at least eight weeks, putting him at an All-Star break return if everything goes well.
When Freeman does return, the Braves may move him to third base in order to keep the hot-hitting Matt Adams‘ bat in the lineup, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. The Braves acquired Adams just a couple days after Freeman hit the disabled list and he’s been a godsend for his new team. In 122 plate appearances, Adams has hit .306/.361/.658 with 10 home runs and 27 RBI. The Braves couldn’t have realistically asked for a better replacement, as Freeman was hitting .341/.461/.748 with 14 home runs and 25 RBI in 165 PA prior to his injury.
Freeman has only played first base in the majors and only played five games at third base back in 2007 as a 17-year-old with the Braves’ rookie ball team in the Gulf Coast League. He did play third base as a high school player, per Bowman. Adams is also a career first baseman, but did play a few games in the outfield for the Cardinals this season before being traded. He only played first base in the minors.
As Bowman notes, the Braves could also try trading Adams if Freeman returns before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.