Kendrys Morales cleared “to begin running on his own power”

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After visiting with a specialist in Colorado last week Kendrys Morales has been cleared “to begin running on his own power,” according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.

Morales hasn’t played since breaking his ankle in May of 2010, suffering multiple setbacks along the way after initially hoping to be ready for Opening Day of last season. He eventually underwent a second surgery, but the Angels were confident enough in his odds of being healthy this year that they tendered him a contract.

Gonzalez reports that there’s still no timetable for his return to baseball activities, but Morales has been running on an unweighted treadmill and hitting off a tee. A healthy Morales would add to the Angels’ logjam at first base, designated hitter, and the outfield corners, but the stockpile of capable hitters should also allow them to be very cautious with his recovery timetable. Not that they have much choice at this point.

Report: Astros extend Justin Verlander for two years, $66 million

Justin Verlander
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The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”

While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.

The deal has not been confirmed by the team.