Finally, some promising news on Justin Morneau.
According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the 30-year-old first baseman has been participating in strenuous workouts for over a month at a training facility in Phoenix and has not experienced a concussion-related symptom yet.
There’s still some concern that Morneau’s head issues will resurface when spring training opens and he’s exposed to the heat and sunlight of a typical March in Fort Myers, Florida. But, so far so good.
“I wouldn’t say the head’s perfect yet,” Morneau told the Star-Tribune. “I’m not going to declare that until I go through fielding ground balls, playing catch, taking batting practice, doing all the baseball stuff. But what I was able to do today is miles ahead of where I was at this time last year.”
Morneau batted just .227/.285/.333 with four home runs and 30 RBI across 288 plate appearances last year and has played in only 150 games over the past two seasons. The native of British Columbia was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2006 and was a .282/.352/.505 hitter between ’04 and ’09.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.