Chipper Jones has already resumed facing live pitching, less than two weeks removed from arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, Jones felt “real good” taking swings against teammate Randall Delgado in a simulated game this afternoon at Citi Field. While the 39-year-old believes he “will be ready physically” to come off the disabled list when he’s first eligible on Tuesday, he also acknowledged that he might need a few additional days to work on his timing.
With that in mind, the Braves would prefer that Jones play in at least one minor league rehab game. Bowman suggests that could happen Thursday with Class A Rome, which could set up his potential return for the Braves’ home opener next Friday against the Brewers.
Martin Prado and Juan Francisco will fill in at third base until Jones is ready to return. Francisco, who was recently acquired from the Reds, is slated to start at the hot corner Saturday and Sunday against the Mets.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Padres are still discussing a potential trade for a starting pitcher, namely Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Rosenthal adds that a deal isn’t close and is unlikely to occur before Opening Day. The Padres are balking at the Indians’ asking prices for the two starters.
The Padres could certainly use an ace at the top of the rotation. With the addition of Manny Machado, the lineup is looking decent, but beyond Joey Lucchesi, the starting pitching doesn’t inspire confidence.
Kluber, who turns 33 years old next month, has club options for the next two seasons at $13.5 million and $14 million with $1 million buyouts each. Last year, the right-hander finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, finishing 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.
Bauer, 28, is earning $13 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration heading into 2020. Last year, Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 221/57 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings.
The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central once again, but that has as much to do with the mediocrity of the rest of the division as the Indians’ commitment to competing. If the Indians were to trade either or both starters, that would be good news for the Twins, who are projected to be 15 games worse than the Indians but still finish in second place, according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.