Allen Craig returns from knee surgery, rejoins Cardinals

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UPDATE: As expected, the Cardinals activated Craig from the DL. Rule 5 pick Erik Komatsu was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.

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Allen Craig is slated to return from November knee surgery and rejoin the Cardinals’ lineup tonight, several weeks later than initially hoped.

Despite the delay Craig told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that the added time off allowed his knee to truly get healthy and stronger, saying: “I feel good out there right now. I’m ready to play.”

And it showed during his minor-league rehab assignment, as Craig destroyed Single-A and Triple-A pitching for a .357 batting average and three homers in seven games, posting a 1.058 OPS.

That includes a pair of homers and five RBIs in his final rehab outing on Monday, at which point the Cardinals decided it was time to bring him back. Lance Berkman’s calf injury means there’s room for Allen Craig at first base, although that also means rookie Matt Carpenter will lose playing time despite hitting well as Berkman’s initial replacement.

Report: Nathan Eovaldi drawing interest from at least nine teams

Nathan Eovaldi
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Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.

Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.

A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.