Chris Carpenter declines season-ending surgery, will keep pitching

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Chris Carpenter got the diagnosis he didn’t want to hear Friday: thoracic outlet syndrome. Still, he intends to forgo surgery and attempt to work through the nerve problem.

Kenny Rogers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Noah Lowry are a few of the notable major leaguers to have undergone surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, a compression of the nerves that can lead to pain in the neck and arm and loss of feeling in the fingers. Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb was diagnosed last year and missed the rest of the season. Surgery can involve the removal of a rib to take pressure of the nerves, but it doesn’t always.

Carpenter’s plan appears to be to continue his comeback and then undergo surgery in the offseason. He threw a bullpen session today and plans to throw again on Monday. Even if he does  manage to successfully complete a rehab assignment and make it back to the majors, the odds would seem to be against him lasting the season. Still, as long as he can’t make things worth by trying, it’s admirable that he’ll give it a go.

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.